May 17, 2004

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? (Alberto Gonzales Edition)

Why do they lie about everything? All the time?

the road to surfdom: Judd Legum from the excellent Center for American Progress emails with this interesting comparison between Gonzalez's memo and an op-ed he (Gonzalez) recently wrote for The New York Times:

Last week, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales forcefully denied that the Bush administration failed to support the Geneva treaties. But Gonzales’ recent statements are belied by his January 2002 memo to the President.

GONZALES SAYS ADMINISTRATION IS A 'STRONG SUPPORTER OF GENEVA CONVENTIONS: "At the same time, President Bush recognized that our nation will continue to be a strong supporter of the Geneva treaties. The president also reaffirmed our policy in the United States armed forces to treat Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in keeping with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention."

- Alberto Gonzales, 5/15/04 (NYT Op-Ed)

VERSUS

GONZALES SAYS GENEVA RESTRICTIONS ARE OBSOLETE: "The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians...In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

- Alberto Gonzales, 1/25/02 (Memorandum to the President, as reported in Newsweek 5/16/04)

Remember: this is a guy whom Bush wants to put on the Supreme Court. <;/p> Posted by DeLong at May 17, 2004 03:57 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

Comments

There is precisely one silver lining to this ugly turn of events: Gonzales will never make the Supreme Court now.

Posted by: howard on May 17, 2004 04:12 PM

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I do not think they are lying - they are just living in conflicting realities - the current moment and the one that I defined at a prior moment. I know it is difficult to reconcile the opposing facts but that was then and this is now.

Posted by: pfknc on May 17, 2004 04:12 PM

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I swear,it's "Groundhog Day"! These cretins have NO memory from day-to-day. They just make it up as they go along.

Posted by: Palolo lolo on May 17, 2004 04:23 PM

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I don't see a conflict - this is just like a non-denial denial. The 1/25 memo essentially says that Geneva doesn't apply in the context of the War on Terra. The op-ed says that we'll treat prisoners according to Geneva where appropriate. He simply neglects to point out that in the WoT, there might be fewer appropriate situations than one would think.

Of course, this just goes to show that the Bushies don't have to actually lie to render their statements without truth.

Posted by: Dave on May 17, 2004 04:41 PM

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Never forget that half of America agrees with what Gonzales wrote in 2002. Now, think extremely hard about the meaning of representative democracy. Is *that* half entitled to a government that represents it, or is *this* half entitled to a government that represents *it*? There is no overlap.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on May 17, 2004 05:31 PM

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It seems that it no longer matters to politicians if you lie but if you can get away with it. Cover up and the entanglement of words is a game which 'truth' is struggling to defend. It may be that words are closer to having run their course than we might like to think. At present they maintain the media but little else.

Posted by: Coup de Vent on May 17, 2004 05:44 PM

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>Never forget that half of America agrees with what Gonzales wrote in 2002. Now, think extremely hard about the meaning of representative democracy. Is *that* half entitled to a government that represents it, or is *this* half entitled to a government that represents *it*? There is no overlap.

You know what they say about Democracy... everybody gets the government that the majority deserves.

Posted by: s9 on May 17, 2004 06:02 PM

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>Never forget that half of America agrees with what Gonzales wrote in 2002. Now, think extremely hard about the meaning of representative democracy. Is *that* half entitled to a government that represents it, or is *this* half entitled to a government that represents *it*? There is no overlap.

The reference to entitlement begs the question. The law is not whatever a particular majority at a particular point in time may want. It is what has been enacted into law according to the procedures set out in the Constitution (common law raises different issues, but we're not talking about the common law here). Regardless of whether a current majority wants the US to abandon the Geneva Conventions (a point that I do not concede), the Geneva Conventions are the law of the land, ratified by Congress pursuant to the Constitution. Members of the executive branch do not get to declare the Conventions obsolete by fiat.

Posted by: Jeff Cooper on May 17, 2004 06:17 PM

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Actually, I find the op-ed almost as revealing of the Administration's hubris and disregard for the rule of law as the memo was. The US is a "strong supporter" of the Geneva Conventions? They're treaties, signed and ratified by the US. "Supporting" them is not optional, nor is it anything a government should have to state or be proud of. They are the law of the land.

