Ashcroft Warning Surprised Homeland Security


The U.S. Homeland Security Department was surprised by Wednesday’s announcement by Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI chief Robert Mueller that a terrorist attack was likely in the coming months, Newsday reports. Homeland Security knew about the planned focus on seven suspects with ties to Al Qaeda, but were caught off guard when Ashcroft warned that al-Qaida “is ready to attack the United States.” Newsday said the episode raised concerns that Homeland Security was not coordinating the domestic fight against terrorism, confusing the message for the public and for local authorities.

Ridge had told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the threats are “not the most disturbing that I have personally seen during the past couple of years.” Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), chairman of the homeland security committee, called it “regrettable” that Ridge did not appear with Ashcroft and Mueller “because their separate public appearances conveyed the impression that the broad and close interagency consultation we expect … may not have taken place in this case.” He noted that the law puts Ridge in charge of “public advisories relating to threats to homeland security.”


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