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The Yes Man (Alberto Gonzales) by Joe Conason

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Martin Eden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 07:22 PM
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The Yes Man (Alberto Gonzales) by Joe Conason
By Joe Conason

Jan. 7, 2005 | Genial and mild-mannered yet insistently evasive, Alberto Gonzales yesterday did what tainted presidential nominees often do when facing a turbulent confirmation: He denied, denied, denied what everyone knows is true -- and he forgot everything else that might be inconvenient to remember.

Chosen to serve as attorney general by the newly reelected George W. Bush, and graced with an inspiring rise from working-class Latino poverty to the White House, the man known as "Judge Gonzales" was understandably confident that he would win approval by the Republican majority (and most Democrats) in the Senate. His only potential pitfall is the same personal characteristic that spurred his climb to prominence. Gonzales is a company man who always and instinctively provides the answers his boss wants to hear. Whether the subject is execution of a Texas felon or torture of foreign prisoners, he raises no discomforting issues and erases all embarrassing problems.

He is the kind of counselor that this president prizes most highly. He is the ultimate yes man.
The nominee's bland evasions conform perfectly to his role as the yes man of the torture scandal. As White House counsel, Gonzales convened meetings to deliberate on the issue, and according to the Washington Post, he purposely excluded lawyers from the State Department and the Army who might dissent from such radical findings -- as they eventually did with great vehemence. Again, Gonzales knew what his boss wanted and he delivered.
The capacity to ignore unpleasant realities is fundamental to this role. During his seven hours of testimony, Gonzales repeatedly proved how adeptly he pretends to not see what everyone knows is there. Despite voluminous accounts of torture and even homicide inflicted on prisoners in Guantnamo, Afghanistan and Iraq, he suggested that the entire problem is no more widespread or serious than a few poorly supervised soldiers on the "night shift" at Abu Ghraib. And he accepted no responsibility for what he had set in motion by undermining the application of the Geneva Conventions and traditional military observance of international law.
The passive Gonzales has shown no sign of providing that kind of leadership, and he never will. He has done the opposite for his entire career, but no matter. The Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm him, as will the full Senate. And whatever laws, rights and traditions the president may wish to eviscerate in his second term, there will be an attorney general who can be depended upon to say yes.

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