COALITION ASKING THAT JUDICIAL CANDIDATE REPUDIATE TORTURE - Mitch Perry

01/05/05

Tomorrow morning, President Bush’s choice for Attorney General for his 2nd term, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1st day of his confirmation hearings – which will be broadcast live here on WMNF.

The questioning of Gonzalez is expected – and hoped – to be pointed towards, Gonzalez, specifically in regards to 1 memo written in his name regarding torture, and 2 presidential orders on the policy of interrogating detainees swept up in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Today the Washington Post reported that another set of questions could come from the revelation regarding the influence that Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel, David S. Addington, had, in Gonzalez office. Addington, whom the Post describes as outspokenly conservative, interviewed candidates for appointment as Gonzales's deputy, spoke at Gonzales's morning meetings and, in at least one instance, drafted an early version of a legal memorandum circulated to other departments in Gonzales's name.

The Post quotes an anonymous source as saying that Gonzalez often acquiesced in policymaking by others, which one administration official admitted.

That Administration source admitted that might not be the quality for an official nominated to be attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement job.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of The Gonzalez hearings, a coalition of groups announced in a nationwide conference call this morning that they are beginning a campaign to demand that Alberto Gonzales AND the U.S. Senate publicly repudiate the use of torture.

The call was led by former Congressman Tom Andrews, now National Director of the group Win Without War. He said the debate that needs to take place is : what type of Attorney General does the country deserve? (roll tape#1 o.q.�by Judge Gonzalez�)

Andrews announced the unveiling today of a new group, The Campaign to Stop Torture. Tomorrow they will publish an ad regarding their campaign in the NY Times, and will soon have a television ad on broadcast TV.

Alex Ariaga is the director of Government Relations for Amnesty International. She said her group is extremely concerned about the effects of torture on the U.S. Government worldwide (roll tape#2 o.q.� government�)

Ariaga says Amnesty does not take a position on Gonzalez’s appointment to Attorney General, but wants the AG to say that torture is prohibited, and that there be a commission to look into the actions that took place as to the extent of the US Government’s knowledge of events that took place at Abu Ghraib.

Andrew Greenblatt is the online organizing Director for True Majority. He said his group did some work on the issue of Torture when the Abu Grhraib scandal broke last spring…..He says he wasn’t sure his group was going to be involved in the campaign against torture, but many of the half million members of his group demanded that True Majority get involved (roll tape#3 o.q.�against those kinds of actions�)

Scott Horton is from the International League for Human Rights…..He condemned the abuses that took place at Abu Grhaib and other incidents that have recently come to light regarding the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan (roll tape#4 o.q.�for interrogation�)

And Scott Horton from the International League For Human Rights says the question for the US Senate , and the country, is whether Gonzalez should be rewarded for this conduct by being elevated to the position as Chief Law officer in the Country (roll tape#5 o.q.

“in uniform�)

All the speakers acknowledged that the math makes it doubtful that Gonzalez will NOT be confirmed by the Senate, which added 4 more Republicans to its body in November.

But Tom Andrews says it’s important that some ‘accountability’ be taken by SOMEBODY in the Bush Administration for the prisoner abuses that have already taken place (roll tape#6 o.q.�closest allies from us�)

But Andrew Rosenblatt from True Majority says that Gonzalez could lose support by how he answers the torture questions (roll tape#7 o.q.�of torture�)

Again, the 1st day of the Senate Confirmation hearings on Attorney General Designate Alberto Gonzalez begins tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM….WMNF will carry much of tomorrow’s hearings….

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