The Times always gets an interesting array of questions written by prominent individual for its pre-Confirmation hearing piece with questions for the nominee. This last attempt was no different – but as always – the questions often revealed more about the questioner than their intended answerer. For example, Alberto Gonzalez suggests Sotomayor be asked:
Some overseas critics have questioned the legality of United States government policies on the war on terrorism. Should America’s standing in the world, to the extent it may be affected by the outcome of a case, ever inform a judicial decision?
Clearly, Gonzales thinks it should affect the outcome of cases – but it seems impossible to see how this principle would be applied. But one can guess that this argument was used to push Gonzales into taking positions he might not have otherwise as David Addington, Scooter Libby, and other top Bush administration officials working under Cheney pushed various extreme positions in secret – and then to cover up the excesses while Alberto “I Don’t Recall” Gonzales was Attorney General.
But it takes some sharp like Gonzales (sharp like an old crayon) to expose the underlying idea so baldly. Presumably Gonzales thinks American citizens have a right to know what the American government is doing in their name – but that this right must be counterbalanced by a Court acting as a kind of public relations arm of the U.S. government. As Glenn Greenwald said (in a piece I cannot find at the moment, so I paraphrase): “The inevitable logic of this position is that the worse the crime is, the greater the necessity to cover it up to protect America’s image.” This obviously creates an incentive for administration officials to make sure that their crimes are so bad future administrations will be compelled to protect them – to prevent information from becoming public and damaging America’s reputation.
[Image by Matthew Bradley licensed under Creative Commons.]