Thursday, March 15, 2007

Alberto Gonzales

Read about the life of the Mexican/American Top Cop in the United States. His job is to enforce the law - all laws that were legally passed under the guideline of the U.S. Constitution. It appears that he has violated all the laws that George W. Bush disagreed with. But the last allegation he approved, may be his last as the Attorney General of Bush's Law. If I had my way I would send Bush, Cheney and Gonzales back to Texas after they served 10 years in prison for distroying our country.

Alberto R. Gonzales (born August 4, 1955) is the 80th and current Attorney General of the United States. He formerly served under U.S. President George W. Bush as White House Counsel, and prior to that had been appointed by Bush to the Texas Supreme Court. He is currently under fire for the recent FBI infractions in improperly, and at times illegally, using the USA Patriot Act to secretly pry out personal information about Americans in terrorism investigations and the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys, which have allegedly been politically motivated.
Personal background
Gonzales was born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Humble, near Houston. He was the second of eight children born to Pablos and Maria Gonzales. His father, who died in 1982, was a construction worker. Both his parents were children of immigrants from Mexico with less than a high-school education themselves; in the midst of a national debate in the US about immigration from Mexico, Gonzales told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that no immigration documentation exists for three of his grandparents and they may have entered and resided in the United States illegally.

An honors student at MacArthur High School in Houston, Gonzales enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1973, for a four year hitch, serving for two years at Fort Yukon, Alaska before being accepted to the United States Air Force Academy in 1975. In 1977, he transferred to Rice University, where he was a member of Lovett College and earned a degree in political science in 1979; he never completed the remaining 2 years of his USAF obligation; he then earned a Juris Doctor (J.D) degree from Harvard Law School in 1982. He was the only one of his siblings to finish college. He has been married twice: he and his first wife, Diane Clemens, divorced in 1985; he and his second wife, Rebecca Turner Gonzales, have three sons.

Despite keeping a low profile about his religious affiliation, Gonzales has described himself as a Catholic.

Texas career
Gonzales was an attorney in private practice from 1982 until 1994 with the Houston law firm Vinson and Elkins, where he became a partner. In 1994, he was named general counsel to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, rising to become Texas Secretary of State in 1997 and finally to be named to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999, both appointments made by Governor Bush.

Outside of his political and legal career, Gonzales was active in the community. He was a board director of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast from 1993 to 1994, and President of Leadership Houston during this same period. In 1994, Gonzales served as Chair of the Commission for District Decentralization of the Houston Independent School District, and as a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions for Rice University. He was chosen as one of Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Jaycees in 1994. He was a member of delegations sent by the American Council of Young Political Leaders to Mexico in 1996 and to the People's Republic of China in 1995. He received the Presidential Citation from the State Bar of Texas in 1997 for his dedication to addressing basic legal needs of the indigent. In 1999, he was named Latino Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association.

As counsel to Governor Bush, Gonzales helped Bush be excused from jury duty when he was called in a 1996 Travis County drunk driving case. The case led to controversy during Bush's 2000 presidential campaign because Bush's answers to the potential juror questionnaire did not disclose Bush's own 1976 misdemeanor drunk driving conviction. Gonzales' formal request for Bush to be excused from jury duty hinged upon the fact that, as Governor of Texas, he might be called upon to pardon the accused in the case. Upon learning of the 1976 conviction, the prosecutor in the 1996 case (a Democrat) felt he had been "directly deceived". The defense attorney in the case called Gonzales' arguments "laughable".

As Governor Bush's counsel in Texas, Gonzales also reviewed all clemency requests. A 2003 article in The Atlantic Monthly asserts that Gonzales gave insufficient counsel, failed to take into consideration a wide array of factors, and actively worked against clemency in a number of borderline cases. (The state of Texas executed more prisoners during Gonzales' term, and still has more prisoners on death row, than any other state.)

War on Terror
The Executive Order 13233, drafted by Gonzales and issued by George W. Bush on November 1, 2001 shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, attempted to place limitations on the Freedom of Information Act by restricting access to the records of former presidents.

Gonzales authored a controversial memo in January of 2002 that explored whether Article III of the Geneva Convention even applied to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan and held in detention facilities around the world, including Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The memo made several arguments both for and against providing Article III protection to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. He concluded that Article III was outdated and ill-suited for dealing with captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. He described as "quaint" the provisions that require providing captured Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters "commissary privileges, scrip, athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments". He also argued that existing military regulations and instructions from the President were more than adequate to ensure that the principles of the Geneva Convention would be applied. He also argued that undefined language in the Geneva Convention, such as "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment", could make officials and military leaders subject to the War Crimes Act of 1996 if mistreatment was discovered.

In 2004, when this memo was leaked to the press, Gonzales said about the memo in Senate confirmation hearings that "... I don't recall today whether or not I was in agreement with all of the analysis, but I don't have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached by the department." This indicates that, despite the Bush administration's withdrawal from the memo, Gonzales still believes that the Justice Department was correct in its reasoning about torture.

Gonzales also authored the Presidential Order which authorized the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects. He fought with Congress to keep Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy task force documents from being reviewed. Gonzales was also an early advocate of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act. He is also accused of being involved in the decision to allow foreign combatants in U.S. custody to be deported to nations that allow torture, in order to extract further information from them; he denies that he has ever supported this measure.
On June 23, 2006 Gonzales, along with Deputy Director of the FBI John S. Pistole gave a high level press briefing involving the Miami bomb plot to attack the Sears Tower.

