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In today's NYT, Andrew Rosenthal lays out a compelling case that the Bush Administration has overridden the objections of military legal counsel with regard to the Geneva Conventions and torture:

The most obvious victims of the brutal treatment of prisoners at American military jails are the men, women and children who have been humiliated, sexually assaulted, beaten, tortured and even killed. But, as in all wars, the Bush administration's assault on the Geneva Conventions has caused collateral damage -in this case, to the legal offices of the executive branch and the military.

To get around the inconvenience of the Geneva Conventions, the administration twisted the roles of the legal counsels of the White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department beyond recognition. Once charged with giving unvarnished advice about whether political policies remained within the law, the Bush administration's legal counsels have been turned into the sort of cynical corporate lawyers who figure out how to make something illegal seem kosher - or at least how to minimize the danger of being held to account. . . .

When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the initial list of interrogation methods for Guantánamo Bay in late 2002 - methods that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions and anti-torture statutes - there were no protests from the legal counsels for the secretary of defense, the attorney general, the president, the Central Intelligence Agency or any of the civilian secretaries of the armed services. That's not surprising, because some of those very officials were instrumental in devising the Strangelovian logic that lay behind Mr. Rumsfeld's order. Their legal briefs dutifully argued that the president could suspend the Geneva Conventions when he chose, that he could even sanction torture and that torture could be redefined so narrowly that it could seem legal.

It took an internal protest by uniformed lawyers from the Navy to force the Pentagon to review the Guantánamo rules and restrict them a bit. But the military lawyers' concerns were largely shoved aside by a team of civilian lawyers, led by Mary Walker, the Air Force general counsel. The group reaffirmed the notion that Mr. Bush could choose when to apply the Geneva Conventions. . . .

This month, several former high-ranking military lawyers came out publicly against the nomination of the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to be attorney general. They noted that it was Mr. Gonzales who had supervised the legal assault on the Geneva Conventions. Jeh Johnson, a New York lawyer who was general counsel for the secretary of the Air Force under President Clinton, calls this shift "a revolution."

"One view of the law and government," Mr. Johnson said, "is that good things can actually come out of the legal system and that there is broad benefit in the rule of law. The other is a more cynical approach that says that lawyers are simply an instrument of policy - get me a legal opinion that permits me to do X. Sometimes a lawyer has to say, 'You just can't do this.' "

At the center of this all was Alberto Gonzales. In Gonzales Revisited, soj lays out the case in compelling fashion.  We simply cannot let this go unprotested.  Will Gonzales be confirmed?  Probably.  But our principles demand that we fight this.  The principles of the Nation, not just the principles of the Democratic Party.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:04 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  should Dems filibuster? (none)
    Serious Senators should vote against Gonzo for various reasons.

    But should the Dems filibuster?

    •  A difficult question (none)
      The Supreme Court looms large in this calculus.

      I'm thinkin'.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 09:57:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bush's long-term strategy? (none)
        You think Bush is trying to get Gonzo approved in the Senate as AG so it will be harder to oppose him as a Supreme Court nominee?
      •  WWGD? (none)
        What would Gingrich do?
        (btw, great post Armando)

        Might and Right are always fighting In our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning. Might can hardly keep from grinning. -Clarence D

        by Myrkury on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 12:49:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  gonzales (none)
        I'm wondering if Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld ordered Gonzales to draft the torture memos in order to cover their asses for crimes that were already committed?  It may be that once the Abu Ghirab story broke, they realized that they could be held accountable, and thus they figured that they would invent a legal rationale that absolved them from criminal prosecution....
        •  Just Following Orders (none)
          The first "Torture Memo" drafted by Gonzales, the one that called the Geneva Convention 'quaint' and 'obsolete' was January, 2002.  The Abu Ghraib scandal broke two years later.

          If you're idea is right, then maybe the focus should be on Afghanistan.  Also the extradition of prisoners to countries where torture is practiced.

    •  What's the point in NOT filibustering? (4.00)
      This is one argument I simply don't understand. Republicans are CLEARLY going to go nuclear on the filibuster at some point . . . It may as well be over Gonzales: his nomination is black-and-white wrong, and the scandal stories almost write themselves.

      "Torture"

      "Death-row"

      "Enron"

      I mean, who the hell do Dems think is going to provide a BETTER punching bag against BushCo? This guy is Tarbaby Numero Uno.

      Which gets to the only issue in going medieval on his ass . . . we need to GET OVER the "hispanic" problem! Gonzales is radioactive: he's the very best opportunity Dems have to fight against one of Bush's "race-card" nominees on the merits. And sooner or later we're going to have to expose this Republican scam for what it is and turn the tables on them . . .  Dems are the party with the deep team of able minority intellects--Obama anyone?--and we ought to pummel these bastards with that fact.

      •  And Bybee (none)
        It also sets the stage to oppose Bybee for the Supreme Court.

        Let's make sure that nobody who ever justified torture can be moved forward without deservedly attaching the stigma to every single complicit Republican.

        I am pro-life; end the death penalty.

        by Aguas de Marco on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:35:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That Can Be Done Without Filibustering. (none)
          The torture charges against Gonzales can be aired without filibustering him for the AG job.  Bybee, if nominated for a Supreme Court job, could always be filibustered consistently with this (more deference for president's cabinet appointments than for lifetime judicial appointments).
        •  And Haynes Can Certainly be Filibustered. (none)
          William Haynes, general counsel at DOD for the early torture memo disputes in 2001-2, and the author of at least one of the torture memos, is one of the judges Bush just renominated.  Haynes is up -- again -- for the Fourth Circuit court of appeals.  Haynes can always be filibustered while Gonzales is not (same deference distinction).

          The idea is to use the filibuster only where it would be politically very difficult for Republicans to respond with the nuclear option.  With Gonzales, the Republicans can use his being Hispanic and the normal deference to cabinet nominations to defuse the torture charge, politically.  Filibustering Haynes would be safer, and at the same time set the precedent for filibustering judicial nominees tainted with the torture business.  (Could be very important if Gonzales is eventually nominated for the Supreme Court).

      •  Because It's Not A Lifetime Appointment (3.50)
        I agree that Gonzales should be given all the crap he can handle and then some on his way to confirmation; hopefully he'll withdraw.  But save us from the GOP's "obstructionist" rhetoric (and make no mistake, it will be all over the media) until it's time for us to block court nominations in any legal manner necessary.

        Conservatives "emit a foul and unpleasant odor. I loathe them." - Props to Kramer and Neumann

        by Hose B on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:54:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Gonzales and theft of Senate Judic memos (4.00)
        IIRC Gonzales was the architect of the WH strategy to counter the filibusters of Bush's judicial nominees.   As such, he was almost certainly the recipient of the files taken from the Dems' computers.  Josh Marshall had columns about this at the time intimating as much.  Someone needs to ask him about this.

        If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

        by Mimikatz on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 02:16:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  momentium against him, (none)

      •  Don't have to use demeaning stereotypes (none)
        to oppose Gonzales.  This seems to imply that because we oppose torture, we condone stereotyping.  

        "okay Taco"?????

