Senate on February 3 voted 60 to 36 to confirm White House
Counsel Alberto Gonzales as the new attorney general of
the United States.
Among President Bush’s nine new Cabinet
nominees, Gonzales faced the most opposition from Senate
Democrats because of his role in preparing White House legal
opinion memorandums concerning the treatment of detainees
during the U.S. campaign against terror. Critics claimed
that the memorandums justified the mistreatment of detainees,
a contention that Gonzales rejected.
During the approximately six hours of debate
prior to the vote, senators spoke in opposition to, or in
favor of, the nominee and the administration’s policies
in the War on Terror.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on January
26 recommended Gonzales for confirmation by a 10-8 party-line
vote. That vote also followed a session of close questioning
of the nominee.
The Senate has already confirmed seven of
Bush’s nominees, the most recent being Secretary of
Energy Samuel W. Bodman, who was approved by voice vote
on January 31. The Senate’s action on Gonzales leaves
only one Cabinet nominee, Michael Chertoff for secretary
of homeland security, still undergoing the confirmation
process. Chertoff appeared before the Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Government Affairs on February 2.
The committee has not yet voted to recommend
Chertoff for confirmation, although he is not facing opposition.
In coming months, the Senate will need to conduct confirmation
proceedings for several nominees to posts of under, deputy
and assistant secretaries, as well as for certain other
high-level officials. The latter include a yet-to-be-nominated
new U.S. trade representative.
Gonzales, who will be the United States’
first Hispanic attorney general, is a native of San Antonio,
Texas, and a longtime friend of President Bush. Bush appointed
Gonzales as White House counsel in January 2001. Prior to
that, Gonzales was a judge on the Texas Supreme Court. Before
his appointment to the court in 1999, Gonzales was secretary
of state for the state of Texas. His duties in this position
included acting as then-Governor Bush’s lead liaison
on Mexico and border issues, and as chief elections officer.
Gonzales was also Governor Bush’s general counsel.
Gonzales’ official biography may be
viewed on the Internet at: