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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

LA Times Says Gonzales Knew about Torture

In today's LA Times, Robert Scheer says that based on the language he used in memos to the President advising him how to subvert US law, that Gonzales must have known that the torture of prisoners in Iraq was an active, ongoing practice, and was seeking to preempt legal opposition:

Acting like a sleazy attorney advising a client on how not to be convicted of an ongoing crime, Gonzales was apparently not worried about irrational foreign courts or high-minded jurists in The Hague, but rather U.S. prosecutors who might enforce federal laws that ban torture of foreign prisoners of war. Indeed, Gonzales made the case for a legal end run around the 1996 War Crimes Act, which mandates criminal penalties, including the death sentence, for any U.S. military or other personnel who engage in crimes of torture.

"It is difficult to predict the motives of [U.S.] prosecutors and [U.S.] independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges based on Section 2441" of the act, Gonzales wrote. "Your determination [that Geneva protections are not applicable] would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."

In light of what we have learned since about the rationalization and use of torture by U.S. interrogators over the last three years, it is difficult to ignore the possibility that Gonzales already had knowledge that such violations had occurred and expected more.

In fact, Gonzales in his memo singles out language from the Geneva Convention (and incorporated into U.S. law) that explicitly brands as a war crime "outrages against personal dignity" — a perfect description of the pattern of mental, sexual and physical degradation of U.S. detainees that has been reported by prisoners, military whistle-blowers and even FBI agents in recent months.

Scheer wraps it up by saying that "to make a man with so little respect for both the spirit and the letter of the law the nation's top law enforcement official would be a terrible advertisement for American democracy."

Human Rights First has a website where you can send a letter to your Senator to oppose Gonzales's approval. There is also one at

BTW, if you Google "Oppose Gonzales," the DailyKos comes up first out of 49,900 entries. The blogosphere is leading the way.