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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oppose Gonzales for attorney general.

Stop Torture - Unitarian Universalist Service CommitteeAlberto Gonzales, the man who gave President Bush the quasi-legal cover for the brutal abuse of detainees in the war on terror, is about to become the country's chief law enforcer. Think about that for a moment. Then call your senators and insist that they vote no on Gonzales's confirmation as attorney general.

Mark Danner, who covered Abu Ghraib for the New York Review of Books and is the author of the new book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror, recently wrote:

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Americans began torturing prisoners, and they have never really stopped. However much these words have about them the ring of accusation, they must by now be accepted as fact. From Red Cross reports, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba's inquiry, James R. Schlesinger's Pentagon-sanctioned commission and other government and independent investigations, we have in our possession hundreds of accounts of "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment — to use a phrase of the Red Cross — "tantamount to torture."

So far as we know, American intelligence officers, determined after Sept. 11 to "take the gloves off," began by torturing Qaeda prisoners. They used a number of techniques: "water-boarding," in which a prisoner is stripped, shackled and submerged in water until he begins to lose consciousness, and other forms of near suffocation; sleep and sensory deprivation; heat and light and dietary manipulation; and "stress positions."

Eventually, these practices "migrated," in the words of the Schlesinger report, to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where for a time last spring the marvel of digital technology allowed Americans to see what their soldiers were doing to prisoners in their name.

Though the revelations of Abu Ghraib transfixed Americans for a time, in the matter of torture not much changed. After those in Congress had offered condemnations and a few hearings distinguished by their lack of seriousness; after the administration had commenced the requisite half-dozen investigations, none of them empowered to touch those who devised the policies; and after the low-level soldiers were placed firmly on the road to punishment — after all this, the issue of torture slipped back beneath the surface. . . .

Why is it so important to stop Gonzales's confirmation? Danner explains:

Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States' fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.

Daily Kos is collecting the names of bloggers who publicly oppose Gonzales's confirmation. I'm adding my name to their statement, which reads in part:

As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.

(Thanks for the nudge, Left Coast Unitarian!)

Update 2.2.05: The Boston Globe reports:

Democrats yesterday delayed a vote on Gonzales's nomination, even though his confirmation is not in serious doubt, and would not allow a vote until tomorrow at the earliest, saying the matter deserved a full debate. Several Democratic senators and aides said at least 30 senators will vote against Gonzales, and one aide said the number could reach 40. The Senate has 44 Democrats, 55 Republicans, and one independent.

Call your senators today.

("Democrats Mobilize Against Gonzales," Rick Klein, Boston Globe 2.2.05)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 25 January 2005 at 11:40 PM

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January 26, 2005 01:15 PM | Permalink for this comment

Human Rights First has prepared a very effective Flash animation movie about Gonzales that you'll want to watch.


March 16, 2005 03:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

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