Skip to comments.9/11, Info Sharing, and “The Wall”
Posted on 06/22/2009 5:00:40 PM PDT by RightOnTheLeftCoast
9/11, Info Sharing, and The Wall
The rise of the wall between intelligence and law enforcement personnel that impeded the sharing of information within the U.S. government prior to September 11, 2001 was critically examined in a detailed monograph (pdf) that was prepared in 2004 for the 9/11 Commission. It is the only one of four staff monographs that had not previously been released. It was finally declassified and disclosed earlier this month [http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/wall.pdf --searchable HTML transcript at http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:KyzY5fDka0AJ:www.fas.org/irp/eprint/wall.pdf+%22legal+barriers+to+information+sharing:+the+erection+of+a+wall+between+intelligence+and+law+enforcement+investigations%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us].
In April 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft testified (pdf) that the failure to properly share threat information in the summer of 2001 could be attributed to Justice Department policy memoranda that were issued in 1995 by the Clinton Administration. That is an erroneous oversimplification, the staff monograph contends: A review of the facts
demonstrates that the Attorney Generals testimony did not fairly and accurately reflect the meaning or relevance of those 1995 policy documents. For one thing, those policies did not even apply to CIA and NSA information, which could have been shared with law enforcement without any procedural obstacles.
But if Attorney General Ashcroft was misinformed, he was not alone. The 1995 procedures governing information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence were widely misunderstood and misapplied resulting in far less information sharing and coordination
than was allowed. In fact, everyone was confused about the rules governing the sharing and use of information gather in intelligence channels.
The information sharing failures in the summer of 2001 were not the result of legal barriers but of the failure of individuals to understand that the barriers did not apply to the facts at hand, the 35-page monograph concludes. Simply put, there was no legal reason why the information could not have been shared.
The prevailing confusion was exacerbated by numerous complicating circumstances, the monograph explains. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was growing impatient with the FBI because of repeated errors in applications for surveillance. Justice Department officials were uncomfortable requesting intelligence surveillance of persons and facilities related to Osama bin Laden since there was already a criminal investigation against bin Laden underway, which normally would have preempted FISA surveillance. Officials were reluctant to turn to the FISA Court of Review for clarification of their concerns since one of the judges on the court had expressed doubts about the constitutionality of FISA in the first place. And so on. Although not mentioned in the monograph, it probably didnt help that public interest critics in the 1990s (myself included) were accusing the FISA Court of serving as a rubber stamp and indiscriminately approving requests for intelligence surveillance.
In the end, the monograph implicitly suggests that if the law was not the problem, then changing the law may not be the solution. The document, which had been classified Secret, was released with some small though questionable redactions. See Legal Barriers to Information Sharing: The Erection of a Wall Between Intelligence and Law Enforcement Investigations, 9/11 Commission Staff Monograph by Barbara A. Grewe, Senior Counsel for Special Projects, August 20, 2004.
The blunt fact: The Wall was constructed at a time when the Clinton Administration was bartering influence and strategic decisions for campaign donations. Any analysis of The Wall (which we must not forget was a Jamie Gorelick production-- and Gorelick sat on the committee which commissioned this report) absolutely must be viewed against this backdrop. It had the effect of blinding law enforcement to this monumentally shortsighted political activity... and not incidentally to the preparations towards 9/11. To view this as beneath notice when so much other policy of the Administration had a similar blinding effect (for example, the firing of all but one US Attorney-- the exception being none other than Michael Chertoff) is beyond inept; it is misdirection of the highest order. Let's put it this way: how much credence should one assign an analysis of The Gorelick Wall which omits any mention of Sandy Berger? I looked. He's not mentioned at all, and he was imminently the freakin' National Security Advisor!
I'm outraged, not least that this report was finally declassified this month to zero attention by the press and pundits. Scandalous!!
Read the paragraph on Page 18 of the linked report. It says:
“In August 1999, in response to the OIG findings, Deputy Attorney General ERIC HOLDER established a working group to address intelligence sharing problems between agents and prosecutors. (62) No reforms were ever developed as a result of this group.”
Ft. 62. “”Creating Specific Working Groups, and Establishing Timetables, TO RESOLVE OUTSTANDING ISSUES RELATED TO INTELLIGENCE MATTERS.”
AND ‘NO REFORMS WERE EVER DEVELOPED AS A RESULT OF THIS GROUP.’
In, other words, Holder and his “working group” were failues. And now he is Attorney General of the U.S.
