Thursday, February 03, 2005

Alberto Gonzales Confirmed as Secretary of Torture

WARNING: The following, while sincere, is deliberately provocative and confrontational, though I hope laced with enough humor to ward off the letter bombers among my readership. Oh jeez, there I go again. Read at your own risk.

Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Alberto Gonzales as the nation’s new Attorney General. I once thought I’d take absolutely anybody in the place of outgoing A.G. (Assembly of God? Attorney General?), John Ashcroft. Well…we all make mistakes.

Senate Republicans spent the last several weeks talking themselves blue in the face about Gonzales’ humble beginnings as the grandson of Mexican immigrants and how his Hispanic ethnicity trumps all other issues; for example—principles, morality, credentials and an appalling record.

Those pesky Democrats, intent on burning the nation’s Bibles, melting down all its guns, and greedily consuming millions of dollars from Bush documentaries, retorted saying that they could not, in good conscience, vote for Gonzales' record despite his compelling, made-for-TV personal story.

For reasons passing understanding, those with the consciences and cajonies enough to buck their party, objected to Gonzales’ most infamous example of moral bankruptcy—a memo, ordered in January of 2002, which defined permissible torture as anything short of death, permanent psychological damage, or organ failure.

It was this memo which directly sanctioned, if not overtly authorized the sort of heinous behavior captured so nauseatingly on film in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to Gonzales, the Geneva Conventions, which have governed military and battlefield behavior since 1864, are both “quaint” and “obsolete.” Ain’t he just the sweetest thang!

A recent editorial in The New York Times pointed out, “The attorney general does not merely head up the Justice Department. He is responsible for ensuring that America is a nation in which justice prevails. Mr. Gonzales’ record makes him unqualified to take on this role or to represent the American justice system to the rest of the world.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham challenged Gonzales, saying, “When you start looking at torture statutes and you look at ways around the spirit of the're losing the moral high ground. Once you start down this road, it is very hard to come back.”

“Judge Gonzales is the wrong man for this job,” Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, declared. “Mr. Gonzales' actions as White House counsel have tarnished our country's moral leadership in the world and put American soldiers and American citizens at greater risk.”

By appointing and standing by his nominee, President Bush proves once again that his fixation on moral leadership and spiritual divination was nothing short of a product of the Magic 8 ball sitting on his desk in the Oval Office.

In the end, the Democrats’ pleas and petitions were not enough. The final vote was 60 for and 36 against. All dissenting votes were cast by Democrats and one Independent.

Now, after weeks of congressional infighting, Mr. Gonzales can finally get on to the real job of continuing to obliterate the line between what makes an Iraqi who tortures his victim a “wicked evil-doer” and the American who tortures his victim an upstanding and faultless patriot standing up for freedom and oppressed people everywhere.

Former Focus on the Family President, James Dobson could not be reached for comment on Gonzales’ confirmation because he was too busy engaging in the far more critical and Christian “moral values” that made Gonzales’ appointment possible in the first place—beating the &%*@ out of defenseless cartoon marine animals. The moral majority was too busy writing checks to First United Church of Christ Incarnate In Dubya, Texas Synod, to notice.

Gonzales himself recently declared, “Torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration. I will ensure the Department of Justice aggressively pursues those responsible for such abhorrent actions."

Mr. Attorney General, try looking on top of your own ass.

Gonzales’ confirmation follows a rash of other imprudent and obtuse appointments to the catastrophic Bush administration, starting with none other than:

President George W. Bush: Despite an utterly arrogant and deeply flawed foreign policy and an abysmal record of fiscal mismanagement, the American people saw fit to give President Bush another term. Appealing to the rotten angels of our nature, Bush managed to wrangle an additional four years to continue what he’d already started—the dismemberment of America’s dignity, might and security in the name of God and his own singularly innate ability to ascertain that God's national providence on the US of A.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: If there is a poster-child for the banning of genetic cloning, Ms. Rice is it. President Bush once commented that he liked to surround himself with bright people who didn’t necessarily agree with everything he said in order to give him opposing viewpoints when making important decisions. If this blog were a sitcom, the hysterical laugh-track would be added here.

Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff: Very soon, the Senate will confirm Michael Chertoff to head the leviathan watchdog organization. Possessing what is at first glance a generally untarnished resume, Chertoff was, in fact, instrumental in drafting and implementing the Orwellian “Patriot Act.” He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake; he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

Let the irate comments begin!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, I have been beating the &%*@ out of Sponge Bob. How else are you supposed to drive the gayness out of gay things? Love them like Jesus? What? Are you gay?

