Yesterday the Senate confirmed Alberto Gonzales to be the Attorney General of the US. That is the same man who both commissioned and approved the torture memos. Who could not bring himself to say torture is always wrong when quizzed live by a Senator. Who probably committed obstruction of justice in sabotaging the investigation into the Plame affair. Who may have lied to Congress about his shielding the boss in the Texas jury affair.
Yet all the Republicans — including POW torture victim John McCain — and six Democrats (including the quisling-like Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and, sadly, our own Bill Nelson from Florida) voted to confirm. The final vote showed only 36 against, too few to sustain the filibuster which was thus not attempted, a tactical decision that I will not second guess.
A vote for Bush, I said before the election, is a vote for torture. We reap now the bitter fruits of what our fellow citizens then sowed.
May they (and the rest of us too) not get what they deserve.
McCain no longer has any privilege to whine like a little girl about the evils of his experience as a POW at the hands of the Vietnamese. He voted for torture with his vote for Gonzales. The nicest thing one can say about him is that if he really does oppose torture (and I’m talking about the definition the civilized world uses, not that of the ignorant and savage Republicans) and yet supported Gonzales, he is now merely a partisan hack with no principles but toeing the mark established by his betters.
McCain never told us that the Vietnamese shelled out his balls, but it’s obvious that they did.
But I can at least understand the Republican mindset, even if I have no respect for it. The few Democrats who went with torture are simply contemptible. But the Republicans went for it, every last thug of them. Never let the world forget this.
From Harry Reid’s speech at the close of the confirmation hearing: I will tell my colleagues about one of our men and what that man said about his treatment by the Vietnamese:
“It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment. Having no one else to rely on, to share confidences with, to seek counsel from, you begin to doubt your judgment and your courage.”
The man who said these words was a Navy pilot, LCDR John McCain.
the only bright spot: most of the Democrats were wonderful, Reid and Durbin perhaps most of all. I don’t think Reid will forget this and I know Durbin won’t.
After Reid quoted McCain, he said this: “For John McCain and all our soldiers serving across the globe, we need to stand against torture because of what it does to us as a country, to those serving now, to the future servicemen of our country, and what it does to us as a nation.”
It was quite a moment: stand up against this for John McCain, even though he won’t do it himself.
I wonder what McCain, Graham, Hagel, Chafee et. al were thinking, I really do. I’ve about given up on getting any help from Republicans when it comes to issuing subpoenas or voting against any nominee for any reason. I do think we may be able to get help from some of the GOP Senators on legislation. An amendment will be stripped out in conference, and Hastert won’t allow a vote on a bill, but I think the only alternative is to get a team of two like McCain and Feingold (actually, McCain and Feingold themselves might do it, though my personal preference is Durbin and Graham), to really push for this, year in and year out, with as much press attention as possible. There’s a slim chance they’d allow a vote, but if it ever got through the House Bush might well be afraid to veto it.
I was only able to see a few of the speeches — both of Kennedy’s, Carl Levin, and Feingold. Levin impressed me for the level, deadly way he set out the facts that put Gonzales at the center of the torture policy. No surprise given his role on the Armed Services Committee. And I loved Levin’s challenge to Bush and/or Rumsfeld (“If they want to take responsibility…”).
But for sheer unanswerability, a speech that I actually thought would persuade one or two Republicans, I give it to Feingold. He made it clear that he’d been ready to confirm before the confirmation hearings, but that Gonzales’ arrogant, unaccountable, dodgy testimony to the committee made that impossible. He hammered especially on the most fundamental issue for an attorney general, commitment to the law even when in conflict with presidential policy. The punchline was the contrast with Ashcroft’s unequivocal statement of that commitment during his confirmation hearings.
What’s the most convenient source of speech transcripts? I’m assuming Congressional Record but haven’t looked anywhere yet.