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Ashcroft's Legacy

Why we should celebrate Ashcroft's resignation as attorney general, no matter who replaces him.
 
 
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Not since John Mitchell in Nixon's day or perhaps even A. Mitchell Palmer in the 1920s have we had an Attorney General so hostile to our essential freedoms as John Ashcroft.

His roundup of Arab and Muslim Americans will go down in history as the Ashcroft Raids.

And for the thousands detained, he had nothing to show for it. Many were booted out of the country on the puniest of visa violations, their families torn apart.

Ashcroft was allergic to dissent, saying, "To those who scare peace-loving people with the phantoms of lost liberty, my message to you is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists."

Of course, giving aid and ammunition to the country's enemies is the constitutional definition of treason, a crime punishable by death.

To go after dissenters, Ashcroft lifted the Ford Administration ban on FBI spying at public gatherings.

So much for the First Amendment.

And Ashcroft hustled the Patriot Act through Congress, an act that lets the police go through your home when you're not there.

So much for the Fourth Amendment.

Ashcroft was instrumental in the Bush Administration policy that labeled two U.S. citizens, Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, as enemy combatants and deprived them of their day in court.

So much for the Fifth Amendment.

Ashcroft issued an edict that said some prisoners no longer have the right to confidential conversations with their lawyers.

So much for the Sixth Amendment.

Finally, Ashcroft was fully on board the torture train, crafting guidelines that permitted the abuse of prisoners in U.S. hands, contrary to the Geneva Conventions.

So much for the Eighth Amendment.

And so much for Article 6 of the Constitution, which makes treaties the "supreme law of the land."

Ashcroft's tenure was one big blot on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Matthew Rothschild is Editor of the Progressive.