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Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 18, 2005 06:01AM

Intel Dump blog

[inteldump.powerblogs.com]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

LTC Shaffer posts at Intel Dump

[Jon Holdaway, Thursday August 18, 2005 at 12:41am EST]

I put up a post last week about Able Danger and some concerns I had with the story. In the comments section, I received comments from an "Anon" who provided what looked like an insider's perspective on Able Danger. Some of his allegations were potentially explosive (such as briefing AD to senior DOD officials who then blew it off or failed to pass the into to FBI).

According to LTC Tony Shaffer, the individual who has come forward in the press with much of the Able Danger info we have now, he was our own "Anon" (hat tip: Laura Rozen, with an assist to Mickey Kaus). Captain V (aka Voice of the Taciturn) knows Shaffer and vouches for his credibility, and his public statements seem consistent with what I've seen in CT operations. Here's what he wrote:

OK smart guys - with your "smell tests" and "Thats just flat out wrong" opinions shown above - I hope you don't mind, but let me clear up a few things - I was there and I lived through the ABLE DANGER nightmare.

First - yes - The lawyers involved in this (and similar projects) did interpret the 9-11 terrorists as "US persons" - so while you can second guess them all you want - but that was their "legal" call as wrong as it was and is. Unfortunately, the chain of command at SOCOM went along with them (and this, I expect, will be a topic that will become more clear in the near future).

And lawyers of the era also felt that any intelligence officer viewing open internet information for the purpose of intelligence collection automatically required that any "open source" information obtained be treated as if it was "intelligence information"...does this sound like idiocy to you? It did to me - and we fought it - and I was in meetings at the OSD level, with OSD laywers, that debated this - and I even briefed the DCI George Tenet on this issue relating to an internet project.

And yes, Virgina - we tried to tell the lawyers that since the data identified Atta and the others as linked to Al Qaeda, we should be able to collect on them based on SecState Albright's declaration of Al Qaeda as transnational terrorist threat to the US...well the lawyers did not agree...go figure...so we could not collect on them - and for political reasons - could not pass them to the FBI...I know because I brokered three meetings between the FBI and SOCOM to allow SOCOM to pass the informaton to the FBI. And, sadly, SOCOM cancelled them every time...

Oh - and as to your opinion that ABLE DANGER was a precursor to the IDC - you are flat out wrong - and obviously not keeping up with what is coming out in the press. ABLE DANGER partnered with LIWA/IDC to use the LIWA/IDC capability to obtain the data on Atta and the other 9-11 terrorists. I brokered the relationship...

And - wrong again on the IDC using only "classified" databases - IDC used 2.5 terabytes (a whole hell of a lot of data) - all open source - to identify Atta and the others that have been identified. Classified data bases were only use to "confirm" the links subsequent to the open source data runs.

Oh - and DATA MINING is not overt or clandestine - it just "is" - it is something that is done with either open source or classified information. ABLE DANGER used an array of both open and close databases...

So...good try, gentlemen - good to see there is intellectual riggor here...but before you start doubting the story, perhaps you need to do better research.
8.12.2005 11:27pm

Based on his comments on this blog, and further comments he's made elsewhere, this is where I see the controversy currently sitting:

1. Able Danger was a SOCOM operation. When Shaffer says "Pentagon lawyers" tanked FBI cooperation, my understanding is that it was SOCOM lawyers and leaders (including staffers for current Army Chief of Staff and then-SOCOM commander, GEN Pete Schoomaker) who prevented FBI coordination. From Shaffer's statements, it appears that the concern was not necessarily the "wall", but a fear that this support would lead to a "Waco" style controversy. Remember that SOCOM units were involved in giving advice to FBI and BATF during the Waco siege, and that they took a lot of heat for their participation. It is reasonable that SOCOM would fear getting involved in another domestic incident, but Able Danger was not a threat (FBI terrorism cases in Brooklyn are apples compared to BATF in Waco oranges). My hunch is that what Shaffer is talking about is efforts by either he or Able Danger to talk to FBI directly. I also suspect that the Pentagon and DIA were not fully briefed on Able Danger and had no clue about its full mission until about 2 weeks ago. That would explain the current deer-in-the-headlights response we're getting from them.

2. That said, SOCOM is out of its league when dealing with counterterrorism investigations. It may have the mission and assets to hunt down and kill terrorists in the field, but it is not their mission to conduct CT at a strategic level or from a homeland security perspective. SOCOM attorneys may have felt that there were legal problems in coordinating with the FBI (ignorance of what EO 12333 authorizes, misreading of the "wall", misapplication of Posse Comitatus), but that's because they don't normally coordinate with the FBI. However, lawyers at the Army INSCOM, Department of the Army, and DIA levels are very familiar with how to share information with the FBI. Pentagon lawyers familiar with CT and espionage investigations have FBI intelligence officials on their speed-dial. As a former colleague pointed out the other day, Army intel would have gotten material relating to the Atta group in Brooklyn off their desk and into FBI hands immediately.

I still have concerns with the overall story. LTC Shaffer, who by all accounts is an outstanding officer and straight shooter, may only be able to provide a limited, albeit important, side of the story. Further investigation needs to take place, and it sounds like the questions ought to start with whoever stopped coordination. I've previously speculated that it might have been civilian politicos (SECDEF, NSA) who stopped it, but the SOCOM angle makes more sense. Their attorneys would be normal senior judge advocates, and based on what I've seen of training on intelligence oversight and FBI coordination issues in the Army JAG Corps, these guys most likely didn't know what laws and policies out there actually impinged on intelligence sharing operations.

Investigators also need to look at SOCOM leadership, including GEN Schoomaker. If they kept the rest of the Army and DOD in the dark on Able Danger and the results of their investigation, preventing effective FBI coordination, then they ought to be identified and questioned as to their reasoning for that decision. And finally, there needs to be a look into what the Army's Information Dominance Center knew about Atta pre-9/11. I know there was an effort after 9/11 to check all databases to make sure this sort of problem didn't occur, but INSCOM may need to check again to see what they put together in support of Able Danger.

LTC Shaffer has gotten the ball rolling. Unfortunately, he's probably just tanked whatever career he has left. Whistleblower protection only goes so far, and the best he'll probably get is some sort of promise not to prosecute for leaking potentially classified information. DOD would do well not to shoot the messenger this time (a familiar military habit) and start look at whether what he's saying is actually true.

One other issue. Laura Rozen points out that one concern by SOCOM may have been over getting caught spying on a US Person. This is a fallacy, either by the original lawyers/leaders who may have thought it or by the rest of us trying to figure out why SOCOM didn't coordinate with FBI. First, Atta and his group, by any legal reading, was not a US Person. He didn't even warrant "special sensitivity". As far as individuals go, only US citizens and Permanent Resident Aliens get protections from intel collection. Atta was a mere tourist. There are no reasonable legal grounds to give a tourist "US Person" status. Second, even if he had protections, there is a glaring exception for investigations into those reasonably believed to be engaged in international terrorist activities (or affiliated with the same). To be overly cautious two levels of analysis deep is not good application of policy to facts and a bad business practice in the CT line of work.

As I've said before, we're still in wait-and-see mode.
Related Posts (on one page):

LTC Shaffer posts at Intel Dump
More on Data Mining and Able Danger
Data mining -- just when you thought it was dead...
TIA lives to die another day, Part II
Total Information Awareness lives on to die another day

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 18, 2005 08:49AM

Note the paragraph:

"But Pentagon officials have said they have uncovered no specific intelligence data from the Able Danger unit concerning an Atta-led terrorist cell, other than a few intelligence analyses that mention his name, and September 11 commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton disputed the source of the information."

Washington Times

By Audrey Hudson

August 16, 2005

By Fears of backlash kept pre-9/11 data from FBI

Pentagon lawyers, fearing a public-relations "blow back," blocked a military intelligence unit from sharing information with the FBI that four suspected al Qaeda terrorists were in the country prior to the September 11 attacks, after determining they were here legally, a former Defense Department intelligence official says.

Members of an intelligence unit known as Able Danger were shut out of the September 11 commission investigation and final report, the official said, despite briefing commission staff members on two occasions about the Mohamed Atta-led terrorist cell and telling them of a lockdown of information between the Defense Department and the FBI.

The intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Pentagon lawyers "were afraid of a blow back" -- similar to the public's response to the FBI-led assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which left more than 70 people dead -- and decided to withhold the information from the FBI.

The official said the decision was made at the Army's Special Operations Command (SoCom) headquarters in Tampa, Fla.,which concluded that Atta, the ringleader of the September 11 hijackers, and the others were in the country legally and thus had the same legal protections as U.S. citizens.

"If something went wrong, SoCom felt it could get blamed," the official said.

But Pentagon officials have said they have uncovered no specific intelligence data from the Able Danger unit concerning an Atta-led terrorist cell, other than a few intelligence analyses that mention his name, and September 11 commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton disputed the source of the information.

Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton said in a joint statement that the military source of the accusation "could not describe what information had led to this supposed Atta identification" and that no other information placed three other September 11 hijackers with Atta in a purported terror cell.

Accusations that commission staffers were briefed on the Able Danger operation but ignored the information in the final report came from Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, who said potential political fallout was one reason he was given for the information not being turned over to the FBI.

" How could a top-secret operation against al Qaeda not be mentioned in the 9/11 document?" he said. "It's outrageous. It looks like someone at the staff level decided not to pursue that information."

The intelligence official said he tried to broker meetings between the FBI and the Special Operations Command to turn over information that Able Danger had uncovered, including that hijackers Marwan Al-Shehhi, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhamzi were with Atta in the United States.

Able Danger was created in 1999 by SoCom to track al Qaeda cells worldwide.

The intelligence official said he was interviewed in October 2003 by members of the
September 11 commission staff, including Executive Director Philip Zelikow, and sought to arrange a follow-up meeting that the staff had requested when he returned from Afghanistan in January 2004, but was rebuffed.

"They took good notes and scribbled the entire time I talked. Two staffers took four to five pages of notes each. Other members from Special Ops Command also were in attendance," he said, adding that he was "shocked" in January 2004 when the staff members told him, "We don't need to talk to you."

Mr. Weldon said he wants to know "who made the decision and why was it never mentioned in the final document. ... It would have changed the completion on the final 9/11 report."

•Jerry Seper contributed to this report.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 18, 2005 08:26PM

Fox News

Senate Considers Hearing on Able Danger Findings

Friday, August 19, 2005

WASHINGTON — The military intelligence official who first spoke publicly about Able Danger (search), the pre-Sept. 11 task force looking for terror threats to the United States, went to Capitol Hill Thursday to brief staffers who work for Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A congressional source told FOX News that hearings could be in the cards this fall over Able Danger's findings and its omission from the Sept. 11 commission's report issued last year. Neither Specter's office nor Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who made the explosive allegations, would confirm a plan for hearings.

"I think I can safely say that anyone who is involved in this project will do anything we can to [go to] the appropriate venue [to] present all the truth that we are aware of in the appropriate time and place," Shaffer told FOX News.

The former chairman of the Sept. 11 commission said in a telephone interview that he believes the onus is on the Pentagon to do a speedy evaluation of the claims by Shaffer and others that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta (search) and three other hijackers had been identified one year before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"The files are in the possession of the Defense Department, so really nobody else besides the administration can get to the bottom of it ... if there exists a file on Able Danger," said Chairman Tom Kean.

While making no judgment on the veracity of the claims, former commissioner Tim Roemer said inconsistencies are appearing between the story and the facts that the commission knows.

For one, Roemer asked how Able Danger got a photo of Atta in 2000 for its alleged chart of terrorists when he had not yet applied for a U.S. visa.

"If Atta's name is mentioned, you send off a host of fire alarms, neon lights, people's hair gets on fire and you're going to find out what that's all about. But you also need evidence, you can't just say here's my recollection of something I thought I saw in a notebook. You've got to say, 'Here is the chart,'" Roemer said.

Able Danger was not included in the final commission report because three separate commission requests did not yield Pentagon documents that could confirm that a military unit had identified any of the future hijackers, Kean said.

"We'll be mad as hell frankly if stuff was withheld from us. That would be terrible. So I, you know, until we have the answer from the administration, I don't think anybody is in a position to say something is true or not true," Kean said.

But Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said the commission is passing the buck.

"I'm not going to let them blame the Pentagon because the military officers that offered to brief them offered on two different occasions," he said.

Kean said the commission had initially been promised a statement from the Defense Department last week. Military officials are investigating the Atta allegations and combing through documents. Kean said congressional hearings could be helpful, but little can move forward until the Pentagon issues its findings.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 19, 2005 12:32PM

Fox News

Pentagon Probes Able Danger Claims

Friday, August 19, 2005


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is taking a hard look at the issue of whether a military intelligence group called Able Danger (search) had information that the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was in the United States more than a year before the United States.

Defense Department officials are going through nearly 200,000 documents to see what information they had about terrorist Mohammed Atta (search) and three of his co-conspirators, and what was done with that information.

Some intelligence analysts involved in Able Danger claim attempts were made to give the information to the FBI but the transfer never occurred. At least one analyst, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer (search), claims that the Sept. 11 commission probing intelligence failures around the terror attacks was told of Able Danger's findings. But the commission denies that enough information about Atta was given that it would raise red flags or merit putting in its final report.

Sources close to the Pentagon review told FOX News that they've found no information so far to either support or refute the claims.

Schaffer and Rep. Curt Weldon (search), R-Pa., are the ones who have gone public with the Able Danger information.

But now, questions are being raised about Schaffer. His security clearance was suspended last year and he's on administrative leave from the Defense Department. Anonymous defense officials floated stories this week about Schaffer's security clearance and some of his alleged relationships — none of which have much to do with the Able Danger issue.

Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said this week that Shaffer does not have documentation related to Able Danger because his security clearance was suspended in March 2004 for "petty and frivolous" reasons. They include a dispute over mileage reimbursement and a charges for personal calls on a work cell phone, Zaid said.

On Thursday, Schaffer was on Capitol Hill to brief staffers who work for Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A congressional source told FOX News that hearings could be in the cards this fall over Able Danger's findings and its omission from the Sept. 11 commission's report issued last year. Neither Specter's office nor Shaffer would confirm a plan for hearings.

"I think I can safely say that anyone who is involved in this project will do anything we can to [go to] the appropriate venue [to] present all the truth that we are aware of in the appropriate time and place," Shaffer told FOX News.

Shaffer said in an interview on FOX News' "Hannity and Colmes" Thursday night that he and a fellow officer — a Navy captain — briefed the commission on Able Danger's findings.

"The fact is this — they were told not once but twice," he said.

Although Shaffer conceded that during his own personal briefing of Sept. 11 commission staffers in Afghanistan in Oct. 2003, he didn't specifically name the terrorists. Instead, he detailed how Able Danger had uncovered information about three terror cells with the use of then-advanced data-mining techniques.

Shaffer also claims that Able Danger members were basically dissuaded from further investigating Atta because he was here as a foreign visitor. He said a two-star general above him was "very adament" about not looking further at Atta.

"I was directed several times [to ignore Atta], to the point where he had to remind me he was a general and I was not ... [and] I would essentially be fired," Shaffer told FOX News.

The former chairman of the Sept. 11 commission said in a telephone interview that he believes the onus is on the Pentagon to do a speedy evaluation of the claims by Shaffer and others that Atta and three other hijackers had been identified one year before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"The files are in the possession of the Defense Department, so really nobody else besides the administration can get to the bottom of it ... if there exists a file on Able Danger," said Chairman Tom Kean.

While making no judgment on the veracity of the claims, former commissioner Tim Roemer said inconsistencies are appearing between the story and the facts that the commission knows.

For one, Roemer asked how Able Danger got a photo of Atta in 2000 for its alleged chart of terrorists when he had not yet applied for a U.S. visa.

"If Atta's name is mentioned, you send off a host of fire alarms, neon lights, people's hair gets on fire and you're going to find out what that's all about. But you also need evidence, you can't just say here's my recollection of something I thought I saw in a notebook. You've got to say, 'Here is the chart,'" Roemer said.

Able Danger was not included in the final commission report because three separate commission requests did not yield Pentagon documents that could confirm that a military unit had identified any of the future hijackers, Kean said.

"We'll be mad as hell frankly if stuff was withheld from us. That would be terrible. So I, you know, until we have the answer from the administration, I don't think anybody is in a position to say something is true or not true," Kean said.

But Weldon said the commission is passing the buck.

"I'm not going to let them blame the Pentagon because the military officers that offered to brief them offered on two different occasions," he said.

Kean said the commission had initially been promised a statement from the Defense Department last week. Military officials are investigating the Atta allegations and combing through documents. Kean said congressional hearings could be helpful, but little can move forward until the Pentagon issues its findings.

FOX News' Greg Kelly and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 20, 2005 12:13AM

Washington Post

By Dan Eggen

Friday, August 19, 2005; A11

Officer Says 2 Others Are Source of His Atta Claims

The former intelligence officer who says that a Defense Department program identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks said yesterday that many of his allegations are not based on his memory but on the recollections of others.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who has been on paid administrative leave from the Defense Intelligence Agency since his security clearance was suspended in March 2004, said in a telephone interview that a Navy officer and a civilian official affiliated with the Able Danger program told him after the attacks that Atta and other hijackers had been included on a chart more than a year earlier.

But because he was not intimately familiar with the names and photographs of suspected terrorists, he did not realize that hijackers were listed until it was alleged to him after the attacks, Shaffer said. All of the charts that could support his claims have disappeared, he said.

"I did see the charts and I did handle the charts, but my understanding of them was like a layman," Shaffer said. "We had identified them as terrorists. . . . But even now I do not remember all the names."

The comments add to the uncertainty surrounding assertions by Shaffer and Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), who have said the Able Danger group identified Atta and other hijackers as early as 1999 but was stymied by Defense Department lawyers from sharing information with the FBI. The allegations set off a wave of media reports and have prompted investigations by the former Sept. 11 commission and the Defense Department.

The Sept. 11 panel said last week that it did not find evidence to support the allegations in its files and that the Able Danger program was not "historically significant." A Pentagon official said yesterday that although the investigation into the allegations is still ongoing, "we're not finding information that substantiates these claims."

Shaffer said yesterday that his overall allegations were based on his recollections and those of two others -- Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and a civilian employee of the former Land Information Warfare Activity at Fort Belvoir, whom he declined to identify. Phillpott did not respond to telephone messages left yesterday with the Navy and at his home.

Shaffer said that Able Danger, by analyzing publicly available databases, produced charts in "the late spring or summer of 2000" showing ties between suspected terrorists. Shaffer said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the civilian employee showed him a chart allegedly from 2000 that purportedly identified Atta and three other hijackers.

Shaffer, who briefed the Senate Judiciary Committee on his allegations yesterday, said he recognized the charts from his work as a liaison between the DIA and Able Danger. But he said he is relying on the word of Phillpott and the civilian employee, who pointed to one of the charts and said, "We had them."

Phillpott told the Sept. 11 panel in July 2004 that he recalled seeing Atta's name briefly on an Able Danger chart in spring 2000, which was before Atta obtained a visa and entered the United States. The commission, noting a lack of supporting evidence, said Phillpott's account "was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation."

The furor over Atta began earlier this summer with a little-noticed paragraph in Weldon's book, "Countdown to Terror," which focuses on the claims of an Iranian informant that the CIA has deemed a fabricator. Weldon writes that during a meeting with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, he presented a chart "developed in 1999" by the Able Danger program that "diagrammed the affiliations of al Qaeda and showed Mohammed [sic] Atta and the infamous Brooklyn Cell."

Time magazine reported last week that Weldon said he is no longer sure that Atta was included on the chart he gave Hadley. But Weldon's chief of staff said yesterday that Atta was on the chart and that it was produced in 1999. Representatives for Hadley, who is now President Bush's national security adviser, have declined to comment on Weldon's claims.

Weldon did not respond to a request for an interview yesterday.




Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 21, 2005 12:58PM

I cna't vouch for the accuracy of the transcript of Col. Shaffer's interview on the Michael Savage show (just appearing on Savage's show is a display of Shaffer's poor judgment, imo) but here's the link:

[qtmonster.typepad.com]




Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 21, 2005 07:39PM

The Washington Times

By Shaun Waterman
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

August 22, 2005

House Republican leaders approved in advance plans by a military intelligence official to go public with details of a top-secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger.

Army Reserve Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer says the data-mining project identified Mohamed Atta and three of the other September 11 hijackers as members of an al Qaeda cell more than a year before the attacks.

"I spoke personally to Denny Hastert and to Pete Hoekstra," Col. Shaffer said. Mr. Hastert, Illinois Republican, is speaker of the House, and Mr. Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"I was given assurances by [them] that this was the right thing to do. ... I was given assurances we would not suffer any adverse consequences for bringing this to the attention of the public," Col. Shaffer said.

Col. Shaffer said his conversations with Mr. Hastert and Mr. Hoekstra took place before he and members of the Able Danger team spoke as anonymous sources to reporters in the offices of Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, on Aug. 8.

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said yesterday that he had no information about whether the meeting took place and had no comment to make. Mr. Hoekstra was said by staff to be out of the country.

Col. Shaffer also said he was given what he interpreted as tacit approval from senior Pentagon officials before going on the record to Fox News and the New York Times last week.

Col. Shaffer he said he had met with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone and Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the staff director for outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers.

"They knew that this would be the next logical step," Col. Shaffer said, and the officials did not ask him to refrain from going public.

A Pentagon spokesman said he could not confirm whether those meetings had taken place.

Able Danger was a yearlong, highly classified project carried out for the Joint Chiefs of Staff by U.S. Special Operations Command, the existence of which was first revealed by Mr. Weldon in a recent book.

In a floor speech and at least one congressional hearing in June, Mr. Weldon said the project had identified September 11 hijackers Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi, Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi as members of an al Qaeda cell more than a year before the attacks.

On Aug. 8, Col. Shaffer -- joined on at least one occasion by members of the Able Danger team -- began giving interviews as an anonymous source to reporters in Mr. Weldon's office.

Col. Shaffer told reporters that the September 11 commission had been told about the project. Commission members and staff have said that they asked the Pentagon for documents on the project. The Pentagon has said it is investigating Col. Shaffer's account.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 21, 2005 07:41PM

The Washington Times

Editorial

Able Danger Questions

August 22, 2005

What was Able Danger and what exactly did it know about September 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta? At this point, it all depends on whom you ask.

This much is known: Able Danger was a Defense Department program designed in the late 1990s to track al Qaeda activities around the world. In October 2003, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who worked as a liaison between the Defense Intelligence Agency and Able Danger, met with September 11 commission staff director Philip Zelikow in Afghanistan. Col. Shaffer told Mr. Zelikow about the top-secret program, which ended in 2002, and that it had information concerning the September 11 hijackers. The commission followed up on Col. Shaffer's request a few months later and analyzed Pentagon documents about the program. Then, in July 2004, just weeks before the commission released its report, a naval intelligence officer approached commission staff members with information saying that Able Danger had identified Atta and three other hijackers as early as February 2000. The commission, however, never mentioned Able Danger or what it supposedly found in its final report.

Embedded within this timeline are a series of unanswered questions and conflicting recollections. First, Col. Shaffer says that he attempted to arrange a meeting between the FBI and Able Danger analysts in 2000 to share intelligence on al Qaeda and possibly Atta and his Brooklyn terrorist cell. His requests were apparently rebuffed by Pentagon lawyers who feared a public-relations "blow back" if it was leaked that the Pentagon was engaged in domestic spying. The question of what Col. Shaffer wanted to share with the FBI is an important one. Did he know in 2000 that Able Danger had specific information on Atta or only that it was tracking domestic cells? If he knew about Atta, then it's quite possible that the FBI, had there been a meeting, would have been able to thwart September 11.

Col. Shaffer's account conflicts on this point. He has said his knowledge of Atta comes from an Able Danger chart identifying at least 60 known terrorists inside the United States. Yet by his own admission, Col. Shaffer said he learned about the chart from two sources after September 11. Neither source has come forward. The commission, for example, denies Col. Shaffer mentioned Atta's name to Mr. Zelikow in 2003, which, if true, would be remarkable. Rep. Curt Weldon, who gave this story national attention a few weeks ago, said he handed a similar chart to then Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley soon after September 11. Unfortunately, Mr. Weldon says he handed Mr. Hadley his only copy. So, where is this chart?

Other questions remain: Why did the commission change its story three times in a single week on what it knew about Able Danger? Its current recollection is the one cited in the above timeline. We also still don't know for certain when the commission first heard that Able Danger had identified Atta -- if it identified him at all. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has said only that it's investigating the matter.

The conflicting accounts by themselves do not necessarily mean any of this amounts to a major scandal. Early statements which have to be withdrawn or amended are typical in a breaking story. Clearly, Col. Shaffer and Mr. Weldon believe that valuable information concerning the safety of the country was twice ignored -- first by Pentagon lawyers, then by the commission. The commission argues that Able Danger was not "historically significant." It's time to hear what the Pentagon thinks.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 21, 2005 10:30PM

9/11 Discourse Project

8/12/05

Response to media inquiries about the 9/11 Commission's investigation of Able Dnager

[www.9-11pdp.org]

On 8/12/2005, Laura Rozen posted most of the letter on her "War and Piece" blog (minus links) :

[www.warandpiece.com]

No Proof of Atta ID. The successor organization to the 9/11 commission sent this memo around tonight (.pdf document linked). I am going to post most of it, since it has the whole sequence of events and claims. The way I read it, there's no proof the 9/11 commission was ever provided with documentary evidence that the Able Danger project identified Mohammad Atta in advance of the attacks:

On October 21, 2003, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, two senior Commission staff members, and a representative of the executive branch, met at Bagram Base, Afghanistan, with three individuals doing intelligence work for the Department of Defense. One of the men, in recounting information about al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan before 9/11, referred to a DOD program known as ABLE DANGER. He said this program was now closed, but urged Commission staff to get the files on this program and review them, as he thought the Commission would find information about al Qaeda and Bin Ladin that had been developed before the 9/11 attack. He also complained that Congress, particularly the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), had effectively ended a human intelligence network he considered valuable.

As with their other meetings, Commission staff promptly prepared a memorandum for the record. That memorandum, prepared at the time, does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation.

While still in Afghanistan, Dr. Zelikow called back to the Commission headquarters in Washington and requested that staff immediately draft a document request seeking information from DOD on ABLE DANGER. The staff had also heard about ABLE DANGER in another context, related to broader military planning involving possible operations against al Qaeda before 9/11.

In November 2003, shortly after the staff delegation had returned to the United States, two document requests related to ABLE DANGER were finalized and sent to DOD. One, sent on November 6, asked, among other things, for any planning order or analogous documents about military operations related to al Qaeda and Afghanistan issued from the beginning of 1998 to September 20, 2001, and any reports, memoranda, or briefings by or for either the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Commanding General of the U.S. Special Operations Command in connection with such planning, specifically including material related to ABLE DANGER. The other, sent on November 25, treated ABLE DANGER as a possible intelligence program and asked for all documents and files associated with “DIA’s program ‘ABLE DANGER’” from the beginning of 1998 through September 20, 2001.

In February 2004, DOD provided documents responding to these requests. Some were turned over to the Commission and remain in Commission files. Others were available for staff review in a DOD reading room. Commission staff reviewed the documents. Four former staff members have again, this week, reviewed those documents turned over to the Commission, which are held in the Commission’s archived files. Staff who reviewed the documents held in the DOD reading room made notes summarizing each of them. Those notes are also in the Commission archives and have also been reviewed this week.

The records discuss a set of plans, beginning in 1999, for ABLE DANGER, which involved expanding knowledge about the al Qaeda network. Some documents include diagrams of terrorist networks. None of the documents turned over to the Commission mention Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers. Nor do any of the staff notes on documents reviewed in the DOD reading room indicate that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers were mentioned in any of those documents.

A senior staff member also made verbal inquiries to the HPSCI and CIA staff for any information regarding the ABLE DANGER operation. Neither organization produced any documents about the operation, or displayed any knowledge of it.

In 2004, Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) and his staff contacted the Commission to call the Commission’s attention to the Congressman’s critique of the U.S. intelligence community. No mention was made in these conversations of a claim that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers had been identified by DOD employees before 9/11.

In early July 2004, the Commission’s point of contact at DOD called the Commission’s attention to the existence of a U.S. Navy officer employed at DOD who was seeking to be interviewed by Commission staff in connection with a data mining project on which he had worked. The DOD point of contact indicated that the prospective witness was claiming that the project had linked Atta to an al Qaeda cell located in New York in the 1999-2000 time frame. Shortly after receiving this information, the Commission staff’s front office assigned two staff members with knowledge of the 9/11 plot and the ABLE DANGER operation to interview the witness at one of the Commission’s Washington, D.C. offices.

On July 12, 2004, as the drafting and editing process for the Report was coming to an end (the Report was released on July 22, and editing continued to occur through July 17), a senior staff member, Dieter Snell, accompanied by another staff member, met with the officer at one of the Commission’s Washington, D.C. offices. A representative of the DOD also attended the interview.

According to the memorandum for the record on this meeting, prepared the next day by Mr. Snell, the officer said that ABLE DANGER included work on “link analysis,” mapping links among various people involved in terrorist networks. According to this record, the officer recalled seeing the name and photo of Mohamed Atta on an “analyst notebook chart” assembled by another officer (who he said had retired and was now working as a DOD contractor).

The officer being interviewed said he saw this material only briefly, that the relevant material dated from February through April 2000, and that it showed Mohamed Atta to be a member of an al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn. The officer complained that this information and information about other alleged members of a Brooklyn cell had been soon afterward deleted from the document (“redacted”) because DOD lawyers were concerned about the propriety of DOD intelligence efforts that might be focused inside the United States. The officer referred to these as “posse comitatus” restrictions. Believing the law was being wrongly interpreted, he said he had complained about these restrictions up his chain of command in the U.S. Special Operations Command, to no avail.

The officer then described the remainder of his work on link analysis efforts, until he was eventually transferred to other work. The officer complained about how these methods were being used by the Defense Intelligence Agency, and mentioned other concerns about U.S. officials and foreign governments.

At the time of the officer’s interview, the Commission knew that, according to travel and immigration records, Atta first obtained a U.S. visa on May 18, 2000, and first arrived in the United States (at Newark) on June 3, 2000. Atta joined up with Marwan al-Shehhi. They spent little time in the New York area, traveling later in June to Oklahoma and then to Florida, where they were enrolled in flight school by early July.

The interviewee had no documentary evidence and said he had only seen the document briefly some years earlier. He could not describe what information had led to this supposed Atta identification. Nor could the interviewee recall, when questioned, any details about how he thought a link to Atta could have been made by this DOD program in 2000 or any time before 9/11. The Department of Defense documents had mentioned nothing about Atta, nor had anyone come forward between September 2001 and July 2004 with any similar information. Weighing this with the information about Atta’s actual activities, the negligible information available about Atta to other U.S. government agencies and the German government before 9/11, and the interviewer’s assessment of the interviewee’s knowledge and credibility, the Commission staff concluded that the officer’s account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.

We have seen press accounts alleging that a DOD link analysis had tied Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi (who had arrived in the U.S. shortly before Atta on May 29) to two other future hijackers, Hazmi al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, in 1999-2000. No such claim was made to the Commission by any witness. Moreover, all evidence that was available to the Commission indicates that Hazmi and Mihdhar were never on the East coast until 2001 and that these two pairs of future hijackers had no direct contact with each other until June 2001.

If you go back to Weldon's comments from 2002 about the same project, you'll notice he doesn't mention Atta. That seemed to get entered into the story later.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 01:01AM

Here's some information from a 2002 Wayne Madsen report about Curt Weldon's interest in data mining. Surprise - SAIC, a major vendor in the spy business, is in Weldon's district.

Note: Wayne Madsen is often accused of being a tinfoil hat type but this information ie easily checked out elsewhere.

[multinationalmonitor.org]

Excerpt about Curt Weldon:

Data Miners Abound
Choice Point, along with Oracle, Microsoft, Booz, Allen and Hamilton, and a rival of Choice Point, Information Builders, were front and center at a Homeland Security seminar and exhibition held in Washington this past December. The homeland security gathering saw hundreds of government officials with procurement authority eagerly approaching the security vendors to seek information on their offerings and products.

And it has not just been contractors and procurement officials eager to feed at the homeland security budget trough. Representative Curt Weldon, R-Pennsylvania, is pushing the Bush administration and Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge to establish a National Operations and Analysis Hub (NOAH), a supercomputer-based Internet data mining system that would assist the military and intelligence community in pulling information of interest from the world wide web. For years, Weldon has maneuvered to win Congressional support for a supercomputer project led by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a major defense and intelligence contractor. The project, called HUBS (Hospitals, Universities, Businesses and Schools), links computer systems in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. HUBS was the brainchild of Dr. Da Hsuan Feng, Weldon’s former technical adviser on the House Subcommittee on Military Research and Development, which Weldon chairs. Dr. Feng is now a vice president of SAIC at the firm’s King of Prussia facility, also situated in Weldon’s district. SAIC not only manages HUBS, which has received more than $25 million in federal financing, but stands to profit from NOAH, which Weldon proposes be headquartered in his district.

For its part, the FBI, by trying to amass even greater amounts of personal data, is whittling away at federal and state privacy laws. FBI Director Robert Mueller told a January meeting of U.S. mayors in Washington that his bureau required a new communication system to “digitize information and share information more quickly and widely.” One of the stumbling blocks in sharing information contained in the FBI-run National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer is that current federal statutes prevent it from being expanded to include information from states and local governments without prior Congressional approval. Also, state privacy laws limit the types of personal information that can be collected and with whom it can be shared. Bills recently submitted in Congress will remedy this situation by providing state and local police access to FBI-held information, including contents of wiretapped phone calls and e-mail, bugged conversations, raw evidence collected by grand juries, and information derived from the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.




Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 01:26AM

Newsmax

Aug. 21, 2005 5:38 p.m. EDT

Lt. Col. Shaffer: Able Danger Docs Disappeared

Documents detailing the work of a top secret military intelligence unit that identified lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta before the 9/11 attacks have disappeared, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency's liaison for the group, code named Able Danger.

"There's some troubling things that have happened both to me and the way the [Able Danger] information [was handled]," Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer told C-Span's "Sunday Morning Journal." "Shortly after I talked to the 9/11 Commission, there was some issues going on about the documentation. Right now as it stands this minute, to my knowledge, the documentation I had . . . we don't know where it is."

"It's not where I left it back in March of 2003," Shaffer said, which was "in a Department intelligence facility in the Northern Virginia area."

Shaffer told C-Span he had "one full set of Able Danger documents in my holdings from the DIA."

The Able Danger whistleblower had said previously that a member of the team had delivered two briefcases full of documents to the 9/11 Commission - but Commission spokesman have said they have found nothing that mentioned Atta by name.

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 01:30AM

Time Magazine

Aug. 21, 2005

By TIMOTHY J. BURGER, BRIAN BENNETT

Was Mohammed Atta Overlooked?

That question has recently been buzzing around Washington, but now the chairman of the defunct 9/11 commission has lashed out at the Bush Administration for failing to address publicly claims that the panel ignored a tip that Atta had been flagged in the U.S. as a terrorist well before he led the 2001 attacks. Former chairman Tom Kean told TIME that the White House should confirm whether, right after 9/11, Congressman Curt Weldon handed then Deputy National Security Adviser Steven Hadley a 1999 Pentagon chart pegging Atta as a member of al-Qaeda. Weldon makes the allegation in a book he published this summer and claims the commission failed to scrutinize a Pentagon data-mining program called "Able Danger." "I'm offended, because people say, 'Well, why didn't you do anything?'" says Kean. "This was information that was not given us." After largely declining comment for nearly two weeks, a Pentagon spokesman told TIME last week that the Defense Department has been "aggressively looking into these allegations" but has yet to find documentation to support them.

Meanwhile, another possible gap in the 9/11 report has emerged. The panel found that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar had left the U.S. from the summer of 2000 until two months before the attacks. But USAID Systems, a Florida ID firm, confirmed last week that he was issued a card--reproduced in a book last year--in New York or New Jersey exactly six years before its expiration date of Dec. 30, 2006. Kean says there was solid evidence that Almihdhar was out of the U.S. at that time but any indication to the contrary "would be important to follow up."

Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 01:45AM

Fox News

Hannity & Colmes

8/19/05

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to a special edition of "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes. Sean reporting live tonight from Sunland Park, New Mexico, on the outskirts of El Paso.

And coming up next, we'll take you over the border to Mexico City to show you the danger lurking everyday on the streets of Mexico's capital.

But first, an army intelligence officer says that a secret military counterterrorist unit called Able Danger identified four of the 9/11 (search) hijackers, including ringleader Mohammed Atta (search), a year before the 9/11 attacks. Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer says he tried to warn the FBI, but Pentagon lawyers stopped him.

This information was not included in the report released by the 9/11 Commission (search), and the commission denies that Atta's name or the name of other hijackers came up in interviews with Shaffer. Joining us now is Able Danger team member, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.

Lieutenant Colonel, explain to me, how is it they deny it? They also — staff members, like executive director Phil Zelikow, say, despite your statements, they were not told the names of these hijackers, as you claim?

LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER, ABLE DANGER TEAM MEMBER: Well, I don't know how they can overlook that, because the fact is this: They were told not once but twice by a fellow officer, a Navy captain, later on in 2004.

In my October discussion with him, I did not discuss the names of the terrorists. I'm not saying that. I never said that. I did talk about the fact that we found three cells through the use of some advanced technology, two to three cells which conducted 9/11 attacks, to include Atta.

Now, that was the only name I remembered. You have to understand, I was in Afghanistan deployed. I didn't have my documents with me. I didn't have the background. So during this discussion, it was using some notes that I put together myself, based on my memory as talking points, and I discussed the fact that Able Danger (search) was able to use data mining techniques, that were at the time cutting-edge, to merge out of this information data.

COLMES: A lot of people think this is an attack on the 9/11 report. What I saw — I went back and read chapter eight, which — some of the things it said in chapter eight, which is where I think we should be focused, for example, early May of 2001 — and I'll put it on the screen — a walk-in to the FBI claimed there was a plan to launch attacks on cities, including New York.

May 16th, report that a phone call to the U.S. embassy warned that bin Laden (search) supporters were planning an attack on the United States using explosives. The next day, the first item on the CSG's agenda was that very thing from the day before. June 25th, Clarke — that's, of course, Richard Clarke (search) — warning Rice and Deputy Hadley that six separate intelligence reports showed Al Qaeda (search) personnel warning of an attack.

And of course, the briefing of August 6th saying bin Laden determined to strike. This administration had all of that information, and that was in the 9/11 report, and that is much more significant, in my view.

SHAFFER: Well, I'm not arguing the point about the significance. The issue that we've been dealing with is the fact that we had an element of special operations command focused on conducting offensive operations against bin Laden at least two years before 9/11.

Now, I think that's a good, new story. The fact is, we had significant problems which were not addressed in the 9/11 Commission report, which talked to the very essence of why the report was written.

The problems within infrastructure, with personnel, with being able to get information passed to the FBI. One of the issues we've been faced with is the fact that the information we had was, we believed, unique, and we did try to pass it to the FBI through legal methods. And we were not able to do that on a timely basis. As a matter of fact, we weren't able to do it at all before 9/11.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Colonel Shaffer, Sean Hannity here. Let me just go through...

SHAFFER: Hey, sir.

HANNITY: ... because we don't have a lot of time. But you guys at Able Danger identified that Atta was here. You identified some other co-conspirators of 9/11 were here one year prior, correct?

SHAFFER: Right. Yes, that's correct. Yes. And that was the...

HANNITY: And you tried to warn your superiors?

SHAFFER: Well, that was the key. Now, the special operations command, the operations officer of that unit, of Able Danger, brought it to my attention that the lawyers had said, "We can't do anything with this stuff. We need to pass it to the FBI." It was my job then, as part of my unit's responsibility to support Able Danger, was to broker that relationship. That's where things broke down. I set up...

HANNITY: And you were almost held insubordinate because you were jumping up and down and saying this was a big danger, and you had to have a two-star general tell you to be quiet, correct?

SHAFFER: That is correct, sir. He was very adamant. I went through and gave him my logic of why this was important, the fact Al Qaeda was a major target, and we should be engaged in this. And I was directed several times to the point of where he had to remind me that he was a general and I was not, or else I would be essentially fired.

HANNITY: So there's two big questions here. Question number one is, who stopped the investigation and this important information from getting to the proper authorities to investigate these guys, one?

And number two, the 9/11 Commission had known about this. And in the last week, they've given at least five or six different accounts that I can tell about what you had told them. Explain that.

SHAFFER: Well, on the account thing, I don't understand it, because I've reread, and read, and reread their 12 August account. Their paragraph describing my meeting with them is not even in the ballpark with what happened.

Again, I have talking points that I prepared before the meeting. I used those talking points to talk of. I talked about another human operation, as well as outlining and, in a time line fashion, the whole Able Danger story. And none of those points are even addressed in their statement.

So I don't understand how they could be, like, so far, you know, off what I told them, based on the fact that I do have my talking points from that meeting.

COLMES: Well, we continue to follow this dispute. We thank you very much, Colonel, for being with us tonight.






Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 02:48AM

Washington Post

8/22/2005

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has been unable to validate claims that a secret intelligence unit identified Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta as a terrorist more than a year before the attacks, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday.

Larry Di Rita said that some research into the matter continues, but thus far there has been no evidence that the intelligence unit, called "Able Danger," came up with information as specific as an officer associated with the program has asserted.

"What we found are mostly general references to terrorist cells," Di Rita said, without providing detail.

That officer, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said Able Danger identified as terrorists Atta and three other future Sept. 11 hijackers in 2000. But, he said, military lawyers stopped the unit from sharing the information with the FBI out of concerns about the legality of gathering and sharing information on people in the United States.

His assertions have been publicized by Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.

Di Rita said Pentagon researchers have found no evidence that Able Danger had Mohamed Atta's name. He said he was unsure whether the unit came up with the identities of the other three hijackers but then said that none of Shaffer's specific claims had been validated.

Shaffer himself has not provided any documentary proof, Di Rita said, and said Shaffer has presented his information as second hand.

Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said last week that Shaffer does not have documentation related to Able Danger because his security clearance was suspended in March 2004 for "petty and frivolous" reasons. They include a dispute over mileage reimbursement and a charges for personal calls on a work cell phone, Zaid said.

Shaffer also has said the Sept. 11 commission failed to investigate his assertions after he spoke to members of the panel in 2003. A statement Aug. 12 by former commission chairman Thomas Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton said the commission did not obtain enough information on the operation to consider it historically significant.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 03:41AM

This UPI story is a longer version of one published in the Washington Times (see above).

World Peace Herald

8/22/2005

By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor

House GOP leaders backed Able Danger plan

House Republican leaders approved in advance plans by a military intelligence official to go public with details of a top-secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger.

Army reserve Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer says the data-mining project identified Mohammed Atta and three other of the Sept. 11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks.

"I spoke personally to Denny Hastert and to Pete Hoekstra," Shaffer told United Press International. Rep. Hastert, R-Ill., is speaker of the House, and Rep. Hoekstra, R-Mich., is chairman of that chamber's intelligence committee.

"I was given assurances by (them) that this was the right thing to do ... I was given assurances we would not suffer any adverse consequences for bringing this to the attention of the public," Shaffer said, adding that the conversations took place before he and members of the Able Danger team spoke to the media anonymously in the offices of Republican firebrand Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, Aug. 8.

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean told UPI in an e-mail message Sunday that he had no information about the meeting and had no comment to make. Hoekstra was said by staff to be out of the country.

Shaffer also said he was given what he interpreted as tacit approval from senior Pentagon officials before going on the record to Fox News and the New York Times last week, thus revealing his identity and adding both credibility and a new twist to the story.

Shaffer he said he had met the previous day with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Steven Cambone and Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the staff director for outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers.

"They knew that this would be the next logical step," Shaffer said, and did not ask him to refrain from going public. Asked whether he interpreted this as tacit approval, Shaffer said, "Well they are not asking me to stop (talking about the project)... I hope that they approve."

A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.

The news is likely to add to the swirl of controversy surrounding Able Danger, an 18 month-long, highly classified project carried out for the Joint Chiefs of Staff by U.S. Special Operations Command, the existence of which was first revealed by Weldon in a recent book.

Shaffer told UPI that the project was tasked with "developing targeting information for al-Qaida on a global scale," and used data-mining techniques to look for "patterns, associations and linkages" in a huge collection of open source databases to which the team had access.

He said the kinds of information available included travel and immigration records, and information about credit card and telephone use.

"The databases weren't classified, but in some cases, even though they weren't classified, the fact we had access to them, or the way we got it, was secret," he said.

He says that he first became aware of the names of the four hijackers "in the mid-2000 time frame."

"The (Able Danger) team came up with information that these four bad guys were in the United States," he said, adding that for this reason, the intelligence was considered to be significant.

But Shaffer says lawyers from Special Operations Command would not allow the military to develop intelligence operations targeting them, because they were legally in the country.

"They said 'These guys are considered off limits for collection purposes,'" Shaffer recalled, adding that the lawyers had cited the ban on U.S. foreign intelligence agencies spying on U.S. persons -- a hazy legal category that many intelligence and other agencies have their own particular definitions of.

The Pentagon says that it is looking into Shaffer's account, but one defense official -- who asked for anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry -- said questions had been raised about the scope and breadth of his direct knowledge of Able Danger.

Shaffer said that he was "an operations guy, not an analyst," and that Able Danger was only one of about a dozen projects his unit in the Defense Intelligence Agency provided with what he called "concierge support."

He freely admits he is unfamiliar with the exact details of how the project culled information like Atta's name from its data.

"I was one of the guys looking at the finished data and trying to work out what was actionable ... is this something we need to act on right away?"

Former senior defense official Mark Jacobson told UPI that "There are a lot of unanswered questions" about the project.

"People should be raising their eyebrows," he said. "Why was this kept at a working level? There are so many points (in the story) where the problems should have been kicked upstairs. Who within (the Department of Defense) knew about this?"

Shaffer says he notified his commanding officer of the Special Operations Command decision, and that there was a debate about whether the U.S. person rules should be drawn so widely.

But he said that the information now appears much more significant than it did then. "At the time it didn't seem that important. I took it in stride with the dozens of issues daily raised by the projects I was working with."

"We only realized after the fact what this meant ... We thought they were bad guys, we just didn't know how bad."

Shaffer said that the Tampa, Fla.-based Special Operations Command owned the project and had the ultimate say in what happened to the data. "It was their responsibility to be the steward of this information."

He said that the issue did go "up the chain of command" in Tampa "to the J-3, the director of operations," but that "he said we'd go with what the lawyers recommended."

Military records show that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert held that post at the time, but no one at Special Operations Command responded to a request for comment over the weekend.

Shaffer says that he himself did not remember the names of Atta and the others immediately after the Sept. 11 attack, until a colleague showed him one of the charts the team had produced in mid-2000.

"I asked her what she was going to do," he recalled, "and she said 'I don't know.'"

Shaffer said she later told him that she had gone with Weldon to the White House, where the congressman gave the chart to deputy national security advisor Steven Hadley.

The White House said it had no comment.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 22, 2005 09:47AM

New York Times

8/22/05

By Philip Shenon

Navy Officer Affirms Assertions About Pre-9/11 Data on Atta

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 - An active-duty Navy captain has become the second military officer to come forward publicly to say that a secret defense intelligence program tagged the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a possible terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The officer, Scott J. Phillpott, said in a statement today that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. "My story is consistent," said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command. "Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000."

His comments came on the same day that the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters that the Defense Department had been unable to validate the assertions made by an Army intelligence veteran, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and now backed up by Captain Phillpott, about the early identification of Mr. Atta.

Colonel Shaffer went public with his assertions last week, saying that analysts in the intelligence project had been overruled by military lawyers when they tried to share the program's findings with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 in hope of tracking down terror suspects tied to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Di Rita said in an interview that while the department continued to investigate the assertions, there was no evidence so far that the intelligence unit had come up with such specific information about Mr. Atta and any of the other hijackers.

He said that while Colonel Shaffer and Captain Phillpott were respected military officers whose accounts were taken seriously, "thus far we've not been able to uncover what these people said they saw - memory is a complicated thing."

The statement from Captain Phillpott , a 1983 Naval Academy graduate, who has served in the Navy for 22 years, was provided to The New York Times and Fox News through the office of Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania, who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a longtime proponent of so-called data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Asked if the Defense Department had interviewed Captain Phillpott in its two-week-old investigation of Able Danger, another Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Paul Swiergosz, said he did not know.

Representative Weldon also arranged an interview with a former employee of a defense contractor who said he had helped create a chart in 2000 for the intelligence program that included Mr. Atta's photograph and name.

The former contractor, James D. Smith, said that Mr. Atta's name and photograph were obtained through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. Mr. Smith said that he had retained a copy of the chart for some time and that it had been posted on his office wall at Andrews Air Force Base. He said it had become stuck to the wall and was impossible to remove when he switched jobs.

In its final report last year, the Sept. 11 commission said that American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the attacks.

Commission members did acknowledge in a statement on Aug. 12 that their staff met with a Navy officer last July, only 10 days before releasing the panel's final report, who had asserted that Able Danger, a highly classified intelligence operation, had identified "Mohamed Atta to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn."

But the statement, which did not identify the officer by name, said that the commission's staff had determined that "the officer's account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation" and that the intelligence operation "did not turn out to be historically significant."

With his comments today, Captain Phillpott acknowledged that he was the officer who had briefed the commission last year. "I will not discuss the issues outside of my chain of command and the Department of Defense," he said. "But my story is consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger in January-February of 2000. I have nothing else to say."



Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 23, 2005 04:35AM

Fox News

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Navy Captain Backs Able Danger Claims

WASHINGTON — A second military officer has publicly backed claims by a military intelligence officer that a Pentagon unit named "Able Danger" (search) identified lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta (search) in early 2000 as a security risk.

Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott (search) told FOX News in a statement Monday evening that the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks was identified as someone with ties to known terrorists. Phillpott, a 22-year active duty serviceman, would not provide more detail, except to say that he is going through the proper channels at the Department of Defense.

"I will not discuss this outside of my chain of command. I have briefed the Department of the Army, the Special Operations Command and the office of (Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence) Dr. Cambone as well as the 9/11 Commission. My story has remained consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger in January/February 2000," he wrote.

Phillpott is a decorated officer who briefed the Sept. 11 commission in July 2004 before its final report was issued. His statement appears to back up claims first brought forward by Rep. Curt Weldon (search), R-Pa., who has led the charge on this story.

Weldon's claims also seem to be backed up by a defense contractor who says he worked on Able Danger and for the first time has offered an explanation of how Atta's name surfaced in the investigation. J.D. Smith told FOX News that he coordinated the information sources, reported to the government on the project's spending and generated some of the charts, including the "Al Qaeda Global Map" that had Atta's name on it. He added that he saw Atta's photo during the unit's investigation.

Smith said one way the unit came to know Atta was through Omar Abdul Rahman (search), part of the first World Trade Center (search) bomb plot in 1993. Smith said Able Danger used data mining techniques — publicly available information — to look at mosques and religious ties and it was, in part, through the investigation of Rahman that Atta's name surfaced.

The Sept. 11 commission determined in its report that intelligence agencies did not learn of Atta until after the attacks happened. The claims by Phillpot and Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer (search) contradict that. They say that Pentagon lawyers prevented the sharing of the information with the FBI because Atta was in the country legally.

In a statement to FOX News, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita said he is not certain the Pentagon can substantiate the claims made by the officers.

"There appear to be more memories than there is information to substantiate those memories. We're reviewing the matter carefully, but thus far have not found what it is these handful of individuals seem to remember," he said.

DiRita also suggested on Monday that Phillpott and others should have documentation to back up their claims. But two sources who worked on Able Danger told FOX News that it was a classified project and it would be illegal for them to retain documents for personal use.





Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 24, 2005 07:27PM

New York Post

8/24/05

By NILES LATHEM

PROBE OF BLIND SHEIK LED TO ATTA

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon secret intelligence team identified 9/11 leader Mohamed Atta through a probe of blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman — the mastermind of the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center, it was revealed yesterday.

An outside contractor to the intelligence unit, code named Able Danger, has told congressional staffers Atta's name was discovered by a computer data-mining search of connections to Abdel-Rahman, the Muslim cleric in prison for inspiring the 1993 trade center bombing and a plot to blow up New York landmarks.

Contractor James D. Smith testified that a California researcher was later able to purchase Atta's photograph from an Islamic Web site, officials confirmed.

Smith could not be reached for comment.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer — the Able Danger liaison who first went public — yesterday told The Post Atta popped up on the radar screen because his links to the blind sheik paralleled those of the 1993 trade center bombers.

"[Data analyst J.D. Smith] found Atta by linkages not to immigration issues but to the mosque system," he said. "Basically [Atta] was associating with known radical clerics."

Additional reporting by Deborah Orin



Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 25, 2005 04:03AM

Fox News

8/25/05

Senate May Hold Hearings on Able Danger, Info Sharing

WASHINGTON — Aides to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa., are actively discussing a hearing on "Able Danger" and the larger issue of information-sharing between the Pentagon and the FBI, FOX News has confirmed.

Able Danger (search) is the code name for a military-intelligence unit that apparently learned a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta (search) and other terrorists were already in the United States.

One of the central Able Danger claims — that military lawyers blocked the sharing of the Atta information from the FBI in the late summer and early fall of 2000 — will be a focus of the committee's if a hearing takes place, FOX News has confirmed.

Some analysts involved with Able Danger have recently gone public with their findings, saying they were discouraged from looking further into Atta, and their attempts to share their information with the FBI were thwarted, because Atta was a legal foreign visitor at the time.

"This story needs to be told. The American people need to be told what could have been done to prevent 3,000 people from losing their lives," said Rep. Curt Weldon (search), R-Pa.

Weldon drew attention to Able Danger by speaking about it on the House floor and publicly calling for the Sept. 11 commission to explain why the intelligence information wasn't detailed in its final report.

Some Able Danger analysts, including Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer (search) and Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott (search), claim that in October 2003, they told commission staffers of the presence of Al Qaeda operatives in the United States in 2000.

The Pentagon has been looking into what it knew and when it knew it, but spokesman Larry DiRita on Monday said defense officials have not been unable to verify the Able Danger claims so far.

"There appear to be more memories than there is information to substantiate those memories. We're reviewing the matter carefully, but thus far have not found what it is these handful of individuals seem to remember. At a certain point, we'll decide we have looked long enough and welcome anyone else coming forward with additional information," the Pentagon said in a statement.

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Thursday that the department has interviewed both Shaffer and Phillpott as part of its investigation.

But Weldon on Thursday urged the Pentagon not to issue any more statements on Able Danger until its findings are complete.

Weldon said in a statement that doing so "might give the unfortunate impression that its results are predetermined."

The congressman said he spoke to DiRita on Wednesday and that "he was backpedaling left and right," claiming he was misquoted about the status of the search.

"There's something very sinister going on here that really troubles me," Weldon told FOX News on Thursday, blasting the Sept. 11 commission (search) for not taking the claims more seriously. He said some panel members were trying to smear Shaffer and Able Danger.

"What's the Sept. 11 commission got to hide?" Weldon asked. "The commission is trying to spin this because they're embarrassed about what's coming out. In two weeks with two staffers, I've uncovered more in this regard than they did with 80 staffers and $15 million of taxpayer money."

Sept. 11 commission Chairman Thomas Kean recently told FOX News that the panel is waiting for a response from the Pentagon. Until then, the commission has stood by its work, maintaining that that no documents they received from the military backed up the Atta claims.

Weldon added that at least five people on the federal payroll will testify under oath about the validity of the Able Danger intelligence.

According to Weldon, the FBI in September 2000 set up meetings with special operations officers on three separate occasions to transfer the Atta and Al Qaeda (search) information, but the transfers never took place.

Weldon said not only was Specter planning hearings on Able Danger, but that he also spoke with House Speaker Dennis Hastert about focusing more attention on the matter.

"When this is over, the Sept. 11 commission is going to have egg all over their face," he said.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge, Molly Hooper and Liza Porteus contributed to this report.


Re: Able Danger Controversy
Posted by: 277fia (IP Logged)
Date: August 25, 2005 08:11AM

Fox News

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Senate May Hold Hearings on Able Danger, Info-Sharing

WASHINGTON — Aides to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa., are actively discussing scheduling a hearing on "Able Danger" and the larger issue of information-sharing between the Pentagon and the FBI, FOX News has confirmed.

Able Danger (search) is the code name for a military-intelligence unit that apparently learned a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta (search) and other terrorists were already in the United States.

One of the central Able Danger claims — that military lawyers blocked the sharing of the Atta information from the FBI in the late summer and early fall of 2000 — will be a focus of the committee if a hearing takes place, FOX News has confirmed.

Though no date has been set for any hearings, Specter sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday asking the agency to provide to the committee "all information and documents it has in connection with Able Danger, Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer, Captain Scott Philpott or any other persons having any connections with Project Able Danger, including, but not limited to, e-mail communication, notes, phone message slips, memos or any other supporting documentation."

Specter also asked Mueller to make available FBI agent Xanthig Mangum to meet with his staff. Mangum is reported to have corresponded in 2000 with Shaffer, who helped run Able Danger's mission and has offered to testify on its findings, about scheduling a meeting between Able Danger and FBI staffs. No meeting ever took place.

Shaffer, Philpott and another analyst involved with Able Danger have recently gone public with their findings, saying they were discouraged from looking further into Atta, and their attempts to share their information with the FBI were thwarted because Atta was a legal foreign visitor at the time.

"This story needs to be told. The American people need to be told what could have been done to prevent 3,000 people from losing their lives," said Rep. Curt Weldon (search), R-Pa.

Weldon drew attention to Able Danger by speaking about it on the House floor and publicly calling for the Sept. 11 commission to explain why the intelligence information wasn't detailed in its final report.

Shaffer and Philpott claim that in October 2003 they told commission staffers of the presence of Al Qaeda operatives in the United States in 2000.

The Pentagon has been looking into what it knew and when it knew it, but spokesman Larry DiRita on Monday said defense officials have not been able to verify the Able Danger claims so far.

"There appear to be more memories than there is information to substantiate those memories. We're reviewing the matter carefully, but thus far have not found what it is these handful of individuals seem to remember. At a certain point, we'll decide we have looked long enough and welcome anyone else coming forward with additional information," the Pentagon said in a statement.

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Thursday that the department has interviewed both Shaffer and Philpott as part of its investigation.

But Weldon on Thursday urged the Pentagon not to issue any more statements on Able Danger until its findings are complete.

Weldon said in a statement that doing so "might give the unfortunate impression that its results are predetermined."

The congressman said he spoke to DiRita on Wednesday and that "he was backpedaling left and right," claiming he was misquoted about the status of the search.

"There's something very sinister going on here that really troubles me," Weldon told FOX News on Thursday, blasting the Sept. 11 commission (search) for not taking the claims more seriously. He said some panel members were trying to smear Shaffer and Able Danger.

"What's the Sept. 11 commission got to hide?" Weldon asked. "The commission is trying to spin this because they're embarrassed about what's coming out. In two weeks with two staffers, I've uncovered more in this regard than they did with 80 staffers and $15 million of taxpayer money."

Sept. 11 commission Chairman Thomas Kean recently told FOX News that the panel is waiting for a response from the Pentagon. Until then, the commission has stood by its work, maintaining that no documents they received from the military backed up the Atta claims.

Weldon added that at least five people on the federal payroll will testify under oath about the validity of the Able Danger intelligence.

According to Weldon, the FBI in September 2000 set up meetings with special operations officers on three separate occasions to transfer the Atta and Al Qaeda (search) information, but the transfers never took place.

Weldon said not only was Specter planning hearings on Able Danger, but that he also spoke with House Speaker Dennis Hastert about focusing more attention on the matter.

"When this is over, the Sept. 11 commission is going to have egg all over their face," he said.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge, Molly Hooper and Liza Porteus contributed to this report.


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