WASHINGTON – In a wide-ranging interview, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (search) sat down with FOX News' Catherine Herridge to talk about the congressional logjam over judicial nominees, the Supreme Court and Martha Stewart (search).
On the domestic diva's recent release from jail, Gonzales said Stewart was convicted, she's doing her time and the Justice department hopes she will ultimately learn from her mistakes.
"We certainly hope to rehabilitate everyone who was convicted of committing a federal crime, and would certainly include Martha Stewart in that group," Gonzales said.
On a more serious note, the Bush administration confirmed this week that Al Qaeda terror leader Usama bin Laden (search) had urged the top terrorist in Iraq to create cells for attacks inside the United States. U.S. officials said earlier this week that messages had been uncovered from bin Laden that enlist the help of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search).
While the attorney general would not go into more detail about the intercepted communications between bin Laden and Zarqawi — such as whether the messages brought us closer to Zarqawi or bin Laden himself — the attorney general did indicate that this type of information is an important tool in the War on Terror.
"I have said many times that fighting the War on Terror is really about fighting the war for information," Gonzales said. "The more information you have, the more likely you have being successful in fighting the War on Terror. Any kind of information that we can get on who the enemy is, what the enemy's thinking or planning, I think, is going to help us."
To fight the War on Terror more effectively, Gonzales said, key provisions of the controversial Patriot Act must be renewed. He believes those provisions are in line with American values.
"I think there is a lot of misinformation about the Patriot Act (search), part of that is maybe our fault," he said. "Maybe we haven't done a good enough job explaining it to the American people; what does the Patriot Act really do, and why do we need it, and why is it consistent with our Constitution."
As for the scene on Capitol Hill, Gonzales said he believes lawmakers must find a way to break the impasse over judicial nominees. Democrats have blocked several of Bush's picks for the bench.
"I think we have certain segments of our judiciary where vacancies have existed for over four years, and that's intolerable," he said. "We have judicial emergencies in certain circuits. That's not fair, it delays justice. It's unfair to the American people, it's certainly unfair to the nominees."
If they don't find a way to come to an agreement on the nominees, Gonzales said, it will only be that much harder to fill an eventual vacancy on the Supreme Court to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is suffering from thyroid cancer.
"I do believe that the Senate does have an obligation under our Constitution to fairly evaluate a nominee by the president to the Supreme Court of the United States. No question about that," Gonzales said. "But it should be a fair evaluation and I feel we've progressed to a point where that's fairly difficult. I think it will certainly be easier to solve our disagreement before a vacancy than after a vacancy occurs."
Click on the video box near the top of the story for a complete report by FOX News' Catherine Herridge.