In his resignation speech today, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, “I have made a point as Attorney General to personally meet as many of them [DOJ employees] as possible, and today I want to, again, thank them for their service to our nation. It is through their continued work that our country and our communities remain safe, that the rights and civil liberties of our citizens are protected, and the hopes and dreams of all of our citizens are secured.”
It’s an outrageous thing to say for any federal official of the Bush Administration. Gonzales has been a key member of Bush and Cheney’s posse of hooligans who have undermined civil liberties, condoned torture, got us into a frightening mess in Iraq, approved domestic spying and countless other serious transgressions.
When Gonzales came to Boise a few months ago, he was met with a hostile group of 100 citizens and took the chicken’s way out by relocating his press conference behind closed, invitation-only doors.
Now from the Associated Press comes the rumor that Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, will take his place.
Chertoff, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, is a member of the right-wing Federalist Society and a former U.S. Attorney and assistant attorney general. He is also the man who was in charge of the inexcusable Hurricane Katrina disaster response. Remember that, among other disconnected-from-reality statements, Chertoff told National Public Radio that he had “not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who do not have food and water,” even though the rest of us had been buried in such reports all day long.
But Chertoff’s legacy is more than Katrina. He has approved and implemented many of the so-called anti-terror tactics now used in America – America! – which betray the very idea of America by circumventing authorities now in place and exploiting power in a way our founders sought to prevent. He supervised the roundup of hundreds of Arabs and Muslims who were then held without bond for up to three months, of which the inspector general said Chertoff’s methods were “indiscriminate and haphazard.” All this, under former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Imagine what he might do when the real power is actually Chertoff’s.
People in New Orleans died in the three day it took Chertoff to implement the official disaster response. He should have been fired and possibly even charged with crimes against humanity, as columnist David Fiderer wrote. Instead, the undeniably incompetent man was allowed to continue to mess with the law, regain some small portion of his dignity, and stay in an administration which insults our intelligence day after day.
He has no place at the control panel of the Department of Justice. To replace the hapless, lawbreaking, superbly average yes-man Gonzales with Chertoff is to segue defiantly from one devil-we-know to another. True believer Bush will almost certainly choose not to nominate a respected leader, but give a boost up to yet another unqualified, failed member of his wretched playground-bullies list.