Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Alberto Gonzalez in town

Julie Kay covers Alberto Gonzalez's talk yesterday in Miami:

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came to Miami Monday to talk about the threat of nuclear terrorism worldwide — but ducked questions about whether he will keep his job and about a new immigration judge scandal involving his Department of Justice.

"Ducked"? More like a sitting duck...

Gonzales was the luncheon keynote speaker at the Global Initiative Nuclear Terrorism Law Enforcement Conference in Miami. Law enforcement officials from 36 countries are attending the weeklong conference, featuring speakers including FBI Director Robert Mueller and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. After his speech about how countries must work together to intercept and foil plots by terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons, Gonzales fended off questions from reporters at a brief news conference. His demeanor was calm, even bemused. He didn’t seem ruffled, as he frequently was during his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating the alleged political firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Why be upset? Why get ruffled? He works for the Decider!

When asked how he can be effective while facing an unusual no-confidence vote in the Senate Gonzales said: “I’m not focusing on what the Senate is doing, I’m focusing on my job. That’s what the American people expect. I serve at the pleasure of the president.” By deadline Monday afternoon, the Senate had not yet voted on the non-binding resolution. When asked about an editorial in the New York Times Monday calling for his ouster, Gonzales laughed and said, “I haven’t read it.” Like President Bush, he said, “I remain focused on sprinting to the finish line. The issues we’re working on are too darned important. That’s why I’m here today talking about global terrorism. That’s why I was in Mexico recently talking about violent crime.” When asked by a reporter if he could still be effective in his job, he answered: “I’m still meeting with my counterparts and they’re interested in meeting with me.” Gonzales also was asked about a report in Monday’s Washington Post that the Bush administration and the Justice Department emphasized Republican Party loyalty over expertise in selecting immigration judges.

Read a newspaper?! Ha! No need to read newspapers! Let's go sprinting.

Gonzales declined to comment on the Post report except to say, “I don’t approve of practices that are not permitted by law.” He also deflected questions about why Jose Padilla, currently standing trial in Miami with several co-defendants for allegedly plotting acts of terrorism, was never indicted or charged with plotting to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, as the Justice Department originally accused him. “He’s currently on trial and it would not be appropriate for me to comment,” he said. But he’s not standing trial for the dirty bomb charge, a reporter countered. “I will not comment on any activities involving Mr. Padilla that are not in the indictment,” Gonzales responded.

Yes, he left that to his predecessor John Aschcroft.

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