John David Ashcroft (born May 9, 1942) is the current (2001-present)
Attorney General of the United States. He is noted for his strong
conservative stance on many issues.
Ashcroft was born in Chicago, Illinois where his family had moved to be
nearer to the world headquarters of the Assemblies of God church, part of
the Pentecostal fundamentalist movement. He was educated in Springfield,
Missouri and at Yale University, where he graduated in 1964. He received a
J.D. degree from the University of Chicago in 1967 and briefly taught
business law at Southwest Missouri State University.
He began his career in Missouri government in 1973. He was Governor of
Missouri from 1984 to 1993. He was elected to the Senate from Missouri in
1994. He ran for re-election in 2000 against then-Governor Mel Carnahan, who
died in an airplane crash about two weeks prior to the election. Due to
Missouri state election laws, Mel Carnahan's name could not be removed from
the ballot and his wife, Jean Carnahan, announced she would serve in his
place if he was elected. Carnahan posthumously won the election, and it was
widely reported that John Ashcroft was defeated by "a dead man," as Mel
Carnahan's name remained on the ballot. Others contend, however, that Jean
Carnahan may have won the election due to the "sympathy vote" for her late
husband. Despite his defeat, Ashcroft was subsequently nominated as Attorney
General by George W. Bush in December 2000. Despite a contentious nomination
process, he was confirmed by the Senate.
In July of 2002 Ashcroft suggested the creation of Operation TIPS, a
proposed domestic program in which government employees would inform on
suspicious behavior they encounter while performing their duties. The
program was criticized in the media as an encroachment on the first and
fourth amendment; and in fact the United States Postal Service balked at the
suggestion, refusing outright to participate. Ashcroft defended the program
as a necessary component to the ongoing "war on terrorism" but the proposal
was eventually abandoned.
Ashcroft's opponents have accused him of unnecessarily using the spectre of
terrorism as justification for restricting civil liberties. A few have even
coined the pejorative term Ashcroftism to refer to a set of ideas or
policies alleged to be similar to those of Ashcroft.
The former senator famously once boasted of his conservatism, saying there
are two things you find in the middle of the road: "a moderate and a dead
skunk", adding he did not want to be either.
* "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die
for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for
* "We need the law to make it clear that it's as much a conspiracy to aid
and assist the terrorists, to join them for fighting purposes as it is
to carry them a lunch or to provide them with a weapon"
* "[Southern Partisan] helps set the record straight. [It's] got a
heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like Lee,
Jackson and Davis...We've all got to stand up and speak in this
respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their
lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some