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August 17, 2005

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Is "The Wall" still standing?

Aside from ensuring the completeness of the historical record (an important consideration), what's the point of this?

what's the point of this?

1. When President Bush refused to testify to the 9/11 Commission unless he had Cheney present to hold his hand, he looked foolish. Therefore, the 9/11 Commission is Bad and must be criticised.

2. President Bush dragged his heels over setting up the 9/11 Commission, and once it was set up, the Bush administration resisted strongly providing it with information. Therefore, the 9/11 Commission is Bad and must be criticised.

Just guessing...

You forgot point #3, Jes: Look! Bill Clinton!

As I understand it (and I await correction from people who know this area better), the idea was this:

There are constraints on how law enforcement agencies like the FBI are allowed to spy on people within the US. There are different (and, I think, lesser) constraints on how intelligence agencies are allowed to do so. (E.g., if memory serves, law enforcement agencies have to show cause to think that a specific person has committed a specific crime, not a general sense that they might pose a threat.)

When we gave intelligence agencies the power to collect intelligence within the US, one of the questions that had to be answered was: how do we do this without just gutting the restrictions on domestic surveillance by law enforcement agencies? If it's a lot easier to get a warrant to wiretap someone if you're doing it for intelligence than if you're doing it for law enforcement, won't law enforcement agencies just start delegating things to intelligence agencies, which can then run the wire and say: gosh, we've found evidence of a crime, what a surprise -- and then turn it over to the FBI, which will then prosecute? And won't that just gut this whole area of civil liberties?

The wall was a response to that problem. It was supposed to allow intelligence agencies to operate domestically without turning them into arms of law enforcement agencies that got to operate without the usual legal constraints.

It's fine to object to it, but not to neglect the fact that it was not a crazy solution to a very difficult problem.

Who put that policy in writing?

is "put in writing" the same as proposed, ratified and implemented ?

First, oh Lord, not this Goerlick stupidity again:


The memo by Ms. Gorelick that Mr. Ashcroft branded as the culprit is not even mentioned in the history of impaired information-sharing that Mr. Ashcroft's department gave to the special court that finally lifted the barriers after Sept. 11, 2001. That court described the wall's origin as "sometime in the 1980s -- the exact moment is shrouded in historical mist." A set of procedures promulgated in 1995 codified the policy of keeping intelligence and law enforcement separate and significantly fortified the wall. But as the Justice Department's brief itself acknowledged, prosecutors knew long before those procedures were announced that they were not to direct intelligence activities or to use intelligence surveillance to develop criminal cases. And the Bush administration explicitly maintained the 1995 procedures before the Sept. 11 attacks. The wall was no individual's fault but a product of years of department practice, judicial opinions and supervision of intelligence surveillance by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

In fact, Ms. Gorelick was an advocate of increased collaboration between spies and cops, not greater separation. She pushed to give the court power to authorize physical searches as well as electronic monitoring, and surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act more than doubled during the Clinton administration. The department was criticized by civil libertarians and others on the left and right alike -- us included -- for the changes that she advanced.

And of course, from the infamous memo itself:


If, in the case of the FCI [intelligence] investigation, facts or circumstances are developed that reasonably indicate that a significant federal crime has been, is being, or may be committed, the FBI and OIPR [DOJ's Office of Intelligence Policy & Review, which supervised FISA activity] are each independently responsible for notifying the USAO [U.S. Attorney's Office] and the Criminal Division [of DOJ]. Notice shall include the facts and circumstances developed during the FCI investigation that supplied the indication of significant federal criminal activity.

Meaning, of course, that the activities of members of an ongoing criminal conspiracy (whihc al-Qaeda most certianly was) could be shared.

And i also notice that you left out that Ashcroft testified under oath that he ordered his number 2 to keep the policy in place. Someone who actually thought the memo was a problem would have mentioned that.

Second, this Able thing is weak. No one can produce an ounce of documentary evidence for this. We have the word of a fruitckae who has a very odd story (he forgot to keep a copy fo the chart??) and one agent who appears to have trouble wiith his employer. Doesn't make them wrong, but it does suggest that their word is not enough evidence to start condeming people. When you set out to makes head roll, it is important to get the right heads of their perches.

On the other hand, this is plausible. thanks to people like Cahtllen Rowley, we do know that there where intelligence and information sharing failures. So it cnanot be dismissed out of hand. But so far, there just isn't enough evidence. More investigation is required, I would think.

what's the point of this?

What's the primary mission of the 9/11 Commission? Quote: "The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks." The fact that potentially actionable intelligence got lost in a bureaucratic shuffle goes directly to the matter of preparedness. Their "full and complete accounting" fell short and further investigation is needed.

