Alberto Gonzales, President Bush’s new choice for John Ashcroft’s replacement to head the Justice Department, might have a fight ahead of him, based on the opinions of democrats and former military brass who plan to ask some tough questions during his hearing.

Gonzales is a longtime friend of the president’s who now serves as White House legal counsel. As such, he sent a memo in 2002 advising Bush that foreign fighters captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere as part of the war on terror should not have prisoner of war status under the Geneva Conventions, which are meant to protect captured foreign soldiers from torture.

Many civil rights groups, as well as democrats in congress and a group of retired United States generals and admirals, are deeply concerned by the views expressed in what is now being called Gonzales’ “terror memo.”

“It was bad law, bad diplomacy, bad morality, bad politics, and bad from a practical point of view,” says John Hutson, a retired rear admiral and Navy judge advocate general who plans to testify against Gonzales.

If confirmed, Gonzales will be the first Hispanic attorney general.

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