Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blackwater's New Ethics or Old Nightmares ? Chief John Ashcroft

AP/Cliff Owen

Why, even for national and international security reasons ALONE, Ashcroft's background should exempt him from any role at all. What could be more of a red-flag branding hinting at a "Christian-Islam crusade" for the US so-called "war on terror"? Who but the extra-legal contractor Blackwater folk (including outlaw and shameful US representative, Raymond Davis, Xe )and other offshoots in Pakistan and around the world - LIBYA under auspices of CIA? What sort of dynamics could do greater damage to US reputation abroad and up the ante of more revenge attacks? So why NOW for Ashcroft to bring the spotlight on himself and at the same time on this shameful company?

Before I post the most current items which bring the spotlight once again on our USA's celebrated "Christian Crusader", the following mention of earlier notations concerning Ashcroft's history may be useful. See these carefully referenced items:

Findlaw's Legal Commentary, April 30, 2003. FindLaw's Writ - Cassel: A Recent Judicial Reprimand of Attorney ... Apr 30, 2003 ... A Recent Judicial Reprimand of Attorney General Ashcroft Exposes a Pattern of Gag Order and Ethics Violations By His Office. By ELAINE CASSEL ... John Walker Lindh and Lynne Stewart cases are part of the same pattern. GO here

In "The United States and Torture", 2011, New York University Press (the definitive and highly-acclaimed book edited by Marjorie Cohn, Law School Professor and longtime National Lawyer's Guild lawyer) Cohn's introduction 'An American Policy of Torture' includes Ashcroft's apparent leniency with detained US Citizen John Walker Lindh as setting the stage for the rest of the book and the story of US complicity with torture:

"...Ashcroft permitted (Lindh) to plead guilty to lesser offenses that garnared him 20 years. The condition: that Lindh declare he suffered "no deliberate mistreatment" while in custody. The cover-up was under way."

On page 14 of Cohn's same intro find: "On February 7, 2002, Bush signed a memo erroneously stating that the Geneval Conventions, which require humane treatment, did not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But the Supreme Court made clear that Geneva protects all prisoners. Bush admitted that he approved of high-level meetings of the Principals Committee in which harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, were authorized by Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, JOHN ASHCROFT, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and George Tenet."

In this same book edited by Cohn, Professor Alfred W. McCoy, one of the most highly respected experts on torture says, "...up the chain of command, Condoleezza Rice, then National Security Adviser, later recalled that, after the 'CIA sought policy approval from the National Security Counsel (NSC) to begin an inerrogation program for high-level al-Qaida terrorists,' she 'convened a series of meetings of NSC princiipals in 2002 and 2003.' After watching CIA operatives mime 'certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques,' this group - including Vice President Cheney, ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT...(etc.) repeatedly authorized extreme psychological techniques stiffened by hitting, walling, and waterboarding." (Add here that Jordan J. Paust GO here see under Background Law Jordan J. Praust's piece which includes '...US Use of Drones in Pakistan' ) in Cohn's book, adds to the Ashcroft et al committee: other torture methods such as "inducment of hypothermia" and "use of dogs to crate intense fear", various forms of sexual and self-dignity types of humiliations and the "cold cell". Paust says, with respect to the ...contributions of this above mentioned team, including John Yoo, that President George W. Bush was quoted as stating,'Yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

'During one of these meetings, Ashcroft asked aloud: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly." Yet according to CIA records, Ashcroft approved "expanded use" of enhanced techniques at meetings in July and September 2003, even when 'informed that the waterboard had been used 119 times on an individual'. Even after the broadcast of the Abu Ghraib photos, these principals still met to consider the continued use of CIA torture techniques." (end overall 2 paragraph quote by McCoy with short internal quotes in first paragraph from Rice)

In the following note, I raise further questions which we need to ask of Ashcroft for the sake of the legacy and "state of security or insecurity" we are leaving to our children all:

NOTE: "Ethics Chief? Ashcroft? What a joke! ...Some of the opinion items just coming out may be a bit tongue-in-cheek - if not asking whether we are living in a "real world" or something surreal beyond our worst nightmares - for which only sardonic humor will sometimes offer a bit of mitigating balm..

For doubters, beyond the Professor McCoy quotes above which clearly shows that Ashcroft was/is no dunce nor can be excused as naive - yet for the sake of us all worldwide - the new "ethics" chief of Blackwater is in dire need of constant "motives" surveillance himself in order to expose to younger generations just the sort of ambitions and cover-up needs out of which he may be operating...

