Portrait of John Ashcroft

The Jan. 26 issue of US News & World Report features John Ashcroft on the cover and contains this 8 page article on him. It's not entirely a puff piece, although plenty of his friends and underlings assert that he has been unfairly demonized. At least it mentions some of the policies Ashcroft has been criticized for:

They [federal judges and civil liberties groups] cite policies like jailing terrorism suspects as "material witnesses" so that they can be interrogated by investigators and prosecutors, even though they have not been charged with any crime. Or the preventive detention of illegal aliens and the 600-odd secret trials of those detainees. Or Ashcroft's legal defense of the administration's detention of thousands of "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba--with no prospect of trial for most. Ashcroft also modified existing rules to allow the government to detain illegal aliens even after courts ruled that they should be released--measures that four federal judges have ruled unconstitutional.

Public perceptions aside, there are growing questions about whether Ashcroft's prevention paradigm works. In his new book Enemy Aliens, Georgetown University law Prof. David Cole examines the preventive detentions of roughly 5,000 foreign nationals--Muslim men--after the terrorist attacks. Only three were ultimately charged with terrorism-related crimes. Just one was convicted. At the time, Ashcroft called the detainees "suspected terrorists" and announced the deportation of more than 500 Muslim men as a signal victory in the "war on terror." In fact, the 500 were deported only after the FBI found no terrorist ties. "They were misses," Cole says, "not hits."

There's lots more, go read the whole thing. One of our favorite quotes:

More and more, there's grousing among prosecutors, who say they duck when Ashcroft blows into town to announce a big case because they fear that his polarizing presence could taint the jury pool.

[link via How Appealing]

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