Were intelligence failures prior to September 11, 2001, due to a legal "wall"?
May 1, 2004, Viveca Novak, Time, Old Barriers to Fighting Terror; Despite the recommendations of the Clinton Justice Department, then-Senator John Ashcroft opposed controls on electronic encryption in 1997
April 29, 2004, Deb Reichmann, Associated Press, 9/11 Panel Quizzes Bush, Cheney for Hours:
"During the meeting, Bush unleashed a rare rebuke against his own Justice Department. He said was disappointed at Justice's release of documents that Republicans said showed that former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick - a Democratic member of the commission -was deeply involved in developing 1995 guidance that strengthened a legal "wall" making it difficult for FBI counterintelligence agents to share information with prosecutors and criminal investigators.
"The president does not believe we ought to be pointing fingers in this time period," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said.
April 26, 2004, Justin Rood, Congressional Quarterly, Analysis: Did President Misconstrue Patriot Act in Oregon Case
April 26, 2004, Andrew Buncombe, Independent/UK, Lawyers Try to Gag FBI Worker over 9/11
April 25, 2004, Bob Kearney, San Francisco Chronicle, Don't blame 'the wall' for pre-9/11 failures
April 21, 2004, Stuart Taylor, National Journal, 9/11: Save Some Blame for Courts That Created The 'Wall'
April 20, 2004, Ken Gude, Center for American Progress, Hiding Behind the Wall
Winter-Spring 2004, Kate Martin, SAIS Review, Domestic Intelligence and Civil Liberties (PDF) (Includes good explanation of "the wall")
9/11 commissioner Jaimie Gorelick, on 'the wall' that General Ashcroft accused her of creating: April 18, 2004, Washington Post, The truth about 'the wall'. See also:
- April 23, 2004, Ed Henry, CNN, Senate Republicans call on Gorelick to testify; Lawmakers cite commissioner's prior role
- April 18, 2004, Darryl Fears, Washington Post, Gorelick defends information-sharing policies
- April 20, 2004, Washington Post Editorial, Mr. Ashcroft's Smear
February 15, 2005, Mike Emanuel, Associated Press, Bush
urges renewal of the Patriot Act
Testimony and Response
April 13, 2004, prepared testimony of former Attorney General Janet Reno: "There are simply no walls or restrictions on sharing the vast majority of counterterrorism information.... While there were restrictions placed on information gathered on criminal investigators as a result of grand jury investigations or Title III wiretaps, in practice they did not prove to be a serious impediment, since there was very little significant information that could not be shared."
April 8, 2004, testimony of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice: "I think there have been very important changes made between the CIA and FBI. Yes, everybody knew that they had trouble sharing, but in fact, we had legal restrictions to their sharing.... The Congress cooperated after September 11th with the president to come up with the Patriot Act, which does give to the FBI and the CIA and other intelligence agencies the kind of ability, legal ability, to share between them that was simply not there before.
Response from Center for Democracy & Technology: "There was never a legal bar to intelligence agencies sharing information with prosecutors. Intelligence and law enforcement officials weren't effectively sharing information and using their existing powers not because of legal barriers, but because of their overly strict interpretation of then-existing law, cultural problems, and turf wars among agencies."