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Senate votes to confirm Gonzales as Attorney General

Texan will be first Hispanic to hold top U.S. law enforcement job

Posted: February 4, 2005

The 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:

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