Gonzales Issues a Mea Culpa

Attorney General issues a video mea culpa to the Justice Department

July 20, 2007 — -- The Justice Department is airing some of its own summer programming -- on Friday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave a televised address to employees on the department's internal channel, called "Justice Vision."

Gonzales, who sounded intent on remaining in his post said he wished employees could know him "as well as my family." Describing himself as "a quiet man," he continued to say that his family and friends "would tell you how much I admire all of you.  The dedicated public servants that serve this great department."

"And they might also tell you that no one is more troubled than I am over what this department has gone through in the past six months."

" I'm here to let you know that reinforcing public confidence in this mission and in our department will be one of my top priorities as attorney general for the remainder of my term."

"I will also be working on my relationship with all of you," he said.

"You should expect to continue to see me in the hallways, in the conference rooms of U.S. attorneys' offices," he continued. "I want this department to know me better as a person, and I will engage you all in advising me on what's best for the delivery of justice."

"You know me primarily as a public figure, an appointee of the president, a photo in the newspaper. But I am also a public servant who is committed to the cause of justice."

Gonzales has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats in Congress for his handling of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year and the management of the warrantless wiretapping provisions of the domestic surveillance program.

Several top-level employees have resigned in the wake of the attorney firings controversy, including the attorney general's chief of staff and the department's White House liaison.

The attorney general shared kind words about a newcomer to the department's staff, indicating an attempt to move beyond past missteps.

Praising the announcement that Craig Morford, a career DOJ lawyer, had been nominated to be the Acting Deputy Attorney General, the department's second-highest rank, Gonzales said he is the "absolute right person for this critical position at this time."  Morford will replace Paul McNulty, who will leave the department within the next few weeks.

Gonzales said he and Morford agree they "must continue to recruit the best and brightest lawyers."

Attempting to ground himself in a commitment to working with dedicated U.S. attorneys, Gonzales said he's chosen "an experienced U.S. attorney" to serve as his chief of staff.

"I will continue to ensure that my staff, and those in other senior positions within the department, have the appropriate experience and judgment so that previous mistakes will not be repeated."

Gonzales added that he's "asked [his] staff to examine, and if necessary revise any hiring procedures that my have contributed to allegations of improper politicization," a charge that has come up in hearings on Capitol Hill.

For example, Gonzales said, "within the civil rights division, we recently reminded each of the attorneys within that section that basing employment and personnel decisions on impermissible factors, such as political affiliation, will not be tolerated."

"In the wake of recent events, I have learned that there is a real need for improved communications with our U.S. attorneys, and other components."

Gonzales also discussed his recent listening tour, during which he met with most of the U.S. attorneys around the country in an effort to open lines of communication with the federal prosecutors.

Justice officials tell ABC News the tour was tense at times, but Gonzales said, "I have met or spoken with all of our U.S. attorneys. I have expressed my regrets over how the dismissals of their colleagues were handled, accepted responsibility for that flawed process, and made a commitment to each of them that I or the deputy attorney general will give any U.S. attorney who's performance is questioned notice of such concerns as well as the opportunity to address them before any decision is made concerning their future"