Military Veterans Oppose Gonzales Nomination for U.S. Attorney General; Thousands Express Grave...

Military Veterans Oppose Gonzales Nomination for U.S. Attorney General; Thousands Express Grave Concern to Congress about Nominee’s Interpretation of Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution



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Washington, DC—(HISPANIC PR WIRE – US NEWSWIRE)—January 4, 2004–Nearly 3,600 military veterans and military family members have expressed grave concerns about Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General in a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and other members of the U.S. Senate. The veterans’ primary concerns are Judge Gonzales’ positions on U.S. adherence to the Geneva Conventions and protections from torture for military personnel under international and U.S. laws.

The letter to Congress cites Gonzales’ controversial January 2002 memorandum advising President George W. Bush that he could exempt al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners from Geneva Convention protections, and an August 2003 Justice Department memo approved by Gonzales, which attempted to redefine torture. According to The Washington Post, the Justice Department last week reversed its position on the legality of torture of prisoners of war. “Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin said in the new memo that torture may consist of acts that fall short of provoking excruciating and agonizing pain and thus may include mere physical suffering or lasting mental anguish.” (Washington Post, 12/31/04)

The veterans groups and other signatories argue that an approval of the Gonzales nomination for U.S. attorney general would have a negative impact on the U.S. military and our nation’s mission in Iraq, potentially exposing U.S. and coalition prisoners to more cruelty and violence by insurgents, including torture by their captors.

Please join us for a press conference outlining the key reasons for veterans and allied groups’ opposition of the Gonzales nomination for U.S. Attorney General on the eve of his Senate confirmation hearing.

WHO:

— Charles Sheehan-Miles, executive director, Veterans for Common Sense, 1991 Gulf War veteran

— Robert K. Musil, executive director and CEO, Physicians for Social Responsibility, a public health advocacy group whose 30,000 members include military doctors,

— Former Army Captain and former instructor, Defense Information School

— Dave DeBatto, former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent who served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003), and former team leader of a tactical human intelligence team in the Sunni Triangle responsible for searching for Ba’ath Party and top Iraqi military leaders

— Colonel Richard Klass, USAF (Ret.), former White House Fellow, Rhodes Scholar and former instructor, National War College, decorated with Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and 11 Air medals

— Ray McGovern, co-founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, former U.S. Army military intelligence officer, 27-year CIA intelligence analyst, winner of the Intelligence Commendation Medal

— Erik Gustafson, executive director, Education for Peace in Iraq Center, 1991 Gulf War veteran

WHEN:

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005 or 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

WHERE:

Peter Zenger Room, The National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor Washington, DC

–30–

CONTACT:

Veterans for Common Sense

Charles Sheehan-Miles, 202-412-2433

or

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Dianne Saenz, 202-667-4260 ext. 215

Military Veterans Oppose Gonzales Nomination for U.S. Attorney General; Thousands Express Grave Concern to Congress about Nominee’s Interpretation of Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution