CONTACT: Sara Mandell: 312-663-0960 ext.

311 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 11, 2005 Jewish Organization Expresses Deep Concerns about Alberto Gonzales
JCUA Cites Civil Liberties, Torture, Islamophobia, Death Penalty Cases

Chicago, Ill.—The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) today announced its deep concerns about the possible confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General. JCUA noted that Gonzales helped to write the USA PATRIOT Act with its unacceptable curbs on civil liberties, privacy, and due process; wrote White House memos justifying the torture of detainees; and played a deplorable role in the record number of death-row executions in Texas. Gonzales has given every indication that he will continue the path of the outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft, who since 9/11 led the way in targeting Muslims, immigrants, and political dissenters as threats to national security. Many minority communities -- especially Muslim Americans and Arab Americans -- have been torn apart by secret detentions, mass deportations, and the special registration program. “The U.S. needs an attorney general who protects democracy by practicing it, not by putting it under lock and key,” asserted Jane Ramsey, Executive Director. Through the USA PATRIOT Act and his torture memos, which guided the Bush Administration’s abysmal practices on the detention, interrogation, and torture of captives of U.S. forces overseas, Gonzales has undermined protections in international and domestic law. As a result of these and other decisions, JCUA has grave doubts about Gonzales’s ability to reverse the national trend toward abusive policies and secret procedures. “Jews have suffered greatly under governments that abridge the rights of religious minorities, immigrants, and dissenters. We do not want to live in a society where disappearances, torture, and bigotry are considered acceptable,” said Noah Leavitt, Director of Advocacy and Policy.

- more -

JCUA – Gonzales 2 JCUA also views with alarm Gonzales’s history in Texas, where he was responsible for summarizing death-row clemency appeals to then-Governor Bush. Gonzales’s memos regularly failed to include crucial mitigating circumstances, even evidence of innocence, as Bush ordered 152 executions. “In a criminal justice system so marred by racism and misconduct, public officials need to show the utmost diligence and regard for the human life in their hands,” said Sidney Hollander, President of JCUA’s Board of Directors. JCUA calls on Illinois’ senators to give the nominee’s record the careful and complete public scrutiny it requires, and to fully consider the findings when deciding whether to confirm Gonzales. We urge our elected officials to ensure that Congress selects an attorney general who cherishes the rights and dignity of all people. JCUA also calls for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and for the passage of the Civil Liberties Restoration Act. ###

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs combats poverty, racism, and anti-Semitism in partnership with Chicago’s diverse communities. Since 1964, JCUA has assisted groups in low-income and minority communities, built coalitions with diverse groups, advocated on issues of poverty and racism, and mobilized a Jewish constituency to create a more just city. Today, JCUA is at the forefront of pressing issues affecting Chicago’s most at-risk communities, including affordable housing, job creation, community reinvestment, civil liberties, criminal justice, public transportation, and neighborhood stability.