Sunday, May 19, 2002

From BushWatch

If Diane Feinstein and other senators were briefed in early July, who else was 'in the loop?' Well, John Ashcroft, for one. Ashcroft took the unprecedented step of refusing to fly on commercial airliners at the end of July due to a "threat assessment", using expensive charter jets on the taxpayer tab for even personal fishing trips. It's interesting that of all the cabinet members, Ashcroft should be the one chosen to survive the attacks at all costs. Ari Fleischer says the 'dots couldn't be connected' until after passage of the USA-Patriot Act; this is complete nonsense, of course, the FBI agents in the field were prevented from connecting the dots before 9/11 because Ashcroft and the Administration had shut down the granting of FISA warrants (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Whereas, the record of the Clinton administration and Janet Reno was that no FISA requests were refused, under Ashcroft and the Bush administration FBI field agents were unable, after repeated requests, to obtain a FISA warrant against Zacarias Moussaoui even after French Intelligence had named him as having Al Qaeda connections. Among other useful things, Moussaoui's computer held the phone number of Mohamed Atta's roommate.

It might be remembered that the USA-Patriot Act was the product of Ashcroft and the White House without any input at all from the Justice Department that Ashcroft allegedly represented. Whereas, the Bush administration had previously refused to issue a FISA warrant against Moussaoui, a known terrorist engaging in exactly the sort of behavior that had its chief executives cowering in the hinterlands, under USA-Patriot the government now has the authority to conduct FISA type spying on ordinary American citizens merely on the OK of any judge anywhere in the country.