I’m glad to see a few on the right are starting to push forward instead of retreating. Not many but at least a few are.
Today’s interesting articles so far:
From Tim Wood:
Even at this early stage you can see how this is going to play – former commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste agrees on the need for an investigation into Able Danger. But he’s already accusing the Pentagon of failing to turn over documents to the Commission. That’s an odd formulation. Obviously Ben-Veniste wants to cover his tracks and those of the entire Commission, but it’s almost as though he knows something or is reading from a script.
Yet it is very plausible in Washington’s culture that the Pentagon wanted to cover up its complicity in going along with a hyper-legal pantomime. It’s very damning to the individuals responsible who said that information on potential terrorists could not be shared with other law enforcement agencies. After all, an army lawyer is not the same thing as Jamie Gorelick who, as deputy attorney general of the United States under Clinton, created the ridiculous premise and authority for firewalling intelligence activities.
What Ben-Veniste did not tell the Times highlights that someone is lying. He offers no possibility that the 9/11 Commission staff were derelict. If whistleblower Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s evidence withstands the scrutiny it is about to receive, then the 9/11 Commission failed to record critical information, and the question then becomes why?
9/11 Commission staff say they were given no specific information about Mohamed Atta and his terror cell. Shaffer says he told them everything and that the detail was considerable. It’s either one or the other, but it cannot be both. And then we need to determine the Pentagon’s role in the original refusal to allow liaison between defense analysts and the FBI.
Meanwhile, let’s not forget Sandy Burger’s theft and destruction of classified documents from the state archives in the run up to his testimony before the Commission. He epitomised what the 9/11 Commission was about – avoiding culpability at any cost.
A related story in the Times highlights how the State Department was tracking Bin Laden assiduously precisely because there was a clear appreciation of the threat he posed, and that he was already involved in terrorist activities.
In July 1996 State Department analysts reported their fears to the executive branch. This is just three years after the first Trade Towers bombing, and knowing of AQ’s involvement in the Mogadishu fiasco among other things. Nothing was done, and the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings remind us of the near-term price of that inaction.
There is some discussion of an offer by the Sudanese to hand Bin Laden over to the United States, which the report sidesteps by noting that the 9/11 Commission did not find any “reliable evidence” to support the claim.
This was easily the most underreported finding of the Commission because it directly contradicts evidence presented by President Clinton who admitted that he had the offer from Sudan, but felt legally constrained to act! 9/11 Commissioners admit never watching the video of Clinton’s statements, but absolved him anyway.
Clinton’s admission was dismissed as careless braggadocio, which certainly fits the character, but that’s far too easy given the mutliple layers of evidence confirming the Sudanese offer. Indeed, Clinton confirms the facts and nature of the original assertions made by Mansour Ijaz.
[Sudan] released [Bin laden]. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.
So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, ’cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn’t and that’s how he wound up in Afghanistan.
So in 1996 Clinton was aware of AQ plans to attack America, and the State Department warned that the movement should not be allowed to root itself in Afghanistan.
Why was the testimony of the former President and the reports of his agencies so difficult for the 9/11 Commission to absorb? Because it was the CYA Commission.
Couldn’t agree more. The Commission came to the conclusion that everyone and no one was responsible for 9/11. A typical CYA approach that is so blatant that it is laughable.
Another one from Joe Mariani:
The biggest unreported story of the year — at least, unreported by the “mainstream” media — may be the story of Able Danger. A top secret Pentagon task force identified three of the 9/11 hijackers as terrorists in advance, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, but was told it couldn’t touch them by government bureaucrats. This should be above-the-fold news in every paper in America, right? The problem is, this happened during the Clinton administration, so don’t expect too much from the Liberal press, even though “Able Danger” is a cool-sounding name for a counter-terrorism operation.
…The 9/11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was put together to answer two questions: how did this happen, and how can we prevent it from happening again? Most Conservatives saw the true purpose of the Commission as similarly twofold. Not only was it seeking to blame President Bush for 9/11, which took place only eight months after his inauguration, but it was also pursuing ways to exonerate the Clinton administration for ignoring the growing threat of al-Qaeda for eight years prior to 9/11. People on all sides of the political spectrum were surprised when they issued a final report which, if boiled down to a single sentence, would say, “everyone and no one was to blame.”
