Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Krugman on Ashcroft
Because the month has been so Reaganific, shamefully little attention has been paid to an event that should have been devastating to Ashcroft: his unbelievable hearing before the Judiciary committee last week, his first in more than a year, in which he both refused to turn over an official memo and refused to even try to cite a reason, in contempt of congress (luckily the Wash. Post got its hands on a copy...warning, lengthy pdf). The highlight of that C-Span insomniac special (I know, I have a problem)was Senator Leahy's recounting of the Attorney General's tenure to date. It's a beauty and worth a read.

Now that there's maybe a chance the media will change subjects (and if Clinton will stay out of the way for a minute), Krugman is picking up the echoes of this recent misbehavior by our Attorney General in a tamer, but strong, piece skewering that horrible public servant:
"First, there's the absence of any major successful prosecutions. The one set of convictions that seemed fairly significant — that of the "Detroit 3" — appears to be collapsing over accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. (The lead prosecutor has filed a whistle-blower suit against Mr. Ashcroft, accusing him of botching the case. The Justice Department, in turn, has opened investigations against the prosecutor. Payback? I report; you decide.)

Then there is the lack of any major captures. Somewhere, the anthrax terrorist is laughing. But the Justice Department, you'll be happy to know, is trying to determine whether it can file bioterrorism charges against a Buffalo art professor whose work includes harmless bacteria in petri dishes.

Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of his performance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then he tries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terrorist threat."
You know how Microsoft is always tipping off hackers with their constant security updates? I like the idea that if you want to monitor Ashcroft's blunders, you needn't investigate, just wait for one of his security alerts/indictment press conferences and work backwards.

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