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US Attorney General Questions Habeas Corpus 1151

spiedrazer writes "In yet another attempt to create legitimacy for the Bush Administration's many questionable legal practices, US attorney General Alberto Gonzales actually had the audacity to argue before a Congressional committee that the US Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights on US citizens. In his view it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the rights are granted. The Attorney General was being questioned by Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18. THe MSM are not covering this story but Colbert is (click on the fourth video down, 'Exact Words')." From the Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel commentary: "While Gonzales's statement has a measure of quibbling precision to it, his logic is troubling because it would suggest that many other fundamental rights that Americans hold dear (such as free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to assemble peacefully) also don't exist because the Constitution often spells out those rights in the negative. It boggles the mind the lengths this administration will go to to systematically erode the rights and privileges we have all counted on and held up as the granite pillars of our society since our nation was founded."
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US Attorney General Questions Habeas Corpus

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  • Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:35PM (#17731682) Journal
    "Nothing to see here, please move along."

    First time I've ever seen that. Couldn't be more descriptive of what the administration would like everyone to do... for everything.

    And, btw, this load of crap from the same party who ridiculed "That depends what 'is' is."

    • Rights? Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:57PM (#17731916)
      You know, who ever declared that Alberto Gonzales has the right to live? Anyone?
      Quite the contrary. The penalty for treason is hanging. Don't they swear them in with an oath to protect the Constitution?
      • Re:Rights? Wrong. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:16PM (#17732084)
        You know perjury isn't treason. As a crime treason is very specifically defined. People toss "traitor", "treason", "treasonous", etc. around without even the slightest hint that an act of treason has actually been committed. They should rip the tongues out of anyone who makes baseless accusations.
        • Re:Rights? Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by WhiteWolf ( 95535 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:30PM (#17732242)

          You know perjury isn't treason. As a crime treason is very specifically defined. People toss "traitor", "treason", "treasonous", etc. around without even the slightest hint that an act of treason has actually been committed. They should rip the tongues out of anyone who makes baseless accusations.
          Pot. Kettle. Black [].


          Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]."
          I can think of fewer things more injurious to the United States than the Fascist dribble coming out of the mouth of our nation's attorney General. You know, governed of, by and for the people?

          P.S. - Perjury would require statements on the part of Gonzalez that are demonstrably false - in this case he expressed an opinion that the Constitution doesn't offer the right of Habeus Corpus - thank what ever you hold sacred that he isn't a judge in a position to rule on matters of law to that effect.
      • Re:Rights? Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by linguae ( 763922 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:37PM (#17732298)
        Don't they swear them in with an oath to protect the Constitution?

        The problem is that the Constitution is interpreted by whomever sits in the Supreme Court, not necessarily based on the exact law of the Constitution. Certain administrations have twisted the meanings of certain parts of the Constitution (complete lack of respect of the Tenth Amendment, abuse of the "general welfare" and commerce clauses, etc.). It's not necessarily what's in the Constitution. It's who is interpreting it. It's sad, but this is how the US government has been running since 1933.

        • Re:Rights? Wrong. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by caffeinemessiah ( 918089 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @12:34AM (#17733518) Journal
          Let's keep our fingers crossed ... maybe some day in the near future we can express constitutions or other legal code in some sort of unambiguous formal language. Then we can finally replace lawyers with algorithms and trained data entry technicians. Sure, we could still have judges to validate the reasoning, but I'd rather trust a formal proof of why I'm right or wrong rather than the whims of someone whose wife could have left him the very morning that I'm up for trial.
    • But he comes to the exact opposite conclusion one should come to. The constitution doesn't grant rights, it merely protects them. The original writers of the Constitution didn't want a Bill of rights for the very reason that people would get to thinking that the Constitution grants rights.
      Search: "The constitution doesn't grant rights []
  • Amendment X (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebunga ( 95613 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:37PM (#17731702) Homepage
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    I don't have anything else to say.
    • And IX too (Score:5, Informative)

      by ebunga ( 95613 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:39PM (#17731730) Homepage
      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
      • Re:And IX too (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Incongruity ( 70416 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:48PM (#17731824)
        Seriously? Was that just some sort of test to see if the committee was listening? Or if the people of America are listening? The Attorney General ought to be removed from his position for such a clearly unconstitutional view... I mean, really, amendments IX and X are pretty damned clear on this matter.

