You are on page 1of 20

The Civil Liberties and

Civil Rights Record of

Attorney General Nominee
Alberto Gonzales

Prepared by the Washington Legislative Office

of the American Civil Liberties Union

January 2005
The Civil Liberties and
Civil Rights Record of
Attorney General Nominee
Alberto Gonzales
Prepared by the Washington Legislative Office of the
American Civil Liberties Union, Laura W. Murphy, Director.

Published January 2005

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION is the nation’s premier guardian

of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and
preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution
and the laws of the United States.


Nadine Strossen, President
Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director
Kenneth B. Clark, Chair,
National Advisory Council
Richard Zacks, Treasurer

ACLU Washington Legislative Office

915 15th Street, NW, 6th Fl.
Washington, DC 20005

ACLU National Office

125 Broad Street, 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10004-2400
(212) 549-2500
Table of Contents
Preamble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

I. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

II. Gonzales’s Role in the “Global War on Terror” and the Iraq Conflict . . . . . . 2
The Role of the White House Counsel’s Office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
The Military Commissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Enemy Combatants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Specific Avenues of Inquiry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

III. The Need for an Independent Attorney General . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

IV. Civil Liberties Concerns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

The “Global War on Terrorism” and Domestic Law Enforcement . . . . . . . . 7
Hostility to Executive Accountability and Open Government . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The Death Penalty: The Clemency Memos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Reproductive Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Affirmative Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Support for the Federal Marriage Amendment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Immigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
The Faith-Based Initiative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

V. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Appendix I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales
A n A C LU R e p o r t

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record

of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales
Prepared by the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union

Preamble in-chief authority to detain United States citi-

zens and foreign nationals. His office also
As a matter of policy, the American Civil undertook the legal thinking behind the White
Liberties Union emphatically maintains its 84- House’s decision to support a constitutional
year history of refusing to endorse or oppose amendment endorsing discrimination against
nominations made by the president, other than persons because of their sexual orientation, and
nominees to the Supreme Court. By releasing he helped formulate the legal framework for
this report, the ACLU is not, in any way, government-sanctioned religious discrimina-
endorsing or opposing Alberto Gonzales for tion in the president’s “faith-based initiative.”
the post of attorney general. We do, however,
urge the Senate to conduct a thorough and rig- However, Gonzales’s public record does not
orous confirmation process, in which Gonzales suggest an absolutist position against repro-
is asked to account for his actions and policy ductive freedom, and his support for the pres-
positions. ident’s guest-worker program reflects an
openness on immigration issues. While his
While we may not take a position on record on reproductive rights, civil rights and
Gonzales’s confirmation, the ACLU does com- immigration may contain a few bright lights,
ment publicly on the civil liberties records of the Senate will have to explore fully his com-
key officials whose positions accord them sig- mitment in these areas and others before it
nificant influence on the protection and votes to confirm him.
enforcement of civil liberties and civil rights.
The following ACLU white paper on
I. Introduction Gonzales’s record covers three broad themes.

The departure of Attorney General John First, it connects the dots on Gonzales’s role in
Ashcroft and nomination of current White formulating detention and interrogation poli-
House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to that posi- cies that helped lead to the horrific abuses at
tion obligates the ACLU, especially in the post- Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. It is now
9/11 era when the office of attorney general is common knowledge that Gonzales signed a
so significant, to examine Gonzales’s public memorandum calling certain protections
record on civil liberties. afforded to detainees by the Geneva
Conventions “obsolete” and “quaint.”1
In short, the record is not encouraging.
Given the power and scope of the counsel’s
As White House counsel, Gonzales has demon- office, it is clear that Gonzales had a significant
strated a clear enthusiasm for the Bush admin- role in the creation of these misguided rules
istration’s broad— and, we believe, unconstitu- and procedures. And he has certainly been a
tional— reading of the president’s commander- public cheerleader of the Bush administration’s

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

frequent disregard of traditional legal and For instance, the attorney general today must
constitutional norms. This report reviews the shoulder the burden of appointing special prose-
available evidence and suggests certain cutors to investigate malfeasance at the White
avenues of investigation for Senators seeking House. There is a valid concern that Gonzales’s
to ascertain Gonzales’s legal philosophy on position as White House counsel will color his
these matters.2 objectivity in investigating any allegations that
civil liberties violations were caused by the crim-
Appendix I of this report lists documents that inal conduct of high-level government officials.
remain withheld from the public and the
Senate, but that have been discussed or Third, although Gonzales’s record on tradition-
described in the press, sought in the ACLU’s al civil liberties issues like reproductive free-
Freedom of Information Act lawsuit relating to dom, equal opportunity programs and gay and
the torture of military prisoners overseas, and, lesbian rights is less detailed, it deserves thor-
in several instances, requested by various ough analysis.
Senators. The ACLU believes the public has a
right to see these documents, and that execu- In sum, the position of attorney general is a
tive privilege must not be used to shield these crucial one in our political system. The presi-
documents from public scrutiny. dent has the constitutional obligation to
ensure that the “laws be faithfully executed,”
Second, this report examines the possible con- and relies a great deal on the head of the
flicts of interest in the unique dynamic of a Justice Department to carry out that mandate.
White House counsel moving to the Justice Accordingly, attorneys general must wear two
Department. As is often noted, the White hats. One requires them to protect our securi-
House counsel serves as the “president’s ty through the enforcement of our duly enact-
lawyer,” but a more accurate description is the ed laws. The other, however, requires them to
“presidency’s lawyer.”3 The White House be the frontline defenders of the Constitution
counsel is meant to serve as the protector of the and steel our liberties against internal and
office of the presidency against scandal, external threats.
against abridgements of presidential authority
(even if warranted) and against attacks on the II. Gonzales’s Role in the “Global
president’s political agenda. It is, effectively, War on Terror” and the Iraq Conflict
defense counsel for the West Wing.
Gonzales is well known today as the author of
The attorney general, however, is an entirely a memorandum in January 2002 urging the
different creature. Though clearly an executive president to reject the protections of the
officer that serves at the pleasure of the presi- Geneva Conventions for detainees captured in
dent, the attorney general must nevertheless be the fighting against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
the government’s guardian of the rule of law This memorandum had an important role in
and the Constitution. This is especially true shaping administration policies that weakened
given the absence of an independent counsel legal and customary constraints requiring the
statute, which was one of the main mechanisms humane treatment of prisoners taken during
by which the executive branch could police military hostilities.
itself, and the unique threats posed to constitu-
tional checks and balances by the exigencies of Particularly because of the nexus between the
the “war on terrorism.” creation of many of these policies and the abuse

