Politico Absolves Gorelick for Instituting the Wall
In something of a puff piece, Politico’s Annie Karni largely exonerates Democratic attorney Jamie Gorelick of the seemingly unpardonable sin of representing Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner as they work their way through federal conflict of interest laws. Karni thinks she gets it, “Gorelick sees herself as part of a time-honored Washington tradition of well-respected lawyers representing clients from the opposite party,”
“I don’t pass my clients through a 100 percent values alignment litmus test,” confirms Gorelick. “If people want to come to me and get good, principled, ethical advice, and they want to follow it, then I will take them on as a client.”
The first twenty paragraphs in the Politico piece deal with the “vitriol” from Democrats who are shocked at Gorelick for consorting with the Trumps. Only in the twenty-first paragraph does the reader learn that Gorelick has “long been a bête noir of the right.”
Writes Karni dismissively, “Rush Limbaugh for years has falsely blamed her for instituting a ‘wall’ between law enforcement and intelligence agencies when she served in the Justice Department, making it easier for the lead 9/11 hijacker to enter the country.”
Falsely? The “wall” is just one of many grievous offenses against the Republic for which Gorelick stands accused -- including, as even Karni admits, a $26 million payday from Fannie Mae -- but there is nothing false about her involvement with it.
On Wednesday, March 24, 2004, CIA Director George Tenet and former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger testified before the 9/11 Commission. Evaluating their testimony was Jamie Gorelick, one of only ten commissioners. Berger had already been apprehended stealing and destroying documents that the commission was expected to review. The commission members, at least the Republicans, did not know this. Gorelick surely must have.
It was Tenet, a Clinton appointee held over by Bush, who first introduced the “wall” to the public. “But you also had systemically a wall that was in place between the criminal side and the intelligence side,” Tenet testified. “What’s in a criminal case doesn’t cross over that line. Ironclad regulations, so that even people in the criminal division and the intelligence divisions of the FBI couldn’t talk to each other, let alone talk to us or us talk to them.”
In her response to Tenet, Gorelick acknowledged the wall and claimed to have used “brute force” in her attempt to penetrate it, but she took no responsibility for its creation. The task of assigning credit was left to Attorney General John Ashcroft. In fact, he was the first witness to call attention to the inherent conflict in Gorelick’s double agency.
“The single greatest structural cause for Sept. 11 was the wall,” Ashcroft testified before the commission on April 13, 2004. He was referring here to the same memo that Tenet had, one issued in 1995, which provided instructions on the “separation of certain foreign counterintelligence and criminal investigations.” These instructions, as Tenet noted, disallowed FBI agents from communicating with intelligence gatherers at the CIA and elsewhere.
“Full disclosure,” Ashcroft continued, “compels me to inform you that its author is a member of the commission.” That author, of course, was Gorelick. “We predicted Democrats would use the 9/11 Commission for partisan purposes, and that much of the press would oblige,” thundered a Wall Street Journal editorial. “But color us astonished that barely anyone appreciates the significance of the bombshell Attorney General John Ashcroft dropped on the hearings Tuesday.”
For all their passion, the Journal editors themselves failed to see the significance of the Ashcroft revelation. The Clintons and their allies had handed Gorelick, an inexperienced functionary, a $5 million a year job as vice-chairman of Fannie Mae. She then gave that job up to join the 9/11 Commission despite a work history that, when exposed, would embarrass the Democrats.
If any one person was in a position to know how badly this all stunk it was FBI agent Steve Bongardt. He did not testify before the 9/11 Commission, but he knew something about the wall. In the summer of 2001, Bongardt became aware that known terrorist Khaled al-Mihdhar was in the United States. Citing the “wall” that allegedly prevented intelligence gatherers from cooperating with criminal investigators, FBI headquarters informed Bongardt that none of its many agents on the criminal side could pursue Mihdhar. Instead, that task was left to one lone FBI intelligence operative who was himself new to the job.
According to Lawrence Wright, who covered this story for the New Yorker, Bongardt called the wall a “bureaucratic fiction.” That it was. “Someday somebody will die -- and, Wall or not, the public will not understand why we were not more effective,” Bongardt emailed his superiors in 2001. That “someday” came just weeks later when Mihdhar joined eighteen other hijackers in their terrorist September 11 attack on America.
Bongardt was in a good position to know how fictional the wall could be. From July 1996 to November 1997, he headed the FBI Missile Team that was forced to collaborate with the intelligence operatives of the CIA on the investigation into TWA Flight 800, the 747 that blew up off the coast of Long Island in July 1996.
According to the CIA theory, an internal explosion blew the nose off the doomed 747. The noseless fuselage then tilted back and rocketed upright for nearly a mile. According to the CIA, this zoom climb confused the hundreds of “excellent” eyewitnesses the FBI interviewed into thinking they had seen a missile.
According to a CIA memo from April 29, 1997, Bongardt sent the CIA a blistering critique of the working CIA theory. He wanted to know why the CIA analysts failed to account for the eight witnesses who saw an object “hit the aircraft” or the numerous witnesses who saw that object move from east to west, the opposite direction of TWA 800. In all, he cited some thirty “problem witnesses” whose accounts did not begin to square with the “agency scenario.”
In his conclusion, Bongardt hit the CIA hard. He recommended that the CIA “withdraw its conclusions” until it could meet several conditions, any one of which would have unraveled the CIA scenario. These included the integration of radar data, the validation of key witnesses, and the reconciliation of the thirty “problem witnesses” with the zoom climb scenario.
At the time, Bongardt likely did not know that the newly minted CIA director George Tenet had already signed off on the CIA theory. A month earlier, the politically wired Tenet had sent FBI director Louis Freeh a letter assuring him that “what these eyewitnesses saw was the crippled aircraft after the first explosion had already taken place.”
The same day that the CIA analysts reported on Bongardt’s dissent, they went back into the “problem” witness files and started doctoring them to make them fit the accident scenario. This is easily proved.
Incredibly, the official who oversaw the FBI investigation and its coerced collaboration with the CIA was the one whose memo allegedly prevented that cooperation in the first place, Jamie Gorelick. Does anyone wonder why the Clintons awarded her with a $26 million sinecure at Fannie Mae? Or why Gorelick sought shelter by cozying up to the Trumps, who likely know none of this.
“They make things up,” Gorelick told Politico. “They say I caused 9/11, and that I caused the financial crisis. I know there are people that say that, but no legitimate person has ever said that.”
Ms. Karni, if you want to know who’s legitimate and who is not, contact me. I will hand you the biggest story of your career.