FC: Ashcroft's "dirty bomb" scare was a complete exaggeration?

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Wed Jun 12 2002 - 09:57:23 PDT

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    [Seems that it's reasonable to ask some basic question: Did Abdullah
    Al Muhajir possess radioactive materials of the type that could be
    used for a "dirty bomb?" Did he try to form those into a weapon? In
    short, was he an (alleged) terrorist wannabe or someone who
    (allegedly) was serious about causing widescale harm? Given that DOJ
    has in the past claimed drunk airline passengers were "domestic
    terrorists" (to up its anti-terror budgets), it makes sense to be
    somewhat skeptical here. --Declan]
    Page 1A   
    Threat of 'dirty bomb' softened Ashcroft's remarks annoy White House
       By Kevin Johnson
       and Toni Locy
       USA TODAY
       WASHINGTON -- Attorney General John Ashcroft on Monday overstated the
       potential threat posed by ''dirty bomb'' suspect Abdullah Al Muhajir,
       Bush administration and law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
       Ashcroft's remarks annoyed the White House and led the administration
       to soften the government's descriptions of the alleged plot. ''I don't
       think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk and (Al
       Muhajir's) coming in here obviously to plan further deeds,'' Deputy
       Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told CBS on Tuesday.
       His comments echoed those Monday of FBI Director Robert Mueller and
       Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson. They backed away from
       Ashcroft's descriptions of the alleged plot but emphasized that Al
       Muhajir was dangerous and that his arrest was a victory against
       Ashcroft's ominous tone surprised the White House and law enforcement
       officials here and abroad, including some who had tracked Al Muhajir
       to al-Qaeda meetings in Pakistan. The law enforcement officials say
       the evidence against Al Muhajir, 31, indicates he was interested in
       many scenarios involving explosives, and radioactive materials was one
       possibility. They say that the former Chicago gang member once known
       as Jose Padilla was up to no good, but that any plans involving
       radiation were not as mature as Ashcroft suggested.
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