by Juan Cole
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
The great shame of it all is that Alberto Gonzales was confirmed as Attorney General despite it being widely known that he had played a central role in attempting to authorize the use of torture on prisoners in US custody. He had tossed aside the US Constitution’s own prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment” (such a wimpy bleeding-heart liberal document). It is an index of the corruption of the Republican Party, which then controlled Congress, that they made this man attorney general in the first place.
The great shame of it all is that Gonzales was hounded out of office not because he authorized torture and assaulted the basic principles of the US constitution, but because he fired US attorneys who wanted to investigate both Republican and Democratic voter fraud. Torture people all you like, is the message he sent, but if you’re even-handed as between Republicans and Democrats, you are fired.
He tossed aside the Geneva Conventions, which were crafted to prevent any reemergence of Nazism in the post-war period. While Gonzales is not a Nazi, if you get rid of an anti-Nazi legal instrument you are in effect aiding and abetting potential fascism.
MSNBC wrote at the height of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, which Gonzales had implicitly encouraged:
By Jan. 25, 2002, according to a memo obtained by NEWSWEEK [pdf], it was clear that Bush had already decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply at all, either to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. In the memo, which was written to Bush by Gonzales, the White House legal counsel told the president that Powell had “requested that you reconsider that decision.” Gonzales then laid out startlingly broad arguments that anticipated any objections to the conduct of U.S. soldiers or CIA interrogators in the future. “As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war,” Gonzales wrote to Bush. “The nature of the new war places a —high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians.” Gonzales concluded in stark terms: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”
The Geneva conventions, to which the United States is a signatory (i.e. it is a treaty with the force of American law) cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.
The great shame of it all is that Gonzales is being ousted for what amounts to selectively abetting voter fraud.
His role as torturer-in-chief would not have forced him from office.
It is a great shame.
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