Updated October 4, 2007
Americans who receive their news exclusively from local TV might not have noticed, but as the second term of the Bush administration has gotten underway, the topic of torture has been very much in the news. Alberto Gonzales, who played a key role in the creation of a memorandum that declared that the Geneva Conventions concerning prisoners of war did not apply to the Taliban or al Qaeda, has been confirmed as Attorney General. Michael Chertoff who, as head of the Justice Department's criminal division advised on how to craft a torture policy so that administration officials could avoid criminal prosecution, has been confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security. And on March 1, the ACLU filed suit in federal court against Defense Secretary Rumsfeld alleging that he violated the US Constitution and international laws when he authorized unlawful interrogation methods and failed to stop torture after he knew of it.
by Senator Robert Byrd
[Senator Byrd delivered the following remarks Tuesday, January 25 as the Senate debated the nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State.]
In Federalist Number 77, Alexander Hamilton wrote:
"It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entire branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing."
A New York Times story published on December 2nd previewed an article by Pulitzer prize winning reporter Ron Suskind that will appear in the January issue of Esquire magazine in which former head of the Bush Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, John DiIulio, referred to members of the administration as "Mayberry Machiavellis." On December 6th, as the Labor Department reported a 6% unemployment rate in November, the worst in nine years, the resignations of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Lindsey were announced. Stock prices fell on the unemployment news, but gained ground after the resignation announcements. Commentator Mark Shields on PBS's News Hour suggested that the administration had accelerated the resignations -- firings, really -- rumored for some time, because they did not want the Sunday news talk shows to be dominated by discussion of the unemployment rate. Shields' speculation was consistent with DiIulio's picture of the Bush White House, in which there are no actual domestic policies, rather "staff, senior and junior ... consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible."