New Report Suggests Cover-Up Of Able Danger Program That May Have Identified 9/11 Ringleader Before Attack

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The Able Danger program has been cut from the public eye for quite some time but Fox has gotten their hands on a unredacted document that is quite interesting to the debate.

For those unfamiliar, Able Danger was a a top-secret military program set up in 1999 to probe the al-Qaeda network using Network Theory. The NYT’s wrote a liberally biased article on the technique but it provides a good rundown of the nuts and bolts. This is another post I wrote detailing the program.

Those working inside Able Danger have said for years that the operation identified at least four of the 9/11 hijackers including Mohamed Atta.

Now the new Fox story:

A document obtained and witnesses interviewed by Fox News raise new questions over whether there was an effort by the Defense Department to cover up a pre-9/11 military intelligence program known as “Able Danger.”

At least five witnesses questioned by the Defense Department’s Inspector General told Fox News that their statements were distorted by investigators in the final IG’s report — or it left out key information, backing up assertions that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta was identified a year before 9/11.

Atta is believed to have been the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. Claims about how early Atta first tripped the radar of the Department of Defense date back to 2005, but those claims never made it into the Inspector General’s report. The report was completed in 2006 and, until now, has been available only in a version with the names of virtually all of the witnesses blacked out.

Fox News, as part of an ongoing investigation, exclusively obtained a clean copy of the report and spoke to several principal witnesses, including an intelligence and data collector who asked that she not be named.

The witness told Fox News she was interviewed twice by a Defense Department investigator. She said she told the investigator that it was highly likely a department database included the picture of Atta, whom she knew under an alias, Mohammed el-Sayed.

“When it came to the picture, (the investigator) he was fairly hostile,” the witness told Fox News. She said it seemed the investigator just didn’t want to hear it. “Meaning that he’d ask the same question over and over again, and, you know, you get to the point you go, well, you know… it’s the same question, it’s the same answer.”

The IG report didn’t accurately reflect her statements to investigators, she said, adding that she doesn’t think the investigator simply misunderstood her.

Lt. Col Tony Shaffer, an operative involved with Able Danger, said he was interviewed three times by Defense investigators. He claims it was an effort to wear down the witnesses and intimidate them. Two other witnesses, one a military contractor and the other a retired military officer, said they had the same experience. The two witnesses spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity because they said they feared retaliation. A fifth witness told Fox that statements to investigators were ignored.

“My last interview was very, very hostile,” Shaffer told Fox News last month before he was ordered by the department not to discuss portions of his book, “Operation Dark Heart,” which included a chapter on the Able Danger data mining project.

When asked why the IG’s report was so aggressive in its denials of his claims and those of other witnesses — that the data mining project had identified Atta as a threat to the U.S. before 9/11 — Shaffer said Defense Department was worried about taking some of the blame for 9/11.

Shaffer’s book was recently burned by the Pentagon….nothing shady there eh?

Btw, a few posts I would like to highlight here. This one details the how and why Able Danger was shut down. My post here details how the end to the Able Danger investigation came about and the ensuing whitewash, and gives a good rundown of the evidence (check this one out also). And lastly this one has the audio of a conference call I and a half dozen other bloggers had with Curt Weldon regarding Able Danger and the investigation into the program.

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

31 Responses to “New Report Suggests Cover-Up Of Able Danger Program That May Have Identified 9/11 Ringleader Before Attack”

  1. 1

    Old Trooper 2

    Actually the feeble attempt to sweep Able Danger under the rug initially was done by no other than the 911 Commission that was truly a whitewash job and not worth the paper it was printed on.

    The finest CYA work ever done to provide cover for the Clinton Administration by former Clinton Admin. Members.

    A few Military Intelligence Community folks got no credit for their work and the CIA escaped blame for their failures.

  2. 2

    Hard Right

    That is some juicy troll bait you’ve laid out there Curt. Let’s see if the usual revisionist liberals of history pounce on it.

  3. 3


    Why would Clinton need CYA work? He was trying to focus attention on bin Laden and the growing threat of al Qaeda while Planet Fox and the entire republican universe were revolving around the absurdity of Monica Lewinski.

    If you’re looking for an example of 9/11 Commission whitewash, look no further than how they painted over the matter of what that politically motivated exercise in national distraction ultimately cost us.

