Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has announced his resignation as head of the Justice Department this morning. The news isn’t a shock, there have been rumors all weekend that he would step down and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff would replace him. It appears those rumors were correct.
Gonzales should have resigned months ago. The firing of the US Attorneys, while not illegal, was handled very poorly and Gonzales’ testimony before Congress indicated that he had little control over his own department. That lack of leadership is fatal in Washington, and although Gonzales has been the target of several spurious and blatantly partisan attacks, it was ultimately his own lack of political acumen that doomed him.
As Jonathan Adler notes, Chertoff is a natural replacement. He has the experience as a former US Attorney, he’s already a part of the Administration, and he has a level of competence and trust that Gonzales lacked.
The Justice Department needs strong new leadership, and Gonzales’ resignation was the right thing to do to put the Justice Department on the right track. Michael Chertoff or another candidate will have a tough job ahead of them, but ultimately this transition was a necessary one.