Your Logo Here

This is the greatest and most powerful blog in the history of the universe. Solid.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Here's your first test, Dems. The Democrats face their first test in whether or not they roll over and accept Shrub's nomination of Alberto Gonzales to replace Crisco John as Attorney General. Here is some info on Gonzales. Didja know that he used to be general counsel for Enron? Jeepers! He also thinks that the Geneva Conventions are "quaint," and he wrote up many of the memos that led to the prison abuse scandal.

Gonzales was also Shrub's righthand man in the record executions of Texas deathrow inmates while Shrub was governor. The memos he provided Shrub on clemency were quite inadequate, giving way to the meme that Bush kills retards dead.:
[The memos] appear to have excluded, for instance, factors such as "mental illness or incompetence, childhood physical or sexual abuse, remorse, rehabilitation, racial discrimination in jury selection, the competence of the legal defense, or disparities in sentences between co-defendants or among defendants convicted of similar crimes."

Take the case of Terry Washington, a thirty-three-year-old mentally retarded man with the communications skills of a seven-year-old executed in 1997. Gonzales's clemency memo, according to Berlow, did not even mention his mental retardation, or his lawyer's failure to call, at trial, for the testimony of a mental health expert on this issue. Nor did it mention that the jury never heard about Washington's history of child abuse; he was one of ten children, all of whom "were regularly beaten with whips, water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts."

Execution of the mentally retarded was already under a shadow at that point - a shadow has only deepened over the ensuing years. In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, a majority of the Supreme Court held - too late for Washington - that executing the mentally retarded is "cruel and unusual" punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

And plainly, Washington's counsel had been ineffective: his strongest argument was never pressed. (Similarly, with respect to death row inmate Carl Johnson, "Gonzales failed to mention that Johnson's trial lawyer had literally slept through major portions of the jury selection.")

For these reasons, Gonzales' silence about Terry Washington's retardation is both inexplicable and stunning.
He might not be as wacky as Ashcroft, but he's certainly just as dangerous. If the Democrats are going to be an opposition party, this would certainly be as good a place as any to start. And they should certainly ask any nominee whether or not they agree with Ashcroft's assertion that domestic security is "mission accomplished."

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by