March 14, 2007

The Character of Abu Gonzales

With Abu Gonzales fighting for his professional life, it seems like it would be good to re-examine what his relationship was with George W. Bush when Bush was governor of Texas and what that says about them both. Here's a piece I wrote back in June 2003 that illuminates that relationship:

Bush and the Death Penalty

When Bush was the governor of Texas, 152 people were executed under his watch. As governor, he was responsible for reviewing every case and deciding whether or not there was sufficient grounds for clemency. Throughout his six years, in only one case did he think perhaps there was sufficient cause to intervene, and in that case, there was proof that the accused had not been in the state during the time of the crime. In this month's Atlantic Monthly, an article talks about the evidence that Bush used when reviewing the cases of the prisoners the morning of their scheduled execution and what information his legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales presented to him.

Alan Berlow requested and obtained the memorandum that Gonzales prepared for Bush for 57 of the death-penalty cases. Berlow's review of this memorandum shows that the cases Gonzales prepared ignored critical data and extenuating information that might have led Bush to recommend clemancy. As Gonzales is considered to be one of the leading candidates for nomination to the Supreme Court should a vacancy occur while Bush is President, the way he performed this role is important to examine. It appears that rather than "bothering" Bush with information that might raise troubling questions about whether the death-penalty was appropriate, Gonzales provided material that was prosecutorial in nature and so reinforced the notion that the penalty was justified.

This past week the Supreme Court overturned a death penalty conviction (sorry - dead link) for a Maryland man which has eery similarities to one of the cases Bush did not find sufficiently troubling. From the Maryland case:

The high court said two inexperienced Baltimore County public defenders failed their client, a borderline retarded man, because they didn't tell jurors that he was severely sexually abused as a child. If jurors had known of the abuse, they might not given Kevin Wiggins a life sentence instead of sending him to death row, the majority said.

In Texas, the case of Terry Washington was another where mental retardation and severe abuse were relevant factors that should have been considered:

Most important, Gonzales failed to mention that Washington's mental limitations, and the fact that he and his ten siblings were regularly beaten with whips, water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts, were never made known to the jury, although both the district attorney and Washington's trial lawyer knew of this potentially mitigating evidence. (Washington did not testify at his trial or his sentencing.)

So, it appears that Bush made his decisions on these cases based on faulty and/or incomplete information. Bush's decision making has been a topic I'd explored before here and here. How often is the information being given to Bush faulty? What does this say about him that his advisors feel free to not provide him a complete picture? How much of it is because Bush really doesn't want to worry about the details? He prides himself on his decisiveness, but this can be a very bad trait when the decisions are made without insight and/or thoughtfulness. For Bush, it seems to be yet one more case where a basically lazy and unreflective man relies on his gut feelings and his supreme self-confidence in his own capabilities. That and the fact that God tells him what to do.

Somehow it appears that the combination of these two weak men creates an opportunity for all kinds of crazy decisionmaking. Then add in Ms. Miers and the flack, Sampson, with the puppet-masters, Rove and Cheney, and you can begin to see why this country is is such deep doo-doo these days.

Posted by Mary at March 14, 2007 01:36 AM | Law/Justice | Technorati links |

I'm just wondering if any of those documents evidencing the intimidation / purge are going to implicate Cheney.

Posted by: Swan at March 14, 2007 07:42 AM

Dans un entretien à paraître dans le "Nouvel Observateur", le candidat UDF s'est dit certain que, s'il était élu, des socialistes le rejoindraient. Il a rejeté l'idée de faire alliance avec Nicolas Sarkozy au second tour.

the candidate of the udf bayrou declined to make a compromise with nicolas sarkozy, candidate of ump, for the second round of the french elections.

Posted by: ccoaler at March 14, 2007 01:34 PM

GOP chair called McKay about '04 election
By David Bowermaster
Seattle Times staff reporter

Former Washington state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance acknowledged Tuesday that he contacted then-U.S. Attorney John McKay to inquire about the status of federal investigations into the 2004 governor's race while the outcome was still in dispute.
Vance also spoke regularly with presidential adviser Karl Rove's aides about the election, which Democrat Christine Gregoire ultimately won by 129 votes over Republican Dino Rossi. But Vance said he doesn't recall discussing with the White House McKay's performance or Republicans' desires for a formal federal investigation.
Vance's revelations come as Congress continues investigating whether the firings of McKay and seven other U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration were politically motivated.
Vance is one of at least two Republican officials who called McKay to inquire about a possible investigation by his office into the governor's race.
In testimony before Congress last week, McKay said that he received a call in late 2004 or early 2005 from Ed Cassidy, then chief of staff for Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, inquiring about the status of ongoing investigations into possible voter fraud. McKay said he cut off Cassidy before he could ask inappropriate questions.
McKay has never publicly mentioned being contacted by Vance. "I vaguely remember getting a call from Chris Vance" about the election, he said Tuesday, "but I don't remember anything significant about the call."
Vance could not recall when his conversation with McKay took place.
"I said 'You know, John, we're getting a lot of complaints from activists about this,' " Vance said.
"[McKay] said, 'Stop right there, I can't talk about this. If we are doing any kind of investigation or not, I can't comment,' " Vance recalled, "so I dropped it."
Vance said he felt compelled to approach McKay as a fellow Republican
"Republican activists were furious because they felt that you had a Republican secretary of state [Sam Reed], a Republican county prosecutor in Norm Maleng and a Republican U.S. attorney, but still they saw the governorship slipping away, and they were just angry," Vance said.
New information came out Tuesday about contacts between the Justice Department and the White House concerning the firing of McKay and six other U.S. attorneys on Dec. 7. An eighth was fired earlier.
Justice Department chief of staff Kyle Sampson in January 2006 began identifying U.S. attorneys for the White House to fire. McKay was not on the original lists.
That changed Sept. 13.
In an e-mail to White House counsel Harriet Miers, Sampson put McKay's name in a group titled: "[U.S. Attorneys] We Now Should Consider Pushing Out."
The Sampson e-mail is among 112 pages of messages that the WH provided

Posted by: ccoaler at March 14, 2007 02:56 PM

latimes:Sununu first Republican to call for firing Gonzales

Posted by: ccoaler at March 14, 2007 03:02 PM


Pentagon Transcripts Show Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Confesses to Sept. 11 Attacks

Posted by: wqsqws at March 14, 2007 08:40 PM