Does John Ashcroft hate Alberto Gonzales?

I’ve been reading Never Again – Securing America and Restoring Justice by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. When I started reading the book, I would joke that Never Again cost me way too much even though I bought it at the ‘dollar’ store but that it was still a better deal than the dollar I spent on Senator Joseph L. Lieberman’s In Praise of Public Life.

I’m now in chapter 14 (of 18) and my opinion has changed completely. Not about Senator Lieberman’s book: After several attempts over several years, I still haven’t been able to finish it – and it’s only 161 pages. I have, however, enjoyed reading former Senator John Ashcroft’s book. That alone has made the book worth at least the dollar it cost.

But wait, there’s more: Mr. Ashcroft discusses his bout with acute pancreatitus caused by an inflamed gall bladder. Although he doesn’t mention that then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Bush-chief-of-staff Andrew Card visited Mr. Ashcroft in his hospital room, he does specifically describe his state of mind during that visit. Based on his description, I have updated my post analyzing Mr. Gonzales’s behavior.

Please consider filing a grievance with the Texas Bar Association against Alberto Gonzales. Anyone can file, whether you live in Texas or not.



Mr. Ashcroft himself confirms Mr. Comey’s observation that Mr. Ashcroft was ‘a very sick man’ and Mr. Mueller’s observation that Mr. Ashcroft was ‘feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.’ In Never Again – Securing America and Restoring Justice, former Attorney General John Ashcroft described his stay in the hospital and the subsequent period of recuperation in this manner (emphasis supplied):

They tubed me up with intravenous lines so they could shut down my pancreas and digestive system. … I felt weak and emaciated, but my doctors assured me that when they got me patched up, [i.e., removed his gall bladder,] over time, I’d be close to good as new.

The doctors kept me in intensive care, lying on my back for almost ten full days, pumping me full of antibiotics and morphine. They then sent me home, where I needed another three (3) weeks to recuperate. Following my bout with acute pancreatitus and the necessary surgery, I returned to work in the early spring of 2004. I had relinquished my official responsibilities as attorney general during my stay in the hospital and through the recuperation. I was in no position to exercise judgment or to make decisions on behalf of the United States Government.

John Ashcroft, Never Again – Securing America and Restoring Justice, p.235.

Clearly, Mr. Comey’s statement that he was concerned that Mr. Gonzales was trying ‘to do an end-run around the acting attorney general and to get a very sick man to approve something that the Department of Justice had already concluded — the department as a whole — was unable to be certified as to its legality’ is supported by the facts. Mr. Gonzales’ explanation, however, is not.

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