9-11 Commission member
If the 9-11 Commission is totally honestwhich it will not beit will be obligated to point its bony finger of blame away from President George W. Bush and in an entirely different direction. From 1976 to 1979, the Democratically-controlled Congress of the United States enacted several laws that forbade the intelligence-gathering agencies of the United States from working together or sharing information. Congress then weakened or defunded most of the intelligence agencies and made it a crime for intelligence officers to utilize "unsavory" people to ferret information about our enemies, or for CIA operatives to assassinate people like Osama bin Laden who planned to do harm to the United States of America. When Bush-43 assumed the reins of the American intelligence community, there were only two covert CIA operatives within the Agency who spoke Farsi. Not only was the Agency blind, it was linguistically deaf as well.
Clearly with members of the Democratic Party hierarchy demandingin loud, righteously indignant voicespre-election hearings to investigate a myriad of groundless accusations and rumors (most of which had been spoon-fed to the loyal liberal media by their own staffs) that the Bush Administration had received enough intelligence that the president should have known that 9-11 type attacks on the infrastructure of the United States were imminent or worse, that the Administration knew attacks of some type were imminent and deliberately allowed them to happen in order to justify a planned invasion of two sovereign Muslim nationsPresident George W. Bush was obligated to create a commission to investigate blurry allegations that threatened to capsize his own Administration.
Faced with the unfathomable task of creating a completely bipartisan commission that could not later be accused of whitewashing the investigation of allegations ranging from stupidity to misconduct, Bush allowed the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate pick the Democrats on the panel. In doing so, several people placed on the Commission were so biased against him that the National Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the United States was doomed before the first gavel fell. Because of that highly-charged partisan bias, there was no way the Commission will ever arrive at an unbiased bipartisan consensus. But, even though I have often found myself questioning the sanity behind a few of those appointments, I understood the logic of Bush allowing his political detractors to select those who would force the Bush people to run the political gauntlet of a biased inquiry. The Democrats could not accuse the President of selecting a panel that would whitewash his sins.
The Commission is gripped in a partisan impasse that will not change because the partisan members are using the podium not to find answers to critical questions, but to create campaign issues that can be used to beat up Republicans on the campaign trail. Democratic loyalists on the panel know the only way their party can wrest control of the White House from Bush, and regain control of the House and Senate from the Republican Party is if they can successfully stain the Bush Administration with the stigma of stupidityor worse, incompetence. The patriotic grandstanding notwithstanding, that is what the National Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the United States (more logically called the the 9-11 Commission) is, and has been since day-one, all abouta political ploy called "gotchamanship." Tragically, it has never been about learning why 9-11 happened, or what can be done to prevent it from happening again. It is, and will continue to be, solely and completely about gaining votes for Democrats on election day.
Among those who should never have been appointed to the Commission, or who should be removed on the grounds of conflict of interest, is Jamie S. Gorelick who served as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration. Gorelick was the number two person in Justice, serving directly under Attorney General Janet Reno. Gorelick was also the author of a highly charged 1995 directive that was being discussedwithout the name of the author of the memo being revealedby the 9-11 Commission as one of the key Clinton-era catalysts that deconstructed the cooperation between the criminal and intelligence divisions of the FBI by creating an information firewall between those divisions. The memo, from Gorelick to FBI Director Louis Freeh, U.S. Attorney May Jo White who was investigating the first World Trade Center bombing, and Richard Scruggs, Counsel for Intelligence Policy in the FBI was immediately declared "Secret" to take it out of reach of curious Americans who might later have reason to make Freedom of Information Act requests for the document when they realized that the Clinton Administration, like the Carter Administration, was undermining the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the intelligence agencies of the United States government. The directive was declassified on April 10, 2004 by James A. Baker, Counsel for Intelligence Policy for the Department of Justice.
Tragically, there was not one member on the 9-11 Commission that has not, nor did not, know the precise reason for the intelligence lapse in the FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, or any other intelligence-gathering agency in the United States. It is not, nor ever was, a secret. Everyone on Capitol Hill who has taken more than 30 seconds to think about it knows that Congress, not the White House, is responsible for the intelligence shortfalls that allowed 9-11 to happen.
You might even argueand be partially correctthat Richard M. Nixon was ultimately responsible. The far left, highly-charged partisan, anti-war Democratically-controlled Congress that feared Nixon for his unconstitutional Gestapo-like use of the FBI and CIA to investigate his political enemies decided to clip the wings of future Nixonesque presidents.
