Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales sits as Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, holds up a copy of the Geneva Convention, saying that the it does not apply to terrorists, January 6, 2005. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The new Congress got to work this week, and the highlight was the Senate confirmation hearing on the president's choice for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. There's no doubt he had a great success story to tell: one of eight children of poor Mexican immigrants, graduate of Harvard Law School, currently White House counsel and likely to become the first Hispanic Attorney General of the United States. But the questioning focused on whether Gonzales, in coordinating the White House legal strategy for dealing with terrorism, helped to justify the mistreatment or even torture of prisoners. Our panel is joined by Ken Anderson, professor of law at the Washington College of Law at American University.
"One of the lines of questioning was based on what the writer Heather Mac Donald has called 'the torture narrative,' that the torture memos, these legal arguments that were made inside the Administration and later leaked, somehow produced what happened at Abu Ghraib."
"I think that the memos simply causally were not related, that the discussions that took place within the White House, within the Justice Department, were not in fact related to what was going on in Abu Ghraib at all. But the question of what those standards should be still then remains on the table."
"Abu Ghraib and this hearing are going to impact the security forces who are tasked with getting this sort of information. They are going to pull back because they don't know what the standard is. I saw a story out of Afghanistan just last week in which an American commander said we are actually holding fewer prisoners specifically because of fears of abuse."
"The bottom line here is that these memos developed because very soon after 9/11 we ended up having some very bad people in our possession from whom we badly needed information, but who had been trained not to give it up to us. That was one of the big things that Al Qaeda training was about, was resisting interrogation."