By the way, that Alberto Gonzales--he ain't gay. Anyone that would endorse stripping men naked, putting underpants on their heads and pointing at their genitalia couldn't, I know what's wrong here. Brandon's gay. That's it. You are gay because you are mad at our Glorious President because...he's...not gay. You gay. Gay. Gay. Gay. Gay.

Dr. James Dobson
President, Focus on Gay

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, there are 2 ways to be close minded. One can close one's mind to progressive ideas that do not fit into the "way we've always ASSumed it's supposed to be", or, one can close one's mind to traditional ideas
because anything that is not chique, or socialistic, or, michael moorish (non-caps intentional) is just pigheaded, evil-conservative rot.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The New York Times has just reported that certain ex-military lawyers might oppose President Bush's attorney general nominee, Alberto R. Gonzales, because he oversaw memoranda that supposedly sanctioned the torture of detainees. Swell.

With all due respect -- and aside from any other objections that may be raised against the Gonzales appointment -- I am fed up with the scapegoating of Mr. Gonzales over this issue.

Why do so many critics jump to the defense of this depraved enemy we're fighting, whether by leaping to the conclusion the Marine in Fallujah "murdered" the enemy soldier who could have been pretending to sleep, or presuming that our government lawyers are anxious to condone the abuse of terrorist prisoners?

How about just once giving those in charge of managing our national security and those directly putting their lives on the line the benefit of the doubt?

Does this mean we assume our guys can do no wrong? Of course not. Does it mean we become barbaric like our enemy? Never. But it does mean that those of us out of harm's way ought to appreciate that we're in a brutal war against an unimaginably wicked enemy breaking every conceivable rule. So we need to cut our guys some slack.

I've been skeptical of this criticism of Gonzales from the beginning. Many of those condemning Gonzales are the same ones who seem to want to provide terrorist detainees gold-plated cell blocks with high-speed Internet access and Satellite TV. (For you literalists out there, I'm speaking both figuratively and hyperbolically, so I'd appreciate it if you'd save your nasty e-mails for other points I'm about to make.)

What, then, is the story behind the recurring beef against Gonzales? Well, it all began when the CIA requested guidance shortly after 9-11 as to the legal parameters of the interrogation techniques they could employ against an enemy who murdered 3,000 innocent women and children on American soil.

Jay Bybee, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (now a federal appellate judge), signed a 50-page legal memo addressing the question and sent it to Gonzales. The memo reportedly advised that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted in the War on Terror and that torturing terrorists in captivity abroad "may be justified."

The Old Media went bonkers when this news surfaced. But let's break it down.

First, was it reasonable for the CIA to ask how far it could legally go in questioning terrorist detainees to elicit information for the purpose of preventing future attacks and saving innocent lives? Without question. In fact, the critics should be impressed with the agency's obvious determination to operate lawfully.

Next, was it reasonable for the Office of Legal Counsel to furnish legal guidance to the CIA to ensure that it complied with the law? Another no-brainer.

And when government lawyers researching these issues concluded that harsher interrogation techniques were legally permitted and that the normal legal protections didn't apply to enemy combatants not formally attached to any nation state, should they have honestly reported their answers or lied about them?

What about the critics' outrage that the memo reportedly said that inflicting moderate or fleeting pain does not necessarily constitute torture? For heaven's sake, this was a legal memo, not some advocacy paper. If the attorneys' research led them to that conclusion, we must not shoot the messengers for delivering their finding.

There is no evidence I'm aware of that the Bush administration ever approved of or authorized the torture or abuse of prisoners. The fact that the lawyers prepared a lengthy, well-researched memo proves that they and Gonzales were treating this matter seriously and conscientiously. That they candidly reported their legal conclusions, no matter how politically incorrect, should not subject them to ridicule.

There was simply nothing wrong with the CIA's questions or the Justice Department's earnest effort to answer them. Moreover, I honestly don't understand the righteous indignation of critics who are appalled that our CIA would even contemplate tougher interrogation techniques against monsters who kill women, children and babies for sport.

Please don't say that to engage in harsher -- but legal -- techniques reduces us to the moral level of the enemy. What if such techniques against these unrepentant murderers could directly save your loved ones' lives? Don't tell me you wouldn't favor them. But if you do, remind me never to join you in the foxhole.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Brandon,

Boy, do you know how to pick a fight. Well written. Do you mean that on top of an ass we sometimes find another ass? Well, that's my interpretation

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo--and ditto as far as this being unfathomable and untenable!!

9:58 AM  

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