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November 10, 2004

Bush Picks Alberto Gonzales to Replace Ashcroft at Justice Dept.


Filed at 3:48 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush named White House counsel Alberto Gonzales as attorney general on Wednesday, picking the administration's most prominent Hispanic for a highly visible post in the war on terror.

``His sharp intellect and sound judgment have helped shape our policies in the war on terror,'' Bush said of the man who has served as the White House's top lawyer over the past four years.

In an announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Bush outlined Gonazles' personal story -- a boy who grew up in a family of eight children in a two-bedroom house in Texas -- and now is in line for a Cabinet post.

If confirmed by the Senate, the 49-year-old Texan would become the first Hispanic to hold the job as the nation's top law enforcement officer.

Even before the formal announcement, one Senate Democratic liberal welcomed the appointment of ``someone less polarizing'' to the position. ``We will have to review his record very carefully, but I can tell you already he's a better candidate than John Ashcroft,'' said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Ashcroft announced plans on Tuesday to step down.


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Al Gonzales was among the first named as those who would serve in the cabinet during George W. Bush's first term. As a Harvard graduate who has worked his way up through the legal ranks, he has been deeply involved with community activities and his professional peers. He has served as Director for Catholic Charities and Big Brothers and Sisters in Houston, Texas and has been honored for his efforts by various groups. Professionally he has been a law partner, General Counsel for George W. Bush during his first term as Governor, Secretary of State for Texas and Justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

He served at the side of President George W. Bush as White House Counsel, protecting the legal interests of the Office of the President.

Al Gonzales has been the highest hope for becoming the first Hispanic nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

After Bush's second term was confirmed, Attorney General Ashcroft resigned and Al Gonzales became the first Hispanic nominated for the position.

While his record has been impressive on behalf of the community and he has been endorsed by at least one major civil rights group, a larger issue may exist.

"In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
-Al Gonzales, January 25, 2002
DOJ Memo [PDF]

It's speculated that this type of legal thought led to higher ranks turning a blind eye to prison abused in Iraq. It's certain that this is the legal thought that repeatedly rescinds portions of the Geneva Convention whenever possible.

Hispanics frequently serve on the front lines disproportionately in war. The decision to lead the world in backing away from affording prisoners of war the rights under the Geneva Convention will have a direct impact when our soldiers our captured.

Furthermore, there are many cases where civilian rights are being drastically changed because of this logic. American citizen Jose Padilla has been detained since May of 2002. He was transferred to military custody and no trial is planned. He is being detained indefinitely. He is likely a criminal. He may even be a traitor. But the weak evidence should be tested in court. At least in America, and especially for Americans.

Meanwhile, John Walker Lindh, who was actually captured in the battlefields of Afghanistan received a quick trial and was sentenced to 20 years, less than some drug dealers.

Al Gonzales has a record of fighting for Hispanic interests and equality in general. But, equality in the workplace and public begin to have a diminished meaning when we have a better work environment, but now have to wonder how our enemy will treat us in the battlefields and whether or not our government will give us a trial if we are suspected of a crime.

We shouldn't have to choose between due process and a strong anti-discrimination candidate.

What do you think about the nomination? Discuss in our Forum

Al Gonzales

* 1955 - Born August 4, in San Antonio, Texas. He was raised in Houston with 7 brothers and sisters.
* 1973-1975 - Served in the US Air Force.
* 1975-1977 - Attended the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado
* 1979 - Recieved his B.A from Rice University in Houston, Texas
* 1982 - Juris doctor (law degree) from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
* 1982-1995 - Joined the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. as an associate -- eventually became partner.
* 1985-1991 - Director, Big Brothers and Sisters
* 1989-1993 - Director, Catholic Charities, Houston, Texas
* 1990-1991 - President, Houston Hispanic Bar Association
* 1990-1991 - President, Houston Hispanic Forum
* 1990 - Special Legal Counsel, Houston Host Committee, Summit of Industrialized Nations
* 1992 - Assistant Legal Counsel, Houston Host Committee, 1992 Republican National Convention
* 1991-1994 - Director, State Bar of Texas
* 1992-1993 - Chairman, Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Houston
* 1993-1994 - Director, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast
* 1993-1994 - President, Leadership Houston
* 1994 - Chair, Commission for District Decentralization of the Houston Independent School District
* 1995-1997 - General Counsel to Governor George W. Bush
* 1997-1999 - Secretary of State, State of Texas
* 1999-2000 - Justice, The Supreme Court of Texas
* 2000- - White House Counsel for George W. Bush
* 2004- - Nominated for Attorney General


* 1999 - Texas Leader, Leadership Houston
* 1999 - Latino Lawyer of the Year, Hispanic National Bar Association
* 1999 - 100 Most Influential Hispanics, Hispanic Business Magazine
* 1997 - Presidential Citation, State Bar of Texas - for addressing the basic legal needs of the indigent
* 1994 - One of Five Outstanding Young Texans, Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce
* 1994 - One of Five Outstanding Young Houstonians, Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce
* 1993 - Commitment to Leadership Award, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast
* 1992 - Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas, Texas Young Lawyers Association
* 1992 - Woodrow Seals Outstanding Young Lawyer, Houston Young Lawyers Association
* 1989 - Hispanic Salute, Houston Metro Ford Dealers and Ford Division, Ford Motor Company
* 1989 - President's Award, Houston Bar Association
Here's the take on this from the Human Rights Watch webpage.

