I thought lying under oath was an issue?
The 9/11 commission is busy writing its final report, but is still investigating critical facts, including the conduct of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. NBC News has learned that the commission has interviewed two FBI officials who contradict sworn testimony by Ashcroft, about whether he brushed off terrorism warnings in the summer of 2001.You not only "raise serious questions about the Attorney General's truthfulness", Paul, you raise questions of impeachable offenses. Or is lying under oath only an issue when the lie is about something that has nothing to do with one's official duties?
In the critical months before Sept. 11, did Ashcroft dismiss threats of an al-Qaida attack in this country?
At issue is a July 5, 2001, meeting between Ashcroft and acting FBI Director Tom Pickard. That month, the threat of an al-Qaida attack was so high, the White House summoned the FBI and domestic agencies, and warned them to be on alert.
Yet, Pickard testified to the 9/11 commission that when he tried to brief Ashcroft just a week later, on July 12, about the terror threat inside the United States, he got the brush-off.
"Mr. Ashcroft told you that he did not want to hear about this anymore," Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste asked on April 13. "Is that correct?"
"That is correct," Pickard replied.
Testifying under oath the same day, Ashcroft categorically denied the allegation, saying, "I did never speak to him saying that I didn't want to hear about terrorism."
NBC News has learned that commission investigators also tracked down another FBI witness at the meeting that day, Ruben Garcia, head of the Criminal Division at that time. Several sources familiar with the investigation say Garcia confirmed to the commission that Ashcroft did indeed dismiss Pickard's warnings about al-Qaida.
"When you get two people coming forth and basically challenging a sworn statement by the attorney general regarding a critical meeting in the history of the 9/11 event, you raise serious questions about the Attorney General's truthfulness," says Paul Light, a government reform expert and New York University professor.