Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Democrats React To GOP Blocking Gonzales Vote

Even though not one of them had the guts to step to the microphone and offer overt support for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Republican Senators -- aided and abetted by Joe Lieberman -- blocked a Senate resolution on Monday that would have expressed the body's lack of confidence in Gonzales's ability to continue in this corrupt leadership of the Justice Department.

Here's some reaction from Senate Democrats:

Harry Reid (D-NV)

"Along with the Departments of Defense and State, the Department of Justice is one of the most important cabinet agencies. The Attorney General is responsible for enforcing federal law, protecting civil rights, and most importantly, ensuring fidelity to the Constitution.

"Time and time again, Alberto Gonzales has proven beyond a doubt his incompetence, misjudgment and lack of independence. He is profoundly unworthy to hold one of the highest and most important offices in the land. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution reflecting the facts before us. I urge Attorney General Gonzales to resign his office to allow America the chance to recover from his catastrophic tenure. If he does not, I urge President Bush to finally remove him."

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

“The Attorney General is the attorney for the people of this country, not the attorney for any political party or political agenda. In my view, Alberto Gonzales has been the attorney for Karl Rove and the political operatives in the White House.

“Under Mr. Gonzales’ leadership, the Justice Department is no longer viewed as a standard bearer for the rule of law in this country. Mr. Gonzales has lost my confidence, and the confidence of the American people, and it is time for him to resign.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

“Time and time again, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has placed the rule of President Bush ahead of the rule of law. I supported and cosponsored today’s resolution expressing no confidence in Attorney General Gonzales and I renew my call for him to resign or be dismissed.

“Attorney General Gonzales put politics ahead of the rule of law when he fired U.S. Attorneys who refused to participate in the Bush Administration’s partisan witch hunts When Congress called the Attorney General to account, the Department of Justice provided misleading, inconsistent, and deceptive responses to Congress.

“Unfortunately, these acts are part of a pattern of partisanship, scandal, and deception created by the Attorney General which casts a shadow over the entire Department of Justice. The Department allowed the FBI to abuse and to violate the Patriot Act by permitting the Bureau to obtain thousands of personal records without regard for proper legal procedures. The Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice has been overrun by political appointees who place ideology above enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. And I am deeply concerned by the Attorney General’s role in the creation of the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

“The Department of Justice holds a special place in our government. The Department’s hardworking attorneys, law enforcement officers, and staff are the defenders of our Constitution, not one political party. That trust is central to the sanctity of the rule of law and vitality of our democracy. Attorney General Gonzales violated the trust of the American people and should no longer hold the office.”

John Kerry (D-MA)

“This White House has a bizarre understanding of the fights that are worth fighting. They go to the mat for a Texas crony but fail to spend an ounce of political capital to pass a bipartisan immigration bill over conservative opposition. What does it say about this White House’s priorities that they’ll put it all on the line for an attorney general who has lost the confidence of Members of Congress from both parties?

"Today’s cloture vote put 53 Senators on record against Alberto Gonzales. The White House needs to clear the air and turn the page. The American people deserve an attorney general who will uphold our values and it’s time Attorney General Gonzalez is fired and replaced with someone who deserves this job.”

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

"After months of troubling and even shocking disclosures about the U.S. Attorney firings and the politicization of the Department of Justice, it is important for the Senate to go on record on the question of whether the Attorney General should continue in his post. This vote may end up being our only vote on this matter, but since the resolution itself is nonbinding, this vote, though procedural in nature, is sufficient to inform the Nation exactly what the Senate’s position is. Those who vote against cloture plainly are comfortable with the Attorney General remaining right where he is. Those of us who vote for cloture are not.

"Perhaps the Attorney General’s biggest failure concerns the warrantless wiretapping program. When he came before the Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing, he gave very misleading testimony to a question I asked concerning whether the position the Administration had taken with respect to torture might also allow it to authorize warrantless wiretaps. He called my question 'hypothetical.' Just less than a year later, we found out that the Administration had in fact taken precisely that position for years.

"With the snowballing problems at the Justice Department, it could hardly be more obvious that the Attorney General has lost the confidence of Congress and the public. The Department of Justice should always be above reproach. The Attorney General should step down for the good of the country."

Robert Byrd, D-WV)

“This is a very sad day for our country. A majority of the U.S. Senate has voted to express 'no confidence' in the chief law enforcement officer of our nation. The actions of this White House and Attorney General Gonzales have brought us to this unfortunate moment. The Attorney General’s prevarications, conflicting statements, and evasive testimony have damaged his credibility beyond repair.

“The American people expect the Attorney General to defend the Constitution, not undermine it. It is clear that Mr. Gonzales can no longer be trusted to perform the duties of his office. He should do the right thing and resign.”

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

“A majority of the country thinks Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is failing at his job. It’s now clear that a majority of the Senate agrees.

“Attorney General Gonzales does not have the independence needed to serve as our country’s top law enforcement official. There are simply too many unanswered questions on everything from warrantless wiretapping, to the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, to the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. As a majority of the Senate has made clear, he should resign."

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

“When Alberto Gonzales came before the Senate as the President’s nominee for Attorney General, many of us were concerned that he would not be able to distinguish between his past role as White House Counsel and his new role as Attorney General. During his service as Counsel to the President, he had assisted the President in promulgating a series of disastrous policies that ran roughshod over the rule of law and damaged the United States in the eyes of the world.

"On issue after issue, Mr. Gonzales has single-mindedly served the President’s agenda, without any respect for the broader responsibilities of the Attorney General. He has continued to promote an extreme view of the President’s power as Commander in Chief to authorize warrantless eavesdropping in violation of the law, secret detentions, abuse of detainees, and violations of the Geneva Conventions. He believes that the President can issue signing statements that nullify duly enacted statutes whenever they might limit the President’s discretion. As Attorney General, he has used the enormous power of his office to promote the agenda of the White House.

"We need a strong and credible attorney general who believes deeply in our system of justice as we undertake the difficult and essential job of restoring the credibility of the Department of Justice."