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Able Danger Project Identified 9/11 Hijackers

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The Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee accused the Pentagon on Wednesday of stonewalling an inquiry into claims that the U.S. military identified four September 11 hijackers more than a year before the 2001 attacks.

 

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy,

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

Hearing On “Able Danger And Intelligence Information Sharing”

September 21, 2005

 

I thank the Chairman for convening today’s hearing and commend his efforts to investigate the allegations that have been raised, arising from this program. He and I have a long history of conducting vigorous oversight investigations together, and I appreciate the energy he has dedicated to continuing this tradition since assuming his role as our Committee’s chairman.

 

Several participants in the Able Danger project have recently come forward to say that the project identified Mohammed Atta, the leader of the hijackers who engineered the September 11th attacks, one year prior to those horrific attacks. These individuals further allege that they were rebuffed in their attempts to share this information with the FBI. Their accusations merit a thorough investigation. If they are proven accurate, the FBI, the Administration and the Congress must address the problems that prevented this intelligence from being shared with the appropriate agencies.

 

We have already taken significant steps to improve information sharing within and between agencies with the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act and the National Intelligence Reform Act. Congress established the 9/11 Commission to investigate the attacks and then implemented many of the important unanimous recommendations contained in the Commission report. We must continue to evaluate what went wrong before 9/11and take all necessary steps to prevent terrorist attacks in the future.

 

There are many questions raised by the Able Danger project, including the use of data-mining by the military and intelligence community in their efforts to combat terrorism. While data-mining can have some useful, effective applications for enhancing law enforcement and national security, Congress must fulfill its constitutional oversight obligation to assess how federal departments and agencies are using this technology. Advances have allowed us broader and faster access to more and more information. In using this technology, we also have the challenge and the responsibility to ensure that it is being used effectively and that guidance and oversight are sufficient to prevent its being abused to undermine the privacy and the civil liberties of the American people.

 

In recent weeks, many individuals have spoken publicly about the Able Danger project. Some of the statements have included personal attacks on members of the 9/11 Commission. Some have implied that the Administration is attempting to thwart any real investigation into Able Danger. The review of this project should remain above the political fray and without resort to personal attacks. I recall the words of 9/11 Commission member and former Senator Slade Gorton, who said that in conducting its investigation, the commissioners checked their politics at the door. I hope everyone involved in this investigation does the same. Terrorists do not attack Democrats or Republicans or independents when they strike; they attack all of us as Americans. I believe that the Chairman is committed to this approach, and I look forward to working with him as we pursue this inquiry.

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Guest August Havlicek

Here is a excerpt from Mark Zaid's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee

 

THE CREATION, OPERATION AND DISMANTLING OF ABLE DANGER

 

Able Danger was formed in 1999. General Peter Schoomaker, now the Chief of Staff for the Army, and General Hugh Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, were instrumental in creating Able Danger. To date, to my knowledge, neither has publicly commented about what they knew. Until approximately the Summer of 2000 it operated under the auspices of the U.S. Army, and particularly through the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Land Information Warfare Center (LIWA), which supports the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM).

 

 

It was the understanding of those who worked on Able Danger during this time frame that their efforts were primarily unclassified. After LIWA severed its ties to Able Danger, the team shifted LIWA’s responsibility to defense contractors. This effort, which some are calling Able Danger II, lasted from the Summer 2000 to no later than March 2001, and did handle a significant amount of classified information. The information I am presenting today derives from the initial activities of Able Danger.

 

In the most understandable and simplistic terms, Able Danger involved the searching out and compiling of open source or other publicly available information regarding specific targets or tasks that were connected through associational links. No classified information was used. No government database systems were used. In addition to examining Al Qaeda links, Able Danger also handled tasks relating to Bosnia and China. The search and compilation efforts were primarily handled by defense contractors, who did not necessarily know they were working for Able Danger, and that information was then to be utilized by the military members of Able Danger for whatever appropriate purposes.

 

Essentially, think in your mind how the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” operates. That is a simplistic explanation of part of Able Danger’s activities.

 

The compiled information would be uploaded into an interactive computer program designed by the contractor that would create depictions of the links accompanied by all the underlying data to support those links. When possible photographic images of the identified individuals would be obtained and entered into the system. Every link and the data that supported the link could be accessed electronically with “drill down” capabilities, and usually the data had multiple sources. Each visible screen would then be printed out as a hard copy for submission, along with all supporting documentation, to the Able Danger liaison. These are the infamous charts we have heard about.

