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CCR Says Tough Questions for Gonzales Are Not Enough

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Opposition Should Have Backbone and Contest the Nomination

In New York, on January 5, 2005, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged senators to think of the message confirming Alberto Gonzales to the post of Attorney General will send to the world. Said CCR Executive Director Ron Daniels, “To confirm Gonzales as Attorney General will send a message to the world that we feel no shame for the torture and abuse that has occurred at our hands. Asking him tough questions is not enough: opposition to the nomination must have backbone. The nomination is an affront to the rule of law, and we call on Senators to vote their conscience and declare that torture is not an American value.”

CCR, which is the only organization in the country that actually represents men and women who were tortured in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, charges that Mr. Gonzales knowingly and willingly provided counsel and advocated policies calculated to evade or circumvent domestic and international laws prohibiting the use of torture and inhumane treatment.

Yesterday, a group of retired high-ranking military officers wrote an unprecedented letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in which they charged that the policies of Alberto Gonzales “have fostered greater animosity toward the United States, undermined our intelligence gathering efforts and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.”

Today, the New York Times wrote the following in an unequivocally critical editorial, “On Thursday, more than eight months after the rotten fruits of those legal briefs [written and commissioned by Mr. Gonzales] were shown to the world at Abu Ghraib, the Justice Department issued yet another legal opinion. This time it rejected Mr. Bybee's bizarre notions that the president could be given the legal go-ahead to authorize torture, simply by defining the word so narrowly as to exclude almost anything short of mortal injury. We were glad to see that turnaround, although it was three years too late. Prisoners have already been systematically hurt, degraded, tortured and even killed. The nation's international reputation is deeply scarred.”

“Making Alberto Gonzales the Attorney General of the United States would be a travesty: it would mean taking one of the legal architects of an illegal and immoral policy and installing him as the official who is charged with protecting our constitutional rights. The Gonzales memo paved the way to Abu Ghraib. The fact that officials in this Administration’s own Justice Department felt compelled to repudiate the earlier torture memos should itself be sufficient to persuade the Senators that he is not fit to be the top law enforcement official in the land,” said CCR President Michael Ratner.

 

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.