Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The incompetence of Gonzales

Laura has unearthed an enlightening four-year old article in The Atlantic which highlights the ethics and behaviour of "our man al" Gonzales.

At issue was his performance as George W.Bush's legal counsel in the days of the Bush Texas governorship. Specifically, Gonzales provided written briefs to Bush providing information from which he was to determine whether to grant clemency to criminals sentenced to be executed. The briefs were normally provided on the morning of the day the execution was to take place and would have presumably provided every detail possible to allow the governor to make an informed decision.

What we see, however, is something completely different.
During Bush's six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas—a record unmatched by any other governor in modern American history. Each time a person was sentenced to death, Bush received from his legal counsel a document summarizing the facts of the case, usually on the morning of the day scheduled for the execution, and was then briefed on those facts by his counsel; based on this information Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one. The first fifty-seven of these summaries were prepared by Gonzales, a Harvard-educated lawyer who went on to become the Texas secretary of state and a justice on the Texas supreme court. He is now the White House counsel. ed - and went on to become US Attorney General.
In truth, neither the documents produced by Gonzales, nor the time allocated by Bush for verbal briefings would have been sufficient to provide Bush enough information to make a properly informed decision.

There is no doubt that Bush is both intellectually lazy and indifferent to the plight of others, and it is likely that he found the abbreviated information on clemency appeals suitable to his own diligence in such matters. However, it also highlights the incompetence of Gonzales in that, regardless of what his boss may have wanted, it was his duty to the law and justice to exhaustively investigate every aspect of the appellant's case and then present, in detail, every salient fact.

What is also revealing is that back in the Texas State House, Gonzales deigned to exercise a level of personal immunity from public scrutiny which did not rightfully exist. It was something he would bring with him to the Bush White House and which would become the cornerstone of an administration that refuses to be held accountable - for anything.
Gonzales never intended his summaries to be made public. Almost all are marked CONFIDENTIAL and state, "The privileges claimed include, but are not limited to, claims of Attorney-Client Privilege, Attorney Work-Product Privilege, and the Internal Memorandum exception to the Texas Public Information Act." I obtained the summaries and related documents, which have never been published, after the Texas attorney general ruled that they were not exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Public Information Act.
Laura's take is as important as the actual article. Read it here.

No comments: