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Thursday, January 06, 2005

"Quaint" is the word Bush's attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales, whose confirmation hearings begin today, used in a memo to describe the Geneva Convention when, as chief White House counsel, he advised the president on how to sidestep international law to allow the type of 'interrogation' tactics, also known as torture. These tactics exploded last year when the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal became public. Originally dismissed as an isolated incident (or, if you're Rush Limbaugh, a "fraternity prank") the tactics used at Abu Ghraib have since been revealed as widespread and authorized by top administration officials, all because Mr. Gonzales found himself a legal loophole to exploit.

Those infamous photos from Abu Ghraib probably set any hope for progressive relations with the Muslim world back at least decade. Of course, since a rebuttal to Gonzales' infamous memo to Bush, saying the new policy would "undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops," produce "negative international reaction" and "provoke some individual foreign prosecutors to investigate and prosecute our officials and troops." Once again, Powell, the lone voice of reason in W's 1st term cabinet, spoke out against the administration. And for that, Powell is on his way out and Gonzales is on his way in. As always, loyalty trumps logic in Bush World.

Gonzales' actions have been heavily criticized by a raft of opponents, both expected (Democrats, the ACLU), and unexpected (Republicans, the military). The administration tried to pull a fast one last Friday, releasing a new memo on torture to "replace" Gonzales' original 'sure-it's-ok-to-shock-em-in-the-balls' memo with a less torture-friendly one. Once again, in its oh-so-Orwellian way, the Bush administration is trying to erase and rewrite history.

Regardless of all of this, Gonzales' nomination will most likely be confirmed after his feet are politely (but not seriously) held to the fire by Congress. Administration cheerleaders and apologists will hail the nomination of Gonzales, the son of Mexican immigrants, as a sign of W's progressive politics and unprecedented diversity of his cabinet. But don't be fooled by all the hoo-haa sure to come out of Washington in the coming weeks. This man's record, which not only includes the aforementioned recommendations of torture but also the legal ink on W's record-setting execution resume while serving as governor of Texas, should not be trumped by his lineage.

If (when) Gonzales is confirmed, us unpatriotic dissidents may long for the days of John Ashcroft as we're being forced to jump onto Gonzales' naked man-pile of shame.

Slate: All the President's Lawyers
Nation: The Case Against Gonzales
People for the American Way: Statement of Opposition
WA Post: A Full History of the Torture Memo Scandal
Video: Say No to Torture
Sign MoveOn's petition

Just remember, the actions of this man: resulted in this:

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