Friday, April 20, 2007

Having Fun At the Attorney General’s Expense

On April 19, I attended the Senate Judiciary hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. I had only decided to go the night before at a meeting at the CodePink house with Geoff Millard. That was where we came up with the idea for the action, but no one said that they would do it for sure. CodePink decided to do a “Pink Police” demonstration, featuring Gael Murphy playing the part of AGAG in an orange jumpsuit.

That morning I woke up at some ungodly hour to pick up Geoff and get to the Hart building early enough to be sure we could get a good spot in the line. When we arrived, the line wasn’t too long, but Code Pink was waiting for us. Then Cindy Sheehan showed up and I got my first chance to talk with her!

We got into the hearing and of course CodePink was raising a ruckus and I was holding my sign that said, “WE WERE SHOT AT BY YOUR TORTURE VICTIMS.” When the hearing was gaveled into session, we sat down rather quietly. That was when Midge Potts walked up right in front of the press area behind Gonzales with her great thought bubble banner, “I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE . . . EXCEPT THE TRUTH.” By the way, Midge is really a hero of mine that I’ve been attempting to emulate in hearings. CNN did a great feature on her.

Senator Leahy began by warning everyone, “whether holding up signs in support of or against” Gonzales that they could not block anyone’s view. I strained to see anyone with a sign supporting him, but alas, we all think he’s a disgrace.

I was looking around at the CodePink ladies, and asked if anyone was going to keep track of the times Gonzales would say, “I don’t recall,” but no one was. I numbered all the remaining sheets in my padfolio on the right, up to fifteen. Senator Schumer actually warned him in his opening statement against saying, "I don't recall," and I thought my idea was shot, but he was so far off message it didn't matter anyway. I soon ran out of paper and had to switch to tally marks. Then I filled up the page I was working on and had to start again with smaller tally marks.

The lead photo you see hear was taken at the beginning of the lunch break. That count of 56 was only the half-time score. My final count was 74. More importantly, someone told Gonzales at each of the breaks that I was in the crowd. For the first twenty minutes or so after the break, he didn't say it once, but then he just lost it. He also said "I don't-" and caught himself at least a hundred times, which probably made him sound like at least twice the douche he would have. But Senator Schumer also mentioned the count in his closing remarks.

Regardless, I think I made my point. The real reason I was there (the main reason I hate Gonzales) is because torture policy is bad for US troops. (It's also morally reprehensible.) When I was in Fallujah, (Feb-Sep 2004) I was running a checkpoint at a civil affairs facility when the Abu Ghraib story broke, but I still had to go out the next day and face crowds of Iraqi civilians. I also had to hear the reports of Marines dying around the city because of the angst that was a direct result of that. I got to say all that and then some for cameras in an area roped off for Senators to give statements after the hearing. A bit of it was even used in CNN segment on the hearing, which is quite funny. The reaction in the blogosphere was pretty good too.