The Legacy of Alberto Gonzales: "I solemnly swear to tell the truth as I know it, the whole truth as I believe it to be, and nothing but what I think you need to know... and pardon (pun intended) me for my faulty memory."
Now that Alberto Gonzales, the 80th Attorney General of the United States and the first Hispanic to serve in the position, has resigned, it is time to put a portion of his career in perspective. Of course, in the final analysis, history will be the judge of whether or not he served the Presidency over the People of the United States.
His basic legacy is sure to be a new vagueness and lack of accountability in government officials when testifying before government investigators about their actions in the performance of their sworn duties.
He's not that dumb...
Always a superb student, Gonzales started along a pathway to public service sporting a degree from the prestigious Harvard Law School. In fact, the only anomaly in his background was that he left the United States Air Force Academy prior to the start of his third year, which would have resulted in additional military obligations, to pursue further political science studies at Rice University and culminating in obtaining his Harvard Law Degree ... and then on to a fateful association with George Bush.
...until he is around the President, to whom he defers as is the custom of serving the Presidency.
There is no doubt that Gonzales is definitely a major Bush buddy and supporter. In 1994, he served as general counsel to then-Texas Governor George W. Bush and was later appointed by the Governor to a position as Texas' 100th Secretary of State of Texas in 1997. He was then appointed by Governor Bush to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999.
All-in-all, Gonzales seemed a decent fellow to most non-politicians when he assumed the role of United States Attorney General on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2005.
While it is pure speculation on my part, I believe that Gonzales was over his head: conflicted by his personal loyalty to the President and his political entourage and the need to perform his duties in a fair, just, non-political manner that benefited the United States; even over the wants and needs of the President who had appointed him.
Had things worked out for Gonzales, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have been nominated by President for the next Supreme Court vacancy.
However, along the way, a number of official decisions in favor of the President over the People of the United States seems to have led to his undoing.
Executive Order 13233, placing limitations on the Freedom of Information Act in regards to restricting access to the records of former presidents. Many thought that this was done as a favor to now-Bush family friend Bill Clinton while others saw it as the beginning of the consolidation of the power inherent in the Office of the Presidency. [Even to this day, Senator Jon Kyl is engaged in a secret Senate process that is holding up a more responsive Freedom of Information Act legislation for reasons he declines to specify.]
Then came several interpretations of the Geneva Convention which were roundly criticized by human rights activists and others even though it only pertained to Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan and were being held in detention facilities around the world.
Other unseemly decisions involved the use of the Patriot Act and inadvertent and unauthorized spying on American citizens and Gonzales' involvement with the messy firing of U.S. Attorneys for what appeared to be purely political reasons.
Gonzales also allowed the Scooter Libby case to spin way out of control, especially when the Justice Department "knew or should have known that no crime had been committed by Libby and that the special prosecutor continued to pursue the matter even after the prosecutor knew who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press. Caught in an apparent contradiction in testimony, Libby was convicted and sentenced to serve time in prison. The President, upon the urging of many ranking politicians, granted Libby clemency rather than the full pardon he deserves.
However, the final straw was reached with Gonzales' apparent inability to recall his actions and opinions when testifying before Congress which lead to calls, by both Democrats and Republicans for his resignation -- with some calling for his prosecution for allegedly lying to Congress as well.
Considering what happened to Scooter Libby in the process of providing sworn testimony, it appears that the legacy of Alberto Gonzales will be a less forthright and honest government where normally smart people with an encyclopedic knowledge of their subject matter become hopeless amnesiacs unable to recall even the simplest of facts or recount what may have been said at meetings.
In the process of strengthening the Presidency, George Bush, along with Alberto Gonzales and others, may have actually introduced an extreme degree of public mistrust in the Office of the President where legislative signing statements, proclaiming that the Administration was exempt from legislation passed by Congress, was the order of the day.
In the final analysis, it appears that Gonzales provided what the President wanted, when he wanted it ... and in the process, sacrificed his professional integrity on the altar of politics.
What can YOU do?
Examine carefully the personal and political associates of candidates for office -- especially if there are a number of high-visibility and high-paying patronage positions to be filled.
Demand that the next Administration de-politicalize Agencies such as the Department of Justice, the IRS, and others which can be used against ordinary citizens for political purposes. Safeguards to insure that the "right" thing is done over the politically expedient thing.
Contact your Senators whenever an apparently flawed or unqualified appointee must be confirmed to a high position.
Avoid the temptation to demonize Alberto Gonzales in the coming election cycle. According to what I can observe, he acted much in the same manner as Janet Reno as she served co-Presidents Bill and Hillary Clinton.
A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…
The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius
Reference: More information on Alberto Gonzales can be found here at Wikipedia.
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell