Tales from the Trail

Gonzales wishes Bush admin had gotten to bin Laden first

Andrew Longstreth in New York interviewed the former Attorney General.

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he was grateful for the killing of Osama bin Laden even if he would have preferred it to have happened under the Bush administration.

“It was an important day,” Gonzales told Reuters on Wednesday. “We worked very hard to make this come about. I wished it happened under the Bush administration. But I’m grateful it happened when it did.”

Before Gonzales became attorney general, he served as White House counsel. In that position, he ordered a legal memo that was used to justify harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects.

While Gonzales declined to weigh in on the effectiveness of such techniques and said he had no idea whether they helped commandos to find and kill bin Laden, he insisted they were legal and that was paramount to former President George Bush.

“What mattered to him was that they were lawful,” Gonzales said. “If he had been told they were unlawful, it wouldn’t have mattered whether they were effective or not.”

Former AG Gonzales: what I really meant to say was…

USA-GONZALES/Say what?

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales threw folks for another loop on Thursday by saying he doesn’t really support further investigation of CIA prisoner abuses after all.

That was after the earlier loop when he said he did not see a problem with investigating interrogation methods that ran over set boundaries.

He explained in a second interview with the Washington Times that what he really meant in his first interview was that he doesn’t really back the decision last week by current Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a review.

Ex-Attorney General Gonzales backs CIA prison abuse probe

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been under fire in some circles for naming a special prosecutor to investigate alleged abuses of prisoners by CIA interrogators or contractors, but on Tuesday he got some unexpected support from a former Bush administration official.

USA-MEXICO/DRUGSFormer Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who oversaw the Justice Department or was White House counsel during the period when some of the controversial interrogation techniques were authorized — such as lengthy sleep deprivation and repeated waterboarding – in a radio interview backed Holder’s decision to review the cases that went outside the limits set.

“We worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters about how to deal with terrorists,” Gonzales said in an interview with The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show.

Where former Attorney General Gonzales is now….

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