Alberto Gonzales Should Be Impeached

This is solely my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Talk Left and its contributors.

When Alberto Gonzales was nominated to become Attorney General of the United States, I, and thousands of others, opposed his confirmation:

As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. . . .

In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint." . . .

Now, Attorney General Gonzales has the audacity to state that the Judiciary should not enforce the Constitution and the laws of the land when the President chooses to ignore his responsibility to faithfully execute the laws and the Constitution of the United States:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases. In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who “apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.”

I think the Attorney General could not be clearer. He advocates the vitiation of the Constitution by the judiciary when the President so desires. He is unfit for the office of Attorney General. He should be removed from office. More.

In his confirmation hearings, Gonzales was questioned on his view of Presidential Commander in Chief power:

SEN. DURBIN: But you believe he has that authority; he could ignore a law passed by this Congress, signed by this president or another one, and decide that it is unconstitutional and refuse to comply with that law?

MR. GONZALES: Senator, again, you're asking me where the -- hypothetically, does that authority exist? And I guess I would have to say that hypothetically that authority may exist. But let me also just say that we certainly understand and recognize the role of the courts in our system of government. We have to deal with some very difficult issues here, very, very complicated. Sometimes the answers are not so clear. The president's position on this is that ultimately the judges, the courts will make the decision as to whether or not we've drawn the right balance here. And in certain circumstance the courts have agreed with the administration positions; in certain circumstances, the courts have disagreed. And we will respect those decisions.

SEN. DURBIN: Fifty-two years ago, a president named Harry Truman decided to test that premise -- Youngstown Sheet and Tube versus the Supreme Court -- or in the Supreme Court -- versus Sawyer in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, as you know, "President Truman, you're wrong. You don't have the authority to decide what's constitutional, what laws you like and don't like." I'm troubled that you would think, as our incoming attorney general, that a president can pick or choose the laws that he thinks are unconstitutional and ultimately wait for that test in court to decide whether or not he's going to comply with the law.

MR. GONZALES: Senator, you asked me whether or not it was theoretically possible that the Congress could pass a law that we would view as unconstitutional. My response was -- is that obviously we would take that very, very seriously, look at that very carefully. But I suppose it is theoretically possible that that would happen. Let me just add one final point. We in the executive branch, of course, understand that there are limits upon presidential power; very, very mindful of Justice O'Connor's statement in the Hamdi decision that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president of the United States" with respect the rights of American citizens. I understand that, and I agree with that.

In his speech today, Attorney General Gonzales utterly repudiates the view he expressed under oath to the Senate. He now states that it is his view that a state of war is in fact a blank check for the President, that there are no limits to Presidential wartime power and that he no longer recognizes the role of the courts in our system of government regarding national security issues.

Alberto Gonzales should never have been confirmed as Attorney General. His conduct in office confirms our judgment at the time. His speech today makes clear that he must be removed from office. He will not respect the Constitution and the laws of the United States. These views are simply unacceptable in the Nation's chief law enforcement officer. He must go.

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    It's obvious. (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by aw on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 10:49:27 AM EST
    "That, for example, a judge will never be in the best position to know what is in the national security interests of our country."

    They put his boss in office, didn't they?

    Just curious (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 10:45:38 AM EST
    Why does anyone support this clown? The old "well, he's a Bush crony, and Bush has great taste in cronies" kinda lost its luster after Browniegate.

    "Why does anyone support this clown?" (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by wlgriffi on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 11:48:57 AM EST
    Good question. The political climate in the country is in environmental disaray. Nothing will come of anything because the "fourth estate" is in love with the imperial presidency.

    He should have been impeached (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 11:00:52 AM EST
    a long time ago.

    And he should be in jail.

    Oath of (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 11:37:30 AM EST
    Oaths of Justices and Judges
    "I, XXX XXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as XXX under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."
    judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases.

    Gonzales not only repudiates his own oath, he is counselling other judges to repudiate theirs as well. Is there a crime in that?

    Fair, balanced, and dumbing you down (none / 0) (#6)
    by jondee on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 12:02:30 PM EST
    Im still laughing about the Hannity/Coulter spin on criticism of Gonzales: "liberal racism" -- in the meantime, 150 Texacutions had nothing to do with racism..

    If we have the pleasure of Scribe's company... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Bill Arnett on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 12:23:00 PM EST
    ...this morning I would like to ask this:

    When public officials so egregiously violate their oaths of office is there no remedy available to the "people", as in, of, by, and for the people, or is that strictly within congressional purview?

    And if strictly a congressional remedy, why? Why can't a citizen, a constituent of a public office member, bring or force some type of action to remove the oath-breaker from office or establish some type of draconian penalty upon them for having violated their oath?

    I am obviously aware that the viewpoint as to whether a person violated their oath may, in many cases, be open to interpretation and in "the eye of the beholder", but it somehow seems un-American that a public official may violate their oath at will and not face any consequence whatever.

    Could taxpayers have standing to bring an action of some sort against the office holder?

    It gripes me that if the head of the local PTA violates their oath of office they could and probably would be removed, yet higher office holders get a free ride on violating their oaths. Do oaths no longer have any practical value and no method of enforcement?

    A couple of interesting links (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 12:59:59 PM EST
    Under the Massachusetts Constitution, any public official who swears the oath of office and then willingly violates that oath it is subject to the criminal penalties of perjury -- a felony.

    Any judge who does not comply with his oath to the Constitution of the United States wars against that Constitution and engages in acts in violation of the Supreme Law of the Land. The judge is engaged in acts of treason.   Having taken at least two, if not three, oaths of office to support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, any judge who has acted in violation of the Constitution is engaged in an act or acts of treason (see below).   If a judge does not fully comply with the Constitution, then his orders are void, In re Sawyer, 124 U.S. 200 (1888), he/she is without jurisdiction, and he/she has engaged in an act or acts of treason.

