Wednesday, November 10, 2004

John Ashcroft. Miserable Failure

By any objective measure, outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft was a horrible, miserable failure. Worst ever? Perhaps.

His resume says he brought charges on 368 terrorist suspects, and lazy journalists, spoonfed a Justice Department press release, are noting that the department has had 194 convictions.

What most journalists won't point out, though, is that none of those 194 convictions have anything to do with terrorism. Those convictions came for a motley of charges, related to gambling, Internet pornography and other issues that are certainly worth prosecution, but which have nothing to do with terrorism.

Ashcroft didn't make terrorism a priority before 9/11, and clearly, he wasn't very successful in prosecuting terrorist threats thereafter.

John Ashcroft was king of the well-timed press conference. He paraded out names of terror suspects who had been in custody for months -- the nut who said he wanted to blow up an Ohio mall comes to mind. And he was good at scaring the American people. Who can forget the embarrassing claim in June that “credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates that Al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States” between then and the November election? The "credible intelligence," it was later learned, came from Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, who among other things, took credit for the blackout in the Northeast last year.

No terror convictions, even with the over-the-top power of the USA Patriot Act at his disposal. Think about how hard that is. Ashcroft rounded up some 5,000 people, via racial profiling or Arabs and other minorities with hard-to-pronounce last names and a common Muslim religion. But no convictions.

And when he wasn't failing in the legal war on terror, he was making excuses. Ashcroft poo-pooed international legal precedent, like the Geneva Convention, saying it didn't apply to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Ashcroft looked the other way during Abu Ghraib, suggesting the Geneva Convention did not apply to our detention or maltreatment of detainees.


Liberals were gleeful yesterday upon learning Ashcroft was stepping down. The audience at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart cheered wildly.

But it's not like Ashcroft is being forced to resign, as if a paddy wagon was waiting outside his offices. It's not like a liberal -- or even a pro-choice, pro-gay rights Republican, like George Pataki -- has a prayer of replacing Ashcroft. The religious right would never accept it.

In all likelihood, Ashcroft will be succeeded by a deputy in the department or some other GOP loyalist who meets the appropriate litmus tests. They'll have big shoes to fill. It's going to be increasingly difficult to hold press conferences claiming victory in the legal war on terror, while all those prosecutions fail to stand up in court.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

three comments

Good riddance. We dont need any religious freaks in high office positions. It is one thing to believe in religion of G-d; Ashcroft took that to an entirely different level.

Please, no Pataki. He is soft, period. Not the right man for the job. Amazing he gets any credit for NYS. Talk about being in the right place in the right time....his inability to handle government matters in-state is now showing.

Geneva Convention: should it legally apply to terrorist groups like Al Quaeda? Not sure these groups were intended by that set of guidelines.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It comes as no shock whatsoever that you choose to chime in and describe Ashcroft as a failure, under any standards. You should have qualified that by saying any standards that conform to my liberal way of thinking. Your type of "I am scared of people who believe in God" thinking is exactly why the Democrats will remain an opposition party for the near future. Best of luck trying to find something wrong with Gonzalez. Sorry about your loss. You will no longer have that Ashcroft bogeyman to kick around. Pity.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's no way to treat the Democrats' favorite bogeyman. John Ashcroft just completed an historic tenure. If anything, you should be thanking the former Missouri senator, who had to fend off a campaign by the nation's lefty Librarians, while at the same time skillfully enforcing the Patriot Act's powerful provisions and protecting America from another 9/11. And might I add, he did so without a hint of oversealousness. He's the main reason why communication between intelligence and law-enforcement agencies is so much improved. You've obviously let your contempt for the misbehaving populace that voted in President Bush, cloud your opinion of the man who has been protecting your ass for the last three years. Ungrateful.

Joe Nadilo

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing. Conservatives look the other way when presented with facts. Ashcroft has had three years to convict anyone with ties to terrorism -- Al Qaeda or otherwise. And he hasn't done it.

Cases brought by the Justice Department have been thrown out -- in some cases laughed out -- of court. If terrorism is our top concern, as Bush and Cheney and Ashcroft and Ridge and Rice have said repeatedly, wouldn't it be good to see some of these terrorists brought to justice? Or are we to assume that the case for Al Qaeda in the U.S. was overblown by this administration? You can't have it both ways.

Gonzales won't be any better, as David suggests. Same conservative rhetoric. Maybe he'll get a conviction or two. But Gonzales, don't forget, helped shape U.S. policy in rejecting the Geneva Convention. Hardly a great precedent.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodbye Ashcroft. Get the hell out of our lives!
People who defend Ashcroft cannot name a single specific thing he has done to ward off another 9-11.
The Patriot Act would have been voted out of the Senate earlier this year, had the Republicans not broke long-standing legislative guidelines and forced another vote on the issue hours after the deadline.
Many believe The Act stands as a demonstrated farce that has done nothing with fighting terrorism. It's another tool for the Bush Administration to keep people in line through paranoia and fear.
Then Ashcroft violated the civil rights of many when he tossed suspected terrorists in jail based on shoddy evidence who were later found to be completely innocent. This occurred after our country has vowed not repeat the mistakes of WWII when we wrongfully put innocent Japanese into prison camps.
Moreover, the High Court has found many Bush/Ashcroft tactics at the prisons in Cuba and Iraq illegal.
But of course Ashcroft has only carried on the Bush tradition of showing contempt towards any form of domestic or global authority, i.e. the UN, the Geneva Convention etc., as well as the U.S. Constitution.
As a consequence of Bush/Ashcroft policies, rather than despite of them, we are arguably more vulnerable to terrorism than before 9-11.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good. Now maybe we won't have to deal with "red" level terror alerts at politically opportune times, based on sketchy, three-year old evidences, which have created unnecessary expense and chaos in our cities.
As an added bonus, we might also no longer have to listen to Giuliani -- a self-proclaimed terrorism expert merely because he did what any mayor in the country would have done in a similar situation following 9-11 -- faulting anyone for finding fault with such terror alerts. If only we could find a way to get rid of him too.
What has risen is the level of civil liberties and peace of mind.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here we go again, my blinded liberal friends. the world you live in is such a depressing place with conspiracies around every corner and big brother conniving ways to pounce on all your rights. There obviously is no room for benefit of the doubt in your minds-you still are in the 'Bush and his associates are evil spin' mode and it is the democratic party's downfall.

