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"If the American people do nothing, we'll have the postmodern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition's Torquemada as our next Attorney General" 


Unfinished Business: Confirming Bush's Appointee is Unthinkable Because Confirming Gonzales Is Confirming Torture
Posted January 6, 2005 thepeoplesvoice.org

By: Evan Augustine Peterson lll, J.D.

Readers might recall that White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote an infamous "torture memo," dated 25 January 2002, in which he erroneously advised President Bush that he could: (1) use his "commander-in-chief authority" to override the "quaint and obsolete" Geneva Conventions, the UN Convention Against Torture, and the US War Crimes Act, during his so-called "War on Terror"; and (2) authorize the use of interrogation methods which are tantamount to torture on prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay and other US military prisons.

Mr. Gonzales' legal opinion was meritless but highly consequential, for it ultimately lead to the US military's scandalous use of torture tactics on war prisoners and detainees -- including at least 40 who were tortured to death -- at Abu Ghraib and other prisons. Now the entire world regards Alberto Gonzales as complicit in these war crimes.

Mr. Bush is currently attempting to "define failure up" by elevating torture's advocate, Alberto Gonzales, to the nation's top law-enforcement position -- or, as one professor of international law put it, "War Criminal For Attorney General?" [1] Now the moment of truth has arrived. On Thursday, 1-6-05, the Senate Judiciary Committee will commence its hearing to determine whether Mr. Gonzales should be confirmed as our next Attorney General. [2] What are Mr. Gonzales' chances for confirmation? Back in November of 2004, it looked like he might be confirmed without serious Democratic opposition. [3] However, new questions about the torture memos threaten Gonzales' nomination. [4] Moreover, media pundits are correctly opining that "backing Gonzales is backing torture." [5] Furthermore, journalists are reporting that the USA has continued its use of torture, the Bushites' vaguely-worded 12-30-04 disavowal notwithstanding. [6] And four professional groups -- including more than 500 religious leaders, prominent attorneys and legal scholars, generals, and military lawyers -- have released open letters in opposition to the appointment of Alberto Gonzales. [7]

However, Mr. Bush and his Republican leaders are exerting enormous political pressure to confirm Gonzales. Therefore, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) -- who is presiding over this Judiciary Committee hearing -- almost certainly will ramrod the Gonzales confirmation through unless the Democrats present steadfast opposition. Which raises this question: "Is there bipartisan Congressional support FOR torture?" The Democratic answer should be: "No, we do NOT support torture!" And there are signs that the Committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is willing to lead his colleagues in vigorous opposition to Gonzales. [8] To do so effectively, he will need a groundswell of public support for his position -- including yours, starting today!

The Bottom Line: Time Is Of The Essence!

Realistically, the outcome of the Gonzales hearings will hinge upon the amount of pressure that we, the people, are personally willing to exert on the Judiciary Committee by telephoning, faxing, and e-mailing its members today: A. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at phone number 202-224-4242 and e-mail address Senator_Leahy@leahy.senate.gov B. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) at phone number 202-224-4254 and fax number 202-228-1229. (C) The other Democratic and Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee. [9] Of course, you should cogently and concisely urge these Senators to "steadfastly OPPOSE the appointment Alberto Gonzales as our next Attorney General!" [10]


[1] UIUC Law Prof. Francis Boyle's 11-18-04 CP essay, "The Dems Are Caving On Gonzales: War Criminal For Attorney General?," at: http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle11182004.html
[2] Read the Senate Judiciary Committee's announcement of the Gonzales hearing at: http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=1345
[3] For five good reasons why Mr. Gonzales shouldn't be our next AG, see Evan Augustine Peterson III's 11-30-04 NFNZ essay, "Why The USA Must Reject Bush's Evil 'Marquis De Sade' Appointee For Attorney General," at: http://nuclearfree.lynx.co.nz/gonzales.htm
[4] Read this 1-5-05 CHB article, "Questions About Torture Memos Threaten Gonzales' Nomination," at: http://www.capitolhillblue.com

[5] Robert Scheer's 1-5-05 CD/LAT essay, "Backing Gonzales Is Backing Torture
," at: http://www.commondreams.

Also see Jamie Mayerfield and Darius Rejali's 12-17-04 CD/ST essay, "Nation Doesn't Need An AG Who Cleared Way For Torture," at: http://www.commondreams.

[6] Read Helen Thomas' 12-28-04 CD essay, "The Buck Never Stops At The Top," at: http://www.commondreams.

Also see the 1-3-05 TP action site, "Nothing Quaint About It," to download the DOJ's eleventh-hour backpedaling via its 12-30-04 disavowal of the "Torture Memos," at: http://tompaine.com/action/#003223
[7] A. Religious Leaders. Read "The Question Of Torture: An Open Letter To Alberto Gonzales," a 12-23-04 ICH article, at: http://www.informationclearinghouse.

B. Lawyers. Download the 1-4-05 "Lawyers' Statement On The Nomination Of Alberto Gonzales" (it's underneath the 1-4-05 AFJ article, "Gonzales Report And Lawyers' Letter Raise Concerns"), at: http://www.allianceforjustice.org/hot_
C. Generals. Download their "Open Letter To The Senate Judiciary Committee On The Appointment Of Alberto Gonzales" (you'll find the click-on link in the 1-4-05 TP action site, "Not So Obsolete"), at: http://tompaine.com/action/#003223
D. Military Lawyers. Read Neil Lewis' NYT 12-16-04 article, "Ex-Military Lawyers Object To Bush Cabinet Nominee," at:

[8] See the last section in James Rowley's 1-3-04 Bloomberg.net article, "Former Military Leaders Challenge Gonzales Nomination," at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/

[9] You can find the Senate Judiciary Committee's membership at: http://judiciary.senate.gov/members.cfm
[10] If the American people do nothing, we'll have the postmodern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition's Torquemada as our next Attorney General -- someone who approves of torture and lifetime detentions without due process, as per this 1-2-05 CD/Reuters article, "US Said To Mull Lifetime Terror-Suspect Detentions," at: http://www.commondreams.org

Read these and imagine what measures an AG Gonzales would implement domestically to "protect our nation" after another major terrorist attack:
A. 1-2-05 CD/LAT article, "Plan To Keep Detainees In Jail For Life Criticized By Senators," at: http://www.commondreams.org

B. Mike Whitney's 1-4-05 CP essay, "Injustice As State Policy: The Guantanamo Gulag," at: http://www.counterpunch.org

C. Elaine Cassell's 1-4-05 CP essay, "They Say They Can Lock You Up For Life Without A Trial: Charged With No Crime, Implicated In No Wrongdoing," at: http://www.counterpunch.org


2005EAPIII Author: Evan Augustine Peterson III, J.D., is the Executive Director of the American Center for International Law ("ACIL"). EvPeters8@aol.com



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