The fact that Alberto Gonzales consented to be photographed using the American flag as a shield against personal unpleasantness perhaps indicates that the former Attorney General is not a particularly sophisticated individual, and that as such his attempts to rationalize his legacy during the Bush administration—as he does in the Esquire interview that this photograph accompanies—ought to be met with pity, rather than with condescension and barely concealed rage. Then again, he consistently rationalized torture as a way of sucking up to his boss, so, you know, let’s do this thing.
Fun quotes include but are by no means limited to:
I don’t believe my life’s work should be solely defined by four years in the White House and two years as attorney general.
“I don’t wish to be defined by the most significant actions of my life, undertaken while at the pinnacle of my profession.”
I used the word quaint in referring to provisions in the Geneva Conventions that require the signatories to provide the prisoners of war privileges like commissary privileges, scientific instruments, athletic uniforms. I think those provisions are quaint. I did not say nor did I intend to say that the basic principles of the Geneva Conventions in providing for humane treatment were quaint. So if I had to do it again, what I would not do is use the word quaint and the Geneva Conventions in the same sentence.
No. No. No. You asshole, no. You said, in a memo from early 2002:
… the war against terrorism is a new kind of war… In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.
You said, explicitly, that it’s a whole new ballgame in which the old rules, about not torturing people, no longer applied. Then you brought up the “quaint” stuff about athletic uniforms—which apparently only became quaint after 9/11?—as a cheap rhetorical way of making the whole of the Geneva Conventions sound archaic and not applicable. This is not a matter of us not being able to properly parse your statements.
Ok, back to Esquire in 2009:
The notion that what happened at Abu Ghraib was a result of the policies of the Bush administration I just think is totally ridiculous.
Oh. Well ok then. I’m convinced. You sound so convinced yourself, especially elsewhere in the interview, when you say “in some cases we guessed wrong”, and “I know that at the time I made the best decision I could with the information I had” and that whole “please please please don’t judge me solely by my tenure in the Bush administration” thing.
Sometimes I feel like it seems presumptuous to say, “Yeah, he’s my friend.” I mean, I consider him a friend. Although I will say, I’ve never called him George. It was always Governor or Mr. President.
Ok, now I did just feel a little bit of pity for poor Al Gonzales, who just wanted the cool rich frat boy’s approval.
Putting my lawyer hat aside, the notion that we’d have to get legalistic about torture, yeah, can be offensive to me. It’s inconsistent with American values. But as a lawyer — as a lawyer — you have to try to put meaning to the words passed by Congress.
“Sometimes the profession to which I’ve dedicated my life and of which I’m very proud makes me do things completely incompatible with my and my country’s values. Hey, it happens!”
This may sound egotistical, but to me it is important that when I leave this earth, I would have made a difference — that people would know Al Gonzales lived, he touched lives, he made a difference, he left a mark.
Well, congratulations on that, fucktwat.