Scoop Link: Pressure Builds Over Gonzales, Rove

Published: Mon 19 Mar 2007 02:44 PM
Pressure Builds Over Gonzales, Rove
By Michael Isikoff, Richard Wolffe And Evan Thomas
26 March 2007 Issue
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At highly charged moments, attorney General Alberto Gonzales can seem placid, passive - at times, just plain out of it. In the summer of 2002, high-level Bush administration officials met to debate secretly a delicate issue: how aggressively could the CIA interrogate terror suspects? While the lawyers from Justice, Defense and the vice president's office hotly debated definitions of torture (at times discussing specific interrogation techniques), Gonzales, who was then the White House counsel, sat by and said virtually nothing. The attorney general's behavior was typical, say administration officials who have worked with him. His defenders say he likes to keep his counsel. Others wonder if he's ill prepared, insecure or simply has nothing to say.
Last week Gonzales's bland, what-me-worry? smile seemed to fade. He appeared slightly forlorn as he answered hostile questions from reporters at a hastily called press conference. He was asked about the role of the White House in firing a group of U.S. attorneys. "As we can all imagine," he began, "in an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of the Department of Justice ..." He was aware, he said, that there was "a request from the White House as to the possibility of replacing all the U.S. attorneys. That was immediately rejected by me." The impression was that Gonzales was merely responding to the ill-considered scheme of his successor as White House counsel (Harriet Miers); that he, personally, had not been in the loop for a series of controversial decisions that have set off a congressional brouhaha over the dismissal of one U.S. attorney in the summer of 2006 and seven more in December.
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