        This is part of the Bush strategy, to accuse the left of racism if we oppose his ultraRight appointments.  Why give him ammunition?

        /* end rant /

    •  Torturegate (none)
      John Dean's excellent article on the the nomination of Jim Haynes,for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Haynes nomination was made before the torture memos became public knowledge.  

       

      The New York Times described Haynes as "an architect of some of the Bush administration's most unenlightened policies" and opposed his confirmation. Senator Teddy Kennedy, laying out the case against Haynes in The Washington Post, said, "Nominations do not get much worse than this." And after CBS News revealed the Abu Ghraib photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, the Wall Street Journal reported that even Senate Republicans believed Haynes "chances for confirmation were slim."
      ...
      Torturegate isn't just about Haynes.

      It's also about the former assistant attorney general, of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jay Bybee - now on the federal bench. Bybee stonewalled his way through his confirmation hearings. But now that the memos are out, there is a good case for Bybee's impeachment: He counseled the President to ignore the law.

      More to the point, it is also about Alberto Gonzales -- heading for confirmation hearings for his Attorney General nomination. Perhaps Bush hopes that if Torturegate plays itself out in these nominations, it will end the scandal before it gets worse. After all, why bore viewers with the "same" issues they've already seen exhaustively debated?

      Haynes, then, may prove to be a stalking horse, a clay pigeon, or a fall guy - choose your metaphor - for Torturegate.
       

      Congregamus ergo sumus.

      by biotecchie on Fri Dec 31, 2004 at 08:19:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is my personal view (none)
    I do not speak for Markos.  Ever actually.

    I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

    by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 09:57:10 AM PST

  •  Put some pressure on (3.88)
    We should be encouraged by who we've got on Judiciary, but unless they hear from a great many of their constituents and local papers, they might let this one slip. What we want at the very least is an extremely unpleasant set of confirmation hearings for this SOB, in which he has to answer repeatedly for his torture memo.

    Patrick J. Leahy
    Edward M. Kennedy
    Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
    Herbert Kohl
    Dianne Feinstein
    Russell D. Feingold
    Charles E. Schumer
    Richard J. Durbin

    All the snark that's fit to...er...pixelate? liberal street fight

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:04:10 AM PST

    •  Re: unpleasant confirmation hearings (4.00)
      It is my opinion that, during the confirmation hearings, the Dems should tear Gonzo a new one in the hopes that he will withdraw from consideration for ANY appointed position!

      The torture memo is sick!

      The only second term dubya deserves is 20 to life!

      by Street Kid on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:14:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  every question from our side (4.00)
        Every goddamned question has to include the word "torture."

        All the snark that's fit to...er...pixelate? liberal street fight

        by Joan McCarter on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:36:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Or sadistism. (4.00)
          Break out the Thesaurus!

          The only second term dubya deserves is 20 to life!

          by Street Kid on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:08:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  SADISM! (4.00)

            Yes! That's exactly what we need to do - don't call it torture, call it sadism. That adds the air of sexual perversion to it, which is anathema to the Republican base. Make Gonzales out to be a sadist, and the game's over - the Republicans either associate themselves with "immoral activities" or they're forced to appoint someone more moderate.

            Every Democrat from now until Bush abandons Gonzales needs to be shouting about how he's a sadist who approved torture in the name of the American people.

            Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

            by RHunter on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:23:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not in the (none)
              name of the American people.  Per an ABC poll only 35% of the American people approve of torture under any circumstances.

              Personally, it bothers me that it is that high, but I am not really surprised.

              He approves torture in the name of Bush.

              Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

              by JAPA21 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:45:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The light bulb is on! (none)
              mcjoan posted the links to those on the judiciary committee.  

              RHunter justified the "re-framing" of the oppostition to Gonzo.

              We can contact every Senator (including those not on the judiciary committee) and voice our oppposition to dubya's "selection" of the sadist.

              Don't forget the LTE's (also using the word sadist).

              Or, we can give up and b*tch about it.

               

              The only second term dubya deserves is 20 to life!

              by Street Kid on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 01:08:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  what the hell (3.50)
      Here's the full committee (from the last Congress). No reason the Repugs shouldn't be hearing from their constitutents, too. Particularly that paragon of virtue, the chair himself, Orrin Hatch. Don't know how likely any Utah papers are to run LTEs on this issue, but it's worth a try.

      All the snark that's fit to...er...pixelate? liberal street fight

      by Joan McCarter on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:16:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lucky to live in Wisconsin... (none)
      Where two of these senators call home.  I plan to write to Feingold and encourage him to vote against Gonzales, but given that he was the one to cave on the Ashcroft nomination. Maybe he learned a lesson with that decision and will be more willing to stand and fight.

      Congregamus ergo sumus.

      by biotecchie on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:35:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reply from Feinstein (none)
      She's my Senator, so I wrote her a firm letter in mid-November asking her to strongly oppose the Gonzales nomination.

      I heard back from her office a month later:

      Thank you for your letter regarding President Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General of the United States. I will closely review his nomination.

      As a general rule, I wait until after I review a nominee's entire record before making a decision about the nominee. Many of the issues you raised about Judge Gonzales's record also concern me. Please be assured that I will raise these important issues with Judge Gonzales during his nomination hearing.

      If anyone writing now gets a more strongly-worded response from her, I'd be encouraged to hear it.

    •  part of what I wrote in my letter to Biden... (none)
      I taught a college freshman critical writing seminar this fall on the topic of confession (both literary and legal). We did a section on interrogation techniques and the possibility of false confession, part of which focused on torture. I had my students read, among other things, the Bybee-Gonzales memo. Gonzales was nominated one week after we had read the memo, and every student in my class, regardless of political persuasion, was outraged.

      I also included in my letter some of the questions that were raised by students in response to the redefinitions (particularly of the word severe) offered in that memo. A couple of examples: Since pulling someone's fingernails out does not result in damage which rises "to the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function" and therefore does not constitute "severe pain", does this mean it does not constitute torture? How about the application of electric shocks which result in damage falling short of the criteria outlined above?

      These are questions that I, and my students, would like Mr. Gonzales to answer. Would asking pointed, specific questions like these, if they got any media attention, be effective?

  •  Believe me (none)
    the Hispanics will forgive us 4 years from now.

    Fight or die, Honorable Reid.

    They were Nazis, Walter?

    by BooMan23 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:04:37 AM PST

    •  Will Hispanics care? (none)
      Is he really such a hero?  Has he not simply been put forward by Bush?  What independent political base does he enjoy?

      When we read in the New York Times that ... it was Mr. Gonzales who had supervised the legal assault on the Geneva Conventions. why should it matter whether or not the person is Hispanic?

      Congregamus ergo sumus.

      by biotecchie on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:41:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you're kidding right? (none)
        have you ever watched a political campaign before?

        They won't even mess with Condi.

        They were Nazis, Walter?

        by BooMan23 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:49:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  guess i am just insensitive (none)
          the point is that he is not being opposed for his ethnicity... but for his position. I know you understand this, but it is necessary to have standards in the nomination process.

          The real loosing point is that (i think) only nine cabinet appointments in history have ever been rejected by the Senate

          This does not suggest that the attempt to block Gonzales will be successful... but in this day, don't we deserve better?