"Bureaucratic shuffle"? The evidence thus far strongly suggests that the Pentagon did its best to keep the Commission from being fully informed, for obvious reasons.

Nothing thus far that I've seen impugns the Commission.

Charles, please.

I asked: "Aside from ensuring the completeness of the historical record (an important consideration), what's the point of this?"

You answered: "Their 'full and complete accounting' fell short and further investigation is needed."

Further investigation is needed, if you don't mind a little re-phrasing, to "complete the historical record." Aside from that, "What's the point?"

Meanwhile, is "The Wall" still standing?

It's pretty obvious what the point is: introduce a counter-history to 9/11, where the treasonous and misguided Liberal/Bureaucratic Establishment followed the law and failed to recognize Evil.

Second, this Able thing is weak. No one can produce an ounce of documentary evidence for this. We have the word of a fruitckae who has a very odd story (he forgot to keep a copy fo the chart??) and one agent who appears to have trouble wiith his employer. Doesn't make them wrong, but it does suggest that their word is not enough evidence to start condeming people.

It also seems as if the original versions of this chart, or at least the ones Weldon was showing in the past, didn't have Atta on them. This adds a further reason to be skeptical of the whole thing.

For a history of the wall, and the relevant documents, you can go here.">http://www.cnss.org/9.11commissionintelligence.htm">here.

notyou:

Except as modified by the Patriot Act in terrorism cases, the Wall still exists. And it has to (which is why Ashcroft reaffirmed it) -- hilzoy's summary describes the derivation of the practice, which is not a Gorelick memo about the 1978 Act as wrongly stated by Charles. Its a basic necessity since foreign surveillance can legally commit what would be crimes under US law to gather evidence, but the same practices are flatly prohibited by the US Constitution domestically. The Wall is intended to protect the possibility of US criminal prosecutions, which can run into big trouble if relying on illegally gathered evidence.
____

As for this post, predictably it goes off the rails because of Charles' ideological bent to bad-mouth the 9/11 Commission, which is simply aping the Bush administration position.

The New York Times article that is linked contains in it some pretty big facts about why this angle was not investigated further by the 9/11 Commission, but somehow Charles seems to have just ignored them:

The statement [from the 9/11 Commission]said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about the program, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

* * *

Colonel Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department - first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

The only evidence that allegedly the 9/11 Commission knew about a 9/11 hijacker being sourced by Able Danger was Colonel Shaffer's statement that he mentioned it verbally while serving in Afghanistan to some commission members who happened to be there. The Commission says it did not get this information at that meeting. Even if it did, what are they supposed to think about a verbal statement when the documents they get from the Pentagon make no mention of any link between 9/11 hijackers and Able Danger?

The 9/11 Commmission conclusion bad mouthed by Charles (Able Danger was not historically significant) makes absolute sense if the documents provided by the Pentagon show no link whatsoever between 9/11 hijackers and Able Danger. Nnonetheless, Charles darkly suggests that the 9/11 Commission "ignored" this to protect Gorelick -- that is nuts.

Assuming Colonel Shaffer's statements about Atta and Able Danger are accurate (and that is the only info presently that supports any such connection), the far more likely inference to draw from this is that the Bush Pentagon withheld info from the 9/11 Commission to avoid embarassment. This possibility is consistent with the known facts, which was the hostility by the Bush administration to the 9/11 Comission because it might unearth politically embarassing facts.

The crowning fact is that Shaffer now fears retaliation from the Pentagon for having exposed what the Pentagon was apparently trying to cover up. Charles conclusion? What made the 9-11 Commission think it necessary or appropriate to launch a preemptive strike on LTC Shaffer’s “knowledge and credibility”? Which, of course, they have not done -- it is the Bush Pentagon that is doing that.

And no mention whatsoever of the obvious Pentagon role. Just another post gone south because of ideological blinders.

Charles darkly suggests that the 9/11 Commission "ignored" this to protect Gorelick -- that is nuts

nuts, sure. but it's a standard rightwing talking point. it goes farther, too: they were protecting nut just Gorelick, but Clinton, too.

Austin Bay agrees: this shouldn't go nowhere.

Hilzoy raises a decent point: just because there was a wall doesn't mean the wall wasn't there for good and valid reasons (paraphrasing; let me know if I've screwed it up completely). But the entire purpose of the 9/11 commission was to examine what happened and perhaps, as a result, examine how we did what we did (and didn't do, etc) to see if there aren't some improvements we might make.

I suggest that an examination of Able Danger might just result in the conclusion that the way we did things may well have kept us from preventing 9/11, but we're going to continue doing things that way, and for reasons that we think are good ones.

The idea that we may have prevented Y by doing X isn't necessarily all by itself a recommendation of adopting X as a policy, nor is it an assertion that X is the only way to have prevented Y.

