A New York Times op-ed piece by Mark Danner points out what appears to be the increasing irrelevance of the media as government watchdog with the expected confirmation of torture enthusiast Alberto Gonzales as attorney general:

At least since Watergate, Americans have come to take for granted a certain story line of scandal, in which revelation is followed by investigation, adjudication and expiation. Together, Congress and the courts investigate high-level wrongdoing and place it in a carefully constructed narrative, in which crimes are charted, malfeasance is explicated and punishment is apportioned as the final step in the journey back to order, justice and propriety.

When Alberto Gonzales takes his seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for hearings to confirm whether he will become attorney general of the United States, Americans will bid farewell to that comforting story line.

Danner reasons:

Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States' fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.

His eloquent case for the preservation of American pioneering principles of humanitarianism, justice and rights of the accused will likely fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, such revolting and intellectually flaccid arguments such as that of Henry Cisneros will gain greater acceptance.

Clinton's former secretary of housing and urban development writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece:

Of all the positions in the cabinet, it has been traditionally understood both by the Senate and by the American public that the president needs a trusted adviser in the attorney general's job. ...

In this case, Judge Gonzales is better qualified than many recent attorneys general. He was general counsel to Governor Bush in Texas, secretary of state of Texas, a member of the Texas Supreme Court, and for the last four years counsel to the president in the White House. Many of the challenges and decisions he will confront as U.S. attorney general he has seen in some form in these important legal positions.

Cisneros is a disheartening embarassment yet again. However, lying to the FBI (for which he pleaded guilty) and paying off a former mistress seem par for the course for a supporter of Bush's nominee. Hell, Cisneros might even get a Cabinet position out of his lapdog act.

[Thanks to P.O. for the second item.]


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