A n A C LU R e p o r t

scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Yoo/Delahunty memorandum. Calling the OLC
Gonzales’s role in these events deserves the findings “definitive,” Gonzales informed the
closest scrutiny by the Senate Judiciary president that the White House had the constitu-
Committee and, indeed, by the entire chamber. tional authority to deny the detainees legal pro-
tections, and that he disagreed with the recon-
The Role of the White House Counsel’s Office sideration requested by the State Department.

Shortly after 9/11, lawyers at the Justice, State When listing the “positive” ramifications of the
and Defense Departments and at the Central president’s decision, Gonzales wrote: “In my
Intelligence Agency began researching the judgment, the new [war on terrorism] paradigm
legal status of the new al Qaeda and Taliban renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on
detainees. It appears that the legal foundation questioning of enemy prisoners and renders
for the administration’s subsequent denial of quaint some of its provisions requiring that cap-
any formal legal protections for these detainees tured enemy be afforded such things as commis-
was a 48-page memorandum from Justice sary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly
Department Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instru-
attorneys John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty. ments.”6 He also boldly asserted that a blanket
The document was requested by William J. presidential finding that Geneva should not
Haynes, the Defense Department’s general apply “eliminates” any argument regarding the
counsel, in 2002. need for case-by-case status determinations.7

The memorandum argued that neither the The ACLU objects to this line of reasoning.
Geneva Convention pertaining to prisoners of The need for an individual determination by a
war nor the Geneva Convention setting out the competent tribunal is absolutely essential to
rights of civilians captured in a war zone ensure some check against wholly innocent
applied to the detainees. Moreover, the memo- individuals being captured on the battlefield
randum repudiated any need for an individual and then detained indefinitely.
determination of POW status—as is required in
Article 5 of the Geneva Convention governing Another OLC memorandum, authored by John
the treatment of POWs—and argued that other Yoo and Patrick Philbin, also a deputy assistant
customary laws of war were likewise inappli- attorney general, argues that federal courts
cable.4 would likely find themselves powerless to
entertain a habeas corpus petition from a
The OLC’s reasoning directly contradicted the detainee held at Guantánamo Bay.8 That legal
conclusions of the State Department. Two days position has since been clearly repudiated by
after the Yoo/Delahunty memorandum was the Supreme Court.9 Gonzales should tell the
sent to Defense, William H. Taft IV, the State Senate whether the Yoo/Philbin memorandum
Department’s general counsel, submitted a represents his own views on the matter and
sharply worded dissent, which remains with- whether the government’s attempt to create a
held from the public and Senate, arguing that legal limbo for detainees ought to be reconsid-
the Justice Department’s legal reasoning was ered in light of recent Supreme Court deci-
“seriously flawed.”5 sions. As a former administration lawyer told
The Washington Post in 2004, Guantánamo
Gonzales’s Jan. 25, 2002, memorandum for the Bay was attractive because it was “the legal
president was consistent with the equivalent of outer space.”10

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

The Senate should aggressively seek to Gonzales’s comments about the legality of the
determine: commissions are doubly dubious in light of the
• The scope of Gonzales’s leadership in November 2004 federal court decision declaring
formulating these policies. the tribunal system unlawful in the case of Salim
• The link between these policies and the Ahmed Hamdan, a suspected al Qaeda mem-
subsequent prisoner abuse at ber.14 Judge James Robertson of the United
Guantánamo Bay, in Afghanistan and in States District Court for the District of
Iraq. Columbia specifically repudiated Gonzales’s
• Whether the Justice Department and primary argument: that Taliban and al Qaeda
Pentagon were following Gonzales’s combatants held at Guantánamo were not enti-
lead in the legal back-and-forth tled to an individual determination of their pris-
described above. oner of war status.15 At the time this report went
to print, Robertson’s decision remains on appeal
The Military Commissions to the Supreme Court.

