my pissant two cents

Sunday, November 14, 2004

why alberto gonzales has no business being attorney general

alberto gonzales wants to be the most important lawyer in the world.

well, hell... i want a new mustang convertible, but that doesn't
mean i should have one....
think what you will of the author of a memo that describes the geneva
conventions as "quaint" and inapplicable to the war on terror. and
which, by the way, also advises that abuse and mistreatment only
rise to the level of torture if they cause death, organ failure or
serious impairment of a life function.
the global community, which passed the geneva accords and the u.n.
covenant on civil and political rights as well as the convention
against torture, did so at the behest of the united states after the
horrors of ww2. and, as you know, once a treaty is ratified by the
senate, both of these having been so endorsed, it becomes the law of
the land. anyone who advises disregard for so fundamental a law as
the right to be free from torture has no place in law enforcement.
just by way of clarification, article 7 of the c.c.p.r. states, "no
one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment." article 1 of the c.a.t. defines torture
as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or
mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as
obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession ...
by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a
public official or other person acting in an official capacity."
this is very different from gonzales's description. certainly a lot
more limiting. by way of comparison, under gonzales's definition,
tying a prisoner down and placing a red-hot poker an inch away from
his eye for hours on end is not torture. but i don't imagine anyone
volunteering to try it out. any reasonable attorney can see the
difference between torture and something less, and one who says
he does not is lying, deluded or incompetent. in any event, he
should not be practicing law.
the ability to advise your client and zealously advocate does not
include the authority to contort the law to justify criminal conduct.
to say that gonzales was justified in his misconduct is no different
from saying that a lawyer who advises his/her client that striking a
person is only battery if it renders the victim unconscious is just
doing his/her job. this is patently absurd, and any half-bright chimp
knows it. one half-bright chimp in a seat of power is plenty for me.
whether gonzles made these clearly misinformed assertions just to
provide bush and his administration cover or he sincerely believed
that he was giving the president good advice, he is not fit for the
job. i submit that gonzales is not only unqualified for the a.g. spot,
but is subject to disbarment.
how do you suppose the rest of the world-- our allies, which we will
need to help in the "neverending global war on terrorism," as well as
our enemies-- perceives the elevation of the man behind the pro-torture
position to the top law enforcement office? if you were in uniform,
would it give you a little pause before entering a combat zone?
the whole point of senate advice and consent in these appointments is
to prevent yahoos and cranks like ashcroft and gonzales from taking
the reins of authority. if they let this guy skate on his pro-torture
stance and put him into power, it's giving him-- and the entire bush
administration-- a free pass on abu graibh, guantanamo, and any other
episodes of unlawful abuse of prisoners and captives we eventually
unearth.
shouldn't the "rule of law," which the bushites claim to hold so dear,
mean something more than that?

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