Attorney General John Ashcroft strongly defended the Bush administration and himself today before the 9/11 commission, laying the blame for intelligence failures prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks squarely on the presidency of Bill Clinton.
Mr. Ashcroft said Al Qaeda was able to plan and carry out the attacks that killed some 3,000 people in large part because of policies of the Clinton administration and its deliberate neglect of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's computer technology. . . .
The attorney general sounded almost contemptuous as he spoke of a "legal wall" put into effect in 1995 to separate criminal investigators from intelligence agents in an effort to safeguard individual rights.
Far from protecting individual rights, Mr. Ashcroft asserted, the wall has been an obstacle to protecting the American people.
Referring to the 1995 document that constructed the figurative wall, Mr. Ashcroft went on to say, "Full disclosure compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the commission."
Mr. Ashcroft was a referring to Jamie Gorelick, a Democratic member of the independent, bipartisan, 10-member commission, who was deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: The Northern Alliance folks on Hugh Hewitt (I'm listening online) say that the response from Democrats and the press is "spin, spin, spin."
So how can Gorelick be sitting on this commission when her own decisions are at issue? I'm pretty flexible about conflicts of interest, but this seems pretty dramatic. More on that here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More Gorelick conflicts of interest here and here. (Earlier InstaPundit posts on this subject here,here, and here, with links to lots of other stuff.) She seems to have been a poor choice for the Commission all along.
MORE: Here's a link to the transcript from the 9/11 Commission hearings.
STILL MORE: Ethan Wallison of Roll Call says that Jamie Gorelick is on the wrong side of the table in this inquiry.