Skip to comments.FLASHBACK: Bush Appointees Need To Follow The Law (2005)
Posted on 01/22/2009 12:52:57 PM PST by rightinthemiddle
Chertoff, Gonzales, Abrams Have Baggage
President George W. Bush has appointed three more officials with unsavory baggage from previous government roles. Let's hope they have learned something from their past misdeeds.
One of the nominees -- Michael Chertoff -- is expected to be confirmed shortly as secretary of the Homeland Security Department, replacing Tom Ridge. Chertoff headed the Justice Department's criminal division in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
White House legal counsel Alberto R. Gonzales -- the replacement for John Ashcroft as attorney general -- did not get the usual pass accorded Cabinet appointees. The Senate vote on his confirmation was 60 in favor and 36 against, meaning that he was easily confirmed but that a sizeable chunk of the Senate didn't like his nomination.
Gonzales had to answer for Justice Department and White House legal memos defining what constitutes torture of terrorist suspects. Those documents have been blamed for creating the legal environment that led some U.S. military personnel to torture detainees in Iraq and elsewhere.
The third man is Elliott Abrams, who was convicted of withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan era.
Abrams, who has been appointed deputy national security adviser, does not have to be confirmed by the Senate, and probably never will be nominated for any post that requires confirmation because of his past troubles with the law.
He was serving in the State Department in 1986 when he falsely testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he did not know that White House national security staffer Oliver North was directing illegal arms sales to Iran and diverting the profits to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
Former President George H.W. Bush later pardoned Abrams.
Chertoff displayed an amazing loss of memory during his confirmation hearing Wednesday and denied he had given advice to other authorities on interrogation techniques.
However, Chertoff did acknowledge reviewing a 2002 memo regarding interrogation methods for terrorist suspects. But his typical responses to several questions from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee were that he couldn't recall whether he had seen the devastating document that defined illegal torture very narrowly. To be outlawed, the abuse had to rise to the level of death or organ failure. Any abuse short of that was OK.
He blamed untrained federal authorities in the emotional aftermath of the 9/ll terrorist attacks for the way immigrants were arrested on questionable tips and then deprived of speedy access to lawyers.
Chertoff said that when he served in the Justice Department he was unaware of any harsh methods used against prisoners at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But some of his critics don't believe he had his head in the sand when legal due process was being ignored. They viewed his testimony as misleading and incomplete.
The American Civil Liberties Union accused Chertoff of an "alarming record" of endorsing improper methods in the name of national security.
A spokesman said Chertoff endorsed the round up of Arabs and Muslims on a "pretext."
Kate Martin, a lawyer with the Center for National Security Studies -- which sued the government over the arrests following -- complained that Chertoff did not apologize to the "hundreds of innocent people and their families who were jailed simply because they were Arabs or Muslims."
Gonzales, who will head the Justice Department, had a lot to answer for in the torture controversy. But sympathy for his rise from a humble background as the son of migrant farm workers played well with Republican senators. His Hispanic heritage also was noted.
Like Chertoff, Gonzales' testimony was replete with a lack of recall when senators quizzed him.
Under ordinary circumstances it would be good to have people with experience serving in the Cabinet and other top-ranking federal jobs. But it would be even better if they knew where the lines were drawn between humane and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
In other words, if they obeyed the law.
Helen, join them. They’re history now.
Sounds a wee bit defensive to me.
But the Democrat media can’t seem to find anything wrong with the crowd coming in.
Right man at the right time!!
I’ll tell him you said that next time I see him at Lowe’s.
(from my hometown)
Liberals don’t have to follow the law. Nothing new here, move on.