Alberto Gonzales is the new Donald Rumsfeld.
Up until President Bush replaced his defense secretary a day after the midterm elections, Rummy was synonymous with the arrogance, secrecy and detachment from reality that botched the war in Iraq and abandoned Afghanistan.
Now Gonzales is the figure most identified with the second casualty in the war on terror–the erosion of the rule of law at home. He’s at the center of two metastasizing Justice Department scandals: the political purge of eight top US prosecutors and the FBI’s misuse of the Patriot Act to compile thousands of personal, business and financial records without judicial approval.
He’s also the man who helped formulate the Bush Administration’s “torture memos,” championed the warrantless wiretapping program and undermined minority rights enforcement at DOJ. Civil liberties advocates now believe that if John Ashcroft was bad, Gonzales is worse.
In recent days, the New York Times (their editorial is a must-read) and leading politicians, such as Chuck Schumer, have called on Gonzales to resign. “One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later,” Senator Arlen Specter said last week.
Democrats and a growing number of Republicans are hoping for the former.