Strange new respect, Ashcroft edition

Today’s Washington Post revisits the tenure of former Attorney General Ashcroft through the lens of the testimony of James Comey last week. It seems that Ashcroft may not have been the troglodyte racist and brute authoritarian that was served up to the American people by the Post, the rest of the MSM, the ACLU and the Democratic Party.
The Post article briefly recalls the man otherwise portrayed as the buffoon who purportedly covered the Department of Justice’s nude statues, the goon who brought us the PATRIOT Act, the yahoo who publicly professes his Christian belief. (It passes over the singer/songwriter who composed “Let the Eagle Soar.”) Time Magazine called the battle over his nomination “The Battle for Justice.” With Ashcroft’s confirmation, you see, “Justice” hung in the balance.
The Post article omits any mention of Ashcroft’s memoir cum apologia Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice, published last fall. You may not have heard of the book. I don’t believe the Post ever got around to reviewing it. (Paul noted it here.)
In the book, among other thing, Ashcroft recounts his tenure at the Justice Department, criticizes the 9/11 Commission, discusses the removal of “the wall” between intelligence and law enforcement under the PATRIOT Act, recalls his congressional testimony condemning critics who retail “phantoms of lost liberty,” and supports the prosecution and conviction of terrorist enabler Lynne Stewart. (I wrote about Stewart before her conviction here).
In his chapter on the Stewart prosecution, Ashcroft writes:

The Lynne Stewart case reminded us of the valuable lesson that sometimes when you are doing the right thing, you have to stay strong, steely and silent, even though you are getting beaten up by others for doing what is right. Often, it takes a long time for the truth to emerge.

In the concluding chapter of his book, Ashcroft writes:

The United States will suffer more terrorist attacks during this war with al Qaeda. They are fanatical, relentless, and patient….One simple but difficult principle provides the opportunity for the United States to achieve “never again.” That is: The will to win. The will to do whatever is necessary within the Constitution to protect America separates us from more death and destruction within our shores. It is the will to sacrifice, to persever in the face of adversity and criticism just as generations of Americans did before us. It is no guarantee, but if we falter, grow complacent, or fail to do what we can, we give the terrorist network opportunities that, with time and patience, they will exploit to kill more innocent Americans.

In the context of today’s Post article, the book prompts one to wonder what other figures in the Bush administration may yet be accorded the Post’s strange new respect.


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