[JURIST] A draft of Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales' prepared statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee intended for delivery at his confirmation hearing Thursday and obtained late Wednesday notably makes no mention of torture, prisoners, detainees, Guantanamo, Iraq or the Geneva Conventions, taking a speak-no-evil approach to a wide range of issues on which Gonzales is likely to face close questioning by Democratic senators. In the draft Gonzales instead insists that even in the midst of a war on terror against enemies who do not abide by the law of war, he is committed to the rule of law and observance of American treaty obligations, generalities that have been construed favorably by the mainstream press but which may not satisfy critics looking for a specific promise to eschew by name past policies many legal observers have criticized as wrong-headed and even dangerous:
Wherever we pursue justice – from the war on terror to corporate fraud to civil rights – we must always be faithful to the rule of law. I want to make very clear that I am deeply committed to the rule of law. I have a deep and abiding commitment to the fundamental American principle that we are a nation of laws, and not of men. That commitment is the core principle that has guided all of my professional endeavors.
Our Government’s most basic obligation is to protect its citizens from enemies who would destroy their lives and our nation’s way of life. The Department of Justice’s top priority is to prevent terror attacks against our nation.
As we fight the War on Terror, we must always honor and observe the principles that make our society so unique and worthy of protection. We must be committed to preserving civil rights and civil liberties….
After the attacks of 9/11, our government had fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to any country, is not a party to any treaties, and – most importantly – does not fight according to the laws of war.
As we have debated these questions, the President has made clear that he is prepared to protect and defend the United States and its citizens, and will do so vigorously, but always in a manner consistent with our nation’s values and applicable law, including our treaty obligations. I pledge that, if I am confirmed as Attorney General, I will abide by those commitments.
Gonzales also says in the draft that he understands the distinction between being White House counsel and holding the office of Attorney General:
In the former, I have been privileged to advise the President and his staff. In the latter, I would have a far broader responsibility: to pursue justice for all the people of our great nation; to see that the laws are enforced in a fair and impartial manner for all Americans.
CBS News has the full text of the draft Gonzales statement here