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June 24,2004

Honorable Thomas H. Kean, Chair


^/Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chair
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks
301 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20407

Governor Kean and Mr. Hamilton:

The following sets forth my recollection of some of the events of the summer of

2001 relative to my meetings with Attorney General John Ashcroft. Both your staff and

the time for my testimony on April 13,2004, did not fully explore these events.

On June 22,2001^1 was the Deputy Director of the FBI and since Louis J. Freeh

had tendered his resignation, I was the de facto Acting Director. I was summoned to the

Office of the Attorney General (AG) John Ashcroft. When I arrived at his office I was

met by him, the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Larry Thompson and the AG's Chief of
• • ' • - ' t • • - ; . . . ' , •

Staff David Ayres. I had not been told the subject of the meeting. The AG told me he

was appointing me the Acting Director until a new director was sworn in by him. I told

him I was honored but if he wanted to select someone else that I would continue to serve

at his pleasure. He; said that I was his choice. I then told him that I planned to retire from

the FBI by;the end J0f the year* at the latest but -I would assist the new director in his or her

transition arid then retire. /This woujld afford the new director the opportunity to select

their own candidate to; be [deputy director. T^e AG told me I did not have to retire but I

told him after nearly 27 years my wife and I had discussed it and it was time for me to
move on. The AG then told me he would like to meet with me on approximately a

weekly basis if our schedules permitted to be updated on FBI matters. He also reminded

me that neither I nor any FBI personnel were to go to the White House or Capitol Hill

without first notifying the Department and that no press releases were to be filed without

notifying and coordinating with the DOJ Press Office first.

On Thursday, June 28, at 4pm, we had the first of our meetings that summer. I

had prepared a list of topics, particularly cases that I wanted to discuss with the AG. In

attendance at that first meeting were myself, the AG, DAG, the AG's Chief of Staff, and I

invited Ruben Garcia, the FBI's Assistant Director for Criminal Investigations, to the

meeting. Garcia was next in the chain of command at the FBI. I started the meeting with

a discussion of extremely sensitive counterintelligence and counterterrorism cases and

projects and asked if all were cleared for them. Ayres was not and left the room. One of

the matters I discussed was the increase in "chatter" by the followers of Osama bin

Laden. I told the AG that this increase in "chatter" may portend an attack against

American facilities or interests and that the conjecture was that it would occur in South

East Asia or the Middle East, but that was only conjecture and nothing could be ruled out.

I gave the AG a short (five minutes) brief on al Qaeda and their attacks on the African

embassies in 1998 and the USS Cole hi 2000.1 also discussed the level of sophistication

and planning that this terrorist group possesses as well as their presence in the U.S. based

upon the full investigations the FBI had at that tune. The entire meeting lasted for

approximately an hour and the AG asked few questions.


The Deputy AG called me prior to the next meeting and asked that I forward him

my proposed agenda for future meetings at least 24 hours in advance. I complied with

his request.

On July 12, 2001, at approximately 1 l:30am, we had our second meeting with the

same individuals as at the previous meeting. Once again I started with

counterintelligence and counterterrorism matters. David Ayres again left this part of the

meeting. The fourth item I discussed was the continuing high level of "chatter" by al

Qaeda members. The AG told me "I don't want to hear about it anymore, there's nothing

I can do about it." For a few seconds, I did not know what to say, then I replied that he

should meet with the Director of the CIA to get a fuller briefing on the matter. I had not

told the AG about the meeting in Malaysia since I was told by FBI Assistant Director

Dale Watson that there was a "close hold" on that info. This means that it was not to be

shared with anyone without the explicit approval of the CIA. I then strongly suggested

that the AG meet with George Tenet to get a full briefing on the matter.

I resumed my agenda but I was upset about the AG's lack of interest. He did not

tell me nor did I learn until April 2004 that the CIA briefed him on the increase in chatter

and level of threat on July 5,2001.

On January 21,2004, the Commission staff interviewed me briefly about any

dealings with the AG during that summer. They did not question me in detail about the

meetings nor did they present me with any documents to review.


On April 13,2004, Commissioner Ben-Veniste questioned me as to whether the

AG stated "he did not want to hear about it anymore" - yes or no. To which I replied

yes. On that same date the AG was asked by Commissioner Thompson that"... briefed

you on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and when he sought to do so again you told him

you didn't need to hear from him again..." The AG replied... I did never speak to him

saying that I did not want to hear about terrorism..."

What the AG stated to the Commission under oath is correct but they did not ask

him did he tell me he did not want to hear about the chatter and level of threat which is

the conversation to which I testified under oath.

That summer, in addition to the meetings that I have already discussed, I also met

with him on July 18 and 26 and August 2 and 22. I briefed him on other terrorism

matters that summer but did not bring up the level of chatter.

I am willing to provide this information under oath to the Commission and to

submit to a polygraph examination on the contents of this letter. The polygraph could be

administered by polygraphers from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or some other

government agency not directly impacted by the work of this Commission.

Ve

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Thomas J.Yickard