Civil Rights Leaders Ask Senators to Closely Scrutinize U.S. Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

Media 01.5,05

More than four dozen national civil rights leaders, expressing serious concern with President Bush’s nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, today asked Senators on the Judiciary Committee to closely scrutinize Gonzales’ record in several key areas.

In a letter to Senator Arlen Specter, Judiciary Committee Chairman, and Senator Patrick Leahy, the Committee’s Ranking Member, the civil rights leaders said that, “nowhere is the Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ role in the review of a presidential cabinet appointment more important than in the case of Attorney General.” The civil rights leaders called on the Committee to conduct a “searching and thorough review of Mr. Gonzales’ record, his positions, and his future plans for the Justice Department.”

The civil rights leaders requested that the Committee examine four major areas of concern:

  • Mr. Gonzales’ role in setting the administration’s policy on detention, interrogation, and torture, which has affected the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere;

  • The administration’s failure to disclose critical documents that could reveal the extent of Mr. Gonzales’s role in setting these policies;

  • Mr. Gonzales’ role in the formulation of administration policies that undermine checks and balances safeguarding the right to due process, including the “enemy combatants” policy rejected by the Supreme Court, as well as his advice in death penalty cases and clemency petitions to then-Governor Bush, and;

  • Mr. Gonzales’ involvement in shaping the overall civil rights record of the administration.

    Additionally, “given the troubling record of outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft,” the letter asks Senators to “determine whether and to what extent Mr. Gonzales plans to continue the policies adopted by Mr. Ashcroft on important matters of civil rights and civil liberties.” The letter points to the detention of immigrants without charge by the Justice Department under Mr. Ashcroft, and Mr. Ashcroft’s recent statement that federal judges are putting “at risk the very security of our nation” simply by exercising their judicial review powers, as disturbing examples.