Contrary to what Assistant Professor Heather Williams has written,
First and foremost, I find it disturbing that a Pomona Faculty member intrudes on what is otherwise a student-centered event. Nevertheless, I will address her points in the order in which she presents them.
Gonzales’ “Criminal Actions” and the So-Called “Prisoners of War”:
On The Student Life website, Williams’ title “Alberto Gonzales is a Criminal, Not A Speaker” smacks of bias. (To be fair, in the hard copy, the headline is "Alberto Gonzales is a Disgrace, Not a Speaker." I disagree that Gonzales is either criminal or disgraceful.)
Gonzales’ firing of political appointees – which, he has every right to do, just as the Justice Department has every right to address certain types of crimes – is hardly “criminal.” Professor Williams misleads, stating that Gonzales “criminal actions” undermine the public trust. How she can say that when there has been no indictment, no trial, and certainly no conviction of Gonzales testifies to a lack of balance we should expect of a
While we’re on the topic of the Geneva Convention, Williams ignores why nations endorse treaties in the first place. The principle reason that nations approve treaties is because their enemies and their allies have done the same. When terrorists choose to deliberate fight under the flag of no nation, they waive the considerations the Geneva Convention affords and harm international law. Why would nations agree to treaties when terrorists can get their protections even as they work for the destruction of the very institutions that produce them?
“Blanket Domestic Spying Powers”
Professor Williams criticizes the Democratic-Congress approved NSA program that has saved lives. She ignores this fact. She calls the NSA program’s “blanket domestic spying powers” without ever talking about how the NSA program only monitors the international calls between pre-designated terrorist-states and American phones. This policy smacks of common sense. It frankly doesn’t bother me that the
In any event, this current program has saved lives and continues to save them. Perhaps that’s why the Democratic Congress overwhelmingly approved the NSA program despite its initial kvetching.
“Waterboarding and Torture Techniques”
Professor Williams’s personal distain for torture is well-founded, but she goes too far when she says that the ticking time situations do occur. Unfortunately, the ticking time bomb terrorist does exist.
To provide just one example, I’ll give you the example of a little known case in
Whether or not waterboarding runs afoul of
Indeed, I would argue that forum, and not The Student Life, is the appropriate place to challenge admittedly controversial Gonzales views. This controversy is the very reason we need Gonzales to come and provide his views on that and many other subjects. Pomona needs to stand for intellectual inquiry, even if her professors do not.
 Full disclosure: I worked for Alan M. Dershowitz these past two summers and during my senior year of high school. My views do not necessarily reflect his.