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Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:14AM

This week, Curt Weldon, Chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees and an anonymous former defense intelligence offical gave interviews to the NY Times and the AP disclosing the existence of a secret defense dept. program named Able Danger. Able Danger was a data mining program that, according to the former defense official , identified Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as members of Al Qaeda in 2000. The 9/11 commission initially denied that it had been told about the program but then confirmed that it was told but discounted the information.

This explosive disclosure raises too many questions to be able to conclude on its significance. Many of the claims that Weldon has made to date are preposterous or simply untrue. The right wing, led by Rush Limbaugh, has obscured the issued by framing it as a failure of Clinton administration. On the other hand, if I wanted to bring media attention to the fact that the hijackers had, in fact, been identified before 9/11, right wing hysteria about Clinton is the perfect vehicle.

Rather than bring up my questions in this post, I will post the stories about Able Danger and then discuss it.





Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:16AM

August 9, 2005

Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in '00

By DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 - More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, according to a former defense intelligence official and a Republican member of Congress.

In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military's Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.

The recommendation was rejected and the information was not shared, they said, apparently at least in part because Mr. Atta, and the others were in the United States on valid entry visas. Under American law, United States citizens and green-card holders may not be singled out in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but Mr. Weldon and the former intelligence official said it might have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law enforcement agency.

A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including Philip Zelikow, the executive director, were told about the program on an overseas trip in October 2003 that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Mr. Felzenberg said the briefers did not mention Mr. Atta's name.

The report produced by the commission last year does not mention the episode.

Mr. Weldon first spoke publicly about the episode in June, in a little-noticed speech on the House floor and in an interview with The Times-Herald in Norristown, Pa. The matter resurfaced on Monday in a report by GSN: Government Security News, which is published every two weeks and covers domestic-security issues. The GSN report was based on accounts provided by Mr. Weldon and the same former intelligence official, who was interviewed on Monday by The New York Times in Mr. Weldon's office.

In a telephone interview from his home in Pennsylvania, Mr. Weldon said he was basing his assertions on similar ones by at least three other former intelligence officers with direct knowledge of the project, and said that some had first called the episode to his attention shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The account is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks. Among the 19 hijackers, only Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi had been identified as potential threats by the Central Intelligence Agency before the summer of 2000, and information about them was not provided to the F.B.I. until the spring of 2001.

Mr. Weldon has long been a champion of the kind of data-mining analysis that was the basis for the work of the Able Danger team.

The former intelligence official spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly. He said the team had been established by the Special Operations Command in 1999, under a classified directive issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about Al Qaeda networks around the world.

"Ultimately, Able Danger was going to give decision makers options for taking out Al Qaeda targets," the former defense intelligence official said.

He said that he delivered the chart in summer 2000 to the Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and said that it had been based on information from unclassified sources and government records, including those of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them," the former intelligence official said.

The unit, which relied heavily on data-mining techniques, was modeled after those first established by Army intelligence at the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center, now known as the Information Dominance Center, at Fort Belvoir, Va., the official said.

Mr. Weldon is an outspoken figure who is a vice chairman of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. He said he had recognized the significance of the episode only recently, when he contacted members of the military intelligence team as part of research for his book, "Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America and How the C.I.A. Has Ignored It."

Mr. Weldon's book prompted one veteran C.I.A. case officer to strongly dispute the reliability of one Iranian source cited in the book, saying the Iranian "was a waste of my time and resources."

Mr. Weldon said that he had discussed the Able Danger episode with Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and that at least two Congressional committees were looking into the episode.

In the interview on Monday, Mr. Weldon said he had been aware of the episode since shortly after the Sept. 11 attack, when members of the team first brought it to his attention. He said he had told Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, about it in a conversation in September or October 2001, and had been surprised when the Sept. 11 commission report made no mention of the operation.

Col. Samuel Taylor, a spokesman for the military's Special Operations Command, said no one at the command now had any knowledge of the Able Danger program, its mission or its findings. If the program existed, Colonel Taylor said, it was probably a highly classified "special access program" on which only a few military personnel would have been briefed.

During the interview in Mr. Weldon's office, the former defense intelligence official showed a floor-sized chart depicting Al Qaeda networks around the world that he said was a larger, more detailed version similar to the one prepared by the Able Danger team in the summer of 2000.

He said the original chart, like the new one, had included the names and photographs of Mr. Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, as well as Mr. Mihdhar and Mr. Hazmi, who were identified as members of what was described as an American-based "Brooklyn" cell, as one of five such Al Qaeda cells around the world.

The official said the link to Brooklyn was meant as a term of art rather than to be interpreted literally, saying that the unit had produced no firm evidence linking the men to the borough of New York City but that a computer analysis seeking to establish patterns in links between the four men had found that "the software put them all together in Brooklyn."

According to the commission report, Mr. Mihdhar and Mr. Hazmi were first identified in late 1999 or 2000 by the C.I.A. as Qaeda members who might be involved in a terrorist operation. They were tracked from Yemen to Malaysia before their trail was lost in Thailand. Neither man was put on a State Department watch list before they flew to Los Angeles in early 2000. The F.B.I. was not warned about them until the spring of 2001, and no efforts to track them were made until August 2001.

Neither Mr. Shehhi nor Mr. Atta was identified by the American intelligence agencies as a potential threat, the commission report said. Mr. Shehhi arrived in Newark on a flight from Brussels on May 29, 2000, and Mr. Atta arrived in Newark from Prague on June 3 that year.

The former intelligence official said the first Able Danger report identified all four men as members of a "Brooklyn" cell, and was produced within two months after Mr. Atta arrived in the United States. The former intelligence official said he was among a group that briefed Mr. Zelikow and at least three other members of the Sept. 11 commission staff about Able Danger when they visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in October 2003.

The official said he had explicitly mentioned Mr. Atta as a member of a Qaeda cell in the United States. He said the staff encouraged him to call the commission when he returned to Washington at the end of the year. When he did so, the ex-official said, the calls were not returned.

Mr. Felzenberg, the former Sept. 11 commission spokesman, said on Monday that he had talked with some of the former staff members who participated in the briefing.

"They all say that they were not told anything about a Brooklyn cell," Mr. Felzenberg said. "They were told about the Pentagon operation. They were not told about the Brooklyn cell. They said that if the briefers had mentioned anything that startling, it would have gotten their attention."

As a result of the briefing, he said, the commission staff filed document requests with the Pentagon for information about the program. The Pentagon complied, he said, adding that the staff had not hidden anything from the commissioners.

"The commissioners were certainly told of the document requests and what the findings were," Mr. Felzenberg said.

Philip Shenon and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting for this article.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:17AM

August 10, 2005

9/11 Panel Seeks Inquiry on New Atta Report

By PHILIP SHENON and DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 - Members of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks called on Congress to determine whether the Pentagon withheld intelligence information showing that a secret American military unit had identified Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as potential threats more than a year before the attacks.

The former commission members said the information, if true, could rewrite an important chapter of the history of the intelligence failures before Sept. 11, 2001.

"I think this is a big deal," said John F. Lehman, a Republican member of the commission who was Navy secretary in the Reagan administration. "The issue is whether there was in fact surveillance before 9/11 of Atta and, if so, why weren't we told about it? Who made the decision not to brief the commission's staff or the commissioners?"

Mr. Lehman and other commissioners said that because the panel had been formally disbanded for a year, the investigation would need to be taken up by Congress, possibly by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

"If this is true, somebody should be looking into it," said Thomas H. Kean, the commission chairman and a former Republican governor of New Jersey.

Detailed accounts about the findings of the secret operation, known as Able Danger, were offered this week by Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and by a former defense intelligence official.

Their comments are the first assertion by current or former officials that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who was the lead hijacker, had been identified as a potential terrorist before the attacks.

Spokesmen for the commission members said this week that although the staff was informed by the Pentagon in late 2003 about the existence of a so-called data-mining operation called Able Danger, the panel was never told that it had identified Mr. Atta and the others as threats.

In a final report released last summer called the authoritative history of the attacks, the commission of five Democrats and five Republicans made no mention of the secret program or the possibility that a government agency had detected Mr. Atta's terrorist activities before Sept. 11.

The Pentagon has had no comment on the credibility of the accounts from Mr. Weldon and the intelligence official.

At a news briefing on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he could not comment on reports about Able Danger and suggested that he knew nothing about such an operation.

"I can't," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "I have no idea. I've never heard of it until this morning. I understand our folks are trying to look into it."

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Christopher Conway, said later that "there were a number of intelligence operations prior to the attacks of 9/11" but that "it would be irresponsible for us to provide details in a way in which those who wish to do us harm would find beneficial."

An intelligence official said Tuesday that the office of John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, was "working closely with the Department of Defense to learn more" about Mr. Weldon's statements. The official confirmed that the congressman recently met with Mr. Negroponte, but declined to discuss the subject.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, said in an interview that although he could not comment on classified subjects, he had recently talked with Mr. Weldon and that "I do take seriously any issues that may be brought to light by other members of Congress."

A spokeswoman for Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that "the committee is aware of Congressman Weldon's concerns" and that it "is looking into it."

Mr. Weldon went public with his information after having talked with members of the unit in his research for a new book on terrorism. He said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that he had spoken with three team members, all still working in the government, including two in the military, and that they were consistent in asserting that Mr. Atta's affiliation with a Qaeda terrorism cell in the United States was known in the Defense Department by mid-2000 and was not acted on.

An outspoken member of Congress on military and intelligence questions, Mr. Weldon, a champion of military data mining like Able Danger, has helped arrange interviews for reporters with the former military intelligence official. The official insisted on anonymity, saying he did not want to jeopardize political support for future data mining in the military.

The official said in an interview Monday that the Able Danger team was created in 1999 under a directive signed by Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about Al Qaeda networks around the world.

He said that by the middle of 2000 the operation had identified Mr. Atta and three of the other future hijackers as a member of an American-based cell and that the information was presented that summer in a chart to the Pentagon's Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

The official said that the chart included the names and photographs of Mr. Atta and the others, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawar al-Hamzi. Mr. Weldon and the intelligence official said Able Danger members had recommended that the information be shared with the F.B.I., an the idea that was rejected.

The official said the information was also not shared with the C.I.A. or other civilian intelligence agencies. "This was a highly compartmented program with very limited distribution," he said.

General Shelton said Tuesday that he did not recall authorizing the creation of the unit but that "we had lots of initiatives to find out where Al Qaeda was."

The former intelligence official said he was among a group that briefed the former staff director of the Sept. 11 panel, Philip D. Zelikow, and at least three other staff members about Able Danger when the staff members visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in October 2003. The official said that he had explicitly mentioned Mr. Atta in the briefing as a member of the American terrorist cell.

Mr. Kean, the commission head, said the staff members were confident that Mr. Atta's name was not mentioned in the briefing or subsequent documents from the Pentagon.

"None of them recalls mention of the name Atta," he said. "I think if that had been mentioned, it would have been on the tips of their tongue."