Lets also be realistic. While I am a strong believer in our system, it truly is not well suited to bring terrorists to justice. Bringing them to justice sometimes means killing them. Simple as that.

You have to love these people who defend the system to a fault (a system which protects the innocent often resulting in letting go the guilty) and then complain about not getting convictions. Please.

I cannot stand ashcroft but he did not bring on the apocalypse, nor would he have had he continued.

You just dont get it.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above blogger just doesn't get it.
The civil protections and global laws were put in place to protect all of us from unjust punishment and death.
As soon as we start to compromise on these laws even a little bit, it paves the way for government systems to unilaterally destroy people who do not happen to agree with them, often utilizing racist or religious propoganda.
The laws were put in place in response to what history has taught us. To prevent civil societies from decaying into socialistic/communistic anarchist or Nazi states. Ashcroft's campaign to give such protections short shrift is what makes him so scary.

The above blogger thinks it is so simple and necessary to just "kill" perceived terrorists, apparantly without affording them due process. What if these people were actually innocent of any crimes? What if they were one of your friends or relatives who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time?
Why don't we just drop bombs on entire neighborhoods housing perceived terrorists, never mind that your wife, friend or child on vacation in the hotel next door is blown to pieces. By many accounts this has actually occurred under U.S. policy in Iraq.
My comments here represent only the beginning of how I could dismantle the arguments of the above blogger.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure about Ashcroft not bringing on the apocalypse. Not sure if that pertains to the families of reportedly dozens if not hundreds of Middle Easterners found to have been innocent and inappropriately jailed in Cuba for months, without being afforded rights to counsel.
Yes, I agree, our present systems may allow the guilty to squeak out once in a while. It may make it difficult to achieve a conviction in some instances. It is sure better than the alternative.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Ashcroft's actions had led to the deaths of actual terrorists, I doubt anyone would have minded much.

Problem is, he rounded up 5,000 people using racial profiling, denied them civil liberties, and then failed to successfully prosecute even one.

That's an abysmal record.

Seems the conservatives on this site are more interested in trashing liberal freedom of speech than in actually providing concrete evidence Ashcroft did anything well. Typical.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I freaking love it. It generally takes a little longer, but it is almost inevitable that if you dare to differ with the liberal perspective, they will eventually claim that you are attempting to trample on their right to free speech. Thanks for doing that in such a timely manner. Should we try terrorists in court, or kill them elsewhere ? I choose killing them elsewhere, thank you.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real terrorists are the self-righteous ignoramuses.

Some would argue terrorists were the Southern bigots who not too many decades ago routinely strung up and hung blacks from the trees.
Some would argue terrorists are those in the U.S. government who supported and financed Saddaam Hussein at the same time they knew he was gassing his own people.
Some would call Bush a terrorist for attacking a country and murdering its citizens when neither was a threat to us.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go kill them elsewhere -- but that's not Ashcroft's domain. You want to discuss U.S. policy hunting down Al Qaeda? That's another topic.

Still waiting to see someone defend Ashcroft with an actual success story with regard to prosecuting terrorists. All I'm hearing is a lot of noise without substance.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No need to defend his "fighting" terrorists, since our military is in the process of doing so. I have yet to see a convincing argument that terrorists should even be tried in our court system. Let's see, what else is he responsible for? I am fairly certain that to date, despite much consternation, there have not been bands of jack booted thugs breaking down doors in the middle of the night. We have yet to see a systemic takeover of the library system. I have never understood that particular bogeyman, since to the best of my knowledge, libraries are generally funded by tax dollars, but, I digress. Violent crime, nationally, went down approximately 27% while he was AG. Prosecutions of gun crimes went up over 75% while he was AG. How about those objective measures?

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he truely was concerned about gun crimes, he would have in someway rallied behind the thousands of police officers across the country who wanted to see the ban on assault weapons continued. Unless I somehow missed it, like Bush he sat on his hands.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see ... facts and statistics only count when they agree with your perspective. Apparently, when facts do not conform with your views, you are free to disregard the facts, and bring up another topic altogether.

Conservative : Terrorism is not a law enforcement issue

Liberal : Oh, yeah ... Well, what about health care?!?!

Conservative : Increase in prosecution of gun crimes

Liberal : What about the assault weapons ban ?!?!

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, I see a direct obvious connection between prosecution of gun crimes and the assault weapon ban.
The continued ban on assault weapons could indeed result in reducing the number of gun crimes and, subsequently, the need to prosecute such crimes.
If I have the above bloggers argument correctly that they are two separate issues, that is like saying there's no link between the number of legal abortions performed and Roe verses Wade.

5:56 PM  

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