Most Americans seemed to accept that judgment, despite all the omissions in the report that were pointed out (though, of course, not in the “mainstream” media). For one thing, the report did not mention that Bill Clinton was offered Osama bin Laden by the Sudanese government but refused to take him, as confirmed by his own words. On 15 February 2002, the former President was asked about terrorism while speaking in Woodbury, NY. He said, “At the time, 1996, [bin Laden] had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, ’cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn’t and that’s how he wound up in Afghanistan.”
By 1996, bin Laden and al-Qaeda were at least suspected of involvement in the first World Trade Center bombing, the attack on American Rangers in Mogadishu, Somalia and a car bombing at US military headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, intelligence analysts warned Clinton that letting bin Laden move to Afghanistan could prove dangerous to US interests. If the Commission was interested in mistakes that led to 9/11 and should not be repeated, wouldn’t “letting Osama bin Laden run around free” fit the description? Yet the report only mentioned that the US was aware of the discussion between Sudanese and Saudi Arabian officials.
The Commission also ignored the story of Brian Sullivan, the former FAA special agent who tried to draw John Kerry’s attention to lax security at Logan Airport, the very airport from which both planes used in the 9/11 New York City attacks took off. Sullivan and another retired FAA agent, with the help of a local news crew, filmed themselves walking through security carrying all manner of weapons and suspicious equipment. He sent the videotape to John Kerry’s office in May 2001, and two months later received a reply that it had been forwarded to the Department of Transportation. In a letter, Sullivan asked Kerry to consider the ramifications of “a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day.” Brian Sullivan’s almost prescient attempt to prevent a disaster like 9/11 received no attention from the 9/11 Commission.
…Perhaps the first indication that the 9/11 Commission was not all it pretended to be was the presence of Jamie Gorelick on the wrong side of the witness table. Gorelick, during her time as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, was responsible for creating the “wall of separation” that prevented law enforcement agencies from sharing information about investigations. The Commission determined that the lack of inter-agency cooperation, mostly removed now by the PATRIOT Act, was in part responsible for the failure to prevent 9/11. Coordination and cooperation are essential in preventing terror attacks. It was the “Gorelick wall” that prevented the Pentagon from directly contacting the FBI with Able Danger’s information about Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers.
Why did so few people seem to notice that the creator of that wall sat on, instead of being questioned by, the 9/11 Commission? Attorney General John Ashcroft noted that there might be a conflict of interest, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) even called for her to step down. Aside from that, her presence seemed to be largely accepted. That’s somewhat akin to letting the guy who sold Lee Boyd Malvo a sniper rifle (though he was on the banned list) sit on the jury for his murder trial.
That is actually a good analogy. What were they thinking allowing the creator of the wall to sit on the Commission? They are not that stupid so I have to believe she was allowed on to cover her and the Clinton administration backside.
CNN interviewed Lt. Col. Shaffer this morning with some interesting facts presented:
S. O’BRIEN: A military intelligence officer says he tried to warn the FBI about an al Qaeda cell a full year before the 9/11 attacks, but was prevented from passing on information.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer was a member of a unit called Able Danger, and he’s just now going public with what he says he told the 9/11 Commission. Colonel Shaffer joins us from our Washington bureau this morning.
Good morning. Thanks for being with us.
LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER, U.S. ARMY INTELLIGENCE: Good morning. Thank you, Soledad.
S. O’BRIEN: We’re coming up on four years to the anniversary of 9/11. Why are you going public now?
SHAFFER: I understand this will stir up a lot of very difficult memories for folks. And that is not why we’re doing this, obviously.
I was tasked by the Navy to look at bringing back some of the aspects regarding the technology of the Able Danger capability earlier this year. Through our research and coordination with Congress, with Congressman Curt Weldon, we came to find that the information we provided to the 9/11 Commission had never got to the commissioners. Subsequent to that being discovered, Congressman Weldon and his staff did additional research, and we came to find there was a significant amount of information that was totally deleted or not provided to the actual commissioners.
