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Senate debates Gonzales AG nomination as rights group urges vote delay

[JURIST] The full US Senate [official website] Tuesday began debate on the nomination of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales [White House biography; JURIST Newsmaker] for attorney general, with a vote expected to be held Thursday. Gonzales' nomination was narrowly approved [JURIST report] by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 10-8 vote last week. Watch a live webcast of Senate proceedings. Meanwhile Amnesty International [official website] today urged Senators to delay any vote until Gonzales offers more complete answers regarding his involvement with the government's policy on torture. AI, which has not taken a position on the Gonzales nomination, issued an open letter [text] to senators, in which it said the closeness of the Judiciary Committee's vote and ambiguity of Gonzales' answers in response to questions on torture left some doubt about his nomination. Gonzales earlier provided Judiciary Committee members with written responses [JURIST report] to certain questions that were not answered during the question session. Other human rights groups have come out against Gonzales [JURIST report] for attorney general. Read an AI press release.

2:20 PM ET - Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy spoke against Gonzales' nomination during debate at the Senate today. In his statement, Leahy said:

Ultimately, the Attorney General’s duty is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law — not to work to circumvent it. Both the President and the nation are best served by an Attorney General who gives sound legal advice and takes responsible action, without regard to political considerations — not one who develops legalistic loopholes to serve the ends of a particular Administration.
Read Leahy's full statement [text] and more on the debate [floor log via Sen. Leahy's website].

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