I know I'm going to get flamed for this, since it's a little off-topic, but I have to say that one's stance on crypto is not the defining measure of one's character, or even of one's commitment to freedom of speech.
The reason liberals and moderates are up in arms over Ashcroft's nomination is that as Attorney General, he would be in charge of enforcing federal civil rights laws, yet as a senator, he showed no interest in upholding those laws. There's a good overview of his positions at Issues 2000. They boil down to:
- Against affirmative action
- Blocked appointment of African-American judge in Missouri
- Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation
- Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for construction businesses owned by minorities and women
- Voted YES on ending funding for minority and women-owned business
- Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation
- Voted YES on amendment to prohibit flag burning
Now, I know a fair proportion of K5's readership is right-libertarian, and so may agree with Ashcroft on affirmative action, and the more hardcore right-libs may agree with him on allowing job discrimination by sexual orientation (with the idea that employers should be able to choose employees on any criteria that they want, even irrational ones), but flag burning?
I haven't managed to dig up quite as good a dossier in terms of his votes on civil liberties issues that don't directly involve civil rights, but one measure is that he only has a 22% rating from the ACLU, America's premier civil liberties organization. Some of the reasons for this are:
- voted AGAINST preserving habeas corpus rights in cases covered by the counter-terrorism bill
- voted FOR the Communications Decency Act
- voted to deny federal recognition of same-sex marriages, even when that marriage is recognized by the couple's home state
- voted AGAINST privacy of medical records, and for procedures by which government and businesses can get your confidential medical information without your consent.
- voted FOR the counter-terrorism act, which increased the powers of law enforcement in the name of fighting terrorism. Notably, the measure gave the government the right to use secret evidence to deport immigrants it accuses of being members of terrorist organizations.
Basically, Ashcroft is no friend of privacy or free speech, and he supports increasing the power and decreasing the accountability of law enforcement every bit as much as Janet Reno and the Clinton administration. Don't let one bit of good news give you an overall positive opinion of the man.