Friday, January 02, 2009
Alberto "I Don't Recall" Gonzales decided he remembers enough to write a book. This Douchebag should be in Jail.
December 31st, 2008 2:38 pm
Gonzales Defends Role in Antiterror Policies
By Evan Perez / Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON -- Alberto Gonzales, who has kept a low profile since resigning as attorney general nearly 16 months ago, said he is writing a book to set the record straight about his controversial tenure as a senior official in the Bush administration.
Mr. Gonzales has been portrayed by critics both as unqualified for his position and instrumental in laying the groundwork for the administration's "war on terror." He was pilloried by Congress in a manner not usually directed toward cabinet officials.
"What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" he said during an interview Tuesday, offering his most extensive comments since leaving government.
During a lunch meeting two blocks from the White House, where he served under his longtime friend, President George W. Bush, Mr. Gonzales said that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."
His political problems started with the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, which grew into a firestorm that Mr. Gonzales said he never saw coming. In November of that year, Democrats had taken control of Congress and the power to conduct investigations of Bush administration policies.
His previous role of White House counsel put Mr. Gonzales at the heart of the administration's decision-making on issues relating to terrorism, making him an easier target than the president. Critics also said he allowed the Justice Department to become politicized through its hiring practices and prosecutions, favoring Republicans for plum positions and targeting Democrats for prosecution.
Mr. Gonzales fueled the fire by giving evasive answers to Congress, frequently responding "I don't recall."
Among other things, Mr. Gonzales said Tuesday that he didn't play a central role in drafting the widely criticized legal opinions that allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to use aggressive interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects and expanded the president's power to hold "unlawful combatants" and terrorism suspects indefinitely. He also said he told the truth to Congress about a classified eavesdropping program authorized by the president, and admitted to making mistakes in handling the U.S. attorney firings while maintaining that he made the right decisions. He says that while he bears responsibility as former Attorney General that "doesn't absolve other individuals of responsibility."
Mr. Gonzales, 53 years old, doesn't have a publisher for his book. He said he is writing it if only "for my sons, so at least they know the story."
The chapters on the Bush administration's surveillance program, which involved eavesdropping without court warrants, and other controversial aspects of his work, remain blank. That is in part because he remains under investigation regarding allegations of political meddling at the Justice Department.
The Harvard Law School graduate, onetime corporate lawyer and Texas judge also hasn't been able to land a job. He has delivered a few paid speeches, done some mediation work and plans to do some arbitration, but said law firms have been "skittish" about hiring him.
The biggest blow to Mr. Gonzales came during Senate testimony by James Comey, former deputy attorney general, who recounted dramatic details of a 2004 confrontation at the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Mr. Comey had refused to sign a reauthorization of a secret government program, believed to be the eavesdropping initiative. Mr. Gonzales and Andrew Card, White House chief of staff at the time, drove to the hospital where Mr. Ashcroft was recovering from surgery to instead seek approval from him. Mr. Comey drove to the hospital to stop them. The episode highlighted a dispute between Justice and the White House over the surveillance program's legality.
In Tuesday's interview, Mr. Gonzales said Mr. Comey's characterization of the dispute was "one-sided and didn't have the right context," and gave the impression that he and Mr. Card were attempting to take advantage of Mr. Ashcroft. "I found Ashcroft as lucid as I've seen him at meetings in the White House," he said.
Mr. Gonzales was at a meeting in San Antonio the day of Mr. Comey's surprise testimony. "He didn't have the decency to notify anyone what he was about to testify," he said. "That was extremely disappointing." Mr. Comey declined to comment.
Mr. Gonzales also downplayed his role in formulating opinions that allowed the CIA to use aggressive interrogation methods, which included waterboarding. The memos have since been rescinded and replaced with opinions that explicitly call torture "abhorrent."
Mr. Gonzales said his role as White House counsel at the time was one among several administration lawyers who debated the opinions, but that in the end it was the Justice Department's call. John Yoo, the then-Justice official who had been assigned to draft the memos, had strong feelings and no one could have pressured him to write the memos a certain way, Mr. Gonzales said. Mr. Yoo didn't respond to a request for comment.
In one of his final acts before leaving office, Mr. Gonzales denied he was planning to quit, even though he had told the president of his intention to resign. Asked about the misleading comment Tuesday, he said: "At that point, I didn't care."