S. O’BRIEN: But the 9/11 commissioners did their report a while back.
S. O’BRIEN: I mean, why isn’t this six months ago, even earlier than that? Why now?
SHAFFER: Well, I understand. I can’t address the report, other than I know I provided information to Mr. Zelicow (ph) in Bagram of October of ’03. That information was significant in the fact that in their 12 August statement, they talk about that he called back immediately, requesting more information. I was asked to talk to him in January of ’03, where I called his office — I mean January ’04, where I called his office, and they changed their mind about talking to me. S. O’BRIEN: Well, I’m — forgive me for a moment.
SHAFFER: Go ahead.
S. O’BRIEN: I want to kind of walk through this slowly and clearly.
S. O’BRIEN: You sort of are pointing out that things were mired and bogged down in dates. But when this was not part of the 9/11 Commission’s report, why didn’t you say, “This is ridiculous, I must go public now, because there was a crucial drop in information, someone dropped the ball, I need to tell the American public?” Why not do that?
SHAFFER: Right. There were two reasons.
To be totally honest with you, we believed that there may have been a classified annex. Not being on the commission, not being — not working at that level, I had no way of knowing. I had to believe that there must have been some reason that that information was not provided to the public, either by follow-on information — operations of some sort that related to this or something else.
S. O’BRIEN: OK. That explains it for me, then, at least. You’ve claimed that this is information that you had about a terrorist a full year before 9/11.
S. O’BRIEN: Mohamed Atta, who was obviously part of this team of hijackers. Where did this information that he was a terrorist linked to al Qaeda, where did this come from that you had that nobody else in the security branch, as far as we can tell, had that information?
SHAFFER: I didn’t have the information. I was part of the task force which supported Able Danger.
What I did was I married the land information warfare activity, LIMA, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, an Army unit, Army capability, to the special operations command for the purposes of this exercise, this targeting exercise of al Qaeda. What the LIWA did — and it was their ability to go through massive amounts of open-source data, 2.5 terabytes, and look for patterns that related to previously-known terrorists. It was that information then which popped up…
S. O’BRIEN: So, by trolling the Internet and LexusNexus, things like that, I think that’s what you mean by open source data? Am I right about that?
SHAFFER: Open source — anything that’s not a classified database. We’re talking about commercial databases, financial databases. Anything that’s out there that relates to the real world.
And let me be specific on this. S. O’BRIEN: And his name pops up?
SHAFFER: Well, yes, because terrorists live in the real world. As we recognize from the London bombings, there’s a picture of the terrorist in a whitewater rafting trip. They live in the real world just like we do. They plan in the real world.
S. O’BRIEN: What were those documents that — give me a sense of what kinds of documents targeted Mohamed Atta a year before 9/11 as a potential terrorist.
SHAFFER: For a couple of different reasons, I’m not going — I’m not going to get into very specifics for this, because, again, we’re trying to figure out a way that we can continue to do this. And I don’t want to give away anything that someone can use against us.
S. O’BRIEN: But it’s open sourcing, right? I mean, so it would be available to anyone.
SHAFFER: The sourcing, I’ve covered the sourcing, which is essentially open source. Now, how we arrayed that and how we use the technology — you know, first off, I’m not the technician. I’m an intelligence officer relating to human intelligence. I was one of the folks who was the — one of the managers in the process.
What the process actually did, though, was take this information, using advanced algorithms, looking for patterns, and it popped up this information based on all the information that was available on the open source — out of open source systems on these individuals.
S. O’BRIEN: The 9/11 commissioners says they don’t recall Mohamed Atta’s name coming up in their discussion. They also say that his name does not appear in any of the briefings they had before they filed their report.
S. O’BRIEN: Are they — are they — you say you’ve talked to them specifically with that name. Are they lying?
SHAFFER: I can’t — I can’t answer that question. What I know is that their statement on the 12th of August is wrong.
I never mentioned anything about a human asset network being turned off by the (INAUDIBLE). That’s one of their statements that they claim I made. I never said that.
