Alberto Gonzales is a man of many causes. The ultimate loyal Bushie, he has easily transitioned from one monstrous constitutional catastrophe to another and another—and neither George Bush nor Karl Rove could pray to Jeebus for greater loyalty from their own sons.
Benedict Arnold himself would cower in shame at Gonzales' innate sense for quickly gutting America's most precious precepts and guarantees. In calling the Geneva Convention "quaint" and advising his president there's nothing at all wrong with torturing suspects and holding them indefinitely without charges, not to forget hearing every phone call and reading every hard drive, he will clearly go down in history as among America's most loathsome, vicious and shitty criminals.
Now he is under investigation by Congress for politicizing the country's federal prosecuting attorneys, replacing competent individuals with friends of the republican party who are young and have no experience, but who are willing to do dirty jobs, break the law, pursue bogus charges on innocent people and swear an oath of loyalty to him and George W. Bush, a serious federal offense. Lacking the legal talent to exercise a little restraint, one would think he'd have the common sense arising from a desire for self preservation to move with a little finesse.
But not Gonzales. When it comes to establishing an oppressive American monarchy, he believes in expediency. So, it's full speed ahead, and let's kick out the jams. During the castration of congressional inquiry into the White House's plan to rig the Department of Justice to GOP benefit, and the democrats' detriment, Gonzales has needed a little cover. So, he's told the cameras he wasn't worried about any investigations because he's keeping himself busy protecting children.
Washington announced some time ago it planned to drum up a phony campaign to fight internet porn. This has morphed into a holy crusade to lock up people for sharing or possessing so-called "child pornography," and give them very long jail sentences. This program was supposedly dreamed up by Gonzales and his two minions, Regent Law School favorite Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liason, and Rachel Paulose, both of whom had helped the 2004 Bush campaign by dredging "opposition research" on democrats, using the administration's illegal surveillance. This crusade had help from Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, and the suggestion has been made the program was designed in the White House:
In Minnesota, Rachel K. Paulose was named interim U.S. attorney 13 months ago and nominated for the permanent job in December. As senior counsel to McNulty, she helped draft an initiative to crack down on child pornography through long prison sentences. Since arriving in Minneapolis, she has expanded investigations of such crimes, which have been a high priority for Gonzales, and pushed for sentences she has called "righteous."What sort of activities would you think deserved prosecution, and how much time should a defendant get? For our chatroom friend, Harlan Harris, the answers are two images sent in the form of a single, forwarded e-mail, and 14 to 17½ years.
Paulose replaced Thomas B. Heffelfinger, who spent nearly 20 years as a state and federal prosecutor and recently left for private practice to increase his income. Heffelfinger supervised Paulose when she was a young assistant prosecutor in the office. He would not comment on her qualifications. "I was 58 when I left. She was 32 when she started," he said. "I brought significantly different things to the job than she brings to the job - without valuing them one way or the other."
That's two computer files, and up to 17½ years in a federal penitentiary for a charge related to exploiting a child. Harlan was known by thousands of people, and it was also known he never molested or even touched a child.
I hope Gonzales feels vindicated. Harlan hanged himself, and he wasn't the first or last to commit suicide. Self-righteous U.S. Attorney Doug Horn remarked that "prosecutors ask that defendants be held in jail in just about every case in which a "crime of violence," such as child pornography, is involved. Violence is right. The judge disagreed and had allowed bail.
Anyone who thinks this is about protecting children is badly mistaken; frankly, you'd need shit for brains. This is a dubious justification for surveillance, and a typical Bush administration experiment in gutting what is inarguably our most precious right and freedom, that of free speech. The administration's reasoning is typical simplemindedness: if you can outlaw any form of expression, any and every other form is fair game.
I mentioned Harlan's story in comments before Luke went on vacation. I wasn't going to write a post about it, but last night I happened to catch this interesting news item entitled Should the law deputize computer techicians into nabbing child abusers?:
The states of Connecticut and California are considering legislation that essentially deputizes comptuer technicians into joining war against child abuse and pornography. According to an Associated Press report:In enlisting computer technicians, Gonzales and the Bush administration have demonstrated they are the worst kind of psychopaths, the kind who enlist others as minions and toadies. ZDNet has a poll on that website, and sure enough, more than half of the readers who responded said NO, computer technicians shouldn't be cops—and had they known how small an offense is needed, and how many years a person could get upon conviction, that number would undoubtedly be higher.Computer technicians would be obligated to report child abuse just like doctors, teachers and others who work closely with children, under measures being considered by lawmakers in two states. At least five states—Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota—require computer technicians to report child pornography. Connecticut and California are considering legislation that would go a step farther, adding technicians to the list of "mandated reporters" who notify authorities about any type of child abuse and neglect.
I'd like to remind jackasses like Gonzales and Paulose what the first amendment says, in that they've obviously never seen it:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.This marvelously simple sentence covers much ground. As far as communication between people, it says you can think it, say it, see it, read it, write it, copy it and share it, WHATEVER it is. Citizens have a duty to defend the provisions of the Bill of Rights. Other amendments come to mind, like amendment eight:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.Written in 1789, these ideas are just as relevant now as then, and as they will always be. Any notion there are exceptions, or that other interests supercede, is just a lot of baloney. That's why the language is purposefully simple, so as to be self-evident to the most modest of intellect. Gonzales and present day lawmakers don't rise to that standard. Even the worst and most questionable information requires the same absolute level of defense; otherwise, any and all of us can face indeterminate prison sentences for anything we write, see, say, share—or even think.
Update: One of the comments pointed out Paulose attended Yale, not Regent, law school, and I found several sources which confirmed that point. I have to admit I made that assumption based on her work with McNulty and close friendship with Goodling and the fact she was known to quote Bible verses in the office. Paulose isn't the point of this, anyway. If I'd wanted to influence someone's opinion about her, I'd have mentioned her membership in the conservative Federalist Society, or how she'd become the subject of controversy after four senior attorneys in her office resigned in protest of her "dictatorial" management style. Of course, they were more polite about it than most of the reporters covering the story, who overwhelmingly stated that despite her impressive credentials her appointment looked more like the product of her connections with republican politics and the conservative movement. I haven't met her.
Likewise, there was the criticism I didn't know what Harris was doing and shouldn't defend him. Harris isn't the point either. I admit I never met Harris, but spent many thousands of hours logged into chatrooms where he came and went. I know that he claimed to be gay. I also know he was not a predator, and was extremely well liked, and a gentleman. If that were not so, I would know. And I'd certainly speak up.
Child pornography isn't the point, either. The Tulsa World article said the evidence against him was two picture files. Is there anything that can be put in a computer file which justifies that much jail time? It's a crime to deliberately send a computer virus; but if someone sends one to my computer, should he or I go to prison for nearly 20 years? Whether or not it is fair to be convicted, consider the outlay of public funds to imprison someone for that length of time. Is it justice, or vengeance? Be skeptical about what public servants do in the name of protecting children: usually there is another point to it. I don't know how much Horn and Paulose are paid, but I wouldn't work their child pornography initiative for all the money in the world, and I stand by my position that it's a potent threat to first amendment rights.