With the possibility of terrorist aquiring nuclear weapons, John Ashcroft bails before the heat gets to hot in the kitchen. Electing to resign, shows
true faith of what the possibilities truely are.
U.S. officials "from time to time" uncover evidence terrorists are trying to develop nuclear capability, Ashcroft said without providing any
specifics. It is not clear whether they have made any progress, but the United States must take the threat seriously, he said in an interview with The
"If you were to have nuclear proliferation find its way into the hands of terrorists, the entire world might be very seriously disrupted by a few
individuals who sought to impose their will, their arcane philosophy, on the rest of mankind," he said.
Ashcroft, 62, is ending four years as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, much of the period devoted to a war on terrorism that began with
the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He will leave office when his successor, Alberto Gonzales, is confirmed by the Senate and sworn in, possibly next week.
Since the 2001 attacks, the staunchly conservative Ashcroft has been vilified by political opponents, civil liberties groups and privacy advocates for
pushing controversial counterterrorism policies, which critics say undermine freedoms. They include the Patriot Act, which bolstered FBI (news - web
sites) surveillance and law enforcement powers in terror cases; increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado for months;
and secret proceedings in immigration cases.
Ashcroft made no apology for his actions, saying he has enjoyed full support from President Bush (news - web sites).
"The president understands that this is almost mission impossible, to keep winning every day," he said. "To be always the winner and never be the
loser is a very difficult task. The world is not absent terror. But the United States has been absent terror."
His greatest failure, Ashcroft said, was in not fully explaining to the American people early on just how the Patriot Act has helped in that war. Time
will prove that the law has not been the threat to the Constitution seen by some, he said.
"Rights have not been infringed. Human dignity has not suffered. It's been enhanced and it has not carried a cost or toll on the civil liberties of
America," Ashcroft said.
More than 375 people have been charged in terror-related prosecutions in the United States since the 2001 attacks, with 195 either convicted or
entering guilty pleas. Yet Ashcroft said officials continue to receive reports of "individuals who are sympathizers" with al-Qaida or other terror
groups coming into the United States after meeting with people overseas with links to terrorism or attending events that include "inappropriate
extremist or terrorist instruction."
"We have to remain on guard. America, as open and free as it is, is going to have to pay a price in terms of understanding and being vigilant about
potentials that freedom and openness are associated with," he said.
Ashcroft also said the Justice Department (news - web sites) deserved praise for handling some 400 corporate malfeasance cases, helping drive the
nation's crime rate to 30-year lows and making strides in civil rights prosecutions — all while dealing with the terror threat.
As for his own future, Ashcroft would not reveal detailed plans. But the two-term Missouri governor and one-term senator said flatly, "I don't
expect in any way to run for office again."
Ashcroft said he would remain in the Washington area, probably make some speeches and take a private-sector job advising corporations on such things
as "integrity in the marketplace." He also might work in academia
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Looks like Ashcroft is bailing to save face before the inevidable happens.