          Congregamus ergo sumus.

          by biotecchie on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:15:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sucessful doesn't matter (none)
            The only criteria must be:
             Is this nominee qualified for the position he/she is being offered to fill?

            That's it. We know Gonzo isn't fit to be AG. Make them defend his abominable record. If he gets appointed despite our opposition, at least we know we did what we were supposed to do.

            "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." -JFK

            by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:25:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ashcroft --> Gonzales (none)
              I stood out in single digit weather in front of City Hall in Boston to protest John Ashcroft's nomination as Attorney General. At least the weather will be warmer here in Tucson this time around.

              President Bush's nominees, in both cases, have been both unfit and unqualified for their appointment as U.S. Attorney General.  Constituents must inform their senators of the rational basis for opposition to Gonzales - not because he is Hispanic - but because his history of legal counsel to Gov./Pres. Bush has been flawed on issues ranging from capital punishment to the overt, sadistic, torturous, treatment of civilians and non-combatants in Iraq, and Cuba.

          •  How many withdrawn? (none)
            There won't be a rejection vote - people can count - either he passes or he is withdrawn.

            I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

            by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:25:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Eight since 1801 (none)
              have had nominations withdrawn according to the official US Senate records.

              Unlike a judgeship which is an appointment for life and act independently, the President's cabinet serves at his pleasure and is there to carry out his policies, so the Senate approval process generally defers to the President's choice.

              I definitely think that the Judiciary committee should put him through a very fine mill - and I would be gravely disappointed if any Democrat votes for approval, but I doubt that his nomination will fail to pass.

              Let's just say that this treatment is "softening him up"

              Congregamus ergo sumus.

              by biotecchie on Fri Dec 31, 2004 at 07:15:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  They won't care (none)
          This is nonsense.

          Torture doesn't play well with Latinos. Think why.

          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

          by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:24:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Armando (none)
            you are acting like we can just yell torture and there will be no defense.

            Were that it was so easy.

            I could have yelled "drug-running arms smuggling money laundering crony capitalist nazi sympathizers" about the Bush family all day, and it would have just made me look paranoid and deranged.

            The GOP will use the ethnicity or race or gender of their picks to beat us over the head.

            And my point was that the Hispanic community will get over it and we should resist AG for AG like the plague.

            Also, speaking of drug running, I did a diary on Americares.  Have you had a chance to look at it?

            They were Nazis, Walter?

            by BooMan23 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:32:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The difference (none)
              The evidence of Gonzales' role is incontrovertible and relevant and current.

              Your comparisons are quite inapt.

              On your diary - not yet.

              I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

              by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:44:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well (none)
                if we even have the balls to scream "torture" at him, we will be told:

                a) that 51.00001% of the country is "outraged by the outrage".

                b) we are doing a hi-tech lynching.  

                That being said, I think we can win and not pay much of a price.

                They were Nazis, Walter?

                by BooMan23 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:56:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And we care why? (none)
                  It must be because the Rs are usually so reasonable in their criticisms.  We have to stop tripping over ourselves because we're afraid of what they will say.  Of course they're going to scream bloody murder.  And the more correct we are the louder they will scream.

                  But agree with your last statement.

                  The chips are down. Find your outrage.

                  by sj on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 02:01:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  forget about it (none)
        as a mexican i must say get rid of this 'tio taco'.
        just becasue someone is brown does not mean he represents the reality based latino population.
        we know a clarence thomas when we see one.
        worse apart from race is his record, he will virtually interpret the rule of law to serve his despot master. that is the issue.
        do not worry about offending the hispanic vote this is beyond race it is blatant tokenism.
        miguel estrada is even wrose.  
        •  Yes - blatent tokenism (none)
          But it is the Bush strategy.

          Remember when Clarence Thomas delared, "I am the victim of a high-tech lynching."?

          The media repeated it nonstop.  He was a shoo-in after that.

          We need to oppose Gonzales, and oppose racializing.  We don't care whso he is, we're just outraged at what he's written and done.

  •  Are the bells going off yet? (4.00)
    Seriously, how can this administration's supporters continue to ignore the voiced concerns and whistle-blowing coming from scores of high-ranking former military?

    I say fight like hell to block this appointment, if only to get the list of transgressions out in the SCLM---an ugly scene is the only way they'll cover it.

    •  Must fight (none)
      I agree. We must fight this one particularly because his transgressions are such that the public can understand once the media spotlight is forced upon him.

       The fear voiced by many Dems is that if we oppose too many nominees we will be seen as just being obstructionist.  Many want to save any fillibustering for the Supreme Court nominees.

       I think we lose integrity if we don't fight each and every time the proposed nominee is unfit or incompetent. That consistency is stronger than occational forays, which lead to questions of "why dispute this guy, when you were fine with that other incompetent guy?"

       Either way the Bushies attack us. Why not choose the role of constant and consistent proponent of good government? Because its hard work?

      "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." -JFK

      by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:27:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Framing (4.00)
        And we must fight to take back morality. The moral party is the one that doesn't torture people.

        We have to draw the line at Gonzales and also Bybee. There was a third person involved, wasn't there?

        We have been letting this crap go for years with the  School of the Americas and the execution of exonerated prisoners.

        We have to fight the good fight and raise a stink. Sooner or later enough people will recognize our leaders for the bloodthirsty criminals they are. This should be an American issue, not a Democratic issue.

        I am pro-life; end the death penalty.

        by Aguas de Marco on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:41:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dems Definition of Morality (4.00)
          "The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped."

          Hubert Humphrey, November 1, 1977.

          The only second term dubya deserves is 20 to life!

          by Street Kid on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:15:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Exposes our guys who are caught (none)
          Don't forget that the initial impetus for the geneva convention was to prevent the mostreatment of AMERICANS who were taken prisoner.  We used this argument against the North Vietnamese and the N. Koreans.  But now we can't, because we have said that the GC doesn't apply in the war on terrorists.   That is one of the biggest reasons the military opposes the Runmsfeld/Bush torture position--it exposes our people.

          Use this argument as a wedge against the "support our troops" crowd.

          In case anyone thinks this is specious, we won over a lot of hearts and minds among the German military who were interned in the US during WWII because they were treated well and saw democracy in action.  We are losing ground in the Middle East with our current policies.

          If you're going in the wrong direction and you stay the course, where, exactly, do you wind up?

          by Mimikatz on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 02:26:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General (none)
          wrote a letter concerning interrogation techniques and torture to Gonzales -- August 1, 2002. BTW, Mark Danner's Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror is quite a resource -- its appendices include all the memos and orders (pre-ACLU FOIA), prisoners' depositions, the Feb. 2004 Red Cross Report, and the Taguba, Schlesinger, and Fay/Jones reports.
          •  Gonzales Apologist John Yoo (none)
            AS CONFIRMATION HEARINGS NEAR, LAWYER DEFENDS WARTIME POLICY
            By John Yoo January 2, 2004

            Today former OLC attorney, John Yoo, has published an explanation of the torture memos, and the part played by Gonzales in the interrogation policies of the Bush Administration.

