Friday, August 12, 2005

9/11 Cover Up?

When the 9/11 Commission convened last year, I had the sense that the Democrats on board - particularly Richard Ben-Veniste and Jaime Gorelick - had the dual mission of protecting the Clinton administration and damning Bush's for errors that led to the attack. With the presidential election looming in the fall, it was a golden opportunity for the Democrats to wound Bush in his strength - national security. The "Jersey Girls" lead the charge:

So afraid is the Bush administration of what could be revealed by inquiries into its failures to protect Americans from terrorist attack, it is unabashedly using Kremlin tactics to muzzle members of Congress and thwart the current federal commission investigating the failures of Sept. 11. But there is at least one force that the administration cannot scare off or shut up. They call themselves "Just Four Moms from New Jersey," or simply "the girls."

You would think that if the commission were truly nonpartisan, they would leave no stone unturned in their investigation.

Ooops! Deborah Orin* of the NY Post:

It's starting to look as if the 9/11 Commission turned a blind eye to key questions that could embarrass one of its own members — Clinton-era Justice Department honcho Jamie Gorelick.

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.

I wonder what the Jersey Girls have to say about that! But wait, there's more:

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 — herself a Clinton appointee — wrote directly to Reno that the wall was a big mistake.

"It 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," White wrote on June 13, 1995.

"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."

That memo surfaced during the 9/11 hearings. But 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.

Emphasis mine.

This is an example of what happens when a fact-finding commission gets hijacked by political hacks. That Gorelick never had to take the witness stand and explain the reason for her "wall" decree in spite of warrnings that contraindicate it makes you scratch your head.

Not scratching their heads are some Republcan lawmakers:

The latest revelations show that skeptics like Sens. Jon Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) were right to demand that Gorelick testify publicly about the wall — a demand that the 9/11 Commission flatly rejected last year.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) — who revealed how the Able Danger military spies tried to sound the alarm — yesterday accused the commission of ignoring inconvenient facts.

"The commission's refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners," he wrote.

Or, as a frustrated Cornyn said in 2004: "[Gorelick] is a person with knowledge of relevant facts. Either the commission wants the whole truth or it does not."

It's about time that the 9/11 Commission faced that question.


PS - There's a troll-fest going on about this topic on PoliPundit. As usual, the trolls are dancing around the issue of the post.

Update: The story is being covered like a blanket by Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed. Also, for an excellent summary, take a look at Jim Geraghty at TKS.

*[Note: Registration required for access to this article, or use BugMeNot.]

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