Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Ashcroft chartered plane after same warning Condi ignored

Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 01:13:26 PM PDT

The White House is in full panic mode trying to find a way to spin the now-admitted fact that George Tenet did indeed brief Condi Rice on July 10, 2001 about the terror threat. The latest damage control approach has been to claim that the report was "nothing new".

So how come when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft heard the same warning a week later, he immediately stopped flying commercial aircraft?

Christy Hardin Smith at FDL runs down a bunch of the story of the July 10, 2001 terror briefing Condi somehow failed to remember. She also touches on the fact that George Tenet gave the same warning to John Ashcroft exactly a week later.

It seems to me that we ought to be asking whether that story has anything to do with this one, dated July 26, 2001:

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.

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.

"There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.

Got that? July 17 -- Ashcroft briefed. July 28 -- Ashcroft flies in a charter, leased, according to the article, earlier that week.

Seems to me this could be another blockbuster. If Ashcroft decided that commercial flights were too dangerous based on the same warning as Rice (who presumably wasn't flying commercial flights either) ignored, we have ourselves some rather dramatic evidence of callous indifference and willingness on the part of the Bush Administration to put the preservation of their own hides before their duty. It will be tough for Rice to argue that the briefing was nothing new if it scared Ashcroft away from flying with commercial airlines.

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