Skip to comments.Ex-Military Lawyers Object to Bush Cabinet Nominee (With Kerik Gone, MSM Focusing on Gonzales?)
Posted on 12/15/2004 10:55:45 PM PST by nj26
Several former high-ranking military lawyers say they are discussing ways to oppose President Bush's nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be attorney general, asserting that Mr. Gonzales's supervision of legal memorandums that appeared to sanction harsh treatment of detainees, even torture, showed unsound legal judgment.
Hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination are expected to begin next month. While Mr. Gonzales is expected to be confirmed, objections from former generals and admirals would be a setback and an embarrassment for him and the White House.
Rear Adm. John D. Hutson, who served as the Navy's judge advocate general from 1997 to 2000 before he retired, said that while Mr. Gonzales might be a lawyer of some stature, "I think the role that he played in the one thing that I am familiar with is tremendously shortsighted."
Mr. Gonzales, as White House counsel, oversaw the drafting of several confidential legal memorandums that critics said sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and opened the door to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
A memorandum prepared under Mr. Gonzales's supervision by a legal task force concluded that Mr. Bush was not bound either by an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation.
The memorandum also said that executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons, including a belief by interrogators that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful." Another memorandum said the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Mr. Hutson, who is dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., said that Mr. Gonzales "was not thinking about the impact of his behavior on U.S. troops in this war and others to come."
"He was not thinking about the United States' history in abiding by international law, especially in the wartime context," he said. "For that reason, some of us think he is a poor choice to be attorney general."
Mr. Hutson said talks with other retired senior military officials had not yet produced a decision on how to oppose the selection, though testifying at the hearings was a possibility. He said that while several opposed the nomination, some were unsure if opposition would be "worth the effort" because of little expectation the nomination could be derailed.
Brig. Gen. James Cullen, retired from the Army, said on Wednesday that he believed that in supervising the memorandums, Mr. Gonzales had purposely ignored the advice of lawyers whose views did not accord with the conclusions he sought, which was that there was some legal justification for illegal behavior.
"He went forum-shopping," General Cullen said, saying Mr. Gonzales had ignored the advice of military lawyers adamantly opposed to some of the legal strategies adopted, including narrowly defining torture so as to make it difficult to prove it occurred. "When you create these kinds of policies that can eventually be used against your own soldiers, when we say 'only follow the Geneva Conventions as much as it suits us,' when we take steps that the common man would understand is torture, this undermines what we are supposed to be, and many of us find it appalling," he said.
General Cullen, a lawyer in New York City, said the group of former military lawyers who oppose the nomination hoped to decide soon what specific action to take.
The memorandums produced largely by lawyers in the Justice Department and other government agencies created great bitterness at the time among military lawyers, who said they were not consulted.
Mr. Gonzales and the White House have already been put on notice by Senate Democrats that he should expect to be questioned vigorously about his role in the memorandums. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, sent several letters to Mr. Gonzales, the most recent of which said that "you will be asked to describe your role in both the interpretation of the law and the development of policies that led to what I and many others consider to have been a disregard for the rule of law," the practices at Abu Ghraib. "You will be called upon to explain in detail your role in developing policies related to the interrogation and treatment of foreign prisoners."
When the memorandums began appearing this year in news accounts in The New York Times and elsewhere, the White House said in a statement that they had been only advisory opinions and that the administration did not and had not condoned torture or mistreatment.
In a confidential report this summer disclosed recently, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that the interrogation techniques regularly practiced at Guantánamo were tantamount to torture.
Hmmmmm .. That would be under the Clinton Administration right????
Thanks for zeroing in on the "Key Fact". Too many seem to see this as a "all skaters skate" call to micro-criticize every decision the Prez intends to make. Suffering through that sort of exercise is gruesome.
Our enemies cut off heads already. Gonzales was right in giving more weight to preventing another three thousand Americans from been burned alive in another 9/11.
"I get the distinct impression that, before they are retired military officers, Admiral Hutson and General Cullen are Democrats."
I have no doubt that the NY Times probably called 50 military lawyers to find 2 who would criticize Gonzales.
I wouldn't pay much attention to the content of the article. I don't think there was any "meat" here.
But a careful reading of the NY Times offers a lot of clues about how the Dems plan of attack.
I agree. And, sometimes, I wonder just who is taking the lead. Does the DNC furnish instructions to the NYTimes editorial board? Or does the NYTimes editorial board identify the agenda for the DNC?
More likely, the technique would be called "collaboration" -- in the same sense as the French practiced with the Germans.
According to television news last night, Gonzales is the one who "vetted" Kerik.
I'd say Rear Adm. John D. Hutson is the Navy's equivalent of Weasel Clark.
Gonzales is pro-abortion. Why is anyone at FR defending someone who has the blood of innocent children on his hands?
In the present political climate, the dems would find cause to criticize Jesus Christ himself.
Better use your dictionary and look up "neocon". I don't qualify and cannot understand why you would direct your remarks to me and my hyperbolic remark. While you're at it, take that 2x4 off your shoulder.
We Neocon Mods are awful, zotting people Just Because.
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