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WASHINGTON — White House spokesperson Scott McClellan would neither confirm nor deny that a leaked White House memo was written by Counsel to the President (and attorney general-designate) Alberto Gonzales. “All communication among White House staff is confidential and this administration does not violate that confidentiality,†McClellan said. “We’re not even certain the memo is authentic.†The memo attributed to Gonzales urges caution in the use of presidential pardons, even in ceremonial occasions.

“It’s altogether consistent with the positions Mr. Gonzales has taken when he advised then-governor Bush on executions,†said Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe. “It’s also consistent with the position he advocated in the ‘Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism.’†In the report Gonzales advised Bush to ignore Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war held at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. The global war on terror, he wrote, has rendered the Geneva Convention “quaint†and “obsolete.†Human rights lawyers have argued that Gonzales’ advice on the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo opened the door to the physical and psychological abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the leaked memo will not be a factor when the committee conducts hearings on Gonzales’ appointment to the cabinet in the second Bush administration. “Leaks and innuendo do not influence the deliberations of the Judiciary Committee,†said Specter. Gonzales is expected to face questioning regarding Abu Ghraib and other positions taken in the Bush Administration’s “war on terror.†His confirmation is not in doubt. “Any serious opposition is unlikely,†said Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee.

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Published at 12:00 am CST
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