Less than three months after registering as a lobbyist, former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft has banked at least $269,000.
Former lawmakers and other senior government officials routinely pass through the Washington revolving door and become advocates for commercial interests seeking to influence government, but the practice of former attorneys general has been to move to think tanks or academia, or return to the practice of law.
The office of the attorney general, along with the secretaries of state, defense and treasury, is among the oldest and most prestigious in the president's Cabinet.
"One would have thought that a former attorney general wouldn't be doing that," said John Schmidt, an associate attorney general in the Clinton administration who now is a lawyer at Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw of Chicago. "To take the kind of prestige and stature of the attorney general [and lobby].... It seems a little demeaning of the office, honestly."
As the controversy grew over the warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens by the National Security Agency, Mr. Bush, apparently annoyed, said at a press conference, "The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."Oh the incredible irony: the right-wing's extreme hatred for the former USSR vs. the current Kremlin-like ways of this administration.
Well, Mr. President, one of the great things about democracy American style is that important national issues are always subject to a robust national discussion. And few things are more important than making sure that a president with a demonstrated tendency to abuse the powers of his office is not allowed to lay the foundation for the systematic surveillance of the American people.
For a president - any president - to O.K. eavesdropping on U.S. citizens on American soil without a warrant is an abomination. First, it's illegal - and for very good reasons. Spying on the populace is a giant step toward totalitarianism. In the worst-case scenario, it's the nightmare of Soviet-style surveillance.