Alberto Torquemada


The Gonzales memos claimed that Bush had “the right to wave anti-torture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war.”

Associated Press

Bush intends to put an advocate of torture at the head the Justice Dept. Is this how he rewards the “moral values” crowd who shoehorned him into the Oval Office?

Alberto Gonzales, name never should have been submitted as a candidate for Attorney General. His involvement in the Abu Ghraib scandal is widely known and should have immediately disqualified him from consideration. The memos he produced that dismissed the Geneva Conventions as “obsolete” were critical in developing the rationale for using abusive techniques to extract information from prisoners. Once his role in facilitating the torture was exposed, he should have been swiftly disbarred and unceremoniously deposited in the White House dumpster.

That,s not how it works in the Bush Administration though, where the incidents of crime serve as Brownie-points for promotion. Instead, Gonzales will be trotted up to Capital Hill and get the requisite “nod” from the rubber stamp Congress so he can move into his new digs at the DOJ. Only the signage on the door of the Attorney General will change to accommodate the transition: “Alberto Torquemada; America,s Grand Inquisitor”.

There,s no doubt about Gonzales complicity in the torture at Abu Ghraib. His controversial memos show that he was establishing the pretext for discarding Geneva as a “quaint” institution that obstructed the supreme powers of the presidency. His efforts were designed to deny prisoners of even the “minimal standards” of humane treatment and to legitimize the (well documented) brutality that followed. He is every bit as guilty of the unlawful abuse as if he had affixed the wires to the genitalia of detainees himself.

Historically the US has always paid lip-service to the cause of human rights. As signatories to the Geneva Conventions and the 1996 Anti-Torture Convention the Bush Administration is required to comply with rules that forbid the mistreatment of captives. Beyond that, the principle of human dignity is enshrined in the 8th Amendment,s ban against “cruel and inhuman punishment”; a crucial stopgap to excessive government power. These institutions reflect the national commitment to values that are consistent with democratic principles. The Gonzales nomination signals a turnaround in this trend. Bush wants to appoint a known human rights abuser as the top law enforcement officer in the country. It,s just another darkly ironic gesture from an imperious administration.

Gonzales personal biography is filled with tidbits that challenge his worthiness as future Attorney General. In Texas he was appointed the Governors general counsel, which means that he provided advice to Governor Bush on nearly 160 death penalty cases.

Now, there,s a cushy job; “green lighting” a bloodthirsty sociopath to dispatch as many people as possible to their eternal reward (via the electric chair). Is this what qualifies Gonzales as A.G?

The AP reports that Gonzales has “also built a reputation of loyalty to the president, fighting sometimes difficult legal battles. He blocked attempts by Congress to make public details of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy commission meetings”. Gonzales legal expertise has been primarily devoted to obfuscating the corporate collusion and venal machinations of Bush Inc.

He has also defended the President,s right to incarcerate prisoners indefinitely without charges; investing the President with the implicit authority to rescind constitutional protections and overturn international law. Furthermore, he supports the horrible travesty of justice taking place at Guantanamo Bay. Gonzales defends the “so called” military tribunals even though they have been resoundingly condemned by Army attorneys, civil liberties advocates and the world press. Just last week US District Judge James Robertson put a stop to the Guantanamo proceedings, ruling that detainees are “entitled to protections afforded prisoners of war under Article 4 of the Geneva Convention” … and that they “may not be tried by a military commission.”

Judge Robertson,s appreciation of the law towers over that of Gonzales. But let,s not kid ourselves, Gonzales function is to dismantle the law not defend it. Even this brief summary proves that. As Attorney General his course is already charted; target political enemies, conceal the activities of the administration and immolate the law. These are the core principles that drive the engine of state where Gonzales is now being ushered to a front row seat.

Alberto Gonzales is the worst possible choice for the office of Attorney General. His contempt for the law is painfully conspicuous in every major action he has taken on the behalf of the administration. Several groups have already announced opposition to his nomination including the Center for Constitutional Rights, People for the American Way and Human Rights First. The paper trail that connects him to Abu Ghraib should precipitate a criminal investigation, not plaudits and rewards. His maneuverings have put him front-and-center with the pin-striped sadists who have engineered the new regime of torture camps, suspended liberties and corporate fascism.

We expect that his keen legal mind and his penchant for criminal activity will transport him quickly through the congressional hearings and plop him securely in the swivel seat at the Dept. of Justice.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com



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MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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