Alberto Gonzales' Difficult Past

The Chicago Tribune has some new details about the difficulties Attorney General Alberto Gonzales overcame in his life:

Gonzales' father was arrested for drunken driving five times in 17 years covering much of Gonzales' childhood and adolescence. Pablo Gonzales died in an industrial accident in 1982 when Gonzales was at Harvard Law School.

A younger brother, Rene Gonzales, died under mysterious circumstances in 1980. In 1991, the same year Alberto Gonzales became one of the first Hispanic partners at the white shoe Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, his younger sister Theresa pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to deliver. Nine years later, while Gonzales was on the Texas Supreme Court, his mother and another brother signed over their houses to a bail bondsman to raise bail for Theresa after she was charged with the same offense.

Most of these details did not arise in his Senate confirmation hearings, even though they might reasonably have been thought to affect his views about crime, drug and alcohol policy, and sentencing--all issues overseen or influenced by an attorney general.

What does the omissions of these details mean?


Their omissions illustrate the remarkable extent to which Gonzales, 51, has managed to control the telling of his life story and the impenetrability of his outwardly mild and friendly manner.

They are also a function of Gonzales' peculiar rise to power, an official whose career in government, first in Texas and then in Washington, has been under the protective wing of a single man. Since 1995, Gonzales has worked exclusively in jobs given to him by George W. Bush.

As for how Gonzales hooked up with Bush:

Through service in the Texas State Bar Association, Gonzales met Harriet Miers of Dallas, who until January was White House counsel.

In the 1990s, Miers was Bush's personal lawyer and helped bring Gonzales into the inner circle of the soon-to-be candidate for governor of Texas.

Gonzales' entire career since then has been Bush-driven:

In the ensuing years, Gonzales has been a Bush retainer exclusively, serving as general counsel, Texas secretary of state, Texas Supreme Court justice and White House counsel before taking the helm of the Justice Department in February 2005.

Shorter version: He was never equipped, politically or otherwise, for the job.

But, there's more and I find this especially troubling. So will any defense lawyer who represents drug offenders. Remember Gonzales' sister mentioned above:

In January 2000, while Gonzales sat on the Texas Supreme Court, his sister Theresa and an accomplice were arrested in a Houston-area drug bust in which police seized 40 grams of cocaine, nearly a pound of marijuana, more than $3,000 in cash, an assault rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and a .50 caliber handgun, plus several hundred rounds of ammunition.

Court records indicate that at the time of her arrest, Theresa Gonzales was on 10 years' probation following a guilty plea to a similar charge in 1991.

The outcome to Theresa's 2000 case.

Court records show that Theresa Gonzales was sentenced to 90 days' "jail therapy" and the charge against her was dismissed.

What does Gonzales say about this?

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Alberto Gonzales didn't know about his sister's arrest until after the case was settled.

"The Gonzales family chose not to inform then-Judge Gonzales because of his position until after the matter had been fully adjudicated," Roehrkasse said in a statement.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Still a fascist (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Domino on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 12:26:33 AM EST
    So, having a tough life makes a rush to fascism acceptable?

    He still lied to Congress as the Attorney General.

    Hmmm (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Heimyankel on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 12:46:46 AM EST
    Since blood is thicker than water I suppose AG handled the matter quietly and instructed his familia on their single talking point.

    It would seem so (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 08:32:03 AM EST
    on the other hand, some people around here  are slow on the uptake even when the dots are connected for them as succinctly as you have done.


    I don't really get the nature of this post (4.00 / 1) (#4)
    by roboleftalk on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 01:28:42 AM EST
    Gonzalez went to Harvard Law from difficult circumstances, so he's not a complete idiot.  Are you implying he intervened in his sister's case?  Honestly, I can't tell what the point is here.

    The obvious nature of this post (1.00 / 1) (#5)
    by beefeater on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 02:31:57 AM EST
    Is that Gonzales is from a really screwed up hispanic family and he certainly must pay for their sins. Can't have an AG with an alchohalic father (Obama, Clinton) or brother (Billy Carter) a criminal sibling (Rohdham) or maybe because he's brown! We need upstanding people like the Kennedy's (Teddy and RFK watching as their "girlfriends" died)to lead this nation.

