‘Mr. Death’


[Gonzales] behavior as White House counsel is no surprise to anyone familiar with his record as legal counsel to Bush when he was governor of Texas. One of his jobs then was to prepare memoranda summarizing the arguments for clemency made by death-row inmates shortly before their execution dates. Alan Berlow of the Atlantic Monthly gained access to these memos, and his report is very disturbing. According to Berlow, Gonzales “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.” For instance, in 1997 Texas executed Terry Washington, a 33-year-old mentally retarded man with the communications skills of a seven-year-old. Gonzales’ memo did not even mention Washington’s retardation, or the fact that he had been a victim of protracted child abuse. Perhaps Gonzales knew what his boss wanted to hear from him, just as he knew what was expected of him on the issue of torturing detainees.