Thursday, January 6, 2005

Play Along

From CNN:

In an attempt to answer his critics, attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales plans to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that he will abide by international treaties if he is confirmed.

“Wherever we pursue justice — from the war on terror to corporate fraud to civil rights — we must always be faithful to the rule of law,” Gonzales says in a draft copy of his statement obtained by CNN.

“I want to make very clear that I am deeply committed to the rule of law.”

Yeah, you’d kinda think that would be part of the job as the chief law enforcement officer in the land. So why don’t I feel so assured that Mr. Gonzales has to make that promise? Might it have something to do with the eerie similarities between his legal opinions about torture and the methods used in, say, Argentina when it was under military dictatorship? That’s what Marguerite Feitlowitz says in Salon.com:

It seems surreal: The president’s nominee for the highest legal position in the land is a proponent of torture. In his notorious Jan. 25, 2002, memorandum to Bush, Alberto Gonzales clearly fancies himself a shrewd thinker, a smooth operator when it comes to finessing the inevitable outrage of our allies when they learn that we have violated the Geneva Conventions. His suggestion for rebuttal to, among others, Secretary of State Colin Powell, who argued that the Conventions applied to the Taliban and al-Qaida? “First, some of the language [of the Conventions] is undefined (it prohibits, for example, ‘outrages upon personal dignity’ and ‘inhuman treatment’).” Are personal dignity and inhumane treatment really so mysterious? So fungible?

[…]

Alberto Gonzales has paved the way of his own advancement with memos that are intellectually slovenly, that impute definitive powers to the executive, and whose attempts at shirking the basic moral precepts of international humanitarian law are not very skillful. If he is confirmed as attorney general, our nation will be shamed, shunned and endangered.

In spite of this, the White House has asked Senator Ken Salazar, the newly-elected Democrat from Colorado, to introduce Mr. Gonzales. There will be “contentious” questions, some fun sound bites, and then the Senate will confirm him. And the band plays on.