On this post, and in an easy library search, there's plenty of factual/actual corroborated information -- going back to before the declaration of Cheney's foreshadowing that the US would be often working "from the dark side" to show Ashcroft's true colors...

Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft
By Spencer Ackerman May 4, 2011
"Wired" and elsewhere

The consortium in charge of restructuring the world’s most infamous private-security firm just added a new chief in charge of keeping the company on the straight and narrow. Yes, John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general, is now an “independent director” of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater.

Ashcroft will head Xe’s new “subcommittee on governance,” its backers announced early Wednesday in a statement. The subcommittee is designed to “maximize governance, compliance and accountability” and “promote the highest degrees of ethics and professionalism within the private-security industry.”

In other words, no more shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, no more signing for weapons its guards aren’t authorized to carry in war zones, no more impersonations of cartoon characters to acquire said weaponry, and no more ‘roids and coke on the job.

Ashcroft’s arrival at Xe is yet another clear signal it’s not giving up the quest for lucrative government security contracts now that it’s no longer owned by founder Erik Prince, even as it emphasizes the side of its business that trains law enforcement officers. In September, it won part of a $10 billion State Department contract to protect diplomats, starting with the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.

Ashcroft, a U.S. senator before becoming attorney general in the Bush administration, is a very known quantity to the federal officials that Xe will pitch. Even if he’s not lobbying for Blackwater, Ashcroft’s addition on the board is meant to inspire confidence in government officials of its newfound rectitude.

To some, Ashcroft will be forever known as the face of Bush-era counterterrorism: the official who vigorously defended the Patriot Act’s sweeping surveillance powers; told civil libertarians that their dissents “only aid terrorists,” and covered up the Spirit of Justice’s boob. At the same time, when Ashcroft was critically ill in 2005, he resisted a White House mission to his hospital bed entreating him to reauthorize warrantless surveillance in defiance of the acting attorney general.

“This is a company with a strong history of service to its country, and a reputation of best-in-class offerings to its public and private customers,” Ashcroft said in a statement. “I look forward to helping USTC enhance its governance and oversight capabilities as the company moves forward,” referring to U.S. Training Center, another of Blackwater’s many names. Like scores of other senior security officials, Ashcroft has spent his post-government career running a Washington consulting firm.

Xe is still sorting out its leadership and searching for a permanent CEO. For now, the investor team that bought the company in December assembled and empowered a board of directors to run the shop along with the existing management. That board includes former National Security Agency director Bobby Ray Inman. Its chairman is Clear Channel co-founder Red McCombs.

Ashcroft and his new subcommittee will report to the board. “With the formation of this subcommittee, and with Ashcroft as its chair,” the firm says in the statement, “USTC aims to set the bar for industry standards against which all other companies will be measured.”

At find links to:

Despite Denials, Blackwater Still Working for U.S.
Getcher Special Edition Blackwater Shotguns!
Exclusive: Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal

Spencer Ackerman is Danger Room's senior reporter, based out of Washington, D.C., covering weapons of doom and the strategies they're used to implement. Follow @attackerman and @dangerroom on Twitter.

For Ackerman's posting on GO here

See also yesterday's posting:
John Ashcroft takes image-rehab job with Blackwater
By Alex Pareene here

Former Attorney General John Aschcroft, one of the worst jokes of George W. Bush's first term, has a new job! (Not that you needed to worry about him starving on the street: He's been running a very lucrative lobbying firm since he left the Justice Department.) He is now the head of the newly created ethics committee for... Blackwater, the "private security firm" (mercenary army) that is best known for accepting billions of dollars in government money while murdering civilians, smuggling and stealing arms, and generally allowing their private army of reckless, drunken violence-junkies to operate wholly without oversight or consequences.

Because the name "Blackwater" has such a bad reputation, due to all the killing, they've embarked upon a series of cosmetic reforms: Changing their name to "Xe," bidding for contracts under the names of their dozens of fictitious front companies, and now starting up this ethics committee.

And nothing says credibility like bringing on the attorney general whose work establishing a permanent state of domestic emergency necessitated the massive "homeland security" industry that went on to make him a very wealthy man.

The hiring of Ashcroft -- a puritanical straight-and-narrow type -- is obviously meant to signal to government agencies that Blackwater has totally changed since founder and real piece of work Erik Prince departed the company to concentrate on pretending he's been persecuted for anything besides his impossibly irresponsible management. If they promise no more cocaine and porn, oh State Department, would you consider maybe giving them a couple more billion dollars?

For other notable milestones go to Wikileaks and Source Watch:

John David Ashcroft served as U.S. Attorney General from 2001 to 2004, and following that took a teaching position at Pat Robertson's Regent University as Distinguished Professor of Law and Government and formed a lobbying firm called the Ashcroft Group. He graduated from Yale in 1963 and received his J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1967, and is considered to be a neo-conservative, a devout Christian, and a grittily determined singer, even at staff meetings.

...In the 2000 election year, Ashcroft was defeated in his run for re-election to the U.S. Senate by Democrat Mel Carnahan, who remained on the Missouri ballot after he died in a plane crash. Less than three months later, Ashcroft won confirmation as President Bush's Attorney General by a 58-42 margin, the narrowest in recent times. Ashcroft announced his resignation as U.S. Attorney General on November 9, 2004. His handwritten letter was dated November 2nd, citing gratitude, success, and a belief in fresh leadership to take his place.

Ashcroft...was criticized by civil rights groups for opposing the nomination of a black Missouri Supreme Court justice to the federal bench. "He also has come under fire for comments he made to the Southern Partisan, a magazine defending the historical reputation of the Civil War-era Confederacy," CNN noted.

People for the American Way unsuccessfully campaigned against Ashcroft's nomination and released reports compiling his public statements on key issue...

Corruption in U.S. Government (words to remind Ashcroft he once made?)
Ashcroft has made bold public statements against corruption by public officials. In particular he highlighted the need for law enforcment and the Department Of Justice to keep their "own houses clean". Ashcroft believed that the majority of corruption in government is unreported, undetected, and escapes investigation and prosecution: "We know that we can only detect, investigate and prosecute a small percentage of those officials who are corrupt." (Why aren't you one of those few officials yesterday, Mr. Ashcroft?)

Compassionate conservative?

Associated Press religion writer Richard N. Ostling, wrote, in his February 10, 2001, article "Like Bush, Ashcroft wanted to give religious groups a bigger role in federal welfare reform. The obvious problem was how to maintain separation of church and state under the U.S. Constitution..."On the White House office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, Ostling wrote: "Creation of the office is in concert with Bush's pledge to spend $8 billion in expanding 'charitable choice', in which churches and religious groups receiving federal funding to provide social services MAY NOW PROSELYTIZE'

Further references include:

"Profile: John Ashcroft," Right Web Profile (Somerville, NM: International Relations Center, December 21, 2007).
People for the American Way, "The Right-Wing Affiliations of Bush Administration Officials."
We're Not Destroying Rights, We're Protecting, Parade Magazine, May 19, 2002.

Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Lichtblau, Attorney General Is Closely Linked to Inquiry Figures, New York Times, October 2, 2003: "Deep political ties between top White House aides and Attorney General John Ashcroft have put him into a delicate position as the Justice Department begins a full investigation into whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer." Names of inquiry figures associated with Ashcroft are: Karl Rove and Jack Oliver.

Prosecutor in terror case controversy sues Ashcroft, USA Today, February 17, 2004: "A federal prosecutor in a major terrorism case in Detroit has taken the rare step of suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging the Justice Department interfered with the case, compromised a confidential informant and exaggerated results in the war on terrorism. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino of Detroit accused the Justice Department of "gross mismanagement" of the war on terrorism in a whistleblower lawsuit filed late Friday in federal court in Washington. ... Justice officials said Tuesday they had not seen the suit and had no comment."
Bruce S. Ticker, "'The untouchables: Scalia and Ashcroft'," Smirking Chimp, April 27, 2004.

Through 2009 and related SOURCEWATCH here

Do keep in mind as I mentioned that, more than most stories for May 2011, early items on Ashcroft might be even more important than the ones just now surfacing (we have a general epidemic of Amnesisa which includes burned-out progressives and civil rights folk.)

One more earlier story:
Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill: the Ashcroft-Rove Connection Oct 2, 2003 "Does a Felon Rove the White House?"
GO here

Happy Hunting...only WE, the people, will decide whether or not Ashcroft's emerging profile is another nail on the coffin of our American reputation or whether we have a chance for ACTUAL CHANGE...

Additional NOTE: There are some shocking folk emerging from our recent hellish Bush era past - seeking and taking the helm again. What's going on? Plz forgive rather long posts from time to time here on this site - No More Crusades. For self and other researchers I want to note some documentation as new stories come up. I aim to be less complicated and to include more inspirational posts on my other site One Heart For Peace here

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