Ashcroft disclosed that Commissioner Jamie Gorelick wrote this, which Ashcroft properly described as "[t]he single greatest structural cause for September 11...the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents." Ashcroft continued, "Government erected this wall. Government buttressed this wall. And before September 11, government was blinded by this wall." Specifically,
In the days before September 11, the wall...impeded the investigation into Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. After the FBI arrested Moussaoui, agents became suspicious of his interest in commercial aircraft and sought approval for a criminal warrant to search his computer. The warrant was rejected because FBI officials feared breaching the wall.Of course Gorelick didn't foresee the particular, horrific terrorist acts we call 9/11, just as a drunk driver doesn't foresee the particular, horrific accident caused by his drunkenness.
When the CIA finally told the FBI that al-Midhar and al-Hazmi were in the country in late August, agents in New York searched for the suspects. But because of the wall, FBI Headquarters refused to allow criminal investigators who knew the most about the most recent al Qaeda attack to join the hunt for the suspected terrorists.
At that time, a frustrated FBI investigator wrote Headquarters, quote, "Whatever has happened to this — someday someone will die — and wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems'. Let's hope the National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decision then, especially since the biggest threat to us, UBL, is getting the most protection."
If Gorelick's policy hadn't become known immediately after 9/11 -- and hadn't been rectified already -- Ashcroft's testimony would have contained the only true "bombshell" to emerge thus far from the 9/11 hearings.