Friday, January 26, 2007

Gonzales/Bush vs. Constitution/English

Lewis Black once memorably hypothesized that the true cause of strokes is as follows: someone near you says something so monumentally stupid that you can't wrap your brain around it no matter how hard you try. And since you can't understand it, the quote lodges in your brain and festers until your brain ruptures.

I would nominate our Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, as the most recent source of such a brain-destroyingly stupid saying, except that I'm so horrified by what he said that it actually drains most of the humor out of the quote. Testifying before Congress, Gonzales was asked to justify Bush's practice of holding detainees at GitMo. As an aside, let me simply say that I believe history will rank the GitMo prison only slightly behind the Japanese internment camps in the list of Absolutely Horrible Things the U. S. Government Has Done. That being said, Gonzales was asked why these prisoners had been denied their habeas corpus rights---which is to say, the right to petition a federal court judge and challenge the legality of their internment. Gonzales replied that "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United Sates or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas."

This struck the Congressmen, and indeed should strike anyone who has read the Constitution, as a bit odd. And so, Arlen Specter (whom no one would accuse of being a liberal) asked Gonzales if the Constitution does not, in fact, say "habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless...in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." Gonzales acknowledged that the Constitution did, in fact, contain exactly those words. But he went on to explain that the Constitution does not say we have the RIGHT TO habeas corpus, it only says the government CAN'T TAKE IT AWAY. And, in Gonzales-logic, there is a difference between being given a right and a prohibition on the government taking the right away.

Now, my immediate reaction to this line of logic was, of course, to laugh out loud. However, the laugh died on my lips when I realized the following things: (1) this person is the Attorney General, the person essentially in charge of enforcing all federal laws; (2) he really believes this; (3) Bush really believes this; (4) this is likely not the only example of the use of this kind of logic in the Bush Administration. As these thoughts rushed through my brain, my mood turned from incredulous humor to absolute dread.

This is the problem when a country is governed by ideological zealots rather than by rational human beings. Logic, truth, and objective reality mean nothing to these people. They are, as Colbert would say, more interested in truthiness than in truth. And for 6 years, they have been governing with no checks or balances on their power. I expected Gonzales to finish his reality-adjusting testimony by saying "We have always been at war with EastAsia. We have never been at war with EuroAsia."

5 comments:

Lord Bling said...

Wow. I wasn't aware of that. Do you have a link to a news article about this? I'd like to hear more about it.

CowboyLaw said...

Here's the story which I based my post on:

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/24/MNGDONO11O1.DTL&hw=habeas&sn=001&sc=1000

In case that doesn't work, go to www.sfchronicle.com and search for "habeas." It'll be the first article on the list.

Lord Bling said...

Double-wow.

Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

Here's some footage of Inquisitor General Gonzalez

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIFqYVAOosM&NR

Leptodactylous

Lord Bling said...

Great link Leptodactylous. I just made it a Favorite.