] I'm continuing to read about Gonzales and haven't made up my
] own mind about him yet, but so far he seems to be a relatively
] moderate choice, with critics and supporters on both sides of
] the political spectrum.
Thats true. The specific use of the word "quaint" is being spun by the left to an unreasonable degree. The other memo that I posted, which Gonzales did not write, but apparently signed off on, is a much greater concern with respect to the torture question. Gonzales is not the source of the torture culture, but then he didn't stand up to fight it either.
I think its likely that he will be approved.
Having said that, I'm not at all comfortable with this memo, for a tangental reason.
Ryan recently reminded me that back when Bush was a Governor in Texas he executed several people who were foreign nationals who were not provided access to their consulate. I'm sure his rationale was murder is murder and these people are murderers, so who cares what happens to them. The problem is that Bush's Texas moral values and our deliberative system of justice do not exist in other parts of the world, and should I be arrested in another part of the world I want access to the US consulate. The only thing that provides it to me is our agreement to do the same. Bush put my life at risk by shunning an long standing international agreement about consulate access for foreign nationals charged with a crime.
This wasn't an anomaly. It's a pattern. Its a pattern of tossing out legal constrictions on the power of the government that exist for very good reasons. As these checks continue to be eroded the abuse they were intended to prevent will break out, even if we don't mean for it to happen that way. In some circumstances a case may be made that these constrictions are obsolete, but the problem is that we don't seek to mend them. We simply toss them away and forget about it. Its a pattern that I feel is reckless.
Its a pattern that repeated itself in the use of material witness warrants and enemy combatant designations to detain American citizens on US soil without access to counsel and without charges.
Its a pattern that repeated itself in the use of patriot act capabilities outside of the scope of anti-terror investigations.
Its a pattern that repeated itself in terms of the standards used to justify our invasion of Iraq, which were a significant break from previously understood international law.
Its a pattern that repeated itself when we declared the U.N. obsolete.
Its a pattern that repeated itself when we removed the ABA from the judicial nomination process.
Its a pattern that repeats itself in the open hostility that the Republicans have for the Constitutional review of legislation.
Its a pattern that repeats itself today in the Republican effort to remove the fillibuster rule for judicial nominations.
Its a pattern that repeated itself in terms of our handling of enemy combatants, where we simply shunned, through these memos, international agreements about prisoners of war.
I agree that some of the Geneva conventions may be obsolete. However, reasonable comments that some minor details of these systems may be obsolete do NOT equate to a mandate for tearing them down completely and replacing them with nothing.
Gonzales argues here that our humane treatment of prisoners will serve just as well, but certainly Abu Gharib, whether it was the direct result of these memos or not, has largely squandered that arguement. Some will look to our prosecution of those responsible as a sign that we take this seriously. Others will let their emotions about the incident rule.
There are good reasons why there are limits upon the power of the Government, and hard learned were they. We've forgotten them. We act with "firm resolve" and toss away any rule or institution that stands in the way.
Lying in ruins after the past 4 years is the international system of laws and institutions that was designed to keep the peace in the post war era. Nothing has been done to replace these systems with anything that might work better. They're just gone.
In his first term Bush took some shots at the system of judicial review that we have domestically to keep the government from flying off the handle. His party has made it quite clear that this system is in the cross hairs for the next four years, and they have the mandate to follow through on that.
What we may be left with at the end of the decade is a government that has more freedom to act, both domestically and internationally, then any we've known in 100 years or longer.
I think its likely we'll relearn why these institutions existed, the hard way. I don't look forward to that, but no one seems to be listening.
A great cataclysm is coming...
RE: Gonzales Memo