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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail