Tipping the Hat to John Ashcroft

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ashcroft 1.jpg
John Ashcroft has been a governor, a minister, a senator, and Attorney General of the United States. His colleagues at his private consulting firm, call him “General” now — as a nickname and honorific.
He doesn’t place highly in progressive circles as someone to whom to pay tribute, although he did appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He spoke at a large terrorism conference I organized in September 2005 and defended the administration’s actions since 9/11 with a lot of vigor. It was interesting to see him get combative with questions posed to him not by liberals but by conservatives like Grover Norquist and former chief counsel to UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick Allan Gerson.
But read this. Ashcroft would not let then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales get away with a hospital bed-solicited authorization for secret domestic electronic spying.
So, today the “General” deserves a salute and has my respect for this. I have some other problems with his views, but he deserves credit for stopping the White House, even if for a bit, on this kind of illegality.
I’m flying to San Francisco today — then down to San Jose — and then this evening and tomorrow in Mill Valley.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

36 comments on “Tipping the Hat to John Ashcroft

  1. Jojam Franc says:

    Reading the above article and comments just reminded me of an article I read over a year ago on how this admin. is adopting Big Brother methods under the guise of ‘peace, safety and security’. Worth a look.
    http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_8058.shtml

    Reply

  2. Chris says:

    Steve, I thought you were smarter than that – to pass on, without comment, the nickname “General” for a former US Attorney General. I’ve long thought that the practice (I’ve heard it at least a couple other times) is a disturbing mixture of military fetishism, pretentious obsequiousness, and doltish ignorance for anyone to refer to an Attorney General as “General” – if for no other reason than “General” is the *adjective* modifying “Attorney”…
    I’m not optimistic this merits a blog post of its own, but I can’t understand why this doesn’t make more people’s skin crawl.

    Reply

  3. jojo says:

    And Stevie–Gozolotus was confirmed by both parties and our media kept silent. Little late to kick this creep out–he has already did his dirty work for Bush.

    Reply

  4. bAkho says:

    What exactly did Bush want to do with his wiretap program that Ashcroft refused to go along?
    Should we assume that they have been spying on Democrats and other opposition and using the info for political purposes?

    Reply

  5. Alex says:

    I agree with Bloix. My two disappointments about Comey are his failure to make a lot of noise about the NSA spying and his working for Lockheed now (read Steve’s story about Lockheed if you haven’t already.
    I do think that Comey feels incredibly relieved today, to get all that off his chest.

    Reply

  6. JonU says:

    This issue is explosive, and should be pushed by everyone. It is criminal misconduct beyond Watergate, and deserving of the most piercing scrutiny.
    Push this everyone, for the sake of your republic. Don’t let such blatant and egregious law-breaking by the highest officials escape notice and punishment.
    We all owe it to our founders, who risked everything.

    Reply

  7. Bloix says:

    Ashcroft and Comey refused to dirty their own skirts by committing felonies. But when Gonzales was nominated for AG, did they come forward and say, “This man is unfit”? No. They personally were not at risk and the country could go to hell. Refusing to run the personal risk of a ruined reputation and potential prison does not make these men heroes.

    Reply

  8. Jojam says:

    I agree 100% with Linda (near the top) in that even an AG who went along with virtually everything the 1st Admin. wanted finally baulked at this step. And things have degenerated so much further since those days.
    It is so very sad to see such a great nation that was admired – even with its faults – be critically wounded within two terms of appalling government. Believe it. America will never again be held in the esteem it was on the world stage.

    Reply

  9. Carroll says:

    P.S.
    I should have added that the Iraqis have also paid the price for these scumbags.

    Reply

  10. Carroll says:

    Posted by pauline at May 16, 2007 03:00 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I don’t even know how to describe how outraged I am over the whole web of cultist and neo thugs and politicans who brought this US-Iraq-ME nightmare about…or the politicans who KNOW what went down and by who and have done nothing but sweep it under the rug.
    I am so outraged I try not to talk about it any more than necessary to vent my blood pressure to keep from going ballistic because I end up babbling and babbling…I now know what “choked with rage” means.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    Posted by Sandy at May 16, 2007 02:59 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>
    It just crushes my heart for parents who have lost a child no matter how the child died, like you said, the hurt is the same. I don’t know how you stay so strong in the aftermath of something like that.

    Reply

  12. dalivision says:

    From Pissed Off American:
    This AG scandal is huge, even as huge as lying this nation to war. It seems the White House sought to obstruct justice, and stack the USA ranks on a scale that has become impossible to conceal. Yet, even as the facts unfold, our media is largely silent about the sheer weight of the evidence implying collusion within the White House with the AG’s blatant bias in the dispensation of the law, and complete disregard for ethical or legal management of the Justice Department.
    This scandal is indeed huge. Reminds me of Watergate when the press and the people in general did not think that a break-in would amount to anything. However, this Congress may not get it right especially with the spin doctor in the West Wing and let us not forget 41 who is ever present to protect 43 in all his misadventures. I was wrong about Watergate in that I did not think it would as far as it did. I hope I am wrong about this as well.

    Reply

  13. dalivision says:

    From Pissed Off American:
    This AG scandal is huge, even as huge as lying this nation to war. It seems the White House sought to obstruct justice, and stack the USA ranks on a scale that has become impossible to conceal. Yet, even as the facts unfold, our media is largely silent about the sheer weight of the evidence implying collusion within the White House with the AG’s blatant bias in the dispensation of the law, and complete disregard for ethical or legal management of the Justice Department.
    This scandal is indeed huge. Reminds me of Watergate when the press and the people in general did not think that a break-in would amount to anything. However, this Congress may not get it right especially with the spin doctor in the West Wing and let us not forget 41 who is ever present to protect 43 in all his misadventures. I was wrong about Watergate in that I did not think it would as far as it did. I hope I am wrong about this as well.

    Reply

  14. dalivision says:

    From Pissed Off American:
    This AG scandal is huge, even as huge as lying this nation to war. It seems the White House sought to obstruct justice, and stack the USA ranks on a scale that has become impossible to conceal. Yet, even as the facts unfold, our media is largely silent about the sheer weight of the evidence implying collusion within the White House with the AG’s blatant bias in the dispensation of the law, and complete disregard for ethical or legal management of the Justice Department.
    This scandal is indeed huge. Reminds me of Watergate when the press and the people in general did not think that a break-in would amount to anything. However, this Congress may not get it right especially with the spin doctor in the West Wing and let us not forget 41 who is ever present to protect 43 in all his misadventures. I was wrong about Watergate in that I did not think it would as far as it did. I hope I am wrong about this as well.

    Reply

  15. dalivision says:

    From Pissed Off American:
    This AG scandal is huge, even as huge as lying this nation to war. It seems the White House sought to obstruct justice, and stack the USA ranks on a scale that has become impossible to conceal. Yet, even as the facts unfold, our media is largely silent about the sheer weight of the evidence implying collusion within the White House with the AG’s blatant bias in the dispensation of the law, and complete disregard for ethical or legal management of the Justice Department.
    This scandal is indeed huge. Reminds me of Watergate when the press and the people in general did not think that a break-in would amount to anything. However, this Congress may not get it right especially with the spin doctor in the West Wing and let us not forget 41 who is ever present to protect 43 in all his misadventures. I was wrong about Watergate in that I did not think it would as far as it did. I hope I am wrong about this as well.

    Reply

  16. dalivision says:

    From Pissed Off American:
    This AG scandal is huge, even as huge as lying this nation to war. It seems the White House sought to obstruct justice, and stack the USA ranks on a scale that has become impossible to conceal. Yet, even as the facts unfold, our media is largely silent about the sheer weight of the evidence implying collusion within the White House with the AG’s blatant bias in the dispensation of the law, and complete disregard for ethical or legal management of the Justice Department.
    This scandal is indeed huge. Reminds me of Watergate when the press and the people in general did not think that a break-in would amount to anything. However, this Congress may not get it right especially with the spin doctor in the West Wing and let us not forget 41 who is ever present to protect 43 in all his misadventures. I was wrong about Watergate in that I did not think it would as far as it did. I hope I am wrong about this as well.

