On July 26, 2001, cbsnews.com reported that John Ashcroft had stopped flying on commercial airlines.
Ashcroft used to fly commercial, just as Janet Reno did. So why, two months before Sept. 11, did he start taking chartered government planes?
CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart asked the Justice Department.
Because of a "threat assessment" by the FBI, he was told. But "neither the FBI nor the Justice Department ... would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it," CBS News reported.
The FBI obviously knew something was in the wind. Why else would it have Ashcroft use a $1,600-plus per hour G-3 Gulfstream when he could have flown commercial, as he always did before, for a fraction of the cost?
When the furor broke recently over who knew what, or when, President Bush chose his words carefully. "Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning," he said, "I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people."
On Sunday talk shows recently, Condoleezza Rice used similar language, indicating Bush had known ahead of time that terrorists were about to attack. She didn't say that, of course, but her careful use of language suggested that Bush knew trouble was brewing but simply didn't know the extent of it.
On July 5, 2001, according to a recent Washington Post article, the White House called together officials from a dozen federal agencies to give them a warning.
"Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon," the officials were told by the government's top counterterrorism official, Richard Clarke.
Clarke considered the threat sufficiently important to direct every counterintelligence office to cancel vacations and get ready for immediate action, the Post reported.
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Last modified: Mon Mar 29 10:15:37 CST 2004