Locals in Congress welcome AG’s resignation

The Bay Area’s voices in Congress couldn’t be happier about the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

miller.jpgHouse Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, a few minutes ago told me he believes “it’s good for America that he resigned. The evidence is rather compelling that he lied to the American people and to the Congress about torture, about wiretapping, and about the firing of U.S. attorneys… It was a real disservice to public service to have this man leading the Department of Justice.”

Miller said he’s not thrilled by rumors that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff might be tapped to replace Gonzales; DHS has plenty of problems of its own, and would be ill-served by yet another change in leadership, he said.

“They have to think about a career person, clearly somebody with a dedication to the principles of the Department of Justice and high ethical standards – that’s what they haven’t had here during Mr. Gonzales’ reign,” Miller said, adding the nominee will face the Senate’s careful scrutiny. “This person will come in after Alberto Gonzales’ horribly unethical reign, so there’s a tough burden on any nominee… If this is a person who’s there to serve the political purposes of the president, I think they are in for trouble.”

Nobody’s mincing words today…

lantos.jpgHouse Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo: “I have long called for the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales, and to say this resignation is long overdue is the understatement of the year. Former Attorney General Gonzales has consistently chipped away at the very Constitution he was charged with protecting. The most fundamental rights afforded to American citizens were to Mr. Gonzales mere roadblocks to be pushed aside in his quest to consolidate power in the executive branch.

“From warrantless wiretapping to politically-motivated firings in the Justice Department, Mr. Gonzales has run the gamut of serious violations of Americans’ most basic and precious rights. I am especially concerned about the legacy his leniency on torture will leave as we continue to fight against terrorism and extremism worldwide. His resignation presents this Administration with an opportunity to reverse some of its disastrous policies on human rights and civil liberties. I urge the President to quickly appoint a fair-minded Attorney General who will take seriously his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

More after the jump…

pelosi12-14-06.jpgHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco: “The resignation of Attorney General Gonzales is long overdue. The rampant politicization of federal law enforcement that occurred under his tenure seriously eroded public confidence in our justice system.

“The President must now restore credibility to the office of the Attorney General. Given the serious loss of public trust and the disarray at the Department of Justice, the American people must have absolute confidence in the integrity of the next Attorney General as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and as defender of our constitution independent of political influence. The President’s nominee must have the character and stature to command that confidence.

“The nominee must also pledge to cooperate with ongoing congressional oversight into the conduct of the White House in the politicization of federal law enforcement. Hearings on the nominee will provide Congress with another opportunity to examine the new, flawed FISA law and will aid in our efforts to improve it.”

lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: “Attorney General Gonzales’ resignation today is long overdue. During his tenure at the Justice Department, he oversaw an assault on civil rights and an unprecedented effort to turn U.S. Attorneys into a cog in the White House political operation. His resignation is an opportunity for the President to appoint a new Attorney General, one who will put the protection of the constitution and the rule of law before the political interests of any party or the White House.

“His resignation does not, however, resolve the ongoing investigations of wrongdoing conducted at the Justice Department under his watch, and I hope that his successor will work closely with Congress to finally resolve these matters.”

tauscher2.jpgRep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo: “The announcement that Alberto Gonzalez is stepping down is welcome news to anyone concerned about re-establishing a commitment to the Constitution.

“Attorney General Gonzalez’s incompetence has made it clear that for some time now that he is not capable of serving the American people or as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

“It is my hope that President Bush will nominate a replacement who understands the responsibility of upholding the U.S. Constitution, respecting civil rights, and ensuring the rule of law. With issues like upholding FISA court rulings, preventing the abuse of detainees, and the arbitrary firings of U.S. attorney generals at the forefront of the national discourse, it is critical that a replacement be nominated who will restore the belief by all Americans that they have an attorney general and an administration that is devoted to protecting their rights.”

feinstein.jpgU.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: “It is my hope that the Attorney General’s resignation will signal the beginning of a real change in the Department of Justice.

This is an important step, and I hope the President moves rapidly to fill this position, since so many of the top-level people at the Department have in fact resigned.

I spoke with the White House this morning, and suggested a couple of nominees who I believe would easily gain confirmation.

With the right person in place, a very distressing chapter in the Justice Department’s history can be closed and the process of restoring its credibility as a strong and independent department can begin.”

eshoo.jpgRep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: “The resignation of Attorney General Gonzales is long overdue. Under his watch, the integrity of the Justice Department was undermined by a rampant politicization, a willful disregard for civil liberties, and repeated instances of providing false and misleading testimony to the Congress.

“The President’s nominee for Attorney General should have the character and commitment to restore the trust of the American people by ensuring that the Justice Department upholds the Constitution and administers our nation’s laws in a fair and impartial manner.”


pete-stark.jpgRep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont: “Alberto Gonzales will go down as one of the worst Attorney Generals in history. He enabled the Bush Administration to pursue torture in complete disregard of the Geneva Conventions and spy on Americans in violation of our Constitution. Gonzales deliberately misrepresented Bush Administration policies, fired U.S. attorneys who wouldn’t adhere to a radical political agenda, and spent his final months on the job stonewalling Congressional oversight.

“Gonzales’ departure was long overdue, but it will not address the many legal transgressions he made possible. The next Attorney General must uphold the rule of law and cooperate with Congressional investigations into the Administration’s conduct. Perhaps President Bush should begin his search by looking beyond his closest circle of loyalists.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.