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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 3, 2005 2:14 PM
CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights
David Lerner, 212-260-5000
Center for Constitutional Rights Opposes Nomination of Alberto Gonzales for U.S. Attorney General; New Torture Memo Repudiating Gonzales
NEW YORK, NY -- January 3 --
As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to conduct hearings on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the post of Attorney General, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged senators to reject President Bush’s nomination of his former chief counsel as an affront to the rule of law.
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 to extract information from soldiers or detainees held in U.S. custody.
The hearings on Gonzales’s nomination, set for this Wednesday, have become even more controversial in the wake of a December 30, 2004, memo from the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel that revised an August 2002 memo approved by Gonzales. The original memo states that cruel, inhumane and degrading acts may not be considered torture if they don’t produce “excruciating and agonizing pain” or an impact “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”
“The fact that officials in this Administration’s own Justice Department felt compelled to repudiate an earlier torture memo approved by Mr. Gonzales 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 Executive Director Ron Daniels.
In yet another memo, in this case one written personally by Gonzales on January 25, 2002, he addressed strategies for the Administration to evade current treaties and laws in its treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees without being open to prosecution for war crimes. In his memo, he called the Geneva Conventions “obsolete” and provisions “quaint.” Despite concerns raised about the January 25 memo by officials including Colin Powell, Gonzales argued for ignoring such bedrock guarantees as the Geneva Conventions in the interrogation of prisoners, which led directly to the abuse and torture in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.
“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,” said CCR President Michael Ratner.
CCR represents victims of torture in Iraq and Guantanamo in separate lawsuits filed in the U.S. and has been the leading opponent of the Bush Administration’s treatment of detainees being held in the U.S. and around the world. They have a launched a letter writing campaign on their web site urging Americans to write letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing Gonzales’ nomination.