It’s time for AG Gonzales to go 

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday and endured hours of grilling by Democrats and Republicans on every aspect of the scandal ignited by the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Notably missing from his statement to the committee was anything of sufficient substance to persuade that he should continue in office. If anything, Gonzales’ performance yesterday only confirmed that he should resign.

The Examiner called for Gonzales to resign several weeks ago when two key points became clear: He was an active participant in the firing process, contrary to his prior statements, and he had failed to carry out his duties conscientiously if, as he claimed, he did not screen the candidates for firing whose names were sent to then-White House counsel Harriet Miers. His testimony yesterday only reinforced these points. He agreed, for example, that the process by which the eight U.S. attorneys were selected and dismissed was "nowhere near as rigorous or structured as it should have been." It’s okay for an attorney general to be less than rigorous or structured about some things, but whether to dismiss a U.S. attorney is not among them.

But it was an exchange with Ranking Minority Leader Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, that brought home how Gonzales’ previous statements minimizing his role in the firings has fundamentally compromised his credibility. The exchange began when Specter said Gonzales’ account of the firings was "significantly if not totally at variance with the facts" and pushed the attorney general to say if that was a fair characterization. Gonzales’ response — "I don’t want to quarrel with you" — is not the statement of an attorney general with sufficient credibility to be the nation’s top lawyer.

At one point yesterday, Gonzales said "the moment I believe I can no longer be effective I will resign as attorney general." That moment has come.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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