            "The president took Gonzales' advice and denied POW status to suspected Al-Qaida and Taliban members," says Mr. Yoo.  

            What constitutes torture?  "The Senate and Congress' decisions provided the basis for the Justice Department's definition of torture."

            This is not likely to sit to well with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

            On the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo:  "But those abuses had nothing to do with the memos defining torture -- which did not discuss the pros and cons of any interrogation tactic -- nor the decision to deny POW protections to Al-Qaida and the Taliban."  

            With friends like John Yoo, this is not going to be a good week for Alberto Gonzales, or for the Bush administration.    

      •  Gonzales hearings should be our opening act (4.00)
        You think those GOP chimps would think twice about bringing out the clowns and lions to oppose this nomination?  

        Geez...we still aren't thinking like the minority/opposition party.  

        This is why Republicans win and we lose.  

        We need to oppose everything this administration proposes at every occasion and you know what, by screwing everything up, that's not such a ballsy thing to do.  We should be eager to distance ourselves from this failed presidency, and should in no way or fashion seem complicit to our supporters or to the nation.  

        We can afford to swing for the fences and if we're ever going to return to power we must.

        DON'T BLAME ME; I VOTED FOR CLARK

        by DWCG on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 12:10:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hearing Voices and Whistles (none)
      I'd like to pay attention to those scores of high-ranking military.... where can I find them?
  •  There's also a third view (3.50)
    "One view of the law and government," Mr. Johnson said, "is that good things can actually come out of the legal system and that there is broad benefit in the rule of law. The other is a more cynical approach that says that lawyers are simply an instrument of policy - get me a legal opinion that permits me to do X. Sometimes a lawyer has to say, 'You just can't do this.' "

    Law and government can be combined and manipulated to oppress the people.

    This is a dangerous man in dangerous times.

    Creationism? Since when do we teach fables with science? - Anon.

    by Pescadero Bill on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:08:38 AM PST

    •  if abu gonzales will roll over for bush (none)
      and find a legal method to torture foreigners whose to say he won't perform the same trick and find a way to do it to americans?

      Proud to be a Washington State Democrat

      by lapin on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:58:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Especially if there's another attack... (none)
        in the next four years, and who among us believes that won't happen? AG would be just the guy to lead the charge on further destroying civil rights in the name of "domestic security".
  •  Here's another reason (3.75)
    Alan Berlow wrote an article in the July/August 2003 Atlantic Monthly on Gonzalez's role as governor Bush's advisor on clemency petitions filed by death row inmates.

    The article is only available online to Atlantic subscribers, and I am not one.  But here is the summary available online:

    As the legal counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush, Alberto R. Gonzales--now the White House counsel, and widely regarded as a likely future Supreme Court nominee--prepared fifty-seven confidential death-penalty memoranda for Bush's review. Never before discussed publicly, the memoranda suggest that Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some of the most salient issues in the cases at hand.

    The lead example from the Atlantic article:

    On the morning of May 6, 1997, Governor George W. Bush signed his name to a confidential three-page memorandum from his legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, and placed a bold black check mark next to a single word: DENY. It was the twenty-ninth time a death-row inmate's plea for clemency had been denied in the twenty-eight months since Bush had been sworn in. In this case Bush's signature led, shortly after 6:00 P.M. on the very same day, to the execution of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded thirty-three-year-old man with the communication skills of a seven-year-old.

    Washington's death was barely noted by the media, and the governor's office issued no statement about it. But the execution and the three-page memo that sealed Washington's fate--along with dozens of similar memoranda prepared for Bush--speak volumes about the way the clemency process was approached both by Bush and by Gonzales, the man most often mentioned as the President's choice for the next available seat on the Supreme Court.

    There is a lot of activity in the anti-death penalty movement concerning opposition to Gonzalez.  The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty states:

    Unfortunately, the record shows that Gonzales did a shoddy and incomplete job in briefing the governor. He ignored or glossed over claims of innocence, severe mental illness or mental retardation and claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. In short, he didn't do his job.

    Why is this important? The attorney general is the highest law-enforcement officer in the land. He (or she) is often referred to as "the people's lawyer." This person must be trusted with making fair and just decisions. But Gonzales' slipshod record on the death penalty as former Texas Gov. George W. Bush's chief legal counsel raises serious questions about his commitment to impartiality.

    If you're really interested, you can see .pdf's of Gonzalez's memos on the NCADP's site.

    Yeah, it's humble. But we all start somewhere: Banality Fair

    by Spiral Stairs on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:09:20 AM PST

  •  He has violated the Constitution (3.87)
    CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Article. VI.

    Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    I have written to both of my Senators on behalf of my Veterans for Peace chapter, requesting they oppose his nomination.


    "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." --Thomas Paine

    by BOHICA on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:10:21 AM PST

  •  Torture apologist, Alberto Gonzales (none)
    Every time the name "Alberto Gonzales" is used it must be prefaced with the words "torture apologist." For example:

    "Bush's nominee for attorney general, torture apologist Alberto Gonzales, is expected to face tough questions in his confirmation hearing."

    or

    "Torture apologist Alberto Gonzales vacationed with his family in Myrtle Beach."

  •  IMNSHO, one reason (4.00)
    we have trouble beating Republicans is that our "leaders" mince words too much.  We need to be laying the groundwork for 2006 and beyond by calling the Bush peeps what they are: unprincipled liars, crooks and thieves whose rotten stench is smelling up the entire globe.  We could start by pointing out that Gonzales is personally responsible for unlawful torture at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, one of the ugliest recent stains on our national character, and that because of that we don't want him in a position of leadership but rather want him punished.  This should be framed as part of winning the hearts and minds of Muslims who, because of the above-mentioned torture, are now saying we are just as bad as Saddam ever was.  We should be embarassed that we are in any way comparable to an inhuman madman.

    The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

    by mikepridmore on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:15:56 AM PST

  •  this toon says it all (4.00)

    Cartoonist's web site is here.

    No retreat. No surrender.

    by Marx Marvelous on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:17:56 AM PST

  •  Fight, even when defeat is inevitable (4.00)
    Although I am not sure it is in this case.

    It is important to point out to the American public exactly what Bush is doing with this nomination.  It will also force the Republicans to vote for a person with this record.  Even if we lose now, it is appropriate fodder for the next elections, both in 2006 and 2008.

    There are two problems.  One is the Hispanic community, because you know that the right wingers will say that the Democrats always talk about helping minorities, but here they are trying to stop one from being confirmed.  I think this can be appropriately defused.

    The other one is a little more difficult to get around.  The fact is that many Americans do believe that torture under certain circumstances, i.e. to save American lives, is apprpriate.

    To combat this, there has to be a secondary campaign to A: point out that torture goes against the American value system and B: that torture has been shown to be extremely ineffective.

    Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

    by JAPA21 on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:19:53 AM PST

    •  Add a C (4.00)

      Add a C: Torture has been shown to create more resentment and hostility and places more American lives in danger than it saves.

      It disgusts me that we might have to resort to such a utilitarian argument about this issue, but if Gonzales gets appointed to the Supreme Court, he'll be even worse than Scalia or Thomas.

      Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

      by RHunter on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:15:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And a D (none)
        It dishonors those who torture, in this case the US military.

        And an E: It shows complete disregard for the rule of law. What kind of attitude is that for an AG? or for a nation protected from the tyranny of public opinion by just such a device, i.e., the Constution of the United States.

        The greatest blessing bestowed on a people is the absence of ignorance in public office. - Confucius

        by cavanaghjam on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 12:35:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  With a lot of other things coming down the pipe... (none)
    The social security battle...
    The supreme court judge appointees battle...

    We have to choose our battles. It breaks my heart that we have to choose.

    Or do we? Can we make a big stink about everything and still have enough credibility to claim that we're doing it for the country instead of "parisan hackery"?

    Google bomb tom delay and coward. Ask me how to help.

    by danthrax on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:26:33 AM PST

    •  Fight every time (4.00)
      As I said above, we must fight every unfit candidate. Because we seek a government run by those fit for thier office, not simply to raise a fuss about a few things here and there. Consistency is strength.
       The only limit on our objections must be the number of criminal/incompetent hacks nominated by W. When he nominates credible people, we must say so. If not, stop them from ruining our government.

      "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." -JFK

      by aggressiveprogressive on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:33:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I think we have to be prepared (none)
        To accept some amount of compromise. Not compromise on big things like social security, or abortion, let alone supreme court judges who can make huge rulings about those... but I'm talking about symbolic gestures of good faith, even if it's on little things.

        Alberto Gonzales isn't a little thing. Heck, let's do it, if only so we can get some of his worst qualities into the mainstream press.

        Google bomb tom delay and coward. Ask me how to help.

        by danthrax on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:51:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You can't fight Gonzales... (none)
    ...without coming out in full force and accusing the President of ordering torture and violating the Geneva Conventions. In effect, you have to ask for Bush's impeachment. We all know that's ridiculous in anything other than our fantasies. There's quite simply nothing we can do here.

    Then again, maybe tabling a motion for Bush's impeachment, with evidence laid out infront of the nation, might create the sort of media frenzy we need right now.

    •  Are you kidding me? (4.00)
      We can't fight unless we tell the truth, and we can't win with the truth so there's no point in telling it?

      So we just suck it up and acquiesce?  Again?

      I'm with aggressiveprogressive above.  Fight every time.  It seems to me that the "choosing our battles" thing is how we got ineffective in the first place.  It is pandering and it's really, really lazy, much as I hate to publicly admit to the fecklessness of the Democratic leadership.  

      Let's fight the fights that need fighting, not just the ones we think we can win.  First, because it's the right thing to do, and second, because you'll occasionally get lucky and win one that you didn't necessarily expect.

      The chips are down. Find your outrage.

      by sj on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:43:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The most important thing... (none)
        ...I learned from reading Sun Tzu's the Art of War was that if you're going to fight a battle, it should be a battle that you're going to win. It's fine to say that you should fight everywhere, but if you fight everywhere and lose every battle, you lose the war. If you fight only some places, win those battles, and that moves you towards winning the war, then do that.
        And a pyrrhic victory is often no victory at all (that logic, however, also follows for them).

        Questions:
        Can we prevent Gonzales' appointment? If we do fight, how likely is it we will win?
        If we do so, will we weaken ourselves irretrievably for the next battle?
        If we fight this battle, will we be drawn into a wider conflict which we will lose (the impeachment question)?

        We can prevent his appointment with a filibuster. But if we do so, we may be pulled into a situation in which we come off far worse than we were before we started. We may not, and it may turn out to be a great decision to fight here. But I think we need to think very carefully about all the consequences before we choose one path or the other.

        •  this isn't just about Gonzales (4.00)
          don't define victory and defeat narrowly in terms of Gonzales and this appointment--the longer range goal for Dems is to build case against BushCo policy re: the WoT--and questioning Gonzales toughly can be a step in that larger effort
          •  True. (none)
            But it could also be a setback. And I, for one, am worried that this might give us a setback. I mean, do any of us seriously think that stopping the Gonzales appointment will stop BushCo's steamrollering of international obligations? Will it stop the torture?
            Of course it won't, I'm not sure if it'll even slow them down.
            •  Force Them to Defend It (4.00)

              No, but we can force Republicans to defend torture and associate themselves with it. While this won't alienate their base, it might alienate just enough Christians and swing voters to make a difference in 2006. And if we can regain control of the House and Senate in 2006, we can (assuming our politicians aren't DLC-type surrender monkeys) determine if Bush approve of torture or not once and for all.

              But in the long-term, I believe that forcing Republicans to defend torture puts them in a losing position. If it isn't, the country's beyond hope anyway.

              Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

              by RHunter on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:20:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  well said (none)
                and I'll simply add that Dems need to get Gonzales on the record when they can--and given the current state of the Senate, Dems aren't gonna get lots of chances to call him up at their pleasure
              •  Right on (none)
                Gonzales as AG could damage Bush-league and his cronies far more than a Democratic filibuster. Drag out the confirmation hearings, and get AG's (and the rest of this administration's) total contempt for international law out in the open. Chances are, Bush-league will withdraw the nomination as soon as the first crack of light peeps into that lair of cockroaches, but that in itself will be telling.

                Hatred is murder (1 John 3:15)

                by dirtroad on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 01:10:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  I have the distinct impression . . . (4.00)
          that Sun Tzu ain't on Republican reading lists.

          They manage to make every issue into a battle whether it's a winner for them or not. Clinton's impeachment is Exhibit A here.

          I'll probably get troll rated for this, but Sun Tzu really doesn't tell us diddly about dealing with mediated 24/7 contemporary politics.

          •  Read it as political philosophy... (none)
            ...Sun Tzu is surprisingly applicable to day-to-day life, politics, business... In the same way that Lau Tzu's Tao Te Ching is applicable to many, many things (they may have read that, with its advocation of keeping the peasantry stupid and therefore easier to control) outwith the writer's experience, The Art of War when read as philosophy rather than strategy could, I would wager, be a very useful political tool.
    •  Why? (4.00)
      I don't follow why we can't - if the logical extension is to call for impeachment, well so be it.

      But this comes up in January.  First things first.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:43:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are on the correct track here, finally! (none)
      I wrote this in the previous related thread, but it applies very well here as well!

      Bush and his leadership circle have an unsavory and likely unconstitutional agenda which they are hell-bent on accomplishing.  Attacking the White House Counsel instead of the forces truly behind this agenda will not stop the agenda onslaught.  George Bush is in the power position that he is in today because his loyal opposition cannot seem to get to him, instead attacking underlings that at the most just resign when the going gets tough.  This still leaves Bush and his power circle to do their thing.  We see this happening over and over.

      I do not really know whether Alberto Gonzales is just trying to keep his job by pleasing the president or is actually in the power circle.  No matter.  If the paradigm of letting the buck go everywhere but where it belongs continues, then much effort will continue to be wasted chasing windmills instead of going for the jugular.  

      You got to treat the cancer, not just the symptoms to get a cure!

