ACLU Urges Senate to Hold Attorney General Accountable for False Testimony
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union urged the Senate Judiciary Committee once again to demand that the attorney general answer its questions thoroughly and honestly. In his third appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee this year, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faces tough questions about a litany of issues, including the firings of US attorneys, the FBI’s use of datamining and the abuse of National Security Letters (NSLs). In previous testimony, Mr. Gonzales frequently left questions unanswered and, in 2005, misled a Senate committee about his knowledge of civil liberties violations connected with misuse of NSLs.
“Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Department of Justice has been marred by disgrace and deceit,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “With every new scandal, it becomes more obvious that this attorney general does not have the best interests of the American people in mind. From the firings of highly qualified US attorneys to the NSL cover-up, it seems that Mr. Gonzales is more interested in pursuing the president’s agenda than pursuing justice.”
Mr. Gonzales is also expected to be asked about his role in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program – specifically, the hospital visit he paid to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on the night of March 9, 2004. Former acting attorney general James Comey revealed that Mr. Gonzales and then-White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, attempted to convince Mr. Ashcroft to renew the program over his objections. The committee is currently seeking the legal rationale for the program through subpoenas, having extended its original deadline of July 18th at the White House’s request.
“This attorney general’s failure to cooperate with the committee shows a lack of respect for Congress and for the American people,” added Fredrickson. “Members of Congress have been extraordinarily patient with this attorney general but now is the time for straight answers – if not, the Senate should exercise all of its authority to get the answers it needs. There is no doubt that our democracy and the separation of powers lie in the balance.”
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