Understanding The Damage Done By Alberto Gonzales genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Blind Justice

American's have heard ample analysis on the role of Alberto Gonzales and how his actions have impacted civil liberties and the established rules of law in the United States, but the op-ed piece by Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post Intelligencer may be one of the most thoughtful. Connelly takes the time to look beyond the momentary ramifications and towards the long term considerations of the Attorney General's disregard for the concept of justice.

In a 1994 alumni banquet speech at the UW Law School, the late U.S. District Judge William Dwyer quoted a famous gloomy line from Yeats -- "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold."

He then suggested that America has a "center" that holds the country together. "That center is the rule of law," Dwyer said. "By the rule of law, I do not just mean law and order, although that is important, but much more.

"I mean equality before the law, access to the law and freedom under the law. I mean the jury system, the Bill of Rights, constitutional liberty and justice provided through a fair, honest and open court system."

I wrote yesterday about a new poll that surveyed American's view of major institutions in the United States...a survey that indicated people did not view the justice system with much confidence...even though they did rate the police and the military highly. Looking at this data in conjunction with Dwyer's observations, one begins to see the damage done by an Attorney General that has diminished the core components of our view of justice.

American citizens have been held without access to counsel, let alone the jury system.

The federal government has, without warrants, intercepted telephone communications to and from the United States -- in direct violation of a law passed by Congress setting down procedures for obtaining warrants.

What has been the role of Gonzales, nicknamed "Fredo" by the president? As White House counsel, and now attorney general, he has played the roles of both knave and fool, serving as an enabler for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, and then claiming he can't remember the details.

"Fredo" signed a famous 2002 memo to Bush on the treatment of so-called enemy combatants. It described provisions of the Geneva Convention as "quaint," and dismissed then-Secretary of State Colin Powell as a defender of "obsolete" rules on the treatment of prisoners.

The real author apparently was David Addington, legal adviser to the vice president. Along with others in a tight-knit group of White House lawyers, "Fredo" undermined and went over the heads of Cabinet secretaries. Powell was cut out of the memo's circulation, and would read about it in the press.

The legal gang did some famous redefining, such as casting "torture" as actions of "equivalent intensity" to "the pain of organ failure or even death."

It seems to me that what Connelly is describing is the pride one has in one's system of governance or justice...pride that emanates from one's sense of the equity it affords to all it touches. People that are proud of their affiliations generally believe in the decency and civility of the organization or institution with which they are associated.

The actions of the Attorney General have, in my opinion, led a number of Americans to shy away from embracing or touting our justice system. Many Americans now equate it with those governments we have criticized for years as arbitrary and dictatorial...systems reserved for cloistered and clandestine societies that first and foremost serve the goals of those who hold power...regardless of any true measures of fair and equitable treatment.

A curious reversal of roles has taken place in America, notably over the past seven years.

"Conservatism" once stood for checks and balances, restraint on what Lyndon Johnson's critics called "the imperial presidency," and the principle that government works best when closest to the people.

Bush-era conservatism means unchecked presidential power. Authorities have the right to run roughshod over the individual in the interest of "security" or, in an opinion this week by Chief Justice John Roberts, to "protect those entrusted in their care."

As the Aesopian justifications pile up, one turns to Dwyer for the antidote, only in this case a warning.

"George Orwell showed us brilliantly how freedom depends on the integrity of language: If words are debased, the liberties that are sustained by words are in peril," he told the Washington Library Association.

"In the late 20th century, there is a disturbing trend toward the debasement of language, as well as toward a reliance on symbols and catch phrases."

The "other" Washington is, increasingly, an Orwellian place of twisted language and wars by proxy. As in Iraq, the casualties are those of lower ranks.

Cheney gets angry about Ambassador Joseph Wilson's editorial, and retaliates by "outing" Wilson's CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. What happens? Scooter Libby is convicted, Cheney carries on. "Fredo" fires a bunch of U.S. attorneys for improper reasons. The consequences? Virtually all of his top deputies resign under pressure. Gonzales goes free.

The imagery is that of a banana republic that crafts its rules on the fly...dependent upon the amount of information that may seep into the purview of the masses either by accident or by dissent of those who still maintain higher ideals. Its the wizard who thinks he remains behind the curtain while pulling the levers to suit his fancy...all the while rationalizing his actions primarily because he has set out to create a system in which he and his cohorts cannot be challenged.

What remains to be seen is the degree to which the American electorate will reject this intentionally amorphous approach to justice. If the data reported yesterday is accurate, one thing is certain...Americans are increasingly disenchanted with the apparent malleability and manipulation that they perceive exists in many of their established institutions.

The most recent example is that of the Vice President's assertion that he isn't part of the executive branch and therefore sits alone and autonomous outside of the presidential order that dictates and details the handling of classified documents. Not surprisingly, the White House quickly launched a litany of labored language to defend the Vice President...leaving many Americans further questioning whether this administration has any limits upon its efforts to obfuscate.

The warnings offered by Dwyer and Orwell are noteworthy. I am remiss to recall a prior time when language was so intentionally crafted and corrupted to serve the goals and objectives of those in power. 2008 will provide the voting public with an opportunity to issue a clear and concise rebuttal...one that can be spoken, measured, and delivered as an unmitigated rejection of the status quo...one that can begin to restore the confidence necessary to "hold the country together".

Daniel DiRito | June 27, 2007 | 8:34 AM
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1 On June 27, 2007 at 6:26 PM, Vic Anderson wrote —

Or just(ly) daresay the Bushists lie.

2 On June 27, 2007 at 11:13 PM, The Oracle wrote —

Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Three words that describe perfectly the Republican Party of today, as well as the host of lying, cheating and stealing enablers behind them.

Therefore, the "culture of corruption" Republicans must keep lying right now...to cover up their cheating...as they attempt to steal another presidential election in November 2008.

Their game plan is obvious. By stacking the U.S. judiciary with a bunch of liars, the Republican Party hopes to block any legal remedy from occurring as more and more concerned, patriotic U.S. citizens seek a redress of grievances against the most corrupt administration in American history. For instance, Supreme Court Justices Alito and Roberts LIED in their confirmation hearings before Congress, so I'm not surprised by their recent rulings that essentially rule in favor of further Republican cheating and stealing.

What I don't understand is why evangelical "so-called" Christians are following these liars, cheaters and stealers down the path to hell (based on their own religious beliefs). Oh, that's right, the evangelical "so-called" Christians would sell their souls to the devil himself to get Roe vs. Wade overturned and abortion made illegal again. Too bad they must burn for an eternity in hell to accomplish their "right-eous" task. Sigh. But why do they have to sacrifice our democracy, and the future democratic freedoms of their own children, to get this done? Incredibly insane, isn't it?

Our very democracy hangs in the balance in the November 2008 elections...and in 2010...and 2012...and for the next several decades...or as long as it takes to expose and root this by-and-large Republican evil out of our democratic government and all of our democratic institutions, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Until then, no American citizen's liberty will be safe.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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Tracked on June 27, 2007 12:28 PM

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