FACULTY PETITION REGARDING THE HIRING OF ALBERTO GONZALES                                                 HOME PAGE

(footnotes omitted)

We, the undersigned faculty of Texas Tech University, object to the recently-announced hiring of Alberto Gonzales.1 We believe that his hiring is objectionable for two reasons:

(1) the Chancellor should not be involved in the hiring of faculty, and

(2) Texas Tech University should not hire Alberto Gonzales.

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We call your attention to Texas Tech University’s "Statement of Ethical Principles" (and the motto "Do the Right Thing").2 Hiring a "good friend"3 of the Chancellor’s, especially a person who resigned amid widespread calls for his impeachment and charges that he had committed perjury in his testimony to Congress, in addition to the tenuous commitment to the truth documented below, cannot be seen as a commitment to ethical conduct.

We recognize the right of the Chancellor to hire administrators, and we understand that Gonzales will be involved in outreach to minority students. Gonzales’s personal story–growing up in Humble, Texas, one of eight children living in a two-bedroom house, graduating from Columbia University and Harvard Law School–is undeniably inspiring. For many people, however, their most vivid memories of Gonzales are of his repeated claims to memory failure when testifying before Congress. A story in USA TODAY reported that "[i]n his testimony on April 19, 2007, Gonzales stated at least 71 times that he couldn't recall events related to the controversy" about the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys.4

We are troubled by the involvement of the Chancellor in academic affairs. Hiring faculty is paradigmatically the responsibility of academic departments (and other academic units). We remember the controversy that arose last year when the Chancellor’s Office contended that the faculty do not teach enough. It is not appropriate for the Chancellor to be calling the Deans of the various Colleges asking them to hire particular individuals.

Gonzales’s appointment is a troubling example of a ‘celebrity hire.’ It is unclear what Gonzales has done that makes him deserving of employment at Texas Tech. Does he have a noteworthy academic record? Does he have a record of publishing in law reviews? Was his service to his country particularly distinguished? (We present evidence below that it was not.) Has Gonzales ever taught an undergraduate course? Will he be an effective teacher?

In short, how does Texas Tech benefit? Having a celebrity on campus does not seem worth a $100,000 salary. Many departments across campus would be able to hire two outstanding visiting professors from the best universities in the world for that amount of money.

We are also troubled by the Chancellor’s remark (as reported in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal) that Gonzales might be a permanent addition to the Texas Tech community. "‘If he likes it here and he does a good job, he’ll have an opportunity to stay on,’ Hance said."5


Gonzales was not merely a controversial Attorney-General and White House Legal Counsel. His years in the White House were characterized by conduct which, whether or not it was illegal, demonstrated significant ethical failings. For example, Gonzales:

(1) frequently misled or lied to congress and the american people:

(I) The Firing of Nine United States Attorneys:

A report prepared by the Department of Justice (released September 2008) concluded:

In sum, we believe that the process used to remove the nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 was fundamentally flawed. . . . [T]o make matters worse, after the removals became public the statements and congressional testimony provided by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, Sampson, and other Department officials about the reasons for the removals were inconsistent, misleading, and inaccurate in many respects.6

(See Attachment 2: Appendix for additional excerpts from this report.)

(ii) In testifying before Congress in April 2005 about re-authorization of the USA Patriot Act, Gonzales denied knowledge of civil liberties violations even though he had recently been notified of such abuses. According to an article in the WASHINGTON POST:

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005. Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.7

(iii) When testifying in December 2004 about the controversial "torture memo" by John Yoo, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Gonzales seemed to avoid accepting responsibility:

Gonzales acknowledged he took part in meetings about the August 2002 torture memo, although he was careful to avoid taking responsibility for ordering it. The memo from a Justice Department official begins, "You have asked for our office's views." Asked if he requested the memo, Gonzales replied, "I don't recall if it was requested by me."8

(iv) According to a story on National Public Radio on July 24, 2007:

Months ago, Gonzales said under oath that there had been no serious disagreement in the Justice Department about President Bush's domestic spying program. It later came out that there had been heated exchanges over the program. In May, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey told the committee that there had been a major disagreement over the program in 2004, when Gonzales was White House counsel.9

