The Devil You Don't Know


Harvey Silverglate and Dan Poulson on the man Bush tapped to succeed John Ashcroft:

Sure, we're getting rid of the worst attorney general in recent memory (and, yes, that includes the Nixon administration's infamous John Mitchell, who wasn't as bold as John Ashcroft, and who talked a better game than he played). However, we may be getting a smarter, more sophisticated, better-spoken, more devious and considerably more dangerous replacement in former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales.

To many who would adopt the "anybody but Ashcroft" position, Gonzales would seem, in the words of New York senator Charles Schumer, to be a "better candidate" for AG. But if Gonzales's legal resume demonstrates anything, it's that the government can commit even the vilest atrocities—executing a person without due process, torturing prisoners in total secrecy—so long as they're authorized by a legal analysis bearing only the faintest patina of plausibility.