Notes on the Atrocities
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Monday, July 07, 2003  

Slowly working through the Bush Administration, I've posted a new Dossier (hosted, generously, by Ignatius at Genfoods, where the links are strong and the code is good-looking), this one on our good friend John Ashcroft.

Again, the usual info: I collected the information from the DOJ, news, and advocacy sources--all of which are cited. To the best of my research, it's all accurate; any errors or omissions, please shoot me an email. Still to come: Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

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Ashcroft, John
Position: U.S. Attorney General
Confirmed: February 1, 2000

Bio
Although he was born in Chicago, Ashcroft grew up in Springfield, Missouri. His father, a Pentecostal preacher, reared Ashcroft and his two brothers in accordance with strict religious tradition. After graduating from high school in Springfield -- where he was both starting quarterback and student body president -- Ashcroft departed for Yale University in New Haven. He went on to earn a law degree at the University of Chicago.

He returned to his native Springfield to take a teaching post at Southwest Missouri State. Although initially he did not harbor political ambitions, he was frustrated with the lack of viable Republican candidates in his district. In 1972, he ran in the local congressional primary. Although he lost the race, he caught the attention of local politicos, and was soon chosen to assist Missouri Attorney General John Danforth. Ashcroft was himself elected to the position in 1976.

In 1984, Ashcroft was elected governor of Missouri. He served two terms and was noted for balancing eight consecutive state budgets. He then parleyed his success as governor into a seat in the U.S. Senate. It was as a senator that his markedly conservative views began to draw harsh criticism, largely on the strength of his “Human Life” amendment. The measure, which was never adopted, proposed the abolition of abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Ashcroft also voted against gun safety-locks and the abolition of assault rifles.

Ashcroft lost his seat in 2000, but was quickly scooped up by the Bush administration and submitted as a candidate for attorney general. Ashcroft’s confirmation hearings were reportedly some of the most contentious proceedings in congressional history. Critics feared that his aggressively conservative stance would interfere with his role as the head of the Department of Justice. Ashcroft’s nomination was eventually confirmed by a narrow margin. Source: Biography.com


Report
John Ashcroft's nomination was approved by a skeptical senate on February 1, 2001 by a vote of just 58-42, one of the closest votes in AG history. All 42 “nay” votes came from Democrats, who said they were sending a warning to the President that his nominations would not receive their rubber stamp. Ashcroft was a pointedly conservative nomination that divided the senate and the electorate. A coalition of 200 liberal groups urged the Senate to vote Ashcroft down.

About the nomination, liberals were worried because of Ashcroft’s history. “Ashcroft also drew fire for blocking the appointment of Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White, an African American, to the federal bench and opposing the appointment of James C. Hormel, who is openly gay, as ambassador to Luxembourg. Many Democrats also said they were troubled by Ashcroft's praise for a neo-Confederate magazine, the Southern Partisan, and his acceptance of an honorary degree from Bob Jones University, which has issued anti-Catholic statements and until recently banned interracial dating.” (Washington Post, 2 Feb 2001)

Since his nomination, Ashcroft has justified early worries. Under John Ashcroft, the Attorney General has become an activist position, prosecuting citizens on a narrow agenda of social issues Ashcroft finds distasteful, often against the wishes of states. Under the auspices of federal narcotics laws, Ashcroft has pursued doctors in Oregon (under the state-passed and judicially-sanctioned “Death with Dignity” law) and medical marijuana users in California. Meanwhile, he gave broad rights to gun users.

Since 9/11, Ashcroft has made an all-out assault on civil liberties, foisting TIPS and TIA, racial profiling, immigrant and prisoner abuses, and first amendment violations on the public. He has threatened Congress and the citizens he is supposed to protect. His theocratic leanings, sanctimonious anti-nudity and anti-gay positions are inconsistent with a man who, as Attorney General, is supposed merely to enforce law, not interpret and create it.

Full Report

Threats
Persuing a Personal Agenda
Civil Liberty Violations
Theocratic Leanings
Paranoia and Secrecy

posted by Jeff | 9:50 AM |
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