Attorney General John Ashcroft begins flying on chartered jets, for the remainder of his term, due to a "threat assessment" by the FBI.
Here's the debunking from Screw Loose Change:
During that time he took commercial flights for personal travel and government flights for work-related travel. The threat was personal, not national. From Ashcroft’s 9/11 Commission testimony:
BEN-VENISTE: Let me ask you, as my time is expiring, one question, which has been frequently put to members of this commission; probably all of us have heard this one way or another.
And we are mindful that part of the problem with the Warren commission's work on the Kennedy assassination was the failure to address certain theories that were extant and questions and much of the work was done behind closed doors. So I would like to provide you with the opportunity to answer one question that has come up repeatedly.
At some point in the spring or summer of 2001, around the time of this heightened threat alert, you apparently began to use a private chartered jet plane, changing from your use of commercial aircraft on grounds, our staff is informed, of an FBI threat assessment. And, indeed, as you told us, on September 11th itself you were on a chartered jet at the time of the attack.
Can you supply the details, sir, regarding the threat which caused you to change from commercial to private leased jet?
ASHCROFT: I am very please pleased to address this issue.
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.
ASHCROFT: Let me indicate to you that I never ceased to use commercial aircraft for my personal travel.
ASHCROFT: My wife traveled to Germany and back in August. My wife and I traveled to Washington, D.C., on the 3rd of September before the 17th -- before the 11th attack on commercial aircraft.
I have exclusively traveled on commercial aircraft for my personal travel; continued through the year 2000, through the entirety of the threat period to the nation.
The assessment made by the security team and the Department of Justice was made early in the year.
It was not related to a terrorism threat as a threat to the nation.
It was related to an assessment of the security for the attorney general,
given his responsibilities and the job that he undertakes. And it related to the maintenance of arms and other things by individuals who travel with the attorney general. And it was their assessment that we would be best served to use government aircraft.
These were not private chartered jet aircraft. These were aircraft of the United States government. And it was on such an aircraft that I was on my way to an event in Milwaukee on the morning of September the 11th.
So he states that there were two threats, one to the nation and one related to him personally. And he states that he took commercial aircraft for his personal travel through the entirety of the threat period to the nation. Why did he continue to fly with commercial airliners when there was a personal threat against him? Or maybe he didn't? Before 9/11, the story about Ashcroft sounded otherwise:
QUOTEDoes this sound like a personal travel or not? Before the 9/11 Commission he said under oath the he took commercial aircraft for his personal travel. Does the CBS got it wrong. But if so, then why was it confirmed by the Department of Justice?
Fishing rod in hand, Attorney General John Ashcroft left on a weekend trip to Missouri Thursday afternoon aboard a chartered government jet, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart. (CBS 7-26-01)
QUOTEAfter 9/11 we are told that this threat was not related to national security, only and specifically to the security of Ashcroft. But why wasn't this stated before 9/11? And why does Ashcroft state that he still used commercial aircraft though there was a specific threat against him? Would this make sense?
In response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.
Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.
A senior official at the CIA said he was unaware of specific threats against any Cabinet member, and Ashcroft himself, in a speech in California, seemed unsure of the nature of the threat.So again, we're not told then about the nature of the threat. He himself doesn't seem to know what was going on, and it seems he didn't even care about it:
"I don't do threat assessments myself and I rely on those whose responsibility it is in the law enforcement community, particularly the FBI. And I try to stay within the guidelines that they've suggested I should stay within for those purposes," Ashcroft said.
QUOTEWhen the FBI or the Department of Justice would tell you that there's a threat against you, would you want to know about it? So at this time (end of July 2001) Ashcroft couldn't even confirm the nature of the threat, though he said in front of the Commission that "the assessment made by the security team and the Department of Justice was made early in the year." Should be enough time to get informed.
Asked if he knew anything about the threat or who might have made it, the attorney general replied, "Frankly, I don't. That's the answer."
Earlier this week, the Justice Department leased a NASA-owned G-3 Gulfstream for a 6-day trip to Western states. Such aircraft cost the government more than $1,600 an hour to fly. When asked whether Ashcroft was paying for any portion of the trips devoted to personal business, a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to respond.
Declined to response. But not refused that he used it for personal business.
Ashcroft had not only little interest in threats related to his personal security, but also to threats related to the national security.
From the 9/11-Commission- Report, p.258
That same day (July 5th, 2001), the CIA briefed Attorney General Ashcroft on the al Qaeda threat, warning that a significant terrorist attack was imminent. Ashcroft was told that preparations for multiple attacks were in late stages or already complete and that little additional warning could be expected. The briefing addressed only threats outside the United States.
(See CIA memo “CTC Briefing for the Attorney General on the Usama Bin Ladin Terrorist Threat” July 5, 2001, and the accompanying CIA briefing materials,“DCI Update Terrorist Threat Review” July 3, 2001.) 9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The State Department's disclosure Monday that the pair was briefed within a week after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was told about the threat on July 10, 2001, raised new questions about what the Bush administration did in response, and about why so many officials have claimed they never received or don't remember the warning.
One official who helped to prepare the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, described it as a "10 on a scale of 1 to 10" that "connected the dots" in earlier intelligence reports to present a stark warning that al-Qaida, which had already killed Americans in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and East Africa, was poised to strike again. (Source)
On this day, acting FBI Director Tom Pickard briefs Ashcroft about the terror threat inside the US. Pickard later swears under oath that Ashcroft tells him, “[I do] not want to hear about this anymore.“ (Source)
Pickard later says:
“Before September 11th, I couldn’t get half an hour on terrorism with Ashcroft. He was only interested in three things: guns, drugs, and civil rights.” ( The cell: Inside the 9/11 plot, p. 293)
QUOTEAshcroft is not always so ignorant about threats:
One day before the attacks, Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau’s counterterrorism programs. The money would have paid for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 additional analysts and 54 additional translators. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs—but none of them relate to counterterrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities—none of them relate to counterterrorism. (Source)
QUOTEAfter 9/11 the story goes like this:
Who needs terrorists when we have John Ashcroft to scare us out of our pants?
The way the attorney general detonated the “dirty bomber” case this week completes his metamorphosis from a common press hog to a genuine fear monger.
That Ashcroft insisted that he had to scoop all the other terror warriors (Mssrs. Mueller, Wolfowitz and Thompson) and make the announcement about Jose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah Al Muhajir, in a panicky performance from Moscow shows what a camera-moth Ashcroft is. (CBS - Minister of Fear)
Attorney General John Ashcroft was urged in May 2001 by his top security experts not to fly aboard commercial aircraft because of personal threats on his life, not out of fears about terrorist hijackings, the Justice Department said Thursday. (....)
An FBI security review after Ashcroft took office recommended that the attorney general eschew flying on commercial planes whenever possible, citing nonspecific threats against Ashcroft's life. The earliest threat assessment from the FBI was presented May 8 to Ashcroft that recommended against flying commercial, and a follow-up assessment was made to Ashcroft on June 19. (AP 5-16-02)
QUOTECBS anchor Dan Rather also expressed his concerns about this issue.
Ashcroft walked from the room without comment when a reporter asked about it. (AP 5-16-02)
Not only Dan Rather was suspicious about Ashcrofts travel plans.
Justice Department officials are ticked off at Dan Rather.
On the "Imus in the Morning" radio show last Wednesday, the CBS anchor said that Attorney General John Ashcroft "just before September 11 started taking private aircraft. . . . Well, that would indicate that somebody somewhere was getting pretty worried. . . . Why wasn't it shared with the public at large?"
Justice spokeswoman Barbara Comstock calls Rather's comments "irresponsible," saying: "The implication here is outrageous. He's acting like the attorney general found out there were going to be hijackings and started to fly on private planes." She says CBS and other news outlets were told days earlier that the warnings in early 2001 concerned Ashcroft's personal safety, not hijackings, and that his family kept flying on commercial jets.
Rather called Don Imus back Friday to protest that he "never said the attorney general was warned specifically about 9/11 threats and therefore covered his own security." But Rather escalated the dispute instead, insisting that Ashcroft's conduct "doesn't look particularly good" when contrasted with the failure to warn American passengers. "Maybe it would be better for him to spend a little less time trying to sully up my reputation in a way and cover his backside and more time trying to get things straight." (Washington Post)
QUOTEWhenever considering Ashcroft, one should note this telling passage from his speech in the U.S: Senate:
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?
Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity when asked if he knew anything about the threat. "Frankly, I don't," he told reporters.
So our nation's chief law enforcement officer was told that flying commercial was hazardous to his health, and yet he appeared not to care what the threat was, who made it, how, or why?
Note that it was the FBI that warned Ashcroft before Sept. 11. That's the same FBI now claiming it didn't "connect the dots" before Sept. 11.
Had we in the press been on our toes, we might have realized that if flying commercial posed a threat to John Ashcroft, it also posed a threat to the population at large.(...)
We need a full-blown investigation of who know what before Sept. 11. We need explanations of such things as the FBI warning Ashcroft off commercial jets, while simultaneously ignoring strident warnings from its own agents in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Oklahoma. These things don't add up. SF Gate
In all these ways and more, the Department of Justice has sought to prevent terrorism with reason, careful balance and excruciating attention to detail. Some of our critics, I regret to say, have shown less affection for detail. Their bold declarations of so-called fact have quickly dissolved, upon inspection, into vague conjecture. Charges of "kangaroo courts" and "shredding the Constitution" give new meaning to the term, "the fog of war."
Since lives and liberties depend upon clarity, not obfuscation, and reason, not hyperbole, let me take this opportunity today to be clear: Each action taken by the Department of Justice, as well as the war crimes commissions considered by the President and the Department of Defense, is carefully drawn to target a narrow class of individuals -- terrorists. Our legal powers are targeted at terrorists. Our investigation is focused on terrorists. Our prevention strategy targets the terrorist threat.
Since 1983, the United States government has defined terrorists as those who perpetrate premeditated, politically motivated violence against noncombatant targets. My message to America this morning, then, is this: If you fit this definition of a terrorist, fear the United States, for you will lose your liberty.
We need honest, reasoned debate; not fearmongering. To those who pit Americans against immigrants, and citizens against non-citizens; to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists - for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.
So whenever you say that the Patriot Act destroys the liberties guaranteed in the Constitution, you're aiding terrorists. And when you're aiding terrorist, you will lose your liberties!
So the only liberty you have is to confirm that you have the liberty to confirm that you have the liberty to confirm that you have .......