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Profile: John Ashcroft

 
  

Positions that John Ashcroft has held:

  • Attorney General
  • US Senator, Republican


 

Quotes

 
  

No quotes or excerpts for this entity.


 

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John Ashcroft actively participated in the following events:

 
  

Early 2000      Plans to use force against Iran

       US Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) agents arrest Mahnaz Samadi, a leading spokeswoman for the National Council of Resistance, at the Canadian border because several years earlier, when she was seeking political asylum in the US, she had not disclosed her past “terrorist” ties as an MEK “military commander” or the fact that she had trained in an MEK camp that was located in Iraq. Hearing about the case from his constituents, Missouri Senator John Ashcroft comes to the rescue and writes a letter on May 10, 2000 to Attorney General Janet Reno opposing Samadi's arrest. In his letter, he calls her a “highly regarded human-rights activist.” [US State Department, 2003; Newsweek, 9/26/2002]
People and organizations involved: Mahnaz Samadi, Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), John Ashcroft
          

September 2000      Plans to use force against Iran

       When the Iranian National Council of Resistance, a front group for the militant Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), holds a demonstration outside the United Nations protesting a speech by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, Republican Senators Ashcroft and Chris Bond from Missouri issue a joint statement expressing solidarity with the organization. [US State Department, 2003; Newsweek, 9/26/2002]
People and organizations involved: National Council of Resistance, Chris Bond, John Ashcroft, Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK)
          

August 1, 2002      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, sends a non-classified memo to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, offering the opinion that a policy allowing suspected al-Qaeda members to be tortured abroad “may be justified.” The memo explains that as “Commander-in-Chief, the President has the constitutional authority to order interrogations of enemy combatants to gain intelligence information concerning the military plans of the enemy.” This judgment—which will be echoed in a March 2003 draft Pentagon report (see March 6, 2003) —ignores important past rulings such as the 1952 Supreme Court decision in Youngstown Steel and Tube Co v. Sawyer, which determined that the president, even in wartime, is subject to US laws. The DOJ memo asserts that international laws against torture “may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogation” conducted against alleged terrorists. The memo also attempts to provide a precise legal definition of torture. It says that physical torture “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death” and psychological interrogation methods must result in harm lasting “months or even years” to rise to the level of torture. The memo responds to a CIA request for legal guidance on the interrogation of al-Qaeda leaders. [The Washington Post, 6/9/2004] After the memo's existence is revealed, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft denies senators' requests to release it and refuses to say if or how the president was involved in the discussion. “The president has a right to hear advice from his attorney general, in confidence,” he says. [The Washington Post, 6/9/2004; New York Times, 6/8/2004; Bloomberg, 6/8/2004] Responding to questions about the memo, White House press secretary Scott McClellan will reason that the memo “was not prepared to provide advice on specific methods or techniques,” but was “analytical.” But the 50-page memo seems to have been considered immensely important, given its length and the fact that it was signed by Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office Legal Counsel. “Given the topic and length of opinion, it had to get pretty high-level attention,” Beth Nolan, a former White House Counsel (1999-2001), will tell The Washington Post. This view is confirmed by another former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer who tells the newspaper that unlike documents signed by deputies in the Office of Legal Counsel, memorandums signed by the Office's head are considered legally binding. [The Washington Post, 6/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott McClellan, Beth Nolan, Jay S. Bybee, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft
          

April 23, 2003      Haiti Coup

       John Ashcroft states that US authorities have “noticed an increase in third country nations (Pakistanis, Palestinians, etc.) using Haiti as a staging point for attempted migration to the United States. This increases the national security interest in curing use of this migration route.” Commenting on the remarks, State Department spokesman Stuart Patt says, “'We all are scratching our heads. We are asking each other, ‘Where did they get that?’ ” No evidence is ever offered by Ashcroft or anyone else in the Justice Department to support the accusation. Miami Immigration attorney Ira Kurzban, who will later represent Jean-Bertrand Aristide after his removal, says the statements are “part of a concerted plan involving the destruction of the Haitian people by creating the chaotic economic conditions in Haiti while forcing people to go back there.” Kurzban adds: “There is no basis of fact for the attorney general's claims. No information of this nature has been presented to the Haitian government. It's a false claim. It's used to perpetuate a discriminatory policy against Haitians.” [Miami Herald, 4/25/2003]
People and organizations involved: Stuart Patt, Ira Kurzman, John Ashcroft
          

December 2003      Plans to use force against Iran

       The US-appointed Iraq Governing Council orders the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) to leave Iraq by the end of year citing its “black history” in Iraq as a “terrorist organization,”—a reference to the militant organization's long history of working with Saddam Hussein (see 1991)(see December 2003). But Pentagon officials do not want the MEK to leave Iraq, as they are considering plans to use the group against Iran. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), John Ashcroft
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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