Justice: General on the March

John Ashcroft wants to mobilize the Justice Department to fight terror. Is he going too far?

Most Attorneys General embody only the first half of what their title promises, but not John Ashcroft. Last week he announced a sweeping "wartime reorganization and mobilization" of his law-enforcement troops, converting the Department of Justice into something more like a Department of Antiterrorism. Fewer FBI agents will fight local crimes and the drug war; they will walk the al-Qaeda beat instead. Hundreds of crime fighters at headquarters will be transferred to field offices on America's "front lines." And 10% of the budget--$2.5 billion--will be redirected to counterterrorism.

The creaky, lumbering contraption that is the American criminal-justice system could use some...

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