Posted by: cyclopatra on May 17, 2004 06:26 PM

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The Democrats are looking pretty good now for having stopped his nomination in its tracks. As for us, we ought to be very thankful that they did.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell on May 17, 2004 06:53 PM

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I think that this administration has proven that this isn't the old GOP anymore. They have substantially diversified their administration with high profile minority members, helping to more accurately reflect the diversity and talent of this nation. In fact, they've been able to find educated minorities who are just as unprincipled, selfish, and willing to turn their backs on the less fortunate in their communities as they are. Now that is integration for you!

Posted by: non economist on May 17, 2004 07:08 PM

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I'd like to offer public thanks to the Honorable William Rehnquist, the Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg,and the Honorable John Paul Stevens for having the wisdom and fortitude not to retire from the Supreme Court. Had they done so the dishonorable Gonzales would have been first in line to take their place. Well done!

Now if they can just make it to November Bush will become the answer to a trivia question.

Posted by: cogito on May 17, 2004 07:30 PM

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Whoops, the trivia question, and the answer, are at

http://cogito.blogs.com/meditations/2004/05/the_bush_is_lik.html

Posted by: cogito on May 17, 2004 07:31 PM

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If we don't put Thumbscrew Gonzales on the Supreme Court, then the racists have won.

Yup.

Posted by: Hermann Goering on May 18, 2004 07:29 AM

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Cyclopatra,

"They (signed treaties) are the law of the land." Actually, it ain't that simple in practice. The Senate ratifies treaties, which gives them some legal force in the US. However, it is sometimes the case that signed and ratified treaties are in conflict with existing law and practice. There have been cases in which local authorities did not notify the consular authorities in a timely manner of the arrest of their nationals, as required by treaty. In at least one cases, the arrested was condemned to death. Arguably, due process was denied because of the lack of timely consular notification. The execution took place, anyway.

The President's decision to set large numbers of war prisoners outside of Geneva Convention treatment is, as far as I know, a new thing. Courts are just now getting around to testing whether some parts of Gitmo treatment are legal. Will courts accept a challenge to a presidential decision on the Geneva Convention? Let's hope so. For one thing, having been ratified by the Senate, the Geneva Convention seems to raise seperation of powers issues. The Executive can't have treaty treatment without the Senate. Having called on the Senate to rafity, can it then ignore the Senate's wishes? Don't know.

Posted by: K Harris on May 18, 2004 08:10 AM

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Knut Wicksell wrote: "The Democrats are looking pretty good now for having stopped his nomination in its tracks. As for us, we ought to be very thankful that they did."

You're probably thinking of Estrada, Knut. As far as I know, Gonzalez' name has not (yet) been submitted. It was widely rumored that Bush had him on the short list for possible Supreme Court nominations, but since there haven't been any vacancies, that's been moot thus far.

Oddly enough, there are some conservatives who have objected to a possible Gonzalez nomination on the grounds that he isn't "pure" enough for them, that he's too moderate!

Posted by: PaulB on May 18, 2004 08:30 AM

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Well, he is! Note that he called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint', and 'obsolete', but not 'an Evul PC librul invention of UN Blue-helmeted islamofascist idiotarians'.

Posted by: Barry on May 18, 2004 10:34 AM

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Exactly, Paul.

He's actually the best of the judges that Bush has drawn close. I know there are brilliant conservatives out there...I actually wouldn't mind having one...if the alternative is the dreck that we keep urging forward now.

Posted by: Spencer on May 18, 2004 02:53 PM

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Exactly, Paul.

He's actually the best of the judges that Bush has drawn close. I know there are brilliant conservatives out there...I actually wouldn't mind having one...if the alternative is the dreck that we keep urging forward now.

Posted by: Spencer on May 18, 2004 02:53 PM

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Exactly, Paul.

He's actually the best of the judges that Bush has drawn close. I know there are brilliant conservatives out there...I actually wouldn't mind having one...if the alternative is the dreck that we keep urging forward now.

Posted by: Spencer on May 18, 2004 02:53 PM

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Sorry. Yikes. The rare trifecta.

Posted by: spencer on May 18, 2004 02:55 PM

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Brad missed the key phrase:

"to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity"

Read: Whenever we feel like it.

Posted by: ogmb on May 18, 2004 03:46 PM

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They may be able to define their own delusion based reality but eventually the actual daily experience catches up and denies their defintion. We are seeing that now in Iraq and their disassembling regarding the torture routine.

I believe they have opened Pandora's box and will not like what is escaping but it is beyond their control and cannot be closed.

Posted by: pfknc on May 18, 2004 07:19 PM

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