Sensenbrenner: Gorelick Ought to Resign

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", April 14, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This memorandum laid the foundation for a wall separating the criminal and intelligence investigations. Although you understand the debilitating impact for the wall, I cannot imagine that the commission knew about this memorandum. So I have had it declassified for you and the public to review. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the commission.


BRIT HUME, HOST: The wall that John Ashcroft was talking about refers to the restrictions on communication and cooperation between the intelligence and criminal divisions of the FBI, and between the FBI and CIA. The memo, he produced yesterday, shows that an architect of some of those restrictions was 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick (search), who was Attorney General Janet Reno's deputy for a time during the Clinton years.

As we noted earlier, House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner wants Gorelick off the commission. He joins me from Milwaukee.

Mr. Chairman, let me ask you. Jamie Gorelick and others on the commission have said that when these issues in which she might have played a part come up, for example, when Janet Reno was testifying yesterday, and when former FBI director Louis Freeh (search) was testifying, she steps aside, recuses herself. Why would that not be enough?

HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN JAMES SENSENBRENNER: This goes beyond the testimony of her former bosses and co-workers in the Justice Department. It goes directly to a number of investigations that involve 9/11 hijackers prior to 9/11. The Gorelick memorandum went beyond what the law requires.

And as a result of the wall, which was heightened by Gorelick's memorandum, the FBI was not able to adequately investigate Zacarias Moussaoui (search). As well as not adequately investigate two of the Pentagon hijackers who were involved in the Cole bombing in Yemen, and whom the CIA knew were in the United States, but could not tell the FBI about it.

This goes much beyond the relationship that Gorelick had when she was in the Justice Department with Attorney General Reno and FBI director Freeh. It goes to the entire issue of the 9/11 Commission and that's why she ought to resign, because there's no way she can recuse herself, and encapsulate that memorandum from what the FBI and the CIA were and were not allowed to do.

HUME: Well, could not the incoming attorney general or his deputy, if Gorelick was able to impose these restrictions with a memo, have listed them with a memo?

SENSENBRENNER: Yes, they could have been lifted in part with a memo. But some of the restrictions were statutory in nature. The Patriot Act repealed restrictions and I don't think that there would have been the political will to pass the Patriot Act before 9/11.

This law has been much-maligned, but the most important thing that the Patriot Act did was destroyed the wall entirely and allow the type of integration of work between the FBI (search) and the CIA (search), which both director Mueller and director Tenet have testified to what is going on now.

HUME: Back to Gorelick. Let me just see if I understand you clearly. Are you saying that because her memo created the conditions under which the FBI and the CIA dealt with each other and dealt with investigative matters and intelligence matters going long past her tenure there, that she as an architect of the atmosphere, would be called upon to judge herself? Is that what you're -- is that what you're saying here, judge her own work?

SENSENBRENNER: I'm saying that. And you know, she ought to be called as a witness because that memo went beyond what the law required. She made the decision to have the wall be higher than the statutory requirements. And how that impacted on the lack of coordination between the CIA and FBI, and within the Justice Department is a critical issue on why our intelligence and law enforcement were not able to connect the dots, if the dots could have been connected prior to 9/11 and to stop 9/11 in its tracks.

HUME: As you probably heard earlier in this program, the reaction from Chairman Thomas Kean, like you a Republican, was that Ms. Gorelick is one of the finest members of the mission and he called her particularly bipartisan or non-partisan. And he went on to say, "people ought to stay out of our business." What is your reaction to that?

SENSENBRENNER: Well, Mr. Kean and the commission ought to enforce their own guidelines on recusals. And I'll just quote. "Commissioners and staff will recuse themselves from investigating work they performed in prior government services." The work that Gorelick performed in her service as deputy attorney general is now a critical issue.

And the reason I bring this up today is that the Gorelick memorandum was only declassified yesterday. And I didn't know about it and the public didn't know about it until it was declassified. Once I saw the fact that Gorelick's memo went beyond what the law required, that to me shows that the memo is integral to the problem that the commission is investigating. And there's no way the commission or Gorelick can have an objective conclusion, as a result of her investigating her own memo. Thus, she ought to resign.

HUME: Chairman Sensenbrenner, thank you very much for being with us.


HUME: You bet.

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