Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Republican lawlessness: Crisco Johnny stiffs Congress, Constitution on torture memoes 

Since Bush is a Godly man, who are we, mere citizens, to question His ways? Get a load of this transcript from Knight Ridder:

Attorney General John Ashcroft flatly refused requests from Congressional Democrats on Tuesday to turn over memos that reportedly justified the use of torture in some instances against terrorists.

"This administration rejects torture," Ashcroft told lawmakers.

Then there should be no problem turning over the memos, right? Since the paper trail would, naturally, support Ashcroft's assertion.

He said Tuesday that President Bush never violated international treaties or U.S. law governing the treatment of prisoners but refused to provide the memos written to the CIA and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"No, I will not, Ashcroft responded when Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., asked him to provide the documents. Ashcroft explained that the Justice Department's legal guidance to the executive branch and the president must remain confidential.

Then Ashcroft should assert executive privilege—but, see below, he won't do that either.

He also said that Bush has not given blanket immunity to any U.S. agent interrogating al-Qaida captives.

Great! Then release the memos, since, naturally, the paper trail would support this assertion

"Let me completely reject the notion that anything this president has done or the Justice Department has done has directly resulted in the kinds of atrocities which were cited," [Ashcroft]said.

Naturally the memos, were Ashcroft to release them, would support this assertion. So it's curious that Ashcroft won't release them. And the memo WhiteWash Counsel Gonsalez wrote calling the Geneva Convention "quaint"—when it is an international treaty, ratified by the Senate, with the force of law—would have had no effect whatever. Uh huh.

"You are not allowed under the Constitution to not answer our questions," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. "You all better come up with a good rationale because otherwise it's contempt of Congress."

Well, do it then!

Asked by Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. R-Utah, whether the memos were classified, Ashcroft conferred for a long moment with an aide sitting behind him.

"Some of these memos may be classified in some ways for some purposes," he began.

Ashcroft doesn't answer the question.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., interrupted him.

"Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect that is a complete evasion," Durbin said. Durbin said the president either had to invoke executive privilege or Ashcroft had to cite a statutory provision allowing him to withhold the memos.

And Ashcroft still doesn't answer the question.

Ashcroft steadfastly refused to do either Tuesday.

"I am refusing to disclose these memos because I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from his attorney general that is confidential," he said.

And still Ashcroft doesn't answer the question, since if he "believes" that is true, that would be the claim of executive privilege he refuses to make.

Republicans on the committee largely ignored the torture issue.

Since all good Christians are for torture?

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee suggest that the Bush administration is secretly reinterpreting U.S. law and the Geneva Convention.

No! They would never do that!

A tight-lipped Ashcroft ...

Just the lips?

.... refused to discuss the memo or even confirm its existence. He said to reveal information about the U.S. interrogation techniques could help members of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Well, uh, the terrorists can't read the newspapers? Or talk to innocents, later released, who have been tortured? WTF?

Biden persisted.

"If such a memo existed, do you believe that is good law? Do you think that torture might be justified?" he asked.

"I condemn torture," Ashcroft responded. "I don't think it's productive, let alone justified."
(via Kansas City Star)

And yet again, Ashcroft still doesn't answer the question "is it good law?" Isn't an Attorney General supposed to be able to render that sort of judgement? Or have we gotten to the point where the law itself it secret, a mark of all tyrannies?

The executive branch is careening out of all Constitutional control. Does anyone on the Hill recognize this? Is anyone going to call them on it?

After lying and looting, lawbreaking is what Republicans do best!

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