the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 4, 2005

No to Torture, No to Gonzales


On Independence Day, it’s appropriate to reflect on what the United States stands for and whether we’re living up to those ideals. In the past, our nation has been a leader in human rights (although it’s never been perfect), and one of the worst transgressions of the Bush administration was to stain the United States by making it into one of the countries that uses torture. Yes, Bush has mouthed some condemnations of torture, and a few bad apples have been punished. But the people responsible for the policies of prisoner abuse and torture have not only escaped punishment but have been promoted, the network of detainment facilities continues as before, and the policy of shipping prisoners to thuggish regimes to be tortured is still in place.

Now there’s a lot of talk of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a possible nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy opened up by the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor. It’s true that the prospect of Bush nominating someone who’s not fanatically opposed to abortion rights is driving the religious right crazy (John Cole has a selection of the reactions), but we must not be fooled into thinking that anyone they hate that much can’t be all bad. Nat Hentoff detailed “nice guy” Gonzales’s connections to torture in a Village Voice column when Gonzales was nominated for attorney general (the Center for American Progress has more). Nothing has changed since then. This is, after all, the man who wrote, “In my judgment, this new paradigm [the war on terrorism] renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”

The six Democrats in the Senate who voted for Gonzales’s confirmation should be ashamed,* as should all of the Republicans (especially John McCain, who has experienced torture first hand). As attorney general, he will be gone in three and a half years, but as a Supreme Court justice Gonzales will be with us for decades. We must do all we can to keep the stain of torture away from the nation’s highest court. Gonzales is not acceptable.

* For the record, the Shameful Six are Landrieu (D-LA), Lieberman (D-CT), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), and Salazar (D-CO). Please remember, not Obama.

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DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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