People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said the reported nomination of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General raises serious concerns, particularly over his role in the development of policies governing the treatment of detainees in Iraq and in the war on terrorism.
Neas issued the following statement:
“Alberto Gonzales’s role in the development of policies that ultimately led to the Abu Ghraib prison scandals in Iraq is deeply troubling. Few images have done more to scar our nation’s image at home and abroad than the terrible pictures of prisoners being abused in Iraq. Further, there are many questions that must still be answered regarding the rights and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. We expect Senators to question him closely on these matters.
“An even more fundamental question is whether Mr. Gonzales will continue the damaging course set by John Ashcroft at the Justice Department. John Ashcroft’s tenure was marked by a severe erosion of Americans’ civil liberties and a diminished commitment to civil rights enforcement. Would an Attorney General Gonzales continue policies that restrict Americans’ constitutional protections? Would he undermine voting rights by supporting recent Justice Department actions to restrict Americans from turning to the courts to enforce the Help America Vote Act?
“Senators should explore Mr. Gonzales’ support for the excesses of the PATRIOT Act, parts of which come up for renewal in 2005, as well as his central role in the administration’s efforts to pack the federal judiciary with far-right ideologues. Senators should also examine his role in White House actions promoting excessive secrecy, interfering with constitutional checks and balances and demonstrating contempt for Congress’ oversight role, threatening affirmative action, and restricting workers’ rights by executive order.
“America needs an attorney general who is committed to protecting both national security and the nation’s Constitution. We urge Senators to ensure that the next U.S. Attorney General is committed to the protection of Americans’ civil rights and constitutional liberties.”