April 18, 2004

9/11 Update: 6 out of 10 9/11 Commissioners think it was avoidable, Norad and the Joint Chiefs, the Truth about "The Wall," White House cover-up and more...

Eleven more US soldiers (at least) have died in Iraq this weekend. The death toll for US soldiers has now risen to 700 (at least). For what?

MEANWHILE, the so-called "war on terrorism," both pre-9/11 and post-9/11, is not the strength of the incredible shrinking _resident's White House, it is the SHAME of the incredible shrinking _resident's White House. It is no surprise that the only former Clinton-Gore official on the 9/11 Commission, former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, was SLIMED by John Ashcroft (R-Misery) in an attempt to divert attention from his glaring pre-9/11 FAILURES and that subsequently she has been hit with a call for her resignation from a former Clinton Impeachment House Manager and deluged with death threats and hate mail, including a telephone bomb threat on her home. Why no surprise? Well, the evidence is compelling, and damning for the incredible shrinking _resident. It includes the testimony of former National Security counterterrorism official Richard Clark (R-Reality), former Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard as well as thousands of pages of Clinton-Gore documents and the work of the Hart-Rudman Commission. The overhwhelming preponderance of evidence underscores the simple fact that Clinton-Gore took the threat more seriously and did more about it than the incredible shrinking _resident and his "team." The Clinton-Gore "principles meeting" on Al Qaeda that were discontinued by the incredible shrinking _resident's "team" were evidence of the Clinton-Gore commitment to immediate, stop-gap measures to overcome the systemic disconnect between intelligence and law enforcement, the Hart-Rudman commission recommendations for Homeland Security were evidence of the Clinton-Gore commitment to coming up with a long-term solution to the systemic disconnect. The "principles meetings" were discontinued by the Bush "team," the Hart-Rudman report was dismissed by the Bush "team" and in her 9/11 Commission, Rice shamelessly cravenly belittled and besmirched the success of the Clinton-Gore effort to thwart the "Millenium" attack(s)...

Here are some important perspectives and new developments on the 9/11 Commission investigation...

Pre-9/11 Files Show Warnings Were More Dire and Persistent, By DAVID JOHNSTON and JIM DWYER, New York Times, 4/18/04: The new information produced by the commission so far has led 6 of its 10 members to say or suggest that the attacks could have been prevented, though there is no consensus on when, how or by whom. The commission's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a Republican, has described failures at every level of government, any of which, if avoided, could have altered the outcome. Mr. Kerrey, a Democrat, said, "My conclusion is that it could have been prevented. That was not my conclusion when I went on the commission."

Terrifying reading, St Petersburg Times Editorial, 4/18/04: The commission's work inevitably represents a threat to much of Washington's power structure, so it is not surprising that some powerful forces would attempt to discredit the commission's work. The Bush administration, which fought the creation of a commission for more than a year, has since tried to limit its funds, block its access to documents, force an early deadline on its work and limit testimony from White House officials. (President Bush's insistence on having Vice President Dick Cheney accompany him during his only private interview with the commission is perhaps the most bizarre of the administration's restrictions.)

Letter from Project On Government Oversight (POGO) to Hon. Thomas K. Kean, Chairman, Hon. Lee H. Hamilton, Vice-chairman, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 4/14/04: Yesterday the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) made public the attached internal email from staff assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). It details the U.S. military's refusal to heed concerns that terrorists might try to strike domestic targets with hijacked airliners. In April 2001, five months before the devastating attacks on New York and Washington, NORAD officials wanted to develop a strategy and simulation to respond to a scenario wherein terrorists commandeer a commercial aircraft and fly it into the Pentagon. As the email reveals, aides to the Joint Chiefs of Staff refused to authorize this type of exercise because these senior military officials deemed such an attack as "too unrealistic."