Mr. Kean said he had asked the staff members to retrieve their classified notes from government storage to be certain about not overlooking any reference to Mr. Atta or to an American-based cell in any of the Pentagon material.

A State Department spokesman for Mr. Zelikow, who joined the department this year, had no immediate comment.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting for this article.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:19AM

NY Times (I forgot to identify the New York Times as the source in the last two posts.)

August 11, 2005

9/11 Commission's Staff Rejected Report on Early Identification of Chief Hijacker

By DOUGLAS JEHL and PHILIP SHENON

Correction Appended

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 - The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said that the information had not been included in the report because aspects of the officer's account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about that Qaeda member, Mohammed Atta, the plot's leader.

But aides to the Republican congressman who has sought to call attention to the military unit that conducted the secret operation said such a conclusion relied too much on specific dates involving Mr. Atta's travels and not nearly enough on the operation's broader determination that he was a threat.

The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission's staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.

Mr. Weldon has accused the commission of ignoring information that would have forced a rewriting of the history of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has asserted that the Able Danger unit, whose work relied on computer-driven data-mining techniques, sought to call their superiors' attention to Mr. Atta and three other future hijackers in the summer of 2000. Their work, he says, had identified the men as likely members of a Qaeda cell already in the United States.

In a letter sent Wednesday to members of the commission, Mr. Weldon criticized the panel in scathing terms, saying that its "refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst tendencies in the federal government that the commission worked to expose."

Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission's chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.

Both Mr. Weldon's office and commission officials said they knew the name, rank and service of the officer, but they declined to make that information public.

Mr. Weldon and a former defense intelligence official who was interviewed on Monday have said that the Able Danger team sought but failed in the summer of 2000 to persuade the military's Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla., to pass on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the information they had gathered about Mr. Atta and the three other men. The Pentagon and the Special Operations Command have declined to comment, saying they are still trying to learn more about what may have happened.

Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday that the military was working with the commission's unofficial follow-up group - the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which was formed by the panel's members when it was disbanded - to try to clarify what had occurred.

Mr. Felzenberg said the commission's staff remained convinced that the information provided by the military officer in the July 2004 briefing was inaccurate in a significant way.

"He wasn't brushed off," Mr. Felzenberg said of the officer. "I'm not aware of anybody being brushed off. The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing" from the commission's investigation.

Mr. Felzenberg said staff investigators had become wary of the officer because he argued that Able Danger had identified Mr. Atta, an Egyptian, as having been in the United States in late 1999 or early 2000. The investigators knew this was impossible, Mr. Felzenberg said, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000.

"There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn't give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report," Mr. Felzenberg said. "This information was not meshing with the other information that we had."

But Russell Caso, Mr. Weldon's chief of staff, said that "while the dates may not have meshed" with the commission's information, the central element of the officer's claim was that "Mohammed Atta was identified as being tied to Al Qaeda and a Brooklyn cell more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, and that should have warranted further investigation by the commission."

"Furthermore," Mr. Caso said, "if Mohammed Atta was identified by the Able Danger project, why didn't the Department of Defense provide that information to the F.B.I.?"

Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.

The Sept. 11 commission issued its final report on July 22, 2004. Mr. Felzenberg noted that the interview with the military officer had taken place in the final, hectic days before the commission sent the report to the printers, and said the meeting reflected a willingness by the commission to gather facts, even at the last possible minute.

"Lots of stuff was coming in over the transom," Mr. Felzenberg said. "Lots of stuff was flying around. At the end of the day, when you're writing the report, you have to take facts presented to you."

Correction:

A headline in some copies yesterday about a military officer who told the staff of the 9/11 commission that a secret unit had identified the leader of the attacks as a potential threat a year beforehand misstated the staff's reaction. As the article said, the statement was reviewed and rejected because its description of the movements of the plot leader did not match travel records. It was not ignored.




Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:23AM

New York Times

August 13, 2005

9/11 Panel Explains Move on Intelligence Unit

By DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 - The Sept. 11 commission concluded that an intelligence program known as Able Danger "did not turn out to be historically significant," despite hearing a claim that the program had identified the future plot leader Mohammed Atta as a potential terrorist threat more than a year before the 2001 attacks, the commission's former leaders said in a statement on Friday evening.

The statement said a review of testimony and documents had found that the single claim in July 2004 by a Navy officer was the only time the name of Mr. Atta or any other future hijacker was mentioned to the commission as having been known before the hijackings. That account is consistent with statements this week by a commission spokesman, but it contradicts claims by a former defense intelligence official who said he had told the commission staff about Able Danger's work on Mr. Atta during a briefing in Afghanistan in October 2003.

The statement was issued by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton after a week in which the Able Danger program, a highly classified operation under the military's Special Operations Command, rose to public prominence. The Sept. 11 commission report made no mention of the unit, disbanded in 2002, and the statement by Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton defended that omission, saying the operation had not been significant "set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts" that involved Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton also noted that the name and character of Able Danger had not been publicly disclosed when the commission issued its public report in 2004. They said the commission had concluded that the July 2004 testimony by the Navy officer, who said he had seen an Able Danger document in 2000 that described Mr. Atta as connected to a cell in Brooklyn "was not sufficiently reliable" to warrant further investigation, in part because the officer could not supply documentary evidence to prove it.

The leaders said the staff learned about the program in the October 2003 briefing and later sought Defense Department documents about it. But those department documents, they said, "had mentioned nothing about Atta, nor had anyone come forward between September 2001 and July 2004 with any similar information."

Representative Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who has called attention to the program, said the commission had done too little to follow up on the information. Mr. Weldon said he would continue to "push for a full accounting of the historical record so that we may preclude these types of failures from happening again."

Among the questions left by the commission statement is whether the Special Operations Command received information about Mr. Atta and others from the Able Danger team in the summer of 2000 and chose not to forward it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as Mr. Weldon and the former defense intelligence official have said.

If verified, that would be the first indication that Mr. Atta was identified as a threat by any American agency before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Special Operations Command and the Pentagon have declined to comment, and the statement issued by the commission on Friday evening addressed only its own role in reviewing information about the program.

In an interview this week, a former senior military officer disputed that the unit members had ever presented to their superiors information that identified Mr. Atta or other suspected members of Al Qaeda. A second former officer said any information presented by the team to the leaders of the Special Operations Command would have been unlikely to be shared outside the command in the environment that prevailed before Sept. 11.

The former defense intelligence official, who was interviewed twice this week, has repeatedly said that Mr. Atta and four others were identified on a chart presented to the Special Operations Command. The former official said the chart identified about 60 probable members of Al Qaeda.

In interviews, former military officers have said the Able Danger unit was established in September 1999 by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, then the head of the Special Operations Command, under a charter issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Shelton, now retired, has said he does not recall the program; General Schoomaker, now the Army chief of staff, has declined to comment, as has Gen. Charles R. Holland, who took over the Special Operations Command in October 2000.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:39AM

New York Sun

August 12, 2005

Atta Report Hints Solons May Have Acted Too Quickly

BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun

August 12, 2005

WASHINGTON - The recent disclosure that a Pentagon unit experimenting with data-mining technologies apparently linked the ringleader of the September 11, 2001, attacks to a Brooklyn-based terror cell more than a year before the strikes is prompting new questions about whether the Pentagon and Congress acted too hastily when they publicly disavowed such database intensive research in 2003.

Leading the crusade for greater use of the data-mining technique, sometimes called pattern analysis or link analysis, is Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican of Pennsylvania. "The capability of doing massive data mining using massive supercomputers like Crays is, in my opinion, the overriding tool in the war against terrorism," Mr. Weldon said in an interview with The New York Sun yesterday. "We don't have the capability. We need it."

Mr. Weldon, 58, has been preoccupied with the issue for years. In that time, his blunt and persistent approach has managed to irritate, if not anger, much of the intelligence establishment. Now, however, the 10-term congressman has stumbled onto what may be the most powerful piece of anecdotal evidence ever produced in favor of the technology, which involves using high-powered computers to sift through enormous quantities of data from a host of public and private sources.

The startling suggestion that a Defense Department unit was on the trail of Mohammed Atta and other terrorists more than a year before they struck was aired by Mr. Weldon for the first time on the House floor on June 27, 2005. The congressman delivered the so-called special order speech just before midnight, during a period reserved for lengthy remarks that are almost always ignored by the press.

"Mr. Speaker, for the first time I can tell our colleagues that one of our agencies not only identified the New York cell of Mohammed Atta and two of the terrorists, but actually made a recommendation to bring the FBI in to take out that cell," Mr. Weldon said in his remarks.

The unit that fingered Atta and connected him to a suspected Al Qaeda terror cell in Brooklyn was code-named, "Able Danger," according to the congressman and officials at the Pentagon. "Able Danger" involved staff from the Army's Information Dominance Center who operated under instruction from the Special Operations Command.

At some point in mid-2000, while the unit was running data-mining experiments, the computer produced Mohammed Atta's name along with a suggestion he was linked to other suspected Al Qaeda operatives. "Those connections led back to a Brooklyn cell, and that Brooklyn cell contained four of the terrorists," Mr. Weldon said yesterday.

While the "Able Danger" project was little discussed until recently, a broader Pentagon data-mining effort, known originally by the Orwellian name, "Total Information Awareness," was shuttered in 2003 after an outcry from privacy advocates. Some who were critics of that program say the recent developments suggest that the data-intensive technologies now deserve a second look.

"We did dismiss it too quickly," said Sonia Arrison, the director of technology studies at a San Francisco think tank, the Pacific Research Institute. "I was really against TIA when it first came out," she said.

Ms. Arrison said it makes little sense to demand that the government abandon a technology that is being used more and more widely by retailers and others in the private sector. She said the government should move forward with the program but eschew the secrecy that usually surrounds such efforts. "Let's embrace a TIA-type system, but let's have everyone understand how it works," the analyst said. "The technology is really just a tool. It can be used for good or evil. ... You can't put it back in the bottle."

Ms. Arrison said researchers at Pepperdine University are using the technology to seek patterns that could identify corrupt government officials.

Mr. Weldon said the Total Information Awareness program was hamstrung by several factors, including the association of its director, Admiral John Poindexter, with the Iran-Contra scandal. "We put the wrong person in and put the wrong spin on it," the congressman said. "Somehow, it became a massive, 'Big Brother' spying effort on the American people. That perception killed what was a necessary effort."

Efforts to reach Mr. Poindexter for this story were not successful.

While the Congress eliminated funding for the Total Information Awareness program in 2003, experts in the field assert that some data mining efforts have continued in classified programs that have no public budget.

According Mr. Weldon, the "Able Danger" team proposed providing the data on Atta to the FBI, but it was stopped by Defense Department lawyers who feared running afoul of guidelines and legal restrictions that govern intelligence agencies and the military.

The basis for the attorneys' decision, which Mr. Weldon said he heard about from one of the "Able Danger" officers, is not clear. In general, a 1981 executive order bars intelligence agencies from disseminating information about American citizens and legal permanent residents of this country. However, Atta and the other hijackers did not fit that definition and, in any event, exceptions to the order allow sharing of some terrorism-related information.

