Ashcroft has always been viewed as a hard-core conservative. But recent reports about Ashcroft bucking the Bush Administration over a secret eavesdropping program have forced a rethink. As the News-Leader opines:
In January 2005, we wrote: "Ashcroft carried out — often to an extreme — the approach the president wanted."
It turns out, in at least one, very important instance, we were wrong. ...
We'll continue to believe that Ashcroft's political positions on the Patriot Act and secrecy restricted freedom more than necessary. But we have a newfound respect for the man's integrity and his understanding of the important and independent role the Justice Department must play in balancing out the objectives of the executive branch with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.
Ashcroft also opposed holding detainees indefinitely at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without some form of due process. He fought to guarantee some rights for those to be tried by newly created military commissions. And he insisted that Zacarias Moussaoui, accused of conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers, be prosecuted in a civilian court.
The Bush Administration is so radical that Ashcroft, by comparison, seemed moderate. If that doesn't scare you, nothing will.