On July 5, 2001, according to a recent Washington Post article, the White House called together officials from a dozen federal agencies to give them a warning.
"Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon," the officials were told by the government's top counterterrorism official, Richard Clarke.
Clarke considered the threat sufficiently important to direct every counterintelligence office to cancel vacations and get ready for immediate action, the Post reported.
On July 26, 2001, cbsnews.com reported that John Ashcroft had stopped flying on commercial airlines.
Ashcroft used to fly commercial, just as Janet Reno did. So why, two months before Sept. 11, did he start taking chartered government planes?
CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart asked the Justice Department.
Because of a "threat assessment" by the FBI, he was told. But "neither the FBI nor the Justice Department ... would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it," CBS News reported.
The FBI did advise Ashcroft to stay off commercial aircraft. The rest of us just had to take our chances.
The FBI obviously knew something was in the wind. Why else would it have Ashcroft use a $1,600-plus per hour G-3 Gulfstream when he could have flown commercial, as he always did before, for a fraction of the cost?
Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity when asked if he knew anything about the threat. "Frankly, I don't," he told reporters.
So our nation's chief law enforcement officer was told that flying commercial was hazardous to his health, and yet he appeared not to care what the threat was, who made it, how, or why?
Note that it was the FBI that warned Ashcroft before Sept. 11. That's the same FBI now claiming it didn't "connect the dots" before Sept. 11.
Had we in the press been on our toes, we might have realized that if flying commercial posed a threat to John Ashcroft, it also posed a threat to the population at large.