On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gonzales Comes to Seattle

Or so they say. Few actually got to see him, so to many his actual presence could be question.

Originally publicized as an event "free and open to the public", it turns out Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speech, sponsored by TechNet Northwest, was a private event, not open to the public. One has to wonder the change was more than merely a reporting mistake as I'd been told.

I had previously made contact with organizers seeking press access, but was not able to get a definitive reply before the event. Since I work near the Westin Hotel, I decided to check things out anyway, and see if I couldn't get in nevertheless. A lady responsible for press access told me that they had inquired with the DOJ about press access, and were told that only credentialed media would be allowed, and that the DOJ explicitly stated they didn't want bloggers to attend.

Denied access to this previously open and free event, I wandered around the building. All the demonstrators were amassed at the southwest entrance on 5th and Stewart, holding a mish mash of signs related to Guantanamo and torture, and asking for his resignation. The protesters were a polite bunch to be sure; one sign held by a well dressed older couple simply said, "Please Resign!". Drivers honked in support as they passed. I took a few photos that I'll post later.

It seemed to me that the protesters would have been better placed at one of the vehicle exits, so I took a walk around to scope out the likely route of escape for our beloved Gonzo. There were a lot of cops at the main entrance off Westlake Ave, but it was evident that this was too visible an exit, and the cops were on bicycles. Turning the corner on Virginia St. it was evident this was the side he'd be coming out as there were a half dozen police cars and SUVs waiting curbside. When one of the cars backed into the truck delivery entrance it was clear they'd be whisking Gonzales out between the garbage dumpsters.

Shortly before his departure, with no protesters around, two cop cars pulled out to block off traffic, while cops on foot took positions on either side of the vehicle exit. Within a couple of minutes three black, tinted windowed SUVs pulled out and sped up Virginia St. with a police escort, and most definitely Gonzales in tow.

I walked back to the Westlake entrance where all the protesters had congregated in anticipation he would be leaving that way. They were unaware he'd already taken off, and once I told them they started dispersing, a little bummed that they'd been duped. Still, while Gonzales was the subject of their protests, the people on the streets, and the media cameras were obviously the main reason they had got up early to make their public statements, and on that front they made themselves heard and seen, despite being a relatively small crowd. Would that more got involved in such demonstrations, or have we as a citizenry become numbed into inaction?

So this is just another example of where we are as a nation. Our Attorney General is a persona non gratis. He cannot make public appearances, he restricts access to his events, and he has to scurry away through a back door loading dock under tight security. Normally you'd think that few would notice his comings and goings, and they would be little interest in them. Instead Gonzales travels the country with a target on his back, tail between legs.

If he comes to your town, hopefully you'll stand up and be counted as another voice calling for him to resign. Please.

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