Beyond Sophistry

BEYOND SOPHISTRY….Every once in a while I fail to blog about some remark or other because it seems like every blog in the world has already posted about it. But sometimes I forget that not everyone who reads this blog reads every other blog in the world. So just in case you missed it, here is your Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday:

GONZALES: There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

GONZALES: Um.

“Um” indeed. Jim Henley has the right comment:

There is indeed no bottom to this Administration’s sophistry. So here’s something to wonder about. Amendment IV to the US Constitution says “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” It doesn’t explicitly say only the courts can issue warrants. Nor does Article III say “only courts can issue warrants” in so many words. The word warrant does not appear in the main text of the constitution. I assume this is because we inherited a common-law practice from England that nobody thought needed to be written down. But I don’t see why the Gonzales-Yoo school would not declare at some point that the executive branch can issue “warrants” too. Presto! Instant Fourth Amendment compliance! Of a kind.

I never thought the day would come when I’d miss John Ashcroft as Attorney General, but that day has come. These guys are just beyond belief.