SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

COUNTOWN TO CONFIRMATION FOR JUDGE GONZALES (BUT EXPECT BASELESS ATTACKS TO CONTINUE). Today’s must-reads on the pending confirmation of Judge Alberto Gonzales for White House Counsel are Sen. John Cornyn’s “Vindicating Gonzales” at NRO, and Robert J. Delahunty and John C. Yoo’s op-ed “Rewriting the Laws of War for a New Enemy” in The LA Times.

Sen. Cornyn correctly assesses the situation with the War on Terror as follows:
…the ability to question al Qaeda fighters is essential to preventing future acts of terrorism. As Judge Gonzales rightly noted during his confirmation hearing, the war on terrorism is essentially a war of information. The United States simply must use all available legal means to obtain the information and intelligence necessary to protect the American people from further terrorist attack — a position shared even by the witnesses at the hearing who were hostile to Judge Gonzales.

According to Sen. Cornyn:
the recent confirmation hearing only reinforced the fact that Judge Gonzales has essentially won the debate over the Geneva Convention.

Indeed, even those opposing Judge Gonzales found it hard to argue that Al Qaeda fighters do NOT have POW status. Powerline, in predicting the recently held debate over Judge Gonzales nomination in the Senate, described his position as “unassailable.” I entirely agree. As Cornyn goes on to point out:
the Bush administration's legal interpretation of the Geneva Convention enjoys overwhelming support. It is not only well grounded in the text, structure, and history of the convention — as documented in authoritative international-law treatises — but has also been affirmed by three federal courts across the country and endorsed by the 9/11 commission and the Schlesinger report, as well as numerous legal scholars and international legal experts from across the political spectrum.

Exactly. The 9/11 Report and numerous other accounts of the intelligence problems facing the U.S. and analyses of the War on Terrorism (such as Bill Gertz’s book Breakdown), clearly demonstrate the inadequacy of treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue. Further, rogue terrorist groups who have no ties to any nation-state do not fit within the scope of the Geneva Conventions’ provisions concerning POWs. And for good reason.

As Professors Delahunty and Yoo point out:
The Geneva Convention provisions make sense when war involves nation-states — if, say, hostilities broke out between India and Pakistan, or China and Taiwan. But to pretend that the Geneva Convention applies to Al Qaeda, a non-state actor that targets civilians and disregards other laws of war, denies the reality of dramatic changes in the international system.

A treaty like the Geneva Convention makes perfect sense when it binds genuine nations that can reciprocate humane treatment of prisoners. Its existence and its benefits even argue for the kind of nation-building that uses U.S. troops and other kinds of pressures in places like Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq; more nation-states make all of us safer. But the Geneva Convention makes little sense when applied to a terrorist group or a pseudo-state. If we must fight these kinds of enemies, we must create a new set of rules.

Of course, many on the left have apparently tried to argue that Al Qaeda terrorists deserve all of those privileges, and make the false accusation that Judge Gonzales must somehow be a proponent of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners for disagreeing with them.

But as Delahunty and Yoo point out:
The Geneva Convention is not obsolete — nor, despite his critics, did Gonzales say it was. It protects innocent civilians by restricting the use of violence to combatants, and in turn give soldiers protections for obeying the rules of war. Although enemy combatants may have killed soldiers or destroyed property, they are not treated as accused criminals. Instead, nations may detain POWs until the end of hostilities to prevent them from returning to combat.

Delahunty and Yoo’s call for a new set of rules to effectively combat these new kinds of enemies (who are untied to nation-states) serves to prove Judge Gonzales position:
In that important respect, the Geneva Convention will become increasingly obsolete. Rather than attempting — as Gonzales' shrill critics do — to deny that reality, we should be seeking to address it.

It will be interesting to see if any such attempts take hold in the near future. In the meantime, Judge Gonzales is slated for a confirmation vote on Thursday. Word has it that the Democrats did not want the President to have the satisfaction of a confirmation vote on Judge Gonzales’ nomination prior to his State of the Union address, later this evening. Petty.

In fact,National Ledger has an excellent editorial today on the low-ball tactics of many Democrats concerning Judge Gonzales nomination. The closing paragraph of the editorial, discussing the Democrats debating the nomination, likewise serves as an apt closing to this post:
No news channel is covering the whining and bitter partisan complaints that will be hurled at Mr. Gonzales throughout the day. And that's a shame as left wing senators on full display torturing the Alberto Gonzales nomination would give the American voter the opportunity to witness just how far left the democrats are now residing.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)


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