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Gonzales on Gonzales:
From the Wall Street Journal, Alberto Gonzales complains about his reputation following his service as White House Counsel and Attorney General:
"I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."
Yup, when I think of casualties of the war on terror, I think of 3,000 people killed on 9/11, troops killed since then, civilian casualties in war zones, and the reputation of Alberto Gonzales, pretty much all together.
Gulf Coast Bandit (mail):
Wow. As Bugs Bunny might say, what a ma-roon.
12.31.2008 1:40pm
Belligerati (mail) (www):
If you lost your mind due to having your reputation ruined as a result of the war on terror, you could be a casualty of it even if physically unharmed.

Perhaps Gonzales is a drama queen bloviator anyway, but you don't have to die to be a casualty, just seriously harmed or lost to the fight.
12.31.2008 1:47pm
Steve H:
War is hell.
12.31.2008 1:52pm
methodact:
Gonzales' subtext appears to be, "Please don't prosecute me, I've been punished enough already."
12.31.2008 2:00pm
Steve:
I consider this the perfect farce with which to bring the year to a close. Happy New Year.
12.31.2008 2:04pm
Crust (mail):
Belligerati:
If you lost your mind due to having your reputation ruined as a result of the war on terror, you could be a casualty of it even if physically unharmed.
Whatever psychological damage poor, poor Gonzales may have suffered it surely pales in comparison to that suffered by most of the widows and grieving parents of those killed on 9/11 and so on. Yet I've never heard anyone refer to a widow(er) or grieving parent as a "casualty".
12.31.2008 2:05pm
Awesome-O:
If Alberto Gonzalez is a casualty of the War on Terror, it's only because he was a suicide bomber.
12.31.2008 2:07pm
Jonathan F.:
I'm not sure this is a particularly fair criticism. If you believe, as I think Gonzales does, that the term "war on terror" encompasses all our multifaceted approaches toward combatting terror, then one who voluntarily sacrifices his reputation for the good of that effort is, in a metaphorical sense at minimum, a casualty. This is exactly what Batman elects to do, for the good of Gotham, in The Dark Knight. And I don't think it's particularly disrespectful to the dead in battle to apply a metaphorical sense of "casualty" to one in this position -- people do so all the time, for instance by saying that American civil liberties have been a victim of the war on terror. (If Gonzales wanted a cenotaph at Arlington for his reputation, that would be another matter.)

Also, the 3000 people killed on 9/11 weren't casualties of the war on terror.
12.31.2008 2:07pm
srg:
Oren,

Jonathan F. is right. The 3,000 were not killed because of the War on Terror. This is the first time I have seen you write something so unfair. (However, I am not defending Gonzales.)
12.31.2008 2:09pm
A Law Dawg:
The 3,000 were victims of the War on Terror as surely as the dead at Pearl Harbor were victims of the War in the Pacific.
12.31.2008 2:15pm
merevaudevillian:
"pretty much all together"

I don't know that that's entirely fair, Prof. Kerr. Prof. Yoo's reputation is similarly a "casualty." Satirical portrayals of Mohammed is a "casualty." And so on. While they may not match the gravity of the thousands dead, I wouldn't be too terribly malicious in rebuking Mr. Gonzales.
12.31.2008 2:17pm
Anderson (mail):
If you lost your mind due to having your reputation ruined as a result of the war on terror

Word is that Gonzales didn't get any *less* bright in the White House.

It *does* seem to've affected his memory, however.
12.31.2008 2:19pm
JB:
The 3,000 were not killed because of the War on Terror.

What? The 3,000 were the first casualties of the War on Terror. Possibly not the first, if you count the victims of the U.S.S. Cole and embassy bombings in the Clinton years, and on the other side those killed by Clinton's air strikes in Sudan etc.
12.31.2008 2:19pm
Anderson (mail):
Prof. Yoo's reputation is similarly a "casualty."

Are we counting self-inflicted wounds?
12.31.2008 2:19pm
R Nebblesworth:
Perhaps, on the planet he lives on, this is true. His weakness is: this is Earth.
12.31.2008 2:22pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Yeah, I'm sure he can't sleep at night, what with the PTSD he has from his tough lawyer job. Cue the extra sad violins.
12.31.2008 2:26pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
But he hasn't lost his sense of humor. In defending the attempt to get Ashcroft's sign-off on an order from a hospital bed, Gonzales says ""I found Ashcroft as lucid as I've seen him at meetings in the White House." Heh.
12.31.2008 2:29pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Prof. Yoo's reputation is similarly a "casualty."

what about the reputation of the institution that employs him?
12.31.2008 2:29pm
wm13:
The real problem with Gonzales's formulation is that his troubles stem mostly from his inappropriate management of the Justice Department, and not from controversial decisions made in the War on Terror.

In contrast, if someone described Mukasey's treatment by Boston College as a harm suffered in the War on Terror--or the professors at Boston College as being "on the other side"--that would be much more defensible.
12.31.2008 2:30pm
A.:
It's only a War cause Terror fights back. The 3000 were Terror's kills.
12.31.2008 2:31pm
donaldo rodriquez:
Mr. Gonzales was a victim of hiring by quota. Was he the best qualified for his job? How about Colin Powell or Condo Rice? Estimable individuals, to be sure, but is it necessary to sacrifice excellence for an admittedly interesting goal?

With the new economic conditions, it is to be hoped that a new mindset will eventuate: hire people based on their abilities!

Any honest business person will tell you (off the record) that they would dearly like to hire employees based solely upon what they can contribute to the enterprise and its shareholders and stakeholders, and not hire lazy slackers and persons of whom it is necessary to dance on eggshells for fear of a debilitating lawsuit.

Any union or race-based hiring system will put us further behind other countries in world trade, economics, and indeed, our ability to help those of our people who are +truly+ in need.
12.31.2008 2:36pm
Jonathan F.:
I guess it's a pretty tangential point, but I think most people consider the War on Terror to be the response to 9/11.
12.31.2008 2:47pm
LHD (mail):
I don't know, Jonathan F.

My teddy bear has been fighting a War on Terror for about 25 years now.
12.31.2008 2:48pm
Gramma Pedant:
This is exactly what Batman elects to do, for the good of Gotham....

This is exactly what Batman elects appoints to do, for the good of Gotham....

There, FTFY.

Batman makes an executive choice, therefore it's not an not an election, it's an appointment.
12.31.2008 2:51pm
methodact:
[I]f you count the victims of the U.S.S. Cole...

Perhaps the attack on the USS Liberty provides a clear metaphor here for what Alberto Gonzales managed to do to our freedoms.
12.31.2008 2:53pm
Eli Rabett (www):

Any honest business person will tell you (off the record) that they would dearly like to hire employees based solely upon what they can contribute to the enterprise and its shareholders and stakeholders, and not hire lazy slackers and persons of whom it is necessary to dance on eggshells for fear of a debilitating lawsuit.


George Bush
12.31.2008 2:57pm
A Law Dawg:
George Bush strikes me as the polar opposite of a diversity hire.
12.31.2008 3:02pm
Anderson (mail):
Gonzales was hired on the mistaken assumption that stupid people were otherwise unrepresented in the Bush administration.
12.31.2008 3:05pm
Robin:
"I'm not sure this is a particularly fair criticism. If you believe, as I think Gonzales does, that the term "war on terror" encompasses all our multifaceted approaches toward combatting terror, then one who voluntarily sacrifices his reputation for the good of that effort is, in a metaphorical sense at minimum, a casualty."

Gee Whiz Batman. A total loser, maybe, but not a casualty.
12.31.2008 3:13pm
PhanTom:
As my grandma always said, there ain't no insurance against self-inflicted injuries.

--PtM
12.31.2008 3:23pm
ronnie dobbs (mail):

Gonzales was hired on the mistaken assumption that stupid people were otherwise unrepresented in the Bush administration.


If only the Bush Administration had known to recruit the geniuses who comment on Volokh.com threads...I'm sure Pres. Obama won't make that mistake.
12.31.2008 3:25pm
Robin:
"Mr. Gonzales was a victim of hiring by quota. Was he the best qualified for his job? How about Colin Powell or Condo Rice? Estimable individuals, to be sure, but is it necessary to sacrifice excellence for an admittedly interesting goal?"

So what's the excuse for O'Neil, Snow, Rumsfield, Ashcroft, Browney, etc., etc.? Clearly not excellence.
12.31.2008 3:32pm
CrimLawStudent (mail):
I laugh a little, and then I feel a bit like crying.
12.31.2008 3:44pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
I have had no opinion about Gonzales' talents or lack thereof. He was certainly a casualty of politics, whether deservedly so or not was an uninteresting point to me. He never really mattered much.

But this quote is incredibly idiotic and insensitive. To compare getting in hot water politically to being a casualty in war is something one might expect of self-absorbed teenagers, not sophisticated members of the government of the most powerful nation in the world's history. Clearly, he was over his head.
12.31.2008 3:48pm
srg:
To variour writers:

The War on Terror (a bad term in any case) began on 9/12.
12.31.2008 3:52pm
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
He might have avoided becoming a casualty up until this interview.
12.31.2008 4:06pm
Crust (mail):
Shades of Laura Bush's infamous quote (re Iraq):
No one suffers more than their president and I do.
12.31.2008 4:18pm
Eli Rabett (www):

Any honest business person will tell you (off the record) that they would dearly like to hire employees based solely upon what they can contribute to the enterprise and its shareholders and stakeholders, and not hire lazy slackers and persons of whom it is necessary to dance on eggshells for fear of a debilitating lawsuit.


Really Law Dawg, did anyone think that George Bust wasn't a lazy slacker, that he could actually contribute, and oh yes, wasn't there an interesting and debilitating law suit that he brought?
12.31.2008 4:28pm
Eli Rabett (www):
When a clown like Gonzales says something like

"I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."

The Ghandian tendancy is to say

"If true, that would be a good thing"
12.31.2008 4:29pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"The War on Terror (a bad term in any case) began on 9/12."


Come on... see this is the problem with westerners. We love to ignore the past. It's like thinking the war between Hamas and Israel started with the most recent round of rocket attacks out of Gaza, in which case the Israeli response is unquestionably justifiable.
12.31.2008 5:01pm
Hoosier:
>The Ghandian tendancy is to say

"If true, that would be a good thing" <

Or: "I have succesfully moved my bowles today."

What was with that guy and his obsession with his own potty performance?
12.31.2008 5:14pm
LM (mail):
From the If You Wait Long Enough, Eventually You'll See It Again Department, I knew a '60s lefty who applied for SSI in the 1970s, claiming he said he was a psychologically disabled "veteran of the war to stop the war."

He got the SSI, and I wouldn't be surprised if his statement contributed to the decision, though not in the way he had in mind.
12.31.2008 5:32pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
I vote with Skyler on this one.
12.31.2008 6:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr shoots, he scores!
12.31.2008 6:19pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
Gonzalez deserves a bust of Ray Nagin for this.
12.31.2008 6:38pm
Bill Springer (mail):
If the War on Terror began on 9/12, that apparently means we were at peace with terrorism prior to 9/11. One of the terrible things about 9/11 is that it must have violated that peace treaty we had with terrorists...

The biggest problem with defining when the "War on Terror" began is that the term is applied both too broadly and too narrowly. The war in Iraq shouldn't be included in a War on Terror, even if terrorists are involved (would British call the American Revolution part of their war with France?). But the battle to stop terrorism has always been ongoing -- there was never a time when the US would hear about terrorist plots and not take notice.

We have always been fighting against attacks and lawbreaking, whether terrorist attacks or drug use. These fights didn't begin with the announcement of the War on Terror or the War on Drugs.
12.31.2008 9:09pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
"We have always been fighting against attacks and lawbreaking"

Except of course when US Govt funding and inciting them.
12.31.2008 10:57pm
Ricardo (mail):
The War on Terror (a bad term in any case) began on 9/12.

In fact, the President said quite clearly on 9/11 "we're at war." Not that we as a nation declare war but that whoever perpetrated the attacks has declared war against the U.S. Whoever made the Pearl Harbor comparison above got it right.
1.1.2009 3:04am
eyesay:
Orin Kerr,

With all due respect, this post of yours is highly problematic.

1. The people killed on September 11, 2001 (and those who died shortly thereafter of burns and injuries inflicted in the attacks) were victims of terror, not casualties of the war on terror.

2. The term war on terror is a Bush administration talking point, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything. (By using a propaganda term, you are implicitly siding with those who created that term.) One can conduct a literal war against a country or an insurgency, and one can conduct a metaphorical war against an abstract evil such as poverty or hunger, but it's is bizarre to think of conducting a war against a tactic.

And, if one were going to conduct a war against the tactic called terror, a major component would have to be efforts to win the hearts and minds of the populations from which terrorists are recruited. Our conduct over the past 7 years has been singularly disastrous in this regard.

3. Whatever the war on terror is, it is a creation of the Bush administration, and its victims include

(a) American civil rights assaulted by the USA-PATRIOT Act

(b) American reputation internationally shot to hell by American misconduct at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere

(c) Victims of "extraordinary rendition"

(d) At least tens of thousands of Iraqis killed in our uninvited, multi-lying-pretexted, unilateral war to "liberate" them.

