Gonzo Asked About Role In Torture During Discussion On Sotomayor Nomination


Wolf Blitzer apparently thinks Alberto Gonzales is qualified to weigh in on the choice of Sonia Sotomayor by the Obama administration for the Supreme Court because he's Hispanic, and he may have been on Bush's short list to have been nominated himself. Gonzales said he believes Sotomayor is well qualified to be on the court but as Think Progress noted:

Of course, Sotomayor may not want the endorsement of one of the most incompetent Attorneys General in history.

Blitzer also asked Gonzales about what might happen to the lawyers in the Bush administration that authorized torture:

Blitzer: How worried are you, switching gears for a moment that the Justice Department lawyers who wrote the those legal opinions, authorizing enhanced interrogation, how worried are you that the system now will come down on them on their disbarment or worse?

Gonzales: What I worry about Wolf is that good people, well intentioned people, serving in a historically difficult time, dangerous time in our nation's history, may be penalized for doing their best and to provide the best legal advice that they can. I'm afraid of the chilling effect that that's going to have on future lawyers at the Department of Justice.

Blitzer: Because you were the White House counsel at that time. This was before you became the Attorney General.

Gonzales: That's correct.

Blitzer: And were you involved in that, in some of those legal opinions early on?

Gonzales: Well what I can say is, is that I worked with the Department of Justice insuring that legal advice was provided but at the end of the day it's the responsibility of the Department of Justice to provide the legal guidance on behalf of the executive branch.

Blitzer: So are you in any, do you think, are you afraid that you could be in any legal jeopardy right now?

Gonzales: Wolf, I stand by my record. I did my best to defend our country during very difficult times, so I'm proud of my service.

As TPM notes in their article Gonzo: Don't Blame Me For Torture -- I Wasn't At DOJ Yet:

Pressed by Blitzer about his role in approving torture, he first clarified that he wasn't at the Justice Department at the key time, and said "It's the responsibility of the Department of Justice to provide legal guidance on behalf of the executive branch."

In other words: blame Ashcroft, Yoo, and Bybee.

Of course, it's unclear how that stance lines up with a report that Gonzo, while at the White House, personally signed off on CIA requests to conduct torture.

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