"Embattled Attorney General Resigns"
WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has
been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, announced
his resignation in Washington today, declaring that he had “lived the American dream” by being able to lead the Justice Department. Mr. Gonzales, who had
rebuffed calls for his resignation for months, submitted it to President Bush by
telephone on Friday, a senior administration official said. There had been rumblings over the weekend that Mr. Gonzales’s departure was imminent, although the White House sought to quell the rumors. Mr. Gonzales appeared cheerful and composed when he announced that he was stepping down effective Sept. 17. His very worst days on the job were “better than my father’s best days,” he said, alluding to his family’s hardscrabble past. “Thank you, and God bless America,” Mr. Gonzales said, exiting without responding to questions. In Waco, President Bush said he had accepted the resignation reluctantly. He praised his old friend as “a man of integrity, decency and principle” and complained of the “months of unfair treatment” that preceded the resignation. “It’s sad,” Mr. Bush said, asserting that Mr. Gonzales’s name had been “dragged through the mud for political reasons.”
Although one might feel compelled to laud President Bush's loyalty to a long-time friend like Gonzales, loyalty that masks unmitigated deceit and the possible illegality of Gonzales' actions is no virtue. Indeed, it once again shows Bush's unwillingness to place the interests of the American people - and the ideals set forth in the presidential oath of office - ahead of partisan politics. Bush's loyalty to Gonzales and the recently departed Rove only underscores the dangerous reality that this is an immoral president whose administration will have long-lasting negative consequences for the United States.
It's bad enough that the Bush cancer has eroded the government's ability to protect the physical well being of the people through agencies like the EPA and OSHA. However, it's altogether more frightening when one realizes that this White House has also diminished the possibility that citizens of the U.S. will receive fair treatment from a Justice Department that is clearly partisan and corrupt. Surveying the Gonzales empire in which partisan connections above - to the White House - and below - to members of Congress and state-level officials - tainted the historically independent stance of the Justice Department, one is reminded of the judicial systems crafted under the totalitarian states of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. At least in those countries, the central government didn't peddle the pretense that their judicial systems were apolitical or non-ideological. One understood that the judiciary was a tool of the state, wielded to enforce party discipline and silence popular opposition. Given time, the Bush-manipulated judiciary would do the same in the U.S.
With the departure of Gonzales, the Congress - and the Judiciary Committee specifically - should continue to pursue the truth, the President's ridiculous claims of unfair treatment notwithstanding. It's clear that Bush's understanding of "integrity, decency, and principle" is based on a very different set of rules from those one usually associates with the judiciary. If the White House continues to resist congressional inquiries, Bush officials should be held in contempt. Moreover, resignation should not shield Alberto Gonzales from further scrutiny. He should still be held accountable for his conduct and prompted to divulge information which might shed light on activities at the Justice Department during his tenure.