- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
- ISIL terrorists blow up burial site of Jonah, vow more of same
- Impeach Obama, say 35 percent in new poll
- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
Memos show Gorelick involvement in ‘wall’
Question of the Day
Newly released Justice Department memos show that September 11 panel commissioner Jamie S. Gorelick was more intimately involved than previously thought with hampering communications between U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies fighting terrorism.
As the No. 2 person in the Clinton Justice Department, Ms. Gorelick rejected advice from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who warned against placing more limits on communications between law-enforcement officials and prosecutors pursuing counterterrorism cases, according to several internal documents written in summer 1995.
“It is hard to be totally comfortable with instructions to the FBI prohibiting contact with the United States Attorney’s Offices when such prohibitions are not legally required,” U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White wrote Ms. Gorelick six years before the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.
“Our experience has been that the FBI labels of an investigation as intelligence or law enforcement can be quite arbitrary, depending upon the personnel involved and that the most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible so that wherever permissible, the right and left hands are communicating,” she wrote.
The documents — released yesterday by the Justice Department at the request of two Senate Republicans — drew renewed calls for Ms. Gorelick to testify publicly before the September 11 commission about the so-called “wall” between law enforcement and intelligence agencies that many have blamed for allowing the 2001 terrorist attacks to occur.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said yesterday that Ms. Gorelick’s policies regarding the wall contributed to “blinding America to this terrible threat.”
Also, he said, the newly released memos raised apparent conflicts with statements Ms. Gorelick has made recently defending herself and her role in the Clinton Justice Department.
“These documents show what we’ve said all along: Commissioner Gorelick has special knowledge of the facts and circumstances leading up to the erection and buttressing of ‘that wall’ that, before the enactment of the Patriot Act, was the primary obstacle to the sharing of communications between law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Mr. Cornyn said.
In a June 19, 1995, memo, Ms. White recommended a series of changes to a Gorelick policy that went beyond legal requirements in separating law- enforcement and intelligence agencies.
For instance, Ms. White said the local U.S. Attorney should be notified as soon as “criminal law enforcement concerns exist” while investigating terror suspects.
Deputy Director Michael Vatis rejected her recommendation.
“Notifying the [U.S. Attorney] as soon as law enforcement concerns exist — but before [the criminal division] thinks that the investigation should ‘go criminal’ — is simply too early,” wrote Mr. Vatis, who was concerned that Ms. White’s proposal could result in “prejudicing a possible criminal prosecution.”
In a handwritten note to Attorney General Janet Reno, Ms. Gorelick wrote, “I have reviewed and concur in the Vatis/Garland recommendations for the reasons set forth in the Vatis memo.”
The extent of Ms. Gorelick’s involvement, spelled out in these memos, in buttressing the law enforcement-intelligence wall also raises questions about statements she has made recently defending herself and distancing herself from the decisions about the wall.
Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier this month about whether she had written a memo helping establish the wall, she replied: “No, and again, I would refer you back to what others on the commission have said. The wall was a creature of statute. It’s existed since the mid 1980s. And while it’s too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid-‘90s, which I didn’t sign, wasn’t my policy by the way, it was the attorney general’s policy, was ratified by Attorney General Ashcroft’s deputy as well in August of 2001.”
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
- Crime-ridden U.S. cities differ on ways to fight gun violence
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq