(Marj Cohn lays the wood to him here folks!! )
Dear Mr. Gonzales,
You have been rewarded for your unflinching loyalty to George W. Bush with a nomination for Attorney General of the United States. As White House
Counsel, you have walked in lockstep with the President. As Attorney General, you will be charged with representing all the people of the United
States. Your performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday verified that you will continue to be a yes-man for Bush once you are
In the face of interrogation by members of the Committee, you waffled, equivocated, lied, feigned lack of memory, and even remained silent, in the
face of the most probing questions. Your refusals to answer prompted Senator Patrick Leahy to say, "Mr. Gonzales, I'd almost think that you'd
served in the Senate, you've learned how to filibuster so well."
Even though the Department of Justice retracted the August 2002 torture memo, and replaced it with a new one on the eve of your confirmation hearing,
you still refuse to denounce the old memo's narrow and illegal definition of torture. You permitted that definition to remain as government policy
for 2 1/2 years, which enabled the torture of countless prisoners in U.S. custody.
You continually evaded inquiries about your responsibility for drafting the now-repudiated memo by portraying yourself as a mere conduit for legal
opinions from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. This puzzled Senator Russ Feingold, who said, "If you were my lawyer, I'd sure want
to know your opinion about something like that."
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told you, "I think we've dramatically undermined the war effort by getting on the slippery slope in terms of
playing cute with the law, because it's come back to bite us." Indeed, 12 retired professional military leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces wrote to
the Judiciary Committee, expressing "deep concern" about your nomination because detention and interrogation operations which you appeared to have
"played a significant role in shaping" have "undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops serving around
When Senator Graham, an Air Force judge advocate, asked you if you agreed with a professional military lawyer's opinion that the August memo may have
put our troops in jeopardy, you were tongue tied. You said nothing for several embarrassing seconds, until Senator Graham suggested you think it over
and respond later.
When Senator Richard Durbin asked "Do you believe there are circumstances where other legal restrictions, like the War Crimes Act, would not apply to
U.S. personnel?" you again sat mute for several seconds, and then asked to respond later.
It is alarming, Mr. Gonzales, that a lawyer with your pedigree would be stumped into silence by these questions.
You have taken the unprecedented step of advising the President that the Geneva Conventions have become "obsolete." You testified that since "we
are fighting a new type of enemy and a new type of war," you "think it is appropriate to revisit whether or not Geneva should be revisited." You
admitted preliminary discussions are already underway.
The 12 former military leaders wrote, "Repeatedly in our past, the United States has confronted foes that, at the time they emerged, posed threats of
a scope or nature unlike any we had previously faced. But we have been far more steadfast in the past in keeping faith with our national commitment to
the rule of law."
Mr. Gonzales, you have concurred in, even commissioned, advice that led to the following:
# Sodomy with a broomstick, chemical light, metal object Severe beatings
# Water boarding (simulated drowning)
# Electric shock
# Attaching electrodes to private parts
# Forced masturbation
# Pulling out fingernails
# Pushing lit cigarettes into ears
# Chaining hand and foot in fetal position without food or water
# Forced standing on one leg in the sun
# Feigned suffocation
# Gagging with duct tape
# Tormenting with loud music and strobe lights
# Sleep deprivation
# Subjecting to freezing/sweltering temperatures
# "Dietary manipulation"
# Repeated, prolonged rectal exams
# Hanging by arms from hooks
# Permitting serious dog bites
# Bending back fingers
# Intense isolation for more than 3 months
# Grabbing genitals
# Severe burning
# Stacking of naked prisoners in pyramids
# Injecting with drugs
# Leaving bullet in body of wounded prisoner
# Taping naked prisoner to board
# Shooting into containers with men inside
# Keeping prisoners in small, outdoor cages
# Pepper spraying in face
# Forcing heads into toilets and flushing
# Threatening live burial, drowning, electrocution, rape and death
# Beating prisoners to death
# Killing wounded prisoners
# Throwing off bridge into river and drowning
Saddam Hussein would be proud of you, Mr. Gonzales.
Perhaps most alarming was your response to Senator Durbin's question, "Can U.S. personnel legally engage in torture under any circumstances?" You
answered, "I don't believe so, but I'd want to get back to you on that." You failed to give a categorical "no" answer. You surely know, Mr.
Gonzales, that the Convention Against Torture prohibits torture at any time. That treaty, ratified by the United States and therefore part of the
Supreme law of the land under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, says, "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a
threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture."
Brigadier General David M. Brahms (Ret. USMC) General Joseph Hoar (Ret. USMC)
Brigadier General James Cullen (Ret. USA) Rear Admiral John D. Hutson (Ret. USN)
Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote (Ret. USA) Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy (Ret. USA)
Lieutenant General Robert Gard (Ret. USA) General Merrill McPeak (Ret. USAF)
Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn (Ret. USN) Major General Melvyn Montano (Ret. USAF Nat. Guard)
Rear Admiral Don Guter (Ret. USN) General John Shalikashvili (Ret. USA)
The Honorable Members of the Senate Judiciary
United States Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:
We, the undersigned, are retired professional military leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces. We write to express our deep concern about the nomination
of Alberto R. Gonzales to be Attorney General, and to urge you to explore in detail his views concerning the role of the Geneva Conventions in U.S.
detention and interrogation policy and practice.
