No Comment — December 31, 2008, 1:51 pm

Fredo for the Defense

Times are tough for Alberto Gonzales. Once he figured near the top of the legal profession; he was widely mentioned as a Supreme Court nominee for Bush. David Broder, with characteristic vision, hailed him as a moderate who would restore the reputation of the Justice Department after the “radicalism” of John Ashcroft. Gonzales, the accepted wisdom held, would serve out his term as Bush’s second attorney general, and then would return to a law-firm partnership where he would take down a few million a year. After all, what law firm wouldn’t hire a former attorney general as a partner?

Well, it seems no law firm is interested in hiring Alberto Gonzales. He’s been looking for a job without success. With a special prosecutor hovering about and looking into the possibility of criminal charges, it seems that most prospective employers are taking a wait-and-see attitude. And today, a depressed, dejected, and obviously misunderstood Gonzales reveals himself in an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal. Although he carefully avoids the subject matter of the pending investigation, he does seem to be presenting what may emerge as a line of defense in a future trial. The defense is “I was just a little guy.”

for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.

But actually, Gonzales’s defense lines up perfectly with the heaviest charges laid at his feet. He was never portrayed as a “mastermind” of torture, illegal surveillance, or the plot to fill the Justice Department with partisan hacks, nor indeed as a “mastermind” of anything whatsoever. He was prized from the outset as the affable man who did the bidding of his boss and never asked the difficult questions that pesky lawyers who earn their salt are wont to ask. Most importantly he was prized as the sort of lawyer who never said “no” to his client, no matter how utterly preposterous, or indeed, criminal, the proposition put to him. This was the characteristic that lifted him from obscurity to a partnership at one of Texas’s leading law firms, Vinson & Elkins (which apparently doesn’t want him back) and then to roles as counsel to Governor Bush, a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, and which led to a memorable flameout in Washington, D.C.

History will judge Alberto Gonzales after all the facts are laid bare. Too many of those facts remain obscured in all those unbelievable memory lapses that were the hallmark of his congressional testimony. Alberto Gonzales presents himself as a defendant before history, as a weak-willed and weak-minded individual–a curious pose for a former attorney general, but no attorney general before Fredo has struck the pose so credibly. And it may keep him out of prison.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Article
On Free Will·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Philosophers have labored for more than two thousand years to explain consciousness. Innocent of biology, however, they have for the most part gotten nowhere.”
Collage (detail) by Frederick Sommer
Criticism
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
Israel and Palestine·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If Israel believes it needs to make a wall eight meters high between us and them, let them have it eighty meters high. Under one condition: It has to be on the international border.”
Photograph (detail) © Ali Jadallah / APA Images / ZUMA Wire
Article
Washington Is Burning·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Fueled by the national-security spending and corporate lobbying that followed 9/11, the flood of (mostly white) newcomers to the city appears irreversible.”
Portrait © © De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Images

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today