The River

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Heard Arlen Spector on NPR this morning say the Democrats were trying to make torture a "wedge issue" in the Gonzales AG nomination process.

Does Arlen really want to go there? Does he understand what he's saying? If torture is a wedge issue, then you have to have two sides -- on one side of the wedge would be those who approve of torture and on the other those who do not.

Vote accordingly, Senators. Show us how you feel about torture. Arlen, your statements have already revealed as much.


Gonzales OK could be seen as OK for torture rules

Robert Collier, SF Chronicle Staff Writer


The key document in the case against Gonzales is a memo he wrote Bush on Jan. 25, 2002, advising that the Geneva Conventions were inapplicable to captured members of al Qaeda or other suspected terrorists detained abroad.

Gonzales' legal finding reversed long-standing U.S. policy and military code, and it came to govern U.S. military interrogations in the ensuing two years -- the same period as abuses at Abu Ghraib and by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A Pentagon-appointed committee headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger blamed Gonzales' finding for helping to create a permissive atmosphere that led to these abuses.

In the Senate hearings, lawmakers grilled Gonzales on whether it is legally permissible for U.S. personnel to engage in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of noncitizens detained outside of the United States. Gonzales replied that "aliens interrogated by the United States outside the United States enjoy no substantive rights" under the U.S. Constitution or the Convention Against Torture, a treaty ratified by the Senate in 1994 that bans all interrogation methods that cause severe pain or discomfort. In a written response to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who requested further clarification, Gonzales said, "there is no legal obligation under the Convention Against Torture on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas."

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