        When will we (as a people) care that our rights are very very quickly being crushed under the thumb of our government?
        • Re:And IX too (Score:5, Insightful)

          by udderly ( 890305 ) * on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:25PM (#17732194)

          No, I don't think that America is listening or watching. That or they just don't care as long as they get all of the NFL football, Grey's Anatomy, or XBox 360 that they desire. I'm afraid that between the Patriot Act, the Fairness Doctrine, the recent Bill S1, and now this crap with the AG, it won't be very long that our rights will be so eroded that our Democracy will go out with a whimper.

          The thing is that so many seem to support certain rights more than others and this could be our downfall. Gun owners want gun rights and don't care about free speech. Free speech advocates care about their thing and ignore freedom of religion. Etc., etc. It also seems that Republicans seem more offended at a Democratically-proposed freedom infringements, and vice versa.

          If you read some of the other posts on this story, you will see people suggesting executing [], lynching [] or murdering [] the AG (interestingly enough modded "Insightful"); but check their post history and see if they were so exercised when the Senate tried to control certain types of paid political speech by bloggers []. The AG should most certainly be fired immediately, but one wonders whether party affiliation might have something to do with this selectivity.

          The fact is that if you are an American and you haven't taken the opportunity to call and write your Congressmen/Congresswomen and pitch a huge fit, you are shirking *your* responsibility. After that, it may become necessary to protest in street, even if it's not a right that benefits us personally or reflects our party's position.

          • Simple ending (Score:5, Insightful)

            by KlausBreuer ( 105581 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @07:25AM (#17736018) Homepage
            Well, I'm a bit unhappy that it's happening in my lifetime, but at least I'm not living in the USA anymore.

            Read some history, ladies and gentlemen. Over the years there were quite a few world powers you'd never think of today: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and so on. These were countries of POWER. They ruled the world.
            And after a collapse, they're now very friendly tourist destinations with lovely countrysides and nice people - who don't get on the nerves of their neighbors.

            The state collapse always followed the same pattern. And you can see the exact same thing happening in the USA now. Read it up, you nonbelievers ;)

            Personally, I like the USA citizens - at least the ones I met while I lived there for a while. It's the state which is running itself into the ground, and which will collapse relatively soon.
            I'm sure the country will turn into a beautiful destination for tourist travels; it'll just take a few years.
      • Not to mention V (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:36PM (#17732294) Homepage Journal
        ...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
    • Yeah, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by linguae ( 763922 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:49PM (#17732436)

      ...nobody, except for libertarians, seems to care about the Tenth Amendment anymore. Whenever you bring up the Tenth Amendment, politicians would then find a clause in the Constitution, such as the "general welfare" clause or the commerce clause, and then use an extremely broad meaning of those clauses to justify their laws that clearly violate the original and correct meaning of the Constitution. If they can't do that, they then withhold funding to the states unless they comply (read the 55mph speed limit and 21-year old drinking age; they were passed neither because the states universally decided on them nor because it was constitutional, but because the federal government told them "either you pass these laws, or we're not giving you your money. Capice?").

      I love the Tenth Amendment, but there are so many violations of the Tenth Amendment in modern America that it feels meaningless. Which is sad, because the Tenth Amendment was there to ensure that the federal government did not get too powerful and trample over the rights of the states and of individuals. But, as I said in a previous post on this same thread, it's not what's written in the Constitution, but who interprets the Constitution. And as long as we have Supreme Court justices who interpret the Constitution broadly instead of strictly to how the Founders intended, the Tenth Amendment will continue to be spat at, and government will be allowed to grow bigger and bigger until we have no freedoms and no economy.

      • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by demachina ( 71715 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @12:18AM (#17733344)
        "...the Tenth Amendment will continue to be spat at, and government will be allowed to grow bigger and bigger until we have no freedoms and no economy."

        Actually we fought a war on this subject, more Americans died than in any other war in American history. The side backing the Tenth Amendment lost so we've had expansion of Federal power ever since. Interestingly the Republican party was also in power then and the one advocating massive expansion of Federal power in defiance of the Constitution. The Republicans also first suspended habeas corpus during this war, and they instituted the first Federal income tax, though it was repealed when the war ended.

        The unfortunate part of all this was the inflammatory issue which was used as the test of Federal versus State power and the tenth amendment was slavery which permanently damaged the states rights cause, and along with it the individual liberties cause. We've had expansion of Federal power ever since. The real villain here was a Republican president who was elevated to near god status though he, more than anyone began the dismantling of our Constitution.

