Where former Attorney General Gonzales is now….

August 31, 2009

Alberto Gonzales was probably one of the most controversial U.S. attorneys general in history and left in a swirl of controversy about fired federal prosecutors and his role in authorizing harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects.After keeping a relatively a low profile since resigning in the summer of 2007, he has now begun his stint as a visiting professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he will teach a course entitled “Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch” that will encompass crafting legislation and shepherding a Supreme Court nominee through the SenateUSA/ He sat down with Texas Lawyer for one of the most wide-ranging interviews he has given since leaving office in which he offers insights into many of the controversies.On the issue of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush Justice Department — which are in the spotlight now as the new Obama administration is examining whether they broke the law — Gonzales said it was natural that such guidance is revised over time.”What the lawyers tried to do (during the Bush years) was to define, to give boundaries to what the statute allowed,” Gonzales said. “When I was in the administration I encouraged lawyers to continually look at our legal position and to get comfortable if we were in fact on solid ground. And if people wanted to continue to revise, I think that was the appropriate role for lawyers.”As White House counsel, Gonzales made a controversial visit to the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to push for approval of a secret surveillance program. Gonzales said he would discuss the incident in greater detail in his forthcoming book but that he went at President George W. Bush’s behest.”The reason we went to General Ashcroft is because he is the one who had been approving this program and these activities for a number of years. And he had been the Senate-confirmed attorney general, and as far as the president was concerned, that’s the person he wanted us to talk to,” Gonzales said.However, at the time, the deputy attorney general, James Comey, was in charge (and he was also confirmed by the U.S. Senate) while Ashcroft recovered from surgery.Gonzales in the interview also again strenuously defended his role in the firing of several federal prosecutors and said he had been cleared of wrongdoing by the inspector general.One final interesting tidbit from the interview is a rather stark contrast between Gonzales and Vice President Dick Cheney over who is chief U.S. law enforcement officer.In a Fox News interview on Sunday, while discussing the Obama administration’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to examine whether there was any wrongdoing in the harsh interrogations, Cheney said the president is the chief law enforcement officer in the administration. But Gonzales said the attorney general holds that title and must fulfill that obligation.The Justice Department’s website offers the historical support for Gonzales’ position, here.Click here for more Reuters political coverage.- Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

5 comments

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Cheney not only referred to the president as the chief law enforcer (wrongly), he also referred to the Attorney General as a political appointee role.This tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how the Bushies regard:1. This particular attorney general — a blank slate and lapdog mercifully now employed by the only people willing to offer him a job2. All those supposedly exonerating investigations into Bush Admin wrong-doing by the “Department of Justice” (that’s the “Department of Law” for the Palinites in the audience)3. That, in their view, as the chief law-enforcer, the executive branch is wholly above the law because it will simple refuse to investigate any wrong-doingDon’t forget that many other apolitical, career roles were filled with people we can now pretty safely assume are similar political ideologues. And they are still with us, crawling throughout our government, undermining our consensus laws as we speak…

Posted by jvill | Report as abusive

Though I’m unconvinced I should become a fan of Gonzalez, I’vbe long been a member of the “anti-fan” club when we’re talking about Cheney, who would have the President — as long as the holder of that office is someone who parrots his views — is indeed the “Chief of Everything,” inclouding all areas covered by Cabinet positions. I’m going to have to agree with Gonzalez, not to mention agree with well over two centuries’ worth of traditional understanding of the Attorney General’s role in law enforcement in our country.

Posted by Mekhong Kurt | Report as abusive

I am so pleased when i see all the hypocrisy involved here that i don,t consider myself a progressive liberal. We hear all the”life time stories” of minorities who against all odds have progressed into careers that have been considered to be outside the normal expectations of the deprived minorities. Unless of of course if that excludes attorney general Gonzalez and supreme court justice Thomas,who are castigated because they do not follow the leanings of the mainstream press and progressive ideology that they and the democratic party follow. If the obama,s socialist experiment fails it will have a catastrophic impact on the fortunes of the democratic party ,but i hope also some blame ,which there will be plenty to go around ,falls on the compliant press,who have capitulated their reputations and integrity when they comply with this double standard.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

[...] Wait, so Albert Gonzales agrees with Eric Holder? This is me doing the Jon Stewart headshake thing. (Front Row Washington) [...]

@brian lee:Please tell us what Obama is doing that is “socialist”.And while you’re thinking on that, I was wondering what you thought of this really cool Internet dohickey on which you are so bravely expressing your opinion? Are you comfortable using it, seeing as how it was originally financed by the US government and all?

Posted by jvill | Report as abusive

jvill, everything.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive