Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mary Jo White's prophetic prediction

On Friday I noted Deborah Orin's piece on the WALL between criminal investigations and terrorism investigations that Jamie Gorelick, former Justice Department Assistant AG and later a member of the 9-11 Commission, designed and which impeded investigation of terrorist activity in the US. In her article, Orin noted two memos from Mary Jo White, US Attorney for the Southern District of NY whose team (including Andy McCarthy) successfully prosecuted Ramzi Yousef (1993 WTC bomber) and the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. One memo, later declassified, from White stated a polite but firm dissent from the wisdom of the WALL. The other, which has NOT been declassified, was more frank.

Orin obtained a copy of White's other memorandum that only the 9-11 Commission has seen. Today, Orin follows up on her previous piece with a description of the memo:

Looking back after 9/11, the memo makes for eerie reading — because White's team foresaw, years in advance, that the Clinton-era wall would make it tougher to stop mass murder.

"This is not an area where it is safe or prudent to build unnecessary walls or to compartmentalize our knowledge of any possible players, plans or activities," wrote White, herself a Clinton appointee.

"The single biggest mistake we can make in attempting to combat terrorism is to insulate the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house, unless such insulation is absolutely necessary. Excessive conservatism . . . can have deadly results.

"We must face the reality that the way we are proceeding now is inherently and in actuality very dangerous."

Worse yet, White's prosecution team wrote a detailed six-page analysis of why the WALL would thwart investigations. Who was the memo's addressee? Jamie Gorelick.

More from Orin:

. . . The 9/11 Commission, charged with tracing the failure to stop 9/11, got White's stunning memo and several related documents — and deep-sixed all of them.

The commission's report skips lightly over the wall in three brief pages (out of 567). It makes no mention at all of White's passionate and prescient warnings. Yet warnings that went ignored are just what the commission was supposed to examine.

So it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the commission ignored White's memo because it was a potential embarrassment to the woman to whom it was addressed: commission member Jamie Gorelick. . .

* * *
"What troubles me even more than the known problems we have encountered are the undoubtedly countless instances of unshared and unacted-upon information that reside in some file or other or in some head or other or in some unreviewed or not fully understood tape or other," White wrote. "These can be disasters waiting to happen."

Indeed they were. And for more than five years after receiving her memo, the Clinton Administration did nothing.

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