New Attorney General: architect of torture


Richard Moore

From: "Lou & Dr. Bob Wynman"
Subject: Re: torture architect is Bush's pick
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 21:44:22 -0800

----- Original Message -----
From: <mailto:•••@••.•••>BryanD
To: <mailto:•••@••.•••>1Starfly
Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:44 PM
Subject: torture architect is Bush's pick

This guy looks like he is and will be worse than Ashcroft. 
Says Bush is above federal and international law.
November 11, 2004
 `Alberto Gonzalez, Architect of Torture

George W. Bush's pick for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez,
is the White House who advised the President and the Pentagon
that Bush was above the law concerning torture. This sicko
actually said that the President is not just above
international law (the Geneva Convention), but that Bush is
even above Federal law.

So now, the chief law enforcement officer in the country is
going to be the individual who advised Ashcroft that torture
was okay and came up with the enemy combatant designation to
strip Americans of their rights.

Out of the frying pan into the central furnace of hell.
Ashcroft was bad enough, but he was simply a willing puppet of
individuals like Gonzalez and Bush. Everyone should contact
Congress and tell them enough is enough. We don't want Josef
Mengele Gonzalez as our Attorney General.

Here's some background info:

On June 13, 2004 the London Telegraph reported that
Constitutional experts were shocked by Gonzalez's memo, which
told Bush that the nature of the war on terror "renders
obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy
prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions"

On June 16, they also reported:

"A string of leaked government memos over the past few days
has revealed that President George W Bush was advised by
Justice Department officials and the White House lawyer,
Alberto Gonzalez, that Geneva Conventions on torture did not
apply to "unlawful combatants", captured during the war on

Scroll down for more information on how Gonzalez put Bush
above the law, basically declaring him a god-emperor.

Senate expected to OK Gonzalez as attorney general

The Washington Post , November 11, 2004
By Dan Eggen

WASHINGTON — President Bush nominated White House counsel
Alberto Gonzales as attorney general Wednesday, choosing his
top lawyer and longtime friend to guide the war on terrorism
and lead the federal government's largest law enforcement

Confirmation by the Senate, considered likely, would make
Gonzales, 49, the first Hispanic attorney general in U.S.
history. It would place the Justice Department in the hands of
a loyal Bush confidant who helped craft some of the
administration's most controversial anti-terrorism strategies.

The move also means that departing Attorney General John
Ashcroft, a darling of the conservative movement, would be
replaced with a figure viewed with some suspicion by the
Republican right. By choosing loyalty over ideology in the
first major personnel decision after his reelection, Bush
signaled a desire for calmer and quieter times at Justice,
officials said.

"He always gives me his frank opinion," Bush said in
announcing Gonzales' nomination. "He is a calm and steady
voice in times of crisis. He has an unwavering principle of
respect for the law."

Gonzales said the post requires "a special level of trust and

"The American people expect and deserve a Department of
Justice guided by the rule of law, and there should be no
question regarding the department's commitment to justice for
every American," he said. "On this principle, there can be no

Democrats and Republicans predicted a relatively easy
confirmation for Gonzales, who came to Washington after
serving as a Bush aide and as a state supreme court justice in
Texas. Last week's elections gave the GOP a 55-44 edge in the
next Senate, which convenes in January. There is one

Democrats see Gonzales, the son of migrant farm workers, as a
relative moderate. Republican conservatives — though
uncomfortable with Gonzales because of previous decisions
related to abortion and other social issues — were cheered
that his appointment as attorney general would keep him, at
least for now, from being nominated to fill a Supreme Court

Tom Minnery, vice president for public policy at
Colorado-based Focus on the Family, said Gonzales would be a
problematic judicial nominee because he does not have "strong
pro-life beliefs." But he said his group would support
Gonzales' appointment as attorney general.

"Putting someone like that in such an independent role as a
federal judge is a problem for us," Minnery said. "But as
attorney general, the social issues are not as prominent as
the law-enforcement issues."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, said it was "encouraging that the president has
chosen someone less polarizing."

"We will have to review his record very carefully, but I can
tell you already he's a better candidate than John Ashcroft,"
Schumer said.

Viet Dinh, a former senior Justice official under Ashcroft who
now teaches law at Georgetown University, said he expects
Gonzales to "differ in tone but not in substance" from his

"Al Gonzales does not have the strong public profile of John
Ashcroft and the attendant political controversy," Dinh said.
"I don't think the outside interest groups will have as easy a
time trying to marginalize him as a radical or extremist
attorney general."

