This morning, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Judge Gonzales steadfastly refused to legally or morally condemn torture. He refused to say that the US should not engage in torture. He refused to say that other countries should not torture American citizens. He would not say that torture was illegal or wrong. Gonzales was deeply involved with a Department of Justice memo that laid the legal groundwork for interrrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay's US-run prison camp. The non-partisan Red Cross called those techniques "tantamount to torture." Those memos are also implicated in the torture and abuses that occured in Abu Ghraib. The memos state that questioners may inflict pain on detainees as long as the pain is less than the pain of death or organ failure. Should a questioner kill somebody or exceed the alloable levels of pain, it would only be torture if the questioner meant to kill the person, cause organ failure, or exceed pain thresholds. If a representative of the US Government beat a prisoner until that prisoner's kidney was destroyed, it would only be torture, then, if the assailant meant to cause organ failure.
These memos are no longer US policy. They were recently withdrawn, probably in preperation for Gonzales' nomination. Recent news reports indicate that he was not the author of the memos, however, he admitted to Senator Kennedy that he was deeply involved int heir drafting, meeting with the authors several times to discuss the leagal opinions expressed in the memos.
Gonzales' history shows he supports torture. His present answers indicate that he has not decided to condemn the practice. He cannot condemn the practice, because of his past involvement, he would be condemning himself. It used to be a no-brainer for anyone to stand in front of the Senate and condemn torture. It used to be especially a no-brainer for anyone to stand in front of the senate and condemn foreign governments torturing American citizens. Call or email your senators and tell them to vote no on Gonzales. (Your senator will have offices in your state with local phone numbers as well as an office in Washington DC.) We cannot allow a supporter of torture to become Attorney General. One of your senators may be on the Judiciary Committee. It is especially important to contact comittee members. (Comittee members representing where some of my blog readers live include Diane Feinstein D-CA, Ted Kennedy D-MA, Charles Schumer D-NY, and Arlen Specter R-PA)
Please pass this information on and encourage others who condemn torture to oppose Gonzales.