White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales chaired the meetings on the [what is torture?] issue, which included detailed descriptions of interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding," a tactic intended to make detainees feel as if they are drowning. He raised no objections and, without consulting military and State Department experts in the laws of torture and war, approved an August 2002 memo that gave CIA interrogators the legal blessings they sought.
But one of the mysteries that surround Gonzales is the extent to which these new legal approaches are his own handiwork rather than the work of others, particularly Vice President Cheney's influential legal counsel, David S. Addington.
Gonzales's involvement in the crafting of the torture memo, and his work on two presidential orders on detainee policy that provoked controversy or judicial censure during Bush's first term, is expected to take center stage at Senate Judiciary Committee hearings tomorrow on Gonzales's nomination to become attorney general.
The outlines of Gonzales's actions are known, but new details emerged in interviews with colleagues and other officials, some of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were involved in confidential government policy deliberations.
Conceding that such ghostwriting might seem irregular, even though Gonzales was aware of it, one former White House official said it was simply "evidence of the closeness of the relationship" between the two men. But another official familiar with the administration's legal policymaking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because such deliberations are supposed to be confidential, said that Gonzales often acquiesced in policymaking by others.
Our next "top cop" is nothing more than a torture approving puppet.