        A key point here is the dismantling of state and individual rights has been going on since soon after the Bill of Rights was made part of our Constitution. This latest assault is neither new or unique. The Civil War, World War I and World War II all resulted in massive encroachment on our liberties. The Bush administration has routinely used the excesses perpetrated during these periods as precedent to justify the things they do now. In World War II we put U.S. citizens of Japanese descent in concentration camps and seized all their property using Pearl Harbor as an excuse. Its not surprising 9/11 has led to similar excesses. Chances are we will claw back some of our rights, but the erosion will continue. Computers and networks are accelerating both the trend towards totalitarianism and resistance to it. It is unfortunate, but governments and politicians always seek to expand their power, and it requires active resistance to stop the trend. Americans are mostly too weak willed to oppose the trend though.

        A footnote, much of the expansion of Executive power you've seen in the past 6 years is almost entirely due to Dick Cheney. He worked in the Ford administration, and teethed on politics during a time when executive powers were savaged, mostly by the Democrats in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam. Cheney has had it as a goal to restore and expand Executive power ever since, and many of the excesses you've seen in the past 6 years are directly attributable to him. Gonzo is just a foot solider in Cheney's war to make an all powerful executive.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:38PM (#17731712)

    Or more appropriately, executed for treason?

    • by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:40PM (#17731740) Journal
      Because, those who suggest that are imprisoned and executed for treason.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:40PM (#17731746) Homepage Journal
      Where's all these constitution loving guns nuts I'm always hearing about? How come no-one puts a bullet in people like this? Is it just the shoot terms in the US that cause such apathy in the redneck population? Or is it just that gun nuts are too poor these days to afford bus fare?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 )
        You can't say they haven't tried []


        Oh, wait. Georgia the country. Curse my American geography education!
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:53PM (#17731886)
      It amazes me that Clinton got impeached for telling some lies about a few off-side blowjobs and for getting a few laundry bills.

      A few years later, a different president tells lies about so-called weapons of mass destruction, fabricates connections between Saddam and terror groups, and uses those lies as a means to justify a war that get tens of thousands of people killed. But y'all cool with that?

    • by agentkhaki ( 92172 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:59PM (#17731936) Homepage
      I know this one is going to get me flamed into oblivion, and may even result in a rather authoritative knock on my door tomorrow morning, but I'll not be labeled as an anonymous coward either, so here goes...

      Through everything that's gone on, from the constant erosion of our rights, to the outright lies that got us involved in what will be a never-ending war, to the fact that the entire administration has shown time and time again that they couldn't give two shits about what the American people at large think, to the complete and utter disregard Bush has for separation of powers ("signing statements," anyone) the one thing I keep hearing is "support the troops."

      Support the troops. Support the troops. Support the troops.

      My question is, why are the troops supporting this government? If anyone, anyone has the power to put an end to all of this, it is they. Why hasn't the military staged a coup d'état []? Why haven't the troops themselves simply said "enough is enough?"

      The part that angers me the most is that these are the people who put this administration in office. Twice! They are the very same people who are getting completely shafted by this government. And they are the blue-collar workers of America. They are the ones whose sons and husbands and uncles (and daughters and wives and aunts) are being sent off to die in a country that doesn't give a fuck about us.

      Was it so important that their neighbors, both of whom happen to be named Jim, shouldn't be allowed to fuck in the privacy of their own home, let alone consider themselves married (which, by the way, is just a word -- just a word) that they're willing to die for it? That they're willing to lose their social security for it? That they're willing force an absolutely abominable national debt on their children, and their children's children, and so on and so forth?

      Was it worth it, to make sure that everyone says "the theory of evolution," but simply refers to the opposing viewpoint as "creationism" (shouldn't it be "the theory of creationism")?

      And if not, why the hell haven't our troops done something about it?
      • by Kandenshi ( 832555 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:16PM (#17732092)
        Fairly sure that noone's going to knock on your door tomorrow. 'cept maybe some Jehovah's witnesses.
        Very few /. people have gotten sent off to Gitmo for talking about hypothetical coups.

        Anyway, IANAA(I Am Not An American) but my best guess is that the people who'd organize such a rebellion(generals and such) really aren't getting shafted as badly as you feel you are. They apparently don't feel the noose tightening around their necks, and it probably isn't. Plus even a military coup requires some support from the General Public to be successful. The US citizenry has a boatload of guns, and a fair number of those gun owners really like Bush. It might be sad but based off of my interactions with some of them, and watching your TV it's true.
        If They kill off/imprison/whatever Dubya and all the rest of the morons in Washington they're going to worry alot of people that they're losing freedoms. Ignorant though they may generally be, people would probably notice if the government changed hands so drastically down there. They're not noticing these sorts of statements by Gonzales effecting any meaningful changes in the way they live their lives. Now if Gonzales successfully removed the right to eat McDonalds and watch "wrassling" then you might be more likely to see a few hundred thousand nutjobs with a rifle go out for some blood. That sort of shit would be too much :P
      • by alienmole ( 15522 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:40PM (#17732348)
        Re the theory of evolution, "theory []" in that context is a term with a specific scientific meaning, in particular, "capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation". Creationism does not rise to the level of a theory in that sense, and nor does "intelligent design".

