Today marked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ final day in office. Several top Justice Department and Bush administration officials gathered this afternoon at the Great Hall in the Department of Justice to bid the Attorney General a fond farewell. Senior Justice officials heaped unabashed praise on Gonzales.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury:
“[H]undreds of innocent human beings have been freed from an unimagineable hell on Earth.”
Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein:
“He gave us the authority to conduct comprehensive oversight on all aspects of national security investigation.”
United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas Johnny Sutton:
“When he got to the part about protecting children, his eyes would light up.”
When it came for Gonzales’ time to speak, his voiced “crack[ed] with emotion” as he proclaimed his “highest regard and admiration for the employees of the department.” Watch highlights from the ceremony:
Gonzales leaves his post with an approval rating of 28 percent. The Washington Post reported today, “It will be the first time in more than a decade that Gonzales will not be serving his friend and longtime patron, President Bush.”
STEVEN BRADBURY: This is a surely a momentous day.
KATHLEEN CARD: Would you go to the Lord in prayer with me? Eternal God, we come to you from many faith traditions…and we are especially thankful for your humble servant, Alberto Gonzales.
BRADBURY: His leadership has been like a gentle but firm hand on the tiller.
JOHNNY SUTTON: When he would visit my office, he would speak not for very long, but with a great deal of passion about those priorities. But when he got to the part about protecting children, his eyes would light up.
BRADBURY: As a result of the department’s efforts under this Attorney General, hundreds of innocent human beings have been freed from an unimagineable hell on Earth.
KENNETH WAINSTEIN: And that is why he gave us the authority to conduct comprehensive oversight on all aspects of national security investigation.
SUTTON: And I had the honor of working with him pretty closely. I was three doors down for several years. And I got to see him up close.
WAINSTEIN: The Attorney General is a good man. Simply that. He is a good man.
KAREN TANDY: If you filled the stadium at FedEx Field, which happens to be the largest football stadium in the NFL, if you filled that will all of the teenagers who are no longer using drugs, you’d have to fill that stadium nine times. Empty it, and refill it.
ALBERTO GONZALES: And to all of you, please know that I leave today with the highest regard and admiration for the employees of the department.