Jamie Gorelick – the former deputy attorney general under President Clinton and current 9-11 Commission member under fire for alleged conflict of interest – is rejecting calls that she step down from her position and become a witness.
“I’m not going to resign from the commission,” Gorelick said on CNN tonight. “It’s a bogus factual issue. When you ask hard questions of people who are in office and who have been in office, they take offense.”
Her comments were in reaction to a call by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who suggested she step down after revealing “her actions in establishing the heightened ‘wall’ prohibiting the sharing of intelligence information and criminal information” at the Justice Department.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
“I believe the commission’s work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a commissioner,” Sensenbrenner said.
But the congressman didn’t think the former second-in-command at Justice should be totally discarded from participation.
“Given Ms. Gorelick’s work as the deputy attorney general under Janet Reno, Ms. Gorelick can be quite valuable to the commission’s work preparing ‘a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.’ However, that contribution should come as a witness before the commission – not as a member.”
“All of the commission members have some government experience,” Gorelick responded. “Everyone is subject to the same recusal policies. You could have had a commission with nobody who knew anything about government. And I don’t think it would have been a very helpful commission.”
When asked specifically by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if she wrote the “memorandum in ’95 that helped establish the so-called walls between the FBI and CIA,” Gorelick distanced herself from the matter:
“No, and again, I would refer you back to what others on the commission have said. The wall was a creature of statute. It’s existed since the mid 1980s. And while it’s too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid-nineties, which I didn’t sign, wasn’t my policy by the way, it was the attorney general’s policy, was ratified by Attorney General Ashcroft’s deputy as well in August of 2001. So we are just going to move on from this. This is not a basis for resignation.”
Attoney General John Ashcroft
As WorldNetDaily reported, Attorney General John Ashcroft told investigators the document by Gorelick [pdf file] helped establish the “single greatest structural cause” for Sept. 11, which was “the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents.”
“Government erected this wall,” Ashcroft said. “Government buttressed this wall. And before September 11, government was blinded by this wall.”
Gorelick became the subject of radio talk shows across America today, blasted by, among others, conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, who said Gorelick was intentionally covering up critical information to protect her administration.
“She concealed the existence of her own memo issued in 1995,” Limbaugh said. “She concealed her own memo from this fact-finding commission. She concealed her own memo to protect herself and Bill Clinton, pure and simple. …
“You just stop and consider the thinking that even creates this wall; that information gathered by intelligence agencies is not usable when pursuing terrorists, for the technicality that the administration chose to pursue terrorists in the legal system? I mean, folks, it’s hard to conclude any other thing except they didn’t want the problem of capturing these people. They didn’t want the hassle of dealing with this.”
Within ten days after the Sept. 11 attack, Gorelick herself was critical of the Clinton administration’s lack of persistence in the pursuit of terrorists and concluded there were intelligence breakdowns that led to the onslaught of violence in New York.
”Clearly, not enough was done,” Gorelick said at the time. ”We should have caught this. Why this happened, I don’t know. Responsibilities were given out. Resources were given. Authorities existed. We should have prevented this.”