John Ashcroft: Jamie Gorelick cannot be trusted – or can she?

Describing the political situation he faced prior to providing testimony to the 9/11 Commission, former Attorney General John Ashcroft writes in Never Again – Securing America and Restoring Justice:

One member [of the 9/11 Commission] in particular had a definite conflict of interest. Jamie Gorelick served as deputy attorney general under Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. A bright, articulate woman who left the Justice Department in 1997, Gorelick was working in the private sector prior to being tapped by Democrats to serve on the 9/11 Commission. According to media reports, her name had been on the short list of potential candidates for attorney general had Vice President Al Gore won the presidential election in 2000. Even most Republicans considered her a logical choice to be included on the Commission. But Jamie Gorelick knew something the other members of the Commission either didn’t know or had chosen to ignore.

In 1995, Jamie Gorelick wrote a memo in which the Justice Department reinforced and heightened “the wall” inhibiting communication between the criminal investigation and intelligence officers investigating terrorists. The idea of “the wall” originally followed the enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The deputy attorney general’s memo raised the wall higher than the law required. The wall impeded our law enforcement and intelligence agents from sharing vital information that might have led them to the hijackers before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Knowing this, one might wonder how Jamie Gorelick could fairly serve on the Commission. The answer was simple: her memo was classified. Few people knew that Jamie Gorelick had actually caused information not to be shared between intelligence and law enforcement agents.

Never Again, p. 236-237.

So Jamie Gorelick, single handedly, was to blame for the FBI’s and CIA’s failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. And not only did Gorelick make the decision that prevented the FBI and CIA from protecting the United States, she did it knowing full well the dangers this nation was facing. Ashcroft continues:

Clearly, the deputy attorney general understood that potential terrorist groups existed within the United States, maintaining connections with other terrorist groups abroad. Yet she felt compelled to raise the wall higher.

Because the counter intelligence investigation will involve the use of surveillance techniques authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) against targets that, in some instances, had been subject to surveillance under Title III, and because it will involve some of the same sources and targets as the criminal investigation, we believe the it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations. These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation.

In theory, the memo’s enhancement of “the wall” was supposed to help avoid legal challenges to terror prosecutions. But with the simple phrase “which go beyond what is legally required,” the memo acknowledged that this enhancement of the wall was not necessary. I do not believe that Deputy Attorney General Gorelick comprehended the danger of maintaining and elevating the wall.

Never Again, p. 238.

In his testimony to the Commission, Ashcroft stated:

But the simple fact of September 11 is this: we did not know an attack was coming because for nearly a decade our government had blinded itself to its enemies. Our agents were isolated by government-imposed walls, handcuffed by government-imposed restrictions, and starved for basic information technology.

Never Again, p. 244.

And if he hadn’t yet made it clear that Jamie Gorelick was to blame for the 9/11 attacks, he drives the point home:

The single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents. Government [i.e., Jamie Gorelick] erected this wall. Government [i.e., Jamie Gorelick] buttressed this wall. And before September 11, government [i.e., the FBI and CIA] was blinded by this wall.

Never Again, p. 245.

However, since the time of Ashcroft’s 9/11 testimony and the publication of Never Again, Jamie Gorelick has seemingly both vastly improved her judgment and also rehabilitated her reputation because the Jamie Gorelick that authored the “single greatest structural cause for September 11” and served on the 9/11 Commission in spite of a “definite conflict of interest” is the same Jamie Gorelick who is now lobbying for the enactment of the Bush administration’s plan for telecom immunity on behalf of the telecom industry. Apparently, she can now be trusted.

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8 Responses

  1. Excellent piece. Sadly the senate has already taken the low road.

    The blog looks great!

  2. Capt,

    I realize the timing was poor but I literally got to those pages in the book last night after work. Although I shouldn’t be, I’m still amazed at the brazenness of this administration, the complicity of the fourth estate and the spinelessness of the Democratic leadership.

    And thank you for the kind words regarding the blog. As always, your suggestions are always appreciated.


  3. The wall was not high enough for John Ashcroft to not to know it was unwise to fly commercial airlines in the period prior to 9/11.

    Shame Ashcroft did not share this information with the rest of us.

    The Bush Administration knew. Maybe they didn’t know excactly what and what day. But they knew.

  4. Brendan,

    They knew. They received a Presidential Daily Bulletin that was titled ‘Bin Laden determined to strike U.S.’ (or something close to that). Richard Clarke told them. George Tenet told them. Whether they knew enough to stop the 9-11 plot or not, they knew enough that they should have, at a minimum, reacted to the reports and attempted to stop the plot. Instead, they did nothing.

    Thanks for the comment.


  5. E.M. Are you serious? Bush was supposed to know from the infinitely vague Presidential Daily Brief. The who, when and where of 9/11 based on that stupid report in August of 2001? The report didn’t say anything everyone already knew. It was common knowledge that Bin Ladin wanted to hurt the US.

    At least anyone who vaguely followed the news back then. Hell, even Prince did a song in 1998 called “Osama Bin Ladin gettin’ ready to Bomb”. I have the album.

    And when that ass Richard Clarke said that Condalezza Rice looked as if she didn’t know who Bin Ladin was when he mentioned Bin Ladin’s name, is also unbelievable. When Clarke said that, I instantly knew he was a Democrat shit shoveler.

  6. I am serious, Greg. As I stated above:

    Whether they knew enough to stop the 9-11 plot or not, they knew enough that they should have, at a minimum, reacted to the reports and attempted to stop the plot. Instead, they did nothing.


  7. Reacted how? There was no specificity. There were probably hundreds of different scenarios.

    If we are going to use hindsight, then we should blame a politically correct Clinton Administration. We spent a lot of money going after Bin Ladin prior to 9/11. We would find him, get him in our sites only to have the mission aborted at the last minute by scary bureaucrats afraid of the political backlash.

    This was the reason our drones became armed. These drones were initially just meant to observe but the Clintons had them armed in a rush program just for Bin Ladin.

    Lisa Myers on ABC News did the story and even showed the footage from one of the drones in the air ready to take out Bin Ladin. Weapons were aimed, locked and no one in Washington would give the go order.

    They had at a minimum 6 different opportunities to take him out.

    This is what you get when you elect a President that leads by polls instead of his own instincts.

  8. […] of communications between state,local, and federal law enforcers that had been put in place by Jamie Gorelik. The international cooperation of police agencies, the new intelligence gathering polices, and the […]

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