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Public Statements

Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on DOJ Oversight


Location: Washington, DC

Senator Biden's Statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on DOJ Oversight

"Mr. Chairman, I have already made known my view that Attorney General Gonzales has failed to properly fulfill his duties as Attorney General of the United States, and that he should step down. Recent events have only confirmed that view.

"Over two years ago, I voted against then-White House Counsel Gonzales's nomination to be Attorney General because I believed he lacked the judgment to serve as the Nation's chief law enforcer and the independence to serve as the People's lawyer after so many years as the President's lawyer.

"Simply put, the Attorney General's record, both before assuming the duties of Attorney General and since, disqualifies him from continuing as our Attorney General. He has:

• Counseled the President to ignore the Geneva Conventions and the military's experience and values in the treatment of prisoners, and to set up the shadowy prison at Guantanamo Bay;

• Requested and endorsed the now-infamous torture memo, which led to terrible abuses such as the horrors of Abu Ghraib;

• Permitted the President's illegal wiretapping program that allows intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on the conversations of Americans without a judge's approval or Congressional authorization or oversight;

• Failed to protect the privacy of the American people when he allowed the FBI to flagrantly misuse National Security Letters to get the private financial, phone and Internet records of American citizens;

• Directed argument three times at the Supreme Court, losing all three, that the United States can hold people indefinitely without their day in court; and

• Fired some of America's best and brightest U.S. Attorneys for what appear to be crass political reasons, shattering the American people's faith that their laws will be enforced impartially, and with the integrity we expect from our prosecutors.

"Responsibility for the recent U.S. Attorney scandal, however, is not limited to Mr. Gonzales; nor, from what we have learned thus far, is it limited to the Department of Justice. The circle of influence involved in the decision to dismiss the U.S. Attorneys seems to grow daily, and clearly reached well into the White House and the Executive Office of the President. The mere fact of the White House's involvement is itself justification for relevant White House staff to provide testimony to this Committee.

"Any White House officials with knowledge regarding the firings of the U.S. Attorneys should come before Congress and testify under oath. Thousands of Americans swear to tell the truth across the country every day - in courtrooms, before notaries public, and in testimony before Congress. This Administration should be treated no differently.

"From the NSA wiretaps, to Abu Ghraib, to Guantanamo Bay, to FBI abuse of the Patriot Act, to now the White House saying staff will only submit to unsworn, unrecorded testimony - this Administration has a deplorable pattern of abusing power and it must end.

"Mr. Chairman, I am hopeful that at today's hearing we can shed more light on exactly what happened with regard to the dismissal of the U.S. Attorneys. No more misleading answers; no more pointing of fingers at others to place the blame; no more attempts to protect the President at the expense of the American people. It's time for some straight answers. I hope we get them."

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