Wednesday, January 04, 2006


John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, has a lobbying firm, according to The Hill. And Jesus, but John's business has been busy. Last month the Ashcroft Group got a gig with Israel's biggest aerospace firm; in exchange for what can't be small change, Ashcroft is supposed to convince the U.S. government to sell a weapons system to South Korea.

According to The Hill:
The South Koreans are choosing between an early-warning radar system built by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and a similar, more expensive system built by Chicago-based Boeing Co. The radar systems enhance an air force’s ability to track enemy fighter jets during combat.

U.S. law requires Israel, and any other country seeking to resell American military technology, to secure approval from the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. That agency can also consult with the Pentagon on whether to issue an export license. A State Department spokesman declined to comment.

Boeing already has the U.S. government’s approval. ...

Ashcroft has built a lucrative lobbying practice since starting last summer. Public records also show that Oracle; ChoicePoint, a company that sells data to police and federal law-enforcement agencies; and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have hired Ashcroft.

Public records do not disclose how much IAI is paying Ashcroft. The records show that IAI also hired Morris Amitay for $20,000.
APAT to JJ for the tip. Newsweek, meanwhile, has a chilling anecdote about the NSA domestic spying scandal:
At the Justice Department, it was a former prosecutor, James Comey, [whose] objections were also key to slowing the warrantless-eavesdropping program in 2004 for a time. According to several officials who would not be identified talking about still-classified matters, Comey (among other government lawyers) argued that the authority for the program -- the 2001 "use of force" resolution -- had grown stale. It was time to audit the program before proceeding in any case, Comey said.

But in March 2004, White House chief of staff [Andy] Card and White House Counsel [Alberto] Gonzales visited Ashcroft, the seriously ill attorney general, to try to get him to overrule Comey, who was officially acting as A.G. while Ashcroft was incapacitated. Ashcroft refused, and a battle over what to do broke out in the Justice Department and at the White House. Finally, sometime in the summer of 2004, a compromise was reached, with Comey onboard: according to an account in The New York Times, Justice and the NSA refined a checklist to follow in deciding whether "probable cause" existed to start monitoring someone's conversations.
How bad must the program be for John Ashcroft to object?

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