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Profile: Scott Phillpott

 
  

Positions that Scott Phillpott has held:



 

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Scott Phillpott actively participated in the following events:

 
  

October 1999: CIA Does Not Share Information with Able Danger Program      Complete 911 Timeline

       Capt. Scott Phillpott, head of the Able Danger program, asks Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer to talk to a representative of CIA Director George Tenet and attempt to convince him that the new Able Danger program is not competing with the CIA. Shaffer later recalls the CIA representative replying, “I clearly understand the difference. I clearly understand. We're going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is, CIA will never give you the best information from ‘Alex Base’ [the CIA's covert action element targeting bin Laden] or anywhere else. CIA will never provide that to you because if you were successful in your effort to target al-Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, we will not support this.” Shaffer claims that for the duration of Able Danger's existence, “To my knowledge, and my other colleagues' knowledge, there was no information ever released to us because CIA chose not to participate in Able Danger.” [Government Security News, 9/05]
People and organizations involved: Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Scott Phillpott, Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet
          

Late September 2000: Able Danger Warns of Increased al-Qaeda Activity in Aden Harbor Shortly Before Attack There      Complete 911 Timeline

       Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will later claim that Capt. Scott Phillpott, leader of the Able Danger program, briefs Gen. Peter Schoomaker, head of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), that Able Danger has uncovered information of increased al-Qaeda “activity” in Aden harbor, Yemen. Shaffer, plus two other officials familiar with Able Danger later tell the New York Post that this warning was gleaned through a search of bin Laden's business ties. Shaffer later recalls, “Yemen was elevated by Able Danger to be one of the top three hot spots for al-Qaeda in the entire world.” This warning, plus another possibly connected warning from Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Kie Fallis (see May 2000-Late September 2000), go unheeded and no official warning is issued. The USS Cole is attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists in Aden harbor in October 2000 (see October 12, 2000). Shaffer later claims that Phillpott tells the 9/11 Commission about this warning in 2004 to show that Able Danger could have had a significant impact, but the Commission's findings fail to mention the warning, or in fact anything else about Able Danger (see July 12, 2004). [New York Post, 9/17/05; Jerry Doyle Show, 9/20/05 Sources: Anthony Shaffer] Rep. Curt Weldon (R) will similarly tell Fox News,“[T]wo weeks before the attack on the Cole, in fact, two days before the attack on the Cole, [Able Danger] saw an increase of activity that led them to say to the senior leadership in the Pentagon at that time, in the Clinton administration, there's something going to happen in Yemen and we better be on high alert, but it was discounted. That story has yet to be told to the American people.” [Fox News, 10/8/05]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Peter J. Schoomaker, Scott Phillpott, Clinton administration, Curt Weldon, Able Danger, Osama bin Laden
          

February 2001-March 2001: Withdrawal of DIA Support Contributes to End of Able Danger Program      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Maj. Gen. Rod Isler.
The new Director of Operations for the DIA, General Ron Isler, has Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer brief him on a series of operations. According to Shaffer, Isler strongly objects to Shaffer assisting Able Danger. “I said, ‘Well, sir, with all due respect, this is an important operation focused on the global al-Qaeda target,’ and he said, ‘You're not hearing me, Tony. This is not your job.’” After further disagreement, Shaffer recalls the argument ending, “‘Tony, I'm the two star here. I'm the two star. I'm telling you I don't want you doing anything with Able Danger.’ ‘Sir, if not us then who?’ ‘I don't know, but it's not your job.’ And that effectively ended my direct support and my unit's [Stratus Ivy] support to Able Danger.” Recalling how this helped end Able Danger, Shaffer says, “I remember the last conversation I had with Captain Scott Phillpott on this was a desperate call from him asking me to try to help use one of my operational facilities to at least try to exploit the information [Able Danger had collected] before it got lost.” However, Isler says he cannot recall any discussion with Shaffer about Able Danger. [Government Security News, 9/05]
People and organizations involved: Ron Isler, Scott Phillpott, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger
          

July 12, 2004: 9/11 Commission Staff Meet with Navy Officer Involved with Able Danger Unit      Complete 911 Timeline

       Ten days before the 9/11 Commission releases its final report, a senior member of its staff, Dietrich Snell, accompanied by another commission staff member, meets at one of the commission's Washington, DC offices with a US Navy officer who worked with a US Army intelligence program called Able Danger, which had been tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks around the world. This officer, Captain Scott Phillpott, tells them he saw an Able Danger document in 2000 that described Mohamed Atta as part of a Brooklyn al-Qaeda cell. He complains that this information about Atta, and information about other alleged members of the Brooklyn cell, was deleted from the document soon after he saw it, due to the concerns of Department of Defense lawyers. However, despite having this meeting with Phillpott, and having met previously with an Army intelligence officer who was also involved with Able Danger (see October 21, 2003), the 9/11 Commission makes no mention of the unit in their final report. The commissioners later claim that Phillpott's information “[does] not mesh with other conclusions” they are drawing from their investigation. Consequently, the commission staff conclude “that the officer's account [is] not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.” Able Danger is not mentioned in their final report, they claim, because “the operation itself did not turn out to be historically significant.” [Associated Press, 8/11/05; New York Times, 8/11/05; New York Times, 8/13/05; Kean-Hamilton statement, 8/12/05; New York Times, 8/22/05; Washington Post, 8/13/05] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer additionally claims, “Captain Phillpott actually told the 9-11 Commission about the fact that Able Danger discovered information regarding the Cole attack. ... There was information that Able Danger found that related to al-Qaeda planning an attack. That information unfortunately didn't get anywhere either. So that is another clue that was given to the 9-11 Commission to say, hey, this [Able Danger] capability did some stuff, and they chose not to even look at that.” [Jerry Doyle Show, 9/20/05]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense, Anthony Shaffer, al-Qaeda, Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Scott Phillpott, Dietrich Snell, 9/11 Commission
          

August 22-September 1, 2005: More Individuals Come Forward to Confirm Able Danger Allegations      Complete 911 Timeline

      
James D. Smith.
Several individuals come forward and corroborate claims made about a military intelligence unit called Able Danger that, by mid-2000, allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers. Days previously, a US Army intelligence officer called Anthony Shaffer made claims about the unit (see August 17, 2005). On August 22, Scott J. Phillpott, an active-duty Navy captain who managed the Able Danger program for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command, comes forward and corroborates Shaffer's claims. He says, “My story is consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger in January-February of 2000.” Phillpott states that he was the officer who met with staff from the 9/11 Commission in July 2004, and told them about the program (see July 12, 2004). [New York Times, 8/22/05] Claims about the program are further corroborated when a former employee of a defense contractor who says he worked on the technical side of the unit, also comes forward. James D. Smith, who worked for Orion Scientific Systems [Norristown Times Herald, 9/22/05] , states that in 2000 he helped create a chart for Able Danger. He says, “I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City.” [Fox News, 8/28/05] Furthermore, the Pentagon admits that they have found three others, apart from Anthony Shaffer and Scott Phillpott, associated with Able Danger who assert that the program identified Mohamed Atta as an al-Qaeda suspect inside the US more than a year before 9/11. An official says that the five individuals associated with the program (including Shaffer and Phillpott) were all considered “credible people,” and that four of them recalled a photo of Mohamed Atta accompanying the chart they produced. [Reuters, 9/1/05] Eleven people ran Able Danger. [Bergen Record, 8/14/05] The Pentagon interviewed a total of 80 people who had some kind of association with the Able Danger program. [New York Times, 9/1/05]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Mohamed Atta, al-Qaeda, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, US Department of Defense, James D. Smith, Scott Phillpott
          

September 21, 2005: Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Public Hearing on Able Danger Unit; Key Officers Barred From Testifying      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Sen. Arlen Specter.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Arlen Specter (R), holds a public hearing to investigate an intelligence program called Able Danger, to explore allegations that it identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers more than a year before 9/11, and to learn why the Pentagon disbanded it and destroyed the information it had gathered. [UPI, 9/21/05; Government Computer News, 9/21/05; New York Times, 9/21/05] The committee is seeking testimony from several former Able Danger members. Among these are Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, Dr. Eileen Preisser, and civilian analyst James D. Smith; all but Preisser have recently come forward with allegations about the unit (see August 17, 2005; August 22-September 1, 2005). However, the day before the hearing, Defense Department lawyers ordered them and other former Able Danger members not to testify. [UPI, 9/21/05; Jerry Doyle Show, 9/20/05] Shaffer says in an interview, “I was told by two [Defense Department] officials today directly that it is their understanding that [Defense Secretary Rumsfeld] directed that we not testify...” [Jerry Doyle Show, 9/20/05] The Defense Department's only reason for doing so, offered by a spokesman, is that they have “expressed [their] security concerns and believe it is simply not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum open testimony of these witnesses.” [New York Times, 9/21/05] Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter says, “That looks to me like it may be obstruction of the committee's activities, something we will have to determine.” He complains that the Pentagon only delivered hundreds of pages of documents related to Able Danger late on the eve of the hearing, leaving no time for committee staff to review the material. [Reuters, 9/21/05] Furthermore, the Pentagon's representative at the hearing, William Dugan, admits that he has very limited knowledge of Able Danger. Arlen Specter tells him, “You were sent over—perhaps with the calculation you wouldn't have the information.” [Associated Press, 9/21/05; Government Computer News, 9/21/05]
People and organizations involved: Eileen Preisser, US Department of Defense, Anthony Shaffer, Donald Rumsfeld, William Dugan, Arlen Specter, James D. Smith, Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, Senate Judiciary Committee, Scott Phillpott
          

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