Skip to comments.The Wall Truth (Three Articles about Jamie Gorelick and the 9/11 commission)
Posted on 04/19/2004 12:11:20 PM PDT by quidnunc
The grandstanding Richard Clarke having made apologies all the rage, one should expect that President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will be getting one in the next day or two. Something like this:
Dear Mr. President and Dr. Rice:
Very sorry about all that high dudgeon a couple of weeks ago. You remember, when we couldn't pass a microphone, a pencil, or a camera without perorations about the vital need to have the President waive executive privilege and ignore scads of history so Dr. Rice could be permitted to testify under oath and publicly (and improve our Nielson numbers) to address provocative allegations by another commission fave er, witness Richard Clarke. Turns out we should have mentioned that if Condi had just zipped an op-ed over to the Washington Post that would have done the trick. We regret any inconvenience to you, your staff, or the Constitution.
Respectfully, the 9/11 Commissioners.
If that note is not forthcoming, then someone's got some explaining to do about "The Truth About 'the Wall,'" Jamie Gorelick's remarkable Washington Post op-ed from Sunday, which purports to put to rest the nettlesome squawking about her untenable position as a commissioner judging the causes of pre-9/11 intelligence failure, a matter in which she was a key participant. Leaving aside, for a moment, how off-the-wall her account of the wall is, the fact that she well knows she needed to say something is the clearest indication yet that she belongs in the witness chair, not on the commissioners' bench.
Gorelick's op-ed intentionally raises five different points in her purported defense. Around them are sandwiched two others opening and closing salvos that she can't resist mentioning but avoids identifying as argument points because she is too smart not to know that they scream out for her recusal. I'll take them in the order in which she makes them.
1. Ashcroft is wrong. Gorelick starts by asserting that Attorney General John Ashcroft gave testimony that was "simply not true" when he claimed both that "the single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents[,]" and that Gorelick "built that wall through a March 1995 memo." In fact, Ashcroft's testimony was entirely true: The wall was a policy that virtually guaranteed intelligence failure, and the March 1995 memo was its first building block, a harbinger of the further institutionalizing of the wall that would come, from Gorelick, only a few months later. That, however, is beside the point.
When witnesses give differing accounts, it is left to an impartial arbiter not one of the witnesses to sort it out. Moreover, the commission's standard, announced to maximum preening effect only three weeks ago after Clarke's testimony spawned demands for Rice's testimony, is that essential witnesses, and particularly those who are in a position to clarify or refute the testimony of prior essential witnesses (i.e., the position Rice was in vis-à-vis Clarke), must testify under oath and in public. Not surprisingly, while brazenly accusing the attorney general of the United States of giving false testimony, Gorelick elides mention of the Clarke/Rice dust-up. But it did happen, and Gorelick was gleefully in the thick of it. Why is what's sauce for the goose not sauce for the commissioner?
(Excerpt) Read more at nationalreview.com ...
The commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has a critical dual mission to fulfill to help our nation understand how the worst assault on our homeland since Pearl Harbor could have occurred and to outline reforms to prevent new acts of terrorism. Under the leadership of former governor Tom Kean and former congressman Lee Hamilton, the commission has acted with professionalism and skill. Its hearings and the reports it has released have been highly informative, if often disturbing. Sept. 11 united this country in shock and grief; the lessons from it must be learned in a spirit of unity, not of partisan rancor.
At last week's hearing, Attorney General John Ashcroft, facing criticism, asserted that "the single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents" and that I built that wall through a March 1995 memo. This is simply not true.
First, I did not invent the "wall," which is not a wall but a set of procedures implementing a 1978 statute (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA) and federal court decisions interpreting it. In a nutshell, that law, as the courts read it, said intelligence investigators could conduct electronic surveillance in the United States against foreign targets under a more lenient standard than is required in ordinary criminal cases, but only if the "primary purpose" of the surveillance were foreign intelligence rather than a criminal prosecution.
