Friday, August 12, 2005

The farcical legacy of the 9-11 Commission

For the infamous, political and ultimately useless 9-11 Commission, the Democrats chose to put Jamie Gorelick on the panel (which was staffed equally by Republican selectees and Democrat picks). Gorelick is the builder of THE WALL that prohibited the CIA from sharing its intelligence with the FBI -- a fool's policy that prevented the CIA from helping the FBI's counterespionage investigations in the US and prevented "criminal enforcement" investigators from speaking to FBI agents involved in counter-intelligence.

But this week, the 9-11 Commission is in the news yet again for burying information that would have been harmful to Gorelick, as this summary from Deborah Orin shows:

This week brought the stunning revelation that elite military spies pinpointed Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a terror cell more than a year before 9/11 — but were barred from alerting lawmen to try to lock them up.

A prime reason why that warning never came is that Gorelick — as top deputy to then-Attorney General Janet Reno — issued a 1995 order creating a "wall" that blocked intelligence on terrorists from being shared with law enforcement.

Commission staffers at first denied knowing about the elite military unit known as Able Danger, but later admitted they were briefed — twice — and Atta was specifically named. Still, it was conveniently left out of the 9/11 report.

It gets worse. Gorelick's defenders might argue that hindsight is 20-20. But that excuse doesn't work in this case, because she was warned way back then — when the see-no-evil wall was created.

That warning came right from the front line in the War on Terror — from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who headed up key terror probes like the prosecutions for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

White wrote a temperate memo to Gorelick and Janet Reno protesting the WALL that came to light during the 9-11 Commission hearings. But that's not the only warning White gave, as Orin reports:

The Post has learned that White was so upset that she bitterly protested with another memo — a scathing one — after Reno and Gorelick refused to tear down the wall. With eerie foresight, White warned that the Reno-Gorelick wall hindered law enforcement and could cost lives, according to sources familiar with the memo — which is still secret.

The 9/11 Commission got that White memo, The Post was told — but omitted any mention of it from its much-publicized report. Nor does the report include the transcript of its staff interview with White.

So now we know that (1) the 9-11 Commission covered up the fact that military intelligence had tagged Atta and friends as al-Qaeda terrorists operating in the US in 2000, but the military intel agents could not inform the FBI thanks to the WALL; and (2) White blasted the WALL in a memo to Reno and Gorelick more than half a decade before 9-11 because of the likelihood that it could have the same effects it DID have: hindering law enforcement efforts in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism.

The 9-11 Commission ultimately laid blame at the CIA's feet and claimed an overall intelligence failure enabled the 9-11 terrorists to succeed. But the Able Danger crew knew about Atta, had reached an accurate conclusion about his activities, and therefore had SUCCEEDED in sniffing out at least a significant part of the threat to the US. But they couldn't do anything about it, thanks to the WALL. Now who really failed? Seems like Gorelick and Reno, first and foremost.

The Captain has been on this story for awhile and has set up a compendium of his posts. Unquestionably worth a look and a run-through.

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