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Profile: Special Operations Command

 
  

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Special Operations Command actively participated in the following events:

 
  

Fall 1999: Army Intelligence Program Is Set Up to Gather Information on Al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Gen. Pete Schoomaker.
On the orders of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the head of the military's Special Operations Command (SOCOM), sets up an intelligence program called Able Danger, to assemble information about al-Qaeda networks around the world. SOCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for America's secret commando units. [Government Security News, 9/05] At least some of the data is collected on behalf of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert, the J3 at US Special Operations Command. [Curt Weldon Statement, 9/21/05] Mark Zaid, a lawyer for several Able Danger whistleblowers in 2005, will give this description of Able Danger: “In the most understandable and simplistic terms, Able Danger involved the searching out and compiling of open source or other publicly available information regarding specific targets or tasks that were connected through associational links. No classified information was used. No government database systems were used. In addition to examining al-Qaeda links, Able Danger also handled tasks relating to Bosnia and China. The search and compilation efforts were primarily handled by defense contractors, who did not necessarily know they were working for Able Danger, and that information was then to be utilized by the military members of Able Danger for whatever appropriate purposes.” [Mark Zaid Testimony, 9/21/05] Eleven intelligence employees are directly involved in Able Danger's work. Six are with SOCOM's Able Danger unit. Four more, including Dr. Eileen Preisser and Maj. Eric Kleinsmith, are with the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), which joins the effort in December 1999. LIWA had been conducing data mining already on a wide variety of topics, including international drug cartels, corruption in Russia and Serbia, terrorist linkages in the Far East, and the proliferation of sensitive military technology to China (see April 2000). Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer running a unit called Stratus Ivy in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) will also take part in the effort. [Government Security News, 8/05; Norristown Times Herald, 6/19/05; New York Times, 8/9/05; St Petersburg Times, 8/10/05; Erik Kleinsmith Statement, 9/21/05; Government Security News, 9/05; Bergen Record, 8/14/05; Curt Weldon Statement, 9/21/05] Using computers, the unit collects huge amounts of data in a technique called “data mining.” They get information from such sources as al-Qaeda Internet chat rooms, news accounts, web sites, and financial records. Using sophisticated software, they compare this with government records such as visa applications by foreign tourists, to find any correlations and depict these visually. [Government Security News, 9/05; Bergen Record, 8/14/05] The program lasts for 18 months, and is shut down early in 2001 (see January-March 2001).
People and organizations involved: Peter J. Schoomaker, Russia, Bosnia, al-Qaeda, Geoffrey Lambert, China, Curt Weldon, Hugh Shelton, Mark Zaid, Special Operations Command, Anthony Shaffer, Eric Kleinsmith, Eileen Preisser, Able Danger
          

September 2000: Military Lawyers Prevent Able Danger From Sharing Information about Atta and Others with FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

       On three occasions, military lawyers force members of Able Danger to cancel scheduled meetings with the FBI at the last minute. Able Danger officials want to share information about the Brooklyn al-Qaeda cell they believe they've discovered which includes Mohamed Atta and other hijackers (see January-February 2000). The exact timing of these meetings remains unclear, but they appear to happen around the time military lawyers tell Able Danger they are not allowed to pursue Mohamed Atta and other figures (see September 2000) . [Government Security News, 9/05] In 2005, it will be reported that Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer contacted FBI agent Xanthig Magnum in attempts to set up these meetings. Magnum is willing to testify about her communications with Shaffer, but apparently she has not yet been able to do so. [Fox News, 8/28/05] Rep. Curt Weldon (R), who in 2005 helps bring to light the existence of the program, says, “Obviously, if we had taken out that cell, 9/11 would not have occurred and, certainly, taking out those three principal players in that cell would have severely crippled, if not totally stopped, the operation that killed 3,000 people in America.” [Government Security News, 8/05]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Xanthig Magnum, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, Special Operations Command, Curt Weldon, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 25, 2001: Rep. Curt Weldon Gives Able Danger Chart to Deputy National Security Advisor, Mention of Atta on Chart Is Uncertain      Complete 911 Timeline

       Rep. Curt Weldon (R) later claims that about two weeks after 9/11, he is given a chart by friends of his from the Army's Information Dominance Center, in cooperation with special ops. The chart indicates various al-Qaeda cells that were identified by a military intelligence unit called Able Danger. Early in 2000, this unit identified, amongst others, an al-Qaeda cell based in Brooklyn, New York, which included Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers (see January-February 2000). Atta's name is said to be on the chart given to Weldon. Shortly after being given the chart, Weldon meets with Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and shows the chart to him. Weldon claims, “Hadley looked at the chart and said, Congressman, where did you get that chart from? I said, I got it from the military. ... Steve Hadley said, Congressman, I am going to take this chart, and I am going to show it to the man. The man that he meant ... was the President of the United States. I said, Mr. Hadley, you mean you have not seen something like this before from the CIA, this chart of al-Qaeda worldwide and in the US? And he said, No, Congressman. So I gave him the chart. ” [Congressional Record, 6/27/05; Fox News, 8/22/05; Delaware County Daily Times, 8/12/05] However, a spokesman for Hadley later disputes this account, and says, “Mr. Hadley does not recall any chart bearing the name or photo of Mohamed Atta. [National Security Council] staff reviewed the files of Mr. Hadley as well as of all [National Security Council] personnel... That search has turned up no chart.” [Washington Post, 9/24/05] Rep. Dan Burton (R) later recalls attending the meeting and remembers the chart, but can't recall if Atta was on it or not. [New York Times, 10/1/05] Curt Weldon also later claims that the copy of the chart he gives to Hadley is his only one. [Time, 8/14/05] However, apparently contradicting this, Weldon will give a speech in 2002 showing the chart (see May 23, 2002).
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Stephen Hadley, Dan Burton, Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Information Dominance Center, Central Intelligence Agency, Special Operations Command, Curt Weldon
          

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