Miami Herald: Impeach Gonzales
Miani Herald
July 26, 2007

There was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales once again this week, sitting under the glare of lights and mouthing anything but straight answers to legitimate questions about his Justice Department stewardship. At times, the hapless Mr. Gonzales seemed more like a befuddled visitor to Capitol Hill who stumbled into a witness chair by mistake instead of the nation's top law-enforcement officer facing questions about abuses committed during his tenure as attorney general.

"I don't know," he said when Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked about suspicious changes involving voter-fraud prosecutions. "That's a good question," he said when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked why Mr. Gonzales granted Vice President Cheney's office access to criminal investigations.

No Republican came to Mr. Gonzales' defense during the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, nor should they have. His ignorance, feigned or real, was extensive and bipartisan. "I can't answer," he told Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., when asked about the prosecution of voting-rights cases. "I'm not making any progress here," a frustrated Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said after one particularly foggy exchange.

"I don't trust you," snapped Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The question is, Why should anyone trust Mr. Gonzales?

Rarely has a sitting member of the cabinet undergone such a hostile grilling by a congressional committee, but Mr. Gonzales has only himself to blame. Either he has an astonishing lack of curiosity about what's going on in his own agency or he is covering up efforts to politicize the department. Either way, his performance was appalling.

President Bush should have fired him months ago, when the scandal broke over the questionable firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Unfortunately, personal loyalties have trumped the interest of running an independent Department of Justice. The attorney general must be loyal to the president, but there's a difference between promoting the administration's policy priorities and acting as a counselor whose main objective is to protect the occupant of the White House.

Mr. Gonzales appears not to know the difference, and the longer he tries to tough it out, the more hot water he gets into. Sen. Specter, among others, suggested to the attorney general that his "credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable." That's a polite way of saying that he may have committed perjury.

Congress should take whatever steps are necessary, from a contempt citation to pursuing criminal charges, to remove him from office. His continued tenure is an affront to the American people.

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