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April 26, 2015


Remember Fredo? I didn’t, not until I read Lou Dubose’s review in the Washington Spectator’s April 1 edition of a book Fredo co-authored with David N. Strange entitled “A Conservative and Compassionate Approach to Immigration Reform.” Fredo was the nickname Jeb Bush’s brother George gave Alberto R. Gonzales, who was the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States via George’s appointment, an appointment of an unqualified individual to high office whose main qualification was his total devotion to the wants and needs of the president.

Bush the Younger and “Fredo” go back together for years, way back to when Bush was governor of Texas, long before the Supreme Court elected him to the presidency. It was George Bush the Younger who turned an apolitical lawyer into a public official presumed to be on his way to the United States Supreme Court, appointing “Fredo” as an associate justice to the Texas Supreme Court  while he (Bush) was running for president, but the two of them went back long before that. “Fredo” had previously served as Texas secretary of state and served as legal counsel to the governor. This latter appointment of Gonzales (aka “Fredo” by George the Younger when governor and later president) turns out to have had lethal implications.

How so? Here’s the story. George Bush was a well known and admitted pro-death penalty governor and had no interest in his executive capacity as governor for executive pardon and clemency. Bush as governor needed backup and cover for his death penalty bias, and Gonzales provided it in his capacity as legal counsel to the governor. Gonzales processed 57 final-day execution summaries for a governor who presided over the death of 150 men and two women during his tenure as governor (and presided over many thousands more during his later tenure as president in needless wars, but that’s another story).

Alan Berlow of The Atlantic Magazine writes that Gonzales removed essential information from such final-day execution summaries to be brought to Governor Bush’s attention which included such items as “ineffective counsel,” “conflict of interest,” “mitigating evidence,” and even “actual evidence of innocence,” thus clearing the last obstacles for the governor’s approval of their executions. What isn’t known is whether such important grounds for clemency were elided on the governor’s order or whether Gonzales, knowing his governor’s predisposition to execute, did it on his own to curry the governor’s favor. It was unconscionable in either event.

Bush the Younger brought his old friend and cover man to Washington as White House Legal Counsel to again buffer his many mistakes (e.g., the Iraqi War and a first in history, i.e., tax cuts during war time) made while sitting in the Oval Office, and Gonzales, dependent upon the president for his future and always anxious to please, performed well.

He was not always successful. For instance, Lou Dubose notes in his Spectator article that in 2004 when Gonzales was White House Legal Counsel (prior to his appointment as attorney general) “He raced to the hospital bed of the gravely ill and heavily sedated Attorney General John Ashcroft in a failed attempt to persuade him to approve an illegal warrantless wiretapping program.” Ashcroft refused but subsequently resigned his position as attorney general and Bush the Younger appointed (guess who?) Alberto R. Gonzales to be attorney general. One can safely surmise that such an appointment ended disapproval of illegal warrantless wiretapping and provided the ultimate legal cover for many of Bush’s other subsequent unconstitutional adventures in domestic surveillance and political payoffs to such war profiteers as Blackwater and his vice president’s old company for their efforts in war torn Iraq and elsewhere.

Dubose also reports that “In May 2007, Attorney General Gonzales was confronted by incredulous member of the Senate judiciary Committee regarding his role in the political firing of U.S. attorneys. More than 50 times, Gonzales told senators that he had no recollection of events in which he had been involved.”

I distinctly recall during the some two years of his tenure as attorney general that he fired experienced attorneys and imported inexperienced replacements fresh from the law school of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and that one of the questions asked prospective DOJ attorneys had to do with their views on abortion, which has nothing to do, for example, with cases arising in the tax and anti-trust divisions of the DOJ. Such a policy in hiring brought religion into government and paid those of certain views from public resources, but perhaps worse, firing of qualified and experienced attorneys from the DOJ and replacing them with law school graduates and thrusting them into complicated and ongoing litigation had to cost all of us in our country’s dealings with Wall Street, trade legalities, legislative and executive overreach etc.

Gonzales resigned a couple of months after a July 2007 session before the Judiciary  Committee in which he was trying to square his account of his visit to Ashcroft’s hospital room with those of others in the room whose versions of events were distinctly different than the one he was trying to sell the Committee. (Someone was lying under oath, but there were no indictments.)

Now he has co-authored a book, and even its title which contains the word “compassionate” and “conservative” hearkens back to the Bush brand. Bush, the reader may recall, called himself a “compassionate conservative” when running for office. (In my opinion his homicidal conduct both as governor and during his terms in the office of the President belies that self-definition.)

Fredo’s book is standard Republican fare. His solution to the immigration issue is more about regulating a labor market than integrating undocumented residents into society. He proposes the usual: creation of a “nationals” status for immigrants who would be authorized to work, pay taxes, and qualify for some social services, but never vote (with the usual provision of a path to citizenship for those who enlist in the military), the same old Republican mantra we hear on Fox News daily: Give me your cheap labor but don’t vote. Go back to obscurity, Fredo.    GERALD    E

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