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Profile: Anthony Shaffer

 
  

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Anthony Shaffer 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
          

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
          

(Before September 2000): Army Intelligence Unit Said to Discover Hijackers Renting Rooms at New Jersey Motels      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to an anonymous Able Danger official speaking to the Bergen Record, a US Army intelligence unit tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks worldwide discovers that several of the 9/11 hijackers are taking rooms at motels in New Jersey and meeting together there. The intelligence unit, called Able Danger, which uses high-speed computers to analyze vast amounts of data, notices that Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi take a room at the Wayne Inn (see (Before September 2000-12 Months Later)). After the existence of the Able Danger unit comes to light in 2005, Bergen Record columnist and reporter Mike Kelly says, “The connect-the-dots tracking by the team was so good that it even knew Atta conducted meetings with the three future hijackers. One of those meetings took place at the Wayne Inn. That's how close all this was—to us and to being solved, if only the information had been passed up the line to FBI agents or even to local cops. This new piece of 9/11 history, revealed only last week by a Pennsylvania congressman and confirmed by two former members of the intelligence team, could turn out to be one of the most explosive revelations since the publication last summer of the 9/11 commission report.” [Bergen Record, 8/14/05] The other two hijackers said to be present at the meetings, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, periodically live in the town of Paterson, only one mile away from Wayne (see March 2001-September 1, 2001). However, contradicting this account, a lawyer representing members of Able Danger later testifies, “At no time did Able Danger identify Mohamed Atta as being physically present in the United States.” [Mark Zaid Statement, 9/21/05; CNN, 9/21/05] Some media accounts have stated that the Able Danger program determined Atta was in the US before 9/11. For instance, Fox News reported in August 2005, “[Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer] is standing by his claim that he told them that the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks had been identified in the summer of 2000 as an al-Qaeda operative living in the United States.” [Fox News, 8/17/05]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Marwan Alshehhi, Able Danger, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Mohamed Atta, Anthony Shaffer
          

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
          

Early 2001: Top Military Leaders Attend Briefings on Able Danger      Complete 911 Timeline

       In January, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton is given a three hour briefing on Able Danger. Shelton supported the formation of Able Danger back in 1999 (see Fall 1999). The content of the briefing has never been reported. Then in March, during a briefing on another classified program called Door Hop Galley, Able Danger is again brought up. This briefing, given by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, is attended by Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Richard Schiefren, an attorney at DOD; and Stephen Cambone, Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense. [Government Security News, 9/05; Curt Weldon Press Conference, 9/17/05 Sources: Curt Weldon] In mid-September 2005, Weldon will say, “I knew that the Clinton administration clearly knew about this. Now I know of at least two briefings in the Bush administration.” He calls these two briefings “very troubling.” He wants to know what became of the information presented in these briefings, suggesting it shouldn't have been destroyed as part of the other Able Danger data purges. [Delaware County Daily Times, 9/16/05; Curt Weldon Press Conference, 9/17/05]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Able Danger, Clinton administration, Richard Schiefren, Henry H. Shelton, Anthony Shaffer, Stephen A. Cambone, Thomas Wilson
          

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
          

October 21, 2003: 9/11 Commission Staff Meet Member of Able Danger Unit      Complete 911 Timeline

       Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, along with two members of the commission's staff, meets at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan with three individuals doing intelligence work for the US Defense Department. [CNN, 8/17/05] Among these is Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which between fall 1999 and spring 2001 was tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks around the world (see Fall 1999; January-March 2001) . According to Shaffer's own later account, he gives the commission staff a detailed account of what Able Danger was, and tells them, “We found two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, to include [Mohamed] Atta.” At the end of the meeting, Philip Zelikow approaches him and says, “This is important. We need to continue this dialogue when we get back to the states. ” [Government Security News, 9/05] Following the meeting, Zelikow calls back to the 9/11 Commission's headquarters in Washington to request that staff draft a document request, seeking information on Able Danger from the Department of Defense. [Kean-Hamilton statement, 8/12/05] According to Anthony Shaffer, “My understanding from talking to another member of the press is that [Zelikow's] call came into America at four o clock in the morning. He got people out of bed over this.” [Government Security News, 9/05] Shaffer subsequently tries contacting Philip Zelikow in January 2004 (see Early January 2004). Spokesmen for the commission members contradict Shaffer's account, claiming that, while they are told of the existence of Able Danger at this briefing, they aren't informed that it had identified Mohamed Atta and the other hijackers as threats. [New York Times, 8/10/05] An official statement says that a memorandum prepared by the commission staff after the meeting “does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation.” [Kean-Hamilton statement, 8/12/05]
People and organizations involved: Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Philip Zelikow, US Department of Defense, Mohamed Atta, 9/11 Commission
          

Early January 2004: Able Danger Intelligence Officer Tries Contacting 9/11 Commission      Complete 911 Timeline

       Following an October 2003 meeting with three members of the 9/11 Commission's staff (see October 21, 2003), Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer tries contacting Philip Zelikow, the commission's executive director, as requested by Zelikow himself. Shaffer is an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers in early 2000 (see January-February 2000). He phones Zelikow's number the first week of January 2004. The person who replies tells him, “I will talk to Dr. Zelikow and find out when he wants you to come in.” However, Shaffer receives no call back, so a week later he phones again. This time, the person who answers him says, “Dr. Zelikow tells me that he does not see the need for you to come in. We have all the information on Able Danger.” [Government Security News, 9/05] Yet the commission doesn't even receive the Able Danger documentation they had previously requested from the Defense Department until the following month (see February 2004). [Kean-Hamilton statement, 8/12/05]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, Anthony Shaffer, Philip Zelikow, Able Danger
          

