Mitchell and Harry and Janet and John


Over at the American Conservative Union Foundation, George W. Liebmann tears into John Ashcroft as the worst attorney general since, well, the one before him, Janet Reno. The ACUF doesn't grok the new bipartisanship. To wit:

Not since the arbitrary A. Mitchell Palmer, President Wilson's last Attorney General, was succeeded by the corrupt Harry Daugherty in the Harding administration have the two parties united to so debase federal law enforcement.

Janet Reno, President Clinton's third choice as Attorney General, carried out the swiftest partisan purge of U.S. Attorneys since that of the Kennedy administration. She supported renewal of the misguided special prosecutor law. At the behest of feminist groups, against the unanimous advice of the Judicial Conference, she secured adoption of Rule 415 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, allowing discovery of a defendant's sexual history….

Partly because of federal drug legislation, with its emphasis on supply rather than demand, and partly because of the ?leveling upward? imposed by the Federal Sentencing Commission (whose guidelines specify minimum sentences in excess of the minimums provided by statute), the number of prisoners in federal custody doubled. The number of federal prosecutors has tripled since 1982.

Attorney General John Ashcroft carried forward the Reno policies. The 1968 drug legislation was invoked by both Reno and Ashcroft to preempt state ?right to die? and ?medical marijuana? laws, even though neither issue was debated in 1968, the Supreme Court left the ?right to die? issue with state legislatures, and the laws concerned had been approved in referenda….

Twelve years of questionable leadership have produced a drift toward a policing establishment controllable by no one. The federal share of total criminal justice spending has increased from 12 percent to 18 percent since 1982; proposed FBI spending is up 19 percent in one year, and up 60 percent over 2001 levels….

The Republicans lost the 1976 presidential election because of Watergate; the Democrats that of 2000 because of Clinton's shoddiness. Even Lincoln paid a price in the 1862 congressional elections for arbitrary arrests. If the President makes no change in his Justice Department, he may also suffer such consequences.

Whole thing here.