I thought the inability to share info between foreign and domestic agencies was one of the things the Patriot Act rectified. Anybody have further info on this?

Huge co-inky-dink: the same time this is being discussed, another it's-Clinton's-fault story, this one via Judicial Watch.

DonBoy: see also Seeing The Forest on that story:

"This NY Times story, State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996 ends with this:

"The thinking was that he was in Afghanistan, and he was dangerous, but because he was there, we had a better chance to kill him," Mr. Scheuer said. "But at the end of the day, we settled for the worst possibility - he was there and we didn't do anything."

It accidently forgot to include this:

Clinton strikes terrorist bases

THE United States launched cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan yesterday against centres allegedly linked with the terrorist bombings of two American embassies."

Charles- After all the bad news for the administration over the past month I am not surprised that you are trying to start a new round of blame it all on Clinton. But this is really week dude. The middle of 2000? The very tail end of the Clinton administration? After all the critism about the military's involvement in Waco, and having called Clinton's efforts to get Bin Laden a "Wag the dog" operation?

Do you really think a comparison of Clinton's record vs Bush's fighting terror is going to make Bush look good?

Good Luck!

Do you really think a comparison of Clinton's record vs Bush's fighting terror is going to make Bush look good?

The comparison is in your mind, Frank, not in the words that I wrote. The larger issue is why Able Danger couldn't even muster a footnote in the 9/11 Commission report, not to mention some of the other omissions that have come out in the last few days.

Hil, the State Dept reported on bin Laden in '96 and Clinton acted in '98, long after Khobar Towers. He launched two strikes curiously timed, one when he went to the grand jury and the other when he was facing impeachment. The August 1998 strikes may have been in response to the embassy bombings, which occurred earlier that month. The result was a dead aspirin factory because he acted ahead of the intelligence, and there was no assurance that the other strikes did a damn bit of good. Seeing the Forest isn't. Never has.

The larger issue is why Able Danger couldn't even muster a footnote in the 9/11 Commission report, not to mention some of the other omissions that have come out in the last few days.

It might have something to do with Curt Weldon lying through his teeth and with the Pentagon trying its damnedest to cover it up, as witness by Kevin Drum and Laura Rozen at Washington Monthly and War And Piece respectively.

"Now it's been confirmed by the New York Times...."

This is very curious usage, in this context. "...according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said...."

Yes, what's confirmed is that Lt. Col. Shaffer said and says these things. That's what's confirmed. But you don't seem to be trying to say that, Charles. You're saying, unless you were just careless with your wording, and haven't subsequently noted, so far as I can see, that all the claims about "Able Danger" are confirmed. Which is hardly the case. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but, well, you weren't trying to say that they're confirmed, are you? If so, what's your source? Aren't you going rather far out on a limb here with all these declarations of "fact"?

Charles?

The statement [from the 9/11 Commission]said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about the program, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

* * *

Colonel Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department - first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

Have you got a link for the source of this information??

Please.

Thanks

Charles - like much of the wingnutosphere - is taken in by Able Danger. Will he post an opps sometime later or hope it fades away.

Don N

Its worth noting that Charles supposition about the "Wall" allegedly affecting Able Danger is 100% debunked. Nothing about the Gorelick memo prevented information sharing between the DoD (including Able Danger) and the FBI. It related solely to information sharing with the criminal division of the Justice Department, which is not supposed to be using in domestic criminal prosecutions intelligence gathered by extra-constitutional menas.

It would be nice if Charles would just admit he goofed on this one -- I assume he was simply repeating the right wing smear job that was circulating on this point, rather than trying to be misleading.

It's not quite the debunking you seem to think.

She sent her memo to the following people:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/report/2004/1995_gorelick_memo.pdf>globalsecurity.org

Mary Jo White, US District Attorney, prosecuting the 1993 WTC bombing terrorists

Louis Freeh, FBI Director

Richard Scruggs, Chief Counsel, Office of Intelligence Policy and Review

Jo Ann Harris, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division (DoJ)

Who is the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review?

"The Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, under the direction of the Counsel for Intelligence Policy, is responsible for advising the Attorney General on all matters relating to the national security activities of the United States. The Office prepares and files all applications for electronic surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, assists Government agencies by providing legal advice on matters of national security law and policy, and represents the Department of Justice on variety of interagency committees such as the National Counterintelligence Policy Board. The Office also comments on and coordinates other agencies' views regarding proposed legislation affecting intelligence matters.

The Office serves as adviser to the Attorney General and various client agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Defense and State Departments, concerning questions of law, regulation, and guidelines as well as the legality of domestic and overseas intelligence operations."

http://www.usdoj.gov/oipr/>usdoj

And then she clarifies the purpose:

These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA (The Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act)is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation."'


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