Another Judiciary Committee member, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,
said it would be "very difficult" for Democrats to impede
Gonzales' nomination in light of GOP electoral gains in the
Senate and the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle,

"I just think this would be the wrong fight for them to pick,"
Cornyn said.

Nonetheless, some Democrats said Gonzales will face sharp
questioning about his role in crafting administration
anti-terrorism policies that have been overturned or scaled
back by the courts. Groups including the American Civil
Liberties Union and Amnesty International urged Democrats to
be tough on him.

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional
Rights, a New York-based group that represents families of
some detainees at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
said Gonzales' legal opinions "opened the door and paved the
way" for abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"He's right in the middle of where this administration went
off the page of the law and into chaos," Ratner said. "They're
promoting someone who was one of the legal architects of the
abuse. It's just appalling."

In one January 2002 draft memo, Gonzales argued that the war
on terrorism made the Geneva Convention's limitations on
treatment of enemy prisoners "obsolete" and "renders quaint
some of its provisions."

His office also played a role in an August 2002 memo from the
Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel advising that
torturing alleged Al-Qaeda terrorists in captivity abroad "may
be justified" and that international laws against torture "may
be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted in
the U.S. war on terrorism.

Gonzales held a news briefing to distance himself from the
memo, calling it "irrelevant and unnecessary" and "overbroad."

Conservatives put Bush above law
Los Angeles Times | June 17, 2004
By Robert Scheer

What a revelation to learn that the Justice Department lawyer
who wrote the infamous memo in effect defending torture is now
a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge. It tells you all
you need to know about the sort of conservative to whom George
W. Bush is turning in his at-tempt to pack the federal courts.

Conservatives once were identified with protecting the rights
of the individual against the unbridled power of government,
but this is not your grandfather's conservatism. The current
brand running things in D.C. holds that the commander in chief
is above all law and that the ends always justify the means.
This has paved the way for the increasingly well-documented
and systematic use of torture in an ad hoc gulag archipelago
for those detained anywhere in the world under the overly
broad rubric of the "war on terror."

Those still clinging to the hopeful notion that photographic
evidence of beatings, dead detainees, sexual degradation and
threats of electric shock were all the work of a few twisted
reservists aren't reading the newspapers. News accounts are
following the paper trail up the chain of command to a heated
and lengthy debate inside the White House about how much
cruelty constitutes torture.

On Sunday, The Washington Post published on its Web site an
internal White House memo from Aug. 1, 2002, signed by
then-Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, which argued
darkly that torturing al-Qaida captives "may be justified" and
that international laws against torture "may be
unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted under
President Bush. The memo then continued for 50 pages to make
the case for the use of torture.

Was it as a reward for such bold legal thinking that only
months later Bybee was appointed to one of the top judicial
benches in the country? Perhaps he was anointed for his law
journal articles bashing Roe v. Wade and legal protection for
homosexuals, or for his innovative attack on the 17th
Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the popular
election of U.S. senators. But it's hard to shake the notion
that his memo to Alberto Gonzales, counsel to the president,
established Bybee's hard-line credentials for an
administration that has no use for moderation in any form.

This president has turned his war on terrorism into an excuse
for undermining due process and bypassing Congress. For Bybee
and his ideologue cohorts, however, the American president is
now more akin to a king, and legal or moral restraints are
simply problems that can be overcome later, if anybody bothers
to question the tactics: "Finally, even if an interrogation
method might violate Section 2340A (of the U.S. Torture
Convention passed in 1994), necessity or self-defense could
provide justification that would eliminate any criminal

In fact, though, this was an argument of last resort for
Bybee, whose definition of torture "covers only extreme acts
... where the pain is physical, it must be of an intensity
akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as
death or organ failure. ... Because the acts inflicting
torture are extreme, there is (a) significant range of acts
that, though they might constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, fail to rise to the level of

Bybee's generous standard should bring comfort to the
totalitarian governments that find the brutal treatment of
prisoners a handy tool in retaining power or fighting wars.
Even Saddam Hussein, who always faced the threat of
assassination and terrorism from foreign and domestic rivals,
can now offer in his defense Bybee's memo that his actions
were justifiable, on the grounds of "necessity or

When confronted by the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary
Committee with the content of Bybee's torture defense,
Attorney General John Ashcroft responded that the memo did not
guide the administration. Yet, the Bybee memo was clearly the
basis for the working-group report on detainee interrogations
presented to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld a year
later. And if Bybee's work was rejected as reprehensible, why
was he rewarded - with Ashcroft's deepest blessings - with a
lifetime appointment on the judicial bench only one level
below the Supreme Court?

