John Ashcroft

TRB From Washington: Enemy Within
May 03, 2004

REPUBLICANS SAY THEY ARE dismayed by the partisanship of the 9/11 Commission and, if you define partisanship as criticism of the Bush administration--the working definition on much of the right--they are exactly right. But, if you define partisanship the way it's traditionally understood--as placing party interests above national ones--then the 9/11 Commission hasn't been very partisan at all. And that's what really irks the GOP: They're dismayed that the 9/11 Commission isn't partisan enough.

The Same And Different
September 09, 2002

After September 11, 2001, how could America not change? And how, after September 11, 2001, could America change? Staying the same and not staying the same are both forms of resistance, of retaliation. The enemy wished to destroy what we were, so let us be exactly what we were; but we were too frivolous and too complacent, and so we cannot be exactly what we were. And yet American frivolity is one of the world's joys, the expression of an unprecedented civilizational happiness.

Finger Tip
June 24, 2002

On its face, Attorney General John Ashcroft's plan, announced last week, to fingerprint about 100,000 foreigners visiting the United States each year sounds prudent. Since "fingerprints don't lie," as Ashcroft recently put it, fingerprinting visitors from Arab and Muslim nations should be a reliable way of identifying terrorists who would otherwise quickly disappear inside the country. In fact, until recently even liberals endorsed this logic.

On the Hill: Plan B
June 24, 2002

At an early June meeting of Republican activists in California, White House political director Ken Mehlman set the stage for the November congressional elections. Delivering a slick PowerPoint presentation with 27 slides bearing short, declarative sentences and nifty national maps, Mehlman summarized the parties' competing approaches with boardroom efficiency. First he explained the by-now-familiar Democratic strategy: Support George W.

Home Alone
June 24, 2002

As TNR went to press, John Ashcroft's revelation that the United States had captured an Al Qaeda operative seeking to build a dirty bomb was distracting attention from President George W. Bush's dramatic unveiling of his plan for a Department of Homeland Security. That announcement, in turn, had distracted attention from whistle-blower Coleen Rowley's testimony about FBI bungling, which, in turn, had distracted attention from the Democrats' call for a blueribbon commission to investigate the intelligence failures preceding September 11. All of which is fine, as far as it goes.

Bad Faith
March 25, 2002

A month or so ago, in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters’ annual convention, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the following: “Civilized individuals, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator. Governments may guard freedom. Governments don’t grant freedom.

Right Turn
December 17, 2001

These are heady times for conservatism. The last 20 years have seen a decisive shift in the West toward market economics and away from statist intervention. The welfare state as it has historically been understood is an endangered species. Culturally, the importance of family structure, religious faith, and personal responsibility is affirmed by a wider array of people than for a generation. And with September 11, the bedrock conservative insight that the world is an inherently dangerous place has been decisively proved once again.

Duty Free
December 16, 2001

On July 11, exactly three months before the World Trade Center fell, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, wrote a column in The Hill newspaper entitled, "Privacy: An Emerging Front-Burner Issue." In it, he made an argument that today rings rather strange. He accused the Clinton administration of being so obsessed with the threat of terrorism and crime that it had trampled civil liberties.

Holding Pattern
December 10, 2001

Of all the new security measures adopted by the Bush administration since September 11, the most draconian involve the detention and interrogation of aliens. In his dragnet effort to uncover evidence of terrorism, Attorney General John Ashcroft has authorized the detention of some 1,100 noncitizens. Some have been held for months and--thanks to recently passed legislation--may be held indefinitely. Critics call the Ashcroft detentions unconstitutional.

Sin Of Commission
October 08, 2001

Two weeks after George W. Bush's declaration of war against terrorism, a battle plan is taking shape. We are putting the screws to Pakistan to end its history of mentoring terrorists. We will now treat Afghanistan like the rogue state that it is. The Treasury Department will try to choke off Osama bin Laden's financing. Intelligence agencies, at long last, will share information with one another. And if the Bush administration has its way, the CIA will revert to its pre-1995 guidelines, which allowed operatives to recruit informants with sketchy human rights records. All sensible moves.