Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Mad Dogs and Attorneys General 

...go out in the Noonday sun, Noel Coward once told us. John Ashcroft, on the other hand, wants to keep stories out of Noonday buried in the midnight pit of public obscurity.

David Niewert over at Orcinus has been following this story for months. Now it finally hits major-league (well, if the NYT can even be classified as "major league" any more) public notice from Paul Krugman a couple of days ago, and I am irked that it is not growing legs on its own. Go read. Here's a start...and a finish, just because it is so cruel, while still not HALF the kicking around Crisco Johnny deserves:
In April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon — a cyanide bomb — big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building...

Incidentally, if Mr. Ashcroft's intention was to keep the case low-profile, the media have been highly cooperative. To this day, the Noonday conspiracy has received little national coverage.

At this point, I have the usual problem. Writing about John Ashcroft poses the same difficulties as writing about the Bush administration in general, only more so: the truth about his malfeasance is so extreme that it's hard to avoid sounding shrill.

In this case, it sounds over the top to accuse Mr. Ashcroft of trying to bury news about terrorists who don't fit his preferred story line. Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist.

Was Mr. Ashcroft, who once gave an interview with Southern Partisan magazine in which he praised "Southern patriots" like Jefferson Davis, reluctant to publicize the case of a terrorist who happened to be a white supremacist?....

After my last piece on Mr. Ashcroft, some readers questioned whether he is really the worst attorney general ever. It's true that he has some stiff competition from the likes of John Mitchell, who served under Richard Nixon. But once the full record of his misdeeds in office is revealed, I think Mr. Ashcroft will stand head and shoulders below the rest.
Quibbler alert: Noel Coward fans, should any chance to read here, will write to say that the lyric is actually "..go out in the midday sun." If the story had been about events in Midday, Texas, things would be easier. It is only that Sir Noel was writing about the ignorant foibles of an earlier empire than our own.

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