During his tenure as White House Counsel, Mr. Gonzales appears to have played a significant role in shaping U.S. detention and interrogation
operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo Bay, and elsewhere. Today, it is clear that these operations have fostered greater animosity toward the
United States, undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world. Before Mr. Gonzales
assumes the position of Attorney General, it is critical to understand whether he intends to adhere to the positions he adopted as White House
Counsel, or chart a revised course more consistent with fulfilling our nation's complex security interests, and maintaining a military that operates
within the rule of law.
Among his past actions that concern us most, Mr. Gonzales wrote to the President on January 25, 2002, advising him that the Geneva Conventions did
not apply to the conflict then underway in Afghanistan. More broadly, he wrote that the "war on terrorism" presents a "new paradigm [that] renders
obsolete Geneva's" protections.
The reasoning Mr. Gonzales advanced in this memo was rejected by many military leaders at the time, including Secretary of State Colin Powell who
argued that abandoning the Geneva Conventions would put our soldiers at greater risk, would "reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in
supporting the Geneva Conventions," and would "undermine the protections of the rule of law for our troops, both in this specific conflict
[Afghanistan] and in general." State Department adviser William H. Taft IV agreed that this decision "deprives our troops [in Afghanistan] of any
claim to the protection of the Conventions in the event they are captured and weakens the protections afforded by the Conventions to our troops in
future conflicts." Mr. Gonzales' recommendation also ran counter to the wisdom of former U.S. prisoners of war. As Senator John McCain has observed:
"I am certain we all would have been a lot worse off if there had not been the Geneva Conventions around which an international consensus formed
about some very basic standards of decency that should apply even amid the cruel excesses of war."
Mr. Gonzales' reasoning was also on the wrong side of history. Repeatedly in our past, the United States has confronted foes that, at the time
they emerged, posed threats of a scope or nature unlike any we had previously faced. But we have been far more steadfast in the past in keeping faith
with our national commitment to the rule of law. During the Second World War, General Dwight D. Eisenhower explained that the allies adhered to the
law of war in their treatment of prisoners because "the Germans had some thousands of American and British prisoners and I did not want to give
Hitler the excuse or justification for treating our prisoners more harshly than he already was doing." In Vietnam, U.S. policy required that the
Geneva Conventions be observed for all enemy prisoners of war - both North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong - even though the Viet Cong denied our
own prisoners of war the same protections. And in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United States afforded Geneva Convention protections to more than
86,000 Iraqi prisoners of war held in U.S. custody. The threats we face today - while grave and complex - no more warrant abandoning these basic
principles than did the threats of enemies past.
Perhaps most troubling of all, the White House decision to depart from the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan went hand in hand with the decision
to relax the definition of torture and to alter interrogation doctrine accordingly. Mr. Gonzales' January 2002 memo itself warned that the decision
not to apply Geneva Convention standards "could undermine U.S. military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in
combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of adversaries." Yet Mr. Gonzales then made that very recommendation with
reference to Afghanistan, a policy later extended piece by piece to Iraq. Sadly, the uncertainty Mr. Gonzales warned about came to fruition. As James
R. Schlesinger's panel reviewing Defense Department detention operations concluded earlier this year, these changes in doctrine have led to
uncertainty and confusion in the field, contributing to the abuses of detainees at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and undermining the mission and morale of
The full extent of Mr. Gonzales' role in endorsing or implementing the interrogation practices the world has now seen remains unclear. A series
of memos that were prepared at his direction in 2002 recommended official authorization of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding,
feigned suffocation, and sleep deprivation. As with the recommendations on the Geneva Conventions, these memos ignored established U.S. military
policy, including doctrine prohibiting "threats, insults, or exposure to inhumane treatment as a means of or aid to interrogation." Indeed, the
August 1, 2002 Justice Department memo analyzing the law on interrogation references health care administration law more than five times, but never
once cites the U.S. Army Field Manual on interrogation. The Army Field Manual was the product of decades of experience - experience that had shown,
among other things that such interrogation methods produce unreliable results and often impede further intelligence collection. Discounting the
Manual's wisdom on this central point shows a disturbing disregard for the decades of hardwon knowledge of the professional American military.
Here are my reservations:
- this AG appointment has to do with nothing else but a near feudalistic paid favors system; it has nothing to do with talent and even less to do with
the 'best person for the job' practicallity that it should be predicated on.
- the 'Latino flavor' vote ploy is too obvious for words, but more importantly, it serves to illustrate a false sense inclusion.
- the ascent of Gonzales is in direct analogy to his willing to act as a tool for those who can further his power reach. That vehicle has been the
Bush clan.....what will follow in his tenure will be the most convaluted &legally twisted interepttions that would allow anything and everything on a
Bush agenda, damn the Constitution.