In the uproar over the administration’s mili- Enemy Combatants

tary detention policies post-9/11, Gonzales
has also been a strong public advocate of the Finally, it remains unclear who, precisely,
president’s plan to try certain al Qaeda and championed the idea of detaining both citizen
Taliban operatives in military commissions and noncitizen “enemy combatants” out of
(with procedures far more prosecution-friend- reach of criminal due process or international
ly than military courts-martial). Moreover, in law. Many commentators believe, however,
defending these military commissions, that given his influence on matters of national
Gonzales has repeatedly failed to address the security, Gonzales must have played a key
pressing concerns of the civil liberties and role. Indeed, “[i]t was his office that con-
human rights communities. ceived of the term ‘enemy combatant’ as a
way to indefinitely detain American citizens
“The suggestion these commissions will accused of terrorism...”16
afford only sham justice like that dispensed in
dictatorial nations is an insult to our military And, in defending the decision to detain Jose
justice system,” he wrote.11 Gonzales failed to Padilla and Yasser Esam Hamdi, both United
mention, however, that the current system dif- States citizens, as enemy combatants, adminis-
fers markedly in evidentiary standards, insu- tration officials stressed that the detentions had
lation from command influence and other key been reviewed and approved at the highest lev-
protections against wrongful conviction than els of the administration. Gonzales should be
traditional courts-martial or even the arcane held accountable for taking the extreme posi-
military commissions of World War II.12 As tion that the executive branch should be able to
conservative columnist William Safire wrote unilaterally remove Americans from the reach
in response to the above comment, “Many of judicial review and subject them to indefi-
attorneys friendly to this White House know nite, incommunicado military detention.
that order was egregiously ill drafted. The Indeed, in the government’s brief to the
White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, Supreme Court in the Jose Padilla case, coun-
defended the order on this Op-Ed page by sel notes that the final step in the enemy com-
denying or interpreting away its most offen- batant approval process is review by the White
sive provisions.”13 House counsel’s office.17

A n A C LU R e p o r t

Specific Avenues of Inquiry the interrogation techniques alleged in

this Red Cross report and the back-and-
Gonzales should be prepared to address the forth, described above, between him, the
role he played in each of the matters listed Pentagon’s general counsel and the
below, and we urge him to facilitate the release Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice
of the documents mentioned here and listed in Department. These allegations are in
the appendix. accord with descriptions of physical and
mental coercion in documents obtained
We hope the president and Gonzales would by the ACLU pursuant to its ongoing
agree that the gravity of what apparently Freedom of Information Act lawsuit,
occurred in the name of national security pres- which is seeking government documents
ents a public interest of sufficient magnitude to on the abuse of detainees overseas.
defeat any claim of executive privilege. In par-
ticular, we strongly urge Gonzales to support • In response to the assault on the Geneva
the release of any documentation mentioned in Conventions by the political members
the draft Congressional subpoenas proposed by of the defense community, career mili-
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patrick tary lawyers were forced to anony-
Leahy (D-VT) or in the ACLU’s litigation.18 mously consult with Scott Horton, a
human rights lawyer with the New York
• Sometime in late fall 2001, the Justice City Bar Association. Though they
Department prepared a memorandum could only talk in vague terms about
for the CIA defining “torture” for the classified information, they told Horton
purposes of international law. that Pentagon officials were deliberate-
Apparently, it found that the internation- ly trying to create “an atmosphere of
al terrorism convention, to which the legal ambiguity.” The primary movers
United States is a party, permits a broad of this effort included, reportedly,
range of questionable tactics, including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
sleep deprivation and coercion through Douglas Feith and General Counsel
phobias. Reading the language of the Haynes21 (who has been nominated by
convention narrowly, the memorandum President Bush to the 4th Circuit Court
said that only actions causing “severe of Appeals).
physical or mental pain” were pro-
scribed.19 This memorandum is being • According to various sources, includ-
withheld from the public and the Senate. ing the Taguba Report,22 the military
has been complicit in turning certain
• In late November 2004, the press dis- detainees in Iraq over to the CIA so that
closed a secret Red Cross memorandum their existence can be kept secret from
that accuses the Pentagon of using psy- the International Red Cross, in contra-
chologically coercive techniques “tanta- vention of international law. Defense
mount to torture,” and co-opting medical Secretary Rumsfeld himself admitted
personnel in the base into helping gauge approving, at the request of then-
the mental and physical states of Director of Central Intelligence George
detainees during interrogation, a severe Tenet, the sequestration of one of these
breach of medical ethics.20 Gonzales “ghost detainees.” It appears not to be
needs to address the connection between an isolated incident.23

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

• Finally, we know that President Bush of investigation30 and the expansion of the spe-
himself signed a directive authorizing cial counsel’s jurisdiction into civil or adminis-
the creation of a web of secret CIA trative matters,31 and has great discretion in
detention facilities overseas.24 It has discipline32 and removal.33 The attorney general
also been reported that the Department also exercises a limited veto on investigative
of Justice officially prepared a memo- steps that he or she deems unwarranted.34
randum discussing the types of interro-
gation techniques that the CIA can use That said, the conflict of interest rules govern-
against high-level al Qaeda detainees, ing a special counsel are actually more strin-
which are presumably even more gent than those applicable to the now-defunct
aggressive than those used in Iraq, independent counsel.35 However, because the
Afghanistan and Cuba.25 Sources in special counsel reports directly to the attorney
another article said that Gonzales, general, who would decide whether a particular
Haynes and David Addington, Vice conflict violates Justice Department regula-
President Cheney’s counsel, discussed tions, there remain openings for impropriety if
various techniques, and found accept- the attorney general is partial to a particular
able the controversial gambit known as outcome of the investigation.
“water-boarding,” in which detainees
are made to believe they are in immi- At the very least, Gonzales must take concrete
nent danger of drowning.26 steps to erect a firewall around his office to
prevent even the appearance of impropriety.
See Appendix I for a listing of pertinent mate- The need for such a check is made all the more
rial that the government refuses to disclose to apparent by the remote, but not inconceivable,
the public and the Senate. possibility that he himself, or his colleagues in
the White House, played a direct role in author-
III. The Need for an Independent izing highly coercive interrogation techniques
Attorney General discussed above in section II. Were such a rev-
elation to come out, Gonzales would be in the
Under current law, the primary mechanism for hugely awkward position of having to author-
investigating high-level wrongdoing by the ize a criminal investigation against himself or
president, senior officials of the executive his close political allies.
branch or members of Congress is through the
special counsel provisions in the Code of Such a hypothetical is even more disturbing
Federal Regulations.27 The special counsel is to given the myriad ways in which the attorney
be appointed when a particular investigation general could manipulate his discretion over
would pose a “conflict of interest” or when it is the special counsel’s office to subtly obstruct
in the “public interest,” and can be invoked by the pursuit of justice.
the acting attorney general if the attorney gen-
eral has recused himself or herself.28 Additionally, although such a scenario may
seem far-fetched today, note that three of
Though the jurisdiction, scope and practical Bush’s six predecessors have required the
power of the special counsel resemble that of appointment of independent investigators in
the independent counsel, the attorney general response to major presidential scandals. Given
retains more control. For instance, the attorney the fact that Halliburton, Enron and the Valerie
general has the last word on selection,29 ambit Plame affair are all still open investigations,

A n A C LU R e p o r t

and that the latter two were expanded shortly Bush administration’s abridgments of certain
before the 2004 election, it remains a very open civil liberties:
question whether President Bush (and Attorney
General Gonzales) are going to face a scandal Ashcroft has had to adjust to the
akin to Whitewater or Iran-Contra before the fact that there are few decisions
second term ends. of importance made in the
Justice Department without the
Finally, the ACLU is particularly concerned explicit approval of the White
that the promotion of the White House counsel House and its counsel’s office...
to attorney general will impair the Department As a former senator, he began
of Justice’s ability to conduct full and fair negotiating with his old col-
investigations of possible criminal civil rights leagues as to what concessions
or civil liberties violations. might be made to pass what
became the USA Patriot Act...
IV. Civil Liberties Concerns But when the White House was
informed of his discussions, he
Gonzales’s civil liberties record is incomplete, was stunned to be told that he
but troubling nonetheless. His time on the was not authorized to make
Texas Supreme Court contains some clues as to such offers.
how he would approach civil liberties concerns
as attorney general, and reports of his involve- Even though the legislation cen-
ment in civil rights and civil liberties issues as tered on the law enforcement
White House counsel provide further details. world he headed, Ashcroft was
The following discussion pieces together as told that Alberto R. Gonzales, the
comprehensive a picture as possible of White House counsel, and his
Gonzales’s constitutional philosophy. deputy, Timothy Flanigan, would
make any major decisions.36
The “Global War on Terrorism” and Domestic
Law Enforcement Given Gonzales’s apparent proximity to the
drafting of the Patriot Act, we fear he may not be
Attorney General John Ashcroft is often target- receptive to the calls on both the left and the
ed as the main public cheerleader for the broad right for certain refinements in the law. Indeed,
expansions of domestic government surveil- former solicitor general Theodore Olson explic-
lance and investigative power authorized in the itly mentioned that Gonzales would follow
wake of 9/11. Although he certainly deserves Ashcroft as a “staunch” defender of the Patriot
the criticism he receives, there have been Act.37
reports that Gonzales actually makes the final
legal decisions as to what the administration See for more information
will approve. on the Patriot Act.

Media reports have indicated that this was Hostility to Executive Accountability and
particularly true during the Congressional Open Government
negotiations over the USA Patriot Act, the
2001 counterterrorism bill that has become a Arguably, the greatest legacy of the current
rallying cry for the public backlash against the administration will be its unprecedented

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

adherence to a strict presumption of secrecy in decisions.”40 Also of note is Gonzales’s lead

