NPR logo Timeline: The Career of Alberto Gonzales


Timeline: The Career of Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales has been in George Bush's inner circle since Bush's years as the governor of Texas. Their relationship has weathered numerous controversies, such as those over the administration's policies addressing torture and the U.S. attorney firings. Key events in his career as a Bush confidant include:

1994: Joins the administration of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush as general counsel, advising the governor on dozens of death-penalty cases, among other issues.

December 1997: Bush taps Gonzales to be Texas secretary of state.

January 1999: Bush appoints Gonzales to the Texas Supreme Court.

January 2001: Joins President Bush's administration in Washington, D.C., as White House counsel. In that position, plays a key role in developing the Bush administration's controversial policies on the treatment of prisoners and enemy combatants in the global war on terrorism.

February 2002: As White House counsel, writes a memo in which he dismisses the Geneva Conventions as "obsolete."

August 2002: Requests and signs off on a legal memo that drastically narrows the definition of torture, to allow Defense Department and CIA interrogators to use methods widely seen as torture. The legal opinion is later rescinded by the Bush administration.

Feb. 3, 2005: Confirmed by the Senate to succeed John Ashcroft as U.S. attorney general — the first Hispanic American to serve in that position. However, most Democrats oppose his confirmation, accusing him of playing a leading role in providing legal grounds for torture of foreign detainees.

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March 2005-March 2006: Leads the Bush administration's campaign to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Dec. 19, 2005: A few days after The New York Times reports that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop inside the United States without warrants, Gonzales says Congress gave Bush broad war powers after the 2001 terrorist attacks, tying that support to the president's approval of warrantless wiretapping.

March 9, 2006: President Bush signs the Patriot Act reauthorization into law. One provision allows the attorney general to appoint replacement U.S. attorneys indefinitely without Senate confirmation.

July 18, 2006: While testifying about Bush's terrorist surveillance programs before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales confirms Bush blocked a Justice Department investigation of the domestic spying program.

Nov. 27, 2006: Attends a meeting to discuss the upcoming U.S. attorney dismissals.

Dec. 7, 2006: Seven U.S. attorneys are dismissed by the Justice Department.

Jan. 18, 2007: Tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would never make a change in a U.S. attorney position for political reasons. Also declines to discuss operational details of the warrantless spying program, a day after announcing that the program is now being monitored by a secret court.

March 13, 2007: Gonzales insists he will not resign over attorney firings, but holds a press conference, saying, "Mistakes were made."

March 14, 2007: Bush says he has confidence in Gonzales, although he says the firings were mishandled.

April 19, 2007: While Gonzales is again questioned before the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Democrats and some Republicans call for his resignation, saying they have lost faith in him.

June 11, 2007: Republicans block a no-confidence resolution on Gonzales in the Senate.

July 10, 2007: The Washington Post reports that Gonzales received at least half a dozen reports of FBI violations of the Patriot Act in the weeks and months before he told senators in 2005 that no violations had taken place.

July 24, 2007: Gonzales again testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, this time denying accusations that he tried to pressure then-Attorney General Ashcroft into reauthorizing the administration's warrantless spying program while Ashcroft was in the hospital recovering from surgery in 2004. Apparent conflicts in his testimony lead a group of Senate Democrats to call for a perjury investigation.

Aug. 27, 2007: Gonzales announces his resignation and says he will step down Sept. 17.