      Political censorship is the root of all evil! It is the antithesis to a functional democracy!!

      by truthbetold on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 12:26:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lifetime vs. Limited Appointments (4.00)
    Someone made the observation a few days ago (I don't remember who) that you can draw a distinction between the appointment of federal judges, who serve for life, and cabinet officials, who serve at the pleasure of the President. Thus, while both kinds of nomination are according some level of deference by the Senate, the lifetime appointments will get harsher scrutiny.  

    That being said, the Senate has an obligation to the country to thoroughly explore the background, qualification and views of Torture Guy, even if he's going to be approved. If that information happens to tarnish Torture Guy's reputation, well, it's not our fault.

    But I'm not in Berkeley anymore

    by Paul in Berkeley on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 10:43:18 AM PST

    •  Clarification (none)
      By the way, I'm not saying don't hammer Torture Guy. Rather, I'm suggesting that it would be more prudent to save the harshest tactics -- the filibusters, for example -- for the judicial appointments.  Democrats have some capital too, and we have to be careful about where we expend it.

      But I'm not in Berkeley anymore

      by Paul in Berkeley on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 11:13:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  More clarification (4.00)
        What capital do the Dems have?  Where did they get it?  Why is it finite?

        I can think of one time that the Repubs came off worse for having fought (regardless whether they won or lost)--when they held up budget authorization fairly early in Clinton's tenure.  Even engaging in a losing battle can INCREASE your moral capital.

        This guy, Gonzalez, has legitimized TORTURE.  Having him as AG degrades this country beyond measure.  Not fighting his nomination tooth and nail degrades every Senator involved.

        If this fight isn't NECESSARY to fight, what the hell is?  What is this country about?  What is the Democratic party about, if it stands around chatting and drinking tea--oh, yes, and congratulating itself on asking "tough questions" (which are never answered) and then acquiesces in the appointment of a sadist as Attorney General?
         

        •  Smart Strategy (none)
          You have to have a smart strategy if you hope to win this fight. You can't go rushing in foaming at the mouth.

          The numbers are clear -- we don't have the votes to defeat Torture Guy, not in the Judiciary Committee and not on the Senate floor. If it comes to a vote, we...will...lose.  

          So the only way to win is to prevent the vote from happening. I'm not saying lie down and be a pussy.  I'm saying ask tough questions in the Judiciary Committee, and demand answers. Beat Torture Guy upside the head outside, too, on the steps of the Capitol and on TV.  You can cause enough damage to Torture Guy's reputation that you erode support for him among moderate Republicans and people like McCain (not a moderate, but he served in the military and was a POW and understands torture).  Then Frist will start counting heads, and maybe he won't count enough to get Torture Guy through.  He dares not bring it to a vote and lose.  So Bush is forced to withdraw Torture Guy and come up with someone else (like, say, David Dukes).

          The other way is to damage Torture Guy's reputation enough that you can mount a filibuster without being seen as obstructionist. It's a fine line to walk -- do it too much and you are painted as obstructionists. Do it right, and in the right places, and you can succeed.  The worst thing you can do is start right off with a filibuster, lose (!!!!), and get painted as an obstructionist.

          That's where the concept of political capital comes in. Every once in a while we CAN peel away a few Republicans.  But if you piss away what little capital you have with crash-and-burn filibusters, not even the moderates will want to associate themselves with us. Moral capital is all well and good, but last I checked, you can't spend it anywhere.  Bring your VISA card, because Washington politicians don't take your Moral Capital card.

          But I'm not in Berkeley anymore

          by Paul in Berkeley on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 02:19:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  strongly oppose Gonzales (don't get psyched out) (none)
            We have a great opportunity here, including lots of new material from just the past few weeks, and we have to act quickly.

            So, I consider people who are afraid to fight this issue to be functionally trolls here; I wish they'd get with the program and leave maximum space for people who aren't ambivalent about torture, or adherence to the rule of law.  Let's turn all this material into a strong strategy.

            If Democrats can't confidently oppose torture and blatant Homeland Security incompetence (Gonzales' vetting of Bernard Kerik) there's nothing they can win -- the sooner we start embarrassing and replacing them, the better.

            Among those we need to confront on the Judiciary Committee: Schumer, Biden, and Feinstein.

            Letters to them might emphasize that this is about competence to do the job - the primary reason a Senator should reject a nominee.  This should be equally an issue for Republicans.  (If the recent Rumsfeld scuffling is any indication, it might be easier to get Republicans to stand up for competence than Democrats.)

            It's foolish and self-destructive to imagine postponing the first big Senate fight until a lifetime appointment comes up.
            Moreover, it's kind of sick to argue, in effect, that we can tolerate or embrace torture in hope of protecting legal abortions down the road.

            The Democrats need less of picking battles and more experience fighting, and winning - making moral appeals, investigating nominees, and embarrassing colleagues when it's appropriate.  They just need to do their jobs.

        •  Get answers to the questions: Torture, anyone? (none)
          RE: that first budget confrontation. Once they decided, they pugs confronted everything - a minority party defying moderate plans from the beginning - a popular president encircled by morons with toothpicks. Waco was erupting then as well, and the pugs used it as another confrontation point, then they caught onto the Vince Foster madness. The attacked everywhere, even though they were in the minority, but they used structured insanity (Contract with America) to become the majority. The press had to run to catch up with all the explosions they were throwing in the air. They created their own wind. There was so much confusion that they got defined as the soul-searching side of goodness. It quickly set up the loss of the health care plan and was the foundation of everything else that followed.

          Come on! Quite acting like liberals. Do we have to wait until they are bombing Laos and Cambodia, with a secret plan that includes bombing hospitals and dams over Christmas? Perhaps the populace isn't going to understand wars as corporate welfare, but they can understand and make a judgment about torture. If the American people want to say they are in favor of torture, let them make an active voice of it. "We are the country who likes torture. This is what we think Jesus would do and we support it. Torture may prove to be ineffective and we may be using it against people who don't know anything, but we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that they started it and we are going to end it if it is the last thing that we do." ...as it might well be.

          Appy Sun Tzu with the viewpoint that we are the leaders and the Senators and Congress people are the soldiers. All we ask of the Judiciary Senators, Dems and Rs, is to just ask the tough questions; Torture as American policy? Death Penalty for mentally handicapped? then bring in the bishops and military legal experts - convert some Republicans by holding them up against torture or no torture. Somehow, get Leahy to make a game out of this or get out of the way.

          "...
          Confront your soldiers with the deed itself; never let them know your design. When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy.
          Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.
          For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm's way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.
          Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.
          By persistently hanging on the enemy's flank, we shall succeed in the long run in killing the commander-in-chief.
          This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer cunning.
          On the day that you take up your command, block the frontier passes, destroy the official tallies, and stop the passage of all emissaries.
          Be stern in the council-chamber, so that you may control the situation.
          If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.
          Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.
          Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.

          Art of War, Chapter 11.

