- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Doctors at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda have removed benign skin lesions from the left ear of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department said yesterday.
Capt. David Ferguson, a physician at the Bethesda facility, told reporters yesterday that the lesions were biopsied by dermatologists at the center during a physical examination of Mr. Ashcroft on Friday. He described the lesions as "similar to those he's had in the past."
Capt. Ferguson said Mr. Ashcroft, 59, did not suffer from any melanomas and described his overall health as "excellent." The number of lesions was not disclosed.
A small bandage on the attorney general's ear was first noticed by reporters on Monday during a speech he delivered in Washington to an anti-terrorism group within the Organization of American States. Justice Department officials acknowledged late yesterday that Mr. Ashcroft had undergone the medical procedure.
The removal of the lesions has not slowed down the attorney general's schedule. Mr. Ashcroft, a former Republican governor and senator from Missouri, planned to attend President Bush's State of the Union address.
In addition to the OAS speech, he also appeared at a news conference Friday at the Justice Department to identify the fifth suspected terrorist seen on videotapes captured in Afghanistan. He continues to oversee the Justice Department's ongoing investigation of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed more than 3,000 people.
Yesterday, he also ordered an additional 50 federal agents to the security force already in place at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
That decision followed his visit at the Olympic site last week, where department officials said he was "tremendously impressed with the unprecedented and seamless cooperation of over 60 agencies involved in the Olympics and the cooperative leadership in place to provide security."

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