        It's just unfortunate that the colloquial use of the term "theory" has connotations that make it sound more tenuous than it actually is, and that people who want to promote a certain ancient fantasy exploit that pun to good effect.
    • by lordvalrole ( 886029 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:03PM (#17731972)
      Because Americans are full of ignorant people who don't really care. The majority of Americans really just don't care and it is sad. America just be called The new Rome. Supply the people with entertainment and people could care less about what is happening at the top.
  • Lynch him.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:38PM (#17731714) Homepage Journal
    seriously, how can you tolerate a US Attorney General who questions such a fundamental right?

    This whole "how much damage can he possibly cause in 4 years?" attitude is appalling.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:39PM (#17731732)
    I've been thinking for years, that this country is turning into a police state. When 9/11 happened, many people, including myself, saw a clear case of Reichstag burning. Whenener I posted this opinion on this here forum, I was modded as a troll.

    This country is slowly turning into Nazi America. History repeats itself... Still think I'm trolling?
    • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... minus city> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:27PM (#17732216) Homepage

      I've been thinking for years, that this country is turning into a police state.

      A little late, aren't you? The second Bush asserted the right to lock up anyone, citizen or otherwise, 'enemy combatant' or otherwise, this country became, ipso facto, a police state.

      A 'police state' doesn't require 'fascism' or whatever, a police state is simply a country in which the police or military do not have to answer to a court as to why they are holding someone prisoner. Aka, Habeas Corpus.

      Bush's administration managed to pretend that POWs don't get trials, just various Geneva rights, and that their prisoners are not entitled to those rights, and the fucks in the media went along with the lie, and we suddenly because a police state. Everyone, being held by the government, legally gets a trial, even POWs, no exceptions whatsoever. (It's just POWs don't want trials, because then they'd stop being protected POWs and start being imprisoned felons.)

      Everyone has the right to a trial, or you are in a police state by definition, it's not even arguable. That's what a police state is, a state where the executive arm of the government can imprison people without trials. Everything else is just dressing. It's called a police state because no other part of the government has any power, the judicial because there are no trials, and the legislature because the actual written laws have ceased to be important without actual trials, the 'law' is whatever the executive branch feels like doing.

      In this country, only the legislature can disable Habeas Corpus, and then only during times of armed insurrection or actual invasion. Which, incidentally, they have not done.

    • by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @11:02PM (#17732564)

      Whenener I posted this opinion on this here forum, I was modded as a troll.

      Haven't you noticed that when people begin their posts with "I'm going to get modded troll for this..." they usualy get +5 Insightful instead? Try it sometime.
  • by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `etartsnefd'> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:39PM (#17731734)
    Is a favorite pastime of both parties. The feds have been ignoring the constitution since at least FDR's new deal, and some would say the civil war.

    If you shout and cheer for the limitless power given by g readings of the interstate commerce clause and the 'general welfare' clause (quip), you're part of the problem. If you think that the constitution wasn't designed to cuff the federal government into a very limited role it's now outgrown, you're part of the problem.

    If you have no clue what the 9th and 10th amendments are, and you think the 2nd amendment is outdated or a 'states right' (*snicker), YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

    The constitution isn't a salad bar. You don't get to pick and choose. You either respect it, or you don't. If you don't you'll get some programs you like (SS, medicare, HUD, etc) and you'll get some you hate, losing your freedoms all the way.

    The government pisses all over the constitution every day because we let it and we elect people who make and deliver on promises that are not within the assigned powers of the federal government.

    The constitution isn't a living document. It means what it says, with the meaning that the orginal writers intended. If it's a living document then it can mean anything, and so it basically means nothing. The original intent of the founding fathers is not an arcane secret difficult to divine- they were quite prolific writers and record keepers- go find what else they wrote and their intent will be clear.

    You can blame Gonzalez, you can blame Bush, but you really should blame FDR, blame Lincoln, and most of all blame yourself.

    If you really want to get picky on the constitution, then the following goes away:

    Every state and local gun ban

    The department of education, the Department of the Interior, HUD, Social Security, Medicare, and a whole lot of others I don't remember.

