Thursday, December 30


The NYTimes has a great essay today, "Legal Breach: The Government's Attorneys and Abu Ghraib," which summarizes the chronology of the Alberto Gonzales et al abuse/torture memos.

So our government civil lawyers act like a bunch of cynical, corrupt corporate lawyers and now we're going to reward the chief perpetrator by making him Attorney General?

This month, several former high-ranking military lawyers came out publicly against the nomination of the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to be attorney general. They noted that it was Mr. Gonzales who had supervised the legal assault on the Geneva Conventions.

Jeh Johnson, a New York lawyer who was general counsel for the secretary of the Air Force under President Clinton, calls this shift "a revolution."

"One view of the law and government," Mr. Johnson said, "is that good things can actually come out of the legal system and that there is broad benefit in the rule of law. The other is a more cynical approach that says that lawyers are simply an instrument of policy - get me a legal opinion that permits me to do X. Sometimes a lawyer has to say, 'You just can't do this.' "

Normally, the civilian policy makers would have asked the military lawyers to draft the rules for a military prison in wartime. The lawyers for the service secretaries are supposed to focus on issues like contracts, environmental impact statements and base closings. They're not supposed to meddle in rules of engagement or military justice.

But the civilian policy makers knew that the military lawyers would never sanction tossing the Geneva Conventions aside in the war against terrorists. Military lawyers, Mr. Johnson said, "tend to see things through the prism of how it will affect their people if one gets captured or prosecuted."

Some Senate Democrats have said they plan to question Mr. Gonzales about this mess during his Senate confirmation hearings. But given the feckless state of Congressional oversight on this issue, there's not a lot of hope in that news.


Blogger Grace Reid said...

Conspiracy to Commit Torture is Violation of Patriot ActAccording to Newsweek, Mr. Gonzales convened a series of meetings during July of 2002 with Defense Department General Counsel William Hayes, Vice Presidential Counsel David Addington, and counsel from the CIA and the Justice Department, where they discussed specific torture techniques they deemed acceptable for use against Al Qaeda leadership, including mock burial, “water boarding” – where the victim is made to feel that they are drowning – and the threat of more brutal interrogations at the hands of other nations. Indeed, the latter, a practice known as “extraordinary rendition” has sent many suspects to countries like Egypt, Jordan and Syria, previously far more experienced in the techniques of torture than the U.S.

Mr. Gonzales, a lawyer, has advised the President in and developed policies that violate Constitutional and International law. He should NOT be confirmed as Attorney General. And he should be disbarred.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Squirrel said...

Excellent discussion on lawyers. I bookmarked your blog. I have my own lawyers blog if you want to take a look.

8:26 AM  

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