We Americans have grossly underestimated the Bush Administration.
In these dark days for the Bush-age hard hitters: Karl Rove, Tom Delay, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Michael “Heck of a job” Brown, Bill Frist, Mark “I hit on children” Foley and the always lovable Donnie Rumsfeld to name a few, no one really expected the Attorney General himself, the beacon of justice in the United States Government, to fall under the guillotine for blatant ignorance, even denial, of U.S. law.
Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States and 13-year colleague of President Bush, resigned this week after months of pressure from every American politician and lawyer across all political affiliations (except Bush himself).
Because of this heart-wrenching loss of another “loyal Bushie,” I would like to devote a piece in remembrance of a true American hero: one who would disregard even centuries-old cornerstones of Democracy to keep our country safe.
Thus I present to you a brief recap of Gonzales’ life and works in defense and upholding of this great nation.
I will start with the most well-known: the executive wiretapping program.
Before Gonzales was even in office he had his heart set on tapping phones of American citizens in the interest of homeland “security,” driving him even to bully and coerce a feeble old man into approving the program. In 2004, according to FBI director Mueller, Gonzales paid John Ashcroft, then Attorney General, a late night hospital visit, in which he bullied the sick attorney into signing the program which the United States Department of Justice had already deemed illegal.
Less than a year later, Gonzales took his place.
Gonzo then announced in 2005 that the National Security Agency (NSA) had developed a wiretapping program designed to intercept any calls between a domestic and a foreign party. This, naturally, was under the premise of national security and the AUMF, or authorized use of military force.
Of course, this move was in direct violation of both the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution – violating a right to privacy and protection against illegal search. However, the Constitution has been a direct threat to national security since the beginning of the Bush administration (hmm .), and Gonzales saw this archaic and dangerous piece of parchment for what it really is.
However, Gonzo didn’t stop with the Constitution – he wanted to deny rights guaranteed by democracy itself.
On January 17, 2007, Gonzales denied the existence of mention of the writ of habeas corpus in the United States Constitution (which is, of course, clearly stated and embraced in Article I). For those who don’t know, habeas corpus guarantees the international right for anyone to go to trial if believed to be wrongly imprisoned.
Gonzo denied its existence in reference to Guantanamo detainees, most of who have not been, and may never be, granted a trial for their alleged crimes.
With another political hat trick pulled against the Constitution, Gonzo attempted to close the gaps between the Judicial and Executive branches.
According to the political think tank, ThinkProgress, in 2006, he gave two of his aides “extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing” of the majority of Justice Department employees, especially in the Criminal Division. To help clarify his motives, the Criminal Division of the Justice Department is responsible for prosecuting politically sensitive corruption cases.
This, of course, led to his final scandal and ultimate demise: firing eight U.S. Attorneys who he deemed, according to a secret e-mail uncovered by congressional investigations, to no longer be “loyal Bushies.”
Gonzales lost his battle against the U.S. Constitution, but he will be remembered forever in our hearts as the man who bullies old people, denies the existence of 800 year-old documents, spies on his fellow citizens and bravely combats the constitution itself, all for sake of our safety and security.
And I, for one, appreciate it.
Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column normally appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org