its official dealings. Gonzales should face role in the aggressive assertion of executive
tough questioning about whether he truly privilege surrounding public calls for release of
believes, as his advice to the president sug- documents pertaining to Vice President
gests, that the president has a duty, for the sake Cheney’s energy policy task force.41
of national security or to expand the scope of
the executive’s authority, to insulate the office The Death Penalty: The Clemency Memos
from its traditional level of accountability.
During his tenure as governor of Texas, George
As the title of Nixon White House counsel W. Bush permitted 150 executions, a record
John Dean’s new book suggests, the “secret” unsurpassed in recent history.42 He granted
Bush administration has been “Worse than clemency in only one case. Gonzales, his then-
Watergate” in keeping sunlight out of the West legal counsel, prepared 57 briefs on these
Wing.38 cases, usually presented to the governor on the
morning of the planned execution. The classi-
For instance, on Nov. 1, 2001, the White House fied documents outlined the facts of the case,
issued an executive order, drafted by Gonzales, and presented a summary of the arguments for
exempting more than 68,000 pages of Reagan clemency.43 Though Governor Bush frequently
administration records from release. claimed to agonize deeply over permitting an
Reportedly, the records involved the private execution to go forward, a review of the mem-
communications of President Reagan, Vice orandums by Alan Berlow at Atlantic Monthly
President George H.W. Bush and top aides suggested that the reviews were only cursory.44
(some of whom serve currently in the George
W. Bush White House). Gonzales proposed a The summaries of arguments in favor of
series of delays on releasing the Reagan clemency were far less prominent in the mem-
records to allow President Bush to invoke a orandums than the details of the crime, and fre-
“constitutionally based privilege or take other quently omitted mention of crucial mitigating
appropriate action.”39 factors like contradictory testimony at trial,
inadequate legal counsel and even possibly
Though little noticed at the time, the Gonzales exculpatory evidence.45 In addition, Governor
presidential papers order is actually a sweeping Bush often publicly insulated himself from
change to open government laws. The current criticism by arguing that his clemency powers
regime allows records to be kept secret indefi- were relatively limited. He also claimed he
nitely, and significantly reduces the checks could not affirmatively recommend clemency
placed on executive authority. Prior to the without a finding by the Board of Pardons and
order, presidential papers were presumed dis- Paroles (BBP), which was — at the time of his
closable after 12 years, which historians (and election to the presidency – entirely composed
the ACLU) argue was enough time to protect of his appointees. Presumably, had he any
executive privilege and reduce any chilling doubts about an impending execution, he could
effect on the candor required in effective exec- have asked the BPP to review the case.46
utive consultations.
Indeed, as reported by Berlow, Governor Bush
Gonzales rejected these arguments, saying “the did approach the BPP in the case of Henry Lee
pursuit of history” should not “deprive a presi- Lucas, and the board recommended (by a vote
dent of candid advice while making crucial of 17 to 1) to commute Lucas’ sentence to life

A n A C LU R e p o r t

without parole. Reportedly, Governor Bush dismiss the story as totally off-base. It paints a
recommended commutation because the jurors completely inaccurate picture of a responsibil-
“did not know” certain facts when they sen- ity that then-Governor Bush took very serious-
tenced Lucas to death.47 Indeed, Lucas had ly. As governor, the president approached each
confessed to a series of murders that he could and every case in a deliberate and thoughtful
not have committed, as he was out of the state manner and received very sound and thorough
when they occurred. As Berlow notes, the counsel. Judge Gonzales is highly regarded and
same standard could have been used to grant well-respected for his experience, integrity and
clemency in several other cases that came legal expertise by those who know him.”53
across the governor’s desk. Clearly, Gonzales
should have mentioned similar contradictory We urge the Senate to conduct an independent
evidence in a number of the clemency memos, examination of the clemency memos.
but did not.
Reproductive Rights
For instance, the memorandum for David
Wayne Stoker failed to mention that a key wit- As Texas Supreme Court justice, Gonzales
ness had recanted his testimony against Stoker, ruled six times in cases interpreting that state’s
saying that he only testified against him parental notification law. In each, Gonzales
because the prosecutor threatened to bring a voted with the majority or the plurality – vot-
perjury charge if he did not stick to his story.48 ing to permit a judicial bypass once, deny once
The star witness against Stoker, Carey Todd, and remand to the trial court four times – and
testified at trial that he had received nothing for on each occasion emphasized that he was
implicating Stoker, failing to mention that a deciding the matter based upon strict statutory
neighboring county dropped criminal charges construction, rather than out of any personal
against him on the day of his testimony and belief in the propriety of abortion.
that he was paid $1,000 from Crime Stoppers
for implicating Stoker.49 As one opinion he joined stated, “We are not
called upon to decide the constitutionality or
Also, Stoker’s lead defense counsel later gave wisdom of abortion. Arguments for or against
up his law license in the face of disciplinary abortion do not advance the issue of statutory
sanctions50 and the psychiatrist who triggered construction presented by this case.”54
Stoker’s possible death penalty by declaring
the defendant a certain recidivist never even The famous charge leveled against Gonzales
examined him.51 But, the Gonzales memoran- by some on the right – that he criticized fellow
dum contains only this passage: “One court justice Patricia Owens for her anti-abortion
opinion states that the evidence is solely cir- views – seems somewhat misplaced. In that
cumstantial. Nonetheless, experts did deter- case, Gonzales dismissed a charge that the
mine that the .22 Ruger admitted into evidence, majority opinion erred and that “the general
seen in Stoker’s possession by his own brother rule of notification should be very rare and
within the weeks following the murder, was require a high standard of proof,” emphasizing
actually the murder weapon.”52 that he could find “nothing in the statute to
directly show that the Legislature intended
To date, the White House continues to sum- such a narrow construction.”55 He went on to
marily dismiss the Berlow story. It issued the note that while “the ramifications of such a law
following statement when the story broke: “We and the results of the Court’s decision here may

