Google is sending folks to a post on this site that doesn't quite cover the question of Gonzales' involvement in the torture memos. So I've pulled information from my blog (all in the Torture Inc. category) together into this post for those inquiring minds who are googling my way. Links to source documents, including many of the memos, can be found on the right hand navigation bar. Now, on to the topic at hand.
For those looking for the big picture, check out this timeline on the torture memos and related events. (UPDATE: For opinions on the Gonzales nomination, visit this post and the comment thread at Political Animal.) For information specific to Alberto Gonzales, keep reading.
During the height of the outrage over the discovery of the 'torture memos', Albert Gonzales said that the memos were "unnecessary, over-broad discussions" and "not relied upon" by policymakers". The Senate Armed Services Committee did not treat the memos as though they were simply written discussions and Gonzales' perspective was not widely adopted.
Alberto Gonzales authored only one of the leaked memos (you can read it here but be warned that the quality is poor). Dated January 25, 2002, the memo to the President addressed the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to captured al Qaida and Taliban fighters. Gonzales endorsed a DOJ opinion that Bush should adopt a policy that the Geneva Conventions didn't apply to the Taliban and al Qaeda and specifically counters State Dept. disagreements with the DOJ opinion.
It's informative to read Colin Powell's memo challenging the administration's decision. You can find it here. Of particular interest is the attached critique of the accuracy of contents of the Gonzales memo and the implication that information is presented to bias the president in favor of negating the Geneva Conventions. The State Dept's position is that the advantages of applying the Geneva Conventions outweighs the advantages of not applying them.
In addition to writing the memo discussed above, Gonzales received a number of the torture memos.
2002 01/22 DOJ Memo to White House Gonzales and DOD Haynes
Provides legal basis for not applying the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan. Presents DOJ opinion cited by Gonzales in 1/25 memo. Cited by Bush in his directive on detainee treatment.
2002 02/02 State Dept Memo to White House: This is a memo from the State Department's legal advisor, William Taft, to the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales. Taft warns that rejecting the applicability of the Geneva Conventions creates several problems, including the elimination of protection for our troops in the event that they are captures. The memo includes an attachment that shows the broad support among administration lawyers for declaring the Geneva Conventions inapplicable to Taliban and al Qaeda detainees. It also cites a CIA request for an explicit statement that the commitment to the spirit of the Geneva Conventions didn't apply to its operatives.
2002 08/01 DOJ Bybee memo to Gonzales. Written in response to a request by Gonzalez for DOJ to review the application of international and federal law to interrogations occurring outside the United States. A summary of this controversial memo is below. For a detailed analysis, visit this discourse.net post by Dan Froomkin.
Summary: The five part, 50 page memo concludes that acts inflicting and specifically intended to inflict severe pain or suffering, mental or physical, must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture. It also concludes that cruel, inhuman, or degrading acts may not produce the necessary pain or suffering to qualify as torture. The memo concludes by outlining defenses to claims that the law against torture was broken including Commander-in-Chief authority, necessity, and self-defense. This memo in effect provided a rationale for using torture and provided narrow and complicated definitions of torture in order to avoid the possibility of being charged with breaking laws prohibiting torture. The memo says that torturing terrorists abroad “may be justified” and that international laws prohibiting that torture might be unconstitutional in reference to torture occurring during the interrogation of suspected terrorists. The memo was used as a source of legal guidance for the CIA. The White House has referred to this memo as a historic or scholarly review of laws and conventions concerning torture and not a document designed to provide advice on specific methods or techniques.
I'll update this if and when new information comes to light.
UPDATE: If you're still hungry for more, Washington Monthly has a hefty article on the detainee treatment at Abu Ghraib and the torture memos.
UPDATE II: Just realized I've been frequently misspelling Gonzales' name (spelled it Gonzalez - with a z instead of an s- apologies).
UPDATE III: The Washington Post has published a couple of editorials critical of Gonzales and pushing for the confirmation hearing to cover specific areas. This editorial focuses on Gonzales' performance in providing a legal review of clemency requests for Bush when he was governor. This editorial focuses on Gonzales' torture memo and his role in the policy that the Geneva Conventions didn't apply to detainees from the war in Afghanistan.