NARDI: Gonzales: an American hero, seriously

Tom Nardi

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is the best attorney general this country has ever had. With that conclusion firmly in mind, we should take a look at the past week and pick evidence to support it.

One of the biggest pieces of legal news to come out over spring break was that the FBI has been underreporting its use of the Patriot Act. Under a certain provision of the Patriot Act, the government can demand access to private phone, Internet and financial records without a prior court order. Since October 2001, there have been about 56,000 requests like this per year. And the government has followed protocol about 78 percent of the time.

Of course, the liberal media focuses on the 22 percent of the time the FBI did not report these “national security letters” requests, breaking the law. But what is 22 percent? If 80 days of the year I shoot someone because I forgot it was illegal, what’s the harm? FBI Director Robert Mueller has said, “I am the person responsible.” Sounds like someone is doing a little posturing to earn the administration’s next Medal of Freedom. Sorry, Mr. Mueller, but the responsibility for this success rests on the shoulders of Gonzales. He is head of the Justice Department, after all.

Another piece of news about the Justice Department is the politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys. Senator Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Representative Heather Wilson, R-N.M., apparently contacted U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias during a recent election cycle asking for details about the cases involving Democrats. According to sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Domenici asked, “Are these going to be filed before November?” referring to a local corruption case involving Democrats. When Iglesias said no, Domenici hung up on him.

Also, Karl Rove seems to have his hands in on this matter. New Mexico Republican Party Chair Allen Weh complained to Rove and other White House officials about Iglesias as early as 2005. Following up with Rove about Iglesias in 2006, Rove told Weh, “He’s gone.” This seems to conflict with sworn testimony that the firings of Iglesias and seven other attorneys were handled by the Justice Department without White House intervention.

This is great news! Finally, the government is going to hold these unelected lawyers accountable to the will of the people. Obviously, an administration with a sub-30 percent approval rating has the best intentions of the American people at heart. So why shouldn’t Gonzales be able to dismiss dedicated public servants because they don’t support his politics?

There are now grumblings that Gonzales should be fired or step down. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “the Justice Department has a higher responsibility: rule of law and the Constitution. And Attorney General Gonzales in his department has been even more political than his predecessor … I think for the sake of the nation, Attorney General Gonzales should step down.” A New York Times editorial (little surprise that it’s from the Times) said, “Mr. Bush should dismiss Mr. Gonzales and finally appoint an attorney general who will use the job to enforce the law and defend the Constitution.”

But I say, don’t fire Gonzales. Give him a medal. Just like Tommy Franks, who planned our excellent war in Iraq; “slam-dunk” George Tenet; Paul Bremer, who skillfully lost billions in Iraq; and Francis Harvey, who was fired over the abhorrent conditions at Walter Reed. Surely, Mr. Gonzales’ achievements have earned nothing less.

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Tom Nardi is a junior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]