Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

His departure has brought relief to many.



La Jornada, Mexico

Alberto Gonzales: The 'Executor' of Injustice


"His legal backsliding generated a catastrophic moral regression in the society of our northern neighbor, sparking a weakening of ethical and humanitarian standards and encouraging public officials to maintain that torture is acceptable."




Translated By Barbara Howe


August 28, 2007


Mexico - La Jornada - Original Article (Spanish)

Judge Baltasar Garzon Real: The Spanish migistrate is best known for bringing Chilian Dictator Augusto Pinochet to trial for murder and torture, and in this connection, for wanting to investigate former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Now on his desk is a complaint against the legal team of President George W. Bush.


BBC NEWSNIGHT: Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responds to claims that it was his legal advice that led to the torture of terrorist suspects there, Feb. 5, 00:06:54 RealVideo

The relief provoked by the news of Alberto Gonzales' resignation from the U.S. Department of Justice is insufficient to overcome the tremendous destruction wrought by that public official on our neighbor to the north's system of justice, on individual liberties and guarantees, and on the cause human rights. First, as legal counsel to George W. Bush and later as Attorney General, Gonzales - the first U.S. citizen of Mexican origin to hold that position - engineered the biggest rollback of the institutional protections and democracy in that country in decades, and it will take much time and legislative work to repair the vast legal regression he has caused.


Certainly Gonzales didn't act alone, nor does the fundamental responsibility for the grave legal distortions introduced during the Bush Government correspond only to him. Simply put, he was the executor of the group of fanatical neoconservatives that had taken control of the superpower's levers of power - and by extension the world - after the contested U.S. election in 2000.


One must keep in mind that as a presidential advisor, the now outgoing Attorney General played a major role in elaborating the legal regression called the “war against terrorism,” launched by Bush after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. This regression took its most deplorable expression in the so-called Patriot Act , approved by Congress in October of that year, all within the context of the hysteria generated by the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. That document legalized, among other things, spying on U.S. citizens without a warrant, the illegal searches of homes, and - if thought to be suspicious in the eyes of the authorities - the indefinite detention of foreigners without providing them with legal counsel. In addition to promoting that legislation, Gonzales drew up a document [Executive Order 13233 ] in which he recommended ignoring the directives of the Geneva Conventions  on the matter of prisoners of war, with the purpose of giving the military and U.S. public officials wide latitude to mistreat those captured and put them under “moderate” torture.


This and similar kinds of legal backsliding have generated a catastrophic moral regression in the society of our northern neighbor, sparking a weakening of ethical and humanitarian standards and encouraging public officials and opinion leaders to maintain that if inflicted on terrorists - torture is acceptable. Because of these acts, a repressive and barbaric climate eventually translated in the atrocities perpetrated at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other detention centers operated by the U.S. armed forces, as well as the creation of a vast government network dedicated to the kidnapping, aerial transport and torture of uncounted terrorist suspects in Europe, Asia and Africa.


With this record Gonzales arrived at the Justice Department in February 2005, exercising his duties with a clear sense of partisanship and in a spirit of complete submission to Bush. During his management, the FBI was accused of applying the Patriot Act in an abusive and illegal manner, and the Department of Justice became a gigantic front for masking the shady behavior of the president and vice president. One incident that brought into bold relief, the authoritarian and dictatorial mentality of Gonzales, was his declaration that in the United States, habeas corpus falls outside constitutional protections - an opinion that scandalized jurists of the neighboring country.


[Editor's Note: The writ of habeas corpus is the name of a legal action through which a person can seek relief from the unlawful detention of themselves or another person. Its Western origins go back to the 13th century and until the Bush Administration, questioning its constitutional effectiveness was nearly unthinkable ].


The straw that broke the camel's back was the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors who had been observed to be impartial and non-partisan, only to be replaced by Bush and Republican Party loyalists. This action put Gonzales in the sights of the Capitol [Congress] and forced him to testify before legislative committees, which resulted in an overwhelming loss of the Attorney General's credibility. As has occurred with other Bush collaborators - Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton - the President clung to his position far beyond what political decency and personal dignity would advise.


While Bush is the person most responsible for the tragic regression of individual liberties and guarantees in the United States and the world - as far as this decade goes - Gonzales will be remembered as the principal executor of that backward movement.