Highlights of John D. Ashcroft's tenure as attorney general:


After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Justice Department oversaw the arrests of more than 1,200 people; 762 foreign nationals were detained, almost all for immigration violations. A 2003 inspector general's report criticized the department for its tactics.

On Oct. 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act, the sweeping anti-terrorism law written by Justice lawyers and pushed by Ashcroft, giving the FBI and other agencies broad new powers to investigate and detain people suspected of terrorist activity. Ashcroft later announced looser rules allowing the FBI to monitor Web sites, religious and political organizations, and libraries and other public areas.

Since Sept. 11, Justice has charged 361 people in terrorism-related cases and has won 191 convictions, according to Ashcroft. Many of the convictions were not related to terrorism, however.

Corporate Crime

Ashcroft created a corporate fraud task force in the Justice Department that has opened investigations into business fraud across the country. High-profile executives, including the former leaders of drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp. and cable television provider Adelphia Communications Corp., have been convicted.

In November 2001, the government settled the Microsoft antitrust case, requiring the software giant to change the way it operated, rather than attempting to break up the company.

Assisted Suicide

In November 2001, Ashcroft ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to pursue and possibly revoke the licenses of Oregon doctors who prescribed drugs to hasten death. An appellate court ruled this year that Ashcroft had exceeded his authority.


Ashcroft angered gun-control advocates on several fronts, including his push to destroy gun-purchase records within 24 hours of approval, but he took credit for increasing prosecution for unlawful gun possession.


Ashcroft initially considered settling or abandoning a landmark federal lawsuit against the tobacco industry begun during the Clinton administration but eventually backed the case, which is now at trial.

-- Compiled by Lucy Shackelford