Ashcroft blames Reno FBI for 9/11

Discussion in 'Politics' started by AAAintheBeltway, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. From today's Washington Times, concerning yesterday's 9/11 Commission hearing, which heard from John Ashcroft, Janet Reno and Louis Freeh, among others.

    "The commission's staff report identified the FBI's "inability or unwillingness to share information" as a critical problem leading up to the attacks and said many sources had expressed "frustration" with the bureau over it.
    But Mr. Freeh disputed that notion and said he brought information to the top of the Clinton administration.
    "The attorney general and I, every two weeks, almost like clockwork in the last 14, 15 months of our overlapping tenure, sat with [Clinton administration National Security Adviser] Sandy Berger in his office for at least an hour, perhaps two hours, and went over every single piece of counterterrorism, counterintelligence case that we had," he said. "By the way, Dick Clarke was never present at any of those meetings. Why Sandy Berger didn't want him there, I don't know."
    Mr. Freeh also said the attacks could have been prevented with the right intelligence work.
    "September 11th, had we had the right sources overseas or in the United States, could have been prevented. We did not have those sources," he said.
    But Miss Reno said the FBI often didn't even know what information it did have.
    "It was common knowledge that one of the problems was that the bureau sometimes didn't know what it had and that it didn't share the information," she said, laying partial blame on the antiquated information systems that the bureau had.
    But the biggest charges of the day came from Mr. Ashcroft, who said the Justice Department in 1995 under Miss Reno "embraced flawed legal reasoning, imposing a series of restrictions on the FBI that went beyond what the law required" in setting up a barrier between law enforcement and intelligence gathering.
    He called that barrier "the wall," and said it made intelligence agents afraid to talk with prosecutors or law-enforcement officials.
    "In the days before September 11th, the wall specifically impeded the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, the investigation of Khalid Almihdhar and of Nawaf Alhazmi," he said. "After the FBI arrested Moussaoui, agents became suspicious of his interest in commercial aircraft and sought approval for a criminal search warrant to search his computer. The warrant was rejected because FBI officials feared breaching the wall."
    Mr. Ashcroft also took aim at one of the commissioners, Jamie S. Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general who was responsible for the 1995 rules.
    Several times, Mr. Ashcroft made reference to the Clinton administration, at one point even comparing its funding of the FBI technology budget unfavorably to that of the first Bush administration, saying the amount left in 2001 by the Clinton administration "was actually $36 million less than the last Bush budget eight years before."
    His testimony contrasted sharply with Miss Reno, who just three hours earlier told the commission that she hoped that together they could do their work "not talking about blame, not talking about partisan politics."
    She said she thought information sharing could happen under the rules that existed, and she said the Patriot Act since has made that clearly permissible.
    Still, she said, "I don't blame anybody. I'm responsible. If somebody wants to be responsible, it's going to be me because I tried to work through these issues while I was attorney general and time ran out on me."
    Meanwhile, Mr. Pickard said that in his brief tenure as acting director, Mr. Ashcroft did not seem to consider counterterrorism a priority, based on his funding requests and on a remark he says Mr. Ashcroft made in one meeting that "he did not want to hear this information anymore."
    But Mr. Ashcroft said that never happened: "I did never say to him that I did not want to hear about terrorism."
    Yesterday's testimony is prompting some lawmakers to call for action. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, called for renewal of the Patriot Act.
    ... .


    Finally we're getting to the root of the problem. Jamie Gorelick is a well-connected Washington lawyer/political hack who held a high position in Fannie Mae after her disastrous tenure at Justice. You gotta love the life these people lead. Foul up an important job in government, use your connections to land in an obscenely well-paid make work job at FNM, the rest home for out of work pols. Where do I sign up?