After months of calls by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress for his resignation, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced this morning that he was stepping down, effective September 17. Gonzales’ term was marked by controversy, most recently concerning the firing of eight US Attorneys last fall. Congress is investigating whether these dismissals were politically motivated. Gonzales was also heavily criticized for the Bush Administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping, as well as his role in crafting a memo in 2002 that supported aggressive interrogation tactics of suspected al Qaeda members, according to the Washington Post.
“Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job,’ said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). ‘He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say no to Karl Rove. This resignation is not the end of the story. Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead, into the White House.”
Gonzales is the latest in a string of high-profile White House resignations since November 2006, when former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned one day after the election when Democrats took back both houses of Congress. Those who followed include Dan Bartlett, communications director; chief White House counsel (and one-time Supreme Court nominee) Harriet Miers; Sara Taylor, political director; and, most notably, Karl Rove, top Bush advisor. In addition, Paul Wolfowitz, who was an architect of the Bush’s Iraq strategy in his position as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005, announced his decision in May to step down as president of the World Bank after an investigation found that he had broken ethics rules and harmed the reputation of the World Bank, according to the Washington Post.