Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Consequences Could Be Devastating!

Your opinion about Alberto Gonzales sounds well and good at the beginning. A rags to riches story we all want our politicians to have. It's the second half of the story that bothers me.

You mention that Judge Gonzales got his start in government when he "came to work" for George W. Bush. Then you gloss over his first job to go on to the Texas Supreme Court. Why is that sir? Tell me then, what did he do while he was general Counsel? Wasn't he the one who made clemency recommendations to help Bush decide which inmate deserves execution? And how did he carry out his charge when he made all those "bad people" go away to that undiscovered country called death? Was he in any way thoughtful? Did he look to see if just once there may not have been at least once a miscarriage of justice taking place?

So when Terry Washington was executed it did not matter to Mr. Gonzales in the least to inform the governor that the jury on his case was not informed that he was a man of diminished mental capacity, and was not told this when he was condemned to die? Surely he must have had enough paper and ink to do it since he devoted a third of the report to describing the details of the case. No matter how grisly the governor must know right? Yet he could not spare a single syllable on the simple phrase "diminished capacity"!

This case was typical of the short shrift Gonzales would give each capital case, spending no more than a half an hour on each case leaving gaping holes of evidence and information from the eyes of the governor. In capital cases, every bit of information matters, since after the execution there is no further appeal. Yet in forty nine out of fifty death-row cases clemency was denied, let alone not recommended. And who was the beneficiary of Gonzales' one and only recommendation of clemency? Henry Lee Lucas. I suppose you’d need to be a serial killer of Lucas' type to prove that there was something "not right". with you!

And if you think that this was a fluke, that peruse the Atlantic Monthly :

"Consider the case of Billy Conn Gardner, whose death-penalty case was plagued by issues of incompetent counsel, dubious witness testimony, and unheard mitigating evidence.

Gonzales's report to Bush gave no sense of these circumstances. It matter-of-factly described the robbery of a high school cafeteria in Dallas, during which Gardner, wearing a stocking to obscure his face, allegedly shot and fatally wounded Thelma Row, sixty-four, a cafeteria worker. Also in the cafeteria at the time was Paula Sanders, a co-worker who had told her husband, Melvin, that several thousand dollars in daily cafeteria receipts were processed in a back room at the school. Melvin, who drove the getaway car, claimed that he had persuaded Gardner to participate.

Paula, who knew Gardner, said that she could provide no description of the assailant, because her back was turned. Before Row died, however, she had been able to describe a man with a 'bony face ... and a two-inch goatee.' Gonzales didn't tell Bush that the state was unable to produce a single witness who recalled ever seeing Gardner with a goatee, or that two witnesses to the shooting'Carolyn Sims and the school custodian, Lester Matthews' described a man with reddish-blond hair, whereas Gardner's hair was black."

And this from the Center For American Progress:

'As chief legal counsel for then-Gov. Bush in Texas, Gonzales was responsible for writing a memo on the facts of each death penalty case.' Bush decided whether a defendant should live or die based on the memos. An examination of the Gonzales memoranda by the Atlantic Monthly concluded, "Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." His memos caused Bush frequently to approve executions based on "only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute." Rather than informing the governor of the conflicting circumstances in a case, "The memoranda seem attuned to a radically different posture, assumed by Bush from the earliest days of his administration 'one in which he sought to minimize his sense of legal and moral responsibility for executions."

As a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Justice Gonzales was a man of dubious morality. The allegations of judicial bribery are numerous according to Texans for Public Justice:

" the weeks between February oral arguments and this month's decision in Henson v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance, Justices Nathan Hecht and Alberto Gonzales each collected a $2,000 contribution premium from the Texas Farm Bureau (which runs the defendant insurance company in this case).

Just before January oral arguments in the other case, Embrey v. Royal Insurance, Justice Gonzales picked up a $2,500 contribution premium from the law firm defending that insurer. Justices Gonzales, Hecht and Owen also received another $2,500 each from Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons last fall.

Defending the insurance industry contribution in the Henson case, Justice Gonzales said, 'In the whole scheme of things, $2,000 isn't going to have any kind of influence on me.'

'In the whole scheme of things' Justice Gonzales did not need the conflict-ridden money that he took from the Texas Farm Bureau. Gonzales raised $1,047 for every dollar his opponent raised.

If $2,000 won't influence a justice, try $55,000. This is how much money Texans for Lawsuit Reform rounded up for Gonzales. TLR money accounts for 10 percent of all the money in Gonzales' $539,000 war chest.

For whatever reason, insurance companies continue to clean up before the high court. Insurers won 71 percent of the cases that they had before the Texas Supreme Court in the 1990s."

Everything seems to point to a man who is simply corrupt. Let us not mince words. He is corrupt and sociopathic. Let us further examine instances of his corruption and his sociopathy:

The rules of warfare seemed to change for the Bush administration after 9/11. This became quite evident when the FBI and National Security Council lost the battle of the treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners. Suddenly the traditional but effective methods of interrogation were not enough. More intense techniques such as “water-boarding” where water is dripped into wet cloth over a suspect’s face. This can feel like drowning. These methods were found to be acceptable, so long as they did not result in permanent or lethal injuries. According to Newsweek:

"The handling of al-Libi touched off a long-running battle over interrogation tactics inside the administration. It is a struggle that continued right up until the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April—and it extended into the White House, with Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council pitted against lawyers for the White House counsel and the vice president. Indeed, one reason the prison abuse scandal won't go away—two months after gruesome photos were published worldwide—is that a long paper trail of memos and directives from inside the administration has emerged, often leaked by those who disagreed with rougher means of questioning.

Last week the White House dismissed news accounts of one such memo, an explosive August 2002 brief from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel disclosed by The Washington Post. The memo, drafted by former OLC lawyer John Yoo, has been widely criticized for seeming to flout conventions against torture. It defends most interrogation methods short of severe, intentionally inflicted pain and permanent damage. White House officials told reporters that such abstract legal reasoning was insignificant and did not reflect the president's orders. But NEWSWEEK has learned that Yoo's August 2002 memo was prompted by CIA questions about what to do with a top Qaeda captive, Abu Zubaydah, who had turned uncooperative. And it was drafted after White House meetings convened by George W. Bush's chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, along with Defense Department general counsel William Haynes and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's counsel, who discussed specific interrogation techniques, says a source familiar with the discussions. Among the methods they found acceptable: "water-boarding," or dripping water into a wet cloth over a suspect's face, which can feel like drowning; and threatening to bring in more-brutal interrogators from other nations."

Any man or woman whose entire career shows a callous disregard for even the most basic rights of a human being, friend or foe, does not understand the most basic of tenets of justice which ironically can be found, (for those who wish to blur the lines between church and state) in these words:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

No comments: