Friday, January 07, 2005

Republican lawlessness: Feckless Beltway Dems let Gonzales off the hook on "Rule by Decree" 

Evil, and illegal, as torture is, what's worse is that the President can issue an executive "over-ride" to immunize lawbreakers against prosecution. Once it starts, where does it end? With the end of the rule of law, the overthrow of the Constitution, and Presidential rule by decree, that's where.

And the feckless Beltway Dems let Gonzales float like a butterfly and sting like a bee on this one. They can't even put him near the ropes, let alone on them. Read the whole sorry mess in Slate:

Remember what Dick Cheney said to Sen. Patrick Leahy this past June on the Senate floor? Think of Alberto Gonzales' testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Leahy is the ranking Democrat, as the Bush administration's logical follow-up: "And your mother."

for most of Thursday's nearly nine-hour hearing the committee's Democrats wanted an answer to just one question: Does Gonzales think the president has the power to authorize torture by immunizing American personnel from prosecution for it?

During the hearing, Leahy called this idea, which comes from the August 2002 document dubbed the "Bybee memo," "the commander-in-chief override." And by hearing's end it was clear that Gonzales believed in it. (Otherwise, why not simply answer, "No"?)

Then comes the question of the day: "Now, as attorney general, would you believe the president has the authority to exercise a commander-in-chief override and immunize acts of torture?" Leahy asks. That's "a hypothetical that's never going to occur," Gonzales says, because we don't torture people. He continues, "This president has said we're not going to engage in torture under any circumstances, and therefore that portion of the opinion was unnecessary and was the reason that we asked that that portion be withdrawn." Translation: Yes, I think the president has the legal authority to immunize acts of torture, but he doesn't want to, so I'm not going to bother with defending the idea.

Finally, Harold Hongju Koh, a Yale professor of international law (and dean of the Yale Law School), solves the riddle—about the "commander-in-chief override" not the mysterious nanny—by proposing a simple question for Gonzales. He tells the Judiciary Committee, "A simple question you could have asked today was, 'Is the anti-torture statute constitutional?" If Gonzales answers yes, then he does not believe the president can override the statute. Mystery solved. Only one problem with this professorial inquiry: By the time Koh testified, Gonzales was already gone.
(via Slate)

Future Supreme Court nominee Gonzales says the President is now above the law. What the Republicans have always wanted under Nixon (Watergate), Reagan (Ira-Contra), now they have: Absolute power. (And, in a classic example of winger projection, "the rule of law" was what the whole $70-million-for-a-blowjob farce was supposed to be about).

Kiss the Constitution goodbye, folks...

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