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.