Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Meet the New Boss

The Boy King may be saying goodbye to John Ashcroft, but if for nothing else, you have to give him credit for having a deep bench. Today, the administration announced the nomination of White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to the position of U.S. Attorney General. Think of it as swapping Cardinal Richelieu for Torquemada.

In the days to come, you're going to hear all about how Gonzales helped craft the infamous "torture memos"--you know, the ones in which it was more or less argued that the Geneva Conventions and other, substantial chunks of international law were historical arcana that those silly Old Europeans might take seriously, but which were in no way applicable to the U.S. and matters at hand overseas.

Perversely, his association with those memos, and all of the press that association will garner, may serve to distract the public from realizing the extent to which Gonzales is one nasty piece of work. As Robyn Blumner wrote last June, Gonzales had a hand in a whole slew of objectionable practices and policies during the Boy King's first term, including the Alice-in-Wonderland reasoning that relegated Gitmo detainees to a land beyond any known planetary law, and the rigorous defense mounted by the administration to keep the American people from learning that U.S. energy policy was probably being crafted by the likes of Ken Lay.

Moreover, as Alan Berlow has reported (among other places, here and here), Gonzales spent several years honing his craft in Texas under then-Governor Bush before making it to The Show. You probably know about his habit of writing Clemency Memos for the Guv that tended to leave out salient information (read: mitigating factors and exculpatory evidence). You may not be as familiar with his rather creative claim that the Vienna Conventions, to which the United States is a signatory, were not applicable to the state of Texas. This bit of states-rights craftsmanship greased the skids for the execution of a Mexican citizen who appeared to have received, shall we say, something less than the full complement of rights to which he was entitled under international law. Click and weep.

So what could be worse that Attorney General Gonzales? Why, Mr. Justice Gonzales, of course.


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