- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

When Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared before the September Commission, he revealed that the much criticized wall, the Department of Justice policy limiting communication between law enforcement and intelligence agents, was put in place by Jamie Gorelick, while serving as deputy attorney general for President Clinton.

Ms. Gorelick immediately defended herself in The Washington Post, claiming pre-existence of the wall while distancing herself from its heightening. She downplayed it as a critical issue while The Post complicity accused Mr. Ashcroft of a “smear.”

But multiple sources show the wall was central to any failure to connect dots prior to September 11. Mr. Ashcroft revealed for the first time Ms. Gorelick’s central role and exposed to the other commissioners their colleague’s role in implementing this much-criticized policy.

Before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1995, then-deputy attorney general Ms. Gorelick testified about taking on the “special project” relationship between law enforcement and intelligence and spending several months on the effort, principally to prepare Justice to fight transnational crimes, such as terrorism. Out of her project came the wall.

Documents just released by Justice trace the building of the wall, starting with Ms. Gorelick instructions to Mary Jo White, then prosecuting the blind sheik for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Ramsey Yousef for terrorist activities, to separate counterintelligence and criminal investigations.

Ms. Gorelick’s direction to Ms. White created barriers “which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is being used to avoid procedural safeguards …” This was the very foundation of the wall.

Over Ms. White’s complaints, this became the new Justice Department policy. Documents show Ms. Gorelick directly reviewed Ms. White’s suggestions, some were changed, some rejected and some included. Ms. Gorelick then sent the policy with a hand-written note indicating her approval to the attorney general. The attorney general formalized Ms. Gorelick’s new policy in July 1995.

Problems immediately surfaced of intelligence and law enforcement coordination and its hampering of terrorism investigations.

Justice Department investigators looking into the Wen Ho Lee fiasco examined this issue in their final report. In it, the relationship between Justice’s criminal division and FBI intelligence is described as “dysfunction” and “broken.” The General Accounting Office reached the same conclusion in a report, finding the policy led to “significant decline in coordination between the FBI and Criminal Division.” Commission hearings have clearly established that the wall created extensive problems that remained until the Patriot Act tore it down.

Justice documents, and her testimony before the Intelligence Committee, prove Ms. Gorelick was directly involved in the building and guarding of the wall.

Incredibly, prior to Mr. Ashcroft’s disclosure, the commission was not aware of these material facts. Ms. Gorelick failed to disclose the documents and her work on this central issue. In fact, the Commission’s document request to the Justice Department only went back to 1998, after Ms. Gorelick left Justice. Just how active was Ms. Gorelick in shaping this document request and did she intentionally lead the commission away from finding out about her involvement?

Either way, how did Ms. Gorelick permit this inadequate document request to go forward? How did the commission remain in the dark about the Justice wall deliberations in 1995? Why hasn’t the commission called upon Mary Jo White, a leading terrorism investigator and prosecutor, especially since she has repeatedly complained about Justice policies hurting her investigation?

Ms. White stated “If I could single out one significant concern that I had about our counter terrorism efforts prior to September 11th (dating from at least 1995), it was that I feared we could be hampered in our efforts to detect and prevent terrorist attacks because of the barriers between the intelligence side and law enforcement side of our government.” Ms. Gorelick’s policy.

As a commissioner, Ms. Gorelick has consistently questioned why senior members of the Bush administration failed to have enough meetings and “shake the tree” for information. She has led the commission away from the fact that her own work led to the atmosphere, which created intelligence failures.

In response to Sen. Kit Bond’s call for Ms. Gorelick to testify, Commissioners Kean and Hamilton disclosed Ms. Gorelick has been privately interviewed by the commission — and not under oath, no doubt. The commission also said Justice witnesses were limited to those who worked at Justice within four years of September 11. Interestingly, that excludes Ms. Gorelick and her work on the wall.

As if her conflict of interest was not bad enough, Ms. Gorelick is now judge of fact and a witness in the same proceeding. Ms. Gorelick has recused herself from Justice matters while she was at Justice, but continues to attack the Bush administration’s Justice. Apparently, she has also recused herself from disclosing her involvement in a key topic of the inquiry.

Ms. Gorelick is hopelessly conflicted and may even have obstructed the commission from gathering critical facts regarding government policies contributing to September 11. Any commission report or recommendations will be totally flawed if the commission does not study the blueprints and construction of the wall, which documents show, took place in 1995 and reveal the fingerprints of Commissioner Jamie Gorelick.

David N. Bossie is the president of Citizens United and the former chief Investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. His new book is “Intelligence Failure: How Clinton’s National Security Policy Set the Stage for 9/11.”

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