Whither the Bushwhacked?

Our guide to which administrationites hit the private sector with a splash, a thud, or a shrug. Plus, who landed in jail.

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Reflecting on the architects of the Iraq War in June 2008, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said, “I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society.” For many, the same could be said of the officials responsible for politicizing the Justice Department, institutionalizing torture, or doling out favors to Jack Abramoff. Some of the administration’s worst offenders have nevertheless parlayed their government service into prominent and lucrative positions, while others have hit the private sector with a thud (and still others, having taken temporary refuge at the American Enterprise Institute, are on what columnist Paul Krugman calls the “neocon welfare system”). Here’s where some of your favorite Bush alums have landed:

John Ashcroft, attorney general, 2001-2005
Claim to Infamy: Suspiciously timed terror warnings; wielding police-state powers of the Patriot Act; ordering two seminude statues—the “Spirit of Justice” and the “Majesty of Law”—covered with $8,000 drapes
Now: Chairman of the lobbying and consulting firm the Ashcroft Group, which last fall received a no-bid contract, from New Jersey’s US attorney (a DOJ employee), possibly worth more than $50 million
Landing: Soft

Karl Rove, deputy White House chief of staff, 2001-2007
Claim to Infamy: Iraq War spin; outing covert CIA agent Valerie Plame; illegal political briefings for federal officials; fingerprints on bogus voter-fraud push, US attorneys scandal, and prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman
Now: Paid commentator for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal
Landing: Soft

Susan Ralston, special assistant to the president (and Rove’s deputy), 2001-2006
Claim to Infamy: Accepting gifts from her one-time boss Jack Abramoff in exchange for passing along White House info
Now: Opened own government affairs and public relations firm, SBR Enterprises
Landing: Soft

Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, 2001-2005; president of the World Bank, 2005-2007
Claim to Infamy: Getting everything wrong about Iraq and helping to mislead the nation into war; acrimonious tenure at World Bank, culminating with controversy over pay raises and promotions for bank-employee girlfriend
Now: On “neocon welfare” at AEI
Landing: Soft

Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, 2001-2006
Claim to Infamy: Iraq
Now: Distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution; reportedly writing a memoir justifying his widely lambasted military strategy
Landing: Soft

Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, 2001-2003
Claim to Infamy: Iraq War spin
Now: Opened “sports communications” PR firm; founding board member of and spokesman for Freedom’s Watch, the well-funded right-wing troublemaker that is spending tens of millions of dollars to influence congressional races
Landing: Soft

Michael Gerson, White House speechwriter, 2001-2006
Claim to Infamy: Coined the phrase “axis of evil”; Iraq War propaganda
Now: Columnist for the Washington Post and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
Landing: Soft

Alberto Gonzales, White House counsel, 2001-2005; attorney general, 2005-2007
Claim to Infamy: Advanced draconian legal arguments deeming Geneva Conventions “quaint” and mainstreaming torture; authored executive order gutting the Presidential Records Act; tried to force a bedridden John Ashcroft to reauthorize warrantless wiretapping; oversaw purge of US Attorneys and obstructed subsequent congressional investigation
Now: After being drummed out at DOJ, he couldn’t find a job for almost a year; recently appointed as an assistant to a “special master” in a Texas patent dispute
Landing: Hard

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff to the vice president, 2001-2005
Claim to Infamy: Plamegate
Now: Disbarred after his conviction on obstruction of justice and perjury charges; $250,00 fine and massive legal bills
Landing: Hard—though by way of a presidential commutation, he did avoid jail time

Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, 2001-2005
Claim to Infamy: “Stupidest fucking guy on the planet,” according to General Tommy Franks
Now: Lost plush job at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service due to protest from students and faculty, but currently on “neocon welfare” at the Hoover Institution
Landing: Soft

John Yoo, deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, 2001-2003
Claim to Infamy: Dubious legal arguments institutionalizing torture; articulated vision of executive power that gives president unchecked wartime powers.
Now: Tenured law prof at Berkeley and a visiting scholar at AEI; faces routine student protest and had tenure challenged; faces war crimes charges, along with Rumsfeld and Gonzales, in Germany
Landing: Soft—unless the Germans get ahold of him

Alphonso Jackson, secretary of the department of Housing and Urban Development, 2004-2008
Claim to Infamy: Administered Republican litmus test for distributing federal contracts; subject of multiple investigations by DOJ, FBI, and HUD inspector general for graft and conflicts of interest
Now: Most likely assembling a legal team and hoping to avoid jail time
Landing: The jury’s still out—or, more accurately, hasn’t been selected yet

J. Steven Griles, deputy interior secretary, 2001-2004
Claim to Infamy: Abramoff stooge who used his authority in the service of the lobbyist and his clients
Now: Serving a 10-month prison sentence on obstruction of justice charges
Landing: Hard

Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, executive director, CIA, 2004-2006
Claim to Infamy: Suspected of steering contracts to defense contractor (and Duke Cunningham briber) Brent Wilkes in exchange for bribes in the form of meals, vacations, “sexual companionship,” and other perks
Now: Indicted; pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering in ongoing case
Landing: Hard


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