The entire article is here. This article is a good summary critique of Gonzales and his performance.
Rough Justice - The Case Against Alberto Gonzales
Alberto Gonzales: A Willing Accessory at Justice
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is the 80th attorney general of the United States and if recent events in the law and at the Justice Department are any indication, he is rapidly staking a claim to being among the worst. To test that claim and evaluate the man who is not just nominally called the "nation's top lawyer," we must answer three questions. To what extent did Gonzales' public record before taking office give us clues about what sort of Attorney General he has turned out to be? Has he so far been up to the task as it is ideally defined? And, finally, does he deserve to continue to serve in office?
This series will look at each question in depth. But, here, briefly, are the answers. First, Gonzales' cronyistic record in both Texas and as White House counsel did indeed presage many of the serious problems Gonzales now faces at the Justice Department. He has run true to form over the past two years and has diverted hardly at all from his long history of dogged obedience to the President, which often has come at the cost of institutional independence and adherence to the rule of law. Second, Gonzales is seen by many legal historians and scholars as an abysmal failure--not quite as bad as the worst attorneys general in our history, but much closer to the bottom than to the top. And, third, given the burgeoning scandal over the dismissal of federal prosecutors at the request of the White House, there appear to be few legitimate reasons why he deserves to stay in office. What follows, then, is really a bill of particulars drawn up by some of the nation's leading lawyers and historians, that attempts to support these conclusions.
But first, a step back. To understand better the case for or against Gonzales, to place it more squarely into context, it is important to understand that the attorney general in our federal system has to straddle a line between law and politics, between being the people's attorney and his boss' loyal cabinet member. It is not an easy thing to do and few attorneys general have done it even remotely well. The dichotomy in many ways mirrors the one that everyday attorneys face with their own clients-- am I an advocate who must facilitate what my client already has decided to do? Or am I a counselor who may tell my client on occasion that what he or she wants to do is illegal or just plain wrong?
History has given us very little guidance about where this line is to be drawn. Actually, the history of the Office of the Attorney General is a rather uninspiring one. The position was included in the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Book of Genesis when it comes to the federal judicial system, but it took nearly a century for the attorney general to have any sort of a meaningful "justice department" to run. Originally, for a few decades anyway, the attorney general was not even part of the President's formal cabinet and now, of course, some of the duties of the original attorney general reside in the White House counsel's office. Gonzales, remember, came from that office to his current post when John Ashcroft read the writing on the wall and resigned as attorney general at the start of President George W. Bush's second term in office.
By far the strongest and most persistent criticism of Gonzales, and the one focused upon in this series, is his perceived unwillingness or inability at times to play the role of counselor rather than facilitator--to act independently of the man to whom he owes his job and his public career. Gonzales has been charged, over and over again and both before and during his current tenure, as being President's Bush's in-house and in-court "yes" man, a lawyer whose main role has been to try to justify legally, at least on its face, what his boss already has decided for political or moral reasons to do anyway. This indeed, sometimes anyway, is one of the roles of attorney general. But it is wholly at odds with the other role, that of hands-off protector of the Constitution against both internal and external threats to its viability.
During Gonzales' confirmation hearing in January 2005, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D. Vt.), then ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said "the job of attorney general is not about crafting rationalizations for ill-conceived ideas; it's a much more vital role than that. Attorney general is about being a forceful, independent -- independent -- voice in our continuing quest for justice in defense of the constitutional rights of every single American." Leahy back then expressed his concern that Gonzales did not possess the temperament, training, will, or motive to act independently from the man, President Bush, to whom Gonzales has served in one way or another ever since they both came to public service. Many others since have echoed those sentiments.
It is not hard to see why these accusations seem to have stuck with Gonazales. In July 2005, after he became attorney general, after he swore to uphold the Constitution, he was asked during an interview by folks at the Academy of Achievement to list his role models. His answer? "The three biggest influences of my life, in terms of maturing me as a person, were my mom, my dad and our President, who's given me some wonderful opportunities. I've learned a lot from him in the various roles that I've seen him in, as a father, and as a governor, and as a president."
It is a nice sentiment. But not the sort of quote likely to foster confidence among others that our nation's top lawyer would be willing to stake out when necessary and appropriate legal positions that are contrary to those of his self-proclaimed hero. And, as we'll see, when the stakes indeed have been high over the past few years, and even when Gonzales worked for then-Governor Bush in Texas, Gonzales has obediently toed his boss's line. So much so, in fact, that even before the burgeoning scandal over federal prosecutors, Gonzales' work had raised the specter of the dreaded "C" word within an administration that has come to be known for it--Cronyism. Heckuva job, Alberto!