Monday, January 03, 2005

Republican lawlessness: Once again, Beltway Dems help the LRWM bury the lede 

Not that the Beltway Dems are doing much better. Anyhow, here's the way the issue is framed:

Torture Memo Controversy Builds as Gonzales Prepares for Hearings

But one two three four five six seven paragraphs down we get the real story:

The Justice Department in 2002 asserted that President Bush's wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Gonzales, while at the White House, also wrote a memo to President Bush on January 25, 2002, arguing that the war on terrorism "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

But a treaty like the Geneva Convention is the law of the land; the Senate ratified it. So, what Gonzales claims is that Bush has the right to set aside the law. That's called "rule by decree." It has no place in our Constitutional form of goverment.

One aspect of rule by decree, of course, is that the decrees are kept secret (the ol' lettre de cachet concept). And secret, of course, is exactly what Bush wants his decrees to be:

Durbin, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, says the White House has refused to give those memos to Democrats so they can determine exactly how the policies were crafted.

"We asked them to produce the memos that they have and can release that were given to Judge Gonzales or were generated by him, and so far they have not claimed executive privilege but have refused to produce this documentation," Durbin said.

The White House says it has shared several documents with the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and plans on working with Democrats to see if their questions can be resolved.

Ah, the ol' divide and conquer trick. Say, wasn't Leahy the one who said that Gonzales was not a "lightning rod" nomination? (back) Though it's hard to imagine what could, or should be more of a lightning rod than trying to justify torture, let alone trying to justify rule by decree!

And a parting shot:

"The fact that officials in this administration's own Justice Department felt compelled to repudiate an earlier torture memo approved by Mr. Gonzales should itself be sufficient to persuade the senators that he is not fit to be the top law enforcement official in the land," said Ron Daniels, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
(via AP)

Well, yes and no. What should be repudiated is the idea that Bush can just set aside the law when he pleases, and then not tell anyone what he did, or why he did it. That is what is at issue here. Alas, neither the LRWM or the Beltway Dems are saying this.

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