Friday, November 12, 2004

What We Know About Alberto Gonzales

Post-Mortem Self Portrait
Originally uploaded by akook.
We cannot expect a sense of justice of any kind from Gonzales, because his moral ambivalence concerning POWs is part of a pattern that he has displayed throughout his legal carreer. He is accused by some of being cursory in clemency examinations as Bush's General Counsel in Texas when it came to death penalty cases.

Gonzales' assertion that this war is not the same as a conventional war is called into question by the fact that he is behaving according to a norm established as General Counsel to Bush when he was Governor of Texas. Many cases that were not very well handled by the defense, or unethically dealt with by the prosecution, were not reported as such to the governor by Gonzales. This is very troubling, as it shows a two-fisted attitude of a man who has no regard for the reasons for time-consuming procedures of just adjudication and verification. Alibis were ignored. Plea bargains were not looked into. Evidence that the jury was unaware of not reported. The quality of prosecution witnesses wasn't looked into.

The case of David Wayne Stoker is an example. In his clemency examination Gonzales gives only 18 sentences to a highly complex case according to "Fight the Death Penalty in USA". He failed to mention the deals, recantations, and perjuries that took place in the course of Stoker's case. He also failed to mention that a psychiatrist, Dr. James Grigson, whose testimony was used, was expelled form the American Psychiatric Association two years before the case was reviewed by Gonzales. Another medical witness against Stoker, Ralph Erdman relinquished his license, and pleaded no contest to 7 felonies tied to falsified evidence. Later investigation found that Erdman did the same in 27 other cases and that he always made the evidence fit the prosecution's case.

As General Counsel to the President, Gonzales has taken a similar attitude towards "enemy combatants" from Afghanistan in his now famous memo. He rejects the idea that "enemy combatants" have the same rights as POWs under the Third Geneva Convention.

Argument number 1: Not treating them as POWs lessens chances of prosecution. Why?

Gonzales knows something.

According to Gonzales, treating al Qaeda or Taliban fighters as POWs makes it easier to be prosecuted for "vague" offenses prohibited by Geneva III like "outrages upon human dignity" and "inhuman treatment".

Is Gonzales laying the groundwork for torture?

The second reason given is it is a contingency for unforeseen circumstances that could arise from war. In other words torture should be kept handy!

The memo states that the President determined with OLC guidance that the President doesn't have to apply GPW to al Qaeda or Taliban.

He reasons that because Afghanistan was a failed state any protocols for the treatment of prisoners do not apply.

Taliban occupied a gray area at best. It was a terrorist group, but it controlled territory.

Something is wrong here. This guy is now to be our Attorney General? He makes me long for the good ol' days of Ashcroft already! Still, it is a perfect opportunity to point out to people the difference between the Bush agenda and morality. Gonzales is typical of the moral caliber or lack thereof, of a Bush operative. And they want to make him go through hearings? I'd like that! Let's get all the questions asked. Let's get some really good human rights lawyers from the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center involved. I hope the Democrats use the word "morality" a LOT!

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