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John Ashcroft

John AshcroftAKA John David Ashcroft

Born: 9-May-1942
Birthplace: Chicago, IL

Gender: Male
Religion: Born-Again Christian [1]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Politician
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Attorney General, 2001-05

More than merely a cliché, John Ashcroft really is holier than thou. His grandfather and father were both evangelical preachers, and Rev Ashcroft's household had strict rules. Movies, for example, were not allowed, because even in the 1940s and '50s the Ashcrofts did not approve of Hollywood's liberal lifestyles. In high school, Ashcroft worked at the local Dairy Queen, but he says he never attended a dance or had premarital sex, and he does not swear, smoke, or drink alcoholic beverages. He has refused to participate in raffles, even to support conservative causes, because he does not gamble.

Ashcroft studied law at Yale, and promptly secured a position teaching law at Southwest Missouri State University -- a job which carried the perk of immunity from the Vietnam era draft. He was appointed state auditor in 1973, and promoted to assistant attorney general in 1975. He was elected state attorney general in 1976, and held that office until 1985, when he was elected Governor of Missouri. As Governor, he vetoed a bill that would have allowed liquor sales on Sundays, and another act that would have permitted a smidgen of alcohol in candy. In vetoing funding for an AIDS care center, he was quoted saying, "Well, they're there because of their own misconduct, and it wasn't very reputable misconduct, either."

Ashcroft was elected to the US Senate in 1994, where he opposed condom distribution and needle-exchange programs, and once waved a sonogram of his unborn grandchild as an argument against federal funding for abortions. He became one of the first politicians to advocate federal funding for "faith-based programs", and earned perfect marks from the Christian Coalition. When asked whether he had any problem legislating morality, Ashcroft once explained, "I think all we should legislate is morality. We shouldn't legislate immorality." On a break from Washington, Ashcroft returned to his Missouri estate in 1997, where he says he saw a flock of bald eagles flying across the sunrise, and felt God's inspiration to write his famous love ballad to America, "Let the eagle soar."

Running for a second Senate term in 2000, Ashcroft lost to Mel Carnahan, who had been killed in a plane crash three weeks before the election. Carnahan's wife was appointed to take her husband's seat, and as Ashcroft's consolation prize he was appointed US Attorney General by George W. Bush, a job that made him the nation's highest law enforcement officer.

After September 11, 2001, Ashcroft was generally credited as 'architect' of the PATRIOT Act, which established several short cuts to circumvent such traditional and constitutional safeguards as search warrants and judicial oversight of police. Ashcroft authorized secret arrests and detentions, expanded wiretapping, blocked Freedom of Information Act requests, OK'd eavesdropping on defense lawyers and infiltration of political protest groups. He tried to organize a nationwide "tips" line for mail carriers, home repairmen, delivery drivers and others whose occupations bring them in contact with the general public to report suspicious activity. For all this effort, however, Ashcroft had surprisingly few successful prosecutions against terrorists, and the Justice Dept was caught several times playing "shell games" with the numbers. For example, crimes such as writing bad checks or protesters trespassing on a Navy base were listed as "terror convictions", despite having no cited connection to any acts of terrorism.

Prior to Ashcroft's appointment, the Justice Department's pornography prosecutions were almost exclusively child pornography, but Ashcroft oversaw a self-described War on Pornography. At least half a dozen agents were assigned to monitor on-line pornography full-time, forty hours a week surfing the internet and taking notes. Dozens of prosecutors were assigned to a special anti-porn office, and Ashcroft publicly complained that pornography "invades our homes persistently though the mail, phone, VCR, cable TV and the Internet," and "has strewn its victims from coast to coast". Under Ashcroft, the Justice Dept prosecuted filmmakers for fictional videos that included rape scenes, waged battle against the makers of HBO's Real Sex, and threatened companies that supply 'erotica' films available for rent in most American hotels.

Despite his long-time support for "state's rights", he brought federal action against Oregon's law allowing assisted suicide, and against California's law allowing medicinal use of marijuana. Uncomfortable with the bare-breasted statue called "Spirit of Justice" in Justice Department headquarters, he ordered the statue covered. As Attorney General, he held daily devotions in his office, with senior staff members "invited" to attend. He also distributed photocopied lyrics to "Let the Eagles Soar", asking department heads and other high-level Justice Department officials to sing along with him.

He has said he was anointed with oil "in the manner of King David" as he took each successive political office in his career. When he became a Senator his father anointed him with Crisco brand cooking oil, and died the next day. Before becoming Attorney General, Ashcroft had Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas do the anointing.

Since leaving the Bush administration, Ashcroft has pursued his first private sector employment since his Dairy Queen days -- his services are now available as a lobbyist. His clients include Choicepoint, Israel Aircraft Industries International, and Oracle Corporation. His fees reportedly start in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars, and apparently he is worth every penny -- with his contacts deep inside the Bush administration, Ashcroft has had remarkable success securing his clients' interests in Washington.

His wife, Janet Ashcroft, is on the Board of Trustees at Patrick Henry College, a fundamentalist Christian college. Its stated goals include producing graduates "who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values". The school is not accredited, but since its founding in 1998, dozens of its students have served internships under Republican Congressmen, Senators, and in the Bush-Cheney White House.

[1] Assemblies of God (Pentecostal).

Father: J. Robert Ashcroft (preacher)
Mother: Grace Ashcroft
Brother: (older)
Brother: (younger)
Wife: Janet Elise Roede Ashcroft (m. 1967)
Daughter: Martha Grace Patterson (attorney)
Son: John Robert Ashcroft (teacher)
Son: Andrew David Ashcroft (US Navy)

    High School: Hillcrest High School, Springfield, MO (1960)
BA, Yale University (1964)
    Law School: JD, University of Chicago (1967)
    Teacher: Business Law, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield MO
    Administrator: Board of Reference, Oral Roberts University

    Blackwater Chair of Ethics Committee (2011-)
    US Attorney General (2001-04)
    US Senator, Missouri (1995-2001)
    Governor of Missouri (1985-93)
    Attorney General of Missouri (1977-84)
    Missouri State Official Assistant Attorney General (1975-77)
    Missouri State Auditor (1973-75)
    American Compass
    Council for National Policy
    Federalist Society
    John McCain 2008
    McCain-Palin Compliance Fund
    Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity honorary
    Dairy Queen Springfield, MO (age 13)
    Draft Deferment: Vietnam
    Born-Again Christian
    Traveled to the USSR Dec-1991
    Cholecystectomy (Mar-2004)
    US Big Brother Award Worst Public Official or Department 2002
    Sued by the ACLU (6-Aug-2003)
    Funeral: Ronald Reagan (2004)
    Norwegian Ancestry

Rotten Library Page:
John Ashcroft

Appears on the cover of:
US News and World Report, 26-Jan-2004, DETAILS: The Real John Ashcroft -- America's top cop is loved and hated. Here's what makes him tick

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