Special Report 1/6/05
Torture in Real Time
In that wonderful spirit of collegiality that puts Americans to sleep, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the hearing this morning on Alberto Gonzales with wave after wave of self-congratulations.
The first half-hour of the hearing on the nomination of Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general is nothing but speechifying, and pretty mild. While we're waiting, check out this morning's New York Times backgrounder on the hearing, "Newly Released Reports Show Early Concern on Prison Abuse." Kate Zernike writes:
- When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke last spring, officials characterized the abuse as the aberrant acts of a small group of low-ranking reservists, limited to a few weeks in late 2003. But thousands of pages in military reports and documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to the American Civil Liberties Union in the past few months have demonstrated that the abuse involved multiple service branches in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba, beginning in 2002 and continuing after Congress and the military had begun investigating Abu Ghraib.
Oh, really? People have been saying that months and months. See my Bush Beat item from July 23, when I pointed to Washington Post stories and other pieces in which people were saying that the abuses were systemic and flowed from the top.
It's about 10 a.m., half an hour into the hearing. Texas senator John Cornyn is introducing his close friend Gonzales, who's "an inspiration to anyone." Cornyn says: "Only in Washington can a good man get raked over the coals." Gotta go put on my hip boots.