Ashcroft to Take 9/11 Hot Seat
This week's 9/11 Commission hearings will feature John Ashcroft. He's expected to be asked some tough questions, particularly because he cut the FBI's requested counterterrorism budget before Sept. 11.
Last week, Sept. 11 commission member Jamie Gorelick asserted that there had been no evidence of heightened anti-terrorism efforts in Ashcroft's office after the president received a classified memo from the CIA on Aug. 6, 2001, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." In an earlier session, commission member Richard Ben-Veniste remarked, "Ironically, on September 10th, 2001, Attorney General Ashcroft axed $58 million from the FBI's counterterrorism budget."
Janet Reno and FBI Director Robert Mueller will also testify. The main question, according to Zoe Baird, is:
How are we going to use our law enforcement and intelligence capabilities to tell us what terrorists are going to do and when they are going to it? It is the key to protecting the nation."
We hope the answer isn't going to be to create a new domestic CIA-type agency, like Britain's MI-5:
The left-leaning Center for National Security Studies in Washington is among the civil liberties advocacy groups fearful of a domestic spy agency. "We do not think it will be possible to construct rules that force such an agency to focus on the truly dangerous individuals who may be in the United States and not use their resources to put vast numbers of innocent Americans at risk," said Kate Martin, director of the center.
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