ASHCROFT PUBLICLY MISLEADS 9/11 COMMISSION
During his public testimony before the 9/11 commission, Attorney General John Ashcroft attempted to deflect criticism from his own lackluster counterterrorism efforts by pinning the blame on a 1995 memo written by former deputy Attorney General (and current 9/11 commissioner) Jamie Gorelick. Ashcroft said, "The 1995 guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers, barriers between the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The wall effectively excluded prosecutors from intelligence investigations. The wall left intelligence agents afraid to talk with criminal prosecutors or agents." Ashcroft called the memo "the single greatest structural cause for the September 11 problem." In their final report released yesterday, the bi-partisan 9/11 commission concluded that Ashcroft's public testimony was false and misleading.
The commission bluntly stated that Ashcroft's public testimony did not "fairly or accurately reflect the significance of the 1995 documents and their relevance to the 2001 discussions." Specifically, "The Gorelick memorandum applied to two particular criminal cases, neither of which was involved in the summer 2001 information-sharing discussions." Any barriers between the law enforcement and intelligence communities were not created from written guidelines by internal Justice Department conflicts which "neither Attorney General [Ashcroft or Reno] acted to resolve" prior to 9/11.
Even Ashcroft himself has recently backed away from his April testimony before the commission. In a recent document released by the Justice Department, Ashcroft conceded that Gorelick's memo permitted "interaction and information sharing between prosecutors and intelligence officers" and allowed the FBI to use the fruits of an intelligence investigation "in a criminal prosecution." Ashcroft failed to mention that guidelines issued by his own deputy Attorney General, Larry Thompson, were more restrictive because they affirmed the Gorelick memo and added additional requirements.
1. "Transcript: 9/11 Commission Hearing," The Washington Post, 04/13/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1159892&l=47468.
2. 9/11 Commission Final Report, p. 539, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1159892&l=47469.
3. Report from the Field: The USA PATRIOT Act at Work, U.S. Department of Justice, July 2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1159892&l=47470.
4. "Thompson Memo," U.S. Department of Justice, 08/06/01, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1159892&l=47471.
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