Speaking at the University of Texas at Austin, former Attorney General John Ashcroft was approached by Bryan Hannah, an Iraq war vet who served in the First Calvary Division as an artillery man from October 2006 until January 2008. I confess to being a bit put off by Hannah’s approach, but I’m similarly incredulous about Ashcroft, who said the term “waterboarding” is being thrown around recklessly, that the word doesn’t define a particular idea, but rather a broad set of ideas.
Ashcroft: There are things that you could call waterboarding that I am firmly convinced are not torture. There are things that you could call waterboarding that might be torture.
Ashcroft has now become part of the Bush Legacy Tour. He played to a semi-enthusiastic crowd, some of whom had protest signs like, “It’s okay, I wasn’t using my civil liberties, anyway.”
Ashcroft spent much of the night discussing the Patriot Act, explaining what he believes to be the fundamentals of the act: roving wire taps and increased communication between law enforcement agencies. Ashcroft tried to explain the importance of the law in protecting American lives. Many agreed and showed their support with applause. Others disagreed in low-groaning boos.
“I think history will be very kind to [former President George W. Bush],” Ashcroft said as he began discussing the powers of the president, drawing cheers and gasps.
Ashcroft acknowledged the fact that Bush is not a perfect man and made some mistakes.
However, he made sure to express his support of the former administration, describing many of its policy decisions as “necessary.”
Most bizarre was this Ashcroft remark: “I don’t know of anybody who says that the president shouldn’t have any authority to declare war. The deliverability and lethality [of weapons] are at a different level today.” Of course, there is that pesky document called the Constitution that gives only Congress the authority to wage war. But why let a little thing like that get in the way of policy?
Ashcroft also said, “I don’t have a mark on my conscience.” Of course, that’s the problem. (h/t Think Progress)