Gonzales just didn’t get it

Tens of thousands of citizen activists who made clear their distrust of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales by signing petitions and contacting their members of Congress should be thanked and gratified for Gonzales’ resignation.

“The politicization of the Justice Department under the leadership of Alberto Gonzales was a national travesty,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “He never seemed to understand that the attorney general’s job is to make sure that justice is administered in a fair and impartial way for all, and not just provide paper-thin legal justifications for whatever the president wanted done.”

“Gonzales has done more damage to the Justice Department’s reputation for professionalism and independence from politics than anyone since Robert Bork fired Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre,” Edgar said. “This damage will take years to repair, and President Bush should begin the job by appointing a new attorney general with integrity whose credentials are based on experience in law enforcement, not longtime political ties.”

Gonzales presided over a Justice Department that dismissed nine U.S. Attorneys whose track records were allegedly deemed not sufficiently partisan. It appears that they were dismissed primarily for prosecuting Republicans, failing to prosecute enough Democrats or failing to prosecute specious claims of election fraud. Common Cause called for Gonzales’ resignation in May, and for his impeachment in July, after questions arose about whether he lied to Congress.

Edgar urged President Bush to carefully consider who should be the next Attorney General, noting that the office must be insulated from political pressure. “We will continue to press for answers as to why these respected career prosecutors were fired without reason,” Edgar said. “But the top priority for now is to ensure that we have new leadership and integrity at the Justice Department that will protect justice for all.”