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

be personally troubling to me as a parent, it is However, in discussing the administration’s

my obligation as a judge to impartially apply consideration of the Federal Marriage
the laws of this state without imposing my moral Amendment (“FMA”), Bush announced in
view on the decisions of the Legislature.”56 August 2003 that he had assigned “lawyers” to
examine the different legislative approaches to
That said, Gonzales has made several statements banning same-sex marriage.60 Although
possibly hinting at his personal stance on abor- President Bush did not identify Gonzales as
tion rights. “All I’ll say about it is, how I feel one of the assigned lawyers, the Senate
personally may differ with how I feel about it Judiciary Committee ought to explore
legally.... It’s the law of the land,” he said in Gonzales’s role on the issue.
2001.57 Given these ambiguities, Gonzales
should also be asked if he played any role in the On Feb. 24, 2004, Bush called for a constitu-
issuance of an executive memorandum on the tional amendment in “defense” of marriage.
first day of Bush’s presidency restoring the ban Though he and his spokesman, Scott
on funding by the U.S. Agency for International McClellan, did not endorse a particular formu-
Development for international groups that advo- lation, McClellan did mention the amendments
cate or provide counsel on abortion. introduced by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) in their respec-
Affirmative Action tive chambers. Gonzales, who may have been
responsible for the legal vetting of the different
Gonzales’s record on equal opportunity pro- amendatory approaches, should make clear his
grams could be seen as both promising and position on the Musgrave-Allard amendments,
troubling. Though he was intricately involved in which would bar all marriage rights for same-
drafting the administration’s briefs in the two sex couples, and would likely ban civil unions
University of Michigan admissions cases decid- as well.
ed by the Supreme Court in 2003, Gonzales
apparently sought to weaken the language.58 Notably, the Musgrave-Allard amendment, as
After Gonzales started “carving up” Solicitor originally introduced, would have defined
General Theodore Olson’s language, Olson had marriage as exclusively between a man and a
“pangs of conscience in accepting it.”59 The woman, and would have stipulated that
result was a brief opposing the admissions poli- “[n]either this [United States] constitution or
cy, saying it looked too much like quotas, but the constitution of any state, nor state or fed-
supporting race-conscious diversity measures. eral law, shall be construed to require that
marital status or the legal incidents thereof be
We urge Gonzales to clarify his personal posi- conferred upon unmarried couples or
tion on the use of race-conscious equal oppor- groups.”61
tunity programs to increase diversity, remedy
ongoing discrimination or end the continued Though the federal marriage amendment was
ramifications of past discrimination. defeated soundly in both chambers of
Congress, the administration’s opposition to
The Bush Administration’s Support for the equal marriage rights, as well as its efforts to
Federal Marriage Amendment weaken existing protections, for gay and les-
bian Americans remain strong.
Gonzales’s personal stance on discrimination
based on sexual orientation is unclear. We urge Gonzales to clarify his views.

A n A C LU R e p o r t

Immigration on race, religion, color or national origin. The

order represented both the first concrete victo-
During his tenure as Texas secretary of state, ry of the modern civil rights movement and the
Gonzales made a series of encouraging state- beginning of a now long-standing policy pro-
ments on immigration (usually coupled with hibiting organizations and contractors that dis-
appeals against economic protectionism).62 As criminate against others from receiving federal
White House counsel, he has been a key backer tax dollars.
of the president’s guest-worker plan. While the
Senate should aggressively explore his views On Dec. 12, 2002, however, President Bush
on discriminatory border control programs like signed Executive Order 13279, which express-
the National Security Entry-Exit Registration ly rolled back many of the anti-discrimination
System (“NSEERS”), Gonzales should also be regulations and policies that had grown out of
applauded for resisting the hard-line anti- the Roosevelt order.65 The ostensible goal was
immigration sentiment in certain sectors of to enforce the “equal protection” of religious
Washington. organizations in federal contracting. The prac-
tical effect, however, is that it provides reli-
As secretary of state, Gonzales wrote an edito- gious groups with the right to discriminate
rial for The San Antonio Express-News blasting against current and potential employees based
an INS pilot program – similar, interestingly, to on religion.66
the current national entry-exit screening pro-
gram known as US Visit – that would track The Bush order comes after a decade of litiga-
cross-border movements in Eagle Pass, Texas. tion by special interest groups claiming a right
to fire people based on religious doctrine.67 The
Pointing to the tens of thousands of pedestrians implications of the Bush order, however, go
crossing between Mexico and the United States beyond just these cases. The order implicitly
every month, Gonzales wrote, “I find it hard to rejects the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s
believe that this new Departure Management holding in Bob Jones University v. United
System will be able to successfully track States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983), which removed
undocumented immigrants without burdening the university’s tax-exempt status because of
U.S. citizens and legitimate visitors.”63 He even overt racial discrimination justified by reli-
went so far as to call the burdensome identity gious precepts.
requirements “Big Brotherish.”64
The Senate should question Gonzales on the
We hope that Gonzales’s relatively moderate 2002 executive order, which was promulgated
perspective on immigration will lead him to an on his watch.
immigration policy that respects the civil liber-
ties of immigrants. V. Conclusion

The Bush Administration’s Faith-Based Given the extensive powers seized by the exec-
Initiative utive branch in the aftermath of 9/11, and the
eminent role the attorney general plays in that
More than 60 years ago, on June 25, 1941, branch, the Senate should do all in its power to
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first analyze the qualifications and positions of
executive order (No. 8802) prohibiting federal nominees to the post in order to ensure that the
defense contractors from discriminating based proper person is placed in that job. Gonzales

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

appears to be a committed friend to the admin- and national security with the need for individ-
istration, and he has amassed an extensive ual freedoms and privacy. Unfortunately, his
record as an attorney and jurist. personal feelings on these matters are largely a
subject for speculation, though the evidence that
Gonzales’s personal stance on core civil liberties does exist is not heartening.
matters will play a critical role in his efforts to
balance the need for effective law enforcement We respectfully urge the Senate to dig deeper.