 

As part of their efforts multiple individuals associated with Able Danger have stated that they identified four of the terrorists, including Mohammed Atta, who subsequently were involved in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. At least one chart, and possibly more, featured a photograph of Mohammed Atta and had him linked through associational activities to the blind Sheik and others operating in or around Brooklyn, New York.

 

On at least three occasions those involved with Able Danger attempted to provide the FBI with information they had obtained. Each attempt failed, as it has been said, as a result of Army lawyers who either precluded the sharing or prevented the Able Danger personnel from attending the meeting. The stated concern was whether legal limitations restricted Able Danger from compiling information on U.S. persons. Their definition apparently included foreigners legally present on our soil. Based on my understanding of the law surrounding Posse Comitatus and the relevant DoD regulations, it would appear such an interpretation was unduly restrictive, and this is clearly an area for investigation by this Committee. I would specifically encourage the Committee to obtain the legal memoranda that would undoubtedly have been drafted and disseminated by the military lawyers. If a wall existed, it is imperative to understand if it still exists and how to dismantle it.

 

Eventually during the period December 2000 and March 2001, all records, both electronic and hard copy, were destroyed under orders of the Army. Additionally, we just recently learned that duplicate documentation that was maintained by Lt Col Shaffer at his civilian DIA office was apparently destroyed – for reasons unknown – by DIA in Spring 2004.

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Guest TrueBrit

My question is why your yankee military intelligence unit destroyed information linking hijackers to convicted terrorists before they could share the information with federal law enforcement.

 

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a former intelligence operations officer, and government contractor John Smith were barred by the Pentagon from speaking to the Senate.

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Guest LAW

My question is why the Pentagon didn't reveal this to the 911 Commission?

 

At no point before 9/11 was the Department of Defense fully engaged in the mission of countering al Qaeda, even though this was perhaps the most dangerous

foreign enemy threatening the United States. - 911 Comission Executive Summary

 

This cover-up is as bad as Enron or Arthur D. Little or Worldcom.

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Henry Hugh Shelton (born January 2, 1942) is a retired American career military officer. He served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001.

 

In early October 1999 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton ordered Special Operations (SOCOM) commander Peter Jan Schoomaker (born February 12, 1946) to start a project code named "Able Danger" to track likely al Qaeda operatives worldwide.

 

Special Operations Command - premier team of special warriors, thoroughly prepared, properly equipped, and highly motivated: at the right place, at the right time, facing the right adversary, leading the Global War on Terrorism, accomplishing the strategic objectives of the United States - SOCOM Vision Statement

 

In order to accomplish this tasking General Schoomaker turned to an internal working group who again worked with elements within the Department of Defense and with the Department of the Army to construct this plan. Captain Scott Philpot, was the 10 member Able Danger team leader.

 

The elite unit used computer programs, such as Spire, Parentage and Starlight, to track threats to U.S national security. Much of this data crunching was facilitated by private contractors, including Raytheon Company, of Waltham, MA, and Orion Scientific (now part of SRA International, Inc., based in Fairfax, VA) which helped execute the sophisticated data mining software packages, said Shaffer. When queried by GSN, a Raytheon spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the company’s involvement with Able Danger.

 

"What they were doing was determining who had associational links to certain people or entities or places," Zaid says.

 

In September 1999 U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer became a liason of the Able Danger team.

 

I need you on a special project that we’re working on.” He looked over at the Special Technical Operations Office Chief, who was in the briefing, and said, “Read him into Able Danger.” So that was when I was first made aware that something was being done, and General Schoomaker turned to me and said, “I want you as part of the team doing this. - Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer

 

Schaffer defined the Able Danger program primary focus was tracking al Queda.

 

Simply, to target Al Qaeda globally. All of Al Qaeda. It’s mission, functions and capabilities, so that on call -- one directed by national command leadership – the U.S. could do something to attack them. [To develop] an offensive capability so once we define what Al Qaeda is, we can find a way to stop them, to counter them overseas. - Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Government Security News

 

According to Philpott, that Able Danger chart was produced in January or February 2000. The Able Danger Chart bore the name and likeness of Mohamed Atta, and linked him to a mosque in Brooklyn which has been a center of Islamic extremism for more than 20 years.

 

In September 2000, the unit recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists - Rep. Curt Weldon in an interview with the Associated Press.

 

According to German police records, Atta was nowhere near the U.S. then. He was in Hamburg. And it wasn't until March 22, 2000, that Atta, an Egyptian national, began contacting flight schools here to see about taking lessons. He emailed 31 different schools. In one email, he wrote: "We are a small group of young man [sic] (2-3 persons) from several different Arab countries. We would like to start a course for professional airplane-pilots."

 

Then on March 31, Atta also emailed an old friend from Cairo who was studying in Florida to ask if he needed to apply for a student visa before coming to the U.S. He then applied for his visa, got it May 18, and arrived here June 3—several months after the Able Danger team allegedly placed the future hijacker in Brooklyn. By July, Atta had settled in Florida, far from his alleged Brooklyn base.

 

Shaffer set up meetings with FBI officials in 2000, but they were canceled because lawyers for the Special Forces unit -- of which Able Danger was a member -- allegedly were concerned military authorities could not legally share information with domestic law enforcement about potential terror suspects in the United States. An FBI agent, who, according to Representative Curt Weldon, will testify under oath that she organized the meetings between the FBI and Able Danger analysts to discuss Atta.

 

Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, chairman and vice chairman of the now-defunct 9/11 commission, said that Able Danger "did not turn out to be historically significant, set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts that involved [Osama] bin Laden and al Qaeda.

 

Separately, Kean and Hamilton said a senior 9/11 commission staffer met with a "U.S. Navy officer employed at DOD [Department of Defense] who was seeking to be interviewed by commission staff in connection with a data mining project on which he had worked."

 

But they said the officer's "account was not sufficiently reliable" to include in the final report.

 

That meeting, they said, took place on July 12, 2004, when the commission's final report already was well into its last stages -- the report was released July 22. The meeting included the senior commission staff member, another staffer, the Navy officer and a Defense Department representative.

 

According to the official record of the meeting, the officer "recalled seeing the name and photo of Mohamed Atta on an 'analyst notebook chart' assembled by another officer," Kean and Hamilton said in their statement. - CNN August 17, 2005

 

Jamie S. Gorelick, former Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno and the Clinton administration. Gorelick was at the center of controversy as a result of her March 4, 1995 controversial memo to U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White and others, erecting “a wall of separation” disallowing the sharing of intelligence between law-enforcement agencies about terrorists in the United States. Gorelick may be more intimately involved than previously thought with hampering communications between U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies fighting terrorism. Supposedly, Gorelick stopped Able Danger from passing leads to the FBI.

 

Although the National Security Council had the means through the U.S. Defense Support Program to bring all the CIA-FBI-DIA information [that they can't talk to eachother about], into a single picture.

 

In addition, there is a 1979 document called the Delimitations Agreement, between the DOJ and SECDEF which outlines investigatory authorities for counterintelligence (and by extension counterterrorism) cases between the Bureau and military CI agencies. The bottom line is that DOD does not have jurisdiction to investigate civilians in the United States without FBI coordination. They can investigate civilians overseas who may post a threat to DOD personnel/installations, but once bad guys pass over into the States, FBI retains investigatory jurisdiction.

 

In a major data mining effort like this you're reaching out to a lot of open sources and within that there could be a lot of information on U.S. persons. We're not allowed to collect that type of information. So there are strict regulations about collection, dissemination, destruction procedures for this type of information. And we know that that did happen in the case of Able Danger documentation. - Ms. Pat Downs, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence), September 1, 2005

 

Ms. Pat Downs statement is completely inaccurate. Here is the military regulation.

 

TYPES OF INFORMATION THAT MAY BE COLLECTED ABOUT UNITED STATES PERSONS

 

Information that identifies a United States person may be collected by a DoD intelligence component only if it is necessary to the conduct of a function assigned the collecting component, and only if it falls within one of the following categories: Note: Terms used in this part are defined in appendix A and may differ substantially from traditional Army usage.

 

1. Information obtained with consent. In may be collected about a United States person who consents to such collection.

 

2. Publicly available information. Information may be collected about a United States person if it is publicly available.

 

3. Foreign intelligence. Subject to the special limitations contained in section E., below, information may be collected about a United States person if the in constitutes foreign intelligence, provided the intentional collection of foreign intelligence about United States persons shall be limited to persons who are:

 

(a) Individuals reasonably believed to be officers or employees, or otherwise acting for or on behalf, of a foreign power;

 

(B) An organization reasonably believed to be owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by a foreign power;

 

© Persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics

 

activities. (See AR 190–52.); (d) Persons who are reasonably believed to be prisoners of war; missing in action; or art the targets, the hostages, or victims of international terrorist organizations; or

 

(e) Corporations or other commercial organizations believed to have some relationship with foreign powers,organizations or persons.

 

4. Counterintelligence. Information may be collected about a United States person if the information constitutes counterintelligence, provided the international collection of counterintelligence about United States persons must be limited to:

 

(a) Person who are reasonably believed to be engaged in, or about to engage in, intelligence activities on behalf of a foreign power, or international terrorist activities. (See AR 190–52, AR 381–12, and AR 381–20.)

 

(B) Persons in contact with persons described in paragraph C.4.a., above, for the purpose of identifying such persons and assessing their relationship with persons described in paragraph C.4.a., above.

 

5. Potential sources of assistant to intelligence activities. Information may be collected about United States person reasonably believed to be potential sources of intelligence, or potential sources of assistant to intelligence activities, for the purpose of assessing their suitability and credibility. This category does not include investigations undertaken for personnel security purposes. (See subsection 8.)

 

6. Protection of intelligence sources and methods. Information may be collected about a United States person who has access to, had access to, or is otherwise in possession of, information which reveals foreign intelligence and counterintelligence sources or methods, when collection is reasonably believed necessary to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of such information; provided that within the United States, intentional collection of such information shall be limited to persons who are:

 

(a) Present and former DoD employees;

 

(B) Present or former employees of a present or former DoD contractor; and

 

© Applicants for employment at DoD or at a contractor of DoD.

 

7. Physical security. Information may be collected about the United States person who is reasonably believed to threaten the physical security of DoD employees, installations, operations or official visitors. Information may also be collected in the course of a lawful physical security investigation. (See AR 381–12, AR 381–20, AR 190–1, and AR 190–52.)

 

8. Personnel security. Information may be collected on a United States person that arises out of a lawful personnel security investigation. This includes information concerning relatives and associates of the subject of the investigation, if required by the scope of the investigation and the information has a bearing on the matter being investigated or the security determination being made. (See AR 604–5, AR 381–12, AR 381–20, and AR 190–52.)

 

9. Communications security. Information may be collected about a United States person that arises out of a lawful communications security investigation. (See AR 380–53.)

 

10. Narcotics. Information may be collected about a United States person who is reasonably believed to be engaged in international narcotics activities.

 

11. Threats to safety. Information may be collected about a United States person when the information is needed to protect the safety of any person or organization, including those who are targets, victims or hostages of international terrorist organizations. (See AR 190–52.)

 

12. Overhead reconnaissance. Information may be collected for overhead reconnaissance not directed at specific United States persons.

 

13. Administrative purposes. Information may be collected about a United States person that is necessary for administrative purposes.

 

Furthermore, someone here on a visa does not seem to be a US person:

 

27. United States person. a. The term “United States person” means:

 

(1) A United States citizen;

 

(2) An alien known by the DoD intelligence component concerned to be a permanent resident alien;

 

(3) An unincoporated association substantially composed of United States citizens or permanent resident aliens;

 

(4) A corporation incorporated intelligence the United States, except for a corporation directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments. A corporation or corporate subsidiary incorporated abroad, even if partially or wholly owned by a corporation incorporated intelligence the United States, is not a United States person.

 

b. A person or organization outside the United States shall be presumed not to be a us person unless specific information to the contrary is obtained. An alien in the United States shall be presumed not to be a United States person unless specific information to the contrary is obtained.

 

c. A permanent resident alien is a foreign national lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence.

 

 

They were stopped because the lawyers at that time in 2000 told them Mohamed Atta had a green card" -- he didn't -- "and they could not go after someone with a green card," said Rep. Curt Weldon

 

The "Wall." The "wall" metaphor is shorthand for the recognition that separate authorities govern law enforcement and foreign intelligence investigations targeted against Americans. These authorities, designed to prevent a recurrence of domestic spying by the FBI and CIA, always recognized that international terrorism was both a law enforcement and intelligence matter. Contrary to the repeated mischaracterization by the Attorney General and others, the law never prohibited sharing information between law enforcement and intelligence communities; to the contrary, it expressly provided for such sharing. While the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was interpreted to mean that prosecutors could not direct foreign intelligence wiretaps, as opposed to criminal wiretaps, the 9/11 failures had nothing whatsoever to do with the inability of prosecutors to direct such surveillance. - JusticeWatch

 

There was no legal basis for the provisions of Executive Order 12333 to have been interfered with or blatantly ignored by Department of Justice or Department of Defense lawyers pursuant to the exchange of intelligence data between SOCOM project Able danger and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

The United States intelligence effort shall provide the President and the National Security Council with the necessary information on which to base decisions concerning the conduct and development of foreign, defense and economic policy, and the protection of United States national interests from foreign security threats. All departments and agencies shall cooperate fully to fulfill this goal. - The provisions of Executive Order 12333 of Dec. 4, 1981

 

As George W. Bush was sworn in January 2001, Special Operations Command submitted the final plan to the joint staff, and Able Danger ended.

 

e I.G. (inspector general) came in and shut down the operation because of a claim that we were collecting information on U.S citizens," says Smith.

 

Sometime after all Able Danger data was destroyed.

 

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa described the documents as "2.5 terabytes" _ as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.

 

On Sept. 25, 2001 Weldon stated that he handed over an Able Danger chart to Stephen John Hadley (born February 13, 1947), the current U.S. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (commonly referred as National Security Advisor) for President George W. Bush.

 

"Steve Hadley looked at the chart and said, Congressman, where did you get that chart from?" Weldon said in a June 27 floor speech in congress.

 

"Steve Hadley said, Congressman, I am going to take this chart, and I am going to show it to the man. The man that he meant, Mr. Speaker, was the President of the United States. - Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa

 

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley yesterday denied receiving a Defense Department chart that allegedly identified lead terrorist Mohamed Atta before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, dealing a blow to claims by a Republican congressman that have caused a political uproar in recent weeks.

 

Hadley does recall seeing a chart used as an example of "link analysis" -- the technique used by the Able Danger program -- as a counterterrorism tool, but is not sure whether it happened during a Sept. 25, 2001, meeting with Weldon or at another session, Jones said. - Washington Post, Saturday, September 24, 2005; Page A06

 

Attorney General, John Ashcroft reflected back to Gorelick when questioned at a 911 Commission hearing.

 

"In 1995, the Justice Department embraced flawed legal reasoning, imposing a series of restrictions on the FBI that went beyond what the law required," he said. "The 1995 Guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers to communications between the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The wall left intelligence agents afraid to talk with criminal prosecutors or agents. In 1995, the Justice Department designed a system destined to fail."

 

Continuing his testimony, Ashcroft stated:

 

"Somebody built this wall.” Ashcroft added: "The basic architecture for the wall . . . was contained in a classified memorandum entitled 'Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that its author is a member of this Commission."

 

General Schoomaker became the 35th Chief of Staff of the United States Army, on August 1, 2003.

 

In October 2003, Executive Director (now Rice aide) Philip Zelikow of the 9/11 commission, two of his staffers, and a "attorney from the administration" were briefed in Afghanistan by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer (DIA liason for Able Danger) on what the program had accomplished and why he felt it should be reestablished. Zelikow urged Shaffer to contact him personally upon his return to the US after his time in Afghanistan.

 

When the story broke, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat from Indiana, co-chairman of the 9/11 commission, at first denied the commission had ever been informed of what Able Danger had found, and took a swipe at Weldon's credibility:

 

"The Sept. 11th commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of the surveillance of Mohamed Atta or his cell," Hamilton said. "Had we learned of it obviously it would have been a major focus of our investigation."

 

Hamilton changed his tune after The New York Times reported Thursday, and The Associated Press confirmed, that commission staff had been briefed on Able Danger in October 2003 and again in July 2004.

 

Shaffer and defense contractor James D. Smith, have stated that they had copies of a pre-Sept. 11 chart that included Atta, but that they were destroyed in 2004 under unclear circumstances.

 

"I was on the front end of specific tasks to feed something the Army was doing," says Pentagon contractor J.D. Smith, who discovered Atta's link to al Qaida

 

recollections of the intelligence officers cannot be verified by any document. -

9-11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean

 

“Bluntly, it just didn’t happen and that’s the conclusion of all 10 of us. - Republican commissioner Slade Gorton

 

O'Reilly August 25, 2005

ZAID: There are up to a dozen people, who, if they are contacted, who will support what Tony has asserted.  His members of his team.

 

[Fade out music starts playing in the background.]

 

The Army ordered the documents destroyed.  That's why they didn't get the right documents.

 

O'REILLY:  I got it.  Thank you gentlemen.  We appreciate it.  Plenty more ahead as The Factor moves along this evening.

 

The commission's 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 - Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa, August 10, 2005

 

 

C-SPAN Sunday Morning, 8/21. Shaffer's interview is 34:25 into the 3 hour show.

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Guest August Havlicek

At the start of an investigative hearing, Specter questioned whether the federal Posse Comitatus Act might have come into play.

 

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: That is a statute which was enacted shortly after the Civil War, which prevents the United States military from being engaged in law enforcement activities. If the Posse Comitatus Act precluded this information from being turned over by the Department of Defense to the FBI, then that is a matter which may require amendments to the Act.

 

KWAME HOLMAN: Specter had hoped to hear today from former Able Danger team members themselves. Army Reserve Col. Tony Schaeffer was a liaison to the Able Danger unit from the Defense Intelligence Agency. J.D. Smith was a civilian analyst on contract. Yesterday, however, the Pentagon notified Schaeffer, Smith and several others that permission to testify was denied.

 

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: It looks to me as if it may be obstruction of the committee's activities, something we will have to determine.

 

KWAME HOLMAN: But Pennsylvania Congressman Kurt Weldon did testify, a senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, it was Weldon who first helped members of Able Danger, Smith included, tell their story to the media.

 

REP. CURT WELDON: He was prepared to state as he told us that he had an Able Danger chart with Mohammed Atta identified on his office wall at Andrews Air Force Base until DOD Investigative Services removed it. He was prepared to discuss the extensive amount of data collected about al-Qaida, underscoring the fact that Able Danger was never about one chart or one photograph but rather was and is about massive data collected and assembled against what Madeleine Albright declared to be in 1999 an international terrorist organization. He too has been silenced.

 

KWAME HOLMAN: Speaking on behalf of Col. Schaeffer, Washington lawyer Mark Zaid said there was confusion among some in the Pentagon at the time whether the Army was compiling information about U.S. citizens.

 

MARK ZAID: Those within Able Danger were confident they weren't compiling information on US persons. They were potentially people connected to US persons. Again I said they never identified Mohammed Atta in the United States. Apparently the problem that came up was on the chart where his image was he was listed under Brooklyn, New York or something to that effect. It had Brooklyn. And those within the Army either in the legal level or some of the policy levels were apparently showing apprehension and concern that somehow that was then linking to data compilation of US persons.

 

KWAME HOLMAN: And former Army Major Erik Kleinsmith said he later was directed by a Pentagon lawyer to destroy the information citing Army regulations prohibiting the military from compiling data about US citizens.

 

ERIK KLEINSMITH: Both soft and hard copy was deleted or destroyed.

 

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: And did part of that involve operations within the United States?

 

ERIK KLEINSMITH: No specific operation in the United States, only a presence that was known. We were unable to get to the details for the specific persons or information in the United States before we were shut down.

 

KWAME HOLMAN: William Dugan, assistant secretary of defense, tried to explain the delicate nature of domestic intelligence gathering.

 

WILLIAM DUGAN: I guess I wish to convey to the committee that US person information is something that we are skittish about in the Defense Department. We follow the rules strictly on it. And we want to do the right thing and follow the attorney general guidelines.

 

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Mr. Dugan, Mohammed Atta was not a US person was he?

 

WILLIAM DUGAN: Based on what I've read in the press since Sept. 11, 2001, I don't believe he was.

 

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Mr. Dugan, you're the acting assistant secretary of defense for intelligence oversight. Can't you give us a more definitive answer to a very direct and fundamental and simple question like was Mohammed Atta a US person?

 

WILLIAM DUGAN: No, he was not.

 

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: We're dealing with the intelligence gathering data of the Department of Defense and prima facie reason is to believe and that had that information been shared and the FBI was trying to get it, 9/11 might have been prevented. I hope you'll go back and talk to the secretary and tell him that the American people are entitled to some answers.

 

KWAME HOLMAN: Responding elsewhere in the capitol this afternoon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the Senate Intelligence Committee has jurisdiction over the Able Danger matter and that he has offered that committee a closed door briefing.

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Guest FR

Curt Weldon wanted to present besides a Pentagon coworker, who had received the order to destroy numerous documents which are to have to do with Able Danger and Atta.

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Guest Mark Rees

Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger stole classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed some. Berger allegedly was studying documents in the archives to help prepare Clinton officials to testify before the 9/11 commission. Was he removing references to Able Danger?

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Guest LAW

I heard through the grapevine that Curt Weldon handed over the last copy of a “proof of concept” chart from that time, bearing Atta’s name and likeness - the key document that would prove the truth of the allegations - to National Security Advisor Steven Hadley at a White House meeting on 25 September 2001. Anyone

know if this is true or not?

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Guest politicalaffairs.net

The Bush White House has once again shown a preference for playing politics rather than protecting the American people from terrorist attacks. At every turn, this Administration has been unwilling to investigate its own officials, their friends and their cronies. Now, even Republicans in Congress are rebelling against Bush's inability to tell the truth about his Administration's failures.

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Guest August Havlicek

The Pentagon has dropped its refusal to permit five people with knowledge of a highly classified intelligence program called "Able Danger" to testify about it publicly, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Friday.

 

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the five will testify at an open hearing Oct. 5.

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Guest Mark Tapscott

Either the powers-that-be think most people are too stupid to figure out that a whitewash is in process or they assume most people aren’t paying attention and there is little to fear from the Senate.

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Guest J Spencer

Overcoming cultural barriers between different intelligence agencies and logistically modifying intelligence systems to render them more compatible will take time to research, develop, test, and deploy. Finding out the real truth of

the Able Danger Project will strengthen our intelligence community and will be a real morale booster. Gorelick should never have been appointed to the 911 Commission. She is the catalyst for this problem.

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Guest LAW

It is quite obvious that lawmakers from both parties have suggested the Pentagon is trying to prevent the witnesses from testifying for fear that they could confirm that data which might have prevented the attacks on New York and Washington was known to the federal government long before September 11, 2001.

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Guest ERNurse

know it's been said that one datum does not make a trend, but six correlary points of data lead one to suspect that a trend is distinctly possible. So let's see...

 

1. Jamie Gorelick puts up "the wall" and manages to be placed in a key position on a "nonpartisan" investigative committee...

 

2. Sandy Berger steals certain documents that would have clearly indicated massah Clinton's culpability...

 

3. Dickie Clarke weasels himself into a position to level false charges of culpability against the President...

 

4. Able Danger, who positively identified Atta as a 9/11 hijaker before the event, is barred by senior officials within the Pentagon from providing information that, had it been acted upon, might have prevented the attack...

 

5. The 9/11 Commission, upon receiving hard data from one of Able Danger's leaders, conveniently "loses" all the papers...

 

6. The Pentagon manages to "lose" corroborating documents from Able Danger's intelligence gathering...

 

So far, historically, the people who have fought the hardest against getting the information out have been close associates of the people who, also historically, hate the President and the USA the most.

 

That looks an awful lot like a trend to me.

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Guest Computer Monkey

Whatever happened to David Schippers' claim that he had, on the basis of information provided by FBI agents about upcoming attacks in lower Manhattan, tried unsuccessfully to convey this information to Attorney General Ashcroft during the six weeks prior to 9/11

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Guest XCrossbone

This gigantic pentagon coverup extends to both political parties. Rent the movie 'Wag the Dog' and spot the spin doctor for 9/11.

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Guest oudry

This sure does make the 9/11 Kane led commission look suspicious. I hope we learn as much in the days to come as seems to be promised by a disclosure of who did what. Hold on to your hats it's going to be a bumpy ride. I would love to see Sandy Berger and the Big Cahuna himself, Billy (pork rind) Clinton take it in the neck. He has become unusually vocal lately.

 

An Arkansas native told me that the Clinton library which appears to be built over the Arkansas River is over an area of the river famous for its poisonous snakes. Appropriate.

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Guest recallhillary.com

Why does the so-called Mainstream Media bury a story like this, when it's obviously important and potentially cataclysmic? How can politics or liberal agendas trump the truth, particularly if that truth links to potential charges for treason, perjury, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct? What the hay is going on in our nation for a situation like this to exist?

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Guest Billy Bob

What I think is interesting is 9/11 Commission staff director Phillip Zelikow, the man who derided what Able Danger information the commission received as insignificant and unverified.

 

Zelikow now serves as an advisor to secretary of state Condi Rice.

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Guest William Hughes
Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger stole classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed some. Berger allegedly was studying documents in the archives to help prepare Clinton officials to testify before the 9/11 commission. Was he removing references to Able Danger?

Here is a response from the National Archives on whether Sandy Berger stole classified documents related to Sandy Berger.

 

Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said officials there "are confident that there aren't any original documents missing in relation to this case." She said in most cases, Mr. Berger was given photocopies to review, and that in any event officials have accounted for all originals to which he had access.

 

That included all drafts of a so-called after-action report prepared by the White House and federal agencies in 2000 after the investigation into a foiled bombing plot aimed at the Millennium celebrations. That report and earlier drafts are at the center of allegations that Mr. Berger might have permanently removed some records from the archives. Some of the allegations have related to the possibility that drafts with handwritten notes on them may have disappeared, but Ms. Cooper said archives staff are confident those documents aren't missing either

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Guest Dr. Dennis L. Cuddy

Concerning Atta's background, in November 1998 he and several other terrorists moved into a 4-bedroom apartment in Hamburg, Germany. On February 17 of the next year, German intelligence began tapping suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's phone, and they heard Zammar was at a meeting with Atta. By December 1999, the CIA began to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkazanli for information because he knew Atta and others of the Hamburg Al-Qaeda terrorist cell.

 

The next month (January 2000), according to the German intelligence magazine FOCUS (September 24, 2001), the CIA began surveillance of Atta which lasted to May 2000. Christian Elflein and others wrote in the FOCUS article that "U.S. agents followed him (Atta) mainly in the area around Frankfurt am Main and noted that Atta bought large quantities of chemicals for the possible production of explosives....On May 18, 2000 the U.S. Embassy in Berlin gave (Atta) a visa....Strange that the visa application and granting it happened in the period when the (CIA) was still observing the suspicious buying of chemicals by the person (Atta) concerned....Someone from the (German) intelligence service (told) FOCUS: 'We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the USA.'...German security experts are still stunned about the speed with which the FBI could present the conspirative ties of Atta and his presumed Hamburg accomplices. 'As (if all it needed was) a push on a button,' an insider says, 'As if the Americans for a long time already had loads of info on their computers about the culprits.'"

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Guest BlingBling

What's up LAW. Nice blog about what is happenning. I have been watching endless hours of Hurricane Katrina coverage. The networks need to focus on this story.

 

This is what I found so far:

 

Kean-Hamilton Statement on ABLE DANGER

 

Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, former Chair and Vice Chair of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission),in response to media inquiries about the Commission’s investigation of the ABLE DANGER program, today released the following statement:

 

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, Khalid 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.

 

The Commission did not mention ABLE DANGER in its report. The name and character of this classified operation had not, at that time, been publicly disclosed. The operation itself did not turn out to be historically significant, set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts that involved Bin Ladin and al Qaeda. The Report’s description of military planning against al Qaeda prior to 9/11 encompassed this and other military plans. The information we received about this program also contributed to the Commission’s depiction of intelligence efforts against al Qaeda before 9/11.

 

************************************

 

The only thing that puzzles me from this statement is why they did not want to research Able Danger at the time. Was that not the 9/11 Commission's investigative duty to the American People.

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Guest William F. Jasper

The ongoing coverup concerning the secret Able Danger operation provides further evidence that the "war on terror" is a farce.

 

This much we do know: first, the Clinton administration in 2000 and then the Bush administration in 2001 failed to heed the Able Danger warnings on al-Qaeda. Moreover, Clinton administration officials ordered the main Able Danger files destroyed in 2000; Bush administration officials ordered Lt. Col. Schaffer's duplicate Able Danger files destroyed in 2004. Both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration have attempted to cover up the existence of Able Danger and its findings. The official, bipartisan 9/11 Commission also covered up the existence of this operation and its findings. In recent months, members of the Able Danger team who have spoken out have been subjected to official harassment and intimidation. Considerable effort is being expended by Donald Rumsfeld's minions in the Defense Department

 

http://www.thenewamerican.com/artman/publi...icle_2418.shtml

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