John Podhoretz has a theory why some Republicans backed Jamie Gorelick during the Commission hearings:
The Able Danger story has resurfaced the name of Jamie Gorelick, the former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration whose decision to raise the “wall” between domestic and foreign intelligence in retrospect played a major role in making the detection and prevention of the 9/11 attacks impossible.
As Andy McCarthy keeps pointing out, the 9/11 Commission report barely made mention of the “wall,” and when John Ashcroft and others spoke of it pointedly, Republicans on the commission were hotly defensive of Gorelick.
I’m getting e-mail from people asking why the Republicans on the 9/11 Commission were so solicitious of and good to Gorelick — among them, pretty tough-minded people like former Navy Secretary John Lehman.
Here’s my theory: Very early on, the commissioners decided that the Bush administration was their adversary. The Bushies didn’t want to share documents or give them access to documents, didn’t want anybody to testify, didn’t want Bush to testify, and so on — and they came to take this not only politically, but personally.
So my view is that the commissioners got all high and mighty with each other about how their efforts were being stymied, how they needed to get to the truth and were being hindered in their efforts, how the “families” deserved no less, etc. etc.
And so they all made common cause with each other because they decided they were facing a common enemy in the recalcitrant administration.
This development proved unexpectedly useful for Gorelick personally when the fact that decisions she had made in government were central to the Commission’s mandate to describe why this massive intelligence failure occurred. Because th commissioners had by this time become a team, united in their pursuit of the “truth” against the administration, they chose to side with their teammate — whom they had presumably come to know and like and admire as a person, which I don’t find hard to imagine.
That’s one possible explanation of why Republicans on the Commission were so soft when it came to Gorelick and the “wall,” and why therefore the Able Danger information could be given a flick of the hand by the commission staff.
Interesting take and probably not that far fetched since it is becoming more apparent every day that the 9/11 Commission went into this investigation with an idea on who they wanted to blame, and then just made the evidence fit their belief’s.
It appears the staffers on the Commission are going back to the archives to retrieve their notes on the 2003 meeting with Able Danger:
Staff assistants to the Sept. 11 commission are planning a trip to the National Archives to retrieve their notes on a U.S. military unit’s information that four of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers were inside the United States a year before the attacks, FOX News has learned.
A source familiar with the Sept. 11 commission told FOX News on Wednesday that the aides who still have security clearances are looking for a memo about a briefing given to four staff members by defense intelligence officials during an overseas trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in Fall 2003.
Are these the same staffers who felt this information wasn’t worthy of mention in the 9/11 Commission report? They better be strip searched before they leave, that’s all I’m gonna say.
Another point I have to make is that the Able Danger revelation throws out the whole Commission’s Atta timeline, which means that the Czech intelligence assertion that Atta was in Prague on April 9th, 2001 to meet with Iraqi intelligence might now have to be looked at again. Did the Commission ignore this information from Able Danger because it would throw their own timeline out?
As far as Sandy Berger is concerned I have seen some whimpers from the left that the documents he took and destroyed were copies, so there should be no concern. Couple things, why would he destroy a copy that he knows is available somewhere else? Is he that stupid? No, I don’t believe so. The Washington Times has some thoughts:
What was Mr. Berger doing with the documents? And why did he destroy only three? The likeliest answer is that he sought to conceal comments he or other Clinton administration officials wrote on them when they were circulating in January 2000. He couldn’t have been trying to erase the document itself from the record, since copies besides the five exist elsewhere. What’s likelier is that jottings in the margins of the three copies he destroyed bore telling indications of the Clinton administration’s approach to terrorism.
These documents he stole were different drafts of the final report. They all had handwritten margin notes on the paper which makes them all unique, not only unique but valuable since it show’s the mindset of those who wrote the notes, plus what they knew and when they knew it.
In particular, the Washington Post reports  that Berger purloined all draft revisions of a key critique of the government’s response to the millennium terrorism threat, a document that detailed Administration knowledge ? and inaction ? regarding al Qaeda presence in the U.S. in 1999 and 2000. Stolen were crucial notes in the margins of these drafts which reveal the thinking and agendas of the Clinton Administration relating to the mounting terrorist threat.
A government official with knowledge of the probe said Berger removed from archives files all five or six drafts of a critique of the government’s response to the millennium terrorism threat, which he said was classified “codeword,” the government’s highest level of document security.
…Berger’s attorneys have acknowledged that he removed numerous classified memos, and apparently discarded some, as he reviewed materials on behalf of the Clinton administration for the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They said the removal of documents was inadvertent but that Berger was aware he was violating the law when he removed his handwritten notes without submitting them for review by National Archives staff.
… The after-action memo was written by then-White House counterterrorism adviser Richard A. Clarke and contained 29 recommendations about improving homeland security, including beefing up protections at the nation’s ports and borders. The review pointed out flaws in the nation’s counterterrorism efforts.
