How Gonzales Sees The Law

He doesn't actually, and it helps illuminate what happened under the Bush-Cheney administration. Here's the former attorney-general's - yes, this man was attorney-general! - chilling statement on the illegal use of torture techniques by the man he worked for:

They may be necessary in the future. And by disclosing it, means you take them off the table and they can never be used again.

David Waldman has a must-read in response:

As tiresome as it can sometimes be to see people frame matters so that it all comes down to one issue and one issue only, I find myself returning to this one again and again. Whether or not torture is your issue. Or wiretapping. Or indefinite detention. Or signing statements. Or anything, really -- environment, global warming, abortion, health care, taxes, terrorism, the war. No matter what your issue is, at heart, you're dependent on a continuing and consistent respect for the law. Because without it, none of your work on politics and policy is worth anything the moment the White House falls to someone who's not you.

You can pass all the environmental laws you like, but if it's accepted as a legitimate tenet of Republican governing philosophy that all of those laws can be safely ignored or otherwise set aside, you'll have gained nothing from your work with a friendly Congress and administration.
And if you can set aside all statutory and constitutional law on something like torture, I'm unsure what barriers you think remain in the way of doing the same on any other issue...
They are telling you they will torture again in the future. They have already told you that it is their belief -- their interpretation of the four corners of the Constitution -- that they have the right to order it if they can win just one national election (versus Democrats' constant scrambling to win 300+ localized contests).
There is nothing "backward looking" about giving serious consideration to a live threat that has just been renewed.