    US Constitution, Article VI. - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    Great cites, but still no enforcement provisions. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Bill Arnett on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:16:08 PM EST
    Just impeachment as penalty (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:22:14 PM EST
    either by state legislature, or by Congress, as far as I can see. Although "perjury" it seems to me is something any police office should be able to arrest and charge someone for, I would think? But how 'politically' feasible or practicable would that be?

    You got me. That's why I was hoping that Scribe (none / 0) (#11)
    by Bill Arnett on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:27:46 PM EST
    might chip in on this.

    I am consistently impressed with both his knowledge and writing skills.


    Yes (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:35:03 PM EST
    Me too.

    Have you ever arrested someone for perjury yourself, Bill?

    Also maybe Patrick can tell us if he's ever taken someone into custody charging them with perjury. Or knows of any police who have.

    Of course - it might be a bit difficult arresting Abu. There could be a hostile confrontation. Ummmm, someone could get shot....


    My answer fell along those lines.... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kdog on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 04:56:05 PM EST
    The only enforcement of the oath available to average citizens that I am aware of involves torches and pitchforks.

    Military courts-martial are run vastly... (none / 0) (#24)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 12:45:53 PM EST
    ...differently than a civilian trial, so, no, I have never had occasion to arrest anyone for committing perjury (the charging, arrest, prosecution phases differ significantly).

    Even in civilian cases, such as Mark Fuhrman, rarely is an arrest for perjury made in the courtroom, but after investigation and charging by the appropriate authorities.

    As to Abu, if evidence ever comes forward that he indeed perjured himself to a congressional committee there would be much investigation prior to bringing perjury/contempt of congress charges.


    I've been busy working on work, and on (none / 0) (#15)
    by scribe on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:56:16 PM EST
    This dissection of the Scooter puff-piece (which I link here for your dining and dancing pleasure).

    But, seriously, as I understand the law, the answer is "no private right of action" to hobble Abu Gonzo.

    I'm sure, if it were a Democratic office-holder, the Rethug radio commenters would be all heavy-breathing (through their slack jaws) about all sorts of ideas.  I'm not, and no one else should be - impeachment or criminal conviction, followed in either case by removal from office are the only ways to get rid of him.

    And, private citizens cannot bring either an impeachment or a criminal action.  Period.


    Thanks, scribe. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 02:00:03 PM EST
    That's what I thought - though it was fun speculating.

    Thank you, Scribe. Hope springs eternal... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 12:39:06 PM EST
    All we need are orange jumpsuits. (none / 0) (#13)
    by JSN on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:38:05 PM EST
    Where ever these folks go or stay there are armed guards so all we need to do is convert the guard to corrections officers and make them wear orange jumpsuits.

    Palace Revolt??? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 01:39:25 PM EST
    Ides of March? ;-)

    Impeached? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Fredo on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 07:04:20 PM EST
    Perhaps, indeed, he should be impeached.  Do I care?  Not a whit.  Why do I not care?  Because the issue is entirely what is known in the law as a "political question," and the supporters of such an impeachment have not the courage, the will nor the numbers to do it.  So Fredo confidently announces to all of you on this date that the event shall not transpire.  Period.  Too bad if you were hoping that it would.  It's kind of like the twenty-two imminent indictments that were supposed to arrive at Fitzmas, way back in the day.  Hopes dahsed yet again.  The dog barks, but the caravan moves on...

    i'm not sure gonzales can be impeached (none / 0) (#19)
    by cpinva on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 09:27:59 PM EST
    he's not an elected official, he serves at the pleasure of the president, with the advice and consent of congress. show me in the constitution where it provides for impeachment of appointed public officials? Congress can charge him with committing criminal acts, or put pressure on the president to dismiss him, but i think that's the extent of their power over cabinet appointments.

    further, i thought the issue of who's job it is to decide whether or not a law is constitutional was decided in marbury v madison; the authority to determine the constitutionality of any law, in the united states, rests finally with the supreme court, not the legislative or executive branches.

    Consent? (none / 0) (#20)
    by aw on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 10:03:47 PM EST
    Anyone who has to be confirmed by the senate can surely be impeached by the senate.

    John Dean (none / 0) (#21)
    by Edger on Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 12:58:23 AM EST
    Refocusing the Impeachment Movement on Administration Officials Below the President and Vice-President:
    The Constitution's Impeachment Clause applies to all "civil officers of the United States" - not to mention the president, vice president and federal judges. It is not clear who, precisely, is among those considered "civil officers," but the group certainly includes a president's cabinet and sub-cabinet, as well as the senior department officials and the White House staff (those who are issued commissions by the president and serve the President and Vice President).

    Impeachment (none / 0) (#22)
    by Fredo on Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 03:52:26 PM EST
    "An impeachable offense is whatever Congress says it is." (Gerald R. Ford)  Congress will not say that Gonzales has committed any such offense, so all you dreamers will have to--as we say--Move On.

    Where did he say that? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Winter on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 07:41:21 PM EST
    I've read the transcript of Gonzales' speech and I cannot find the place where he says

    that it is his view that a state of war is in fact a blank check for the President, that there are no limits to Presidential wartime power and that he no longer recognizes the role of the courts in our system of government regarding national security issues.

    Perhaps I am a bit dense, but I don't see anything even similar here.

    Can you please point out the place where he says that?

    Thank you.

    His entire speech. (none / 0) (#26)
    by Edger on Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 10:11:47 AM EST
    hyperbole (def.)