          •  Be stern in the council-chamber! (none)
            I like this kind of talk.  Paulinberkeley's strategic suggestions are excellent, but there is a tide in the affairs of men etc. etc. and this is a case, like Social Security, where the Dems should go all the way. The point is not whether we can win this fight; the point is that we should fight THIS fight.  It's all important in ethical terms because there's not a clearer moral/ethical issue out there.  It's all important in strategic terms because if we won't fight on such a clear moral issue, won't expose the Repubs for the moral relativists they are, WE look like the flipflopping, ethics-free weenies.  Again.  If Bush thinks torture is okay, let him say so.  If McCain, of all people, thinks torture is justified, I want him to have to say so too.  
  •  Fiscus: Retaliation for Opposition to Torture? (none)
    As Paul Craig Roberts observes today, the way Maj. Gen. Thomas Fiscus, judge advocate of the Air Force, was forced out of the service on highly unusual sex (consensual and heterosexual in his case) charges is highly suspicious.  The Washington Post recently reported that Fiscus was one of the leading military lawyers who opposed Rumsfeld over the torture.
  •  Contact the Republicans also (none)
    I will be contacting several republican senators also, those on the Judiciary committee, and selected others, particularly those who vocally support the Military, e.g Warner VA; also Senators such as Hagel and McCain that I honestly find common ground with on some issues.  

    Circumventing the Geneva conventions so flagrantly puts our troops directly in harm's way.  I want the Republicans to have to defend that on their record in 2006.

  •  Simple standard Re: Torture (none)
    It seems to me there is a simple standard to use regarding torture. Bush and company should ask themselves if they would be willing to subject themselves or their loved ones to the practices.

    If the answer is no than it's torture.

    But of course Bush and company would never imagine themselves is any situation that would threaten them with torture.

    Unfortunately are young men and women in uniform aren't quite as lucky.

    At least since October of 1965 when I went through basic training I've understood the reason for the Geneva Conventions. It's to protect OUR servicemen and women

  •  Keep in mind that a judge has held that (none)
    Gonzales was wrong in his torture memos.  Not only are his motives suspect, so are his legal abilities.
    •  I may be naive . . . (none)
      . . .but doesn't Gonzales have a conflict of interest, given the fact that he was Bush's counsel as governor of Texas, and is currently White House counsel?  He has information that may put him in an odd position if he's confirmed as A.G.  The A.G. is the "chief law enforcement officer of the Federal government."  To whom will he pledge his allegiance?  His former "client" or the United States?  
  •  "WE" must oppose ... (none)
    But of course the Democrats in the Senate will do nothing. Why even discuss it? There is no opposition party. Perhaps the Two Million Dollar Man can be persuaded to say a few words???

    Naah.

    When the Senate Democrats link arms to block Pennsylvania Avenue and go on hunger strikes for justice and the right to filibuster, I may change my mind.

    WongoBoy's from here, but his buddy blogs at FarrFeed.

    by WongoBoy on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 12:39:09 PM PST

  •  Seriously! (none)
    I just read all the other comments. What's with the "we" stuff? YOU GUYS AREN'T IN THE SENATE. This is like watching football on TV and calling the plays. It's long been obvious that nobody in elected office gives a fuck what "we" think. The question is, what to we do next.

    Gonzales is as good as confirmed. What do we do then?

    WongoBoy's from here, but his buddy blogs at FarrFeed.

    by WongoBoy on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 12:43:08 PM PST

  •  For want of more Hispanic votes (none)
    I don't think the Democrats allowing Gonzalas to get a free pass will help but then again I guess it's like that situation "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
  •  Here's something we 100% agree on. :-) (none)
    •  So I'm cleared of the (none)
      GOP Operative charge I hope?

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 03:44:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You didn't ever hear ME say that. I just thought (none)
        a lot of your comments to my posts were poorly reasoned and trashy (ie trollish).  I'm happy to recieve well posited criticism; that can only improve my posts. I'll give your comments high ratings even if they are extremely critical of my posts if they are well reasoned and clean. What doesn't help is trash talk.  Like I said, I'm 100% with you that Gonzales should be filibustered, and I'm sure there are many other things we'd agree on.  Lets focus on what we agree on and build from there.
  •  armando (none)
    I have been following kos only since Nov.  Many main bloggers provid original comment and essay.   However, Armando reiteratets old news and seldom uses own words. how did he get to be a main koskan..;or whatever it is called.

    When the president does it that means that it is not illegal."   --  Richard Nixon

    by WWWWout on Thu Dec 30, 2004 at 08:05:28 PM PST

  •  An external perspective, with apologies in advance (4.00)
    Whilst the debate on tactics and the political advisability of certain actions consumes a great deal of this thread, may I remind fellow Kossacks that the rest of the world is watching.

    It is irrelevant the degree to which Gonzales is culpable for what has occurred in your detention centres. Fairly or unfairly, through his advice and previous role he is associated with a policy that has gone badly wrong, to the discredit of your nation.

    To confirm him in a senior appointment after the revelations of abuse and torture conducted in certain detention centres under US control is to deny all the post Abu Ghraib statements attempting to isolate the events from the values of your country.

    The nomination of Gonzales is a further rejection of world opinion from a nation that has already exempted itself from international courts of justice.

    Please note that I am saying "the US" and "the nation" not "George Bush" and "this administration". The fine distinctions made here on DKos are not made in the street markets of the Middle East or even in those of Lyons, Stuttgart or Manchester.

    The response from the Democratic senator given upthread is totally inadequate. To answer the enquiry by saying that she shares some of the concerns expressed and will be raising questions related to these during the interrogatory appointment hearings is grossly inadequate. The issue is not simply whether Gonzales is fit for the office. It is one concerned with how fully and completely senate and the American people reject and are seen to reject what has occurred. To do so they must reject anyone who, rightly or wrongly, may have created an environment where abuse occurred.

    It is not the appointment of Gonzales that would be wrong. It is the nomination of Gonzales in the first place that is unacceptable. Again, the  fairness of this or otherwise is irrelevant.

    To denigrate this issue to the normal level of questions being raised about the individual is to forget within the space of a few weeks the international outcry against US policy in the area upon which Gonzales advised. It is essential that your nation seeks to cast out any suggestion that it covertly supports what it publicly denies.

    Even here on DKos we debate whether it will offend the Latin vote, whether tactically opposing Gonzales should be pursued energetically if it cannot succeed, what are the levels of representation to gain votes in Senate on this issue and what, if any, compromises might be made.

    There is no choice in this matter. There is either a total rejection or not of anyone and anything that may have brought into question the stated American belief that torture and abuse of prisoners is wrong. There is no middle ground on this issue.

    The only debate in DKos should be about how opposition to this nomination can be most effectively expressed in the sadly unfocussed and complex channels for doing this in such a vast country.

    The George Bush who appears to ignore world opinion about abuse and torture by so insensitively making this nomination is the same George Bush that refused to express the feelings of the American people about the disaster in Asia until forced by public opinion to do so.

    The same force of public opinion is needed now on this issue, not subjugated as part of the bureaucratic processes for appointing officials but as part of the American democratic political process in which a free people make their voices heard.

  •  key Gonzales corruption/incompetence: vetted Kerik (none)
    There's plenty of reason to think Gonzales's nomination can be derailed, because the playing field is changing and Senators can still be damaged or helped as the public learns more about him.

