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Opposition to Alberto Gonzales

Many are opposed to Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. Some are skeptical. I'm on the fence, only because I fear that the alternatives would be worse.

  • New York Times (90% is about Ashcroft, Gonzales seems to get the benefit of any doubts.)

Here is Alberto Gonzales' much critized memo to President Bush (pdf)

Here is Colin Powell's response to the memo. (pdf)

And some news articles:

As White House counsel, Gonzales helped craft legal arguments that "enemy combatants" designated by the president, including U.S. citizens, could be imprisoned for months without access to lawyers or the right to challenge their detentions in court. The Supreme Court found such restrictions unconstitutional this year.

Gonzales was also an architect of the system of military tribunals that the Defense Department is using in Cuba to prosecute suspected terrorists. Critics complained that detainees were being denied their basic rights under the Geneva Convention. The survival of the military tribunals was cast in doubt this week in a ruling by a federal judge.

And Gonzales solicited a Justice Department legal opinion in August 2002 that held that international torture laws did not protect suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters apprehended in Afghanistan. That position has been viewed by some as having laid the groundwork for the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"We definitely think it is an inappropriate choice," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, which says Gonzales bears major responsibility for the prison scandal.

Gonzales "rejected the advice of career officers in the military, as well as in the State Department, and advised the president to place detainees in the war on terror beyond the reach of the Geneva Conventions or any other law," Malinowski said. "He was warned that that decision would undermine the culture of respect for law within the military, and didn't listen to that advice — and the rest is very miserable history."

Gonzales also appears to have much more moderate views than Ashcroft on a number of social issues. One of his defining votes while a justice on the Texas Supreme Court was siding with a majority in a closely watched case to allow minors to have abortions without notifying their parents.

Update: The San Francisco Chronicle blasts Ashcroft and says Gonzales is unlikely to be much better.

Also see The Register Guard (Eugene, OR); the St. Petersburg Times.

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