In light of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the Commission and press reports saying the United States intelligence pipeline offered no insight into how or with what terrorists might strike domestically, we urge the Commission to investigate this matter and ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff why it prohibited NORAD from preparing for what we now know was a very likely, and very deadly terrorist strike.
(http://www.pogo.org/p/homeland/hl-040402-homelandsecurity.html)

As the LNS has observed, the 9/11 Commission's genteel treatment of Ashcroft and Rice, it's failure to explore in public the stories of John O'Neil, Sibel Edmonds and others, its cursory and inadequate treatments of the secret, post-9/11 Saudi flights out of the US and Ashcroft's switch from commercial flights in the summer of 2001, are deeply disturbing. But there is still hope that the 9/11 Commission is holding its fire and will lower the boom on Rice and Ashcroft in particular, in its final report.

Here is Jamie Gorelick's dignified, substantive response, with five devasting counterpoints to Ashcroft's desperate attack...

Jamie Gorelick, Washington Post: 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.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies, Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20786-2004Apr17.html

The Truth About 'the Wall'

By Jamie S. Gorelick
Sunday, April 18, 2004; Page B07

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.

Second, according to the FISA Court of Review, it was the justice departments under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in the 1980s that began to read the statute as limiting the department's ability to obtain FISA orders if it intended to bring a criminal prosecution. The practice of prohibiting prosecutors from directing intelligence investigations was first put in place in those years as well. Then, in July 1995, Attorney General Janet Reno issued written guidelines that spelled out the steps FBI intelligence agents and criminal investigators and prosecutors needed to follow when sharing information. The point was to preserve the ability of prosecutors to use information collected by intelligence agents.

Third, Mr. Ashcroft's own deputy attorney general, Larry Thompson, formally reaffirmed the 1995 guidelines in an Aug. 6, 2001, memo addressed to the FBI and the Justice Department. Ashcroft has charged that the guidelines hampered the department's ability to pursue terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in August 2001, but his own department had endorsed those guidelines at the pivotal time.

Fourth, the memo I wrote in March 1995 -- which concerns information-sharing in two particular cases, including the original World Trade Center bombing -- permits freer coordination between intelligence and criminal investigators than was subsequently permitted by the 1995 guidelines or the 2001 Thompson memo. The purpose of my memo was to resolve a problem presented to me: facilitating investigations on both the intelligence side and criminal side at the same time. My memo directed agents on both sides to share information -- and, in particular, directed one agent to work on both the criminal and intelligence investigations -- to ensure the flow of information "over the wall." We set up special procedures because of the extraordinary circumstances and the necessity to prevent a court from throwing out any conviction in those cases. Had my memo been in place in August 2001 -- when, as Ashcroft said, FBI officials rejected a criminal warrant of Moussaoui because they feared "breaching the wall" -- it would have allowed those agents to obtain a criminal warrant without fear of jeopardizing an intelligence investigation.

Fifth, nothing in the 1995 guidelines prevented the sharing of information between criminal and intelligence investigators. Indeed, the guidelines require that FBI foreign intelligence agents share information with criminal investigators and prosecutors whenever they uncover facts suggesting that a crime has been or may be committed. The guidelines did set forth procedures, but those procedures implemented court decisions and, as noted, were reaffirmed by the Ashcroft Justice Department.

The Patriot Act, enacted after 9/11, together with an unprecedented appeal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, paved the way for the Justice Department to permit largely unrestricted information-sharing between intelligence and criminal investigators because the law changed the legal standard that had given rise to the guidelines in the first place. The Patriot Act says that electronic surveillance can be conducted in the United States against foreign threats as long as a "significant purpose" -- rather than the "primary purpose" -- is to obtain foreign intelligence.

This history has all been well-rehearsed in publicly available briefs, opinions and reports, all available to the 9/11 commission. I have -- consistent with the policy applied to all commissioners -- recused myself from any consideration of my actions or of the department while I was there. My fellow commissioners have spoken for themselves in rejecting the call by a few partisans that I step aside based upon false premises. I have worked hard to help the American public understand what happened on Sept. 11. I intend -- with my brethren on the commission -- to finish the job.

The writer is a member of the 9/11 commission and was deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration from March 1994 through March 1997.


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Posted by richard at April 18, 2004 01:32 PM