    You can argue that some of those functions are proper for the federal government to have and in some cases I might agree with you. The fact remains that all of them exist only because 'interstate commerce' now means anything that can conceivably happen in more than one state, and 'general welfare' now means 'welfare for the individual.' We can change the constitution if we think the feds should have more power. We just don't bother.

    You bought and paid for this administration's abuses with a million other trespasses you let slide because they made you feel good.
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:40PM (#17731738) Journal
    Do you need it spelled out to you even more plainly than that?

    They are the most vile, unamerican, undemocratic power grabbing swine in the nation. More than happy to subvert the constitution for themselves and thier corporate friends. Some of them were even saying how Mossolini wasn't such a bad guy after all. They are more than happy to expend a few trillion dollars and thousands of deaths to prove thier grand geopolitical theorys.

    Oh, and I'll be the first to say it: Godwin's Law!
  • by Foozy ( 552529 ) <jbrown AT thrupoint DOT net> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:43PM (#17731772) Homepage
    "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
    Justice Louis D. Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice 1928 Source:dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 US 479 (1928)

    "Men have discovered no technique for long preserving free government except that the executive be under the law."
    Justice Robert H. Jackson Source:Sam Ervin, The Whole Truth

    "The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority."
    Justice David Davis (1815-1886) U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1862-1877 Source: Ex parte Milligan 71 U.S. 2 (1866) DAVIS, J., Opinion of the Court [] []

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:44PM (#17731788)
    Here's a great article [] that explains some of the hypocrisy concerning Senator Arlen Spector and habeas corpus.
  • Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:45PM (#17731792)
    In his view it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the rights are granted.

    Of course they're not granted, the government doesn't grant any rights. It can protect or violate them, but not decide that they were not granted to someone.
    • Re:Well duh (Score:4, Informative)

      by theCoder ( 23772 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:17PM (#17732100) Homepage Journal
      You're right, and even more so, the constitution of the United States does not regulate the PEOPLE of the United States, it regulates the GOVERNMENT of the United States. And it doesn't regulate it just by saying what it cannot do, it explicitly says what it IS empowered to do. In other words, the (Federal) government can only make laws (restricting the people) if the constitution grants it the power to do so and doesn't forbid it. The constitution grants no rights to the people -- the people are assumed to have all those rights. The constitution merely limits what kinds of laws the government can enact.

      For example, there is no federal law setting the minimum drinking age. So, why is there a minimum drinking age in the United States? Because the federal government refuses to give highway money to any state that doesn't set a minimum drinking age of 21. Today, all the states have capitulated, but that does not make it a federal law, because the federal government is not granted that power.

      Of course, that doesn't stop legislators from passing all kinds of unconstitutional laws, or even the courts from upholding them (somehow, interstate commerce can be used to justify anything in some judge's minds). But in the end, as you said, the people possess their rights inherently. They are not granted by the government.

      Some might argue that the Habeas Corpus is not really a right -- the constitution even calls it a privilege. It is more like a procedure to protect against unlawful imprisonment. Even so, the AG is on thin ice (i.e., full of sh*t), since the constitution says that it shall not be suspended. If the procedure is not allowed, then it is, by definition, suspended.
  • Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chacham ( 981 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:47PM (#17731814) Homepage Journal
    Wow, his statement is troubling.

    Interestingly enough, it was a Republican, Sen Specter, that challenged him on this. As the article comntinues "Gonzales's remark left Specter, the committee's ranking Republican, stammering."

    So, if both parties don't want this, let's hope this guy gets canned, quickly.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:06PM (#17732006) Journal
      You mean the same Arlen Specter that slipped a provision into the Patriot Act at renewal time
      that greatly broadened the White House's ability to replace US Attorneys without the consent
      of Congress (which they've done quite quickly, replacing longtime attorneys with politically
      connected Republicans)? The guy who totally rolled over on the illegal wiretapping program?
      That guy?

      It's nice that you're so optimistic about the possibility of Republicans acting in the interests
      of the nation rather than their party and president. But you're naive if you really expect
      anything long term to come of it. After all, 2008 is coming, and it's time to pander to the
  • In Other News... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mageofchrisz ( 836089 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:47PM (#17731816)
    We're fucked.
  • by zymurgy_cat ( 627260 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:49PM (#17731840) Homepage
    ...the Constitution? They claim to do that. And if you strictly do that, you realize that the government only has the powers specifically given to it in the Constitution. All other rights and powers go to the people and/or the states. Thus, unless the government is specifically given the power to suspend habeas corpus (which it *is* in limited circumstances), it cannot infringe upon on that right. That right, as specifically protected in the 9th amendment, is not disparaged merely by not being listed.

