Jamie Gorelick's Wall

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The disclosure that Jamie Gorelick, a member of the September 11 commission, was personally responsible for instituting a key obstacle to cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence operations before the terrorist attacks raises disturbing questions about the integrity of the commission itself. Ms. Gorelick should not be cross-examining witnesses; instead, she should be required to testify about her own behavior under oath. Specifically, commission members need to ask her about a 1995 directive she wrote that made it more difficult for the FBI to locate two of the September 11 hijackers who had already entered the country by the summer of 2001.

On Tuesday, Attorney General John Ashcroft declassified a four-page directive sent by Ms. Gorelick (the No. 2 official in the Clinton Justice Department) on March 4, 1995, to FBI Director Louis Freeh and Mary Jo White, the New York-based U.S. attorney investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In the memo, Ms. Gorelick ordered Mr. Freeh and Ms. White to follow information-sharing procedures that "go beyond what is legally required," in order to avoid "any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance" that the Justice Department was using Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, instead of ordinary criminal investigative procedures, in an effort to undermine the civil liberties of terrorism suspects.

At issue was the oft-noted wall of separation that prevented counterterrorism agents and federal prosecutors from communicating with one another prior to September 11. Information collected under special FISA warrants, which do not require a probable cause, was generally not to be shared with personnel responsible for enforcing federal criminal laws - where probable cause must be demonstrated for a warrant to be issued. …