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11 November 2004. One of the Eyeball series.

Maps from Mapquest
Aerial photos from Terraserver-USA and USGS Seamless.

New York Times, November 11, 2004

Bush Nominates His Top Counsel for Justice Post


BORN Aug. 4, 1955, San Antonio.
EDUCATION MacArthur High School, Houston; Air Force Academy, two years; B.A., Rice University; J.D., Harvard Law School.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Air Force, 1973-1975; lawyer, Vinson & Elkins, 1982-1995; general counsel to Gov. George Bush of Texas , 1995-1997; Texas secretary of state, 1997-1999; justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1999-2000; counsel to the president, 2001-present.
FAMILY Married to Rebecca Turner Gonzales; three sons. Previous Wife: Diane Clemens (div. 1985)

HOBBIES Racquetball and golf.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - President Bush on Wednesday nominated Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel and a longtime political loyalist, to be his next attorney general.

The speed with which Mr. Bush acted, only a day after making public the resignation of John Ashcroft, indicated that the president wants to get his new appointees in place before the start of his second term, 10 weeks from now. The nomination of Mr. Gonzales would also put one of his most trusted aides in a post where past presidents have wanted to have a confidant, as well as someone who can help defend the White House, much as John F. Kennedy chose his brother Robert, or Ronald Reagan chose Edwin Meese III.

Mr. Bush said of Mr. Gonzales in a brief announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House: "His sharp intellect and sound judgment have helped shape our policies on the war on terror, policies designed to protect the security of all Americans while protecting the rights of all Americans. He is a calm and steady voice at times of crisis."

If confirmed, Mr. Gonzales will be the first Hispanic ever to serve as the nation's most senior law enforcement officer.

The choice was immediately embraced by Senate Republicans, who promised speedy action on the nominee. But Senate Democrats appear eager to question Mr. Gonzales, who is considered more conservative than several other leading candidates for the attorney general's job. Issues almost certain to come up in his confirmation hearings include his stances on terrorism and civil liberties; the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay; the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, passed in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks; abortion; the death penalty; and other potentially contentious issues.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a leading Democrat on law enforcement and judicial issues, said he was "concerned about aspects of his record as White House counsel that raise doubts about his commitment to the rule of law."

Even before the announcement, civil liberties and human rights groups began recirculating copies of drafts of memorandums Mr. Gonzales or his aides wrote, including one from January 2002, advising Mr. Bush that the "nature of the new war" on terror "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

Many civil rights groups on Wednesday were quick to attack Mr. Gonzales for what they saw as legal policies and opinions that opened the door to the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Critics of Mr. Gonzales argue that such logic put military and intelligence officials on the path to the abuses at Abu Ghraib, even though the White House had previously insisted that the Geneva conventions applied to detainees. Mr. Gonzales has denied a link between those memorandums and the abuses. Yet the issue seems bound to be explored, and Anthony Romero, head of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the 2002 memorandum "will be the single toughest issue for him, because there's actually a paper trail."

Mr. Bush spoke emotionally of Mr. Gonzales's background as the son of migrant workers, and of his confidence in an old friend who has been at his side since 1995, when Mr. Gonzales came to the Texas state house to help the newly elected governor as his top legal counselor. At the White House, the nominee is known as "Judge Gonzales" in the White House because of his post on the Texas Supreme Court before coming to Washington with Mr. Bush four years ago.

While the selection of Mr. Gonzales as attorney general may create a public fight, some Senate Democrats said they might want to save their heavy ammunition for what is expected to be a battle over possible Supreme Court nominees rather than expending it on what is likely to be a losing cause for attorney general.

For months, there has been speculation in Washington that Mr. Gonzales would be selected to fill any vacancy on the Supreme Court. White House officials said he preferred the attorney general's job, and Republicans close to the White House said there was no reason he might not be nominated to the court later in Mr. Bush's term.

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Staff List
ph (202) 682-5681/5480 fax (202) 682-5682 Room 528
Rebecca Turner Gonzales Director 682-5681


Alberto R. Gonzales