Gorelick Documents Show Clear need For Her Testimony, Contradict Earlier Characterizations Of Her Involvement

In: All News   Posted 04/28/2004

WASHINGTON – In response to a written request from U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Department of Justice released documents Wednesday which substantially discredit the former Deputy Attorney General—and current 9/11 Commission member—Jamie Gorelick's claims of limited involvement in the promulgation of "the wall" separating counterintelligence and law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the documents show that she was substantially involved in the development of the information sharing policy, and contradicts statements that the department's policies under the Clinton-Reno administration enhanced, rather than restricted, such vital information sharing. "These documents show what I've said all along: Commissioner Gorelick has special knowledge of the facts and circumstances leading up to the erection and buttressing of 'that wall' that, before the enactment of the Patriot Act, was the primary obstacle to the sharing of communications between law enforcement and intelligence agencies," Cornyn said. "This is a person with knowledge of relevant facts. Either the Commission wants the whole truth, or it does not. If it does, she should appear in public testimony so that the families of the victims, the American people and the Congress can have a full and complete picture of what led to the failures of 9/11." Cornyn continued, "Let me be clear, no one is assigning blame other than where it belongs—with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. But a request for public testimony by Ms. Gorelick, in letters signed by a number of Senators, has now been refused by Chairman Kean and Vice Chairman Hamilton. Simply put, this is a self-inflicted wound on the credibility of the 9/11 Commission. It is my sincere hope, in light of this new information, that they will reconsider their decision and let the nation have the benefit of knowledge and understanding of how 'the wall' was created and strengthened under her watch." the documents are posted on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/testimony/supplementarymaterial.pdfKey excerpts and findings follow Gorelick's involvement Documents amply establish that information sharing policy was developed in the Deputy Attorney General's office under Gorelick's leadership and direction. In a handwritten note, Gorelick specifically and personally endorsed recommendations made by her office, and advised Attorney General Reno to ratify them. Michael Vatis, Deputy Director of the Executive Office for National Security (which is contained within the Deputy Attorney General's Office itself), recommended various procedures for restricting the sharing of information between law enforcement and intelligence officials. Those recommendations were in turn approved by Merrick Garland, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (the second in command in the Deputy Attorney General's Office), and Jamie Gorelick.Gorelick policy restricted information sharing Documents show that Mary Jo White, the then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, sought changes in the draft procedures being developed by the Deputy Attorney General's office. White sought to reduce the wall by making it easier to share information with local law enforcement officials in the U.S. Attorney's offices around the country. In White's words, "[i]t is hard to be totally comfortable with instructions to the FBI prohibiting contact with the United States Attorney's Offices when such prohibitions are not legally required. . . . Our experience has been that . . . the most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible so that wherever permissible, the right and left hands are communicating." White's recommendations were rejected by Vatis, and Gorelick sided with Vatis. For example, Vatis writes (and Gorelick agrees): "Mary Jo suggests that once [the Criminal Division] decides that 'criminal law enforcement concerns exist' in a [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] investigation, the pertinent [U.S. Attorney's Office] should be notified. I recommend rejecting this change." Gorelick signed and forwarded the Vatis memo to Attorney General Reno. In addition, Gorelick submitted a handwritten note to Attorney General Reno, stating that "I have reviewed and concur in the Vatis/Garland recommendations for the reasons set forth in the Vatis memo." Sen. Cornyn chairs the subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights & Property Rights, and is the only former judge on the committee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.