    Now, if one wants to "liberally" interpret the Constitution (e.g., not use a "strict" interpretation), then you could make the argument that Gonzales is making. Of course, no neocon would do that for political gain, nosiree. Yep, they'd strictly interpret the Constitution in all cases.....
  • Wha? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lithdren ( 605362 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:49PM (#17731842)
    We tried to impeach a president for questionable moral and sexual acts in the oval office. Yet we do nothing with this kind of crap going on?

    The world is quickly becoming a place I dont want to bring a child into.

    Then again, im posting on slashdot. I dout i'll get the chance. ;)
  • My dream (Score:5, Funny)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:49PM (#17731846)
    I'm standing over Mr. Gonzales with a stick in one hand and a copy of the Constitution in the other. And I look at the document and say "Nothing in here says not to whack you, Al."


    Then I look at the Constitution again. And I say "Nothing in here says not to whack you again, Al."


    This repeats until I wake up.
  • So what (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:51PM (#17731862)
    The Attorney General argues a position that advances the interests of the executive. I by no means support his dumbassed argument, but that's his prerogative. The issue here is what will Congress - that other branch of government we all forget about - do about it? Cut funding to certain programs, refuse to confirm any executive nominees, etc. until the executive renounces its position? Our system breaks down not when one branch takes an outlandish position, but when the other branch fails to call them on it. Presidents and cabinet members will be making dumb decisions for decades to come. What troubles me is that future Congresses will continue the inaction established by the past few Congresses. I'm merely pointing out that our government is failing us in other ways. Please don't misconstrue this as support of the idiotic administration. Hell, the Democrats still won't end the Iraq War because they're afraid a "spin machine" will make them look anti-soldier. Instead they're debating worthless non-binding proclamations - proclamations directed at a president who doesn't care about public or congressional opinion.
    • Re:So what (Score:5, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @11:38PM (#17732980)
      "Our system breaks down not when one branch takes an outlandish position, but when the other branch fails to call them on it."

      Well for most of the last six years the Congress has been controlled by the same extremist party that controls the Executive. Why would you think they were going to call a President from their own party on anything. The price you pay of putting one party in complete power is that party can perpetrate massive excesses unchecked by anything but the courts. If that party packs the courts over time.....

      The failure here mostly lies with the American people for electing this particular group of people in 2000, 20002, and 2004, though a somewhat broken election system helped in 2000 and 9/11 gave the party in power a massive tool to manipulate the electorate until the shock wore off some 5 years later. You mostly have to blame all this on the gullability of the American people, most of whom don't have a clue when it comes to civics and politics. A little blame falls on the two party system, and the fact the Democrats have routinely sucked so bad the some how managed to make Fascist look desirable by comparison.

      I would expect the Democrat's control of the Congress will rein in some of the excesses we've seen in the last six yeas but never underestimate the Democrats for their stupidity and their own fondness for Federal power.

      "...the Democrats still won't end the Iraq War because they're afraid a "spin machine" will make them look anti-soldier."

      That is an extreme oversimplification. The Democrats CAN'T "end" the Iraq War. All they could do would be to cut funding and force the U.S. to withdraw as was done in Vietnam. That wouldn't "end" the Iraq War. It would probably just move it in to a new phase where the Sunni and Shia could start a full fledged civil war unchecked by the presence of the U.S. military. There is a high probability the Iranians would openly back the Shia, the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians would back the Sunni. The Kurds would probably seek an independent Kurdistan which would probably trigger a Turkish military response since the Turks wont tolerate a Kurdistan with designs on the Kurdish parts of Turkey. There is a fair chance the entire Middle East would explode in to a war that would massively disrupt the global economy. If the oil in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq all goes off the market due to a full scale war the consequences will be dire. If Iran and the Shia acquire nukes then chances are the Saudis will get their own to protect Sunni interests.

      If you ever watched the old Matthew Broderick flick "War Games", the punch line is basically the same. The only way to "win" was to not play the game. Saddam sucked, but Iraq has been a power keg since it was cobbled together by the British. The wiser George H.W. Bush knew this in the first gulf war which is why he left Saddam in power. His foolish son, clueless to history, world politics and cultures other than Texan didn't grasp this. He lit a fuse on a power keg and its almost certainly going to explode now. Vietnam had no vital importance to the U.S. so there was little price for abandoning it. Abandoning Iraq now that we've kicked the ant pile is unfortunately not going to solve anything. The one saving grace may be that the Middle East is so vital to the entire global economy that if the U.S. does withdraw, the rest of the world's actors may have to step in to try to keep it from exploding.

