Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales’ confirmation hearing opened Thursday morning to a packed audience in one of the Senate’s largest hearing rooms.

By the close of the morning session, it was clear that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were going to have a tough time wresting direct answers from the 49-year-old Texas lawyer and White House counsel about his role in shaping some of the Bush administration’s controversial policies on torture, the application of the Geneva Conventions to suspected terrorists, and the legal rights of prisoners captured in Iraq.

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