[JURIST] Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive] bade farewell to public service Friday, officially leaving the US Justice Department [official website] after a stormy 2 1/2 years as Attorney General. Gonzales resigned [JURIST report] late last month in the midst of controversy surrounding the firings of several US Attorneys and subsequent allegations that he may have perjured himself in testimony on the matter before Congress. Gonzales had indicated that his resignation would take effect September 17 [JURIST report]. In his last public speech [text] at DC's Bolling Air Force Base as part of its Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, Gonzales stressed his Justice Department initiatives against violent crime, child sex abuse, and terrorism, but insisted that he left office with optimism:
Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible. I've seen things I didn't know man was incapable of.
But I will tell you here and now that these things still leave me hopeful. Because every time I see a glimmer of the evil man can do, I see the defenders of liberty, truth, and justice who stand ready to fight it.
Later Friday at the Justice Department itself, Gonzales spoke briefly to staff and employees at a ceremony attended by a number of serving and former Bush administration officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former White House chief of staff Andy Card. Speakers at the event praised Gonzales for his work and his character notwithstanding the complaints of critics who accuse him of having greatly politicized the department out of excessive loyalty to the President, whom he previously served as White House counsel. The White House is expected to nominate a new attorney general soon; former Solicitor General Theodore Olson
[JURIST report] and US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Wilkins
[official profile], among others, have been touted as possible successors. In the interim, Solicitor General Paul Clement
will serve as acting attorney general. AP has more