[News] CCR Opposes Nomination of Alberto Gonzales to Attorney General

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 11 13:09:26 EST 2004

Center for Constitutional Rights Opposes Nomination of Alberto Gonzales to 
Attorney General Post
Group Cites Gonzales Memo Calling Geneva Conventions “Quaint” and “Obsolete”


On November 10, 2004 in New York, NY the Center for Constitutional Rights 
(CCR) voiced strong opposition to the nomination of White House Counsel 
Alberto Gonzales to replace Attorney General John Ashcroft.  Citing the 
infamous leaked January 25, 2002, Gonzales’ memo justifying the suspension 
of the Geneva Conventions in the war on terror, CCR Legal Director Jeffrey 
Fogel said, “To call the Geneva Conventions, which were put in place after 
the atrocities of World War II to govern the future conduct of war and 
prevent such horrors from ever occurring, ‘quaint’ and ‘obsolete’ is to go 
back down a path we thought we would never travel again.”

In early 2002, Gonzales, then Counsel to the President, sought a memo from 
the Justice Department addressing whether the Administration could evade 
current treaties and laws in its treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban 
detainees without being open to prosecution for war crimes.  Gonzales used 
that memo to justify ignoring such bedrock guarantees as the Geneva 
Conventions in the interrogation of prisoners, which led directly to the 
abuse and torture in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib prison.

Many within the Administration disagreed with the DOJ’s 
reasoning.  Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in opposition saying  it 
would “reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the 
Geneva Conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our 
troops”; that it would have a “high cost in terms of negative international 
reaction with immediate adverse consequences for our conduct of foreign 
policy”; and that it would make it harder to prosecute terrorists because 
other countries would have problems sending suspects to the U.S. as a 
result, among other concerns.

Gonzales flippantly dismissed Powell’s and others’ concerns,  writing to 
the president that the Geneva Conventions had become “obsolete” in the 
context of the war on terror, and further trivialized the core point of the 
Conventions by enumerating such “quaint” provisions as affording prisoners 
athletic uniforms.  Since then, the Secretary of State’s dire predictions 
have been borne out, and the disregard for law has made the U.S. less safe, 
not more.

CCR President Michael Ratner said, “making Alberto Gonzales the Attorney 
General of the United States would be a travesty:  it would mean taking one 
of the legal architects of an illegal and immoral policy and installing him 
as the official who is charged with protecting our constitutional rights. 
The Gonzales memo paved the way to Abu Ghraib.”

In the same January 25 torture memo, Gonzales outlined plans to use 
military “commissions” to try prisoners so the Administration could deny 
them all military and civilian protections. These commissions were 
suspended indefinitely at Guantánamo due to a ruling by a federal judge 
this week.

More on Gonzales:

Gonzales is an old Bush crony from back in Texas who supported their 
friends’ corporate interests and took contributions from Halliburton and 
Enron when he was a judge.

• As counsel to the Governor of Texas from 1995 to 1997, he provided Bush 
with what the Atlantic Monthly characterized as “scant summaries” on 
capital punishment cases that ''repeatedly failed to apprise the governor 
of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of 
interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.'' He did 
57 such summaries, including for the case of Terry Washington, a mentally 
retarded man executed for murdering a restaurant manager. The jury was 
never told of his mental condition. Gonzales wrote a three-page summary of 
the case for Bush, which mentioned only that a 30-page plea for clemency by 
the defendant’s counsel (including the issue of his mental competency) was 
rejected by the Texas parole board.

• Gonzales was Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court from 
1998-2000.  During that time, Vice President Dick Cheney was head of 
Halliburton, and it was the second-largest corporate contributor to Texas 
Supreme Court races.  Over a period of seven years, five cases involving 
Halliburton went before the Court, and the Court consistently ruled in 
favor of the corporation or let a lower court decision favorable to 
Halliburton stand without re-hearing the case.

• During this same period, Gonzales lawfully accepted $14,000 from Enron, 
yet he subsequently did not recuse himself from the Administration’s 
investigation of the Enron scandal when he was White House counsel.

• Gonzales upheld a law requiring parents to be notified before a minor 
could get an abortion, though the law, like most parental-notification 
laws, allowed judges to waive the requirement if observing it could be 
expected to lead to the abuse of the girl in question

• In another nod to corporate interests over those of the people, his 
decision in Fort Worth v. Zimlich eliminated a key shield protecting 
whistleblowers from retaliation.

• As White House Counsel, from 2000 to the present, Gonzales led the Bush 
Administration’s blocking of access by the Government Accountability Office 
to documents from Cheney’s secret energy policy meetings.

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