(e) The entire population of Iraq, still not having as reliable electricity as before our invasion

(f) The innocent prisoners at Guantanamo

(g) The guilty at Guantanamo, but still deprived of rights

(h) etc. etc. etc.
1.1.2009 3:23am
NickM (mail) (www):
wm13 has it right. Gonzales's reputation is a casualty of the fact that even conservatives (who generally think highly of John Ashcroft) consider him a twit who got several promotions past his Peter Principle level.

Gonzales's only hope of not being a punchline lies in the possibility that the eyesays of the nation are heard to rant loud and long about the evils of the U.S. government every time his name is mentioned, which could lead people to forget that Gonzales paid less attention to papers that crossed his desk than most consumers do to the fine print in contracts.

Nick
1.1.2009 7:09am
Porkchop:
I say what eyesay said was well said.
1.1.2009 8:57am
Public_Defender (mail):

If only the Bush Administration had known to recruit the geniuses who comment on Volokh.com threads...I'm sure Pres. Obama won't make that mistake.


I'm holding out for Solicitor General.
1.1.2009 12:01pm
Public_Defender (mail):

If Alberto Gonzalez is a casualty of the War on Terror, it's only because he was a suicide bomber.

Thread winner.
1.1.2009 12:05pm
Anderson (mail):
If only the Bush Administration had known to recruit the geniuses who comment on Volokh.com threads...I'm sure Pres. Obama won't make that mistake.

I stand ready to serve.

I'm sure my 13YO feels the same way, and he would've made a better White House Counsel or AG than Gonzales. If only because he can figure out "torture is just plain wrong" without having to get a second opinion.
1.1.2009 7:45pm
markm (mail):
Would anyone say that the 3,000 Americans killed at Pearl Harbor were casualties of "the war on Japan"? I think not. Such a phrase sounds like we're talking about friendly-fire casualties. They were casualties of the war with Japan, which was part of WWII.

Such problems come up when you stretch a metaphor too far; in truth, we're not fighting a war with or on the tactic of terror.
1.1.2009 10:01pm
dfolds:
The War on Terror includes political warfare. Bush administration officials were certainly attacked as part of this political war. The Left has aligned itself with the Islamic forces that use terror (an ill-advised alignment, in my view), and targeted Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, and others, including former AG Gonzales. Of course, this international political warfare is conflated with normal partisan rivalry in Washington, and therefore weak links such as Gonzales were particularly vulnerable. But he is essentially correct -- he was wounded in the battle.
1.1.2009 11:20pm
Lucius Cornelius:
I consider Gonzales to be a casualty of his own incompetence and laziness. I feel that many of the self inflicted injuries suffered by the Bush administration were the result of Gonazales, and people like him in the office of the president, who were so happy to have their high ranking jobs that they just didn't bother to really DO their jobs.

I've seen this happen in office's I've worked in. It is a peril that all senior government offices or non-profit organizations have.
1.2.2009 6:08am
Jim Rose (mail) (www):
Not to mention the rule of law...also a victim.
1.2.2009 12:50pm
MikeS (mail):
Gonzales is a casualty of a president who values personal loyalty far above talent or competence, and as a result promoted him far above his abilities.
1.2.2009 2:08pm
MikeS (mail):
By the way, I find the other part of that quote equally interesting:


"for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with."


I don't think he's been portrayed as formulating anything, but rather as passively acquiescing to the policies of others, e.g. Rove's politicization of the Justice Department's hiring process.
1.2.2009 2:18pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
dfolds:

Many of us hold that civil liberties should not be infringed due to a threat which is an order of magnitude less severe than auto accidents. Many of us believe that Gonzales' support for torture is unconscionable.

The idea that the war on terror is necessarily a war on Islam as a religion rather than a specific brand of Islamic activism however, is a fiction the far-right has made up and which Bush isn't stupid enough to buy into.

Alberto Gonzales deserves some credit for the successes in his life story. However, these are not sufficient to forgive him for the massive assault on the Constitution and our Freedom which he was a part of.
1.2.2009 2:56pm
LM (mail):
einhverfr,

Many of us hold that civil liberties should not be infringed due to a threat which is an order of magnitude less severe than auto accidents. Many of us believe that Gonzales' support for torture is unconscionable.

I take greater issue with dfolds comment for other reasons (i.e., the implication of claiming the Bush administration was "attacked as part of this political war" that it was the victim, not the aggressor), and I agree with your conclusion, but your explanation is misleading. It's true "that civil liberties should not be infringed due to a threat which is an order of magnitude less severe than auto accidents," but that's not what we're dealing with here. It was the attack that was an order of magnitude less severe than auto accidents. The threat is indeterminate.
1.2.2009 3:52pm

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