Both Jim Geraghty and JPod this morning confront the interesting question of whether, if information was withheld by the Defense Department from the FBI, it is appropriate to blame that on the wall between criminal intelligence investigators heightened by the Clinton Justice Department’s 1995 internal procedures.
As a technical matter, the wall was a DOJ management tool to regulate information sharing from the different sides of its own house (i.e., foreign counterintelligence and law enforcement). From that perspective, the wall by definition should not be blamed here because the claim is that the alleged information about the eventual hijackers never got to DOJ in the first place. (The standard operation of the wall would have been if DOD had given the information to DOJ, and DOJ then decided only the intelligence agents but not the criminal investigators and prosecutors would be permitted to learn of it.)
But, as John suggests, you can’t sensibly decouple the wall from the ethos that created it. A culture of not sharing information – of making national security actors believe there was something sinister about comparing notes. Thus the wall culture is relevant. Moreover, given that this Able Danger controversy refocuses us on the 9/11 Commission’s methodology, it is entirely appropriate to consider it in conjunction with the commission’s treatment of the wall – which was an abomination.
Finally, one other not so coincidental tidbit about whether the wall culture at DOJ might also have been found at DOD. Does anyone remember what Jamie Gorelick’s job was before she became the Clinton Justice Department’s Deputy Attorney General? Yup: she was General Counsel of the Clinton Defense Department. Obviously, that’s years before the alleged Able Danger revelations – by which time Gorelick was out of government service. But it’s interesting.