    Reply

  17. pauline says:

    Carroll:
    Sorry, one of my sisters, Carrol, would be disappointed in my misspelling!

    Reply

  18. pauline says:

    Carrol,
    Further down from the main blog on Chalabi you sourced is this zinger —
    “However, to think and speak of the neocons as some sort of independent power center is a critical misperception. They are simply flacks and snake oil salesmen for their own “handlers”, to use the vernacular.
    It is not necessary to repeat the proof from the public record showing that Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Michael Ledeen, and David Wurmser will do what the government of Israel would like them to do. To that list should be added Irving Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Jr., who managed to penetrate all the way into the arms of the vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, as his chief of staff and assistant for national security affairs, and to the elbow of the President, as an advisor. But he is barred from this catbird’s seat after his conviction for perjury, making a false statement, and obstruction of justice.
    Iran, with help from Chalabi, achieved its initial goals:
    1. Getting rid of an independent and nationalist leader of Iraq, in this case named Saddam Hussein.
    2. Outlawing the organized Baath Party, the political structure of Iraq.
    3. Disbanding the Iraqi Army, which served the Baath party and Saddam Hussein.
    Israel, with help from Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the others, achieved its initial goals:
    1. Getting rid of an independent and nationalist leader of Iraq, in this case named Saddam Hussein.
    2. Outlawing the organized Baath Party, the political structure of Iraq.
    3. Disbanding the Iraqi Army, which served the Baath party and Saddam Hussein.
    Iran and Israel, in order to get their hands into Iraq, had get those three things done.
    Mission accomplished.
    Was the mission accomplished by Iran and Israel spending billions of their money and sacrificing thousands of dead and wounded?
    No.
    Some other country did it for them, and suffered and continues to suffer those terrible costs.
    That country is the U.S., as in us.”

    Reply

  19. Sandy says:

    I read that, too, Carroll. Amazing.
    (And, btw, thanks, belatedly for your comments recently. Much appreciated.)
    If you haven’t already, you may want to read this:
    http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/Iran_The_Road_to_Confrontation_0123.html

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    Opps, I meant to remove the God identification, don’t want to infringe on any of the remaining God merchants trademarks.
    Anyway a point for Ashcroft.
    I hate to cut in here but this is too good not to pass on…the convoluted web that is Chalabi, the neo’s and Israelis. How the Israelis introduced Chalabi into Washington and the pentagon, how Perle and Feith and the Israelis tried to use this consumate user for their purposes only to have him betray them and how the whole scheme went upside down.
    If no one is going to get these guys for treason they at least ought to get them for STUPDIY…thinking to outfox a Iranian fox.
    I would say you will be shocked at how the US has been “had” by these elements…but then a lot of us had an inkling of it long ago.
    The US and the neo’s and the Israelis got suckered in their own scheme and caught in their own web, but so far the US is the only one that has paid the price.
    Read the prior articles to this one by Richard Sale in the right hand box at Col Lang’s sic-semper-tyrannis site to get the whole picture.
    http://tinyurl.com/22kwjh

    Reply

  21. God..aka Carroll says:

    Posted by pauline at May 16, 2007 09:20 AM
    >>>>>>>>>
    Re: your comment the other day…I did go read the transcript of the hearing and you were right, it was worth notice….although I can’t say I am surprised at their thugish tacits…I have been calling this adm MafiaUSA,Inc for a long time.