Appendix I: Documents that should be released publicly

Select list of undisclosed documents referenced in news articles, government memoranda and

1. Memo from DOJ to CIA providing guidance on permissible interrogation techniques

and specifically authorizing “water-boarding” (Aug. 2001)

2. Presidential Order authorizing CIA to set up series of secret detention facilities (late 2001)

3. Memorandum from William Howard Taft IV, Department of State, responding to the
January 9, 2002 Yoo/Delahunty memo on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to
Taliban and al Qaeda detainees (Jan. 11, 2002)

4. Memorandum from James C. Ho, Attorney-Advisor, OLC, to John Yoo, Deputy

Assistant Attorney General, OLC, re: interpretation of Geneva Conventions’ Common
Article 3 (Feb. 1, 2002)

5. EC summarizing FBI’s concerns about DOD’s interrogation methods (May 30, 2003)

6. Cable from CIA agency station in Baghdad to CIA HQ expressing concern about cer-
tain interrogation techniques used by DOD (July, 2003)

7. Memo from Lt. Gen. Sanchez permitting high-pressure interrogation techniques at AGP
(Sept., 2003)

8. Documents relating to CIA’s request that DOD hold certain detainees without register-
ing them on prison rolls (Oct.-Nov., 2003)

9. Memo from Lt. Gen. Sanchez to MI personnel at AGP re: Interrogation rules of engage-
ment (Oct. 9, 2003)

10. Memo from DOJ re liability of interrogators under CAT and Anti-Torture Act when
prisoner not in U.S. custody (date unknown)

A n A C LU R e p o r t

Department general counsel, Re: Possible Habeas

Endnotes Jurisdiction Over Aliens Held In Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
(Dec. 28, 2001).
Memorandum from White House Counsel Alberto
Gonzales to President George W. Bush (Jan. 25, 2002), 9
Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. ___, 124 S.Ct. 2686, 2698 (2004).
available at
week (agreeing with Justice Department determination 10
Barry, supra note 5, at 30.
that Geneva Conventions protections do not apply to per-
sons held in the conflict against al Qaeda and the Taliban.) 11
Alberto R. Gonzales, Martial Justice, Full and Fair,
N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 30, 2001, at A27.
In particular, this report lists a series of documents per-
taining to post-9/11 military detentions that remain with- 12
held, but would shed initial light on the abuses of power IN THE PRESIDENT’S MILITARY COMMISSIONS, passim
that led, among other things, to the now infamous activ- (2004), available at:
ities at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. The ACLU calls OpenFile.cfm?id=15179.
on the president to affirmatively release these documents
on matters of such public import. 13
William Safire, Voices of Negativism, N.Y. TIMES, Dec.
6, 2001, at A35.
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 344 F. Supp. 2d 152 (D.D.C.
OFFICE ii (1985), 2004), petition for cert. filed, 73 U.S.L.W. 3338 (U.S.
counsel/Counsel-OD.PDF. Nov. 22, 2004) (No. 04-702).
Memorandum from John C. Yoo, Deputy Assistant 15
Id. at 3.
Attorney General, and Roger Delahunty, Special
Counsel, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of 16
Elizabeth Bumiller, The Office Where Law Meets War,
Justice, to William J. Haynes, General Counsel, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 23, 2002, at A22.
Department of Defense, on the “Application of Treaties
and Laws to al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees” (Jan. 2, 17
Brief for the Petitioner at 7, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542
2002), available at: U.S. ___, 124 S.Ct. 2711 (2004) (No. 03-1027).
5025040/site/newsweek; see also, Memorandum from
Jay S. Bybee, assistant attorney general, Office of Legal 18
See Helen Dewar, GOP Senators Block Subpoena on
Counsel, to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Memos But Prod White House, WASH. POST, June 18,
Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes 2004, at A23; ACLU Torture FOIA Landing Page, at:
on “Application of Treaties and Laws to al Qaeda and
Taliban Detainees” (Jan. 22, 2002), available at: 13962&c=36.
ments/012202bybee.pdf. 19
Barry, supra note 5, at 30.
John Barry et al., The Roots of Torture, NEWSWEEK, 20
Neil A. Lewis, Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse at
May 24, 2004, at 26. Guantánamo, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 30, 2004, at A1.
Gonzales, supra note 1, at 2. 21
Barry, supra note 5, at 32.
Id.; see also the Convention Relative to the Treatment 22
of Prisoners of War, Oct. 21, 1950, 6 U.S.T. 3517, Art. V BRIGADE, INVESTIGATING OFFICER MG ANTONIO M.
(“Geneva Convention III”) (stipulating that belligerent TAGUBA, DEPUTY COMMANDING GENERAL SUPPORT
detainees “shall enjoy the protection of the present COALITION FORCES LAND COMPONENT COMMAND § 2.33
Convention until such time as their status has been deter- (2004) (“The Taguba Report”), available at:
mined by a competent tribunal.”)

