Attorney General John Ashcroft's scowling, swaggering, dyspeptic antipathy for anyone who questions his methods and authority is transforming him and his office into mere caricature.
Since assuming office more than two years ago, Ashcroft has used fear-mongering and invective to minimize accountability of federal law enforcement and undermine the authority of the judicial branch of government.
The USA Patriot Act post-9/11 legislation proposed by Ashcroft and rushed through Congress purports to give the FBI broad new powers to secretly monitor the affairs of citizens and others lawfully residing in the United States.
Ashcroft's legislative charm, though, now appears to be wearing thin.
In late July, U.S. Rep. Clement Leroy ''Butch'' Otter, a Republican from Idaho, introduced a remarkable amendment to a spending bill. It would cut off funding for secret federal ''sneak-and-peak'' searches of people's homes.
When Ashcroft loses the confidence of guys named Butch in a state like Idaho which has voted Republican in every presidential election but one during the past 50 years he should know he has big credibility problems.
The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News
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