Mr. Weldon is currently engaged in a public tussle with the members and staff of the so-called September 11 Commission over why that body omitted all discussion of the "Able Danger" project from its report. Commission members initially said they were unaware of the claims that the project had fingered Atta. However, they have since conceded that members of the commission's staff were briefed on the claim in July 2004, just before the panel released its report.

A spokesman for the commission, Al Felzenberg, did not return calls yesterday seeking comment for this story, but according to news reports, the commission staffers disregarded the information about Atta because he arrived in America in June 2000 and could not have been in Brooklyn in 1999 or early 2000, as the military computer team suggested.

Mr. Weldon said yesterday that was a specious reason for failing to thoroughly explore the "Able Danger" data and not acting upon it. "It wasn't about timelines. It was about linkages," he said. "That's nothing but B.S. and nothing but spin. They're trying to spin their way out."

Most privacy advocates appear to be unmoved by the news that data mining could have helped the government find the September 11 hijackers in advance.

"It actually does not cause us to rethink this," a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, Timothy Sparapani, said. "The American public's most sensitive personally identifiable information should not be subjected to this kind of experiment unless and until we have some kind of confidence that society is going to get some kind of tangible benefit out of it."

However, Mr. Sparapani said the failure to act on the information that was developed does merit investigation. "The problem is nobody conveyed it to anyone who could do anything about it. It says to me enormous structural divisions in the intelligence community need to be overcome," he said.

An attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kurt Opsahl, said the government should not be allowed to collect personal data on Americans, even if it might prevent an act of terrorism. "It is essential that people be able to maintain their privacy and their day-to-day transactions are not placed under government scrutiny," he said.

Mr. Weldon said he favors safeguards that would prevent any surveillance system from generating data about American citizens. Over the administration's objections, the House passed legislation last month that would require an annual government-wide report on data-mining projects.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:48AM

Rush Limbaugh

Clinton Didn't Want to Deal with Terror

August 12, 2005

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This Able Danger story, and the 9/11 Commission... I am stunned. I am stunned. I can't find this at the top of any news organization's web page or newspaper. The Washington Post has a story today: "September 11th Panel Explores Allegations About Atta." It appears on page A-9. The New York Times has a story today: "9/11 Panel Decided to Omit a Reference to Atta." They just run an AP story on it. They don't even write it themselves, and I can't tell you where in the paper it appeared except it's not on the front page. Now, to me this is evidence that the people in the liberal media assume this could be a problem for the Clinton administration, because I'll tell you, if this abomination of an error could be really targeted and pinned on George W. Bush, that would be all you would see on the front page of the New York Times -- followed by a story on Cindy Sheehan (news) -- who, by the way, as much coverage as she is getting on the NBC networks, they ought to give her her own show. She's just everywhere out there on NBC. She got a segment on the Nightly News last night. Their cable prime-time shows devoted a lot of time to her. Just give her her own show out there. Take a camera down there to the ditch in Crawford, Texas, and just let her have it. But the New York Times, the Fox News website, I mean, nobody is spending a whole lot of time talking about this, and they're not making it prominent, and I just have to believe that if they could pin this on George W. Bush, this would be front page everywhere and it would be pretty much all that we are seeing. Now, let me give you just an update today -- and I'm not going to bother telling you what the Washington Post and New York Times wrote, because you already know it. Deborah Orin, though, in the New York Post has a fascinating piece today that has some information I didn't know.

It's starting to look as if the 9/11 Commission turned a blind eye to key questions that could embarrass one of its own members, Jamie Gorelick. This week brought the stunning revelation that elite military spies pinpointed Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers as a terror cell more than one year before 9/11. But they were barred from alerting lawmen to try to lock 'em up. A prime reason why that warning never came is that Gorelick issued a 1995 order creating a wall that blocked intelligence on terrorists from being shared with law enforcement. Commission staffers had first denied knowing that the elite military unit known as Able Danger even existed, but later admitted that they were briefed twice that Atta was specifically named." Still it was conveniently left out of the 9/11 report. Do you know why? Because the 9/11 report already had its agenda. The 9/11 report already had its story. Here came some conflicting information. "Oh, it's too late for this. We don't want this now," and I think part of what's going on here, folks, is the Clinton administration didn't want to deal with the fact that there was a terrorist cell on American soil. They wanted to roll the dice that nothing would happen. They didn't want to have to do something about it. That's one of the reasons for the wall and I'm sure you could probably come up with many others, but they just didn't want to do anything about it. They didn't want the hassle. The last thing Clinton needed was that while he's dealing with impeachment and Lewinsky and trying to rehab a legacy and so forth -- which is also ironic, too, because, of course, after 9/11 happened, the same people that tried to shield Clinton and everybody in that administration from any terrorism then lamented the fact that the event had not occurred when Clinton was president, thereby affording him an opportunity to be a great president by dealing with a serious crisis.

Remember that? After 9/11 happened on the Bush watch, you had some anonymous Clinton people out there saying, "Oh, why couldn't this have this happened with us? Why did this happen to Bush? We were there for eight years." Well, they didn't want to deal with stuff like this. That's one of the reasons why the wall existed. But here's the thing: it gets worse than even that. "Gorelick's defenders might argue that hindsight is 20/20, but that excuse doesn't work in this case because Jamie Gorelick was warned way back then when the-see-no-evil-wall was created. That warning came right from the front line in the war on terror. The current, at that time, Manhattan US Mary Jo White who headed up key terror investigations like the prosecutions for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Mary Jo White, who was a Clinton appointee, wrote directly to Janet Reno that the wall was a big mistake. 'It's hard to be totally comfortable with instructions to the FBI prohibiting contact with the United States attorney's offices when such prohibitions are not legally required,' Mary Jo White wrote in June of 1995 to Jamie Gorelick and to Janet Reno. 'The most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible, so that wherever permissible the right and left hands are communicating.'" This is June 13th, 1995, and the US attorney is decrying and lamenting the existence of this wall! That memo surfaced during the 9/11 hearings, by the way, this memo I just read to you, but the New York Post has learned that Mary Jo White "was so upset that she bitterly protested with another memo, a scathing one, after Reno and Gorelick refused to tear down the wall. With eerie foresight Mary Jo White warned that the Reno-Gorelick wall 'hindered law enforcement and could cost lives' according to forces familiar with the memo."

This memo still secret, by the way. "The 9/11 Commission got that White memo, the Post was told, but omitted any mention of it from its much publicized report, nor does the report include the transcript of its staff interview with Mary Jo White, who no doubt told the staff all of this." So it's not just Curt Weldon coming in after the scene and revealing information. We now know that Mary Jo White was begging the Clinton administration justice department to tear down the wall and that she testified about all this with a memo that still remains secret to the staff of the 9/11 Commission. "White yesterday declined comment via her spokesman. The 9/11 Commission spokesman, Al Felzenberg, didn't respond to repeated phone calls, either. At the time that the first White memo surfaced it was a hypothetical question. The wall could have prevented intelligence from getting through to stop 9/11 if there had been any intelligence, but now that the 9/11 staff acknowledges that there was intelligence about an Atta cell more than a year before the terror attacks, it's fair to ask if the attacks might have been stopped were it not for the Reno-Gorelick wall. The CIA may have failed to detect the hijackers, but it appears that military intelligence did better. Maybe the real problem wasn't an intelligence failure after all, as the 9/11 Commission concluded. Maybe it is the Reno-Gorelick wall." That's Deborah Orin today in the New York Post -- and I want to take you back to April 17th of 2004 when we were smack-dab in the middle of the 9/11 Commission hearings. Writing in National Review Online, our legal analyst here and the leader of our legal division, F. Lee Levin, noted that the 9/11 Commission "is sitting on a damaging post-millennium plot report that chronicles the impact of Gorelick's terrorist-friendly terrorist directive which Attorney General John Ashcroft alluded to during his Wednesday testimony."

Remember when Ashcroft alluded to the memo written by one of the members of the committee? This is just to revive your memory here. "Ashcroft said the report, dubbed the Millennium After-Action Review by the Clinton National Security Council, chronicles how Al-Qaeda's role in the millennium plot was nearly missed because Gorelick's guidelines blinded US prosecutors to critical intelligence in the case. Though a hunch by an alert Washington state customs agent led to the capture of the would be millennium bomber Ahmed Rassam, when he was turned over to the justice department for interrogation, they didn't have a clue who he was Ashcroft told the commission. It took a French magistrate with full access to his own country's counterterrorism files to tip US probers to the fact that they had nabbed one of Al-Qaeda's most dangerous operatives. Ultimately because of Gorelick's directive the French magistrate had to travel to the United States and testify for seven hours to lay out Ahmed Rassam's Al-Qaeda connection," and remember the Clinton administration was taking a lot of credit for stopping the millennium bomber, because of their policies, and it wasn't that at all. Their policies almost allowed the guy through customs, down to LA to do his dirty deed at LAX, which is where he was aimed, but it was an alert customs agent not executing any policy simply just, you know, being a good investigator, good cop, if you will, who discovered this person. So all of this stuff now is coming back in droves, and yet there is a veritable, for all practical matters and intents, silence on this at major news outlets. You don't see anybody focusing on this. Cindy Sheehan is too sympathetic, and the NARAL ad is too big a story.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This is from the New York Sun today: "The recent disclosure that a Pentagon unit experimenting with data mining technologies apparently linked the ringleader, Mohamed [sic] Atta, of the September 1, 2001, attacks, to a Brooklyn-based terror cell more than a year before the strikes is prompting new questions about whether the Pentagon and Congress acted too hastily when they publicly disavowed such database intensive research in 2003." Now, this is another key factor, because what we've learned here is that the way this Able Danger group found out about Atta was simply reading. They simply read text. There was no investigation; there was no denial of somebody's civil rights; there were no search warrants -- none of this. It was just something called Total Information Awareness. That's what data mining technology is, Total Information Awareness, and Total Information Awareness has a little bit of a history. "At some point in mid-2000, while the unit [the Able Danger Unit] was running data-mining experiments, the computer produced Mohammed Atta's name along with a suggestion he was linked to other suspected Al Qaeda operatives. 'Those connections led back to a Brooklyn cell, and that Brooklyn cell contained four of the terrorists,' Mr. Weldon said yesterday. While the 'Able Danger' project was little discussed until recently, a broader Pentagon data-mining effort, known originally by the Orwellian name, 'Total Information Awareness,' was shuttered in 2003 after an outcry from privacy advocates. Some who were critics of that program say the recent developments suggest that the data-intensive technologies now deserve a second look. 'We did dismiss it too quickly,' said Sonia Arrison, the director of technology studies at a San Francisco think tank, the Pacific Research Institute. 'I was really against TIA when it first came out'....