Far-left war dovesSenators like Ted Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Frank Church, Walter Mondale, J. William Fulbright, Alan Cranston and House members like House Speaker Carl Albert, Edward Boland, Hugh Carey, John Conyers, George Danielson, Ron Dellums, James G. O'Hara, Otis Pike and Father Robert F. Drinan (the Roman Catholic priest who defeated political newcomer John F. Kerry on his first bid for national office)were the driving force behind the deliberate crippling of the American intelligence community. Again, they were playing politics. Their political agenda had nothing to do with protecting America. It had to do with protecting the Democratic Party's liberal agenda and also preventing their political opposition from being able to use the intelligence community to investigate their close ties with America's communist enemies. Two of the original House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence who voted to deconstruct the American intelligence community were Sen. Edward T. Kennedy [D-MA] and Congressman John Conyers, Jr. [D-MI]. This entailed preventing the CIA from using "unsavory" people as sources of intelligence and preventing them from sharing information about possible terrorists with the FBI. When the CIA learned that people intent on doing harm to the United States had entered our country, the new rules prevented them from sharing that data with the FBI.
We need to remember these folks when they come up for re-election. Kennedy comes up for reelection in 2006. Conyers comes up for reelection every two years. He has served 20 terms. It's time to send Conyers home permanently. He's Michigan's problem. They can keep him. If they want to elect him to something, they can elect him to their Statehouse. Maybe he can weaken the Michigan State Police and make Michigan safer for criminals just as he helped make America safer for terrorists.
When I ask myself who, in government today, is most to blame for 9-11, only two names come upthree if you count Jamie Gorelick who issued the directive that ended all cooperation between the criminal and intelligence divisions of the FBI. Four or five if you include the co-presidency of Bill and Hillary Clinton who made a conscious decision to complete the destruction of the intelligence community started by Gerald Ford in 1976. The original two, of course, are Teddy Kennedy and John Conyers. They are most directly responsible because their fingerprints are all over the deconstruction of the American intelligence community. But they were not alone. The entire Congress of the United States helped them.
In 1993, when the blind shiekh, Omar Abdel Rahman (a paid CIA operative in the late 1980s who was also one of the key Wahhabi clerics behind the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat) masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center, Al Qaeda head (also a former paid CIA operative) Osama bin Laden issued a Declaration of War on the United States. Hercules shrugged. Why would the Clinton Administration worry about a gnat on the donkey's ass? Clinton was smart enough and poll-conscious enough to know that chasing an illusive ragtail radical around the Mideast by pitting Goliath against a Muslim David would not resonate well with liberal votersparticularly since bin Laden was not the leader of a nation but was, in Clinton's estimation, simply a criminal who needed to be arrested by someone else. In 1997 when Al Qaeda operatives struck the U.S.S. Cole, bin Laden once again issued a Declaration of War against the United States. And, once again, Clinton ignored the Declaration as political puff and bluster since everyone knows that only a nation can declare war on another nation. But, bin Laden's nationlike the invisible emprey of the United Nationsis an invisible coterie that exists in the minds and hearts of 10 million Muslim fanatics around the world. It is as real as the sand in the Mideast or the soil in the flower garden in your backyard.
Bill Clinton's decision to complete the deconstruction of the intelligence community was partly for personal political protection. If there was no evidence that he made bad foreign policy decisions, he could not be held accountable for them. When the USAF blew up the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia on May 7, 1999, Clinton blamed the error on faulty intelligence. One CIA officer was fired and five others were sanctioned. Clinton took no blame, nor did Congress attempt to assign it to him. The American taxpayers paid $28 million to the Chinese government to replace their building, and $4.5 million to the families of the embassy employees who were killed (which really means the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China received a $32.5 million stipend from the taxpayers of the United States. Today we finance the Chinese military by purchasing goods made in China.)
Meanwhile, back to Gorelick.
When Attorney General John Ashcroft was called to testify before the 9-11 Commission, he decided it was time to fight back since the American intelligence community has been forced to fight the enemies of the United States with their hands tied behind their backs since 1979. In 1995, Bill Clinton decided to give our enemies an even break since we are the most powerful nation in the world. He blindfolded the CIA and FBI. Liberals, for some unexplainable reason, believe enemy aliens should be able to avail themselves of the rights guaranteed to American citizens under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, even as Congress does everything it can to abrogate those rights to Americans for the sake of legal expediency.