Frighteningly, the Bybee memo is not some oddball exercise in
moral relativism but instead provides the most coherent
explanation of how this administration came to believe that to
assure freedom and security at home and abroad, it should ape
the tactics of brutal dictators.

Legal experts slam torture policy process

White House rebuffed memo saying Bush could be above law
San Francisco Chronicle | June 24, 2004
by James Sterngold

The White House took an unusual step by releasing a thick
stack of documents to defend itself against charges it had
authorized the abuse of war prisoners, but a number of experts
said the most significant decision may have been the
administration's disavowal of the memo contending the
president can claim he is above the law on torture if he says
he is defending the country.

The 2-year-old legal analysis said only the most egregious
physical abuse constituted torture under the law and concluded
that the president and the soldiers he commands were
effectively exempt from any anti-torture treaties or criminal

The memo's fundamental position has turned into the one issue
that experts from both sides of the political spectrum have

While the White House's efforts Tuesday were clearly aimed at
quelling the mounting anger over reports of prisoner abuse,
the repudiation of that lone memo -- one administration
official called it irrelevant -- has enraged some legal
experts and refocused attention on the unilateral methods
President Bush has chosen to employ in the war on terror.

"What they have done is preposterous," said Eugene R. Fidell,
an expert on military law and president of the National
Institute of Military Justice, a Washington think tank.
"Calling the memo irrelevant is a pretty lame way of getting
out of this. But the reality is that the thinking here was the
foundation stone of their policy.

"I can't remember a more unanimous chorus of lawyers from
every part of the political spectrum agreeing on an issue."

The key 50-page memo was written Aug. 1, 2002, by the Justice
Department's Office of Legal Counsel for Alberto Gonzales, the
White House counsel. The criminal law, it stated, "does not
apply to the president's detention and interrogation of enemy
combatants pursuant to his commander-in- chief authority."

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel is a
respected group that resolves important legal disputes within
the federal government almost like a court. The group was
headed by Jay Bybee, who is now a judge on the Ninth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

On Tuesday, the White House disavowed the memo, and
administration officials said it was being rewritten. Bush
also insisted, "We do not condone torture."

Some experts expressed anger at the way the Bush
administration abandoned the Justice Department lawyers who
wrote the memo, which had been done at the White House's
request. "Never in the history of the U.S. has an opinion
issued by the Office of Legal Counsel been disavowed by the
client, the White House, in that precipitous a fashion," said
David Rivkin, a former attorney in the office now in private
practice and a member of the Federalist Society, an
influential conservative legal group.

Rivkin said he opposed the memo's central argument that the
president should not be constrained by the criminal laws
against torture. "The memos are very aggressive" on the issue
of presidential powers, he said. "I would probably be
uncomfortable with the full flavor of it."

The memo, and a Pentagon legal analysis on torture written
March 6, 2003, carefully parse the meaning of U.S. criminal
laws as well as the U.N. Convention Against Torture, ratified
by the United States in 1994, and they provide few

The memos argue that only techniques that cause excruciating
and prolonged pain, and that are intended to cause pain that
force detainees to produce intelligence, are prohibited. Some
lawyers said that those arguments are not new.

"There was some glossing over the laws and some stretching,
but it was within the realm of reason," said Allen Weiner, a
professor at Stanford's Institute for International Studies
and a State Department attorney from 1990 to 2001.

"Realistically, those parts of the memos are not novel, but
other parts are shockingly novel," he added. "The
constitutional analysis on the president's power was the most
shocking thing. These are totally new powers. These are very
bald-faced and categorical assertions. Federal criminal laws
become inapplicable."

The U.N. Convention Against Torture says that "no exceptional
circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat
of war, internal political instability or any other public
emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture."

Rear Adm. John D. Hutson, a retired Navy judge advocate
general and now dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in
Concord, N.H., said the interpretation of the laws on torture
was not radical, and neither was a debate on the extent of the
president's powers.

"The question of the president's constitutional authority goes
back to the early days of the republic," said Hutson. "That is
a perfectly legitimate subject to debate. But one of the
offensive aspects of this to me is that they used that
venerable and honorable issue, that people care greatly about,
for a short-term, mean-spirited, ill-advised advantage.

"You have to ask if in the long run does this make sense, does
it help the U.S.? From that standpoint this fails miserably."

Rivkin said that, at the least, the fact that the
administration was asking legal experts to examine these
issues demonstrates that the Bush administration is living up
to its democratic obligations.

"Nobody's sweeping anything under the rug," Rivkin said.

