Former miltary lawyers are beginning to speak out against Alberto Gonzales’ nomination to be our next Attorney General.
Several former high-ranking military lawyers say they are discussing ways to oppose President Bush’s nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be attorney general, asserting that Mr. Gonzales’s supervision of legal memorandums that appeared to sanction harsh treatment of detainees, even torture, showed unsound legal judgment.
Rear Adm. John D. Hutson, who served as the Navy’s judge advocate general from 1997 to 2000 before he retired, said that while Mr. Gonzales might be a lawyer of some stature, “I think the role that he played in the one thing that I am familiar with is tremendously shortsighted.”
Mr. Gonzales, as White House counsel, oversaw the drafting of several confidential legal memorandums that critics said sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects in Afghanistan and Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, and opened the door to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Mr. Hutson, who is dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., said that Mr. Gonzales “was not thinking about the impact of his behavior on U.S. troops in this war and others to come.”
“He was not thinking about the United States’ history in abiding by international law, especially in the wartime context,” he said. “For that reason, some of us think he is a poor choice to be attorney general.”
Brig. Gen. James Cullen, retired from the Army, said on Wednesday that he believed that in supervising the memorandums, Mr. Gonzales had purposely ignored the advice of lawyers whose views did not accord with the conclusions he sought, which was that there was some legal justification for illegal behavior.
“He went forum-shopping,” General Cullen said, saying Mr. Gonzales had ignored the advice of military lawyers adamantly opposed to some of the legal strategies adopted, including narrowly defining torture so as to make it difficult to prove it occurred. “When you create these kinds of policies that can eventually be used against your own soldiers, when we say ‘only follow the Geneva Conventions as much as it suits us,’ when we take steps that the common man would understand is torture, this undermines what we are supposed to be, and many of us find it appalling,” he said.
We all know that Gonzales is “Bush’s guy”, so stopping his confirmation in the Senate will be an uphill battle. But guess what: Bernie Kerik was “Bush’s guy”, too. Just because the Bushboy has his little heart set on seeing his chief torture-enabler become our highest law enforcement official does not mean that we should just let him have it. Don’t forget what happened the last time Democrats in congress let the little brat have his toy.
Peter Rothberger tells us in The Nation that Amnesty International USA, Human Rights First, Global Rights and Human Rights Watch are all lining up in opposition of Gonzales. He also helpfully provides a link enabling you to send a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee honchos Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter to express your outrage over the preznit’s choice.