This is from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Gonzales is an example of the American Dream? To climb up the ladder through connections?
the US Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, has the support of his close friend, President Bush, for now.
March 17, 2007
IN A SENSE, the rise and fall of the US Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, is a metaphor for the major failing of George Bush and a pointer to the ordeal that the President will have to endure at the hands of a Democrat-controlled Congress for the remaining 22 months of his term.
The growing controversy over the sacking by the Justice Department of eight federal attorneys - senior prosecutors - threatens to further harm an already badly damaged president and to seriously affect the prospects of the Republican Party's presidential candidates.
Democrats say the sackings were a politically-motivated purge, alleging the federal attorneys were removed to make way for White House allies.
It is a story of incompetence and cronyism and of a disengaged president who has placed loyalty and ideological compatibility above all other political virtues.
The rise of Gonzales is a classic example of what one observer has described as Bush's "hackocracy" of an administration.
Gonzales has the sort of personal history that Bush finds irresistible. The son of a construction worker who did not finish high school and a mother who stayed at home looking after eight children, Gonzales - or Al, as Bush calls him - had grandparents who were illegal migrants, among the many millions of illegals who left Mexico for a better life in the US.
Gonzales, 51, the only one in his family who managed a tertiary education, has described how proud his family was of him when he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1982. Indeed, the first Hispanic attorney-general in US history has often spoken about his family's story and their struggles.
And so has Bush, who first hired Gonzales as his legal adviser when he was governor of Texas in the 1990s, eventually promoting the man he has called his "close friend" to the Texas Supreme Court.
Bush took Gonzales with him to the White House in 2001, where he served as legal counsel and was involved in drafting the now infamous memo to the President that argued that the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war did not apply to captured fighters in Afghanistan.
Then at the beginning of his second term, Bush promoted Gonzales to attorney-general after flirting with the idea of appointing him to the Supreme Court. Even some congressional Republicans believed he was not qualified to be America's top law officer, whose first loyalty is to the justice system and not to the president.
But until the midterm congressional elections last November, when Americans handed control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats, Republicans could - and did - block any examination of the failings of Gonzales.
And there were plenty of them. Apart from the Geneva Conventions memo, Gonzales supported the CIA's notorious secret "rendition" program and it was Gonzales who advised Bush that the warrantless wiretap program that Bush authorised after the September 11 attacks was legal, despite the fact that there was explicit legislation that forbade it.
Now, with congressional Democrats determined to use their new-found power to scrutinise an administration that has basically ignored Congress and treated it with disdain, Gonzales is likely to be their first victim.
Most observers agree that in the end, Gonzales will either resign or Bush will be forced to sack him, but, in the meantime, the Attorney-General and some of his senior officials face tortuous hearings in Congress.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas on five Justice Department officials and may also summons Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, and his former legal counsel Harriet Miers.
Meanwhile, Gonzales is giving interview after interview, admitting that "mistakes were made", but insisting that most of those mistakes were made by his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, who was forced to resign when it was revealed that he had worked closely with Miers to draw up a list of federal attorneys who were not ideologically sound enough and who ought to be removed.
Sampson also sought to accommodate a request from Rove that the federal attorney in Arkansas be removed so that he could be replaced by a close friend and aide of Rove's.
All this emerged after Gonzales and other Justice Department officials had testified at congressional committee hearings that there had been no political interference in the sackings, that the White House had not been involved and that the attorneys were all sacked because of below-par performance.
Alberto Gonzales might be a great example of the American dream come true, but for George Bush, he is becoming a political nightmare.