Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

January 9, 2005

Above The Law

Except for his initial response to a soft question from Senator Arlen Specter, Alberto Gonzales didn't provide a single straight answer at his nomination hearing.

The transcript reveals Mr. Gonzales emphatically denied any torture is going on, in spite of evidence to the contrary from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Don't believe what you see or read, he seems to be saying; believe what we say. Why, the Justice Department even issued a new memo saying torture won't be tolerated. And since no torture is going on, nothing has to change.

Of course Mr. Gonzales didn't mention that his memo narrowly defined torture:

Only within the last few days has it become known just how key a role Gonzales played in the formation of a notorious Department of Justice memo issued in August 2002. That memo defined torture quite narrowly -- it said that only physical pain "of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure" amounted to torture.
Even more disturbing is Mr. Gonzales's position that Mr. Bush is above the law:

Does Gonzales think the president has the power to authorize torture by immunizing American personnel from prosecution for it?...by hearing's end it was clear that Gonzales believed in it. (Otherwise, why not simply answer, "No"?)

...Gonzales professed the requisite faith that America was "a nation of laws and not of men," but his opinion of the president's ability—however limited—to authorize individuals to engage in criminal acts suggests the opposite. This is a government of good men, Gonzales implicitly assured the senators, so there's no need to worry about legal hypotheticals like whether torture is always verboten. Don't worry, because we don't do it. It's a strange argument from a conservative: We're the government. Trust us

....That's "a hypothetical that's never going to occur," Gonzales says, because we don't torture people. ...Translation: Yes, I think the president has the legal authority to immunize acts of torture, but he doesn't want to, so I'm not going to bother with defending the idea.

It is revolting that a man who believes all this is being considered for Attorney General and will likely be confirmed. The Democrats seem amenable to his confirmation simply because he is ABA [anybody but Ashcroft]. This is the worst mistake they can make.

Not putting up a fight sends the message to the country and the world that Mr. Gonzales's pro-torture stand is no big deal. They have to vigorously oppose his confirmation, making it clear to the public that it is the Republicans, not them, who heartily endorse him and everything he stands for.

posted at 11:05 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
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-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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