GONZALES STILL FEELING SORRY FOR HIMSELF…. Disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who sought a legal job in D.C. but couldn’t find a firm which would hire him, is leaving the capital for a teaching gig at Texas Tech. He spoke to the NYT‘s Deborah Solomon on his way out.
Some 70 professors at Texas Tech have signed a petition that protests your appointment and cites your “ethical failings,” including misleading Congress about the firing of nine federal prosecutors. What will you tell your students about that?
All the inspector-general investigations, they’re now over with. They found that I had not engaged in any criminal wrongdoing.
Isn’t there still an ongoing investigation by a special prosecutor who was appointed last year to look into the removal of the attorneys?
I wish I could comment on that, but because it’s an ongoing investigation, I cannot.
Would you agree that your reputation was damaged by your service as attorney general?
It has had an effect, a negative effect, no question about it, and at times it makes me angry because it is undeserved. But I don’t want to sound like I am whining. At the end of the day, I’ve been the attorney general of the United States. It’s a remarkable privilege, and I stand behind my service.
I see things a little differently. Gonzales left the Justice Department humiliated, but I tend to think his reputation hasn’t suffered nearly enough. His sullied reputation is “undeserved“? This makes him “angry”?
What’s angering is Gonzales’ work politicizing federal law enforcement and the list of scandals he found himself in the middle of. His memory has proven faulty before, but I seem to recall the U.S. Attorney purge scandal, Gonzales signing torture memos, his conduct in John Ashcroft’s hospital room, his oversight of a Justice Department that was engaged in widespread employment discrimination, and his gutting of the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division. Gonzales was even investigated by the department’s Inspector General on allegations of perjury and obstruction.
On warrantless-searches, the Military Commissions Act, policy on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and the Geneva Conventions, Gonzales was a disaster. On managing the Justice Department, he filled his staff with Pat Robertson acolytes, feigned ignorance while structural disasters unfolded, and showed shocking tolerance for corruption and politicization of a department that, for the benefit of the nation and the rule of law, needed to maintain independence.
Andrew Cohen, the editor and chief legal analyst for CBS News, wrote a primer awhile back that Gonzales may want to reference to help refresh his memory.
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).
If anything, Gonzales’ reputation hasn’t suffered enough. Unlike the nation he served, Gonzales has nothing to be “angry” about.