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Listening to the US Attorney General...

10 March 2005

I have just come from listening to His Excellency the new Attorney General of the USA, Alberto Gonzales, speaking to a session at the Madrid summit. The difference of tone between him and most other speakers was striking. All our important speakers are emphasising that fundamental principles of the rule of law and human rights must be safeguarded or the terrorists will win. Mr. Gonzalesview is that in the fight against terrorism we must "seize the initiative in a way that is consistent with the rule of law". Rarely can the word consistent have seemed so miserable and diminished.

Everyone else I have heard speak at the Summit - look at Kofi Annan's speech for a clear example - has gone out of their way to recognise the long list of terrorist outrages from Bali to Bagdhad that have taken place between September 11 and March 11 - except Alberto Gonzales. The words talk about a global struggle, but the world as it is lived seems not to figure in any felt or human way.

He spoke of the need to "fight terrorism and advance freedom so that the world will be more peaceful" but the tone was militaristic, and his conclusion left no room for doubt: "we will not be divided, we will taste victory."

It did not leave a particularly democratic taste in my mouth.

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