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.
— Steve Clemons