Changing of the Guard

A couple of days behind, and a couple of changes on the planet.

John Ashcroft has resigned. He resigned. Were it not for whom his named successor will be, I’d be thrilled. I think Ashcroft has set back privacy in America as far back as anyone in my memory, and had me believing that the McCarthyism was alive and well, and flourishing in Washington. However, his replacement, Alberto Gonzalez, has made some comments that lead me to believe he may be no better. His support for suspect detention without access to attorneys or courts, and stated believe that unilateral, case-by-case suspension of treaty conditions concerning torture and protection of prisoners is within the United States’ rights seem to go a long way toward making me think that this might be a trade down, insofar as the Attorney General office is concerned. Don’t get me wrong — I still think Ashcroft is dangerous in his ineptitude, but I think Gonzales is just downright dangerous.

If we, as a country and government, cannot stand behind the minimum treatment that we would demand of our prisoners of foreign soil, how can we be taken credibly? Doesn’t that make us as criminal as those we fight against?

The other change comes in the PLO, with the death of Yassir Arafat last night. Obviously, he had no control over this, but I do believe that this may serve to destabilize the region just that much more if infighting and factionalism begin to show in the Palestinians. I know folks are polarized on Arafat — he’s either a demon or a saint, depending on where you sit — but I fear what might come next, and the unrest that might come with what’s next is of concern to all of us, as it would be entirely too easy to start sliding down a slope toward Middle Eastern choas and war.

I guess you could say that we already have slid down that slippery slope with our work in Iraq. Unfortunately, we Americans voted for four more years of the same. Kerry said that, if elected, he would be forced to finish what Bush had started. Imagine what the next President will be forced to cleanup and endure….