Ashcroft didn't want to hear it

Geraldine Sealey
April 14, 2004 12:07AM (UTC)

This afternoon, the 9/11 commission released a staff statement regarding the wave of terror threats that came during the summer of 2001 and how the administration handled the threats. One passage, read by Christopher Kojm, the 9/11 commission's deputy executive director, is sure to be a topic of discussion with Attorney General John Ashcroft, who's now giving his opening statement.

Kojm said: "(Acting FBI Director) Pickard said in late June and through July he met with Attorney General Ashcroft once a week. He told us that, although he initially briefed the attorney general regarding these threats, after two such briefings the attorney general told him he did not want to hear this information anymore."


"The Justice Department has informed us that Attorney General Ashcroft, his former deputy and his chief of staff deny that the attorney general made any such statement to Pickard. Ashcroft told us that he asked Pickard whether there was intelligence about attacks in the United States. Pickard said he replied that he could not assure Ashcroft that there would be no attacks in the United States, although the reports of threats were related to overseas targets. Ashcroft said he therefore assumed that the FBI was doing what it needed to do. He acknowledged that in retrospect this was a dangerous assumption. Prior to 9/11, neither Ashcroft nor his predecessors received a copy of the president's daily brief. After 9/11, Ashcroft began to receive portions of the brief that relate to counterterrorism."

(Update: In his testimony before the panel, Ashcroft again denied that he told Pickard he "didn't want to hear" about the terror threats.)

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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