Naked City

Bush Not Totally Clueless!

It appears that the story of 57 death-penalty executive-clemency memos prepared for then-Gov. George W. Bush by his then-general counsel (and now White House counsel, and likely future Supreme Court justice) Alberto Gonzales has taken yet another turn. In the July 29 Washington Post, staff writer Peter Carlson delves into the story of the memos, originally vetted in an article by Alan Berlow in the current edition of The Atlantic magazine. According to Berlow, the short memos Gonzales prepared represented the sum total of information Bush had on which to base decisions about whether Texas' condemned would actually face lethal injection. In all but one case Bush gave the thumbs up.

Although Gonzales declined to be interviewed by Carlson (or by Berlow), the Post story includes a response by Pete Wassdorf, Gonzales' former deputy counsel, who says that Berlow's article was both "inaccurate and incomplete," and that contrary to Berlow's assertions, the memos were not the only things Bush relied on to make his life-and-death decisions. "Governor Bush's office was fairly informal," Carlson quotes the attorney as writing in a letter to The Atlantic, "and it was not at all unusual after a meeting on a different subject, or during an ad hoc meeting, to discuss upcoming executions."

Let that be a lesson to all who thought Bush didn't take the death-penalty clemency process seriously. (For more on Bush and the clemency memos, see "The Guv's Death Row Secrets," July 11.)

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George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, death penalty, The Atlantic, Alan Berlow, Washington Post, Scott Carlson, Pete Wassdorf, clemency memos

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