Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took questions following his speech before the International Association of Privacy Professionals today, and a couple touched on the prosecutor purge issue. Clearly, the venom
QUESTION: Eric Lipton from the New York Times. A number of Republican senators expressed strong dissatisfaction with the way that the dismissal of the prosecutors was handled. Some even suggested that may it be appropriate that he won't be around to practice that long as Attorney General. Could you just reiterate, I mean, was that mismanaged? Was it your fault? And is there any consideration of you actually leaving as Attorney General?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, hopefully one day I will leave and go back to Texas. That's my sincere hope. But listen. We are working with the Congress to provide information about what happened here. I've already indicated that there were things that were done in connection with these decisions that could have been and should have been done better. I want to reassure the American people that we in no way have made decisions to politicize these offices.
These offices are very, very important, the work of these offices to the work of the Department of Justice. And so we will continue to work with the Congress and provide information as they request it....
QUESTION: You just said on the U.S. Attorneys that there were things here that could have been and should have been done better. Specifically, what could have been and should have been done better by who, and secondly, you fired the U.S. Attorneys for performance-related problems; should somebody be fired for the performance-related problems that were revealed in the IG report [on the FBI's use of National Security Letters]?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Look. I'm not comfortable with where we're at today on this issue, and obviously it's something that we're looking at internally about how we got to where we are today because it's not good for the Department if there's any kind of question regarding the professionalism of our prosecutors, and so it's something that we're looking at.
One thing that we could have done and should have done, obviously, is in speaking with these U.S. Attorneys to make sure they understood the reasons why the decision was made, to make sure they understood at the time they were being asked to leave that these are the reasons why. I think that would have been -- in hindsight, I think that would have made better sense.