Memorandum from John C. Yoo and Patrick Philbin, 23
Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, Rumsfeld Issued an
Deputy Assistant Attorneys General, Justice Department Order to Hide Detainee in Iraq, N.Y. TIMES, June 17,
Office of Legal Counsel, to William J. Haynes, Defense 2004, at A1.

The Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Record of Attorney General Nominee Alberto Gonzales

Barry, supra note 5, at 31. See also Dana Priest and 41
See Robert Novak, The Arrogance of Power; Bush
Barton Gellman, U.S. Decries Abuse But Defends White House is Carrying on with Same Pretensions of
Interrogations; ‘Stress and Duress’ Tactics Used On Executive Privilege Clinton Hid Behind, CHIC. SUN
Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret Overseas Facilities, TIMES, Jan. 21, 2002, at 23.
WASH. POST, Dec. 26, 2002, at A1.
Alan Berlow, The Texas Clemency Memos, ATL.
Toni Locy and John Diamond, Memo Lists Acceptable MONTHLY, July/Aug. 2003, at 91.
‘Aggressive’ Interrogation Methods, USA TODAY, June
28, 2004, at A5. 43
They are available online at:
Michael Hirsh et al., A Tortured Debate: Amid Feuding
and Turf Battles, Lawyers in the White House Discussed 44
Berlow, supra note 42, at 93.
Specific Terror-Interrogation Techniques Like ‘Water-
Boarding’ and ‘Mock Burials,’ NEWSWEEK, June 21, 2004. 45
Id. at 92.

See General Powers of Special Counsel, 28 C.F.R. § 46
Id. at 93.
600.1-600.10 (2004).
Id. at § 600.1.
Id. at 94.
Id. at § 600.3(b) (requiring the attorney general to
“consult” with the assistant attorney general for 49
Steve Mills et al., GW Bush Has Executed 131 Inmates
administration). – Many With Seriously Flawed Trials, CHIC. TRIB., June
11, 2000, at 1.
Id. at § 600.4.
Id. at § 600.4(c).
Berlow, supra note 42, at 94. Indeed, the psychiatrist
Id. at § 600.7(c). was actually Dr. James Grigson, nicknamed “Dr. Death,”
who was expelled from the American Psychiatric
Id. at § 600.7(d). Association subsequent to the Stoker case because his
expert testimony was found to be repeatedly unethical.
Id. at § 600.7(b).
See, e.g., Memorandum from Alberto R. Gonzales to
Compare 28 C.F.R. § 600.7 (imposing Department of Governor George W. Bush Re Schedule Execution of David
Justice ethics rules on special counsel) with 28 U.S.C. § Wayne Stoker # 892 on Monday, June 16, 1997, at 6:00 pm
594(i) (2003) (establishing different conflict rules for (June 16, 1997) (at:
independent counsel).
Morning Edition (National Public Radio broadcast,
Neil A. Lewis, Ashcroft’s Terrorism Policies Dismay June 27, 2003).
Some Conservatives, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 24, 2002, at A1.
Theodore B. Olson, An Excellent Choice; Senate In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. 2000).
Should Confirm Alberto Gonzales, WASH. TIMES, Nov.
15, 2004, at A21. 55
In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 346, 365 (Tex. 2000).
Id. at 366.
George Lardner Jr., Bush Clamping Down on Chitra Ragavan, Bush’s Legal Eagle, Rising with the
Presidential Papers, WASH. POST, Nov. 1, 2001, at A33. Son, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, Mar. 12, 2001, at 31.

Adam Clymer, Government Openness At Issue as Bush 58
Robert Novak, [ White House Counsel Alberto
Holds Onto Records, N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 2, 2003, at A1. Gonzales...], CHIC. SUN TIMES, Jan. 23, 2003, at 31.

A n A C LU R e p o r t


Doug Ireland, Republicans Relaunch the Anti-Gay
Culture Wars, THE NATION, Oct. 20, 2003, at 18.

H.J. Res. 56, 108th Cong. (2003); S.J. Res. 26, 108th
Cong. (2003).

Alberto Gonzales, Mexico-Europe Trade is No Threat
to Texas, DALL. MORN. NEWS, Jan. 18, 1998, at 6J.

Alberto Gonzales, Comment: INS Pilot Program
Unfair to Eagle Pass Residents, SAN ANT. EXP. NEWS,
Mar. 2, 1998, at 9A.


Exec. Order No. 13,279, 67 Fed. Reg. 77,139 (Dec. 16,

Id. at § 4.

See, e.g., Boyd v. Harding Academy of Memphis, Inc.,
88 F.3d 410 (6th Cir. 1996) (permitting a religious school
to dismiss an unmarried pregnant teacher for having pre-
marital sex); Little v. Wuerl, 929 F.2d 944, 951 (3rd Cir.
1991) (permitting a religiously affiliated school to fire a
teacher who failed to have her marriage annulled prop-
erly); Hall v. Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., 215
F.3d 618, 625 (6th Cir. 2000) (upholding a religious
school’s dismissal of a school counselor after she
achieved a leadership position in a church that accepted
gay and lesbian members).