- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice Hardcover – October 3, 2006
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Here is what I found on two key points:
1.) Ashcroft spends considerable time describing the problem of the "wall" between criminal and subversive surveillance operations, which he fought to tear down. However, that this wall even existed was found by the Federal Surveillance Court of Review to have actually been a long-held misinterpretation by government agencies. I don't see this new insight as either pro-Ashcroft or anti-Ashcroft. I was in Government long enough to know that such misinterpretations indeed happen.
It is a bit humorous (or not so humorous from another perspective) that the Attorney General of the United States can't get clear interpretations of the law from his scores of government attorneys!
2.) Ashcroft claimed that the Patriot Act still does not allow any undisclosed surveillance without FISA judicial consent. This claim is so counter to the news media's claims, I paid it special attention. It turns out that Ashcroft's claim is too strong in two particular areas:
a.) The Patriot Act expanded use of National Security Letters, which allows the FBI to search telephone, email and financial records without any court order, and places a national-security gag on the companies holding those records -- so that they may not inform those whose records have been accessed by the FBI. In fairness, Wikipedia provides an example of a National Security Letter demanded email header information from an Internet Service Provider, and the information they demanded specifically excluded the subject line and the text of the email; that is, they were seeking only the routing information -- that is, where the emails were originating and going. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether this is unreasonable governmental data mining; for the record, I personally don't object to this level of surveillance without court oversight.
b.) There seems to be a loophole clause built into the Patriot Act that I've heard nothing about before. The Patriot Act specifies that those who operate or own a "protected computer" can give permission for authorities to intercept communications carried out on their machine. This permission bypasses the requirements of the Wiretap statute. The
definition of a "protected computer" broadly encompasses those computers used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication. In my way of thinking, any email or web server connected to the Internet meets this definition. The Internet allows worldwide communication, so any PC connected to the Internet is used in interstate and foreign communication -- if any packets routed through it are to/from another state or oountry. So, all the government needs to do is find several server owners who will (for free or for a fee?) give them permission to intercept traffic through their servers, and the requirements of the Wiretap statute are bypassed. Some lawyer may prove me wrong on this, but it seems pretty clear to me.
Ashcroft may have been a bit over the top with his zealotry for his particular brand of religion, but he has earned the respect of several liberals for doing what he thought was right, instead of politically expedient. Marty Peretz, in The New Republic (a liberal magazine), says: "I know it's difficult for some people to understand that Ashcroft tried to stand between public liberties and the president's minions. But he did." The truth about Ashcroft's legacy is far more complex than "I hate him because he flaunts his religion" or "I love him because he is a strong Christian."
To me he seems to be a man of high personal integrity -- according to the standards he ascribes to, which are high, if perhaps misguided. He sees the world too much in black and white, without sufficient shades of gray. The world needs protection from terrorism, but the world also needs protection from overzealous governments. You can choose one or the
other (black or white), but you are choosing between Charybdis and Scylla. We need to steer a narrow course between these two monsters. Time will tell if his policies get tweaked to set us on that narrow course, or if the legal loopholes have headed us towards Scylla. But never forget that he did nothing in the Patriot Act that Congress has not okayed. We seem to forget that they are the ones we should hold responsible.
Read the book. It will give you Ashcroft's side of his story. Then, read the Patriot Act for yourself. You'll come away understanding more about the man and the issues, and you won't be able to paint him "all bad" or "all good." As for me, I think he was of about the same caliber as the rest of Bush's staff; well below the best and brightest the Republican Party has offered the country in my lifetime. But he is still a man who believes that personal integrity is a valuable attribute and that there is such a thing as personal honor. He measures up well above Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz in my mind.
Also, "The Wall" between Law Enforcement agencies were even more so reinforced during the so-called Great Clinton Era and if you are wondering why there was no deficit maybe it was Because the FBI under Clinton was denied approximately 33Million Dollars in order to have the latest tech to catch the badguys,all of this and more is in the book covered,straight no-nosense,no regrets and why should there be,A time when the Nation actually went after the badguys and did not take credit for political gain for a election or for stardom on who they took down.As the A.G. Points out in his book there world is not so rosy-colored and you don't give rights to people who want to do harm on a grand scale to this great Nation of ours.
Ashcroft comes from a super conservative background. Strong Christian faith, down home, on the farm, meat and potatoes kind of upbringing so, in that light he was prime for Bush II to install into his cabinet.
An insight into Ashcroft's thinking comes in the book shortly after his AG appointment. He liked to start the workday by opening up his office to a discretionary RAMP meeting. RAMP is an acronym for Read, Argue, Memorize, Pray. Keyword here is Pray. When Ashcroft was confirmed as AG, part of his confirming questioned his ability to uphold the separation of church and state that is within the constitution. Ashcroft convinced those who questioned him that he knew the difference. Yet, he starts the day with, for want of a better name, prayer meetings. He claimed that those in attendance weren't favored over those who weren't and, conversely, those who weren't in attendance weren't passed over for those who were. He fails to see the symbolic nature of what he was doing by the act of praying in Government offices for all to see. Whether or not he rationalizes his act as discretionary and none favoring, by the very fact that he's using Government offices to hold prayer meetings is, in itself, a moral violation of the constitutional law. Pray at home, meet in the cafe an hour before work but don't blur the lines. It's just common sense.
Also, on that subject, whilst riding in a limo with Bush II, Bush asks him "I hear you're holding those prayer meetings in your office?". Expecting a scolding, Ashcroft sheepishly answers "Yes". Bush replies "Good, Don't stop".
After 9/11 America screamed and demanded better security, domestically, on the borders and internationally. Ashcroft did his best to answer. His tone in the book has a hint of arrogance to it as he explains his reasoning behind many of his most controversial decisions contained within USA PATRIOT act. One has to sympathize with the man to a degree as he was fighting on his back foot with systems that were so piece meal and he had no room for failure. None of the systems in place communicated with each other and, this is highlighted as Ashcroft explains that many of the 9/11 hijackers had, in fact, been stopped by police for driving and other minor infractions prior to 9/11 but let go due to a lack of available information.
The more I read the book, the more I realized I would not like John Ashcroft in real life. Not that that has any bearing on my review of his book but it did sway my enjoyment of the book. He strikes me as the kind of person who has that arrogant smirk on his face that says "you just don't get it".
2/3rds of the way through I was ready to let this one go as I was a little tired of the self aggrandizement and whining sentiment but, I stuck with it. It's not bad but, I could have found a better use for the time I spent. I give Ashcroft his dues, he had a tough job at a very tough time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
and had dinner with them, they were a very moral family,
We need officials in our Government today...Read more