Constitutionally Impaired: Remembering Alberto Gonzales

August 28th, 2007 - by admin

Greg Palasts & Sunsara Taylor / World Can’t Wait – 2007-08-28 21:48:49

American Nightmare: Gonzales “wrong and illegal and unethical”
Greg Palast /

“What I’ve experienced in the last six months is the ugly side of the American dream.”

(August 28, 2007) — Last month, David Iglesias and I were looking out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where his dad had entered the US from Panama decades ago. It was a hard moment for the military lawyer who, immediately after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired Iglesias as US Attorney for New Mexico, returned to active military duty as a Naval Reserve JAG.

Captain Iglesias, cool and circumspect, added something I didn’t expect:

“They misjudged my character, I mean they really thought I was just going to roll over and give them what they wanted and when I didn’t, that I’d go away quietly but I just couldn’t do that. You know US Attorneys and the Justice Department have a history of not taking into consideration partisan politics. That should not be a factor. And what they tried to do is just wrong and illegal and unethical.”

When a federal prosecutor says something is illegal, it’s not just small talk. And the illegality wasn’t small. It’s called, “obstruction of justice,” and it’s a felony crime.

Specifically, Attorney General Gonzales, Iglesias told me, wanted him to bring what the prosecutor called “bogus voter fraud” cases. In effect, US Attorney Iglesias was under pressure from the boss to charge citizens with crimes they didn’t commit. Saddam did that. Stalin did that. But Iglesias would NOT do that — even at the behest of the Attorney General. Today, Captain Iglesias, reached by phone, told me, “I’m not going to file any bogus prosecutions.”

But it wasn’t just Gonzales whose acts were “unethical, wrong and illegal.”

It was Gonzales’ boss.

Iglesias says, “The evidence shows right now, is that [Republican Senator Pete] Domenici complained directly to President Bush. And that Bush then called Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General, and complained about my alleged lack of vigorous enforcement of voter fraud laws.”

In other words, it went to the top. The Decider had decided to punish a prosecutor who wouldn’t prosecute innocents.

All day long I’ve heard Democrats dance with glee that they now have the scalp of Alberto Gonzales. They nailed the puppet. But what about the puppeteer?

The question that remains is the same that Watergate prosecutors asked of Richard Nixon, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”

Or, to update it for Dubya, “What did the President know and how many times did Karl Rove have to explain it to him?”

During the Watergate hearings, Nixon tried to obstruct the investigation into his obstruction of justice by offering up the heads of his Attorney General and other officials. Then, Congress refused to swallow the Nixon bait. The only resignation that counted was the one by the capo di capi of the criminal-political cabal: Nixon’s. The President’s.

But in this case, even the exit of the Decider-in-Chief would not be the end of it. Because this isn’t about finagling with the power of prosecutors, it’s about the 2008 election.

“This voter fraud thing is the bogey man,” says Iglesias.

In New Mexico, the 2004 announcement of Iglesias’ pending prosecution of voters (which he ultimately refused to do) put the chill on the turnout of Hispanic citizens already harassed by officialdom. The bogus “vote fraud” hysteria helped sell New Mexico’s legislature on the Republican plan to require citizenship IDs to vote — all to stop “fraudulent” voters that simply don’t exist.

The voter witch-hunt worked. “Wrong” or “insufficient” ID was used to knock out the civil rights of over a quarter million voters in 2004. In New Mexico, that was enough to swing the state George Bush by a mere 5,900 votes.

So what is most frightening is not the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, the Pinocchio of prosecutorial misconduct, but the resignation of Karl Rove. Because New Mexico 2004 was just the testing ground for the roll-out of the “ID” attack planned for 2008.

And Rove who three decades ago cut his political fangs as chief of the Nixon Youth, is ready to roll. To say Rove left his White House job under a cloud is nonsense. He just went into free-agent status, an electoral hitman ready to jump on the next GOP nominee’s black-ops squad. The fact that Rove’s venomous assistant, Tim Griffin, was set up to work for the campaign Fred Thompson, is a sign that the Lord Voldemort of vote suppression is preparing to practice his Dark Arts in ’08.

It was Rove who convinced Bush to fire upright prosecutors and replace them with Rove-bots ready to strike out at fraudulent (i.e. Democratic) voters.

Iglesias, however, remains the optimist. “I’m hopeful that I’ll get back to the American dream. And get out of the American nightmare.”

Dreams. Nightmares. I have a better idea for America: Wake up.

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans — Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild

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Alberto Gonzales: Architect of a Police State
Sunsara Taylor / World Can’t Wait

What’s up with a country where a torturer — and let’s call a spade a spade — an architect of a police state and fascist laws can be forced to resign and no one in a position of power calls for the reversal of everything he’s done and for his and his boss’s indictment for war crimes?

What’s up is a system that is so hellbent on extending and preserving its empire that a police state that tortures is the program of the whole lot of them. That’s why the Democrats grandstand and garner political advantage over Gonzales’s resignation but have not and will not oppose the essence of his program.

And it is why the people must.

We do not have to — nor should we want to — live under a system that enforces its rule through waterboarding (near-drowning) and locking people away without charge or trial. A system that sets this as its norms is one that cries out for revolutionary change!

And right now, while the regime is in disarray — with first Rove and now Gonzales resigning — is the time for an “orange uprising,” an outpouring of resistance across this country by everyone who doesn‘t want to condemn future generations to a fascist police state. Orange, because this is the color forced on the Guantanamo detainees and torture victims.