The recently-released (July 10, 2009) "Unclassified Report on the President’s Surveillance Program" by the Inspectors-General (of the Defense and Justice Departments, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) concluded that "Gonzales did not intend to mislead Congress," but "his testimony was confusing, inaccurate, and had the effect of misleading those who were not knowledgeable about the program."10

(2) rejected the Geneva Conventions

One of Gonzales’s most controversial actions was his effort to persuade President Bush that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the "War on Terror." In a January 25, 2002 memo to President Bush, he wrote:

In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on enemy prisoner’s and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy soldiers be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of month pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.11

In his confirmation hearings to be confirmed as Attorney-General, however, he said: "Contrary to reports, I consider the Geneva Conventions neither obsolete nor quaint.12 But it was his own memo to the President that described the Geneva Conventions in those terms.13

(3) denied the constitutional right of habeas corpus

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2007, Gonzales stated (in an exchange with Senator Specter): "there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away." To which (after further exchanges) Specter replied: "Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?"14

But six years earlier, in an Op-Ed piece for the NEW YORK TIMES ("Martial Justice, Full and Fair") on November 30, 2001, while defending President Bush’s order establishing military commissions, Gonzales sought to allay civil liberties concerns by saying: "Under the order, anyone arrested, detained or tried in the United States by a military commission will be able to challenge the lawfulness of the commission's jurisdiction through a habeas corpus proceeding in a federal court." (In "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld" [548 U. S. 557 (2006)] the Supreme Court ruled that the military tribunals violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions, especially Common Article 3.)

(4) appeared to be more loyal to president bush than to the constitution

When President Bush nominated Gonzales to become Attorney-General, many people worried that he would continue to regard himself as the President’s lawyer and would be unwilling to disagree with the President. Seeking to alleviate such worries, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee (in January 2005): "I will no longer represent only the White House," he said Thursday. "I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the difference between the two roles."15

(I) In THE DARK SIDE, Jane Mayer unfavorably contrasts Gonzales and the previous Attorney General, John Ashcroft:

As Attorney General, Ashcroft had backed up the Justice Department lawyers when they tried to stop the Bush Administration from breaking laws in the instance of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. . . . Unlike Ashcroft, Gonzalez was faced with allegations of lawlessness at the highest levels of the administration, he deferred, particularly to the wishes of Vice President Cheney.16

(ii) Referring to the firing of the US Attorneys, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher said:

Even for Republicans this is a warning sign . . . saying there needs to be a change. Maybe the president should have an attorney general who is less a personal friend and more professional in his approach.17

(iii) The Inspectors-General Report (on the President’s Surveillance Program) reveals that when Gonzales made his well-publicized visit to John Ashcroft (in intensive care, recovering from surgery), he was acting on the instructions of President Bush. The report also states: "Gonzales reasoned that Ashcroft, who was still hospitalized, was not in any condition to sign a renewal of the Authorization" (p. 22)–of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP). Nevertheless, Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card went to the hospital, hoping that Ashcroft would sign the reauthorization over the objections of the Acting Attorney General James Comey. But they were rebuffed by Ashcroft who said (according to Comey):

‘I’m not the Attorney General. There is the Attorney General,’ and he pointed to me–I was just to his left. The two men [Gonzales and Card] did not acknowledge me; they turned and walked from room. . . [FBI Director] Mueller wrote in his notes: ‘AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed" (p. 22).

The Inspectors-General report then says that, on the next day, "with the Presidential Authorization set to expire, President Bush signed a new Authorization for the PSP. In a departure from the past practice of having the Attorney General certify the Authorization as to form and legality, the March 11 Authorization was certified by White House Counsel Gonzales" (p. 23)–over the objections of Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Patrick Philbin, and the Deputy Attorney General Comey (at that time, also the Acting Attorney General).1

(iv) In THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, Paul Waldman wrote:

Given just how far this Attorney General has gone to subvert the mission of the Justice Department and rubber stamp each and every attempt by the administration to declare itself above the law, it's unfathomable that anyone, no matter how corrupt, could possibly have done a worse job. Gonzales' unswerving fealty to whatever George Bush happens to want to do demonstrates one danger of loyalty, the fact that if its object is less than virtuous, the result is the inevitable corruption of the loyal subject. But loyalty is also the foundation on which cronyism rests.2

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