Right to torture: An escalating issue that may torment the U.S.

The Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearings
President Bush’s nomination of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general will almost certainly intensify the focus on the use of torture in U.S. policy in the war on terror and the war against Iraq.

But whether the confirmation hearings on Gonzales will generate anything more than superficial probing by the Senate and circumspect dancing around the ethical questions by the nation’s public intellectuals remains an open question.

Gonzales’s confirmation hearing is likely to spark a renewed debate because he is the author of a controversial memorandum to Bush labeling some provisions of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war “obsolete” and others “quaint.” In his view, the September 11 attacks and Bush’s declaration of “a new kind of war—the “war on terrorism”—created “a new paradigm” requiring that the government be given carte blanche to pursue the nation’s enemies.


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