John Ashcroft – When the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey needed to find an outside lawyer to monitor a large corporation willing to settle criminal charges out of court last fall, he turned to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, his onetime boss. With no public notice and no bidding, the company awarded Mr. Ashcroft an 18-month contract worth $28 million to $52 million. [NYT]

CIA torture tapes – The former official, Jose Rodriguez Jr., has also told the House intelligence committee through a letter from his attorney that he will refuse to testify next week about the tapes unless he is granted immunity from prosecution for his statements, the sources said.  [WaPo]  This move reminds some of Oliver North and Iran-Contra.

Wiretaps shut down – Telecommunications carriers shut down some covert surveillance lines established by the FBI because the bureau failed to make timely bill payments, a Justice Department review found Thursday. [USA Today]