President Bush won’t fire his long-time friend U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales… he has too much to lose. He’s used to being able to say – “Here’s how I want it to be – you figure out the legal stuff.”
On Monday President Bush once again expressed his support: “I stand by Al Gonzales.” He accused Senators involved in the push for a no-confidence vote against Gonzales as engaging in “pure political theater,” despite the fact that many Republicans as well as Democrats have called for and/or support his resignation.
According to James Comey, who was acting Attorney General when Ashcroft was in the hospital, Gonzales and then chief-of-staff Andrew Card tried an end run around him by secretly visiting Ashcroft there in the middle of the night. Who knew? Ashcroft, whatever his faults, refused to reauthorize the secret wiretapping program. Notice how long he lasted…
In nominating Alberto Gonzales to be the next attorney general, President Bush has selected a man with a long record of giving him the kind of legal advice he wants. Unfortunately, that advice has not always been of the highest professional or ethical caliber. Gonzales is perhaps best known for a controversial January 2002 memorandum to the president in which he argued that Geneva Convention proscriptions on torture did not apply to Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners, and that the conventions are, in fact, “obsolete.”*
Gonzales is supposed to be working for the American people. He’s supposed to be running the Department of Justice. Let’s be serious. He’s the legal arm of Bush. In 1994, he was named general counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush, and in 1997 appointed by Bush as Secretary of State of Texas, and in 1999 named to the Texas Supreme Court by the then-Gov. He’s been with Bush all the way.
He has largely succeeded in destroying the Department of Justice – was that the intent? Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty (Comey’s successor) recently resigned. Professionals that still try to work there are demoralized. They are also surrounded by inexperienced hacks and cronies – like Monica Goodling. Sheesh. How many graduates of Robertson or Falwell U work over there anyway? Do we have workers from Halliburton, Exxon, and Enron too?
Even before the attorney firings, which were clearly motivated by a right-wing agenda, there was enough to impeach him on.
Gonzales is not just Bush’s yes man. I wonder if Bush might be Gonzales’ yes man. Maybe he and Cheney… no, that’s just speculation.
Whatever. Like Cheney, Gonzales is one scary dude. He has actively subverted the Constitution while under oath to protect and defend it.
His role is to promote executive power. He has argued for presidential powers of a “unitary executive” (sounds like a king or a dictator, right? right!). Constitutionally speaking, Bush is commander in chief of the Army and Navy – but not the commander of every government employee, and certainly not commander of the citizenry.
On Gonzales’ advice (and I’m thinking, under significant direction) President George W. Bush has added objections to laws he has signed into law – they basically say that it’s the law, unless he decides it’s not. With Gonzales’ approval, Bush has withheld requested information – on dozens of issues – from Congress. Executive Order 13233, drafted by Gonzales and issued by George W. Bush on November 1, 2001 attempted to place limitations on the Freedom of Information Act by restricting access even to the records of former presidents.
In violation of the spirit of America (not to mention various U.S. statutes and international treaties), Gonzales authored the torture memos, giving a green light from the top for the use of overly-aggressive interrogations for enemy combatants. Oddly, there are no POWs at all. The definition of an enemy combatant is anyone Bush labels as an “enemy combatant” – including U.S. citizens. Since the first wave of what will be the continuing scandal of Abu Graib (you ain’t heard nothin’ yet), we’ve outsourced much of our torture. You may have heard something about that.
Gonzales wrote the Presidential Order which authorized the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects, and has fought for shortened or endlessly deferred trials for enemy combatants. He has stated that he doesn’t believe that habeas corpus is constitutional. We should close Guantanamo immediately – for a lot of reasons – and tell detainees what they are charged with – or call them POWs and give them those rights. They are American prisoners. They should be in Levenworth or another high-security prison under American law.
Gonzales had a heavy role in approving electronic surveillance without a warrant – in defiance of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (at least – we still don’t know how far that has gone or will go). I won’t even get into the multiple issues revolving around the so-called Patriot Acts.
Gonzales’ testimony has been misleading at best. He has not been honest or forthright. Yet unlike Monica Goodling, he doesn’t even have the decency to openly plead the fifth. He giggles at times as he dances around the questions he’s been asked. He’s confident. Isn’t it odd that Bush continues to stonewall against asking him to resign?
Congress has one option: Impeach him! While you still can!
Democracy for America and Greenwald have set up a petition to demand that Congress get serious about holding an errant executive branch to account. Check out the Brave New Films video and sign on:
We, The Undersigned, urge the House Judiciary Committee to begin the process of impeachment of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in accordance with Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for removal of the President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States. We believe the process will prove that Atty. General Gonzales has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, including the abuse of power and violation of the public trust, both impeachable offenses.