In the Obama kingdom, failures rise to the top thru the divine intervention of The One (The “O”). This is the same as “sh*t floats to the time if given enough time.”
And America is in danger because of it.
Nice catch. But, trust me, that is the least of Holder’s ineptitude and/or evildoings. He is one badass guy.
That's the most important reason for clouding the issue, so Gorelick and the Democrats never have to pay the bill for the dinner they ate. Their most important lesson from 9/11 is that those responsible for hindering US intelligence efforts never have to be held accountable for any action if they are a Democrat. Stopping future terrorist actions are of no importance to the Dems compared to that. Dems also need to be free to appear that they don't have their head up their rectums in future actions that make us all less safe and fail in the end.
Pure political BS.
Hats off to the Wall Street Journal for a spectacular observation, perhaps the Rosetta Stone of postmillennial national security.
Let its boiled-down essence not escape your attention: the ongoing dividends of Chinagate may well have included 9/11.
And history may be repeating itself. Let me explain.
To set the stage, recall that Bill Clinton ensured his loyal minions populated the US Attorneys' offices nationwide when he fired every last US Attorney at the dawn of his Administration, then appointed his own. Next, as we have seen through Jamie Gorelick's startling memo, he saw to it that domestic law enforcement was blinded to foreign intelligence information. He then methodically offered up White House access and key strategic technologies to the highest bidder: China, and Indonesian/Chinese billionaire donors with close ties to China's dictatorial regime. Intriguingly, Clinton's Department of Justice's signature assault on Microsoft also appears to have been to the benefit of Indonesian/Chinese billionaires, who just happened to be the originating funders of the private venture fund which was the largest shareholder in lead plaintiff Netscape at the time
With the declassification of former Deputy Attorney General Gorelick's memo, the picture comes into sharp focus: the Clinton Administration was not just:
Yes, the economy, Clinton's vaunted economy, with its skyrocketing stock-market and spectacular 5.6% 1996 unemployment rate (which of course puts George W. Bushs dismal 2004 5.6% unemployment rate to shame). This unstoppable economy screeched to an ignominious halt in the second half of 2000 as the tech sector imploded - a multi-trillion-dollar evaporation of shareholder wealth driven in significant part by the DOJ's pursuit of tech bellwether Microsoft, which put a measurable damper on enthusiasm for big-cap technology stocks and funding for new tech ventures alike.
Follow the money. The legacy of that Administration is not just one of incompetence and inattention culminating in an innocence-crushing September morning once it was safely out of office. It is one of malevolent, calculated wholesaling of loyalty for political gain, with Gorelick's Wall providing cover by blinding law enforcement efforts that might have made a difference.
Still, Chinagate was exposed, and in a sane world it would have hit the political world like one of the Chinese ICBMs it facilitated. But Clinton was untouchable - immunized! - after the Lewinsky obstruction-of-justice mess fizzled like the captivating but comparatively feeble bottle-rocket it was. Today the damage extends far beyond the smoldering pits of lower Manhattan and the Pentagon. The world now stands on the cusp of decades of global turmoil in the face of emboldened and metastasized radical Islamism, most recently including al Qaedas successful gambit towards reestablishing Moorish dispensation in Andalusia.
Is Chinagate old news? Water under the bridge? Something for the 9/11 Commission's Democrat partisans to pooh-pooh and ignore as they recklessly paint their anti-Bush pastiche?
Not if you continue to mourn the thousands dead on that grim September morning. And not if you consider what other reflexively anti-Defense politician currently angling for the Presidency has financial ties to some of the same scandalous campaign donors as Bill Clinton: John Kerry is today's victorious campaign-donation choice of Chinagate's Huang-linked George Chao-Chi Chu, described as having "unusual access to high-ranking Communist officials in China" . And that is old news, in a way: for in 1996 John Kerry received cash from Johnny Chung and Liu Chaoying, daughter of a powerful Chinese military official, for providing high-level access to Federal securities regulators. Kerry's cash came from transfers sent to Chung on orders from the chief of Chinese military intelligence.
"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana
“...has been a pet hobby-horse of mine for years. I’ve been paying attention and taking notes. And I’m here to tell you: Bullshit.”
3. DOUBLE DITTO!!!
"The Wall" is massively treasonous on it's face and utterly indefensible. It could only have one possible result - the massive disruption of intelligence specifically about, and during, direct threats to the country. Of all the Clinton atrocities, including even Chinagate, this is the one is where they finally stood up and rang the bell in broad daylight.