Alberto Gonzales’s legal career at the White House and the Justice Department was a stain even for the Bush administration. Gonzales left office with a 28 percent approval rating, with over 40 percent of the country saying he should resign.
Yet, Gonzales is puzzled to this day why the public frowns upon his tenure in government. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gonzales asks, “What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?” He added, “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.”
Fortunately, we can offer Gonzales some help in figuring out what he did that was so “fundamentally wrong.” Some lowlights:
Approved torture: In 2002, Gonzales “raised no objections and, without consulting military and State Department experts in the laws of torture and war,” approved an infamous August 2002 memo giving CIA interrogators “legal blessings.” Gonzales witnessed an interrogation at Gitmo in 2002 and approved of “whatever needs to be done” to detainees.
Lied about warrantless wiretapping: Gonzaled lied to Congress multiple times about the Bush administration’s illegal wiretapping program, saying there wasn’t “any serious disagreement” about the program (there was).
Distorted pre-war intelligence: Last month, the House Oversight Committee revealed evidence showing that Gonzales lied to Congress in 2004 by claiming that the CIA “orally” approved Bush’s claim that Iraq sought uranium from Africa.
Furthermore, it appears Gonzales’s lying streak isn’t over. Gonzales told the WSJ that he didn’t play a central role in drafting the opinions allowing the CIA to use harsh interrogations. “John Yoo had strong views. No one could make him do anything he didn’t want to do,” he said. Gonzales also said he did not lie to Congress about the illegal surveillance program.
Gonzales also bizarrely claimed that he “found [John] Ashcroft as lucid as I’ve seen him at meetings in the White House,” referring to the infamous strong-arming of Ashcroft at his sickbed in 2002 in order to get approval of the illegal wiretapping program. In reality, Ashcroft had a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis and was a “very sick man,” according to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
Since his resignation, Gonzales has still been unable to find work. “Any law firm that does due diligence on me sees all the investigations and the possibility that I might be indicted and they say, ‘Not right now,’” he said.
Gonzales’s bewilderment is similar to that of Vice President Cheney, who recently said he doesn’t have “any idea” why he has such low approval ratings.