    Perhaps the most startling and useful new development came up shortly before this thread started.  Guess who was in charge of vetting Bernard Kerik for Homeland Security Secretary (to make sure he wasn't an embarrassment, a coward or a criminal) before Kerik self-destructed?   That's right, it was Alberto "Abu Ghraib" Gonzales.

    Any previous Senate would automatically disqualify Gonzales from being top cop simply for being too weak and biased to perform that critically important vetting task - even if he wasn't already America's torture poster boy.  Unfortunately, this Senate and Congress are themselves famously weak and incompetent, and thus reluctant to reverse the signals they sent a month ago.

    But by pushing the Kerik vetting and taking advantage of the fact that it's newer info, we can give Senators a chance to save face while changing their minds.  To say they trust Gonzales's judgment now, even Senators who aren't bothered by torture (amazingly, like Schumer) would also have to say they don't care whether Homeland Security is run by crooks, and don't care whether the Attorney General knows how to do a background check.  

    The beautiful thing is, at that point it's not political -- once it's widely known, even Republicans will be able to score points with their constituents by being tougher than the nominee on Homeland Security.

    So yes, Gonzales's nomination can end much as Kerik's did - a public embarrassment despite early support from some key Democrats.

  •  questions for Gonzales hearing (none)
    It's exciting to see this community aim to help fight this nomination.  (I'm new to Kos.)  
    This thread is full of great comments and investigative data that can become the basis of questions during confirmation:

    * Gonzales was unable to perform the most rudimentary background check on Security Secretary nominee Kerik when requested by the President
       o    ask for a copy of Gonzales' report to the President, to demonstrate his competence
       o    if it's secret, ask why Gonzales still would rather protect the former nominee than the U.S.

    • according to the Supreme Court, the Gonzales White House consistently guessed wrong about what's Constitutional
    • he secretly recommended that the U.S. violate the Constitution and violate treaties with its allies
    • newly released FBI memos corroborate detainees' accounts of torture and the Pentagon's approval of them - the Pentagon got his torture memos
    • the record shows the White House and AG can't uncover and investigate reports from the FBI without help from the ACLU
    • last Friday's attempt by Gonzales to publicly reverse the secret pro-torture memos his team produced in 2002.

    I wrote Senator Boxer several weeks ago and got back a vague reply with too many empty platitudes, from the same form letter her colleagues use.  But that was before the Kerik scandal broke.

    It's critical constituents keep Senators' backs against the wall on the Kerik issue.  To my knowledge, Gonzales (along with Senators Schumer and Clinton) has remained quiet about the Kerik scandal rather than publicly reverse previous signals.  We need to make it clear that their constituents feel it strongly: a vote for Gonzales is a vote for sloppy, untrustworthy, corrupt Homeland Security, and that it's just not acceptable today.

    The Kerik tack can work even on Senators who fantasize about torturing hostile arabs and getting away with it.  Sadly, that may be what's needed to keep Gonzales from becoming top cop.

    And it's a rich vein.  Shouldn't the public know that Kerik went to Iraq to train security forces, promised to stay until it was secure, then quietly ran away 3 months later?  Did Gonzales uncover that while vetting him for Security here, or did he fail to?  Any answer is good.  Gonzales can fairly be tarred with Kerik's whole glorious resume.

    What states are you from?  Do you have a Senator who you think could help fight this nomination?

    Is anyone reading this in Vermont?  It might be good to have Patrick Leahy's ear...

  •  Bork Gonzales And The Horse He Rode In On (none)
    This is the first major battleground in getting the country to realize the extremism that is rampant in the administration. As the farce of the upcoming elections becomes apparent, questions about how the administration failed to win hearts and minds with their nouveau barbarism will come to the fore.

    Waiting for the first centrist Democrat to claim that our soft position on torture is why we can't win national elections.

  •  news: the ACLU and Feinstein's constituents agree (none)
    Every day there's new ammo against AG nominee AAGG -- Alberto "Abu Ghraib" Gonzales.  Today the ACLU has a new press release and report, which includes areas others have brought up here.

    The ACLU report also calls on the Senate to examine a number of different potential blemishes on Gonzales's civil liberties record, including:

    • His role in developing legal arguments that permitted aggressive interrogation tactics in the months after 9/11, and denying detainees in the "war on terror" any formal legal protections (through which truly innocent captives could at least have some avenue to clear their names). In particular, the ACLU asks the White House to preemptively waive executive privilege for a raft of documents relating to these matters that currently remain withheld.
    • Whether the White House counsel's office played the leading role in creating the system by which the president could move American citizens from the criminal justice system into detention as "enemy combatants," without any formal due process protections.
    • Gonzales's role as the chief administration cheerleader for the system of military tribunals for detainees in the war on terrorism, without the due process protections of the regular military justice system, which was recently halted after a federal court decision questioning its constitutionality.
    • Whether the White House Counsel's office supported the Musgrave-Allard version of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have banned not only same-sex marriage rights, but civil union status as well.
    • The now infamous Texas "clemency memos" drafted by Gonzales for then-Governor Bush, which almost uniformly fail to mention key factors in each case, including evidence of innocence, that supported granting clemency to death row inmates.

    The ACLU report doesn't mention the Gonzales vetting Bernard Kerik scandal, since that's all about corruption and incompetence, not civil liberties.

    When I called Senator Feinstein's office today, the person answering admitted that every call they've gotten about Gonzales has been against confirming him.

    Then when I asked if that means Diane will obviously be voting against him, the slime started: "Senator Feinstein has not released a statement."

    Especially since she waffled and ultimately voted to confirm Ashcroft, and since the nearest election is behind us, I look forward to publicly embarassing Feinstein, and worse, unless she shows signs of getting her act together and representing the people of California, not just herself and other cowards in her party.

    If Feinstein is too weak to come out firmly for her constituents, for competence, and against torture, she deserves the worst she gets.  Californians have plenty of time to find a genuine representative by 2006.

    I've actually never come across an Alberto Gonzales fan - Democrat or Republican, pink or brown.

    And that makes this one of our best opportunities to expose un-democratic government in action.  It may not be hard to document the fact that Senators are considering votes that defy the people who elected them.  As aggressiveprogressive and others have said, if they're going to confirm Gonzales, let's make them personally advocate the facilitation of torture, publicly yet at odds with their constituents.

    (Don't laugh or run scared, but this approach even offers a strong basis to include the Senators in War Crimes tribunals like the one filed against Rumsfeld and others in German courts this past November - a case that grows stronger daily.  

    We might even see a different attitude from Feinstein, Schumer, Biden and the others if, beyond being at odds with their voters, their support could make them an accessory or negligent accomplice to war crimes.  Moreover, Americans will be safer worldwide if the responsibility rests clearly with the U.S. Senators and not the populace.)

    So please:
    Contact your Senators, especially if they're on the Judiciary Committee, speak your mind, and be sure to ask what callers are saying about Gonzales - often the people who answer the Senator's phones aren't trained or paid to lie.

    Tell them, if the Senator sincerely supports Homeland Security, he needs to ask Gonzales why he thinks Bernard Kerik would be a good Homeland Security Secretary, and why he hasn't yet come clean with the public on his Kerik "background check" and the year's biggest domestic security blunder.  And of course, this should be in addition to questions about his support for torture.

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