Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced his resignation today, ending a controversial cabinet tenure that included clashes with Congress over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys and over the use of warrantless wiretaps in the war on terror.
? Gonzales will step down on Sept. 17. In a brief statement, he called his 13 years in public service a “remarkable journey,” but he gave no explanation about why he chose to resign now after resisting months of pressure to quit.
However, persistent reports over the last several months have indicated that he was not being permitted to resign until the administration could line up someone willing to replace him, but not willing to discontinue his most controversial defenses of the Administration.
An administration official said that Gonzales had told President Bush of his decision on Friday, but the announcement was withheld until the two met face to face on Sunday at Bush’s ranch in Crawford. Bush planned to make a statement shortly before noon from Waco, Tex. Gonzales took no questions from the press as he announced his plans, but he said that even his “worst days” as attorney general were “better than my father’s best days” as a migrant worker in Texas.
Or someone tortured in a secret prison thanks to a legal memo penned by Mr. Gonzales. Or even a U.S. attorney fired for refusing to pursue politically motivated cases. Being an Attorney General in an administration willing to make the law up as it went along has undoubtedly been a thrilling adventure, and it’s nice to know that someone out there enjoyed it.
Michael Chertoff is considered a likely successor, though his “gut feeling“s might prove as difficult to understand as Gonzales’s memory troubles have been.