Saturday, January 8, 2005
The attorney general in his labyrinth.
Yesterday morning, listening to "highlights" of the confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales on NPR, I felt almost dizzy with disgust at his evasion of the most fundamental question: Does the president have the authority to operate above the law? Torture is so academic for this man. It's a subject about which he maintains such dispassion, such profound agnosticism. We'd never do it, you see, so who cares that I asked for justifications for redefining it and said that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to us, and anyway, let's not talk about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, we've changed our policy, so let's just draw a curtain of discretion over the last two years, shall we? After all, at least I didn't employ a "nanny" or anything unethical like that.
Chris Suellentrop at Slate sums up Gonzales's apparent attitude:
Early in the day, Gonzales professed the requisite faith that America was "a nation of laws and not of men," but his opinion of the president's ability—however limited—to authorize individuals to engage in criminal acts suggests the opposite. This is a government of good men, Gonzales implicitly assured the senators, so there's no need to worry about legal hypotheticals like whether torture is always verboten. Don't worry, because we don't do it. It's a strange argument from a conservative: We're the government. Trust us.
Ah, but these are strange times: The executive branch is paying good money to insure our trust in its policies. A day after Gonzales led the Senate through a labyrinth of legal obscurities, we learned that the Department of Education paid conservative "journalist" Armstrong Williams $241,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on his own program, in his syndicated column, and in his appearances as a commentator on CNN and other networks. Not only that, it turns out that the Office of Drug Control Policy provided local TV stations with a "news report" to broadcast just before the Super Bowl featuring a "journalist" reporting on a White House ad campaign on the dangers of drug abuse. Congress's Government Accountability Office called the practice illegal "covert propaganda," according to yesterday's Washington Post.
Your tax dollars at work, my friends.
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 8 January 2005 at 12:15 PM