It embarrasses me to know that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales not only attended my alma mater, Rice University, but was actually granted a degree. Throughout his reign of cluelessness in the Attorney General’s office, he has made many statements that have left me cringing and wondering how he can say these things with a straight face.
Robert Parry of the Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel recently reported that in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on January 18th, Gonzales made the claim that US citizens accused of a crime do not have the right to due process and a fair trial. He made the rather audacious claim that “There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; thereâ€™s a prohibition against taking it away”. I don’t know what you’re thinking Alberto, but Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution states that “the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” You’re splitting some pretty fine hairs if you’re trying to claim that something the Constitution specifically calls out as not being suspended cannot be assumed to be granted.
Committee member Republican Senator Arlen Specter was shocked by the outlandishness of Gonzales’s remarks. Or as Specter put it, “You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense.”
But Gonzales’s weasel words are not only rivaling Clinton’s alleged statement about how one defines “is”. Parry points out that Gonzales is probably just wrong. The sixth amendment makes postive statements about granting many of the legal features expressed by habeas corpus.
But then this shouldn’t be a surprise from a man who described the Geneva Convention as “quaint” and “obsolete”, before flip-flopping on his statements when attention was drawn to them. Even then, he suggested that it was fair for the US to choose to make exemptions to this international law.