Ashcroft knew that everyone was skirting around the identity of the person who issued the mysterious directive that tied their hands. Ashcroft also knew that Gorelick singlehandedly prevented agents in the criminal division from communicating in any meaningful way with agents in the intelligence division, jeopardizing the government's prosecution of the blind shiekh. But even more, the 1995 directive from Gorelick to FBI Director Louis Freeh formed a impenetrable wall between the various divisions of the FBI that prevented agents on one floor of the J. Edgar Hoover Building on 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC from speaking to agents working on another floor. Yet the Democrats on the panel were very much aware that Gorelick authored the 1995 directive that blindfolded the FBI. All of themincluding the Republicansalso knew that Teddy Kennedy was one of the key architects of the 1976 to 1979 deconstruction of the intelligence community.
Imagine their chagrin when Ashcroft authorized the declassification of the Gorelick directive. Ashcroft told the Commission that Gorelick's directive created draconian barriers that would have made it virtually impossible for the intelligence community to share enough information to follow the dots. Ashcroft succeeded in dropping a bombshell on the commission. It seems odd that the very person who blindfolded the intelligence community should be sitting on the 9-11 Committee asking those responsible for the intelligence community why the intelligence system no longer works.
Congressman James Sensenbrenner [R-WI], Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee noted that "...the commission's work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a commissioner. [She] is in the unfair position of trying to address the key issue before the Commission when her own actions are central to the events at issue. Testifying before the Commission is Ms. Gorelick's proper role, not sitting as a member of this independent commission." If you are curious how Gorelick got on the Committee in the first place, she was appointed to the Commission by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and former House Minority Leader Richard Gephart. Gorelick was a ringer and both Daschle and Gephart knew it. When Gorelick came under fire, Daschle defended her. Gephart has not commented.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley found Gorelick's presence on the Commission "highly problematic." He told the Washington Times on Thursday, April 15 that "...[I]t's hard to see how she can review systemic failures in intelligence when she held a high-ranking position in the prior administration and played a role in intelligence matters. Not only is there a strong suggestion of conflict [of interest], there is an overwhelming appearance of conflict."
Ashcroft, appearing on Hannity & Colmes, agreed there was a conflict of interest, and that Gorelick needed to step down from the Commission. "I think that individuals who are the actors whose policies are under inspection," Ashcroft said, "probably should not sit as judges in those cases." The failure to remove her from the Commission, he added, will leave people questioning [the Commission's] standards when the final report is released in July.
Not in the least surprising, Gorelick found no conflict in questioning Ashcroft, but recused herself from questioning either former FBI Director Louis Freeh or former Attorney General Janet Reno. Mark Levin, president of the Landmark Legal Foundation has also demanded that Gorelick step down or be removed. Levin said he feels her presence on the Commission "...taints the whole process." Levin added that "...[t]he Commission wasn't even aware of her memo until John Ashcroft revealed it...She should not be a Commissioner, she should be a...witness."
As the National Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the United States continues to debate the question of whose fault is it and what can we do to improve the intelligence capabilities of the United States, the question gets easier to answer with each passing day. Clearly, the person to blame most for the deconstruction of the American intelligence community is Richard M. Nixon who used the FBI and the CIA as his personal Gestapo for seven years. Nixon, disgraced his high office and was forced to resign. But, he can't be held accountable since he has passed on. Following Nixon, the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives and US Senate leaders that decided to weaken the national security of the United States by enacting laws that prevented the intelligence services from actually gathering intelligence. Of those who actually took part in the deconstruction of the American intelligence apparatus, only two remain in office: Senator Edward M. Kennedy [D-MA] and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. [D-MI]. We can hold both of them accountable when they come up for re-election. Conyers is accountable to the families of the victims of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon disasters this November. We have to wait two more years to retire Kennedy. Also equally responsible is Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, Jr. who completed the task of deconstruction. The political careers of Bill and Al appear to be pretty much over, but Hillary comes up for re-election in 2006 as well. The voters of New Yorkmany of whom lost family and friends on September 11, 2001need to remember that the Clinton co-presidency completed the task started by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and allowed al Qaeda to blindside America. And, finally, we can't forgot Jamie Gorelick who issued the infamous directive the blindfolded the intelligence community in 1995, opening the door not only for the U.S.S. Cole disaster but the bombings of our embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and, finally, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Well, once again, you have my two cents worth. (I guess this time around I gave you a nickels worthor perhaps a dime.)