"Mr. Weldon said the Total Information Awareness program was hamstrung by several factors, including the association of its director, Admiral John Poindexter, with the Iran-Contra scandal. 'We put the wrong person in and put the wrong spin on it,' the congressman said. 'Somehow, it became a massive, 'Big Brother' spying effort on the American people. That perception killed what was a necessary effort.'" I read this today, and the memories of that came flooding back. I remember specifically now when they put Poindexter in charge of this effort, Total Information Awareness, which basically was just going to be mining as much data as they possibly could and there was an outcry from all over the country: "They're going to be spying on Americans with a supercomputer! You can't do that!" so they shut it down and they shut it down because Poindexter arrived with a tainted image because of the Iran-Contra scandal, so it died. But they were still experimenting with it in 2003, the Able Danger group was -- and lo and behold, it was Total Information Awareness, or data mining, that led them to the discovery. Now, the important thing about that is, that doesn't make any of it illegal. It's no different than if you go scanning websites and find out something. You have done nothing illegal. Able Danger did nothing illegal, and that means there was no prohibition on sharing it with anybody. There was no violation of the law if Able Danger had shared this with anybody, because it had not been developed during a criminal investigation, and that's what the wall was there for. The wall was to protect information from going one segment of law enforcement to another because the Clinton administration was dealing with terrorism as a criminal matter with indictments and grand juries.

Grand jury testimony is secret. So once an investigative agency comes up with information and they take it to the grand jury, it stops there. Nobody else entitled to know what goes on. The wall was designed to create that effect. There has to be other reasons for the wall, too, folks, and I don't know what they were. We could all just speculate. You know, your guess would be as good as mine, but obviously this wall was to cover something up. There's no question to me. Ronald Reagan said, "Tear down this wall." Bill Clinton said, "Cover up this wall." You can just fill in the blanks yourself as to what they were trying to cover up or what they were trying to protect or what have you. But the real irony is now, that had the Able Danger group shared the information with the FBI, it would not have been illegal. It would be no different if you learned of it and decided to pass it on to law enforcement authorities. There was no criminal investigation going on, and as such, there was no prohibition against passing this information along. So you have to look: "Okay, why wasn't it passed along? Why was nobody interested in it?" and it takes me back to something. I'm throwing it up a against the wall here hoping it will stick, but I bet this is a pretty educated guess. I think it's because the Clinton administration didn't want to deal with it; they didn't want to know if there were terrorists and terrorist cells on our shores. They weren't interested in it. They would have to deal with it if that were learned, if that were discovered -- and remember, the entirety of the Clinton administration in the nineties was to shelve all the big ideas and to focus on little accomplishments and little things and build them up and make them sound like big things and try to promote this whole mentality of the "peace dividend." The Cold War was over. "We don't face danger anymore. We can take the peace dividend and we can put it into schools and we can spend it here; we can spend it there, whatever we want to do! We have the roaring economy," and everybody just wanted to be hunky-dory and fine.

Nobody even cared to learn that Clinton was doing what he was doing. The impeachment was not even all that popular. They were probably also afraid of another reaction after Waco. You know, the Waco invasion where Janet Reno ended up torching the Branch Davidian compound. That was not all that big a PR venture and gain for the Clinton administration. They weren't harmed as much by that. Had it been a Republican administration that did it... But they didn't want to deal with it. I don't think they wanted any part of it, because, A, Waco is part of it but I don't think they wanted to deal with big things. I don't think they wanted serious challenges, and certainly not in 1999, not in 1999-2000 when Clinton is getting ready to leave office. He's just trying to pad that legacy and build it up. So it's fascinating here -- and then you get to the 9/11 Commission itself, and if you ask me -- and you do, and you have, because you're listening. If you ask me the 9/11 Commission ought to be profoundly embarrassed. The 9/11 Commission didn't want any part of it, either. This is the interesting thing. The staff heard about it; it upset their agenda. Whatever their agenda was -- you fill in that blank however you wish -- but it didn't fit with what they already had about Atta. It didn't fit with what they already were going to do. They were set to blame this on an intelligence failure; they were going to make the CIA or somebody else take the fall for this, and all their lack of connecting the dots -- and don't forget there was a sub-agenda. The Democrats on that committee led by Gorelick and Richard Ben-Veniste were trying to blame all this on the Bush administration.

And so I want to know which staffers. I'd like to know who the staffers were that were privy to this information and passed on it. I want to know if they were staffers to the Democrats or staffers to the Republicans. I really would like to know that, and I'd like to know what the commissioners actually knew and didn't know, because it is clear, this information makes an absolute joke of the 9/11 Commission, because they ignored a serious piece was information. They focused on something that turns out not to have been the major problem. They wrote a report, and then arrogantly demanded that the Congress implement every damn one of their suggestions to fight terrorism, and yet they blew it. They blew it sky high. They didn't get what was really going on. They didn't get in their report the fact that there were terror cells already here, and that the ringleader of 9/11 was in the country for a year, and it was known. I was never one of these people that had sycophantic respect and adulation for the 9/11 Commission in the first place. I thought it was your typical blue-ribbon panel of a bunch of former elected officials and high profile prosecutors pontificating, padding résumés, doing a number of other things, doing what blue-ribbon panels in Washington always do: Come in, chew up the expense account at the nicest hotels and restaurants, make sure you get buddy-buddy with the right people in the media and pad your reputation and your image while doing diddly-squat about the problem, while at the same time trying to convince everybody else that you have solved it -- when in fact not one thing ends up being done, and can you find this anywhere in prominence in the American media today? No, you can't.



Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 03:55AM

GSN:Government Security News

August 2005

Did DoD lawyers blow the chance to nab Atta?

By Jacob Goodwin

In September 2000, one year before the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11, a U.S. Army military intelligence program, known as “Able Danger,” identified a terrorist cell based in Brooklyn, NY, one of whose members was 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta, and recommended to their military superiors that the FBI be called in to “take out that cell,” according to Rep. Curt Weldon, a longtime Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who is currently vice chairman of both the House Homeland Security and House Armed Services Committees.

The recommendation to bring down that New York City cell -- in which two other Al Qaeda terrorists were also active -- was not pursued during the weeks leading up to the 2000 presidential election, said Weldon. That’s because Mohammed Atta possessed a “green card” at the time and Defense Department lawyers did not want to recommend that the FBI go after someone holding a green card, Weldon told his House colleagues last June 27 during a little-noticed speech, known as a “special order,” which he delivered on the House floor.

Details of the origins and efforts of Able Danger were corroborated in a telephone interview by GSN with a former defense intelligence officer who said he worked closely with that program. That intelligence officer, who spoke to GSN while sitting in Rep. Weldon’s Capitol Hill office, requested anonymity for fear that his current efforts to help re-start a similar intelligence-gathering operation might be hampered if his identity becomes known.

The intelligence officer recalled carrying documents to the offices of Able Danger, which was being run by the Special Operations Command, headquartered in Tampa, FL. The documents included a photo of Mohammed Atta supplied by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and described Atta’s relationship with Osama bin Laden. The officer was very disappointed when lawyers working for Special Ops decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen. Thus, the information Able Danger had amassed about the only terrorist cell they had located inside the United States could not be shared with the FBI, the lawyers concluded.

“We were directed to take those 3M yellow stickers and place them over the faces of Atta and the other terrorists and pretend they didn’t exist,” the intelligence officer told GSN.

DoD lawyers may also have been reluctant to suggest a bold action by FBI agents after the bureau’s disastrous 1993 strike against the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco, TX, said Weldon and the intelligence officer.

“So now, Mr. Speaker,” Weldon said on the House floor last June, “for the first time I can tell our colleagues that one of our agencies not only identified the New York cell of Mohammed Atta and two of the terrorists, but actually made a recommendation to bring the FBI in to take out that cell.”

Weldon has developed a reputation for making bold pronouncements and, occasionally, ruffling the feathers of some of his colleagues. His recent non-fiction book, “Countdown to Terror,” which draws on information from an Iranian expatriate source Weldon has dubbed “Ali,” has drawn criticism from the CIA, others in the intelligence community and some congressional colleagues.

A longtime champion of firefighters and first responders, Weldon has a particular interest in this subject because he has been openly and actively pushing since 1999 for the establishment of an integrated government-wide center that could consolidate, analyze and act upon intelligence gathered by dozens of U.S. agencies, armed services and departments.

Weldon’s proposal was based on the innovative intelligence gathering capabilities he had witnessed at the U.S. Army’s Information Dominance Center, based at Fort Belvoir, VA, (which was formerly known as the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center.) This Army center had employed data mining, profiling and data collaboration techniques before several other intelligence agencies, and was using such cutting edge software tools as Starlight (developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Spires.

For years, the CIA resisted the congressman’s recommendation, Weldon told GSN in a telephone interview on August 1, claiming that his plan to integrate dozens of discrete and classified intelligence streams was both unworkable and unnecessary. Weldon had dubbed his proposed organization the National Operations and Analysis Hub, nicknamed NOAH, because the center was intended “to protect our nation from the flood of threats,” he explained.

Sixteen months after 9/11, such a “data fusion center,” named the Terrorism Threat Integration Center (TTIC) was indeed established by the Bush Administration.

At the urging of the 9/11 Commission, the TTIC has since been restructured and renamed the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC).

Weldon is pleased that steps have been taken to unify the nation’s intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities, now headed by a newly established Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Negroponte, but Weldon remains concerned that the “stovepipe” mentalities that plagued the intelligence community in the past continue to inhibit true information sharing between intelligence agencies.

He is also extremely frustrated by the fact that so little official attention seems to have been paid to the intelligence failure related to the Mohammed Atta cell in Brooklyn. Weldon contends that few in the Bush Administration seem interested in investigating that missed opportunity.

“If we had had that [military intelligence] system in 1999 and 2000, which the military had already developed as a prototype, and if we had followed the lead of the military entity that identified the Al Qaeda cell of Mohammed Atta, then perhaps, Mr. Speaker, 9/11 would never have occurred,” Weldon said during his special order remarks.

According to Weldon, staff members of the 9/11 Commission were briefed on the capabilities of the Able Danger intelligence unit within the Special Operations Command, which had been set up by General Pete Schoomaker, who headed Special Ops at the time, on the orders of General Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Staffers at the 9/11 Commission staffers were also told about the specific recommendation to break up the Mohammed Atta cell. However, those commission staff members apparently did not choose to brief the commission’s members on these sensitive matters.

Weldon said he was told specifically by commission members, Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana; and John Lehman, a former secretary of the Navy; that they had never been briefed on the Able Danger unit within Special Ops or on the unit’s evidence of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn.

“I personally talked with [Philip] Zelikow [executive director of the 9/11 Commission] about this,” recalled the intelligence officer. “For whatever bizarre reasons, he didn’t pass on the information.”

The State Department, where Zelikow now works as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he was traveling and unavailable for comment.

“Why did the 9/11 Commission not investigate this entire situation?” asked Weldon on June 27. “Why did the 9/11 Commission not ask the question about the military’s recommendation against the Mohammed Atta cell?”

Weldon is also disappointed with himself for not pushing harder against the intelligence bureaucracy that he saw as resisting his proposal to set up a more integrated intelligence-gathering operation. But he saves some of his greatest ire for the lawyers within the Department of Defense -- he is not sure if they were working within the Special Operations Command or higher up the organizational chart, within the Office of the Secretary of Defense -- for their unwillingness to allow Able Danger to send to the FBI its evidence and its recommendation for immediate action.

