An article in Reader's Digest, "Codes, Clues, Confessions" (March 2002; by Kenneth R. Timmerman), provides some valuable insight. It states, in part:
French counter-terrorism magistrate, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, first began tracking Ahmed Ressam [the captured millenium bomber] back in 1996. As a Magistrate, he was allowed to use prosecutorial evidence, as well as share intelligence gathered by French intelligence agencies in his investigations and prosecutions. Between 1996 and 1999 he had gathered enough evidence to know that Ressam was part of al-Qaeda, what he called the "spider web." And that Ressam and al-Qaeda had made the U.S. a target, and that Ressam had moved from Europe to Canada at some point in 1999 to prepare his attack. Bruguiere shared this information with both Canadian and U.S. intelligence some time prior to 1999.
By March 1999, Bruguière had gathered enough information from terrorist cells he had broken up in France, Jordan, and Australia, to send a thick file to Canadian authorities, asking that they arrest Ressam and hold him for interrogation, but Ressam had already gone underground. 'On December 14, 1999 the news came of Ressam's arrest [near Seattle]. As you know, it was completely by chance. Just plain luck!'
U.S. Customs officer Diana Dean told the Digest she found the olive-skinned Canadian who identified himself as "Benni Norris" unusually nervous. The ferry from Vancouver had just chugged up to its slip at Port Angeles, Washington on the afternoon of December 14, 1999, and Norris lowered the window of his Chrysler 300. Despite the chilly air, he was sweating, Dean noticed. When she asked him to open his trunk, he bolted. After a brief chase, "Norris"/Ressam was arrested. In the trunk, they found 130 pounds of plastic explosives, two 22 ounce plastic bottles full of nitro glycol, and a map of LAX.
When the Department of Justice began interviewing "Norris"/Ressam, they didn't have a clue who he was. But Judge Bruguière did. He called the Department of Justice, and offered prosecutors his file on Ressam and his ties to al Qaeda. At the time, Bruguiere said, DOJ had no idea what a big catch they had, nor did DOJ have access to any intelligence about Ressam's ties to al-Qaeda. Ultimately, because of "The Wall" Bruguiere had to testify for seven hours in Seattle to lay out the al Qaeda connection to help U.S. prosecutors make their case against Ressam.
In other words, the "wall of separation" constructed by Jamie Gorelick made it virtually impossible for U.S. authorities to stop Ahmed Rassam, the "Millenium Bomber," by design or intention. It was left to blind luck. The NSC's Millennium After Action Review — which, based on Attorney General Ashcroft's testimony, must be devastating in its analysis of not only this event but of the Gorelick policy — remains classified. And, most significantly, it's likely the Review's criticisms and warnings were either ignored or rejected by the Clinton Justice Department.
No. We cannot afford another Democrat in the White House.