Attorney General John Ashcroft was asked today about the swirling theories about why he stopped flying commercially in the months before 9/11. The Justice Department has said the AG began using a Gulf Stream 5 jet because of an unspecific threat to his life.
But when asked about his flying habits before the terror attac ks, Ashcroft said: "Let me indicate to you that I never ceased to use commercial aircraft for my personal travel. 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."