Tuesday :: May 18, 2004

The White House Counsel


by Duckman GR

Alberto Gonzales. He's bush all the way. As some blogger pointed out, this affront to the law did not come from whole cloth, somebody asked for that unimaginable piece of hubris.

“In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions,” writes Gonzales.

Now you think about what he's saying here. He, the President's legal counsel, not a Supreme Court Justice, not a lawmaker, not accountable to anyone but the President, he has decided that the Geneva Convention provision in question does not apply. I would imagine that if he were to make a similar decision about, oh, say, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution in response to questions from his dear leader concerning protests during the gop Orangemen marching in Belfast Convention in NYC, that woould prove equally persuasive.

The bush administration is just rife with people like this, loathesome, clear eyed wunderkinds pushing forth their own agenda's, while the befuddled Leader struts and poses and speaks in Orwellian doublespeak with words not of his own choosing or understanding. Life is grand if you're a WH operative.

This sort of thing brings to mind the Christain values President, when he was Governor. I think he set some kind of record for executions in Texas, at least a modern era one, and y'all know who was his right hand man, right? Alberto, of course.

This Atlantic Monthly article is a devastating review of what kind of men these two were, and are, what kind of decision making processes they go through, what sort of "decision maker" style Bush employs. It's almost Shakespearean in its tragic outcomes, save for the utter lack of redeeming brilliance, insight, and understanding of the human experience that the Bard provides.

All governors claim that they agonize over death penalty decisions. During his time in office Bush made numerous statements to this effect, among them "I take every death penalty case seriously and review each case carefully" and "Each case is major, because each case is life or death." In his autobiography he wrote, "I review every death penalty case thoroughly" and added, referring to his legal staff, "For every death penalty case, they brief me thoroughly, review the arguments made by the prosecution and the defense, raise any doubts or problems or questions." Bush always maintained that this review provided what he called a "fail-safe" method for ensuring due process and certainty of guilt. Asked about the governor's handling of capital cases, Johnny Sutton, Governor Bush's adviser on criminal-justice policy, told The New York Times in May of 2000, "This is probably the most important thing we do in state government."

Alas, this is the reality:

[G]iven that Gonzales usually presented an execution summary to the governor on the day of an execution and that, as he has acknowledged, his briefings typically lasted no more than thirty minutes—far too little time for a serious discussion of a complex clemency plea. Bush's appointment calendar for the morning of Washington's [one of the people executed under Bush's watch-DGR] execution shows a half-hour slot marked "Al G—Execution."

Want more? Here’s the NewsHour from 11/28/01, Jim Lehrer talking to Alberto Gonzales. It gets good right off the bat.

Update 5-19-04 8:30 am: Did I mention that Alberto worked for the Vinson & Elkins Law Firm, Enron’s law firm, too?

Read the Atlantic article if you read nothing else today. - DGR

JIM LEHRER: First, is the president having any second thoughts about this military tribunal decision?

ALBERTO GONZALES: Absolutely not, Jim. This nation is at war. And the President felt it absolutely essential that he have this tool available to him.

Second thoughts? Oh Jim, you kill me! What a nut.

JIM LEHRER: New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis was on this program last night and he said the way the order is drafted, some 20 million foreigners living in the United States could be tried under this. Is he right?

ALBERTO GONZALES: Well, let me just say, Jim, that the order is ‘requiring the president of the United States himself to make a determination that is in the best interests of this country,’ that a member of al-Qaida or another terrorist from another terrorist group or someone who has harbored a member of al-Qaida, that that person should be subject to the jurisdiction of military commissions. And again, the commission is only going to be entitled to try someone for violations of the law of war.

[DGR-my bolds throughout]

Now, the fact that the President is the one determining things like some sort of dictator, does that warm your cockles?

And one final thing to provide reassurance to the citizens of the United States, I have every expectation when these regulations are promulgated by the Department of Defense that they will be made public and people will be able to judge for themselves that in fact the secretary of defense has followed the orders of the commander in chief.

JIM LEHRER: We heard just now on tape Mr. Chertoff's answer to Senator Leahy's concern that this sends a terrible message to the world that it says we don't have confidence in our own judicial system. How would you respond to Senator Leahy?

ALBERTO GONZALES: I strongly disagree with that. There are other ways that we have historically dealt with people who have committed crimes, we have court-martials, for example, we've had provost courts, we've had military commissions in the past.

The criticism that we may have leveled around the world at other countries regarding military trials or secret trials stems from the fact that we have not had confidence that the trials were of themselves independent and impartial.

Given what we've seen, given their performance in Texas, do you have any confidence?

Duckman GR :: 4:14 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!