  4. 5


    @Greg: 🙄

    Clinton was impeached in Dec of 1998 and aquitted in Feb, 1999 before Able Danger started tracking al Qaeda:

    Fall 1999: Army Intelligence Program Begins Gathering Information on Al-Qaeda

    09-1999 Lt. Col. Shaffer joins Captain Phillpott on Able Danger

    During a briefing to GEN Schoomaker in September 1999, he specifically assigned me and STRATUS IVY to “help out on a special project”. [ ] the DIA Representative went about making sure that DIA was specifically requested in the JCS planning order to assign STRATUS IVY to support this special project, which he did. The next day I was briefed by Captain, then Lieutenant Commander, Scott Phillpott on ABLE DANGER. When Scott briefed me, I felt that this was the “E” ticket mission – the ultimate assignment.
    Prepared Statement of Anthony A. Shaffer, p. 21, published 02-15-2006

    03-2000 Armed federal agents confiscate Able Danger materials

    ZAID: Mr. Smith would have indicated that he was tasked by individuals associated with Able Danger, again not knowing it was Able Danger, to compile unclassified information, that they then put into charts like Congressman Weldon had brought today and looked somewhat similar — some were that size, some were smaller — containing massive amounts of data; that these were associational links; that at least one chart in particular which he, in fact, kept on his office wall until the summer of 2004 when it had been destroyed after he tried to move it for an office move and then junked it, had Mohammed Atta and potentially — according to other team members; he doesn’t recall this — three others of the 20 hijackers of 9/11.

    In fact, as well, he would have made one mention that at some point in time — he was not there at this time — that armed federal agents came to Orion in around March or April of 2000 and confiscated many or much of the data that Orion had compiled with respect to this contract.

    They never obtained his data or his charts because, given that it was unclassified, they actually were in the trunk of his car. And so that’s why he was able to maintain these charts.

    After the summer of 2000 or even the spring of 2000, that contract ceased to exist, so he no longer participated in any of the efforts.
    Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, published 09-21-2005

    05-2000 All open source data is deleted by Major Kleinsmith

    KLEINSMITH: I deleted that data roughly May, June time frame of 2000.

    SPECTER: May, June 2000.

    And did somebody instruct you to delete the information?

    KLEINSMITH: We were visited by INSCOM’s general counsel, and the man was named Tony Gentry. But he was only there 10 days prior to remind me of the intelligence regulation that we are operating under….

    So that while we were shut down, we were unable to do any other further analysis, vetting of data or investigation into the data that we had polled.

    Because of that, the 90-day mark had hit and he came back down to remind me again, and it was more of a friendly visit not an adversarial visit, and that was when he told me jokingly, “Remember, delete this data, or you guys will go to jail.” And that’s ha-ha, very funny — understanding completely we abide by the regulation so we deleted the data and destroyed the charts that we had also….
    Judiciary Committee Hearing, published 09-21-2005

  5. 6


    If this is all true, then both Clinton and Bush are culpable. One year before 9/11 means the Clinton admin had this information for 4 months and Bush had it for 8 months. Did they actually know about it or was it kept from them? Did the petulant sophomores who trashed the White House intentionally NOT present this info to the Bush people? Did the Bush people get this info and shred it? Let the hearings begin.

  6. 7



    In 2000 efforts from above were made to end the program, they forced AD staff to delete data, security agencies attempted to sabotage the program and by early 2001 it was pretty much deep sixed. Shaffer was threatened and eventually lost his career in intel because of his efforts to continue.

  7. 8


    What’s the point? All I know is that when going to my local airport I see nothing but traps for those who wish to fly…we are the prisoners, not the so called terrorists. Next time we have to fight, let’s make sure those we have elected, have a set of real balls and go out with our loyal troops to wipe out the enemy, not send in shrinks, sociologists, peace corps types, etc.

    Look what we have so called “achieved” after all these years chasing “bad guys” etc. Perhaps it is more correct, more accurate to ask: “How many freedoms have we surrendered to “feel” somewhat safe?” Then, of course, the next question is: “Will we ever get back those freedoms we surrendered?”

    Excuse me while I adjust that government controlled high definition camera that has linked to my motor vehicle departments’ picture license data base for facial recognition.

    There are people who need to know things…

  8. 9


    I think it was laid out pretty clearly a few years ago, that this program was operating in the shadows from oversight of the political class at DOD and up. When the extent of the quality intel was briefed, it unnearved the CIA, DOD, and politically knowledgable and the program, despite it’s rich data was ordered killed and all information destroyed.

    If I remember right, this was in the “wall” period that Jamey Goerlick had erected and like-minded bureaucrats held dear. It wasn’t about do what needed to get done for security, it was compartmentalized to the extreme… and to the detriment of intel.

    This whole thing would make a great novel or movie. The political class, D and R in Washington share some blame, but mostly the D because it was Clinton’s Goerlick that so clearly set up the precondition for massive blindness in for the sake of political correctness and too, interagency BS between the CIA, FBI and DOD intel… hell, throw State in there too. And then there are the intel committees in congress and their interference.

    I agree… great troll bait!!

  9. 10

    Nan G

    Look at the example this morning at the sentencing hearing for Faisal Shahzad.

    Was he involved with a larger plot or did he act all alone?


    His attitude tells so much about the differences in approaches to this war.

    Here in the West we are trying the enemy.
    In courts.
    Putting those found guilty of criminal acts in jail.

    Once convicted these terrorists have non-Muslims for their audience to commit ”dawa” (proselytizing) to all of them for the rest of their lives.

    What was Faisal Shahzad’s statement?

    I can’t find the whole thing but here are a few parts:

    “If I’m given 1,000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah.”

    “We do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have Sharia law and freedom.”

    “….we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you….”

    “The defeat of the U.S. is imminent.”

    Judge Cedarbaum asked if he had sworn allegiance to the United States when he became a citizen last year.

    “I did swear but I did not mean it,” said Shahzad.

    “So you took a false oath?”


    Obama is strengthening the bunker under the White House, but he also says we (the rest of us) can absorb another 9-11 style terror attack.
    Obviously there were errors in strategy and tactic in days and wars gone by, but those errors pale in comparison to this dereliction of duty on the part of this administration.

  10. 11


    Everybody remember Bush did not have time to put his team in place because he was late getting in office, and the cretins destroyed the WH. All security officals were Clintons guys at the time of 911 attacks.

  11. 12


    The Able Danger story is one that needs to be resurrected and given new life. A number of Congresscritters tried to do that, but they were blocked off at the pass.

    I have always felt that the information gleened by AD would cause a lot of higher-ups to be quite embarrassed.

  12. 13


    Wow, it has been some time since I read anything about Able Danger. I have to say I am surprised, after 8 years of the Bush administration, there is still angst over Able Danger.

    I recall the program was shut down for making connections to the Clintons with China (the other proof-of-concept study being run to demonstrate the data mining approach). I can see pressure to hide connections between the President and China during a tough election campaign.

    But why would anyone care if Atta and company were detected prior to 9-11? We all know they were on many radar screens at NSA and CIA – so what if DoD got a hit on a prototype approach?

    We lost the highjackers when they hit American shores thanks FISA. May post on this tomorrow!

    Cheers, AJStrata

  13. 14


    @ Galloway, #11:

    “All security officals were Clintons guys at the time of 911 attacks.”

    Republicans are forever asserting that the current economic recession and levels of unemployment are all Barack Obama’s fault–in spite of the fact that the train wreck was in progress months before he was even elected–because the wreckage piled up on his watch.

    Perhaps that argument should either be applied consistently, or abandoned altogether.

  14. 15




    We’re talking about Able Danger now. Please try to keep up.

    Also review how many Conservatives are pissed off at Republicant’s, as well as taking note of how many we’ve kicked out of office so far. Mercowski, Bennet, Crist, etc.

  15. 16



    The train wreck started under carter and clinton. GSEs , and CRA , were the begining of the end for us. Obama is escalating our destruction.

    Cintons men with George Tenant in charge were still in place when 911 attacks occured.

    Look up GSEs, CRA, and the idiots Chris Dodd and Barney FRank , screwing around with Fanny and and Freddie. Criminals learned to get around the SEC or SEC joined in , who knows, we need a fraud squad, let bad institutions fail .

  16. 19

    Old Trooper 2

    @ Greg, In the future, do your homework before you spontaneously post a plate of tripe.
    As aceofwands furnished you the link, it would be wise to look before you take that leap of faith in that Democrat/Socialist/BDS mindset from the cliff.

    A few of Us were privy to a few facts but I failed to get into every dirty detail in my postings here. I did post a couple of links that should have piqued your curiosity. Connecting the dots is not rocket science or brain surgery. As Galloway so aptly stated, the train wreck was in progress and engineered by Regimes that bear the Democrat fingerprint and foolish Policies/Agendas.

    The Obama Regime is about to prove the point that No Administration is too Big to Fail but is just too Big for their britches.

    Jamie Gorelick, Mistress of Disaster…

  17. 21

    Nan G

    What did Obama do with Ms. Gorelick?
    Did he appoint her as a czar to something?
    Or did he just want to but backed out?
    Seems I recall him wanting her in his Administration.

  18. 22


    @Nan G:

    There was talk of Gorelick being considered for Attorney General. Over the years, she’s had her fingerprints on things that haven’t worked so well for this country or the victims of 911, being on the commission was an in your face absurdity.

    Now she’s representing BP. I assume her little dark cloud is still hovering.

  19. 23

    Nan G

    Thanks, Missy.
    Some days I’m just lazy.

    Seems Gorelick couldn’t have been any worse for US Justice than Holder is turning out to be.

    Less than a year ago Holder was telling Congress that the Executive Branch has the final authority to pick a venue for a trial.

    He picked civilian court for terrorists to be tried in.
    Today, literally minutes before a trial was to begin, a civilian judge threw out the witness who was key to the government’s case against a terrorist who killed 270 people!

    Now, as a result, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani may what? Walk?
    Stay in Gitmo?
    Be tried in a military tribunal?
    (Would that be double jeopardy?)

    In my opinion, Obama has been a study in finding the most mediocre people to place in power, then watching as things fall to $#!+ under them.

  20. 24


    When the Jamie Gorelick put up the wall all the spooks said it would be a job ender to share info. So all agencies kept info separate because info is possible evidence for the Dems favorite pastime , court room bs, to hear themselves grandstand.

    A woman , last name White , i think, said the wall will hinder getting info where it was needed in time to stop something terrible from happening, even other dems questioned why would such a regulation be put in place at the risk to our security.

    White or another agent said with the wall in place people are going to die, and they will come back and ask us why it happened. Then 9-11 happens . This last paragraph was info. i read on line somewhere when they were having hearings.

  21. 25


    Re: #23:

    “Today, literally minutes before a trial was to begin, a civilian judge threw out the witness who was key to the government’s case against a terrorist who killed 270 people!”

    Here’s a link to the Memorandum and Order in question:

    THE COURT: “Here you … are asking me to assume for the purposes of deciding the motion that everything Ghailani said from the minute he arrives in CIA custody till the minute he gets to Guantanamo at least is coerced?”

    MR. FARBIARZ: “Yes, Judge, yes.”

    THE COURT: “Here we have really coerced testimony.”

    MR. FARBIARZ: “Yes.”

    What is any judge who actually respects the U.S. Constitution supposed to do with that?

  22. 27

    Old Trooper 2

    @ Greg, the proper venue is Military Tribunal. Precidence, FDR’s Tribunals in WW II.
    If Eric Holder had any Legal Knowledge, he would have known that. His former Law firm
    defended Terrorists so ignorance is no excuse on his part or yours.

    The Constitution of the United States. Article I, section 8, clause 10 of the Constitution of the United States provides authority for national trials for those who commit criminal offenses against “the law of Nations.” Article II confers on the President the title of “Commander in Chief,” thereby authorizing him to establish military commissions.

    Try reading the Constitution and Geneva Conventions.

  23. 28


    @ Old Trooper 2, #27:

    It’s my understanding that Military Tribunals are also subject to certain Constitutional precepts. Am I incorrect in thinking that the UCMJ also specifically prohibits the use of coerced testimony?

    Uniform Code of Military Justice, article 31(d), 10 U.S.C. § 831(d): “No statement obtained . . . through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against (the accused) in a trial by courtmartial.”

    It seems like a properly conducted tribunal would have run into the same problem.

  24. 29


    Thats it, no more Gitmo vacations, question them in some non-disclosed mid east town and then execute them. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

    No quarter given for unrepentant wrong.

    The terrorists are celebrating our stupidity. I guess we will suppy all Gitmo releases with homes and cars and a shed in the backyard to build bombs for our shopping malls, or even better lifetime membership at Shoot Straight in Tampa , Fl to sharpen their sniper skills.

  25. 30

    Old Trooper 2

    @ Greg, Yes the UCMJ strictly prohibits coercion, torture by the old and new standards. A confession made by a detainee under the influence of sodium pentathol, prior to surgery to save his life was dismissed as inadmissible three years ago by the CENTCOM Legal Staff. The sodium p was an anesthetic administered by US Medical Personnel, witnessed by several of them, reported to the J-2 section and the live detainee is now at Club GITMO awaiting trial on lesser charges if the DOJ and POTUS ever get their understanding of the Geneva Conventions.

    However, the UCMJ does not apply to Unlawful Combatants, only to US Military Personnel. As neither Obama or Holder have a working knowledge of either, it is a matter for a Tribunal to decide, not a Civilian Judge that has no knowledge of either as well. The Civilian Judge should have NO Jurisdiction on crimes committed overseas, plotted overseas or Geneva Convention issues. Period.

    The UCMJ does not apply here. The Constitution grants Tribunal Authority. Pretty simple stuff if you have done the homework. It is not splitting hairs by any measure. Just another example of meddling outside the scope of employment and incompetence by Holder.

  26. 31



    What is any judge who actually respects the U.S. Constitution supposed to do with that?

    Ummm, Determine his standing, his definition, and his truthfulness ? I know…silly me.

    Ya know…This got me thinking (uh oh)…The next time I have to go to traffic court, I’m gonna tell the judge I was tortured. Obviously the word “torture” no longer has any meaning, so what-the-hell. In my definition, waiting on the side of a freeway for 10 minutes is torture.

    I also think EVERYONE on the planet should be given American citizenship, so that when they blow up anyone, in ANY country, they automatically (because of that murderous action) get our Constitutional protections.

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