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Richard Ben-Veniste
File:Bio ben-veniste.jpg
Born January 3, 1943 (1943-01-03) (age 74)
Residence Washington, D.C.
Ethnicity Jewish
Education A.B. (1964), LL.B. (1967), LL.M. (1968)
Alma mater Stuyvesant High School, Muhlenberg College, Columbia Law School, Northwestern University School of Law
Occupation lawyer
Employer Mayer Brown
Known for Whitewater prosecutor, Senate committee counsel
Home town New York
Title Partner
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Shelby Fischer (divorced)
Donna Grell Ben-Veniste
Children daughters: Danielle and Olivia Ben-Veniste
Awards The Best Lawyers in America, 1983
Washingtonian Magazine's Top Lawyers in Washington, DC, 1992.
LL.D. (honorary), Muhlenberg College, 1975.

Richard Ben-Veniste (born January 3, 1943), a member of the 9/11 Commission, is known for his pointed questions and criticisms of members of both the Clinton Wikipedia[citation needed] and Template:George W. Bush administrations.


Ben-Veniste graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City (1960),[4] earned an A.B. from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania (1964), an LL.B. from Columbia Law School in New York City (1967), and an LL.M. from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois (1968).

He was an assistant U.S. attorney (1968–1973) in the Southern District of New York, and chief of the Special Prosecution section, (1971–1973). He became a leading Watergate scandal prosecutor, first as chief of the Watergate Task Force of the Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office, (1973–1975), then Special Outside Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations (1976–1977), and chief counsel (minority) of the Senate Whitewater Committee (1995–1996).[2][3]

He was the Democrat's chief counsel (1995–1996) on the Senate Whitewater Committee investigating President Bill Clinton's Whitewater scandal and others. He argued effectively, as a skilled trial attorney, that Clinton and Hillary Clinton did no wrong during the deal, in their other Arkansas business affairs, nor in obstructing law enforcement personnel after Vince Foster's suicide. (White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum and Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff Maggie Williams kept investigators out of Foster's office until they had removed papers.)

Ben-Veniste is a presidential appointee (2000) to the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, a group mandated to review and declassify documents relating to war crimes in the World War II era.

9/11 Commission Edit

Ben-Veniste was a member (2002) of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (or "9/11 Commission"), where he developed a reputation for asking tough questions and demanding access to sensitive documents, although in some circles he was accused of grandstanding.[5] His interrogation of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was contentious, for example over an article in the August 6, 2001 President's Daily Brief: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Now, the...

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...

BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...

RICE: I would like to finish my point here.

BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.

RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.

BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.

RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.[6]

Ben-Veniste was a partner of the Washington, DC, law firm of Melrod, Redman & Gartlan (1975–1982). In 1981 he opened an individual practice. He worked for Weil, Gotshal and Manges (1990–2002), was a partner from 1997. He is a partner in Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, 2002–present.[2][3]

He is married to Donna Grell Ben-Veniste. His previous marriage was to Shelby Fischer. He has two daughters: Danielle and Olivia Ben-Veniste.


  • Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton, Stonewall: The Real Story of the Watergate Prosecution Simon & Schuster, 1977, ISBN 0-671-22463-8
  • Richard Ben-Veniste, The Emperor's New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11 Thomas Dunne Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0312357962


  1. Brozan, Nadine (November 28, 1997). "CHRONICLE". New York Times: p. D8. Retrieved 2009-05-02. "Today, there are 1,500 Jews in Salonika and Mr. Ben-Veniste met a distant relative among them, the grandson of my grandfather's half-brother, he said. It was a wonderful discovery." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2003. Entry Updated : 12/10/2003. Document Number: H1000007672 Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-05-02. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Richard Ben-Veniste." Biography Resource Center Online. Gale, 2004. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009. Document Number: K1650004142. Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-05-02.
  4. Hartocollis, Anemona (2002-06-15). "Lead Levels At School Are Linked To Sept. 11". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-02. 
  5. Washington Post review of The Emperors New Clothes: Exposing the Truth From Watergate to 9/11
  6. Rice, Condoleezza (May 19, 2004). "Transcript of Rice's 9/11 commission statement". CNN. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 

Further readingEdit

  • New York Times, November 13, 1973;
  • Washington Post Book World, April 17, 1977.
  • Daily Standard, April 15, 2004.
  • Insight on the News, April 29, 1996.
  • Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2004.
  • Newsweek, June 10, 1996.
  • New York Times, April 18, 2004.
  • Washington Post, December 8, 1998.
  • Washington Post Magazine, July 26, 1981.
  • Weekly Standard, April 21, 1997.

External linksEdit

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