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Thursday, November 11, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Bush Nominates His Top Counsel for Justice Post

The New York Times > Washington > Bush Nominates His Top Counsel for Justice Post

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - President Bush on Wednesday nominated Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel and a longtime political loyalist, to be his next attorney general.

The speed with which Mr. Bush acted, only a day after making public the resignation of John Ashcroft, indicated that he wants to get his new appointees in place before the start of his second term, 10 weeks from now. The nomination of Mr. Gonzales would also put one of his most trusted aides in a post where past presidents have wanted to have a confidant, as well as someone who can help defend the White House, much as John F. Kennedy chose his brother Robert, or Ronald Reagan chose Edwin Meese III.

Mr. Bush said of Mr. Gonzales in a brief announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House: "His sharp intellect and sound judgment have helped shape our policies on the war on terror, policies designed to protect the security of all Americans while protecting the rights of all Americans. He is a calm and steady voice at times of crisis."

If confirmed, Mr. Gonzales will be the first Hispanic ever to serve as the nation's most senior law enforcement officer. [Page A30.]

The choice was immediately embraced by Senate Republicans, who promised speedy action on the nominee. But Senate Democrats appear eager to question Mr. Gonzales, who is considered more conservative than several other leading candidates for the attorney general's job. Issues almost certain to come up in his confirmation hearings include his stances on terrorism and civil liberties, the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, the Patriot Act passed in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, abortion, the death penalty and other potentially contentious issues.

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