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April 16, 2004

MORE THINGS TO ASK JAMIE GORELICK:

One of the appendices to Rowan Scarborough's book, Rumsfeld's War, is a previously classified study of why Clinton never used special ops troops to attack bin Laden. That study says that when the Clintons considered employing special operations forces against bin Laden, questions arose whether the Defense Department had the legal authority to engage in such covert operations. Part of it says, "Pentagon lawyers in the 1990s argued that DoD did not have the legal authority.…Only the CIA…had the license to conduct covert action..."

But, as the study found, the Pentagon lawyers' objection is wrong, and specific authority exists for the president to assign covert missions to the armed services. And who was the chief lawyer in the Pentagon in 1993 and 1994? None other than our gal Jamie. She left DoD for the Justice Department before bin Laden became a household word. But DoD top lawyers would have consulted with Gorelick on an issue that would be -- as that one was -- briefed to the Secretary of Defense, and probably to the president as well. Did Gorelick participate in the decision to nix spec ops? What advice did the DoD ask for and receive from her and the Justice Department on that subject? The Commission needs to find out. Under oath.

I don't think that Gorelick has done anything wrong. But it does appear that she should be a witness, not a Commissioner, on a number of important issues.