      In most respected Iraq is a no win scenario so you can't really blame the Democrats for not having a "fix". No win scenario is what you get when you elect a clueless, spoiled preppy, who had no clue how the world work, as President of the world's biggest military power and give him a blank check to do something stupid.
  • Colbert nailed it with his Brady Bunch allusion:

    "But you only said I was grounded from driving your car. You didn't say anything else about someone else's car!"

    People are really strange. My conservative parents will complain for hours about the mere possibility of the government wasting money on universal health care, but throwing billions of dollars down the drain in Iraq and this kind of nonsense and they will only grudgingly admit "mistakes were made". My theory is that people just like killin' the bad guys so much that they don't see how easy it is for us mistake who the "bad guys" are.
  • by COMICAGOGO ( 1055066 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:00PM (#17731938)
    He said: "Any society that gives up a little freedom for a little security will lose both and deserve neither." Just thought that might have something to do with what the writers of the constitition had in mind.
  • by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:00PM (#17731944)
    Gonzo is a smirking fool. His only concern is protecting the administration and its policies. Constitutional rights and justice mean nothing to him. America will be much better off after he is gone.
  • by IBitOBear ( 410965 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:05PM (#17731990) Homepage Journal
    Isn't _EVERY_ _SINGE_ member of the armed services individually sworn to "protect and defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic"? Or is it just the president?

    Shouldn't _someone_ be arresting these people by now...? Who does the arresting when the person who is _supposed_ to be doing the arresting is the one that should be arrested?

    Yea, I know, slippery slope and all that, but damn, this is sounding a _lot_ like treason (by "pun" or by "confabulation" or some such perversion of the language and with some deliberate mendacity apparent, since nobody can be _THAT_ stupid can they?) executed by or on the behalf of our "elected" leaders.
  • Gonzales is Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhml ( 95488 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:07PM (#17732010)
    The Constitution grants no rights. Our rights are granted by our Creator, or, if you prefer, by the fact of our humanity.

    That isn't wild theorizing. It is solid constitutional law.

    For instance, the Constitution provides no right of procreation. Most of us would concede it a right of people. So did the Court when the question arose.

    The Consitution does prohibit government from infringing on some of our rights, and it gives Congress some powers to protect others, but it grants no rights by itself.

    Habeas corpus additionally is not a "right". It is a procedure to enforce a fundamental right --not to be unjustly imprisoned.

    As a procedure it is not self effectuating,. It requires statutory implementation. Over the years Congress has both limited and expanded the procedures governing granting a writ of habeas corpus. So have the courts.

    Gonzales could have phrased his answer in a form more pleasing to the public. But he is not just "technically right". He is fundamentally right, and the principle underlying his answer is a greater defense of our liberty than a position that the Constitution is the fount of our rights.

  • Video (Score:5, Informative)

    by bogjobber ( 880402 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:10PM (#17732040)

    See his comments for yourself. This first video [] shows the conversation between Sen. Spector and Mr. Gonzales leading up to the comment, this video [] shows the reaction from Sen. Spector and Sen. Leahy.

    Truly scary stuff. This administration isn't even sticking to conservative values. They've gone off the neo-con deep end.

    • Re:Video (Score:5, Insightful)

      by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @03:26AM (#17734844)
      The Neoconservatives aren't conservative; they are totalitarian in the Leo Strauss "the enlightened ones must lead because they know best" sense of the word. Hence the "big lies" of Iraq, liberals are evil, etc. The inherent problem with all "the enlightened must rule because they know best" systems is that th enlightened aren't really that enlightened, they are susceptible (like everyone) to self interest and so just enrich themselves and their buddies, and they always turn to totalitarianism eventually. Even Rumsfeld, probably the most well-liked and least evil-seeming of the Neocons, said "the current system of government makes competence next to impossible []." Is that an all-out cry for Stalinesque death camps? No, but the idea that "the reason my policies have failed utterly is that the system needs to be altogether changed" basically means "give me more power." The idea of a secretive cabal of really smart rulers ruling benevolently for the masses inevitably leads to totalitarianism as the rulers try to force reality to make their ideas work. And there is always support for this from their party, because the politically charged atmosphere means you can't embolden the other party by breaking ranks.

