Movie patrons recall Forrest Gump’s remarkable presence in an amazing succession of notable historical events. Gump’s innocence and simple wisdom amid those times made for a delightful two hours of cinematic escapism. But there is no escaping the damage that would result if President Barack Obama appoints Jamie Gorelick to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI director. Like Gump, Gorelick was present at a remarkable series of recent historical events during the past two decades, but through them, all she displayed nothing that could be called either innocent or wise. So let us count the ways in which Gorelick earned the sobriquet “Mistress of Disaster.”
First, there was her tenure as deputy attorney general under Janet Reno during President Bill Clinton’s first term. Reno described Gorelick as Justice’s “chief operating officer” from 1993 to 1997. She was a key Reno advisor during the horrendous events in Waco, Texas, in which David Koresh, 76 of his Branch Davidian followers (including 20 women and children) and four federal agents died in an unbelievably bungled assault intended to end a 50-day siege. The Davidians were immolated in a fiery inferno apparently ignited by pyrotechnic gas grenades used by the government in the assault.
Next came Gorelick’s move to Fannie Mae, where as vice chairwoman from 1997 to 2003 she was paid in excess of $26 million. During her time at Fannie Mae, Enron-style accounting techniques were used to make the government-chartered mortgage corporation appear to be in better financial shape than it was. As a result of the cooked books, Gorelick was paid more than $800,000 in bonuses in 1998. She was among multiple former Democratic operatives then working at Fannie Mae who received substantial additional compensation for their exertions in what later proved to be a $10 billion scandal. Shortly before the scandal became public, Gorelick told Business Week that Fannie Mae was “managed safely ... Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions.” It was also during these years that Fannie Mae began investing heavily in the sub-prime loans and unsecured mortgage securities that were at the heart of the Great Recession of 2008.
Finally, and most seriously, there is the matter of “Gorelick’s Wall” and 9/11.
Gorelick was a member of the 9/11 Commission and became a focus of critical attention during its hearings when it became known that during her Department of Justice tenure she imposed a policy of radical separation between the FBI and the nation’s intelligence agencies in terrorism investigations. According to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, “Gorelock’s Wall” was a key reason why “we did not know an attack was coming.” By barring such contacts, Ashcroft told the commission, “our agents were isolated by government-imposed walls, handcuffed by government-imposed restrictions, and starved for basic information technology. The old national intelligence system in place on Sept. 11 was destined to fail.” Gorelick refused to resign from the commission despite the obvious conflict of interest.
After such a checkered career, we find it incredible that Gorelick would be on anybody’s list for appointment to any federal position, much less to head the FBI.