Friday, September 19, 2003

The Rule of Law

Ashcroft doesn't think it applies to him.

A federal judge who is considering whether to order Attorney General John Ashcroft to come to Detroit to face contempt charges warned top officials about not violating a gag order nearly a year ago, a court document shows.


At a closed hearing held in October, U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told the No. 2 official in the Justice Department, Larry Thompson, to ensure that no federal official violate his order by leaking information to the public.


At Rosen's direction, Thompson wrote a two-page memorandum on Oct. 16 that was sent to Ashcroft's office reminding officials about the gag order.

Ashcroft is accused of twice violating the gag order.


Rosen should dismiss the request without holding a hearing, said the filing by the U.S. Justice Department on Ashcroft's behalf.

"Compelling the attorney general's appearance to address the defendants' allegations -- where he has not sought to influence the jury's deliberations or the outcome of the defendants' trial -- is inadvisable because it would likely serve only to chill legitimate public briefings in the future," said the 16-page statement.