After 10 years of service as the nation’s top cop, FBI Director Robert Mueller recently announced that he is stepping down. The Washington rumor mill suggests that President Obama is considering the appointment of Jamie S. Gorelick to the post. I don’t think he’ll do it and here’s why:
Jamie Gorelick played a principal role in the two greatest national security disasters our nation has faced since World War II, both of which cost us trillions. During the Clinton Administration, she became the Assistant Attorney General under Janet Reno in 1994. The next year, she published a memo that created a wall of separation between law enforcement and intelligence gathering that became known in the Justice Department as the “Gorelick Wall.”
The theory behind the Gorelick Wall was that terrorism was a law enforcement issue and we did not want to risk spoiling evidence that could be used during prosecution by sharing intelligence between agencies. Gorelick was thinking like a prosecutor. She was not thinking like someone trying to prevent an attack on our country and its citizens.
Six years later, that attack happened on September 11, 2001. It was the worst in our nation’s history and resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 innocents.
The best opportunity to thwart the attack before it actually occurred was with the August detention of the so-called 20th hijacker, Zacharius Moussaoui in Minneapolis by the FBI. Agents wanted to question Moussaou, and crack open his laptop computer, but headquarters refused to allow this, citing the Gorelick Wall and concern that his prosecution would be compromised by privacy and due process issues. One of the frustrated agents complained that “someday, someone will die” because of this policy. In less than two weeks, “someday” happened and 3, 000 “someones” perished.
But by this time, Jamie Gorelick was no longer around the Justice Department. She had left her “time bomb” behind and was now vice president of the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), also known as Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae is a government sponsored enterprise (GSE). As a place where private and public money mix, it has long been used by politicians to pay off political debts. Impoverished public servants like Jamie Gorelick can line their pockets at a place like Fannie Mae, and she did.
From 1997 to 2003, Gorelick was paid more than $26 million. That was a lot more lucrative than her previous six years in the Clinton Administration.
Not only was she paid a lot of money for her FNMA tenure, but she also helped “cook the books.” When normal accounting rules would have recorded losses and resulted in withheld bonuses to executives, creative accounting was used to shift losses to other years, enabling fat cats like Gorelick to walk away with big bonuses. As Gorelick was leaving Fannie Mae, these accounting errors were uncovered and resulted in a major scandal and subsequent restatement going back three years.
You might ask what qualifications Gorelick had for the appointment as VP for Fannie Mae and the answer would be “nothing.” She was a lawyer with no background or experience in banking or mortgage lending. Maybe that’s why she had no compunction against moving Fannie into the subprime loan business with securitized financial instruments. Let’s call that “time bomb 2.” When this financial mess blew up in the fall of 2008 and resulted in the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression, Jamie had moved on.
The reason why I believe someone other than Gorelick will be selected to head the FBI is that her confirmation hearing before the Senate would result in very embarrassing questions on both of these matters … and others. Although the Democrats control the Senate and Judiciary Committee, they would be unable to shield her from very pointed questions coming from Republicans who believe that neither of these matters were properly exposed and investigated. The confirmation hearings would likely prove very embarrassing, not only to Gorelick, but to Democrats in general.
I believe that Jamie Gorelick made some monumental errors for which she has never been held accountable. For this reason, I feel she is unqualified to be the top law enforcement officer in our country. I doubt if she can be confirmed and if Obama tries, the process will be so bloody that he’ll decide to avoid it.