Stormy Monday In Washington D.C.
This should have happened a long time ago. When Robert Novak mentioned a few weeks ago that more top Bush administration officials would be leaving I thought that was code for Alberto.
I hope he doesn't believe that the Congressional investigations will stop. In fact, they will get more interesting.
Breaking Story Below From the New York Times
WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.
Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not announced immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.
Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the resignation had not yet been made public.
Mr. Bush had repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department, over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.
Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had had stonewalled or misled a congressional inquiry. "We’re watching a political exercise," Mr. Bush said. "I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong."
Mr. Gonzales’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Karl Rove, another of Mr. Bush’s close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.
The official who disclosed the resignation today said that the decision was Mr. Gonzales’s and that the president accepted it grudgingly. At the same time, the official acknowledged that the turmoil over Mr. Gonzales had made his continuing as attorney general difficult.
"The unfair treatment that he’s been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department," the official said.
Unfair Treatment? I beg to differ...
More on the Gonzales Resignation
Resignation Letter Below
Commentary from the Washington Post
By Andrew Cohen
When historians look back upon the disastrous tenure of Alberto R. Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States they will ask not only why he merited the job in the first place but why he lasted in it as long as he did. By any reasonable standard, the Gonzales Era at the Justice Department is void of almost all redemptive qualities. He brought shame and disgrace to the Department because of his lack of independent judgment on some of the most vital legal issues of our time. And he brought chaos and confusion to the department because of his lack of respectable leadership over a cabinet-level department among the most important in the nation.
He neither served the longstanding role as "the people's attorney" nor fully met and tamed his duties and responsibilities to the Constitution. He was a man who got the job not because he was supremely qualified or notably well-respected among the leading legal lights of our time, but because he had faithfully and with blind obedience served President George W. Bush for years in Texas (where he botched clemency memos in death penalty cases) and then as White House counsel (where he botched the nation's legal policy on torture).
For an administration known for its cronyism, and alas for an alarmingly incompetent group of cronies, Gonzales was the granddaddy of them all. He lacked the integrity, the intellect and the independence to perform his duties in a manner befitting the job for which he was chosen. And when he and his colleagues got caught in the act, his rationales and explanations for the purge of the U.S. Attorneys were so empty and shallow and incoherent that even the staunchest Republicans could not turn them into steeled spin. Devoid of any credibility, Gonzales in the end was a sad joke when he came to Capitol Hill.
Even before the Justice Department was exposed under his reign as a politicized den of ideology, Gonzales' work as Attorney General was unacceptable and unworthy of high office. He defended the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program even though many conservative and liberal legal scholars alike considered it to be a violation of the law. He endorsed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which did away with important rights not just for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay but for legal aliens within the borders of the United States. Thus did Gonzales fail to exercise any sort of independent check and balance upon the White House's most controversial legal policies.
Meanwhile, according to the National Association of Police Chiefs and Sheriffs, big-city murder rates have risen by 10 percent over the past two years -- a period that coincides precisely with Gonzales' time as attorney general. The Federal Bureau of Investigation puts the violent crime increase at 3.7% for January-June 2006 and drug use (and production and sales) apparently are on the rise in the nation's heartland. And the Justice Department's record of terror-related prosecutions is a mixed one at best. Thus did Gonzales fail to succeed at the most fundamental task of chief law enforcement official -- to make crime less not more prevalent.
And all the while, Gonzales' Justice Department was crumbling from within, devastated by a cynical strategy of minimizing the role of career nonpartisan professionals within the Department in favor of young ideologues, mediocre attorneys and just plain party hacks. The U.S. Attorney scandal is just the most publicized example of this daring effort to make the Justice Department a house organ for the Bush administration. Less visible career attorneys were pushed out at the expense of rank partisans willing to toe the company line. Even the internship programs for law students were schooled to favor "right" thinking attorneys at the expense of others. One law school, founded by Pat Robertson and rated among the worst in the nation, became a feeder school for the Department. And it was all part of a plan.
If Gonzales knew this was occurring, and allowed it to unfold anyway, then he conspired to participate in one of the worst structural disasters in the history of the Justice Department. And if the Attorney General truly did not know this power game inside his Department was occurring, or why, or how, then surely it is because he did not want to know. See no evil. Hear no evil. Thus did Gonzales preside over the gutting of the Justice Department, turning it in the span of just a few years from a respected institution into a spectacle of rank intellectual corruption.
The pattern here is not hard to see. President Bush elevated to the position of Attorney General a friend and loyal supporter whose record in public office suggested even then that he would not be up to the job. And, in turn, Gonzales and his immediate subordinates elevated to the Department lower-level attorneys who by training and temperament were not likely to be up to their jobs -- or at least not as qualified as the professionals they were chosen to replace. The first bad choice begat a series of other bad choices and together they led us to the unhappy place we find ourselves today.
Because we all benefit from a Justice Department that is fair, impartial, nonpartisan and filled with the best and brightest legal professionals the nation has to offer, we all suffer when it falls short of those ideals. The Justice Department under Gonzales was a miserable failure -- it never even came close to those lofty goals -- and now, finally, it is gone. Good riddance to it.
More from Think Progress
The Moderate Voice Also Provides Some Early Commentary
Commentary from NPR
More from NY Times Blog
Timeline of Events in Gonzales' Tenure in The Bush Administration
Attention will now turn to his successor. Bush & Co. does not want to deal with another contentious confirmation process. As a way to avoid a confirmation fight, many believe that the White House will play it safe and choose someone familiar to the Senate. That person is said to be Michael Chertoff.
I'm not so sure that this would necessarily be a safe pick. Although he is familiar to the Senate, this also means that they are familiar with all of his faults. Hurricane Katrina comes to mind. However, I think that the Attorney Generals spot may be a better fit for Chertoff. His expertise is in Law, not emergency response or homeland security. Unless the Democrats are able to dig up skeletons in Chertoffs closet, I don't see any major problems with this likely choice.
However, if the White House chooses to pick someone from the outside to take the job, expect a fight in the Senate. If Bush & Co. follows their normal pattern of choosing divisive figures.... people who are on the fringes in terms of their philosophy, then it will only create more trouble for the Republicans.
The more interesting question in all of this might be - if Chertoff is moved into the position, who will replace Chertoff?
And we must not be lulled into believing that all is o.k. now with Gonzales. The Democrats have already announced that they have no intentions of letting up on Gonzales and the others who have been involved in all sorts of dishonorable and likely illegal activities, particularly regarding the firings of the 8 U.S. Attorneys earlier this year. There are too many issues that point to illegal behavior and, at the least, abuse of power in the case of the fired attorneys.