    Good for him (none / 0) (#1)
    by WC Varones on Sat Mar 17, 2007 at 11:08:58 PM EST
    This kind of family background gives me a more favorable view of Gonzales.  He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth (unless his sister left coke spoons laying around).

    His performance as AG sucks, and he is emblematic of the Bush Administration hiring incompetent losers who are cronies (see also Heckuva Job Brownie and Harriet "Most Qualified" Miers).

    I'll be glad to see the end of this whole administration.

    It's interesting... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Deconstructionist on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 10:57:14 AM EST
      how we will all take these facts and draw different inferences from them.

       To me it is intriguing that a man with such a family history appears to to have, at least outwardly, been so capable of "compartmentalizing"  that he has no problem overseeing a Justice Department  dedicated to a rigid and draconian law enforcement model for addressing the drug abuse problem without being influenced by the problems in his own family.

      It's his job to enforce the laws, but one wonders several things. Did he ever pause to consider that maybe he should seek to advocate changes in the laws? Did he consciously choose not to advocate for reforms out of fear that it would draw attention to his family? Does he "overcompensate" by being aggressively pro-law enforcement?

    Theory in alcoholic families - eldest is hero (none / 0) (#12)
    by PaintyKat on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:28:12 AM EST
    His situation reminds me of this theory and I wonder if he is the eldest in the Gonzalez.

    Whatever the reason, appears Bush was able to easily manipulate him to do his dirty deeds.  

    Wonder if Harriet Miers has had any substance abuse problems.

    Bush is able to assemble some of the strangest crew members and they sseem somewhat like enablers who are happy to go along and cover his tail.

    Itis unfortunate that someone with Gonzalez background was responsible for the number of state murders he oversaw seemingly without an ounce of empathy.

    No matter how he got there, I hope Gonzalez is asked to be accountable for every instance of breaking the law.  It is the only fair thing and Mr. Gonzalez should be in total agreement.



    Gonzales' entire career... Bush-driven (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 09:42:33 PM EST
    Gonzales real job all along, as anyone knows quite well who is familiar with his long record of using law and logic not to further justice, but to justify George Bush's dictatorial fantasies with his "Unitary Executive" theory - dictatorial fantasies that have been brought to life in autocratic attempts at hijacking the US Government - has been consigliere to Bush, a job he's been doing ever since 1994 when he was named general counsel to then Texas Governor George W. Bush, rising to become Texas Secretary of State in 1997 and finally to be named to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999, both appointments made by Governor Bush.

    Being confirmed and sworn in as United States Attorney General in February 2005 following his nomination by Bush in 2004 was the last payment he received under the contract he signed turning over the rights to his soul.

    Gonzo's entire career for the past thirteen years has been built on obsequious ingratiation to what he thought was a rising star, George W. Bush. As with most rethugs he sees the world upside down and backwards.

    Gonzales thought he was a made man. A member of the family. Now he's finding out that he was just baggage all along.

    Like all Bush supporters and voters, he is where is he because he made the decision at some point to be nothing more than a pawn. He was appointed to his current position by Bush for really no other reason than to legitimize him, as payback for years of fawning sycophancy.

    Similar to a person with Stockholm Syndrome, he is a peasant to be manipulated, used and thrown under the bus, finally.

    How would you factor Cheney in (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by PaintyKat on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 01:32:34 AM EST
    Cheney started from rather humble beginnings and he was picked up along the way by older, rich folks but I think he is perhaps cold enough but benefitted  from happenstance.  He was in the right place at the right time and he made it the right time -- when he could.



    My opinion of Cheney? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 04:46:59 AM EST
    I think Dick Cheney is probably extremely intelligent if not bordering on genius, but at the same time is your average completely devoid of empathy psychopath - I mean he's probably literally missing the empathy circuits in his brain - who is in his element in politics and has spent his entire political life building a loyal network of contacts in positions of power throughout the government and the military, and a widespread feeling (myth?) that he is so powerful and capable of personal destruction (beyond even the level of Rove) that he is rarely refused a 'request', because people fear him.

    Cheney I think is a natural master manipulator, the opposite of Gonzales in some ways. I think Gonzales is not psychopathic but has learned to bury his own emotions and swallow his pride and convince himself that what he does is right to get ahead - a willing pawn, IOW. I think Cheney couldn't care less, and wouldn't waste a second convincing himself that what he does is right - moral questions don't factor into Cheney's equations.