Example The First
Alberto Gonzales, who left the position of Attorney General in disgrace after a tenure that set what would have previously seemed almost unimaginable standards of incompetence, was quoted this week in an interview in The Wall Street Journal as wondering:
What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?Andrew Cohen of CBS News provides a concise answer:
By any reasonable standard, the Gonzales Era at the Justice Department is void of almost all redemptive qualities. He brought shame and disgrace to the Department because of his lack of independent judgment on some of the most vital legal issues of our time. And he brought chaos and confusion to the department because of his lack of respectable leadership over a cabinet-level department among the most important in the nation.However, it seems that Mr. Gonzales's self image is a bit different. From that same interview:
He neither served the longstanding role as "the people's attorney" nor fully met and tamed his duties and responsibilities to the constitution. He was a man who got the job not because he was supremely qualified or notably well-respected among the leading legal lights of our time, but because he had faithfully and with blind obedience served President George W. Bush for years in Texas (where he botched clemency memos in death penalty cases) and then as White House counsel (where he botched the nation's legal policy on torture.
For some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.(And just to be clear, in the current ethical climate, "formulating policies that people disagree with" is Washington Beltway speak for "breaking laws, approving torture and illegal surveillance, considering the Geneva Conventions 'quaint,' and generally acting like the law doesn't apply to political leaders as long as they claim they're breaking it to keep the evil Muslims from murdering us in our beds.")
Example The Second
Via Glenn Greenwald, we learn that Gonzales's replacement, Michael Mukasey:
...who refuses even to say whether waterboarding is torture and has repeatedly acted to protect Bush officials from prosecution, appeared two weeks ago at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and actually spoke these words:It serves as a daily reminder to the leaders of the free world, and to the many visitors to our nation’s capital, that law without conscience is no guarantee of freedom; that even the seemingly most advanced of nations can be led down the path of evil; and that we must confront horror with action and vigilance, not lethargy and cowardice.
Example The Third
Against all expectations, the Bush DOJ has, in fact, pursued prosecution in a US court of a government official accused of torture. One little detail, though. The government in question is that of Liberia. While the accused is by all accounts richly deserving of punishment, our death-of-irony moment comes in the form of this quotation from Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller in a DOJ court filing, where she refers to torture as a:
...flagrant and pernicious abuse of power and authority. It undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law. The gravity of the offense of torture is beyond dispute.Happy New Year.