Thursday, January 13, 2005
The following is from an open letter to Alberto Gonzales after his questioning in the Senate. I particularly like pointing out his silence on the questions of torture. Read the whole thing.
When Sen. 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 Sen. Graham suggested you think it over and respond later.
When Sen. 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.
Perhaps most alarming was your response to Sen. 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."