The Corner

Uh Oh

The New York Post’s Deborah Orin has a fairly explosive scoop (reg. req’d):

August 17, 2005 — PRESIDENT Bill Clinton’s team ignored dire warnings that its approach to terrorism was “very dangerous” and could have “deadly results,” according to a blistering memo just obtained by The Post.

Then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White wrote the memo as she pleaded in vain with Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to tear down the wall between intelligence and prosecutors, a wall that went beyond legal requirements.

Looking back after 9/11, the memo makes for eerie reading — because White’s team foresaw, years in advance, that the Clinton-era wall would make it tougher to stop mass murder.

“This is not an area where it is safe or prudent to build unnecessary walls or to compartmentalize our knowledge of any possible players, plans or activities,” wrote White, herself a Clinton appointee.

“The single biggest mistake we can make in attempting to combat terrorism is to insulate the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house, unless such insulation is absolutely necessary. Excessive conservatism . . . can have deadly results.”

She added: “We must face the reality that the way we are proceeding now is inherently and in actuality very dangerous…..

[Snip]

Justice honchos overruled White’s plea — even though her team knew better than anyone else in law enforcement what the real risks were. White’s team won a host of convictions — including Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who plotted to bomb landmarks like the Statue of Liberty.

Equally troubling is that the 9/11 Commission, charged with tracing the failure to stop 9/11, got White’s stunning memo and several related documents — and deep-sixed all of them.

The commission’s report skips lightly over the wall in three brief pages (out of 567). It makes no mention at all of White’s passionate and prescient warnings. Yet warnings that went ignored are just what the commission was supposed to examine.

So it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the commission ignored White’s memo because it was a potential embarrassment to the woman to whom it was addressed: commission member Jamie Gorelick. (White has declined to discuss the matter, and Gorelick didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment yesterday.)

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