A source knowledgeable about the contents of the review said that it is classified “codeword” because it contains information about sensitive intelligence operations. The memo also contains sensitive fruits of wiretaps, intelligence sources said.
Also, why would Berger lie about these documents, as he is admitting now:
On Friday Mr. Berger pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for stealing five copies of one of the nation’s most highly classified terrorism documents. The document, an “after-action” memo on the millennium 2000 terror plot authored by terrorism expert Richard Clarke, is so highly classified that any person removing it from secure rooms must do so in a case handcuffed to his or her wrist. Mr. Berger stuffed the five copies in his coat jacket and secreted them out of the archives. He proceeded to cut three of them to pieces with scissors at his downtown offices. Archive officials observed Mr. Berger stealing the documents and reported it to their superiors.
When confronted, Mr. Berger lied. He told investigators he had mistakenly taken the documents and then disposed of them inadvertently afterward. In public statements on the matter he called the theft “an honest mistake.” He declared his only intent had been to collect materials for testimony about the Clinton administration’s counterterrorism policies for the September 11 Commission. At the time, Bill Clinton dismissed the matter with a chuckle. “The innocent explanation is the most likely one,” Mr. Clinton told reporters in Colorado. “We were all laughing about it on the way over here.”
But it wasn’t innocent, and it wasn’t a laughing matter. As Mr. Berger admitted last week, the account he initially gave federal investigators was wrong. The plea agreement he reached with the Department of Justice details that, in fact, he deliberately removed the documents from the National Archives and that far from disposing of them mistakenly, he cut them to pieces with scissors. None of this was inadvertent, a Berger associate acknowledged last week to the Washington Post.
What was Mr. Berger doing with the documents? And why did he destroy only three? The likeliest answer is that he sought to conceal comments he or other Clinton administration officials wrote on them when they were circulating in January 2000. He couldn’t have been trying to erase the document itself from the record, since copies besides the five exist elsewhere. What’s likelier is that jottings in the margins of the three copies he destroyed bore telling indications of the Clinton administration’s approach to terrorism. Mr. Clarke’s document reportedly criticizes the Clinton administration’s handling of the millennial plots and mostly attributes the apprehension of a would-be bomber headed for Los Angeles International Airport to luck and an alert official.
If that turns out to be the case, Mr. Berger erased part of the historical record on terrorism. The Clinton administration’s cavalier attitude toward terrorism is by now well-established; it’s likely to be evident in the archival records and will crop up in official communications. An after-action report like Mr. Clarke’s, written nearly two years before the September 11 terrorist attacks, is as good a candidate as any for the telling aside in the margin.
Andy McCarthy is asking the same questions:
It is reported that this Atta information may have been developed as early as 1999. If that turns out to be true, think about what that means. The Democrats on the Commission (especially Gorelick and BenVeniste), through well coached witnesses like Richard Clarke, told us again and again that in the run up to the Millennium bombing, President Clinton demanded that his entire administration hierarchy be at ?battle stations? ? poring over all the intelligence, demanding answers from the intelligence community about any and all information so that nothing was missed. That is the well-oiled counterterrorism machine they used the Commission investigation to project. (Transparently, the intimation by the Commission Dems was that the Bush hierarchy was comparatively asleep at the switch in the months before 9/11.)
Well, ok, what did those at battle stations do about the Atta information?
And did the Commission know about the Atta information when it allowed its melodramatic public hearings to be used in this fashion?
The Millennium bombing plot against LA Int?l Airport occurred in late 1999 and confirmed that militant Islam was bent on striking the American homeland. What was done at that time about the Atta information?
In October 2000, the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in Yemen, killing 17 U.S. sailors. This reaffirmed that al Qaeda was operating through cells and bent on killing Americans anywhere. What was done at that time about the Atta information?
Given this turn in 9/11 Commission events, it is again worth asking: Why has the public not been told at this point what was in the classified documents that Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger illegally pilfered from the archives during preparation for his Commission testimony (as well as President Clinton?s) ? some of which he destroyed (although there are said to be other copies)? The 9/11 inquiry was said to be so significant to the public?s understanding of intelligence failure that the Commissioners famously forced a Presidential Daily Briefing from the CIA (one of the most sensitive documents generated by government) to be declassified and unsealed so that Bush?s National Security Adviser, Condi Rice, could be asked about it publicly. Why haven?t we been able to see for ourselves what Berger took?
The first time Able Danger gave information about Atta to SOC was the Summer of 2000. Berger took notes that pertained to this time period, specifically the response by the Clinton Administration to the growing terrorist threat. Was there notes on these memo’s that mentions the information from Able Danger? Sandy Berger just may be the key to this thing.
Remember 30 years back when the left was screaming outrage about Watergate? What triggered that scandal? 16 minutes of tape missing.
Now we have information that may show prior knowledge of terrorist activity in this nation and the stealing and destruction of documents pertaining to this knowledge, all in the name of protecting Clinton and his administration.
Where is the left on this one?