Xe, the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater, has hired former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as an ethics adviser. Blackwater gained notoriety after five of its contract security guards were indicted in the 2007 machine gun massacre in Baghdad's Nisour Square that took the lives of 17 Iraqi civilians. In the wake of that controversy, the company changed its name to Xe to try to escape its bad image. Ashcroft has faced his own ethical challenges, too, and he served as attorney general during many of the constitutional abuses conducted during the Bush Administration. In 2004, he refused to comply with Senate Judiciary Committee demands to produce copies of legal memos that lawyers in Bush administration had prepared that reportedly stated that as commander-in-chief, the president had the right to order torture. Ashcroft was also instrumental in advancing so-called federal "charitable choice" initiatives that funneled taxpayer money to religious groups amid charges that such government-funded programs violate the constitutional separation of church and state. Ashcroft also signed off on the Bush Administration's unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping programs until 2004, when he finally refused to reauthorize them and was subsequently pushed out of the administration.
By Anne Landman on May 04, 2011