[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 DOJs
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 Powells 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 States dire predictions
have been borne out, and the disregard for law has made the U.S. less safe,
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
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 defendants 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 Administrations
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
Administrations blocking of access by the Government Accountability Office
to documents from Cheneys secret energy policy meetings.
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