Who better to defend Qatar it is a hotbed of terrorism-funding (as per a recent list released by Saudi Arabia et al according to which 59 individuals and 12 entities in Qatar are terrorist) than the US Attorney General who served during the September 11 attacks, John Ashcroft. At least that's what the government of Qatar is thinking, which hired the former US AG to defend the world's wealthiest (on a GDP/capita basis) nation from accusations by Donald Trump and Arab neighbors that it supports terrorism.
As a reminder, Ashcroft was U.S. attorney general under President George W. Bush from February 2001 to February 2005, years in which US policies and laws were reshaped by the so-called war on terrorism that followed the 2001 al Qaeda attacks. Under Ashcroft the US spawned the "Patriot Act", trampling over civil rights everywhere, and made pervasive spying on virtually everyone the norm, courtesy of the NSA.
Perhaps relying on the assumption that Qatar can simply bribe its way again into America's good graces - recall Qatar give Bill Clinton a $1 million "present" for his Birthday, and was one of the biggest foreign "donors" of the Clinton Foundation even when Hillary was still at the State Department...
SecState Hillary Clinton, left, meets the Prime Minister of Qatar
Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani in 2010.
... and was never once accused of sponsoring terrorism - on Friday a Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, with the Justice Department revealed that Qatar will pay the Ashcroft Law Firm $2.5 million for a 90-day period as the country seeks to confirm its efforts to fight global terrorism and comply with financial regulations including U.S. Treasury rules.
In a letter by Ashcroft partner Michael Sullivan, including in the filing, the law firm said that "the firm's work will include crisis response and management, program and system analysis, media outreach, education and advocacy regarding the client's historical, current and future efforts to combat global terror and its compliance goals and accomplishments."
In other words, propganda aka "fake news."
The filing came just hours after Trump accused Qatar of being a "high level" sponsor of terrorism in public remarks made shortly after his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, pushed Qatar's Arab neighbors to "immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation."
The Ashcroft firm was also hired to do a compliance and regulatory view of Qatar's anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing framework, Sullivan told Reuters in an email. Considering it is being paid nearly $30,000/day by the gas rich country, we are confident Ashcroft will find "nothing there."
"Qatar is confident that the review and analysis will confirm that Qatar has significant measures in place to prevent and detect efforts to launder funds and/or to use its financial systems to finance terrorist organizations," Sullivan said.
A veritable tribute to neo-conservatism, Ashcroft's firm includes an array of former senior government officials including Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney in Massachusetts appointed by Bush to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Johnny Sutton, who led the Bush-Cheney transition team, and Luis Reyes, another ex-Bush appointee, who served as General Counsel for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
The full filing and retention letter is below.