Aug 12 2005

Able Danger, Gorelick Update VI

Published by at 8:00 am under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions

This story seems to continue at warp speed and heading straight at Berger/Clarke/Gorelick. First, a reminder that all my posts on this subject can be found here (sorry, some are quite long)

Today’s item concerns a reminder by Debrah Orrin at the NY Post that the Gorelick ‘wall’ memo did not go over well with one US Attorney Mary Jo White – a top notch prosecutor in NY.

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.

For most who followed the hearings this should recall the time when cries went out for Gorelick to step down from the commission and step up to the witness stand. But there is more, something at least I did not recall ever hearing:

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.

I mentioned a few updates back that any revelation that other memos were sent to the FBI, or other law enforcement agencies, to desist on the information obtained by Able Danger would clearly indicate that the decision to not pursue Atta and Co. was made at the upper levels of Clinton’s national security infrastructure. As this post shows, it was Berger and Clarke who coordinated all aspects of the war on terror, especially here at home. If White has another memo, one alluding to opportunities lost, then the focus needs to shift from the 9-11 commission’s abysmal failures and to what happened in the summer/fall of 2000 to allow Atta and his co-ringer leaders/pilots to fade away into our society to kill 3000 people.

Debrah ends with this statement

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.

Actually, I could care less about the commission, it is closed up and a proven waste of time. We as a country need Congress to face that question.

Ed Morrissey posted on this article today as well. He reminds us that White was one of the first to take on the terrorists in her legal capacity

White had firsthand knowledge about the critical value of open sharing between law enforcement and intelligence. After all, she provided the first American counterattack against al-Qaeda — in the law-enforcement model espoused by Democrats to this day. She successfully prosecuted Ramzi Yousef and several others involved in the first WTC bombing in 1993, a prosecution available only through the bumbling of the AQ cell survivors who stupidly tried to recover their security deposit on the rental truck used as the car bomb.

Note that prosecutors have more information than they present in court. They have more suspects at times too. They only present what is solid and will convict. This is why law enforcement, after the fact, is limited in its ability to prevent attacks. So US Attorney White knew better than most what we were up against at that time. Better than Gorelick for sure. More from the good Captain:

White knew that prevention should take place over prosecution if the US intended on keeping its citizens safe. She wrote her first memo objecting to the political decision to create an almost-insurmountable barrier that far exceeded the requirements of FISA as interpreted by earlier administrations

What was in the second White memo and why did the commission sit on that information as well? Are we seeing a clear act of cherry picking data to turn the commission results to a predetermined conclusion?

UPDATE: Always wanting to provide something new to the readers here are some new items from the 9-11 commission transcripts of interest in this sub ject:

The role of the FBI. The FBI played the lead role in the government’s domestic counterterrorism strategy before September 11. In the 1990s most of the FBI’s energy was devoted to after-the-fact investigations of major terrorist attacks in order to develop criminal cases. Investigating these attacks always required an enormous amount of resources. As most of these attacks occurred overseas, many of the FBI’s top terrorism investigators were deployed abroad for long periods of time.

New York was the office of origin for the al Qaeda program, and consequently where most of the FBI’s institutional knowledge on al Qaeda resided. Working closely with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the Justice Department and the U.S. intelligence community, the FBI’s New York field office was often successful in these investigations. Many of the perpetrators of these plots were identified, arrested, prosecuted and convicted. These were episodes such as the World Trade Center bombing, the Landmarks plot, the Manila airlines plot, the Khobar Towers bombing, the East Africa embassy bombings, the Millennium plot and the U.S.S. Cole bombing.

Mary Jo White was at the center of all this, and was probably one of the top experts in the country at the time. Her resistence to the Gorelick “Wall” is telling. You can find the Gorelick and White memos here.


Jim Geraghty at TKS has a great round up of sites following this subject (including yours truly – hat tip to Jim) here, with a good summation of what we know, don’t know and what is possible.

Want a look at the guardians of our country in 2000 – go here.

Wonder if I can borrow the pic???

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Able Danger, Gorelick Update VI”

  1. How strange, there’s nothing in the NYTimes headline email about this story. Gee, AJ, it must not be such a big deal.

  2. Jeff says:

    Great reporting and excellent analysis, AJ! I hope this will turn out to be Rathergate II–no scratch that. It needs to be more than Rathergate; we need some hard Congressional investigations and some hard verdicts delivered.

  3. You’re much nicer about them than I.

  4. […] Debrah Orin at the NYPost goes back to ‘the wall’ and the White memo and its implications in light of Able Danger (which I discussed here). Ed Morrissey claims this is the mysterious second White Memo, which also would be interesting news. […]