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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Gonzales' Veils

Our new Attorney General, fresh from his successful bids to sanction torture by proxy gave a speech last week that should have sent chills down the collective spine of America, but of course, no such thing happened, and the speech barely got reported. In his remarks to the Hoover Institution, he had the gall to read a transcript of a phone call made from the World Trade Center by a man who knew he was doomed. The crass exploitation of the WTC attacks remains the calling card of this administration.

Their second favourite tack is playing dumb. When you read something like the memo that Gonzales circulated to the Justice Department upon his assumption of its command, there is certainly a strong indication of a lack of mental prowess by a guy who writes something like, "My style of management is basically one of listening."

But to be lulled by Gonzales' lazy writing, the frequently tortured syntax of our Commander in Chief, or the absolutely unshakable posture of naivety of our new Secretary of State is a costly error. These facades set up the understimations which they so ruthlessly exploit. For instance, take Gonzales' thesis about obscenity from later on in his Hoover speech, "obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment". The opacity of the statement is Kerry-esque. It says just enough to indicate a strong position without actually saying anything at all.

Legal precedent would indicate Gonzales is in the wrong, but what on earth does he mean by "obscene"? What are his criterion? What specific protection would such material not enjoy? And of course, that maddening obtuseness sets up a broad framework for Gonzales to exploit when he sees his openings, and like Salome, he'll shed his veils towards another brutal sally against civil liberties in American life.


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