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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted that at least three of his four grandparents entered the US illegally. Just think how much better our nation would have been had our immigration rules had been enforced and they been kept out. Ah, how little mistakes in the past lead to horrible results in the future.
Alberto’s history reads like a paint by numbers, how-to instruction manual on how to destroy your local democracy. Like so many other GOP Catholics who promote family values, he divorced his first wife. We can forget about Gonzales’ failure to review clemency cases as counsel to then Texas Governor Bush. Let’s ignore the numerous prosecutors and defense counsel who decried his inattention, failure to check details, and faulted his lack of intellectual curiosity in death penalty cases. The fact that under his stewardship, Governor Bush put to death more people in one term as governor than any other person in the history of the United States should not bother you. What he did is Texas was merely practice. What he did retail in Texas, he now practices wholesale as the attorney general.
Alberto – a fascist wolf in sheep’s clothing
The first of the four Geneva Conventions was passed in 1864, the last in 1949. 194 countries have subscribed to these conventions and passed domestic laws to enforce these humanitarian rules. Until Alberto Gonzales, that is.
Even a brief review of his Washington experience is chilling. As counsel to Bush, he penned a January, 2002 legal memo in which he opined that the war on terror rendered the Geneva agreements prohibiting coercive interrogations obsolete. He called them "quaint" and stated that â€œterroristsâ€ – as he defined them – were not legally entitled to humane treatment.
It has been said that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. 60 years ago, Jews fighting for their own independent state were often labeled terrorists by their neighbors. Today, their graves are monuments to a proud democratic state.
America’s own founding fathers were labeled seditionists, lawbreakers, and worse. One suspects that had Alberto worked for King George instead of the George who would be king, Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Washington, and many others, would have been tortured and put to death as terrorists. Luckily for us, our freedom fighters won. Unfortunately, they are probably spinning in their graves, watching Alberto deliberately eradicate what they built with their intellect, bravery, sweat and love.
Trashing the Genevas was not enough for Gonzales. As part of our nation’s birthing process, our founding fathers thought well and hard, and created the great Writ of Habeas Corpus. Throughout the world, this has been recognized as one of the chief, if not the chief, safeguard in common law against the arbitrary imprisonment of citizens by a despot. Article 1, Section 9 of our constitution states, "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
Gonzales penned the rules which precluded detainees from being tried in US courts, but instead, forced them into military tribunals. (the rules of which will shock any moral American) He created the â€œlegalâ€ authority which led to extraordinary renditions of foreigners in other countries. This led to their torture and abuse in CIA-controlled prisons in Poland, Africa, South America, and in parts of Asia. His opinions and recommendations led to the creation of Gitmo, the Cuban human refuse container in which hundreds of innocents have been abused, tortured, and lied to. Many innocents who have since been released show signs of mental damage because of the treatment rendered by CIA and American soldiers â€“ at the specific direction of Alberto Gonzales.
One could argue that the Bush administration values harming and injuring others so much that doing so would earn one a merit badge. After John Ashcroft retired, Bush promoted Gonzales to the position of Attorney General. His grasp of ethics and honesty have been consistent before and after his promotion. Nonexistent.
During his confirmation hearings, his 2002 memo came to light. In response to questions about the memo, he testified, â€œI don’t recall today whether or not I was in agreement with all of the analysis, but I don’t have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached by the department." This, about a memo HE wrote.
In case there was any question about his true motives, from his days as counsel to the president, to his current position, remember this: Gonzales was a major architect and cheerleader of the Patriot Act, and of its recent reauthorization. In its last reincarnation, foot soldiers of Gonzales & Bush sneaked in a provision that allowed the president to fire US attorneys who refused to attack political opponents of the President with sufficient energy. At least eight extremely qualified professionals were fired, and by the most jaded promises, threats, or worse, many dozens of others bent to Gonzales’ and White House pressure. They no longer behave as independent attorneys general, rooting out corruption and crime, but as paid political warriors, attacking Democrats, independents, wayward GOPers, and anyone else who got in Team Bush’s way. What Gonzales has done is to turn a critically important independent legal branch of government into a personal political army of federal prosecutors, aimed at Bush’s enemies.
I wish this was the end of this filthy list. But alas, it is not. As Attorney General, Gonzales controls the Federal Burros of Investigation, a group that comes closest to being our internal spy and national police force.
FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in the 1970s to both protect the privacy of US citizens, yet gives intelligence agencies a way to procure warrants to investigate, wiretap and search the records of potential terrorists and enemies of the state. FISA has a special court which reviews applications for warrants. This court rarely denied a federal request for permission. Yet, even this small amount of control and supervision was too much for Bush and Gonzales.
This week, we learn that not 2,000, but possibly hundreds of thousands of times, Gonzales’ Feebees issued unsupervised, unrecorded and illegal warrant letters, seeking and receiving private medical, business, and banking records, as well as phone, e-mail, and internet communications. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao would be so proud of Alberto.
When you look at his entire history, this smirking, charming, self-described religious hatchet man of George Bush, has done more damage to the United States than Osama bin Laden could have in his wildest dreams. He single-handedly destroyed our global reputation, he caused the torture of countless thousands, his policies resulted in the spying on thousands of innocent US citizens. He has perverted our entire justice system and turned the US Attorneys into a thuggish gang of political persecutors.
George Bush often said that our enemies, Al Qaida and others, â€œhate us for our freedoms.â€ We never suspected that his solution was to have Alberto Gonzales do his utmost to take them away.
The only solution is to remove him from office, try him for his many crimes, and to take away the freedom of one Alberto Gonzales.
(Robert Kezelis is a lawyer, sculptor and writing curmudgeon based south of Chicago.)