Justice Minister Sniffs 'End of an Era' at U.S. Dept. of Justice

Christoph Blocher is a federal advisor at the very heart of current events … in America. In Washington over a period of less than 24 hours, the Swiss justice minister met with the two men who most symbolize the slow-motion agony of the Bush Government, 17 months before the end of the President’s term. On Thursday evening, he spoke with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who gave flagrant false testimony to Congress only days before WATCH . Then he spoke to Robert Mueller, the FBI chief who initiated Gonzales’ fall.

But the federal advisor says he knows how to keep things in perpective. In connection with his meeting with Alberto Gonzales, he said, “We meet with ministers whenever they are ministers.” Nevertheless, Christoph Blocher must have caught a whiff of the end of an era at the American Justice Department.

Gonzales is suspected by Democratic members of Congress of having fired nine U.S. federal prosecutors for not sharing the political views of George Bush. His situation became yet more complicated when the FBI chief declared -contrary to what Gonzales had testified to under oath – that there had been a heated internal debate about the constitutionality of a vast program of wiretapping, which had been authorized by George Bush without Congressional approval.

When he was White House legal advisor in 2002, Alberto Gonzales wrote a memorandum redefining the concept of torture, to allow “more muscular” interrogations of prisoners. And for a long time, his vision prevailed.

But after the Congressional majority changed earlier this year, George Bush’s approach was called into question and his Attorney General has been subject to intrusive investigation.

Given all this, it was difficult for Justice Minister Blocher to obtain legal guarantees on American methods of harvesting information, which are demanded by part of the [Swiss] ruling coalition within the framework of anti-terrorist cooperation with the United States.

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