http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6451896/ WASHINGTON - President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and one of the most prominent Hispanics in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday. “I would not rule out an announcement today,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday. Separately, two administration officials told the Associated Press that the longtime Bush friend, who served with him in Texas, was the likely successor to Ashcroft. He would be the first Hispanic attorney general. Another leading candidate was Bush’s 2004 campaign chairman, former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot. Ashcroft announced his resignation on Tuesday, along with Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a Texas friend of the president’s. Profile Alberto R. Gonzales AGE-BIRTH DATE 49, Born Aug. 4, 1955, in San Antonio, Texas. EDUCATION Attended U.S. Air Force Academy; bachelor's degree from Rice University, 1979; law degree from Harvard University, 1982. EXPERIENCE White House counsel (2001-present); Texas Supreme Court justice (1999-2000); Texas secretary of state (1997-1999); Texas governor's general counsel (1995-1997); corporate attorney with Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins (1982-1995). FAMILY Wife, Rebecca, and three sons. NICKNAME Called "the judge" by White House colleagues. Known as Al to friends. • Print this After a National Security Council meeting, Bush was sitting down Wednesday with Secretary of State Colin Powell, another figure being closely watched for signs of whether he will stay or go. Powell has been largely noncommittal when asked about his plans. Gonzales, 49, has long been rumored as a leading candidate for a Supreme Court vacancy if one develops. Speculation increased after Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announced he has thyroid cancer. Controversial positions Gonzales’ career has been linked with Bush for at least a decade, serving as general counsel when Bush was governor of Texas, and then as secretary of state and as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Gonzales has been at the center of developing Bush’s positions on balancing civil liberties with waging the war on terrorism — opening the White House counsel to the same line of criticism that has dogged Ashcroft. For instance, Gonzales publicly defended the administration’s policy — essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in the lower courts — of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts. He also wrote a controversial February 2002 memo in which Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war. That position drew fire from human rights groups, which said it helped led to the type of abuses uncovered in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The American Civil Liberties Union said it expected the Senate to closely examine those issues during confirmation hearings. The ACLU said it had no position on Gonzales, but added: “Particular attention should be devoted to exploring Mr. Gonzales’ proposed policies on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo Bay detentions, the designation of United States citizens as enemy combatants and reproductive rights.” Some conservatives also have quietly questioned Gonzales’ credentials on core social issues. And he once was a partner in a Houston law firm which represented the scandal-ridden energy giant Enron.