KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Gonzalez Action Alert

I'm reproducing here an urgent message from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). (The group is a public-interest lobby founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends—called Quakers—to bring the concerns, experiences, and testimonies of Friends to bear on national policy decisions.) Please call, e-mail, or fax your senators today and urge them to vote against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General.

Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 6, 2005, on his nomination to become U.S. Attorney General. Senator after senator asked him about his role in drafting the legal memos that condoned abusive treatment of detainees. They asked him about whether he agrees with the memos today, whether torture is legal under U.S. statute. Far from repudiating the memos and the administration's torture policies, Gonzales responded with evasions, with claims of cloudy memory, and with inconsistent answers. He stated that he would be guided by the rule of law
and that he recognized the difference between the role of Attorney General and that of White House Counsel. But, in contradiction, when asked whether the President could ignore the torture statute and legally immunize people who then commit torture under the President's power as commander in chief, Gonzales sidestepped without answering the question. His testimony throughout the day-long hearing consisted of glossy overviews and sound bites but failure to answer particulars.

Action: Please call, e-mail, or fax your senators today. Urge your senators to vote "no" on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General. Gonzales failed to commit to the rule of law when pressed for details and failed to repudiate administration policies that have led to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In his confirmation hearing, Gonzales showed himself to be unfit to lead the Department of Justice, unfit to serve as the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. Every "no" vote in the Senate will be a vote against torture, a vote against U.S. abuse of detainees, and a vote against breach of U.S. treaty and statutory obligations.

It is especially important to contact those senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. See FCNL's
web site for a list of members.
However, because the Judiciary Committee will ultimately refer the nomination to the entire Senate, contact with your senators is important even if they are not on the Judiciary Committee. Use FCNL's web site to send your letter: To view the sample letter, click on the sample letter link, then enter your ZIP code and click in the box.

Background: FCNL rarely opposes a president's choice to be nominee for an administrative position. The last time FCNL opposed a high-level nominee was during the Reagan administration. However, the particulars of Alberto Gonzales' record as White House Counsel compel FCNL to break from our usual practice.

As counsel to the President during the post–Sept. 11, 2001, period, Gonzales participated in drafting legal memos that served to narrow the definition of "torture," attempting to legally justify the brutal treatment of people detained under U.S. control. He was the architect of the President's use of the designation "enemy combatant" and approved of the President's application of that designation, even for U.S. citizens arrested in the United States, without court or congressional oversight. He advised the President that the Geneva Conventions are not applicable to Taliban or al Qaeda combatants, and he was key to development of military tribunals without due process protections for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. He has been a dutiful supporter of administration policy that violated both the letter and the spirit of U.S. statute and treaty obligations, on human rights, torture, the conduct of war, and our constitutional system of mutual oversight among the branches of government.

Additional Resources:

    • Analysis of Alberto Gonzales' appearance at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 6, 2005
    • FCNL's letter of concern about this nomination sent to the Senate prior to the Gonzales confirmation hearing
    • Transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing (free registration required)
    • The administration's memos referenced in the hearing, including those concerning torture, application of the Geneva Convention, and the President's powers (registration required)
    • Talking points about the President's choice of Alberto Gonzales to serve as Attorney General of the United States
    • Contact Congress and the Administration

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