Sensenbrenner Urges Commissioner Gorelick to Resign from the 9/11 Commission Because of Her Conflict of Interest
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) released the following statement:
“Yesterday, a 1995 memo written by 9/11 Commission Member Jamie Gorelick, in her former role as the second in command at the Justice Department, revealed her actions in establishing the heightened ‘wall’ prohibiting the sharing of intelligence information and criminal information. Scrutiny of this policy lies at the heart of the Commission’s work. Ms. Gorelick has an inherent conflict of interest as the author of this memo and as a government official at the center of the events in questions. Thus, I believe the Commission’s work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a Commissioner. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that Ms. Gorelick should resign from this Commission.
“The Commission’s Guidelines on Recusals state, ‘Commissioners and staff will recuse themselves from investigating work they performed in prior government service.’ Commissioner Gorelick’s memo directing a policy that ‘go[es] beyond what is legally required’ indicates that her judgment and actions as the Deputy Attorney General in the Reno Justice Department are very much in question before the Commission. Indeed Attorney General Ashcroft called this DOJ policy, ‘the single greatest structural cause for September 11 … [and] embraced flawed legal reasoning.’ Commissioner Gorelick 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. The public cannot help but ask legitimate questions about her motives.
“While it is regrettable that this conflict had not come to light sooner, this Commission’s work and forthcoming recommendations are too important to be questioned in this way, and may be devalued by Ms. Gorelick’s continued participation as a Commissioner. Given Ms. Gorelick’s work as the Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, Ms. Gorelick can be quite valuable to the Commission’s work preparing ‘a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.’ However, that contribution should come as a witness before the Commission – not as a member.
“Key figures like former FBI Director Freeh, Director Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft, former presidential adviser Richard Clarke, and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice have all testified before the Commission and would have rightly sparked indignation about a conflict of interest had these individuals also been members of the Commission. Testifying before the Commission is Ms. Gorelick’s proper role, not sitting as a member of this independent commission.”