10 Friday, Jan.

7, 2005 Daily News


Nominee grilled by Senate
Possible attorney general asked about use of torture
Alberto R. Gonzales, nominated by President Bush to be attorney general, denounced the use of torture against terrorism suspects yesterday and pledged to abide by all international law, even as he came under sharp attack from Democrats and some Republicans over the administration’s treatment of prisoners. “This administration does not engage in torture and will not condone torture,” Gonzales said during a daylong hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering his nomination. Gonzales, who is the White House counsel, said he understood that, if confirmed, “I will no longer represent only the White House; I will represent the United States of America and its people.” “I understand the differences between the two roles,” he added. Gonzales also promised to personally look into recent reports from the FBI about the possible mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he disclosed that the administration has had preliminary discussions about seeking to amend prisoner protections in the “These obligations include, of course, honoring the Geneva Conventions whenever they apply,” he said. Gonzales’ confirmation does not appear in doubt. But his appearance before the Senate panel turned into an open forum on the Bush administration’s legal policies in fighting terrorism, with skeptical questioning even from some Republicans about his role as an architect of many key policies in his four years as White House counsel. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., accused the Bush administration of “playing cute with the law” in its treatment of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere. That approach, he told Gonzales, has “dramatically undermined” the campaign against terrorism by yielding the moral high ground and has endangered the lives of U.S. troops who may themselves be taken into custody. Gonzales acknowledged some missteps by the administration as it has looked for new ways to battle terrorism and to elicit information from terror suspects in U.S. custody. (NYT)
A SON’S DEATH — Former South African President Nelson Mandela at a news conference after it was announced his only surviving son Makgatho Mandela had died. AP photo.

Mandela’s son dies of HIV/AIDS
Nelson Mandela, who has devoted much of his life after leaving South Africa’s presidency to a campaign against AIDS, said yesterday that his son had died of the disease in a Johannesburg clinic. The son, Makgatho L. Mandela, 54, had been seriously ill for more than a month, but the nature of his ailment had not been made public before his death yesterday. At a news conference in the garden of his Johannesburg home, the elder Mandela said he was disclosing the cause of his son’s death to focus more attention on AIDS, which is still a taboo topic among many South Africans.

SWEARING IN — Attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales is sworn in at the start of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday. AP photo.

Sen. Boxer challenges vote count
Congress yesterday officially ratified President Bush’s election victory, but not before Democrats lodged a formal challenge to the electoral votes from Ohio, forcing an extraordinary twohour debate in Congress. It was only the second such challenge to a presidential race since 1877. But yesterday, a single senator — Barbara Boxer, D-Greenbrae — joined Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, D-Ohio, in objecting to Ohio’s 20 electoral votes for Bush, citing voting irregularities.

Geneva Conventions. He said that he was “deeply committed to ensuring that the U.S. government complies with all of its legal obligations as it fights the war on terror, whether those obligations arise from domestic or international law.”

Internal CIA study points to mistakes
An internal investigation by the CIA has concluded that officials who served at the highest levels of the agency should be held accountable for failing to allocate adequate resources to combating terrorism before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said current and former TENET intelligence officials. The conclusion is spelled out in a nearfinal version of a report by John Helgerson, the agency’s inspector general, who reports to Congress as well as to the CIA. Among those most sharply criticized in the report, the officials said, are George J. Tenet, the former intelligence chief, and James L. Pavitt, the former deputy director of operations. Both Tenet and Pavitt stepped down from their posts last summer. The findings, which are still classified, pose a quandary for the CIA and the administration, particularly since President Bush awarded a Medal of Freedom to Tenet last month. The report says that Pavitt, among others, failed to meet an acceptable standard of performance, and it recommends that his conduct be assessed by an internal review board for possible disciplinary action, the officials said. The criticism of Tenet is also cast in such equally strong terms, the officials said, but they would not say one way or another whether it reached a judgment about whether his performance had been acceptable. (NYT)

General to review Iraq policies
The Pentagon is sending a highly regarded retired four-star general to Iraq next week to conduct an unusual “open-ended” review of the military’s entire Iraq policy. The leeway given to the officer, Gen. Gary E. Luck, a former head of U.S. forces in South Korea underscores the deep concern by senior Pentagon officials and top U.S. commanders over the direction that the operation in Iraq is taking.

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