. . . In the past, Congress has meted out punishments to presidents or their prospective appointees for far lesser transgressions than culpability in torture. For example, President Bill Clinton was impeached—a rarity in American history—by Congress for having sex with an intern and lying about it. Although Clinton was guilty of bad behavior, this breach of ethics nowhere approached the severity of enabling the brutal treatment of prisoners in the government’s custody. Similarly, Congress denied Judge Robert Bork a seat on the Supreme Court, not because his sentencing of prisoners was too harsh, but because it merely viewed his policy views as out of the mainstream.
Although I dislike the term “un-American”—since throughout U.S. history it has often been applied to people who disagreed with whatever war was then the rage—I think the term can safely be applied to torture. Congress should deny high office to anyone who helps create a bureaucratic climate that implicitly endorses such reprehensible behavior. Gonzales has done exactly that.