Alberto Gonzalez, as expected, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote. He'll go before the full Senate either tomorrow or sometime next week. And, in a 55-45 Senate, he'll be approved, barring a well-organized filibuster.
I'm not entirely certain what to think about Gonzalez. On one hand, he did help draft the torture memo. But I wonder whether Gonzalez was more concerned about what was the interpretation of the law that would most help his client - Dubya - rather than the moral imperative. In that sense, I wonder if a lot of criticism towards Gonzalez is somewhat like calling a killer's defense lawyer a murderer. Indeed, Gonzalez seems to recognize that he'll no longer be serving just the President, but the people as a whole, and thus needs to make more broad-based decisions.
And I'm not sure that he's wrong when he says that the Geneva Conventions don't apply, legally speaking, to the Taliban/al Qaeda operatives. But I worry because he's still in this mindset that such detainees need to be treated more severely than, say, Germans during World War II - or if he's not, he's given no evidence to that effect. Gonzalez and this administration seem to believe that the war on terror can only be won by dragging ourselves down to the terrorists' moral level. I don't buy that.
Of course, the torture case specifically is kind of a tangent here. The detainees are, for the most part, Defense's territory, and the AG wouldn't really have final say over what happens to them. What the AG does have control over is how our own citizens are treated when arrested on terrorism charges. And if we extrapolate from the way Gonzalez approached the torture question, we can expect the continuation of Ashcroft's abuses; for if one believes moral sacrifices are required to win the war on terror any breach of the principles of our justice system can be justified. It is for this reason that I oppose Gonzalez's nomination.
Sadly, questions that approached civil liberties issues were either not asked by the senators or not reported by the torture-obsessed media. I admit that I don't know for sure whether Gonzalez would follow in Ashcroft's footsteps. He may surprise me, but I doubt it.
That having been said, I think Democrats should save their filibustering for a Supreme Court nomination. Block Gonzalez, and you end up with some other right-winger. Save it for somewhere where it would do some good.