Weiner said, though, that the idea that the president was
claiming the authority to ignore certain laws or treaties
could undermine U.S. ability to get allies to cooperate in the
war on terror.

"The broader policy concern is that the U.S. is now on record
as basically saying we're going to freely enter into
international arrangements but we're going to ignore them when
it suits us," said Weiner. "That's the real danger here. It
encourages other countries to do the same thing.

"One of the hard lessons of Iraq has been that our power is
not as great as we thought and we do need the international

In Vietnam, a Clear Line to Avoid

language=printer>Washington Post | Monday, June 21, 2004 By
John Stuart Blackton

The Justice Department has advised the White House that
President Bush (and those who follow his orders) may
contravene treaties, U.S. law and international law under the
broad doctrine of "necessity."

This advice contrasts sharply with that of an earlier White
House, under Lyndon Johnson, during the Vietnam War. In that
war, the decision was made to employ the full powers of the
commander in chief to buttress and reinforce the Geneva
Conventions and the criminal sanctions under the U.S. Code
that followed from these conventions. Attorney General John
Ashcroft and others in the administration have suggested that
the recent disclosures about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison are
simply a reflection of the universal "hard side" of war. It
was ever thus and will forever be is the implication. Yet the
record of the U.S. military in Vietnam, not our most glorious
military undertaking, suggests otherwise.

Far more attention was paid in Vietnam than in Iraq to
ensuring an environment in which every American combatant
understood the basic rules of the Geneva Conventions. These
principles were part of universal military training,
reinforced by the chain of command in the field and largely,
although certainly not universally, adhered to by the troops.

The International Red Cross sought assurances in December 1964
from the U.S. and Vietnamese governments that their armed
forces were abiding by the Geneva Conventions. These requests
prompted a policy review that led the U.S. Military Assistance
Command Vietnam to appoint a joint U.S.-Vietnamese military
committee in September 1965 to work out details on the
application of the Geneva Conventions in Vietnam. Every
draftee and volunteer was given, during basic training,
mandatory instruction in the principles of the conventions.
Soldiers were tested on that training, and the results were
recorded in their personnel jackets. This training was
repeated at successive stages, and all soldiers arriving in
Vietnam received orientation in the Geneva Conventions during
their initial processing.

Every soldier also received a plastic pocket card bearing the
signature of our commander in chief, Lyndon Baines Johnson. It
was headed "The Enemy in Your Hands" and summarized the
conventions in simple, clear language. Item No. 3,
was followed by this unambiguous guidance: "It is both
dishonorable and foolish to mistreat a captive. It is also a
punishable offense. Not even a beaten enemy will surrender if
he knows his captors will torture or kill him. He will resist
and make his capture more costly. Fair treatment of captives
encourages the enemy to surrender."

A program of instruction for all U.S. and Vietnamese military
units was established in Vietnam to teach the basic rules for
handling prisoners. Regulations were promulgated instructing
U.S. units and advisers to identify and keep records of all
captives turned over to the Vietnamese, including specifying
to whom the captives were transferred.

The signed order from President Johnson in our pockets was a
critical element of accountability and personal
responsibility. In the event that any of us might be
instructed to treat prisoners in an inhumane manner, we were
in a position to recognize and refuse an unlawful order that
contravened a signed direct order from the president.

There were, of course, American abuses in the handling of
prisoners in Vietnam, as there were in World War II and all
other wars. But U.S. soldiers who violated the policy on
torture and prisoner abuse in Vietnam knew precisely where the
lines were drawn, and they knew that they could not hide
behind either an ambiguous Army policy or the defense that
they were "just following orders." Serious departures from
policy were far more prevalent in the undeclared and covert
theaters of the Indochina war (Laos and Cambodia), where
accountability was reduced, the lines of military authority
often obscure, and external oversight from the legislative
branch and from the press nonexistent.

The Defense Department has established a military environment
in Iraq that is more reminiscent of those covert wars than of
the overt war in Vietnam. The White House legal counsel's
written opinion that the Geneva Conventions are now "obsolete"
and have been rendered "quaint" diminishes accountability and
personal responsibility for our soldiers in Iraq. The
suggestion that the doctrine of "necessity" has broad
application to our military interrogation of prisoners in Iraq
is worrisome.

The Indochina war was not the U.S. Army's finest hour, but the
occupation of Iraq may, in at least some respects, be
remembered as one of its darkest.

[and the occupation of the United States of America as THE

"The CIA controls everyone of major significance in the major
media.">> The late CIA director William Colby

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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