(Jamie S. Gorelick in The Washington Post, April 18, 2004)
To Read This Article Click Here
The 9/11 Commission hearings are something to watch. The commission is supposed to be a group of intelligent people who are looking into and learning about how to prevent in the future what happened that horrible September morning when terrorists commandeered commercial jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands of Americans died in those horrific crashes and explosions. They were killed by men who were consumed with hatred of Americans, Christians, Jews and all people who live in an advanced technological society. Those hate-filled, disillusioned Muslim men apparently had planned their evil attacks for months. The 9/11 Commission is to look into how those terrorists were able to plan such an horrific attack without our intelligence services learning of it and preventing it. That's what we're told the commission is supposed to do. That's not what the 9/11 Commission appears to be doing. Watch and listen to the testimony for even a few minutes and you get the distinct feeling that this is a political inquisition, and that anyone on the Republican administration's side is going to get hammered with accusations instead of questions.
Of particular note is the harsh treatment of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Take a look at the harshest questioner of Rice on the panel, Jamie Gorelick. Gorelick pummeled Rice with questions no, accusations on how poorly the administration had done and how poorly Rice's national security efforts had been in not preventing the 9/11 attacks.
Rice was asked repeatedly by Gorelick why her office of national security didn't put together all the pieces of information that were coming in regarding terrorists who wanted to do harm to America and Americans.
(Mary Laney in the Chicago Sun-Times, April 19, 2004)
To Read This Article Click Here
Mr McCarthy eloquently describes his thoughts on why the memo was written:
"My own sense, for what little it may be worth, is that the point was to mollify civil-liberties activists and conspiracy theorists who trumped up baseless fears that the government would dishonestly use FISA authority to investigate people who were not national-security risks but I am not the person who wrote the guidelines, and we should probably give her the benefit of the doubt regarding her intentions. But good intentions hardly mean the actions they spawn will be sound."
However, other information given in the article makes one wonder about the timing. Ms Gorelick in her op-ed piece points out that it was written with only two cases in mind. But:
"And her hyperventilating about acting to protect the two cases (including mine) from the threat of having convictions reversed is specious. By the time she penned her March 1995 memo, the first World Trade Center bombing prosecution had been over for a year and my case was in its third month of trial. The only conceivable threat to eventual convictions would have been (a) if the prosecutors and agents in my case had learned information about defense strategy by virtue of the government's continuing investigation of some of our indicted defendants for possible new crimes; or (b) if the continuing investigation had turned up exculpatory information about the defendants in my case and I had not been told about it so I could disclose it. Far from being unique to national-security matters, that situation is a commonplace when the government deals with violent organizations (which tend to obstruct justice and routinely plot to kill or influence witnesses, prosecutors, and/or jurors, thus requiring continuing investigations even as already indicted cases proceed).
To avoid constitutional problems in such a situation, the government regularly assigns a prosecutor and agent who are not involved in the already indicted case to vet information from the continuing investigation before it is permitted to be communicated to agents and prosecutors on the indicted case. This way, the team on the indicted case learns only what it is allowed to know (viz., evidence of new crimes the defendants have committed), but not what it should not know (viz., defense strategy information and incriminating admissions about the indicted case made without the consent of counsel); and the government maintains the ability to reveal any exculpatory information (as federal law requires). As Gorelick's 1995 memorandum recounts, the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York had already made sure that was done in my case long before Gorelick's memo.
There was no need for Gorelick to do more; what she did served only to place additional, unnecessary barriers to information sharing which her memo, again, acknowledges were not required by existing law."
More and more questions to for the commissioners to ask Ms Gorelick when she testifies under oath.
|The Gorelick Rosetta Stone
Gorelick's Wall was not just a monument to political correctness and lawyer-think run amok, it was a strategic keystone of the Clinton Administration's wholesale auction of America's security, sovereignty and economy.
Jim Quinn made this the centerpiece of some spectacular commentary Thursday.
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