In a surreal moment of unintentional crony-capitalist comedy, John Ashcroft has taken a job at the infamous mercenary/profiteer firm Blackwater (now called "Xe"), where he will be in charge of "ethics and professionalism."
Ashcroft's arrival at Xe is yet another clear signal it's not giving up the quest for lucrative government security contracts now that it's no longer owned by founder Erik Prince, even as it emphasizes the side of its business that trains law enforcement officers. In September, it won part of a $10 billion State Department contract to protect diplomats, starting with the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. Ashcroft, a U.S. senator before becoming attorney general in the Bush administration, is a very known quantity to the federal officials that Xe will pitch. Even if he's not lobbying for Blackwater, Ashcroft's addition on the board is meant to inspire confidence in government officials of its newfound rectitude.
To some, Ashcroft will be forever known as the face of Bush-era counterterrorism, the official who vigorously defended the Patriot Act's sweeping surveillance powers; told civil libertarians that their dissents "only aid terrorists"; and covered up the Spirit of Justice's boob. At the same time, when Ashcroft was critically ill in 2005, he resisted a White House entreaty to his hospital bed seeking to reauthorize warrantless surveillance in defiance of the acting attorney general.
Blackwater's New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft
Microsoft maintains the fiction that it has sold its most valuable copyrights and other intangible assets to a tiny factory in Puerto Rico, where, thanks to promising to hire a mere 85 workers, it pays effective zero tax; the company transfers almost all its profits to this factory to "license" its own crown jewels, making […]
America's telcoms sector is hugely concentrated and corrupt, and systematically underinvests in maintenance and infrastructure even as it gouges customers, which it can get away with thanks to its monopoly power, leaving Americans with some of the world's worst, most expensive communications services.
We've been closely following the plan by Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a surveilling "smart city" in Toronto; last week, I sat down with the Out of Left Field podcast (MP3) to discuss what's going on with Sidewalk Labs, how it fits into the story of Big Tech, and what the alternatives might […]
With millions out of work, the global economy in a sharp recession, and legitimate fears for the future abound, you might think this is absolutely the worst time to strike out on your own and be your own boss as a work-for-hire freelancer. But according to numbers compiled by financial services company Payoneer, the current […]
For years, dirty countertops, appliances, or bathroom fixtures were just kind of gross. But unkempt corners of your kitchen and bathroom aren’t just a sign of laziness anymore. Now, they’re a potential breeding ground for infectious disease. You can’t just limp through cleaning these days. You’ve gotta get rigorous about it, which means it’s no […]
Hunting around for an outlet or a power battery when you’re trying to charge your phone or tablet is always an annoyance. But when you’re out in the world hiking or camping or traveling, finding an outlet might be more than a minor inconvenience…it might be downright impossible. Running low on battery power isn’t an […]