    Reply

  22. pauline says:

    from —
    http://www.firedoglake.com/
    Yesterday’s Comey testimony was stunning. It clarifies that George Bush authorized a program he knew to be illegal, over Comey’s and Ashcroft’s objection. It shows that our top law enforcement officer has zero respect for the law (hey! look at me! In the Guardian!).
    But we need to bring our outrage into the here and now. That’s because, just two weeks ago, Bush did it again. He told the American people he could authorize a warrantless wiretap program if he wanted to –it didn’t matter what Congress or the law said.
    Senior Bush administration officials told Congress on Tuesday that they could not pledge that the administration would continue to seek warrants from a secret court for a domestic wiretapping program, as it agreed to do in January.
    Rather, they argued that the president had the constitutional authority to decide for himself whether to conduct surveillance without warrants.
    As a result of the January agreement, the administration said that the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program has been brought under the legal structure laid out in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court-approved warrants for the wiretapping of American citizens and others inside the United States.
    But on Tuesday, the senior officials, including Michael McConnell, the new director of national intelligence, said they believed that the president still had the authority under Article II of the Constitution to once again order the N.S.A. to conduct surveillance inside the country without warrants.
    In other words, even after the outcry over publication of details about this program in December 2005, even after the Administration came up with changes in the program to appease Congress, even though some amazingly conservative people stood with Comey when he opposed the program in 2004, the Administration just reasserted its willingness to wiretap Americans without a warrant, regardless of the law.
    Comey’s testimony yesterday dramatically altered the scope of discussions about whether Gonzales should or shouldn’t be Attorney General (hint: the answer’s no, but then it always was). But at the same time, we need to take yesterday’s dramatic testimony and refocus our outrage on Bush himself, and his ongoing willingness to flout the law. Bush told Comey and Ashcroft to fuck off in 2004. But he told all of us to fuck off, publicly, just two weeks ago.

    Reply

  23. pauline says:

    poa:
    fyi, those same posting glitches have been happening to me all this morning on twn.
    Maybe it’s Steve’s equipment getting overloaded with all that fed domestic spying?

    Reply

  24. pauline says:

    Oh, of course there’s that old, unexplained story of Ashcroft flying private jets starting back in late July, 2001, because of his FBI security giving him some “general warnings”.
    The problem I see with this — Ashcroft didn’t tell the rest of us of a “general” warning.
    Steve, you were apparently satisfied with his explanations back then?
    more at —
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2001/07/26/national/main303601.shtml

    Reply

  25. SmellaRat says:

    I agree with POA: we are at an intersection. We can go one way (the way we are currently going) or can turn (in a direction toward from whence we came).
    1. Current: Swamp Way – we got onto this avenue through the sabotage of the normal processes of checks and balances brought on by the events of 911. A perfect storm consisting of the wrong people in power and the terrible terrorist attacks blew our vehicle off the road and onto Swamp Way.
    2. Alternative: Integrity Avenue – we can collectively (because their is no other way) choose to change our direction. This requires going beyond identifying RESPONSIBILITY; it requires the establishment of ACCOUNTABILITY. By definition this means holding those responsible to answer for their deeds. This is an ACTIVE process. Identifying responsibility is a PASSIVE process — just words.
    If the DC Tribe (Branches of goverment, their agencies, the think tanks, Universities, lobbyists, etc.) does not really SEE and make this turn in time I am afraid that we are headed for a doomed outcome. Swamp Way does not lead to the City on the Hill.
    I realize that to make this realization requires a dislocation from doing things the usual way. It is a high expectation. That is why the odds are against us turning. But it is not impossible.
    The recent rats-jumping-ship phenomenon (the rash of “retirements” and movings-on by many in multiple agencies lately) is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We need to put the past 6 years ON THE RECORD in Congress. I advocate that this be the SOLE focus for Congress for the next two years. Other priorities pale in comparison to the need to identify and purge the rotton elements of this sad 6 year saga. If we dodge this opportunity we will never heal; we will have a festering wound just covered with bandaids and never surgically debrided.
    Lance this boil. Impeachment is the only solution.

    Reply

  26. Pissed Off American says:

    Since yesterday, it seems that I cannot post without the “green screen” disclaimer coming up, stating that my post will appear shortly, abusive posting, etc, yadayadayada…
    Yet, my post appears as usual, immediately upon submittal. This is a new development, as this particular phenomena has not presented itself in the past. Is anyone else experiencing a glitchy posting procedure these last twenty four hours, or is it just me?

    Reply

  27. David N says:

    Aside from agreeing with those who damn the faint actions that would be praised, I have this question:
    Just what did Ashcroft’s action accomplish? Even the Post article says that after Bush decided he would not pushed Ashcroft into resigning over the issue of having the Justice Department certify his illegal actions, the program did continue for at least two years. We have no reason to believe, in fact, that the program has been terminated at all!
    So, not only is praise for doing the obvious not deserved; praise for doing nothing is REALLY not deserved.

    Reply

  28. matt says:

    Be sure to run the DipSea Trail through Muir Woods while you’re in Mill Valley!

    Reply

  29. Pissed Off American says:

    And, while we are on the subject of scum and corruption, here is a heads up for those of you that donate to AIPAC. Not only are you financing thier extensive propaganda programs, aimed at misinforming the American public, it appears you are now financing the legal defense of individuals accused of performing acts of espionage against the United States………
    AIPAC to pay Weissman’s legal fees
    By JTA
    AIPAC reached a deal with lawyers for its former Iran analyst, Keith Weissman, to pay for his defense against Espionage Act charges.
    “AIPAC is fully paying for Keith Weissman’s defense through appeal if necessary,” a source close to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee told JTA on Saturday. Sources close to the defense confirmed the deal. Spokesmen for Arent Fox, the law firm representing Weissman, could not be reached over the weekend for comment.
    continues at……
    http://tinyurl.com/yrctz5
    So, send them your money, because it is one of the few organizations working against American interests that you can legally finance through your contributions. (Just don’t contribute to Muslim aid organizations,(like the Red Crescent), if you wanna stay out of the FBI and the DHS evil doer files.)

    Reply

  30. Ben says:

    “Let the eagle soar,
    Like she’s never soared before.
    From rocky coast to golden shore,
    Let the mighty eagle soar.
    Soar with healing in her wings,
    As the land beneath her sings:
    ‘Only god, no other kings.’
    This country’s far too young to die.
    We’ve still got a lot of climbing to do,
    And we can make it if we try.
    Built by toils and struggles
    God has led us through.”

    Reply

  31. Pissed Off American says:

    It is interesting the one of the few occassions that Ashcroft showed some respect for ethics and the law illicits a comment from Steve about this AG thing, yet he is silent about the more pressing need to expose the current actions and attitudes being taken by Gonzales, Rice, Sholzman, etc. while they display a blatant disrespect for the law, Congress, and the American people.
    This AG scandal is huge, even as huge as lying this nation to war. It seems the White House sought to obstruct justice, and stack the USA ranks on a scale that has become impossible to conceal. Yet, even as the facts unfold, our media is largely silent about the sheer wieght of the evidence implying collusion within the White House with the AG’s blatant bias in the dispensation of the law, and complete disregard for ethical or legal management of the Justice Department.
    If we the citizens are lorded over by a biased and partisan Justice Department that uses political affiliation and loyalty as the counterwieghts they place on the scale of justice, than we are no longer free, and no longer have equal protection under the law.
    This current scandal will be the measure of our meddle. If the White House and Gonzales get away with this, then this whole system of justice, the very foundation of our freedoms, is nothing more than a sham. This is it, folks. We either survive as a democracy, by holding this White House and its consigliere accountable for their crimes and corruption, or we succumb to fascism. We are truly at that juncture.

    Reply

  32. pauline says:

    “GONZALES: Pressured DOJ to OK Domestic Spying”
    Revealing testimony from Comey about gonzo, Ashcroft in hospital, bushwacker. . .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxHjWYA50Ds

    Reply

  33. antoniosfca says:

    I won’t do it; I will not salute the “General”
    ———-
    The standards we place upon our public paid servants is dangerously too low; we no longer expect to get what bargain for; in fact, we not only accept less, we tolerate sabotage.
    To salute the Attorney General for upholding an obvious interpretation of the constitution is to unjustly reward; and unearned praise has been arguably the prerequisite to hero fabrication.
    We must again demand our public servants to serve us. And for those that do less, we should remove. And for those obtain illegal gains from our public trust, we must prosecute.
    I say thank you Mr Ashcroft for doing your job. I only wish you had done so with much more frequency.

    Reply

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