Friday, April 16, 2004

But wait, there's more . . .

. . . on Jamie Gorelick's involvement in screwing up US counterterrorism policy. Check out this piece, which notes that she was the Pentagon's top legal adviser in 1993 and 1994, and the Pentagon's lawyers nixed special ops attacks against bin Laden. Did she have involvement in that policy? Seems somewhat unlikely because bin Laden became a known entity to policymakers after 1994, but her role in Pentagon counterterrorism policymaking is an issue for the Commission.

Prof. Jonathan Turley noted that "It's hard to see how she can review systemic failures in intelligence, when she held a high-ranking position in the prior administration and played a role in intelligence matters[.] Not only is there a strong suggestion of conflict [of interest], there is an overwhelming appearance of conflict."

And from the left came these two arguments on Fox News yesterday, one by Alan Colmes and the other by a former Deputy White House Counsel under Clinton.

Colmes claimed that Gorelick's conflict is akin to Justice Scalia's alleged conflict in hearing the VP Cheney-Sierra Club appeal regarding the "secrecy" of the Energy Task Force that Cheney presided over. See here for Scalia's opinion and note that one of the two groups challenging the Cheney Task Force did not move to recuse Scalia and also that one of Scalia's good friends is a Sierra Club higher-up.

But the Cheney-Scalia (and numerous others) duck-hunt to Louisiana is entirely different because: (1) the Cheney case only involved an appearance of impropriety, not direct involvement of the judge with the underlying events -- that is, Scalia did not help make the policies of the Energy Task Force and thereafter be in a position to evaluate them as a judge, but Gorelick authored the policy at issue that established the wall between counterintel and crime-solving FBI agents; (2) the Cheney case turned on an indirect connection to the case -- Cheney was not sued as Richard Cheney but was sued in his capacity as Vice-President of the US and chairman of the Task Force. This is just like every ACLU v. Reno case during the Clinton years -- Ms. Reno was not sued as Janet Reno but as Janet Reno, Attorney General of the US, thus any personal connection between a justice and Ms. Reno was irrelevant. Ms. Gorelick's connection is not insulated because she personally authored the new policy and is not a potential witness solely as Deputy AG.

The ex-Clinton flack claimed that the Gorelick policy was no different than the one followed in the 1980s and Bush-41 administration and that Ashcroft continued the policy. As Andrew McCarthy shows here, the Gorelick policy by its own terms increased the separation between counterintel and criminal investigation agents. Plus, McCarthy also shows here that the Reagan Justice Department was bound by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's "primary purpose" test that Ashcroft successfully appealed and had overturned by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (see here for the opinion). And, as I've said before, the false equivalent of 8 years of Clinton ambivalence and less than 8 months of Bush continuing certain Clinton policies cannot absolve Clinton of doing nothing but encouraging the situation that led to 9-11-01.

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