Dear Bush Beat:Gonzales as a chef . . .


. . . really sets the world on fire

Gregory Gallina writes:

Gonzales grilled Kerik a pork chop and some veggies.

Thank you for reading. And your line is food for thought, Gregory.

But now we’re faced with the prospect of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general. The Senate will really be out to lunch if Gonzales doesn’t get a grilling next month—unless common sense prevails and the Bush regime withdraws his name.

I’m sure George W. Bush‘s handlers aren’t considering that, but they had better hope that somebody better than Gonzales at vetting is vetting Gonzales. They need him to be attorney general so he can squelch a number of investigations.

Unless the Senate forces Gonzales to throw in the trowel, these are just a few of the questions around which he will be erecting a stone wall:

• Did high-level Pentagon officials know that underling Larry Franklin supposedly fed information on Iran under the table to Israel through AIPAC? Was one of those officials the alleged spy’s boss, fanatical pro-Israel hawk Doug Feith? And was there anyone else involved? To refresh your memory, here are a couple of paragraphs from a September 4 Washington Post story by Robin Wright and Dan Eggen:

[FBI] investigators have asked questions about personnel in the office of Pentagon Undersecretary for Policy Douglas J. Feith as well as members of the influential Defense Policy Board, an advisory panel for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, according to former U.S. officials who have been questioned and others familiar with the case.

Investigators have specifically asked about a group of neoconservatives involved in defense issues, including Feith, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Iraq and Iran specialist Harold Rhode, and others at the Pentagon. FBI agents also have asked current and former officials about Richard Perle of the defense board and David Wurmser, an Iran specialist and principal deputy assistant for national security affairs in Cheney’s office, according to sources familiar with or involved in the case.

• Did oil consultant James Giffen bribe his pal Kazakhstan dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev in the late ’90s on behalf of U.S. oil companies and with the full knowledge of the CIA and other top government officials? Giffen’s lawyers contend that whatever he did in the Kazakhgate scandal, he was acting as an “agent” of the U.S. government. Giffen’s trial is scheduled to start next month in federal court in Manhattan. Will Dick Cheney be deposed? Will he be called to testify? Cheney was on Nazarbayev’s exclusive oil advisory board at the time this scheming took place. I’d like to meet the federal prosecutor who has the ovaries or balls to call Cheney to the stand, or even depose him.

Gonzales is needed to cap this potentially blazing oil conflagration, although now that Bush has won a second term, and oil companies are coughing up huge dough for the inauguration and other necessities, maybe the feds will cut a deal with Giffen anyway, thus keeping the tales of scandalously crooked behavior out of press.

• Who at the White House leaked Valerie Plame‘s name to Robert Novak? Who better to have as attorney general, the person in charge of federal prosecutors and the FBI, than the White House’s lawyer, Alberto Gonzales?

• What did Bush himself know about the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib? When did he know it? There would be nobody better to squelch those questions than Gonzales, who advised Bush that such blatant disregard for international law (and non-Christian human beings) was okey-dokey. Will the White House ever be held accountable for its tortured torture logic? Not if Gonzales becomes AG, that’s for sure.

Judge Al, as he is known in some circles, has done more damage to human rights during the Bush regime than even John Ashcroft did. My colleague Nat Hentoff has pointed out many of Gonzales’s most egregious actions—like the idea that the “war on terror,” according to a January 2002 memo Gonzales wrote to Bush, “renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”

Gonzales has been slapped down by the Supreme Court—hell, even the JAG lawyers think he’s too harsh on prisoners.

At Gonzales’s best, he simply shares the “compassion” of his boss. Before becoming president, Bush was the hangingest governor in American history. Christopher Hitchens wrote in Salon in August 1999 that Bush “presided over an execution in Texas almost every two weeks since his election [as governor].”

Bush’s typically careless and inattentive behavior, in this instance toward pleas of clemency, was enabled back in his goobernatorial years by his factotum Gonzales. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Alan Berlow pointed out in “The Hanging Governor,” also in Salon:

Even Bush’s former counsel, Judge Alberto R. Gonzales, says that a typical execution would receive no more than 30 minutes of the governor’s time.

Bush did little but bumble along as president until 9/11 gave the neocons, war profiteers, and others in the gang around Bush the excuse they needed. As Derrick Z. Jackson wrote earlier this month in the Boston Globe:

Gonzales and Bush used the war on terror to justify the United States being a law unto itself. Lynndie England may get nearly four decades in jail. Alberto Gonzales is about to get four years to rewrite our laws. If England is the face of abuse, Gonzales is the hidden hand. If he becomes attorney general, you should not be shocked if new abuses of civil liberties occur in your school, your library, perhaps even in your home.

A good blistering by the Senate, followed by withdrawal or rejection, wouldn’t be cruel and unusual punishment for Gonzales. He has given the OK for Americans caught in bad situations to engage in the basest human behavior. Because he flouts the Constitution, international law, and commonly recognized human rights, he puts people like the Abu Ghraib prison guards in position to fail as human beings.

Gonzales just brings out the worst in others.