On November 14, 2006, invoking universal jurisdiction, legal proceedings were started in Germany for his alleged involvement under the command responsibility of prisoner abuse by writing the controversial legal opinions.

Attorney General nomination and confirmation
Gonzales' name was sometimes floated as a possible nominee to the United States Supreme Court during Bush's first presidential term. On November 10, 2004, it was announced that he would be nominated to replace United States Attorney General John Ashcroft for Bush's second term. Gonzales was once regarded as moderate compared to Ashcroft since, unlike many in the Bush administration, he did not oppose abortion or affirmative action.

These controversies were the grounds for a strong degree of opposition to Gonzales that started during his Senate confirmation proceedings at the beginning of President Bush's second term. The New York Times quoted anonymous Republican officials as saying that Gonzales's appointment to Attorney General was a way to "bolster Mr. Gonzales's credentials" en route to a later Supreme Court appointment.

The appointment to Attorney General, in a maneuver designed by Karl Rove, would "get out of the way" the above controversies and allow Gonzales to demonstrate his positions on issues such as affirmative action and abortion. Others believe that Bush chose him as Attorney General because the pro-life base of the party would never allow a pro-choice Republican to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Gonzales was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 60-36 on February 3, 2005. He was sworn in on February 14, 2005, becoming the highest-placed Hispanic ever in the U.S. Government.
Possible Supreme Court nomination

O'Connor vacancy
Shortly before the July 1, 2005 retirement of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sandra Day O'Connor, rumors started circulating that a memo had leaked from the White House stating that upon the retirement of either O'Connor or Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist, that Gonzales would be the first Bush nominee for a vacancy on the Court.

Quickly, conservative stalwarts such as National Review magazine and Focus on the Family, among other socially conservative groups, stated they would oppose a Gonzales nomination.

Much of their opposition to Gonzales was based on his perceived support of abortion rights; typically, they cited his place in the majority opinions of various Texas Supreme Court rulings in a series of In re Jane Doe cases from 2000 that ordered lower courts to reconsider minor women's requests for a "judicial bypass" provided in a provision of Texas' parental notification law, and in one case (43 Tex. Sup. J. 910), granted the bypass that allowed the girl to obtain an abortion without notifying her parents. Gonzales wrote concurring opinions in two of these cases: In re Jane Doe 3 (43 Tex. Sup. J. 508) and In re Jane Doe 5 (43 Tex. Sup. J. 910). For In re Jane Doe 3 he concurred, on the legal grounds that the lower court had issued its ruling only one business day after the Texas Supreme Court had issued guidance on what the applicant for a judicial bypass must prove, with the differently reasoned majority opinion to remand the case to the lower courts.

For In re Jane Doe 5 his concurring opinion began with the sentence, "I fully join in the Court's judgment and opinion." He went on, though, to address the three dissenting opinions, primarily one by Nathan L. Hecht alleging that the court majority's members had disregarded legislative intent in favor of their personal ideologies. Gonzales's opinion dealt mostly with how to establish legislative intent. He wrote, "We take the words of the statute as the surest guide to legislative intent. Once we discern the Legislature's intent we must put it into effect, even if we ourselves might have made different policy choices." He added, "[T]o construe the Parental Notification Act so narrowly as to eliminate bypasses, or to create hurdles that simply are not to be found in the words of the statute, would be an unconscionable act of judicial activism" and "While the ramifications of such a law and the results of the Court's decision here may be personally troubling to me as a parent, it is my obligation as a judge to impartially apply the laws of this state without imposing my moral view on the decisions of the Legislature."

Political commentators had suggested that Bush forecast the selection of Gonzales with his comments defending the Attorney General made on July 6, 2005 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bush stated, "I don't like it when a friend gets criticized. I'm loyal to my friends. All of a sudden this fellow, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire. And so, do I like it? No, I don't like it, at all." However, this speculation proved to be incorrect, as Bush nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Rehnquist vacancy
After the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist on September 3, 2005, creating another vacancy, speculation resumed that President Bush might nominate Gonzales to the Court. This again proved to be incorrect, as Bush decided to nominate Roberts to the Chief Justice position, and on October 3, 2005, nominated Harriet Miers as Associate Justice, to replace Justice O'Connor. On October 27, 2005, Miers withdrew her nomination, again renewing speculation about a possible Gonzales nomination. This was laid to rest when Judge Samuel Alito received the nomination and subsequent confirmation.
U.S. Attorneys 2006 Dismissial controversy

On December 7 2006, eight United States Attorneys were notified by the United States Department of Justice that they were being dismissed, after the George W. Bush administration made the determination to seek their resignations. Critics claimed the dismissals were either motivated by desire to install attorneys more loyal to the Republican party or as retribution for actions or inactions damaging to the Republican party. At least six of the eight had positive internal Justice Department performance reports. There were various hearings and testimony offered in January though March. The firestorm increased upon the release of emails by Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson, which showed extensive communication between Sampson and White House Administration official Harriet Miers. Sampson resigned, but the emails also showed that a number of statements from the Dept of Justice, including statements made by Gonzales himself, were inaccurate. But Gonzales also admitted that Justice Department officials had misled Congress. According to the Attorney General, "incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to Congress."
Several senators have publicly said Gonzales should resign, among them John Sununu (R-NH) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY).