Mark Danner makes the case against Bush’s Attorney-General-to-be:
In the next few days we are likely to hear how Mr. Gonzales recommended strongly, against the arguments of the secretary of state and military lawyers, that prisoners in Afghanistan be denied the protection of the Geneva Conventions. We are also likely to hear how, under Mr. Gonzales’s urging, lawyers in the Department of Justice contrived – when confronted with the obstacle that the United States had undertaken, by treaty and statute, to make torture illegal – simply to redefine the word to mean procedures that would produce pain “of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure.” By this act of verbal legerdemain, interrogation techniques like water-boarding that plainly constituted torture suddenly became something less than that.
But what we are unlikely to hear, given the balance of votes in the Senate, are many voices making the obvious argument that with this record, Mr. Gonzales is unfit to serve as attorney general. So let me make it: Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States’ fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.