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Bush Names Gonzales to Head Justice Dept.

President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general, sources close to the White House say. Ashcroft, who has been a lightening rod for administration critics, announced his resignation Tuesday, along with Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

Gonzales' association with the president dates back at least a decade. He served as general counsel for Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas, and was appointed by Mr. Bush to the Texas Supreme Court.

Gonzales has long been considered a leading candidate for a Supreme Court vacancy, but was reportedly more interested in the top job at the Justice Department.

As the conservative son of a conservative minister, Ashcroft was outspoken about his faith and was seen as the leading proponent of the values of the religious right in President Bush's cabinet. Gonzales, by contrast, has drawn criticism from conservatives within the Bush administration for being too soft on core social issues.

Gonzales has also been associated with a controversial 2002 memo outlining a justification for the use of torture techniques on detainees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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