Wednesday, May 08, 2002

United States Attorney General John Ashcroft stopped flying on commercial flights in July 2001. The reason for this was said to be a 'threat assessment' made by the FBI, with no further details given. A few weeks later (August 16 or 17), Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested in Minneapolis, but local FBI requests for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against him were turned down by Ashcroft's own FBI/Department of Justice on the obviously bogus excuse that such a warrant would not be obtainable on the basis of the information that had been obtained by local FBI agents (since the Act was passed in 1978, the special court which decides such things has approved over 12,000 applications for warrants and rejected one). The warrant was required in order to examine the contents of Moussaoui's computer, which turned out in the investigation finally made after September 11 to contain information on crop dusting. The refusal to try to obtain the warrant was odd in itself, but is even odder since Ashcroft was avoiding commercial flights and Moussasoui's behaviour which got him detained involved his comments made at a flight school where he had registered in order to learn to fly a Boeing 747. We may be able to draw the following conclusions:

  1. The fact that Ashcroft didn't take commercial flights after July 2001 meant that he knew that an attack was planned on some U. S. target using a commercial aircraft.

  2. The fact that Ashcroft didn't take commercial flights after July 2001 meant that he did not know where or when the attack would occur, for otherwise he could simply avoid the dangerous flights.

  3. Whatever the FBI's 'threat assessment' consisted of, it had to have contained information which would also have immediately identified Moussaoui as a danger, making the failure to obtain the warrant extremely suspicious.

  4. The fact that Ashcroft was not taking commercial flights was announced in response to a specific CBS question about the issue. This question may have been planted to give Ashcroft the opportunity to provide a plausible reason for his behaviour in advance of anything suspicious occurring (just think of how more suspicious it would have looked if it had been discovered after September 11 that Ashcroft was surreptitiously avoiding commercial flights). It is utterly impossible that Ashcroft not have informed himself as to the nature of the threat, and his reply to the question of whether he knew anything about the threat or who might have made it ("Frankly, I don't. That's the answer."), is ridiculous.