“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,” said Weldon.

Shining a spotlight on this intelligence gaffe has not been easy. Russ Caso, Weldon’s chief of staff, explained to GSN the steps his boss has taken to shed light on the situation.

Weldon spoke with Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, about conversations he has had with several members of the Able Danger intelligence unit. Weldon has urged Hoekstra to investigate the reasons why Able Danger’s revelations were not shared with the FBI. Hoekstra looked into the matter at the Pentagon, but after several days of fruitless inquiries, was unable to find anyone at the Defense Department who seemed to know anything about Able Danger or would acknowledge the intelligence unit had ever existed, explained Caso in a telephone interview with GSN.

Unwilling to let the matter drop, Weldon arranged for a face-to-face meeting in late July between Hoekstra, himself and the former intelligence officer who had worked with Able Danger, and who outlined his former unit’s evidence and recommendations for Hoekstra.

“Congressman Weldon has met with several people who were working on Able Danger to identify where Al Qaeda was set up around the world,” said Caso. “They made the suggestion that this information be passed to the FBI, and lawyers within the Defense Department -- whether within Special Ops or within OSD, we don’t know -- and the lawyers said, ‘No’.”

A report about some of these events appeared last June 19 in The Times Herald newspaper, of Norristown, PA, which is located in the Philadelphia suburbs that Rep. Weldon represents in Congress.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 04:02AM

Washington Post

Congressman: U.S. Intel Knew 9/11 Plotters

By KIMBERLY HEFLING
The Associated Press

August 10, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Sept. 11 commission will investigate a claim that U.S. defense intelligence officials identified ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a likely part of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the hijackings but didn't forward the information to law enforcement.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. and vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said Tuesday the men were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger." If true, that's an earlier link to al-Qaida than any previously disclosed intelligence about Atta.

Sept. 11 commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said Tuesday that Weldon's information, which the congressman said came from multiple intelligence sources, warrants a review. He said he hoped the panel could issue a statement on its findings by the end of the week.

"The 9/11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell," said Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. "Had we learned of it obviously it would've been a major focus of our investigation."

The Sept. 11 commission's final report, issued last year, recounted numerous government mistakes that allowed the hijackers to succeed. Among them was a failure to share intelligence within and among agencies.

According to Weldon, Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of a cell the unit code-named "Brooklyn" because of some loose connections to New York City.

Weldon said that in September 2000 Able Danger recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists." However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally so information on them could not be shared with law enforcement.

Weldon did not provide details on how the intelligence officials identified the future hijackers and determined they might be part of a cell.

Defense Department documents shown to an Associated Press reporter Tuesday said the Able Danger team was set up in 1999 to identify potential al-Qaida operatives for U.S. Special Operations Command. At some point, information provided to the team by the Army's Information Dominance Center pointed to a possible al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn, the documents said.

However, because of concerns about pursuing information on "U.S. persons" _ a legal term that includes U.S. citizens as well as foreigners admitted to the country for permanent residence _ Special Operations Command did not provide the Army information to the FBI. It is unclear whether the Army provided the information to anyone else.

The command instead turned its focus to overseas threats.

The documents provided no information on whether the team identified anyone connected to the Sept. 11 attack.

If the team did identify Atta and the others, it's unclear why the information wasn't forwarded. The prohibition against sharing intelligence on "U.S. persons" should not have applied since they were in the country on visas _ they did not have permanent resident status.

Weldon, considered something of a maverick on Capitol Hill, initially made his allegations about Atta and the others in a floor speech in June that garnered little attention. His talk came at the end of a legislative day during a period described under House rules as "special orders" _ a time slot for lawmakers to get up and speak on issues of their choosing.

The issue resurfaced Monday in a story by the bimonthly Government Security News, which covers national security matters.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he was unaware of the intelligence until the latest reports surfaced.

But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the 9/11 Commission looked into the matter during its investigation into government missteps leading to the attacks and chose not to include it in the final report.

Hamilton said 9/11 Commission staff members learned of Able Danger during a meeting with military personnel in October 2003 in Afghanistan, but the staff members do not recall learning of a connection between Able Danger and any of the four terrorists Weldon mentioned.

The commission expired last year after releasing its final report, but the members now work together as the 9/11 Public Discourse Project to publicize their findings and monitor the government's response to their recommendations.

Associated Press writer John J. Lumpkin contributed to this report.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 04:10AM

NY Times

By William Safire

May 17, 2004

The draft of a report of great importance to our personal lives as well as our nation's security has been floating around Congress and the administration for the past two months.

Because ''Safeguarding Privacy in the Fight Against Terrorism'' is not stamped secret -- and because it is intended to prevent a future body blow to our system rather than expose a past scandal -- the 119-page document commissioned by the Department of Defense has not surfaced until now.

Cast your mind back about 18 months to revelations of a ''Total Information Awareness'' project under way in the Pentagon. Adm. John Poindexter, a brilliant mind with no common sense, headed a team of top technicians assembling a ''centralized grand database.'' Its Latin motto translated as ''Knowledge Is Power.''

But the government's knowledge of everything we say and do -- from our bank accounts and credit charges, medical and academic records, travel plans and Internet visits, e-mail and cellphone bills, added to police, F.B.I. and C.I.A. raw files -- concentrates too much power and invites abuse. Congress, aroused by the press, wisely refused to fund it.

The Pentagon responded sensibly. The dangerous idea of programming computers with the likely or even far-fetched plans of terrorists, and then ''mining'' databases both commercial and governmental to fit those patterns -- thereby to turn up suspicious movements and potential suspects -- is curiously creative.

But how could it be done without turning the U.S. into a police state? As originally set up, the civil liberties canary in the data mine died for lack of safeguards.

A year ago, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided that this thinking ''outside the box'' had to be rethought outside the Pentagon. He appointed a Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee, unique in this administration, of heavy hitters in the law. Newt (Vast Wasteland) Minow is the chairman; members are Floyd Abrams, Zoe Baird, Griffin Bell, Gerhard Casper, William Coleman, Lloyd Cutler and John Marsh.

These are serious old pros, mostly Democrats, who are not bedazzled by the ever-changing techiedegook. When the supersnoops described ''a series of increasingly powerful configurations that can be stress-tested in operationally relevant environments using real-time feedbacks,'' Abrams dismissed such foo-foo dust as ''simply not comprehensible.''

In plain language, the Minow committee finds that the defunded program ''was a flawed effort to achieve worthwhile ends.'' It concludes that laws covering data mining are ''disjointed and often outdated, and as a result may compromise the protection of privacy, public confidence and the nation's ability to craft effective and lawful responses to terrorism.''

Then the panel tells the administration, in constructive detail, how to go about tracking terror without destroying all privacy. It includes calls for: written findings by top officials before undertaking any mining; appointing a policy-level privacy officer; making data anonymous; creating an audit trail; court authorization; oversight by a single committee of Congress; developing ''technological and other tools for enhancing privacy protection''; and ''a culture of sensitivity to . . . privacy issues.''

Is this enough? Not quite. The committee is too trusting of judges; in 35 years, federal and state courts have approved 29,250 wiretap orders and turned down only 32. It also thinks that the main flaw in the original proposal was an insensitive presentation. But this is a good-faith attempt to strike a balance, and Bill Coleman's objections supporting Poindexter and paying lip service to privacy underscore the majority's attempt to satisfy civil libertarians.

In obtaining actionable antiterror intelligence, there is a connection between (1) today's concern for protecting a prisoner's right to humane treatment and (2) tomorrow's concern about protecting free people's right to keep the government from poking into the most intimate details of their lives.

Must we wait until intrusive general searches mushroom into scandal, weakening our ability to collect information that saves lives? Congress should debate this Pentagon report balancing personal liberty and national security now, exercising foresight, rather than years from now, in the high dudgeon of hindsight.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 04:14AM

New York Times

By William Safire

Jun 5, 2003

Unless you work for the government or the Mafia, it's a great idea to keep a diary.

I don't mean the minute-by-minute log that Florida Senator Bob Graham keeps in tidy, color-coded notebooks describing his clothes, meals and haircuts. That echoes the mythical Greek Narcissus.

Rather, I have in mind the brief notation of the day's highlight, the amusing encounter or useful insight that will someday evoke a memory of yourself when young. Such a journal entry -- perhaps an e-mail to your encoded personal file -- can now be supplemented by scanned-in articles, poems or pictures to create a ''commonplace book.'' You will then have a private memory-jogger and resource for reminiscence at family gatherings.

But beware too much of a good thing.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, stimulates outside-the-box thinking that has given us the Internet and the stealth bomber. On occasion, however, Darpa goes off half-cocked. Its Total (now Terrorist) Information Awareness plan -- to combine all commercial credit data and individual bank and academic records with F.B.I. and C.I.A. dossiers, which would have made every American's life an open book -- has been reined in somewhat by Congress after we privacy nuts hollered to high heaven.

Comes now LifeLog, the all-remembering cyberdiary. Do you know those hand-held personal digital assistants that remind you of appointments, store phone numbers and birthdays, tip you off to foibles of friends and vulnerabilities of enemies, and keep desperate global executives in unremitting touch day and night? Forget about 'em -- those wireless whiz-bangs are already yestertech.

Darpa's LifeLog initiative is part of its ''cognitive computing'' research. The goal is to teach your computer to learn by your experience, so that what has been your digital assistant will morph into your lifelong partner in memory. Darpa is sprinkling around $7.3 million in research contracts (a drop in its $2.7 billion budget) to develop PAL, the Perceptive Assistant that Learns.

For those who suspect that I am dreaming this up, get that lumbering old machine in your back pocket to access www.darpa.mil/ipto, and then click on ''research areas'' and then ''LifeLog.'' You are then in a world light-years beyond the Matrix into virtual Graham-land.

''To build a cognitive computing system,'' says proto-PAL, ''a user must store, retrieve and understand data about his or her past experiences. This entails collecting diverse data. . . . The research will determine the types of data to collect and when to collect it.'' This diverse data can include everything you (''the user'') see, smell, taste, touch and hear every day of your life.

But wouldn't the ubiquitous partner be embarrassing at times? Relax, says the program description, presumably written by Dr. Doug Gage, who didn't answer my calls, e-mails or frantic telepathy. ''The goal of the data collection is to 'see what I see' rather than to 'see me.' Users are in complete control of their own data-collection efforts, decide when to turn the sensors on or off and decide who will share the data.''

That's just dandy for the personal privacy of the ''user,'' who would be led to believe he controlled the only copy of his infinitely detailed profile. But what about the ''use-ee'' -- the person that PAL's user is looking at, listening to, sniffing or conspiring with to blow up the world?

The human user may have opt-in control of the wireless wire he is secretly wearing, but all the people who come in contact with PAL and its willing user-spy would be ill-used without their knowledge. Result: Everybody would be snooping on everybody else, taping and sharing that data with the government and the last media conglomerate left standing.

And in the basement of the Pentagon, LifeLog's Dr. Gage and his PAL, the totally aware Admiral Poindexter, would be dumping all this ''voluntary'' data into a national memory bank, which would have undeniable recall of everything you would just as soon forget.

Followers of Ned Ludd, who in 1799 famously destroyed two nefarious machines knitting hosiery, hope that Congress will ask: is the computer our servant or our partner? Are diaries personal, or does the Pentagon have a right to LifeLog?

And so, as the diarist Samuel Pepys liked to conclude, to bed.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 04:16AM

NY Times

By William Safire

Nov 14, 2002

If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:

Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ''a virtual, centralized grand database.''

To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop's dream: a ''Total Information Awareness'' about every U.S. citizen.

This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks.

Remember Poindexter? Brilliant man, first in his class at the Naval Academy, later earned a doctorate in physics, rose to national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan. He had this brilliant idea of secretly selling missiles to Iran to pay ransom for hostages, and with the illicit proceeds to illegally support contras in Nicaragua.

A jury convicted Poindexter in 1990 on five felony counts of misleading Congress and making false statements, but an appeals court overturned the verdict because Congress had given him immunity for his testimony. He famously asserted, ''The buck stops here,'' arguing that the White House staff, and not the president, was responsible for fateful decisions that might prove embarrassing.

This ring-knocking master of deceit is back again with a plan even more scandalous than Iran-contra. He heads the ''Information Awareness Office'' in the otherwise excellent Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which spawned the Internet and stealth aircraft technology. Poindexter is now realizing his 20-year dream: getting the ''data-mining'' power to snoop on every public and private act of every American.

Even the hastily passed U.S.A. Patriot Act, which widened the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and weakened 15 privacy laws, raised requirements for the government to report secret eavesdropping to Congress and the courts. But Poindexter's assault on individual privacy rides roughshod over such oversight.

He is determined to break down the wall between commercial snooping and secret government intrusion. The disgraced admiral dismisses such necessary differentiation as bureaucratic ''stovepiping.'' And he has been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans.

When George W. Bush was running for president, he stood foursquare in defense of each person's medical, financial and communications privacy. But Poindexter, whose contempt for the restraints of oversight drew the Reagan administration into its most serious blunder, is still operating on the presumption that on such a sweeping theft of privacy rights, the buck ends with him and not with the president.

This time, however, he has been seizing power in the open. In the past week John Markoff of The Times, followed by Robert O'Harrow of The Washington Post, have revealed the extent of Poindexter's operation, but editorialists have not grasped its undermining of the Freedom of Information Act.

Political awareness can overcome ''Total Information Awareness,'' the combined force of commercial and government snooping. In a similar overreach, Attorney General Ashcroft tried his Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), but public outrage at the use of gossips and postal workers as snoops caused the House to shoot it down. The Senate should now do the same to this other exploitation of fear.

The Latin motto over Poindexter"s new Pentagon office reads ''Scientia Est Potentia'' -- ''knowledge is power.'' Exactly: the government's infinite knowledge about you is its power over you. ''We're just as concerned as the next person with protecting privacy,'' this brilliant mind blandly assured The Post. A jury found he spoke falsely before.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 13, 2005 04:45AM

Norristown Times Herald

06/19/2005

Missed chance on way to 9/11

By: KEITH PHUCAS , Times Herald Staff

NORRISTOWN - Two years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. intelligence officials linked Mohammed Atta to al-Qaida, and discovered he and two others were in Brooklyn. They wanted to mount a surveillance operation to track them.

But when officials asked Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to advise FBI agents of the "Able Danger" operation, the legal counsel shot down the plan, according to U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-7th Dist., dumbfounding those managing the covert effort.
Atta was one of four hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11. Being the only terrorist onboard who was trained to fly a jet, according to the Sept. 11 Commission Report, he was likely at the cockpit controls when the airliner slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. that morning.

If the government had been able to arrest Atta in 1999, when the Egyptian was staying in Brooklyn, the deadly terrorist attacks might have been prevented - or at least disrupted.
"But (intelligence officials) were told that, because the men had green cards, they couldn't touch them," Weldon said in an interview in Washington, D.C., Monday.
Before 2001, possessing a green card gave foreign nationals the same eavesdropping protection as American citizens.

According to the congressman, SOCOM had advised the FBI during the law enforcement agency's ill-fated siege of the Branch Davidian compound, in Waco, Texas, in 1993, that resulted in more than 80 deaths after Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the compound. Following the fiery debacle, all the federal participants in the siege, including SOCOM, were harshly criticized.

Fear of suffering the fallout if "Able Danger" backfired, Weldon said, explains SOCOM's reluctance to assist the FBI.

"There was a lot of concern about repercussions, and the lawyers told special operations to back off," he said.

A small group of intelligence employees ran "Able Danger" from the fall of 1999 until February 2001 - just seven months before the terrorist attacks - when the operation was axed.

To link Atta to al-Qaida, the operation's information technology specialists used data mining and fusion techniques to search terabyte-sized data sets from open sources - such as travel manifests, bank transactions, hotel records, credit applications - and compared this material with classified information.

During the operation's life cycle, the group sought help from the CIA. But getting the intelligence agency to share information is like pulling teeth, Weldon said. The agency is notorious for its reluctance to cooperate with other government or intelligence agencies.
"The CIA was constantly balking the whole way," he said. "The agency doesn't like anyone on its turf."

Even after the Sept. 11 Commission declared sharing an imperative to prevent future terrorist attacks, the CIA is still as guarded and arrogant as ever nearly four years after the attacks, Weldon writes in his new book, "Countdown to Terror: The top-secret information that could prevent the next terrorist attack on America ... and how the CIA has ignored it." The book is critical of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) for not doing enough to protect the country against the next attack.
Weldon is vice chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

In the book, the House Republican blasts the CIA for discounting information from an Iranian expatriate, "Ali," living in Paris who Weldon has met with since 2003 and claims is a reliable source. One CIA agent even warned Weldon to stop working with Ali.

The CIA has denounced "Countdown to Terror."

As proof of Ali's intelligence value, Weldon credits him for alerting the U.S. about Iran's advanced nuclear program and cooperation with North Korea on nuclear technology, Iranian support of Muqtada al Sadr's insurgents in Iraq, and a plot in Canada to fly a hijacked airliner into the Seabrook Nuclear Reactor in New Hampshire.

The book's title refers to Ali's unsettling warning that Muslim extremists are planning a massive attack on the U.S., dubbed "the twelfth imam" operation, that is envisioned to be grander than the Sept. 11 terrorism.

Since 1999, Weldon has called for fusing the government's 33 classified intelligence systems so agencies could share information and stay on top of terrorist plots. With help from intelligence allies, he proposed the creation of a National Operations and Analysis Hub (NOAH) for this effort.

He became aware of the tremendous intelligence collaboration possibilities after visiting the Army's Land Information Warfare Assistance Center, in Fort Belvoir, Va., he said, where massive amounts of data was mined and fused to profile emerging threats.
In 2004, President Bush established the National Counterterrorism Center to integrate all intelligence the U.S. possesses on terrorism and counter-terrorism.
But some warn about being overzealous about sharing sensitive material. Former CIA Director James Woolsey warns that sharing information widely across intelligence organizations can have negative consequences for national security.
"Sharing is not an unadulterated virtue," he said in a telephone interview Saturday. "I think it's a very bad idea."

The treacheries of the CIA's Aldridge Ames and FBI's Mark Hansen in the 1990s are two cautionary examples, he said, of damage individuals can do with access to too much sensitive intelligence. Both sold secrets to the Soviets, compromising national security and causing the deaths of sources.

"The idea is to share in a limited fashion," he said. "But it has to be controlled and carefully managed."

Though some find Weldon's hard-charging style abrasive, ignoring an intelligence source like Ali may be as grave a mistake as failing to act against a known terrorist staying in New York, Woolsey said. In the foreword for Weldon's book, he credits him for marching "toward the loudest sound of gunfire" in his effort to reform the intelligence process.
SOCOM officials did not respond to requests for interviews Saturday.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 14, 2005 06:36PM

Time Magazine

August 14, 2005

Was Mohammed Atta Overlooked?
New questions about whether the U.S. had information about the 9/11 mastermind years before the attacks

By BRIAN BENNETT, TIMOTHY J. BURGER AND DOUGLAS WALLER

Just how damning are allegations by Congressman Curt Weldon that a secret Pentagon intelligence operation pegged hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat nearly two years before he led the 9/11 attacks? When Weldon first made the charge in a new book and in a June speech on the House floor, it met with little attention, but perhaps due to the August heat or the approaching fourth anniversary of the attacks, the accusation ignited controversy last week.

The question is whether it has any substance. Weldon says a data-mining exercise, called Able Danger, spotted Atta and other hijackers in 1999, but Pentagon lawyers in September 2000 blocked officials running the program from handing the tip to the FBI. Weldon’s further allegation that the 9/11 commission was alerted to the alleged oversight but ignored it prompted the defunct panel to conduct an investigation last week before issuing a statement late Friday saying members had received only an 11th-hour mention of Atta that “was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.” Meanwhile, at Weldon’s request, House intelligence committee chairman Peter Hoekstra told TIME he is investigating the matter but cautioned against “hyperventilating” before the completion of a “thorough” probe.

In a particularly dramatic scene in Weldon’s book, Countdown to Terror, the Pennsylvania Republican described personally handing to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, just after Sept. 11, an Able Danger chart produced in 1999 identifying Atta. But Weldon told TIME he’s no longer certain Atta’s name was on that original document. The congressman says he handed Hadley his only copy. Still, last week he referred reporters to a recently reconstructed version of the chart in his office where, among dozens of names and photos of terrorists from around the world, there was a color mug shot of Mohammad Atta, circled in black marker.

Pentagon officials are playing down any controversy. They say they can find nothing produced by the Able Danger program, which involved fewer than half a dozen intelligence analysts, mentioning Atta’s name. A senior Pentagon official briefed on the program told TIME, “This is much ado about nothing.” a source close to the former 9/11 commission aides who chased down the story last week said they had been led to believe the Pentagon would issue a statement along these lines on Friday. But as of Sunday, this had not occurred. "We have been working with the 9/11 public discourse project to gain more clarity into this issue," said a Pentagon spokeswoman, Air Force Lieut. Col. Ellen Krenke. "Clearly there was information that was developed through this program, but it is unclear what was provided to the 9/11 Commission." Krenke said she did not know about any statement planned that would say no information had been developed about Atta before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 15, 2005 11:04AM

Eric Umansky (blog)

[www.ericumansky.com]

August 15, 2005

Thousands of False Positives?

The NYT's Philip Shenon, who has done some of the Able Danger reporting, was interviewed Friday on WNYC. There host Mike Pesca raised the false positives question. Here's what Shenon said [listen at 18:40 mark]:[www.wnyc.org]

“I understand from others at the Pentagon that one of the problems here is that Able Danger came up with names not just of Atta and three others, it came up with a tremendous number of names of very decent American citizens.”

That sounds like a whole lot more than the "60" the Times suggested...Friday (i.e. same day as the radio interview). Are Shenon and Jehl on the same page?

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 16, 2005 08:58AM

New York Times

August 16, 2005

By PHILIP SHENON

Officer Says Pentagon Barred Sharing Pre-9/11 Qaeda Data With F.B.I.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the F.B.I.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview that the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified by name the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the F.B.I.'s Washington field office to share the information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

"I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued," Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Defense Department's Special Operations Command had canceled the F.B.I. meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States. "It was because of the chain of command saying we're not going to pass on information - if something goes wrong, we'll get blamed," he said.

The Defense Department did not dispute the account from Colonel Shaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., who is the first military officer associated with the so-called data-mining program to come forward and acknowledge his role.

At the same time, the department said in a statement that it was "working to gain more clarity on this issue" and that "it's too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger." The F.B.I. referred calls about Colonel Shaffer to the Pentagon.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part-time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged that it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public.

In a statement issued last week, the leaders of the Sept. 11 commission said the panel had concluded that the intelligence program "did not turn out to be historically significant." The statement said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about the program, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

Colonel Shaffer said that his role in Able Danger was as the program's liaison with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and that he was not an intelligence analyst. The interview with Colonel Shaffer on Monday night was arranged for The New York Times and Fox News by Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a champion of data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Colonel Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department - first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

Mr. Zaid said that Colonel Shaffer's security clearance had been suspended last year because of what the lawyer said were a series of "petty allegations" involving $67 in personal charges on a military cellphone. He noted that despite the disciplinary action, Colonel Shaffer had been promoted this year from the rank of major.

Colonel Shaffer said he had decided to allow his name to be used in news accounts in part because of his frustration with the statement issued last week by the commission leaders, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.

The commission said in its final report last year that American intelligence agencies had not identified Mr. Atta as a terrorist before Sept. 11, 2001, when he flew an American Airlines jet into one of towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

A commission spokesman did not return repeated phone calls for comment. A Democratic member of the commission, Richard Ben Veniste, the former Watergate prosecutor, said in an interview today that while he could not judge the credibility of the information from Colonel Shaffer and others, the Pentagon needed to "provide a clear and comprehensive explanation regarding what information it had in its possession regarding Mr. Atta."

"And if these assertions are credible," he continued, "the Pentagon would need to explain why it was that the 9/11 commissioners were not provided this information despite request for all information regarding to Able Danger."

Colonel Shaffer said that he had provided information about Able Danger and its identification of Mr. Atta in a private meeting in October 2003 with members of the Sept. 11 commission staff when they visited Afghanistan, where he was then serving. Commission members have disputed that, saying they do not recall hearing Mr. Atta's name during the briefing and that the terrorist's name did not appear in documents about Able Danger that were later turned over by the Pentagon.

"I would implore the 9/11 commission to support a follow-on investigation to ascertain what the real truth is," Colonel Shaffer said in the interview this week. "I do believe the 9/11 commission should have done that job: figuring out what went wrong with Able Danger."

"This was a good news story because, before 9/11, you had an element of the military - our unit - which was actually out looking for Al Qaeda," he continued. "I can't believe the 9/11 commission would somehow believe that the historical value was not relevant."

Colonel Shaffer said that because he was not an intelligence analyst, he was not involved in the details of the procedures used in Able Danger to glean information from terrorist databases. Nor was he aware, he said, which databases had supplied the information that might have led to the name of Mr. Atta or other terrorists so long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said he did know that Able Danger had made use of publicly available information from government immigration agencies, from internet sites and from paid search engines such as Lexis Nexis.

"We didn't that Atta's name was significant" at the time, he said, adding that "we just knew there were these linkages between him and these other individuals who were in this loose configuration" of people who appeared to be tied to an American-based cell of Al Qaeda.

Colonel Shaffer said he assumed that by speaking out publicly this week about Able Danger, he might effectively be ending his military career and limiting his ability to participate in intelligence work in the government. "I'm proud of my operational record and I love what I do," he said. "But there comes a time - and I believe the time for me is now -- to stand for something, to stand for what is right."



Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 17, 2005 02:07AM

Delaware County Times

08/17/2005

By Gil Spencer

Weldon’s Able Danger now has a voice

Suddenly, there is a name (beside Curt Weldon’s) to put with the allegation that a secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger identified Mohammed Atta more than a year before he led 9/11 attacks against America. The name is Tony Shaffer.
He is a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve and was a civilian member of the Able Danger team formed by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). That team, Shaffer says, determined in 1999, that Atta and others were connected to the Brooklyn al-Qaida cell.

I talked to Shaffer Tuesday. He was in Weldon’s office in Washington, D.C.

Last week, Weldon went on the record claiming that the Defense Intelligence Agency had information linking Atta and three other men to al-Qaida back in 1999 but had been blocked from sharing the info with the FBI. If they had, Weldon said, the cell might have been broken up and 9/11 might well have been prevented.

Until yesterday, Weldon refused to name any members of the Able Danger team, citing fears that they might be retaliated against for revealing embarrassing truths about how the government failed to protect the country four years ago.

Shaffer himself said that some in the Pentagon are "trying to go dirty on me right now" for what he told the 9/11 Commission about the military’s failure to pass actionable info to the FBI’s anti-terrorism unit.

At the time he met with 9/11 staffers, in Oct of 2003, he was deployed in Afghanistan as a Special Ops officer.

But back in 1999, he was a civilian DIA caseworker and he was impressed with the information Able Danger was able to collect and analyze about the al-Qaida terror network.

Using terms like "massive data mining,’’ ‘‘parallel processing," and "neural networking," Shaffer tried to explain how Able Danger analysts made connections that intelligence agencies weren’t able to make.

"It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a complex process of algorithms, evaluation, re-evaluation and rigorous review before it is considered a valid assumption or association," said Shaffer.

Later, he said when he tried to explain the process to 9/11 Commission staff members, "I don’t think they understood what we were telling them. It was like trying to show a pig a wrist-watch."

After talking to Shaffer, I know how the pig feels.

Still, he said, "The data we had available (in ’99) indicated these individuals (Atta and the rest) were affiliated with the Brooklyn cell.

"We were able to identify two of the three cells that conducted 9/11. We didn’t ID everybody in the cell, we didn’t know how they were organized or their objective, just their connections to al Qaida."

Yet when he tried to share this information with the FBI, he said he was blocked from doing so by Department of Defense. Part of the reason was recent history and the lack of trust that existed between the federal agencies.

The Branch Davidian debacle in Waco that left 70 people dead was still in the memory banks of all those who had been involved in it, including the U.S. Army Delta Force that advised the siege team.

When it came to al-Qaida, Shaffer believes the mindset of the military was "if we pass the information on to the FBI and they do something with it and if something goes wrong (we’re) going to get the blame for it."

So instead, he says now, the information was withheld, Able Danger was disbanded, and a few months later al-Qaida succeeded in hijacking four U.S. jetliners, flying two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon.

As it happened, on that fateful day, then Maj. Shaffer was scheduled to meet a colleague at the Pentagon to discuss extending the mandatory retirement age for military reservists. If that meeting hadn’t been postponed, Shaffer would have been in the very wing at the Pentagon into which hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed and burned.

Tuesday, Shaffer said he met with Pentagon Intel boss Stephen Cambone, who is looking into the matter.

Shaffer says he’s confident the truth about Able Danger will come out and that others involved in the unit will be coming forward soon to tell what they know and when they knew it.

His goal he says is to help Weldon resurrect the Able Danger model for intel collection so that future 9/11s can be prevented.

"I fought these battles.." says Shaffer, "and the same issues (of bureaucratic turf protecting) still exist today."

If other Able Danger analysts come forward to back up what Shaffer says, the Pentagon is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

Until then, says Shaffer, when it comes to telling what he knew, "I would like to believe I did my part."


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 17, 2005 03:03AM

CBS News

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2005

Officer: Hijacker Info Blocked

An Army intelligence officer says his unit was blocked in 2000 and 2001 from giving the FBI information about a U.S.-based terrorist cell that included Mohamed Atta, the future leader of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer said the small intelligence unit, called "Able Danger," had identified Atta and three of the other future Sept. 11 hijackers as al Qaeda members by mid-2000.

"We recognized there are linkages and patterns of linkages to the al Qaeda leadership," Shaffer said on CBS News' Early Show. "That's what our primary concern was at the time."

He said military lawyers stopped the unit from sharing the information with the FBI.

"We were trying to find a way to bring the Special Operations Command folks together with the FBI folks in Washington so they could discuss the potential impact of having these individuals in the United States," Shaffer told Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "Part of the problem with that was, the lawyers didn't allow us to properly go after, either by intelligence collection or by allowing the FBI to to look at these guys, because they were here legally.

"And there was a big issue regarding the fact that these foreign nationals were here in the United States doing things which were, in my judgment, questionable, based on their linkages to the al Qaeda leadership," Shaffer added. "But because they were here legally, again, the lawyers really did not want us going after any information or dealing with them whatsoever at this point in time."

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks left the Able Danger claims out of its official report. Shaffer doesn't think the panel was given all the information his team had gathered.

"I spoke to the officer recently who actually physically took two briefcase-size packages of documents over to them," Shaffer said. "I can tell you for a fact that was probably 1/20th of the actual hard copy documents and probably none of the actual data. The 2.5 terabytes of data used for the project. I don't believe they got all the documents. I don't believe they pressed properly to get all the documents."

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, has said the Sept. 11 commission did not adequately investigate the claim that four of the hijackers had been identified more than a year before the attacks.

Former commission chairman Thomas Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton said last week that the military official who made the claim had no documentation to back it up.

Shaffer rejected that remark. "Leaving a project targeting al Qaeda as a global threat a year before we were attacked by al Qaeda is equivalent to having an investigation of Pearl Harbor and leaving somehow out the Japanese," he said.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 18, 2005 02:11AM

New York Post

By DEBORAH ORIN Washington Bureau Chief

August 18, 2005

COLONEL TELLS OF SICKENING SPY BLUNDER: 'WE HAD' ATTA & DID NOTHING

A veteran Army intelligence officer said yesterday the elite military intelligence unit known as Able Danger might have been able to prevent the 9/11 attacks — if it had been allowed to alert the FBI that Mohamed Atta was living in the country.

"My first reaction was, 'We had him.' It was a sinking feeling in my stomach," Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer told The Post in an interview yesterday, describing how he felt after learning that Atta was one of the hijackers.

Shaffer said that before the attacks, in 2000, Able Danger used complex computer analysis to identify two of the 9/11 terror cells, including one centered around the mastermind, Atta.

But Pentagon lawyers wouldn't let them sound the alarm with law enforcement agencies, he said.

"I believe there was a potential — had the information been passed from Special Operations Command to the FBI — that our information may have been one of the keys, if not the key, to pull together and make sense of the data they already had," Shaffer said.

"The FBI kind of knew that some of these guys by name were going through flight training . . . so if you mix that, then, with them being essentially, in our judgment, confirmed to be al Qaeda guys, that may have prompted someone to do something."

Shaffer said Atta's name didn't ring a bell when he learned the hijackers' names after 9/11. But he got "a sinking feeling in my stomach" when the woman Ph.D. in charge of Able Danger's data analysis told him Atta was one of those who had been identified as a likely al Qaeda terrorist by Able Danger.

"My friend the doctor [Ph.D.] who did all the charts and ran the technology showed me the chart and said, 'Look, we had this, we knew them, we knew this.' And it was a sinking feeling, it was like, 'Oh my God, you know. We could have done something.' "

Shaffer has touched off a firestorm as the first person associated with the Able Danger military intelligence operation to go public.

He said the unit tried three times to alert the FBI that it had identified al Qaeda cells in the United States — but military lawyers nixed it. Shaffer also says he alerted the 9/11 commission in October 2003 about how Able Danger identified Atta — but commission staffers blew him off and failed to properly follow up.

His stunning remarks have sparked a storm of questions about whether the Sept. 11 atrocities could have been prevented and why the 9/11 commission ignored claims that Clinton administration lawyers blocked Able Danger from alerting the FBI to al Qaeda cells on U.S. soil.

A naval officer has also told reporters that he alerted the 9/11 commission about Able Danger but was ignored.

He hasn't gone public, but The Associated Press yesterday identified him as Capt. Scott Philpott, an expert in futuristic naval warfare.

Shaffer told The Post that at least two other members of the Able Danger team plan on going public "as soon as they get basically some guarantees from their own organizations that they can talk without being retaliated against."

Both still work for the U.S. government, he said, adding that he also hopes the person who "ran the technology" for the program — whom he identified only as a Ph.D. and a woman — will go public.

Shaffer said he showed Able Danger files to other intelligence experts in the past and they agreed that "we really did have the goods on these guys before 9/11."

But he said that so far, the Pentagon has been unable to locate the files.

"I know where I left them and they're not there now," he said, adding it was at a Defense Intelligence Agency facility in northern Virginia.

Shaffer lost access to the files last year when his DIA security clearance was suspended in what his lawyer calls "petty" disputes over mileage reimbursement and $67 in personal calls on a military phone.

Despite that flap, the Army promoted him to lieutenant colonel.

The Pentagon is investigating Able Danger — which was disbanded in early 2001 — and has no immediate comment, said spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Conway.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), an advocate of data-mining programs like Able Danger, is calling for congressional hearings and says he also prodded the 9/11 commission repeatedly — to no avail.

Shaffer said both he and his deputy tried to set up meetings with the FBI but were barred by Pentagon lawyers. The legal team felt that since Atta and his co-plotters were legal visitors with visas, they had the same rights as U.S. citizens and this would invade their privacy.

"We felt that even if they did have that status, that status was negated by the fact that they were associated with a known terrorist organization, al Qaeda . . . Unfortunately the lawyers didn't see it that way," Shaffer said.

He declined to name those lawyers but also said that later, in early 2001, a "risk-averse" commanding general at DIA ordered him to halt any role in programs like Able Danger even though it was supporting "a major counter-terrorism targeting effort."

"It came to the point [of the general saying] 'Tony, I'm the general here, I'm telling you it's not your job, don't do it,"' Shaffer said. He declined to name the general.

Shaffer said he didn't do the data analysis for Able Danger but worked for DIA providing support for the program, which used computer analysis of data mined under a program so complicated that it took four to six months to get it "up and running."

Able Danger accumulated 2.5 terabytes of data drawing from public databases. It sent "smart bots" out to search the Internet and followed trails that terrorists like Atta left behind.

"He lived in the real world like you and me. Every time we go somewhere, there's a trail. We use our credit card, we buy something, our name gets jotted down somewhere," he said.

The furor over Able Danger comes at the same time that The Post revealed that the lead terrorism prosecutor, then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, bitterly opposed the Clinton-era decision to limit prosecutors' access to intelligence on terrorists.

That decision was made by Clinton's deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, a member of the 9/11 commission. The commission's report never mentioned White's scathing warning that the policy was a disaster waiting to happen

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 18, 2005 02:35AM

MSNBC

Keith Olbermann Interview with Colonel Shaffer

8/1/05

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, why shouldn‘t all that be also true about 9/11? About a secret U.S. military operation called Able Danger that supposedly ID‘d Mohammed Atta in 2000, that has only been ID‘d by the man who was its liaison to the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer? He joins us in a moment.

First, his story, parts which of you have heard previously from Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon, and while in 2000 and 2001, he tried three times to get information about al Qaeda suspects in America into the hands of the FBI, that the meetings kept getting canceled by military lawyers, fearful the Army would be seen as using its resources against civilians who were in this country legally, and that those suspects eventually ended up hijacking planes on 9/11.

According to the commission set up specifically to investigate the attacks, only two of the 19 hijackers, Khalid al-Midar and Nowath al-Hasmi (ph), were on the intelligence radar. But according to Colonel Shaffer, Able Danger had identified four of them, even had pictures of them, including the ringleader, Mohammed Atta.

Colonel Shaffer said he shared information about this missed opportunity with members of the 9/11 commission when they traveled to Afghanistan in October 2003. He was there. But commissioners say they do not recall any mention of Atta in that meeting, and say there was no reference to him in the Able Danger documents handed over to the commission by the Department of Defense.

The Pentagon says its inquiry is ongoing, but, quote, “It‘s too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger.”

I‘m joined now by Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer. Colonel Shaffer, good evening. Thanks for your time.

LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER, U.S. ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Good evening. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

OLBERMANN: The remnants of the 9/11 commission pretty much dismissed this information as irrelevant historically. Congressman Weldon has been, in some quarters, dismissed as a loose cannon, even by a lot of conspiracy theorists and cynics about 9/11. What corroboration or documentation exists? What do you have? What do you know exists, that all this information about Atta and the others really was available as far back as 2000?

SHAFFER: Well, the data itself we‘re looking for, that‘s one of the issues that clearly the Department of Defense is working to resolve. I met with Dr. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Colonel Schwartz, the director of the Joint Staff, where they assured me, and I‘m working with them to try to find where some of these documents ended up.

The issue of where they might else—where these documents may be, also, we‘re still also trying to figure out where they might have ended up. We don‘t know at this point in time.

What we do know is, there‘s other folks who have already talked to Congressman Weldon and myself, and those folks were my colleagues, who also worked in Able Danger, who actually handled the documents. In one case, one of the doctors, one of the scientists who put the technology together which actually resulted in this identification, is also willing at some point to come forward here.

And we‘re working right now to make sure that these people can come out without jeopardizing their careers.

OLBERMANN: So you are hoping for or expecting additional verification from people who will come forward, who were connected to Operation Able Danger?

SHAFFER: I am certain that this will be verified. There‘s just too many people who do know about this, although it was a very tightly held operation. It was very tightly focused, lot of them—not a lot of people knew about it, but there‘s enough who did know about it and were aware of what the findings were, the critical findings regarding the Atta and the other terrorists, which were what we identified to be as part of the Brooklyn cell.

OLBERMANN: Without the hindsight of what we knew about Atta and the others and what they did, how important did you and that team think in 2000 that that information was? How emphatic were you about trying to get to the FBI?

SHAFFER: I‘m not going to say that we knew by some divine measure that something was about to happen. The entire government at that point in time really wasn‘t equipped, or in any sort of (INAUDIBLE) to think that something was about to happen.

So the way it was approached was, this is a planning exercise, which we need to look at this as a group that has hit the United States, they have bombed embassies, and we need to look at them as a target which maybe will be planning things against us.

But honestly, most people thought it would be overseas, not in the United States.

OLBERMANN: I don‘t mean to merge entirely your account with this with the one that Congressman Weldon has been very public about this summer, but perhaps you can clear up two details that are floating around about the supposed 2000 identification that had befuddled and made some of the experts in this field doubtful or dubious.

SHAFFER: Right.

OLBERMANN: The connection between Atta and this Brooklyn reference, when the only terror cell known to have been connected to Brooklyn, New York, was connected to the millennium bombing plot...

SHAFFER: Right.

OLBERMANN: ... and then the idea that the Able Danger documents may have contained a photo of Atta, long before there was one of him in the files of the Florida Department of Transportation, which would have been the summer of 2000. Do you know anything about those two specific points?

SHAFFER: The points of data that were assembled as part of the research was done by the Land Information Warfare Activity Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. It was their databases which was the central starting point for this whole exercise, 2.5 terabytes of information. That came from every single available open source that is out there. That‘s commercial, that‘s private, that you can buy into. That‘s everything you can put together, and then—and merged together, and then using the software to pick up data points.

Any terrorist who exists has a profile, essentially. The original bombers of the World Trade Center had a profile. If you take those data points and say, These guys are terrorists, this is what they look like, and you compare that to the existing databases, and use smart-search tools, this is what you can do. You can find a pattern which emerges and say, These guys fit this pattern. This is similar.

And that‘s when you have to take that information and give to it an analyst for verification and vetting.

That‘s what happened in the case of this information. It wasn‘t a single one-time event. It was a series of processing of these databases, which then emerged this data out for to us analyze. That‘s where the information actually came from.

OLBERMANN: In the story today in “The New York Times,” that newspaper quoted you as saying that when the meetings between military intelligence and the FBI kept getting canceled four and five years ago—let me read the quote exactly, “I was at the point of near-insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued.”

Apparently you are risking at least some damage to your active career now to pursue this now. When none of this was included in any of the various reports of the 9/11 commission, why didn‘t you go public then? And ultimately, if it was critical enough for you to be on the verge of insubordination, why didn‘t you say something about it? I‘m not trying to blame you for the way things turned out, but why did you not go public with this, say, in the summer of 2000, saying, We have these guys that we‘ve fingered here, and they‘re part of a group you probably never heard of called al Qaeda, but they‘re a danger to us right here, right now?

SHAFFER: Well, two—first off, I think you believe—I believe you‘re mixing apples and oranges. The insubordination comment came when we were directed to pull out of Able Danger. What we were trying to do at the time was use the information in 2000 for some useful purpose. If we couldn‘t use it, we wanted to pass to the FBI. So that‘s one critical point.

Second critical point is that next year, when we were—there was an effort to shut it down, we said, We need to maintain this because there‘s useful information, there‘s useful processes here that we need to look at. That‘s part two.

Now, after 9/11, my colleague, who created the technology, gave Congressman Weldon a copy of that chart that had the al Qaeda information on it. Congressman Weldon took that and gave it to Stephen Hadley. My colleague was with the congressman when it happened. That‘s the other point.

So I believed at that point in time, things were going to start getting fixed.

The next time I had an opportunity to speak about this was when the 9/11 commission actually visited Bagram, Afghanistan, where I volunteered, through my chain of command, with their approval. And that‘s when I tried once more to tell them about the information.

OLBERMANN: Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer, formerly the liaison between Able Danger and the Defense Intelligence Agency, great thanks for the detail and time—and your time tonight, sir.

SHAFFER: Thank you.



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