February 04, 2005
Sen. Obama made a particularly good statement on the floor before casting his vote.
I had hoped that during his hearings Judge Gonzales would ease my concerns about some of the legal advice he gave to the President. And I had hoped he would prove that he has the ability to distance himself from his role as the President's lawyer so that he could perform his new role as the people's lawyer.
Sadly, rather than full explanations during these hearings, I heard equivocation. Rather than independence, I heard an unyielding insistence on protecting the President's prerogative.
I did not hear Mr. Gonzales repudiate two and a half years of official U.S. policy which has defined torture so narrowly that only organ failure and death would qualify. A policy that he himself appears to have helped develop the dubious legal rationale for. Imagine that. If the entire world accepted the definition contained in the Department of Justice memos, we can only imagine what atrocities might befall our American POWs. How, in a world without such basic constraints would we feel about sending our sons and daughters to war? How, if we are willing to rationalize torture through legalisms and semantics, can we claim to our children, and the children of the world, that America is different, and represents a higher moral standard?