Hearing of the Committee on the Judiciary Confirmation Hearing on the Nomination of Alberto R. Gonzalas to be Attorney General of the United States
STATEMENT OF HON. MIKE DEWINE, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
Senator DeWine. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Judge Gonzales, thank you very much for being with us today. Judge, every Attorney General is or most Attorneys
General are known for something. Robert Kennedy was known for his crusade in regard to organized crime, and then, of course, later on we remember him for civil rights; Attorney General Barr for his efforts in regard to guns and gangs; Attorney
General Reno, her efforts in regard to children, domestic violence; Attorney General Thornburgh, internationalization of
crime in the area of drugs, organized crime. We could go on and on.
Four years from now, what do you want to be remembered for?
Judge Gonzales. Well, Senator--
Senator DeWine. Excluding, if I could, excluding the war on terrorism.
Judge Gonzales. Senator, I think the Department of Justice is somewhat unique from other agencies. I'm not sure that an
Attorney General can afford to focus in providing or dispensing justice in one area to the exclusion of the other. And so I
would hope that certainly at the end of 4 years it would be said that Al Gonzales did the very best he could, and hopefully
was successful in ensuring that there was justice provided to Americans all across the spectrum on a wide variety of issues.
It also is my sincere hope that I would be remembered, if I am confirmed today, as someone who renewed the vitality, the
importance of the work that goes on at the Department of Justice. I know that there are some--there are wonderful people
who come to work every day, and they come to work with one goal in mind, and that is the pursuit of justice for all Americans.
And I feel a special obligation, maybe a special, an additional burden, coming from the White House, to reassure the career
people at the Department and to reassure the American people that I'm not going to politicize the Department of Justice.
But with respect to specific areas that I probably would like to have special emphasis on, of course, the first one is
the war on terror. I also, because of my background, believe very much in the protection of civil rights, the protection of
our voting rights, and the protection of our civil liberties. I continue to believe that we have far too many drugs in our
society and that should be a focus.
I am concerned about violent crime in our society, and I am concerned about the use of certain kinds of weapons in
connection with those crimes. I think obscenity is something else that very much concerns me. I've got two young sons, and
it really bothers me about how easy it is to have access to pornography.
And so those are a few things that I would be focused on, but, again, I think the Department of Justice is unique and
that my goal, as impossible as it may be or may seem, is to try to ensure that justice is administered across the spectrum.
Senator DeWine. Judge, there are never enough resources for any prosecutor. I was a county prosecutor. We never had enough resources, or we did not think we did, anyway. You pick and choose. You make decisions.
The Attorney General has that problem. U.S. Attorneys have that problem every day. Congress really has not helped; we have not helped. We have increased the number of Federal crimes. We keep doing it every Congress. We have mandatory minimums. Most U.S. Attorneys in recent years have said that the U.S. Attorneys must charge--most Attorneys General have said that the U.S. Attorneys must charge the highest possible offenses. So the local U.S. Attorneys are overworked. They have to, frankly, pick and choose their cases.
Then we had September 11th, and we had a whole new emphasis--an emphasis on the war on terrorism. From previous
conversations with your predecessor and with the FBI and with published documents from the Attorney General's office, it is
clear that the Attorney General and the Justice Department is not doing some things, not prosecuting certain cases that you
were prosecuting in the past.
How are you going to set your priorities? And how are you going to deal with the fact that you are not prosecuting some
things that you were prosecuting in the past? For example, you are not putting the emphasis on drug cases that you were able
to do in the past. And this is not a criticism. I am not saying if I was Attorney General I would be doing it any differently.
But to be Attorney General is to choose. To be Attorney General is to make policy. To be Attorney General is to tell every U.S.
Attorney in this country this is what is important and this is what is not so important.
That is what I am trying to get from you today, and I need a little more specifics from you, if I could.
Judge Gonzales. Senator, I wouldn't be so arrogant as to assume today that I have all the information that I would need
to make that kind of--
Senator DeWine. No, but, Judge, you have been in the White House in a very high position for 4 years. You have been
involved in the justice system for 4 years, and prior to that at the State level you were intimately involved as well. So you
have a great background for this, and I would like your comments, sir.
Judge Gonzales. Well, an initial comment I would make is you talked about the Attorney General being in the role of sort
of a policymaker. As a member of the President's Cabinet, I am a member of the President's team so that he will have certain
priorities, and obviously his priorities will become my priorities in terms of policymaking--not in the area of law enforcement or in prosecutions, but in the area of making policy.
I think that once again we will have to call upon our continued cooperation with State and locals in order to
maximize those relationships to ensure that we have sufficient resources. And I understand that they have the same problem in
terms of lack of adequate resources to prosecute all kinds of crimes. But I think cooperation not just with State and locals,
I think there needs to be greater cooperation within the Department itself. There need to be more sharing of information
in order to maximize efficiencies that are possibly there. But, Senator, I do not have specific ideas today about what kinds of
priorities would exist for me. I spoke earlier about the types of issues that would have special attraction and appeal to me,
and I suspect that those would be issues that will ultimately become priorities in a Gonzales Department of Justice, if
Senator DeWine. Well, Judge, I think one of the things that certainly we look for and certainly I look for from the next
Attorney General is candor. And I think what would be very helpful is candor to the American people in explaining as the
war on terrorism continues, to explain to the American people what the Justice Department is not doing and what you do not
have the ability to do anymore so that we can make policy choices. The Congress and the administration and the American
people can make policy choices and come to Congress and say we are not doing this anymore, this is an area we cannot do
anymore because of the war on terrorism. And you do not have to even get into specifics today. I am just asking if you agree
with that and if you will make a commitment to us today that when you come to this Committee and testify, will you be honest
with us and tell us, Senators, we are not doing this because we are doing something else?
Judge Gonzales. Absolutely, Senator. I will make that commitment. Let me tell you that it would be a priority of mine
to not only inform but educate, not only this Committee but the American people about what the Department is doing and why we are doing it. There is a great deal of misinformation and fiction out there about what the Department is doing, and I
think that one of my goals should be to educate and inform this Committee and the American people about what the Department is doing and why we are doing it and why what we are doing is, in fact, lawful.
Senator DeWine. You talked about policy. I understand the President sets the policy, and that is absolutely true. But
ultimately, you know, whether you call it policy or whatever you want to call it, the Attorney General and the President,
you are making choices about what the emphasis is.
One final question. I see the light is on. The area of technology is something that is very near and dear to my heart.
You and I have talked privately about this. I wonder if you could just give us your commitment that the updating of the
FBI's technology, which we all have heard so much about as being such a problem, will be one of your priorities and
something that when you come in front of this Committee you will report to us and that you will give us an accurate
description of how that updating of the FBI's computer systems and its entire technology is coming. It is something that I
think every member of this panel is very, very concerned about and every Member of Congress is concerned about.
Judge Gonzales. Absolutely, you have my commitment on that. Senator, I do know that it is the highest priority for Director
Mueller. I said earlier that the war on terror really is a war about information. We have to have the most updated technology
in order to gather up that information, to analyze that information. So you do have my commitment, Senator.
Senator DeWine. I appreciate it, and we need to know when you don't have the resources to get it done. And, again, in
regard to candor, you have to be candid with us and say we do not have enough money, we do not have the resources, when you do not in that area.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.