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November 30, 2004
Left Attack Warning: Alberto Gonzales - Battle next week
Filed in: Alberto Gonzales, Current Affairs, Politics

Because I love our country, I subject you to another long post. Please indulge me.

We all briefly heard a couple of weeks ago that the President chose Judge Alberto Gonzales to be the new Attorney General. According to a CNN report, it is the Senate Judiciary Committee's plan to hold the hearings the 6th, 7th, or 8th of December - next week.

What we may not be prepared for is that the Left is going to attempt to make these confirmation hearings into a pillory for Judge Gonzales and a referendum on Abu Ghraib and the civil rights of terrorists.

Here's what has been happening since November 10:

The ACLU issued a press release (of course claiming their - hold your gorge in, I know it will take some effort - 'uncompromising non-partisanship') which said in part:

Mr. Gonzales should be queried, moreover, on his January 25, 2002 memo, authored in his capacity as White House counsel, which described certain legal protections guaranteed in the Geneva Conventions to persons captured during military hostilities as "obsolete" and "quaint." His confirmation hearings should also examine in detail Mr. Gonzales’ approval of the now-disavowed Justice Department memoranda that condoned the torture and incommunicado and indefinite detention of detainees captured during the Afghanistan conflict.

This is what this means: "We call all organizations and persons of progressive stripe to conjure up allegations against this man that show him to be personally responsible for any civil rights violations that have occurred and show him to be someone who personally enjoys torturing poor defeated terrorists."

The ACLU release was simultaneously followed up with a Sanger and Lichtblau piece from the NY Times (h/t Times Watch), which said in part:

Many civil rights groups on Wednesday were quick to attack Mr. Gonzales for what they saw as legal policies and opinions that opened the door to the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Critics of Mr. Gonzales argue that such logic put military and intelligence officials on the path to the abuses at Abu Ghraib, even though the White House had previously insisted that the Geneva conventions applied to detainees. Mr. Gonzales has denied a link between those memorandums and the abuses. Yet the issue seems bound to be explored, and Anthony Romero, head of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the 2002 memorandum "will be the single toughest issue for him, because there's actually a paper trail."

This is what this means: "Many leftist groups are sure that one thing Judge Gonzales must be held responsible for is Abu Ghraib."

A November 11th (since updated on November 12th - to add, guess what? a Halliburton reference!) The New Standard published a report: "Bush Fingers Torture Apologist for Attorney General" which says in part:

"Making Alberto Gonzales the Attorney General of the United States would be a travesty," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, in a press statement. "It would mean taking one of the legal architects of an illegal and immoral policy and installing him as the official who is charged with protecting our constitutional rights. The Gonzales memo paved the way to Abu Ghraib."

This is what this means: "If we get enough leftist groups to say this enough times, it must be true."

By November 16th the fix was in. Leftist blogger Btc News penned in part:

One of the first tests of the senate minority will come with the confirmation hearings for torturer-at-large and attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales and Rice. We'll see if the Democrats have the spine to bring up Alberto's sociopathic approach to domestic and international law... (Ed: italics mine)

There now, the straw man is built: Judge Gonzales himself has acted in the fashion of Genghis Kahn.

Leftist rant and cartoonist Ted Rall wrote in his "Monster of a Lawyer" 'strip' on November 16:

Alberto Gonzales, on the other hand, possesses one of the most twisted minds the American legal system has ever produced.

If Bush gets his way, the nation's chief law enforcement official will be a man whose warped interpretation of presidential power, contempt for due process and gleeful deconstruction of fundamental human values puts him at odds with every patriotic American.

Gonzales is the author of the infamous August 2002 "Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," a legal opinion issued while on his current job as White House Counsel. The 50-page "torture memo," which provides government interrogators justification to torture suspects in the war on terrorism, isn't just another memo. It's a benchmark position paper, a document that Administration figures from Bush and Rumsfeld down to CIA interrogators at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib still rely upon to protect themselves from possible future prosecution for war crimes.

Oh yes, Judge Gonzales is also the twisted enemy of every patriotic American.

A Yahoo search for "+alberto +gonzales +torture" currently yields about 38,000 results. Not all of these, of course, accuse Gonzales as an apologist for torture - or worse, but the negative heavily outweigh the positive.

Last Friday, the Washington Times summarized the opposition, saying in part:

A coalition of liberal groups is vowing to challenge the nomination of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney general over his role in policies governing the treatment of detainees in Iraq and in the war on terrorism.

You know, any time the People for the American Way, the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, the National Lawyers Guild, Human Rights First, Amnesty International, and the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights are against someone, he's got to be a pretty fantastic guy.

Ready to hear the truth about those memos?

