SENATORS ASK 9-11 COMMISSION TO RECONSIDER DECISION AND ALLOW GORELICK TO PUBLICLY TESTIFY
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, thirteen United States Senators asked Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the 9-11 Commission, to reconsider their decision on allowing former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to publicly testify before the Commission.
Text of the letter follows:
Dear Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton:
Thank you for your timely response to our request to have former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testify in public about her role in formulating policies and procedures at the Department of Justice with respect to the relationship between intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
While we are certainly disappointed in your current decision to prevent Commissioner Gorelick from giving public testimony, we were particularly interested to learn that the Commission has, in fact, already received testimony from Commissioner Gorelick, although only in private, and we presume not under oath.
You state in your letter:
"We have interviewed in private over 1000 individuals, including officials past and present, and including Commissioner Gorelick."
As part of your rationale for shielding the former Deputy Attorney General from public testimony you also state in your letter:
"On the subject of Justice and FBI policies, we called former Attorney General Reno, Attorney General Ashcroft, and the past and present Directors of the FBI. We did not seek public testimony in these investigative hearings from former Deputy Attorney Generals Heymann, Gorelick, Holder or Thompson."
However, we must call to your attention that on December 8, 2003 the former Deputy Attorney General Thompson not only testified, and testified about the so-called "wall", but was also questioned by Commissioner Gorelick.
As the record has already made clear, there are significant unresolved differences in the public statements of various individuals involved in this issue. For example:
Attorney General Ashcroft: "The basic architecture for the wall in the 1995 guidelines was contained in a classified memorandum entitled "Instructions for Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations"...the author of this memorandum is a member of this Commission. (Testimony before the 9-11 Commission, April 13, 2004)
Commissioner Gorelick: " I did not invent the wall..." (Washington Post opinion column April 18, 2004)
Attorney General Ashcroft: "The single greatest structural cause for the September 11th problem was the wall that segregated or separated criminal investigators and intelligence agents."......"The 1995 guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers, barriers between the law enforcement and intelligence communities". (Testimony before the 9-11 Commission, April 13, 2004)
Commissioner Gorelick: ..."nothing in the 1995 guidelines prevented the sharing of information between criminal and intelligence investigators." (Washington Post opinion column April 18, 2004)
It is apparent to all who have reviewed these issues that the existence, expansion, and various attempts to reform the so-called "wall" were an on-going debate and struggle from the mid-1990s until after passage of the Patriot Act. The Commission has correctly identified as a core challenge to the development of a preventive counter-terrorism strategy the impediments limiting communications between agents conducting intelligence investigations and criminal investigative and prosecution units of the Department of Justice. Conflicting versions of who created the wall, how the wall was created, when it was created, and what dots were not connected because of it, all require that the Commission pursue fully the facts.
We believe, as was the case of Dr. Rice, that public testimony by the decision-makers best serves the Commission, the public, and ultimately Congress as we evaluate any recommendations you should make.
As Commissioner Hamilton noted in reference to Dr. Rice, " there's another whole dimension here, and that dimension is the public dimension-and I think the American public would benefit from hearing Condi Rice testify under oath." (CNN.com March 29, 2004)
And, as Ms. Gorelick stated in an interview also discussing the importance of having the public testimony of National Security Advisor Rice, "she has a lot to contribute to the public understanding of what happened"; and "I think, and I think we all think, that it's important for her to make her statements in public".
We believe these words are equally compelling in this case. Unless Ms. Gorelick provides public testimony, like other key officials have done, there will be a significant gap of knowledge as far as what the public will know about its government prior to 911.
We urge you to reconsider your decision.