Today in Texas History – February 3

From the Annals of Incompetence – In 2005, former Texas State Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general. The 60-36 vote was largely along party-lines, reflecting a divide between Republicans and Democrats over whether Gonzales’ role in propping up George W. Bush’s illegal counterterrorism policies had led to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere.  In his post as White House Counsel, Gonzales had written several memos that supported use of torture in the so-called War on Terror.  Gonzales provided cover for CIA agents who were already engaging in universally condemned acts of torture.

After taking office, controversy over Gonzales’ actions quickly surfaced.  He fired several prominent and well-respected U.S. attorneys and defended Bush’s domestic surveillance measures which were in fact a program of wide-scale unauthorized eavesdropping.  The unsupportable firings became the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007.  Gonzales was caught in several lies in his Senate testimony and it had become all too apparent that he was in way over his head as attorney general.  He was almost completely ignorant about the right of habeas corpus claiming that it was not in the constitution and his  Senate testimony was widely viewed as a public embarrassment.  Democrats and Republicans began calling for his resignation and for more investigations, but President Bush defended his appointee, saying that Gonzales was “an honest, honorable man in whom I have confidence.” That was the kiss of death and Gonzales resigned in September of 2007.  Gonzales now teaches at the Belmont University School of Law in Nashville.

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