I’m a big fan of Al’s . . . I think Al has done a good job under difficult circumstances. The debate between he and the Senate is something they’re going to have to resolve. But I think he has testified truthfully.
â€” Vice President Dick Cheney during a July 30 interview with CBS Radio.
It is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.
â€” Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales during his January 2005 confirmation hearings when asked whether the Bush administration would ever allow wiretapping of American citizens without warrants.
… I will vote to confirm. I understand the frustration of members of the Judiciary Committee about some of the answers â€” many of the answers that Judge Gonzales gave at the hearing. Some of them were evasive, some were legalistic, but that wouldn’t be the first time that a witness before a committee had proceeded in that particular way, particularly one who has privileges that he occupies and lives under as Counsel to the President of the United States.
â€” from Feb. 3, 2005 remarks by Sen. Joseph Lieberman announcing his intent to vote to confirm Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general.
We are a nation at war – a war in Iraq and a war against terrorism war does not give our civilian leaders the authority to cast aside the laws of armed conflict, nor does it allow our Commander in Chief to decide which laws apply and which laws do not apply. To do so puts, I repeat, our own soldiers and our Nation at risk. But that is what has occurred under the direction and coordination of the man seeking to be Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, a man I personally like, but whose judgment on these very serious matters was flawed and is flawed.
â€” from Feb. 3, 2005, remarks by Sen. Harry Reid announcing his intent to vote against confirming Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general.
I am busting with pride over the incredible odyssey of Alberto Gonzales. Now that he has become the nation’s first Latino attorney general, Gonzales has earned his place in the history books and, no doubt, in the hearts of millions of Latinos. But, given everything I heard during his confirmation, I’m also concerned. That’s because, for me, the most important job of any government lawyer is the protection of individuals’ civil rights and civil liberties. Given that Gonzales â€“ in his written responses to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee â€“ asserted that the United States has the right to hold people indefinitely without charging them of a crime and transport them to countries that practice torture, it doesn’t appear that the new attorney general agrees with me.
â€” from a Feb. 9, 2005, column by Ruben Navarrette Jr. of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.
â€” Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on the possibility of prosecuting journalists, telling the Associated Press on May 5, 2006, that the Bush administration would not hesitate to track telephone calls made by reporters as part of a criminal-leak investigation.
I can’t imagine a bigger chill on free speech and the public’s right to know what it’s government is up to â€” both hallmarks of a democracy â€” than prosecuting reporters.
â€” Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, May 5, 2006, in response to the attorney general’s assertion.
You have a right to know what is going on in government. But we also believe such rights are not absolute.
â€” Then-White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales in remarks about reporters’ access to government records to the 2002 convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors as reported by Editor & Publisher‘s Joe Strupp.
The government is releasing an extraordinary set of documents today, and this should not be viewed as setting any kind of precedent. But we felt it important to set the record straight. Additional documents may be withheld in the future for national security and other reasons.
â€” Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at a June 23, 2005, discussing the release of “hundreds of pages of documents detailing the administration’s debates and decisions about the use of torture.”
We continue to believe that the president has the inherent authority, under the Constitution’s commander in chief, to engage in this kind of conduct. But that’s a secondary argument. We believe the Congress has authorized this kind of conduct.
And we understand the concern that have been raised by certain members of Congress. As the president indicated on Saturday, we have reached certain key members of Congress from the beginning of this program about what we’re doing and the justifications for what we’re doing.
And we didn’t brief other members of Congress because of the importance of keeping this program classified as much as possible. We will, in the days to come, sit down with members of Congress and try to provide information to reassure them that the president of the United States is utilizing these tools in a lawful manner, in a way that ensures that the civil liberties of all Americans are protected.
â€” from a Dec. 19, 2005, CNN interview with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Sean, from Michigan writes:
I Want to get this national spying probelm straight. At that time the N.S.A was spying on known terrorist connections making international calls. it was not by any means affecting the typical american right? [sic]
Sean, thanks for your question. I’m glad you asked this question — it is a very important question about an issue that has a lot of people confused, in part because of incomplete or inaccurate media reports. First, let me be very clear — the terrorist surveillance program described by the President is focused solely on international communications where professional intelligence experts have reason to believe that at least one party is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist group. As this description demonstrates, the terrorist surveillance program described by the President is very narrow. Because it is focused on international calls of individuals linked to al Qaeda, it is overwhelmingly unlikely that the terrorist surveillance program would ever affect an ordinary American. And if this ever were to happen, the information would be destroyed as quickly as possible. The President authorized this program specifically to protect ordinary Americans from the type of outrageous attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, and you can rest assured that the federal government is fully committed to protecting you and other Americans – both your safety and your civil liberties.
â€” Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales during a Jan. 25, 2006, exchange on the “Ask the White House” Web site.
[W]e conclude that a government defendant may also argue that his conduct of an interrogation, if properly authorized, is justified on the basis of protecting the nation from attack.
â€” from an Aug. 1, 2002, memorandum prepared for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee.
The Attorney General may communicate directly with the President, Vice President, their Chiefs of Staff, Counsel to the President or Vice President, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Adviser, or the head of any office within the [Executive Office of the President] regarding any matter within the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.
â€” from a May 4, 2006, memo signed by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales authorizing Vice President Dick Cheney, “his chief of staff and his attorney to enter into direct discussions with Gonzales ‘regarding any matter within the Justice Department.’”
xpost: 5th Estate