SOMEONE GOT TO ALBERTO…. It was a pleasant surprise earlier this week when former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signaled his support for the Justice Department’ investigation of alleged CIA interrogation abuses.

“We worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters about how to deal with terrorists,” Gonzales said. “And if people go beyond that, I think it is legitimate to question and examine that conduct to ensure people are held accountable for their actions, even if it’s action in prosecuting the war on terror.”

Apparently, when Gonzales said “legitimate,” he didn’t mean “legitimate.”

Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said Thursday that his previous assertion that it was “legitimate to question and examine” charges of CIA abuses of suspected terrorists did not mean he endorsed such an investigation.

“Contrary to press reporting and based on the information that’s available to me,” Mr. Gonzales said during an interview Thursday with The Washington Times, “I don’t support the investigation by the department because this is a matter that has already been reviewed thoroughly and because I believe that another investigation is going to harm our intelligence gathering capabilities and that’s a concern that’s shared by career intelligence officials and so for those reasons I respectfully disagree with the decision.”

On Monday, Mr. Gonzales told The Washington Times radio program that he understood Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr.’s inquiry would look at “the 1 percent of actors who went beyond the legal limits prescribed by the lawyers at the Department of Justice.”

And as Zachary Roth noted, Gonzales “spent a portion of the rest of the interview twisting himself into knots to explain why his new position isn’t really a contradiction of his old one.”

You don’t suppose Gonzales accidentally said what was on his mind on Monday, but was quickly told he had to change his mind, do you?

And to think, this disgraced former Bush administration official struggled to find a job in the legal profession. Imagine that.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.