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Gonzales discusses FBI's congressional e-mail inquiry

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U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke with business leaders in Minneapolis about the Americans With Disabilities Act. But he faced lots of questions from reporters about the congressional E-mail scandal.
MPR Photo/Elizabeth Stawicki

Gonzales showed no surprise when reporters at a press conference asked him about the FBI's investigation into former Congressman Foley, rather than the Americans with Disabilities Act;

"I'm shocked that you would ask me about that question in Minnesota," he joked.

Gonzales deftly fielded questions about whether the FBI has launched an investigation into Foley's, and whether the congressional leadership took part in covering up Foley's behavior. Gonzales would say only that the FBI is in the preliminary stages of the investigation and that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is cooperating.  

When questions turned to whether the FBI had knowledge in July of Foley's activity, Gonzales responded this way.

"There was some information received by the (Justice) Department in the summer and this is all going to be looked at.  We're going to be looking at everything that's related to this investigation and to ensure that if there's any criminal activity, any criminal wrongdoing, appropriate steps will be taken by the Department of Justice," he said.

The Attorney General also took a question about the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program.  A Detroit federal judge ruled the program unconstitutional.  But on Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled the Bush adminstration could continue its program while the president appeals:

"The president believes it's a very important program.  It's been important for securing the national security of our country.  It's a limited program targeted at communications with Al-Qaeda and members of Al-Qaeda."

Gonzales came to Minneapolis to tout a Department of Justice report about governmental enforcement of the ADA, which bans discrimination based on disability.  Congress passed the ADA in 1990 under George Bush Sr.'s administration.  The report says that during the last five years, Justice Department has resolved 1800 out of 2000 cases through mediation rather than going to court.  

Gonzales said the department forced governmental and private employers to comply with the law by aggressive enforcement and public education:

"We've made good progress in ensuring that the American dream is available to everyone in this country, no matter their physical condition, their race, their religion.  We have an obligation as government officials to create an environment where the American dream is available to everyone."

Gonzales' spoke to the U.S. Business Leadership Network, which promotes employing persons with disabilities.