By XAVIER TAYO
Alberto Gonzales is the Attorney General of the United States and is the nation’s top law enforcement officer. He is in charge of the Justice Department and part of the executive branch of government. Lately, Congress (the legislative branch of government) has been stepping in to use its power to check the Bush administration.
Last year the White House fired eight U.S. attorneys, law enforcement officers under Attorney General Gonzales. The White House says the attorneys were fired because they didn’t do their job well. But the attorneys had received good performance reports.
Many Democrats say the attorneys may have been fired for political reasons – because they weren’t loyal enough to the Bush administration. Congress is holding investigations to find out if the Bush administration abused its executive authority by firing the U.S. attorneys.
Leaders in Congress insist that senior Bush officials testify under oath in front of Congress. The White House doesn’t want them to testify and might try to prevent them from doing so. A constitutional conflict may arise if the president refuses to let his senior aides testify.
Attorney General Gonzales has also been criticized for defending the president’s illegal spying on U.S. citizens and for approving U.S. soldiers’ use of torture against prisoners in Iraq. Gonzales is scheduled to testify to Congress in April about the U.S. attorney firings. Many members of Congress including Democrats and some Republicans want Gonzales to resign. But President Bush says he still has confidence in Gonzales.