U.S.: Attorney General Nominee Undermined Rights

Former White House Counsel Helped U.S. Circumvent International Legal Obligations

(New York, November 10, 2004)"”Alberto Gonzales is a poor choice for the top law enforcement post in the United States, Human Rights Watch said today. President George W. Bush today nominated Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general.

As White House counsel, Gonzales was the architect of the Bush administration's policy of placing detainees captured in the fight against terrorism beyond the protection of any law. That policy opened the door to brutality against detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay and unfair legal proceedings against them.

"The Attorney General should enforce the law," said Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch. "Gonzales has helped the president circumvent it. His record suggests that he would be more likely to defer to the President than to uphold basic rights."

As White House counsel, Gonzales is known to have done the following:

  • He drafted the original military commission order signed by President Bush on November 14, 2001, which would have allowed suspects apprehended in the global campaign against terrorism to be secretly charged, tried, and even executed without the most basic due process protections. This week a federal court halted military commissions because they violate the Geneva Conventions and fair-trial standards.

  • He provided the legal basis for President Bush's decision on February 7, 2002, claiming that, as the president, he has the constitutional authority to deny protections of the Geneva Conventions to persons picked up during the war in Afghanistan. In his January 25, 2002 memorandum, Gonzales argued that the Geneva Conventions protections"”including its "strict limitations on questioning enemy prisoners""”were rendered "obsolete" and "quaint" by the war on terror. Gonzales ignored the warnings of senior military officers that his position on the Geneva Conventions would undermine respect for law in the U.S. military.

  • He solicited the August 2002 torture memo from the Justice Department, which contended that the President has "commander-in-chief authority" to order torture and proposed potential legal defense for U.S. officials accused of torture. Gonzales has never publicly revealed his views about the memo.

"During confirmation hearings, Gonzales must account for the positions he took and the decisions he helped make as White House counsel," said Fellner.

Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. Senate to ask for all the memoranda and other documents drafted or approved by the Office of the White House Counsel regarding the interrogation and treatment of detainees in the fight against terrorism and legal proceedings against them. The White House has thus far refused to release a complete set of documents reflecting the development of its policies regarding terrorism suspects, including documents signed by Gonzales.
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Puleeze...whenever a racist, right-wing administration picks a person of is usually because of their contrarian views. Colin Powell is the only black who had the gonads to stand up at their convention, acknowledge that affirmative action helped him and helped blacks and that he is for it. I hope you had your VCR's running...because it will be a long time before a non-white republican stands up for their race or something that benefits it......
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 15, 2004
Contact: Michael Avery, NLG President,



Gonzales will continue Ashcroft policies that threaten constitutional democracy

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) announced that it opposes the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for the position of Attorney General.

The NLG condemned Gonzales for his approval of the torture of prisoners in memos he adopted as White House Counsel. The memos explained how American officials could escape legal liability for torture. Gonzales rejected the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to prisoners taken during the "war against terrorism," terming some of the Geneva provisions "quaint." The Guild said that Gonzales's contempt for accepted international law principles rendered him unfit to serve as the head of the Justice Department.

NLG President Michael Avery declared that, "The Constitution requires that the United States treat international treaties that it has signed as the supreme law of the land in the United States. It is the solemn obligation of the Attorney General to make sure that the United States complies with international law. It would be outrageous for the nation's top law enforcement officer to be contriving theories for American officials to avoid accountability for actions such as the torture of prisoners."

The Guild also said that it was deeply concerned by Gonzales's record in reviewing death penalty cases in Texas for then Governor Bush. An analysis of Gonzales's memos to the governor demonstrated that he repeatedly suppressed crucial facts that Bush should have considered in determining whether to grant clemency, such as "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence."

The Guild said that Gonzales's radical ideological positions were responsible for the right-wing litmus test that he employed to recommend judicial nominees to President Bush. Gonzales's participation in the drafting of the USA PATRIOT Act demonstrates that he will continue the Ashcroft policy of sacrificing civil liberties in the name of the "war on terror."

The Guild called upon the Democrats in the Senate to filibuster if necessary to block the Gonzales nomination. NLG President Michael Avery said, "The suggestion that has appeared in the media that Democrats may be afraid to oppose Gonzales because he is a Latino is offensive. If Gonzales were living in a Latin American country he would no doubt be a member of a repressive oligarchy. It would be wonderful to have a Latino Attorney General, but he or she should be someone who respects the rule of law."

The National Lawyers Guild is an association of attorneys, law students and legal workers dedicated to the proposition that human rights are more important than property rights.

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