FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Good Riddance, Gonzales

by ANDY WORTHINGTON

OK, so the departing Attorney General was not as malevolent as some made out: more a willing pawn of his old friend George W. and the recently departed Karl Rove, and, moreover, of the genuinely malevolent Dick Cheney, and his close associate David Addington. The notorious memorandum, in January 2002, which paved the way for torture at Guantánamo–by dismissing the Geneva Conventions as “quaint,” and insisting that “strict limits on [the] questioning of enemy prisoners” hobbled efforts “to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists”–was, for example, signed by Gonzales, but was actually written, as Barton Gellman and Jo Becker noted in a Washington Post series on Cheney in June, by the rather more articulate and definitely more fear-inspiring David Addington, Cheney’s chief counsel and his old buddy from the Reagan days, when the two men, revisiting the love of unfettered executive power that Cheney had first admired under Richard Nixon, bullied Congress to defend Reagan’s right to–you guessed it–do what he damn well pleased during the Iran-Contra scandal.

So, a clown and a scapegoat, then, as was indicated in April by his repetitive memory loss during the Senate hearing into last year’s politically motivated dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, when, as the Washington Post reported, he “uttered the phrase ‘I don’t recall’ and its variants (‘I have no recollection,’ ‘I have no memory’) 64 times,” and as was proved conclusively by his attempt, during a previous Senate hearing in January, to explain that, although the Constitution states that “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” (Section 9, Clause 2), this doesn’t prove that citizens actually have habeas rights in the first place. The full exchange, between “Gonzo” and Senator Arlen Specter, is worth revisiting, perhaps as a suitable epitaph for the newly departed and unlamented Attorney General.

GONZALES: [T]here is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme ­

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by–

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

GONZALES: Um.

In conclusion, then, there may no longer a be a Fool on the Hill (or not that one, at least), but Cheney and Addington are still in place, and it was they (with Timothy Flanagan and John Yoo) who drafted not only the memo signed by Gonzales that stripped “terror detainees” of their rights under the Geneva Conventions, but who also masterminded four other crucial documents whose aim was to elevate the President to the position of Dictator and Torturer-in-Chief, and which have done so much to tarnish the reputation of the United States, both at home and abroad: the open-ended Authorization for Use of Military Force (September 18, 2001), a secret memorandum authorizing the warrantless surveillance of communications to and from the United States (September 25, 2001), Military Order No 1, which stripped foreign terror suspects of access to any courts, authorized their indefinite imprisonment without charge, and also authorized the creation of “Military Commissions,” before which they could be tried using secret evidence (November 13, 2001), and the notorious “Torture Memo” of August 1, 2002, which sought to redefine torture as nothing less than organ failure or death.

The notoriously secretive Addington needs vilifying as regularly and as publicly as possible. As a lengthy US News and World Report article in May 2006 explained (which highlighted Addington’s role as, amongst other things, the shepherd of Bush’s lawless “signing statements,” and a key player in the fiction that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium from Niger), he’s “the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” Now that’s scary.

ANDY WORTHINGTON (www.andyworthington.co.uk) is a British historian, and the author of ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’ (to be published by Pluto Press in October 2007).
He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk

 

ANDY WORTHINGTON is a British journalist, the author of ‘The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison’ (published by Pluto Press), and the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the new Guantánamo documentary, ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.’ Visit his website at: www.andyworthington.co.uk He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk        WORDS THAT STICK ?  

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail