O'Reilly Revived "Wall" Falsehood To Suggest Holder, Not Bush, Should Be Prosecuted

Summary: Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed "Eric Holder and Janet Reno put the wall up between the FBI and the CIA." In fact, the guidelines to which O'Reilly referred had no impact on communications between the FBI and the CIA, the Department of Defense, or any other agencies.

Source: mediamatters.org (video at source)


Discussing the possibility that the Obama Justice Department could prosecute Bush administration officials who authorized torture, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed during the April 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor that "[Attorney General] Eric Holder and [former Attorney General] Janet Reno put the wall up between the FBI and the CIA, which led to the 9-11 attacks. If anybody should be prosecuted it's him. ... Holder is your guy." In fact, the 1995 Justice Department memo and guidelines to which O'Reilly referred only addressed communications among divisions within DOJ, clarifying longtime unwritten restrictions on the sharing of information between the FBI's intelligence arm and DOJ's criminal division. They had no impact on communications between the FBI and the CIA, the Department of Defense, or any other agencies. O'Reilly should know this; when he previously adopted the "wall" falsehood, 9-11 Commission member and former Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA) told O'Reilly that the policies in question made "no limitation on any intelligence agency sharing anything with any other intelligence agency at all."

As Media Matters for America noted, on the August 22, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that former deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick's "involvement in building a symbolic wall between U.S. intelligence agencies and those investigating criminal activity" aided in creating "mass confusion among the agencies that are supposed to protect us" before the 9-11 terrorist attacks. O'Reilly also declared, "[W]hat I know to be true is that there was a tremendous amount of confusion, from 1995 onward after this crazy act that Janet Reno for some reason in her office made everybody aware of, that intelligence sources overseas were not to brief criminal investigators like the FBI." Gorton responded in part by saying that "[t]here was no limitation on any intelligence agency sharing anything" and that "nothing Jamie Gorelick wrote had the slightest impact on the Department of Defense or its willingness or ability to share intelligence information with other intelligence agencies." Gorton also noted that the purported "wall" predated Gorelick and Reno and was actually "created by laws sponsored by the Church Committee back in the 1970s" and "went all the way through until after 9-11 was over."

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft noted in his testimony before the 9-11 Commission on April 13, 2004, that the Gorelick memo provided the "basic architecture" for the 1995 guidelines established by Reno that formalized rules for intelligence sharing that were already in place. But, as the 1995 guidelines clearly state, the Gorelick memo and the guidelines applied only to intelligence sharing "between the FBI and the Criminal Division" within the Justice Department, not "between the FBI and the CIA":

SUBJECT: Procedures for Contacts Between the FBI [intelligence/counterintelligence functions] and the Criminal Division Concerning Foreign Intelligence and Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations

The procedures contained herein, unless otherwise specified by the Attorney General, apply to foreign intelligence (FI) and foreign counterintelligence (FCI) investigations conducted by the FBI, including investigations related to espionage and foreign and international terrorism. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that FI and FCI investigations are conducted lawfully, and that the Department's criminal and intelligence/counterintelligence functions are properly coordinated.While repeating the "wall" falsehood, O'Reilly also falsely claimed that "Holder was second in command to Janet Reno" at the time the "wall" was created. In fact, Holder did not replace Gorelick as deputy attorney general until 1997 -- two years after the Justice Department issued the 1995 memo and guidelines that conservatives claim created the "wall."

From the April 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

ELLIS HENICAN (Fox News political analyst and Newsday columnist): I am on the side of doing something very simple here. Let's have an investigation. Let it be --

O'REILLY: Headed by whom?

HENICAN: Let it be -- let the Justice Department decide about the crimes that were committed here.

O'REILLY: Oh, Holder? You want Holder in charge of that?

HENICAN: Let the -- let the facts be gathered here. And let the facts lead. Why are you scared of the facts?

O'REILLY: Hold it. Do you know --

HENICAN: Why won't you let us gather the facts --

O'REILLY: -- Eric Holder is?

HENICAN: -- and take them where they lead?

O'REILLY: Do you know who Eric Holder is?

HENICAN: He's the attorney general of the United States.

O'REILLY: Do you know what he did?

HENICAN: And professionals in that office are going to make this decision, not Eric Holder.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, you listen to me.

HENICAN: Professionals in this office. That's the facts, O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: You listen to me. Eric Holder was second in command to Janet Reno. Eric Holder and Janet Reno --

HENICAN: Well --

O'REILLY: -- put the wall up between the FBI and the CIA --

HENICAN: And you -- and you didn't --

O'REILLY: -- which led to the 9-11 attacks.

HENICAN: And you were happy -- and you were happy --

O'REILLY: If anybody should be prosecuted --

HENICAN: You were happy when Gonzales was making --

O'REILLY: -- it's him.

HENICAN: You were happy when Gonzales was making these decisions. Here's the reality: Why don't we do this in this country? Let's handle this the way we handle everything, which is to allow the professionals in the Justice Department to conduct a proper investigation.

O'REILLY: The professionals in the Justice Department.

HENICAN: You stay away from the politics, though. You quit meddling --

O'REILLY: Holder is your guy.

HENICAN: You quit meddling in the politics, and you let the facts speak for themselves. If this --

O'REILLY: This -- Holder --

HENICAN: If this is illegal, I want people to go to jail.

O'REILLY: Holder is not qualified to do this. And -- hey --

HENICAN: Well, he's the attorney general of the United States.

O'REILLY: -- here's the deal.

HENICAN: He was approved.

O'REILLY: If Obama does this, it is the end --


O'REILLY: -- of the Obama presidency.

HENICAN: No, you don't like it. I understand that.

O'REILLY: No, it's the end.

HENICAN: You don't agree with it. I get that.

O'REILLY: And if he gets hit -- if we get hit after he does this --

HENICAN: Oh, you know what?

O'REILLY: -- over.

HENICAN: You know what? Why are you so insistent on politicizing this? Why don't we let the professionals --

O'REILLY: I'm politicizing this?

HENICAN: Why -- yes. Why don't we let the professionals --

O'REILLY: Leahy is the guy calling for it; MoveOn and Soros.

HENICAN: We've got -- we've got politicians on both sides of it yelping. But you're a man who ought to have some values that we share.


The "Wall" Memo

"the guidelines applied only to intelligence sharing "between the FBI and the Criminal Division" within the Justice Department, not "between the FBI and the CIA""

Yes, this issue is frequently obfuscated by the right-wing noise machine. The Bush Administration was so full of incompetents and villains that some people will do whatever they can to blame the previous administration(not that the Clinton administration was stellar).

In fact, the FBI had agents assigned to the CIA, and CIA had agents assigned to work with the FBI. After the CIA created Alec Station in 1996, Dan Coleman an FBI agent at the New York Office, was assigned to this station. He even received clearance which allowed him access to the CIA's Hercules database system. Also Tom Wilshire, who was the deputy director of Alec Station, was later on loan to the FBI.


'The Bush Administration was so full of incompetents and villains...'

Oh it was villainy alright, not incompetence. Both through their actions and their inactions, they furthered their desired goals. The canard of 'incompetence' in the Bush administration implies that they were really trying to do the right things, but they were just too darned incompetent in how they went about it. But 'competence' is to be measured in how successful an administration is in bringing about what it wants, not in doing what is right. In terms of success in furthering the goals which it had when coming into office, this was among the more competent administrations there have been. But this canard gets repeated so many times that, I find, even truthers can be susceptible to it sometimes. They weren't incompetently trying to do the right thing; they were quite competently trying to do the wrong (though very much desired, from their point of view) thing--knowing they would have little to fear in the way of exposure from the US news media.

Tom Wilshire

Isn't Tom Wilshire the CIA manager that blocked the CIR on Mihdhar written by FBI Agent Doug Miller on January 5, 200 and then had his CIA desk officer write another CIR that said the information on Mihdhar had been passed to the FBI when in fact it had not.

Didn’t Wilshire also review the cable on March 5, 2000 that said Nawaf al-Hazmi, Mihdhar’s travel companion, had entered the US on January 15, 2000, knew that Hazmi had taken part in the east Africa attacks that had killed over 200 people and then did not watch list Hazmi or inform the FBI that a dangerous al Qaeda terrorist was now inside of the US preparing to take part in yet another al Qaeda attack.

Isn’t Wilshire the one that received FBI Agent Ali Soufan’s request in April 2001 for any information that the CIA had on any al Qaeda planning meeting in Kuala Lumpur in Janaury 2000, and on Waid Bin Attash. But Wilshire knew that Walid Bin Attash, , the mastermind of the Cole bombing, had been photographed at the Kuala Lumpur al Qaeda planning meeting with both Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi planning the Cole bombing. We now know that not only did Wilshire not give this information to Soufan, but instead, working with FBI IOS HQ Agent Dina Corsi, set up the now famous meeting in New York City on June 11, 2001 with FBI Agent Steve Bongardt and his team of Cole investigators, Soufan’s own people. It is now clear this meeting was set up to find out if the FBI Cole investigtaors had uncovered any information about the Kuala Lumpur meeting or on Mihdhar and Hazmi, information that Wilshire and the CIA had been keeping secret from them since January 5, 2000.

Isn’t Wilshire the one emailed his CTC managers on July 5, 2001 and said that the people at the Kuala Lumpur al Qaeda planning meeting were connected to the warnings of a massive al Qaeda attack about to take place inside of the US that would kill thousands of Americans. The people that the CIA and Wilshire knew were at the Kuala meeting were Khalid al-Mihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Same al-Hazmi, Nawaf’s younger brother, and even Walod Bon Attash.

And isn’t Wilshire the one that emailed his CTC managers on July 23, 2001 and stated that Khalid al-Mihdhar and by association Nawaf al-Hazmi would take part in the next big al Qaeda terrorist attack, an attack that by this time the CIA knew would take place inside of the US.

And then didn’t Wilshire, and FBI IOS Agent Dina Corsi, receive information from FBI Agent Margaret Gillespie on August 22, 2001 that both Mihdhar and Hazmi were inside of the US, information that Wilshire knew would mean that both these terrorists were here in order to take part in the massive al Qaeda attack that he and the CIA knew would kill thousands of Americans.

And didn’t Wilshire and Corsi then not only not give this horrific information to the FBI criminal investigators on the Cole bombing, but then shut down their investigation of Mihdhar and Hazmi when they clearly knew by shutting down this investigation thousands of Americans would be killed in these upcoming terrorist attacks. In fact they did not raise any alarm at all, when they knew by not doing so many Americans would persih in these attacks.

Yes indeed this is the same Wilshire that was mentioned in the prior post. Doesn't sound like Wilshire is such a nice person, or Corsi for that matter.