      Since it's patently obvious that the Neocons have been diastrous for the Republican Party, I hope they're jettisoned ASAP. We can't wait for them to admit they're wrong, because that does not happen, ever. Conservatives can, eventually, but Neoconservatives have that weird "vision" thing that is never, ever wrong in and of itself. The core Neocons like Cheney will always believe, just as the core still believe that Saddam was linked to 9/11, etc. We just have to hope that the Repubs sideline them and get back to being conservative.

      It may be an academic exercise anyway, because neither Romney nor McCain could beat either Hillary or Obama in the election. The question of "would they be good Presidents?" pales next to whether or not the religious right will vote for them, which they won't. Dobson has already rejected McCain, and Romney is a Mormon. Without Dobson et al, they can't get in office. This isn't to say that I particularly want a Hillary/Obama administration, but if the election were held this week, that's what we would get.

  • by PenguinX ( 18932 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:19PM (#17732122) Homepage
    I'll pause for a moment and admit that yes, I'm an evangelical Christian, so here is how I view the statement:

    In short, I don't agree with Gonzales' assessment because, from what I understand the constitution is a legal and historical document that is predicated upon the earlier work of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration contains the famous central truth statement:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    This central truth statement does a number of things but here are a few bullet points:
    1. Individual people and their governments are both under the authority of the Creator.

    2. This creator has endowed people with "certain unalienable Rights", the use of the word certain is curious because it bolsters the central truth statement (i.e. "I'm certain that this is true") and it limits the number of rights (i.e. "I get paid on a certain day"). The latter is necessary so that we have rule of law, and not rule of might, or money, or power, or intelligence, or whatever is popular at the time.

    3. Being unalienable, it is impossible for these rights to be transferred to another either willingly or unwillingly.

    4. The undertone to the sentence is confidently foreboding that "if you attempt to take away these rights you are not messing with just men, but with God".

    I'm curious what everyone else's take is on these events.

  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:23PM (#17732174)
    First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.

    Nobody seemed to care about Americans who have a middle eastern background, since those dark boys are the "bad guys" these days. Nope, not the Jews, or blacks, or gays... this time it's those dirty muslims! Nobody raises much of a fuss when they're harassed by the government and police, suspected as terrorists because in this post-9/11 world you gotta... I mean they wear turbans. Or something.

    Then people start to get a bit nervous about how the government is wiretapping everything. Or how ISPs are served warrants (secret warrants) for handing over private data, which can not be publicly disclosed. But hey they're probably just after those scary brown islamic people right, I am safe ... right? I'm a white christian, I'm probably safe.

    Oops what's this, the military/government is saying detained prisoners can not question the court process or raise objections. No habeas corpus for them? Well that's ok, we should detain them forever without trial! In this post 9/11 world you gotta...

    But wait a second. The US Attorney General tells the nation that US citizens do not have the right to question the legal process or authority of courts. That's citizens, as in YOU, not the brown muslim in gitmo. YOU don't have such a right. Now this doesn't sound cool... it's one of the foundations of western law. Could have sworn that US citizens were guaranteed that right. It seemed obvious.

    We should have started worrying when those brown boys began losing their rights. Now they are coming after YOU. Wow just like in the historical warning.

  • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <swiftheart&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:38PM (#17732318)
    Several years ago I wrote a state agency in Ohio telling them that they did not have the authority to collect certain data that they were collecting. (We're calling it data type X.) Ohio law specifically says that any state agency must be granted the ability by the state legislature in order to collect data.)

    What Ohio law does have, for this particular example, was a law like "Data type X shall not be a public record." The agency I was dealing with responded that the legislature must have indirectly given the agency the ability to collect data type X because they went out of their way to recognize it in another part of the code.

    Both this and Gonzale's testimony are creative ways of redefining law.

  • by Dr. Donuts ( 232269 ) on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @02:42AM (#17734596)
    Here's some logic maybe even Gonzales can understand.

    "Mr Gonzales, how many fingers do you have on your right hand?"


    "Now, the constition says the Government may not chop off your fingers, correct?"


    "But the Constitution didn't give you those five fingers, did it?"


    "So Mr. Gonzales, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that since the Constitution didn't give you those five fingers, and the Constitution says the Government can't take them away, that you probably had them to begin with?"


    The depth of irony here is almost beyond pale. The AG of the United States arguing that the Constitution doesn't explicitely grant a right, which is exactly why the authors of the Constitution framed it the way they did to prevent exactly such arguments. The Constitution *grants no rights*, because you inherently have *all* rights. Same as you were born with fingers and toes, you were born with all rights.

    These rights are not just if your an American, they are *inalienable* human rights as understood by the founding fathers.

    Truly, this administration doesn't understand what "becoming the enemy" means.

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"