What does that one say that discusses "certain legal protections guaranteed in the Geneva Conventions to persons captured during military hostilities as 'obsolete' and 'quaint.'"?

Here's what it says exactly in the paragraph from the memo from which the straw man has been constructed (and it's why context is so important):

As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war. It is not the traditional clash between nations adhering to the laws of war that formed the backdrop for GPW. The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians, and the need to try terrorists for war crimes such as wantonly killing civilians, In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments. (Ed: Italics mine)

The entire memo is here (requires Adobe Acrobat reader).

This is a memo from Judge Gonzales to the President of the United States on how, in the face of terrorist aggression, we should treat those terrorists who in many cases may be 'nonstate actors' or are part of al Qaeda or the Taliban - rogue semi-states at best. As we have continued to learn in the intervening years since this was written - the face of our enemy is one of evil and we see it in the beheadings, the draggings, the burnings, the bombings, and the Fallujah slaughter houses. Such wanton beasts - who do not distinguish military target from civilian - do not deserve politeness or visits to the neighborhood store, or salary, or soccer outfits, or telescopes - quaint indeed.

The ACLU release and the mad descent following are patently false on their faces.

And, despite Rall's rant, Judge Gonzales did not write the "infamous August 2002 'Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A,'" memo. Perhaps in his misguided haze, Rall couldn't distinguish between the word 'for' and the word 'from' - as this memo was written 'for' Judge Gonzales, and was not 'from' him. It was signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee.

This is a wide ranging legal theory document (requires Adobe Acrobat reader) in which every aspect of considering how to deal with despicable rabble whose entire life focus is to kill Americans is explored. September 11, 2001 changed the world. It isn't unreasonable to perform an exhaustive exploration of the legal theory behind how to treat with homicidal butchers. In a press conference earlier this year, Judge Gonzales has already fully and clearly explained the administration's position on this subject.

And Ted Rall owes Judge Gonzales a written retraction.

Next week bears the prospect of the first major showdown for George Bush's second administration.

We have many young men and women who carry the cause of freedom abroad and who are, as I write, sometimes sacrificing their very lives for our grand American ideal. Many of us here, who cannot defend Her abroad, must defend this great land from the unholy alliance between the left and the terrorists at home. We must choose with whom we will stand. Will we stand with those that defend the indefensible? Or will we stand with the President?

Note that some of the leftist organizations are calling for a Democratic filibuster. I realize that the Vietnam era set a very high bar for sedition and treason - but, in my book, this obtains.

Senators - Before any of you decide to ally with those who support terrorists and hate America, think about the fate of Tom Daschle. If you obstruct this appointment or truck with these liars, you will lose your office. The majority of Americans will not allow threats to our families to realize while you make us suffer your antipathy.

UPDATE: Many thanks for the link from Jeff at Protein Wisdom.

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Colin Powell Jan 2002 memo in response to Gonzales' memo: "The draft does not squarely present to the President the options that are open to him...It [declaring Geneva does not apply] will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops, both in this specific conflict and in general."

"The Pentagon's lawyers wanted Geneva to apply but we were overruled by the White House and the Justice Department. If we – 'we' being the uniformed lawyers – had been listened to, and what we said put into practice, then these abuses would not have occurred."
Rear Admiral Don Guter (ret.), Navy Judge Advocate General 2000-2002.

"When you say something down the chain of command like, 'The Geneva conventions don't apply,' that sets the stage for the kind of chaos that we've seen,"
Rear Admiral John Hutson (ret.), Navy Judge Advocate General 1997-2000.

Aren't we lucky that you're so much smarter than those guys? So smart, in fact, that you give potted (twisted) summaries of various "leftist rants" for your readers - who you apparently think are too stupid to understand the meaning of the originals without your help.

Of course there's no connection between Gonzales and the torture, rape and murder practised at Abu Ghraib and the other US detention centers. The fact that the Govt decided it was ok and the soldiers immediately started doing it is pure coincidence, or even leftist propaganda.

Keep up the good work, defender of freedom. A few more weeks of logic like yours and you will have convinced yourself that the torturers weren't Americans at all, but dastardly Frenchmen trying to blacken the US' name by impersonating US soldiers.

PS Mr Fact-checker, if you'd actually bothered to read the August memo instead of just the ABC blurb at the top, you'd have noticed that it wasn't signed by Jay S. Bybee as you claim, but by John Yoo, another of the Bush Administration's little legal Himmlers.

EMCEE: Owen, you prove my points. And I did read the memo - it's right there on page 46 - Jay S. Bybee. Do you need me to take a capture of it and send it to you?

Posted by: Owen Dyer at Dec 30, 2004 6:03:08 PM

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