February 2004: 9/11 Commission Receives Documentation Relating to Able Danger Program      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission receives documents that it had requested from the Department of Defense, relating to a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which had allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks. [Norristown Times Herald, 8/13/05; New York Times, 8/9/05] The commission requested the documents in November 2003, after a meeting in Afghanistan with Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who had worked closely with the unit (see October 21, 2003). Some documents are given directly to the commission, others are available for review in a Department of Defense reading room, where commission staff make notes summarizing them. Some of the documents include diagrams of Islamic militant networks. However, an official statement later claims, “None of the documents turned over to the Commission mention Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers. Nor do any of the staff notes on documents reviewed in the DOD reading room indicate that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers were mentioned in any of those documents. ” [Washington Post, 8/13/05; Kean-Hamilton statement, 8/12/05] Shaffer responds, “I'm told confidently by the person who moved the material over, that the Sept. 11 commission received two briefcase-sized containers of documents. I can tell you for a fact that would not be one-twentieth of the information that Able Danger consisted of during the time we spent.” [Fox News, 8/17/05]
People and organizations involved: Able Danger, US Department of Defense, Anthony Shaffer, 9/11 Commission
          

March 2004: Able Danger Intelligence Officer Has Security Clearance Suspended      Complete 911 Timeline

       Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, has his security clearance suspended for what his lawyer later describes as “petty and frivolous” reasons, including a dispute over mileage reimbursement and charges for personal calls on a work cell phone. [Fox News, 8/19/05] According to Shaffer, allegations are made against him over $67 in phone charges, which he accumulated over 18 months. He says, “Even though when they told me about this issue, I offered to pay it back, they chose instead to spend in our estimation $400,000 to investigate all these issues simply to drum up this information.” No formal action is ever taken against Shaffer, and later in the year the Army promotes him to lieutenant colonel. [Fox News, 8/17/05; Government Security News, 9/05] A few months previous, Shaffer had met with staff from the 9/11 Commission, and allegedly informed them that Able Danger had, more than a year before the attacks, identified two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, including Mohamed Atta (see October 21, 2003). According to Shaffer's lawyer, it is because of him having his security clearance suspended that he does not later have any documentation relating to Able Danger. [Fox News, 8/19/05] Rep. Curt Weldon (R) will later comment, “In January of 2004 when [Shaffer] was twice rebuffed by the 9/11 Commission for a personal follow-up meeting, he was assigned back to Afghanistan to lead a special classified program. When he returned in March, he was called in and verbally his security clearance was temporarily lifted. By lifting his security clearance, he could not go back into DIA quarters where all the materials he had about Able Danger were, in fact, stored. He could not get access to memos that, in fact, he will tell you discussed the briefings he provided both to the previous administration and this administration.” [Fox News, 8/19/05] These documents Shaffer are trying to reach are destroyed by the DIA roughly around this time (see Spring 2004). In September 2005, Shaffer has his security clearance revoked, just two days before he is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Able Danger's activities (see September 19, 2005).
People and organizations involved: Anthony Shaffer, Curt Weldon, Able Danger
          

August 17, 2005: Intelligence Officer Comes Forward With Allegations About Secret Military Unit      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.
A US Army intelligence officer comes forward, saying he was involved with a secret military intelligence unit, which had identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers by mid-2000. He says the unit, called Able Danger, had tried to meet with agents at the FBI's Washington field office that summer to share its information, but was prevented from doing so by military lawyers (see September 2000). Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who served as a liaison officer between Able Danger and the Defense Intelligence Agency, is the first military officer associated with Able Danger to publicly acknowledge his involvement with the unit. Shaffer says that, had they been allowed to alert the FBI to Mohamed Atta being in the US, they might have been able to prevent 9/11. [New York Post, 8/18/05; Guardian, 8/18/05; New York Times, 8/17/05] A week prior to Shaffer's coming forward, Able Danger was brought to the public's attention in a New York Times front page article (see August 9, 2005). Shaffer says he met privately with staff from the 9/11 Commission in Afghanistan in October 2003, and explicitly mentioned Atta as a member of the “Brooklyn” al-Qaeda cell (see October 21, 2003).
People and organizations involved: FBI Washington Field Office, Mohamed Atta, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, 9/11 Commission
          

September 19, 2005: Able Danger Intelligence Officer Has Security Clearance Revoked      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mark Zaid.
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, has his security clearance revoked. [Norristown Times Herald, 9/22/05; Government Executive, 9/21/05] Shaffer alleges that Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks (see August 17, 2005). Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, states, “I specialize in security clearance cases. ... Based on years of experience I can say categorically that the basis for the revocation was questionable at best.” [Mark Zaid Statement, 9/21/05] Shaffer is due to testify two days later in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Able Danger, though he is subsequently prohibited from doing so by the Defense Department (see September 21, 2005). His security clearance had been suspended 18 months previously (see March 2004).
People and organizations involved: Mark Zaid, Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Mohamed Atta
          

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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