And this “orange uprising” must not stop until the Bush regime and its program is driven from power. Whether you’re a revolutionary or not, you have to confront the fact that if the Bush regime is not driven from power, then everything Gonzales was part of will remain — the legalization and institutionalization of wire-tapping, torture, indefinite detentions and so much more — no matter who becomes the next president.

Far from being defanged, George Bush is still commander in chief and he is still pushing forward new horrors by the day. The Democrats — the majority in Congress and the line up of viable presidential contenders: Hillary, Barack and Edwards — are not challenging his fascist program in any of its essential features.

Gonzales called the Geneva Convention ban on torture — a crime against humanity!! — “quaint” and is rightly hated for this. But the Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to approve the Military Commission Act last October giving George Bush the right to decide when the Geneva Conventions apply. This came after the photos of Abu Ghraib.

This came after the conscience of the world was shocked by the photos of human beings stripped naked, stacked up in pyramids, terrorized by dogs, raped and forced to perform sexual acts on each other, religiously violated.

These photos were snapped with the sportsmanship and brazenness of southern Good Ol’ Boys who knew the law would never come for them — and for good reason. Even Hitler never came out and openly admitted, and made legal, torture!

In a recent New Yorker, Jane Mayer quotes an expert familiar with C.I.A. interrogation protocol, “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever… At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before.

It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”

Gonzales is leaving, but this torture continues as you read, and will continue until the people drive out the Bush regime. If you’re against this, you’ve got to visibly Declare It Now by wearing orange — spreading loud, visible, resistance to the Bush regime’s program.

Illegal Wiretapping
Gonzales lied about Bush’s illegal wiretapping and is rightly hated for this. But the Democratic majority in Congress and the Republicans came together recently to change the laws to make intrusive, unwarranted wiretapping — and likely much more — perfectly legal. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats can try to claim Gonzales’s resignation as a victory — but surely this cannot be counted as a victory for those who don’t want a police state!

Think about it: the President was caught not only breaking the law by spying on people without warrants, but also LYING repeatedly about it. So was the Attorney General. But rather than impeaching and removing the whole batch of liars — the Democrats changed the laws, made such spying legal and now call it a victory because they get to be the ones presiding over the whole criminal affair! Further, the new domestic spying law is so expansive that headlines last week suggest it probably includes the right of the government to conduct physical searches!

Gonzales is gone, but this spying is continuing as you read and will continue until the people drive out the Bush regime. If you’re against this, you’ve got to visibly Declare It Now by wearing orange — spreading loud, visible, resistance to the Bush regime’s program.

Gonzales was involved in the selective firing of several United States Attorneys for political reasons and he is rightly hated for it. While Gonzales personally is not a Christian fascist, what trickled out in this scandal is the extent to which all levels of government have been packed with theocrats loyal to George Bush and his hateful brand of Christianity.

Monica Goodling resigned, but she was only one of more than 150 graduates of Pat Robertson’s Regent University who are working in the Bush Administration. Pat Robertson, don’t forget, blamed 9-11 on feminists, the ACLU, abortionists and gays. Worse, Pat Robertson advocates overhauling the penal justice system to correspond to the biblical model — where “habitual criminals” (note: not even “violent” criminals) are executed.

And none of this is being challenged, and in fact it is being conciliated with, by the Democrats. As bad as the voter-caging (systematic disqualification of voters likely to vote Democratic) that these attorney firings were in the service of, the Democrats do not represent any alternative in the interests of humanity. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are all bending over backwards cozying up to and ceding ground to those who want to make this country into a theocracy.

All of them have opposed gay marriage. None of them have taken on the lunacy of George Bush and so many of the Republican presidential candidates denying the fact of evolution. And none of them have taken on the frontal assault on women’s right to abortion and birth control without which women cannot be free.

All of them refused to filibuster the nomination of the Supreme Court justices these Christian fascists were celebrating — Alito and Roberts — and now we’ve seen the effective reversal of Brown V. Board of Education, the beginning of the criminalization of abortion, and there is much worse to come.

Next in Line: Michael Chertoff?
Gonzales is gone, but this theocratic remaking of US society is continuing as you read and will continue until the people drive out the Bush regime. If you’re against this, you’ve got to visibly Declare It Now by wearing orange — spreading loud, visible, resistance to the Bush regime’s program.

Finally, just look at who is being buzzed about to replace Gonzales: Michael Chertoff!

This is a man who presided over the mass murder of residents of New Orleans through criminal negligence during Hurricane Katrina! This is the man who, as immigrants were already being rounded up, detained and deported — often leaving small children orphaned and un-provided for — said to the media, it’s “gonna get ugly.” [emphasis added] These ICE raids have continued and, as Chertoff promised, they keep getting uglier.

Now is the time for an “orange uprising.” There are political vulnerabilities revealed in this resignation, but the program won’t be reversed unless people resist in massive and growing numbers to drive out this regime. The Democrats aren’t stopping Bush’s program and the 2008 election is not only too far away to mean anything to those being tortured today, it is promising to provide no alternative!

Anyone who doesn’t want to be remembered with more disgust than the “Good Germans,” will step out as part of driving out the Bush regime that is continuing the fascist measures Gonzales helped implement.

Alberto Gonzales resigned. Good riddance! But the fascist program Gonzales was an architect of is still reigning in the White House and ravaging people around the planet. This must be resisted and stopped and only the people can do this.

George Bush is still commander in chief pushing forward new horrors by the day. The Democrats — the majority in Congress and the line up of viable presidential contenders: Hillary, Barack and Edwards — are not challenging his fascist program in any of its essential features.

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution newspaper and sits on the Advisory Board of The World Can’t Wait / Drive Out the Bush Regime.

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