And the other thing they say that I said was that I talked about Able Danger being a project in Afghanistan. I never said that.
So if they got those two points wrong, I don’t know what else they got wrong. The only thing they got right, basically, was that — that there was information about this network that related to the fact that they were interested in it. And they — Mr. Zelicow’s (ph) own admission, the next paragraph of their 12 August statement, says they called back immediately after talking to me, which would mean they heard something that I said which resonated.
The other thing is Mr. Zelicow (ph) himself gave me his card and asked me to contact him upon my return from the deployment. And I did contact him in January of ’04. That’s where I was essentially blown off.
I called him. They said they wanted to talk to me. I waited a week, called him back. And they said, “No, we don’t need to talk to you now.”
Now, Soledad, I’m sorry. I forgot your first part of the question you asked before.
S. O’BRIEN: You know, we’re actually kind of running out of time.
S. O’BRIEN: But I was essentially asking you if they were lying, which is sort of a yes or no answer there.
SHAFFER: I can’t — I’m just letting you know what I — what I said. I said, specifically, that we, as through the Able Danger process, discovered two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, to include Atta. Now — and I — that was, to me, significant, in that they actually pulled me aside after the meeting and said, “Please come talk to us and give us more details.”
Now, back to the information that DOD passed to them. DOD passed two containers, approximately briefcase-sized containers over to them in the February-March time frame of ’04. That is not one-twentieth of the information which was available out there on Able Danger and the project.
And plus, they asked DIA for it. It was not a DIA project. And I think they asked the wrong questions of DOD in some cases. And I know for a fact right not DOD is trying to get to the bottom of this.
I spoke with DOD leadership yesterday. They are working hard to come to the bottom — come to terms with what the facts are.
S. O’BRIEN: And I know the Pentagon obviously investigating your claims, along with many other people as well.
SHAFFER: Yes, absolutely.
S. O’BRIEN: And lots of twists and turns, but essentially, I think I understand what you’re claiming now.
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer joining us this morning.
Thanks for your time.
SHAFFER: Thank you, ma’am.
So now we have two sources of confirmation about Able Danger. Shaffer and a anonymous one that are both saying the Commission was told twice that they had identified Atta as al-Qaeda. The fact that Lt. Col. Shaffer is willing to end his career with this information tells me that he is not the one lying. The only one left who is obviously hiding something is this Commission and their constantly changing story.
Plus there is news from The Captain about some more omissions from the report:
…THEY MIGHT START with a few cryptic media reports from March 2001 regarding two arrests made in Germany. The BBC and Reuters both noted the capture of Iraqi intelligence agents in Heidelberg. Both reports gave essentially the same minimal data on March 1:
German state prosecutors said on Thursday federal police had arrested two Iraqis on suspicion of spying.
The two men were detained in Heidelberg, according to a German television report. German officials declined to comment on the report. . . . “They are suspected of carrying out missions for an Iraqi intelligence service in a number of German towns since the beginning of 2001,” said a spokeswoman for state prosecutor Kay Nehm in Karlsruhe.
The Germans did not arrest these Iraqi operatives on a whim. Their counterintelligence operations had tracked them for some time before closing in and capturing the two. At the time, American and British forces had launched air raids on radar stations in Iraq’s no-fly zones and the assumption was that the Iraqis may have wanted to hit American forces stationed in Heidelberg in retaliation. However, by March 16, a Paris-based Arabic newspaper had developed more information on the arrests. The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin summarized the report from al-Watan al-Arabi:
Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.
The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery
of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.
Interestingly, journalists such as Amir Taheri considered al-Watan al-Arabi to be a pro-Saddam publication–not surprising given its Parisian readership. Despite its reporting against its presumed interests, the al-Watan al-Arabi article generated no interest either at the time or afterwards. A scan of the Commission report finds no mention of these arrests in Heidelberg, nor any of the CIA or FBI interviews reported by al-Watan al-Arabi.
Why should any of this have mattered to the 9/11 Commission? Their report provides the most important reason: The 9/11 plot began its practical planning in Hamburg, beginning in 1999 and assisting Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 plotters through the summer of 2001. Having discovered two Iraqi intelligence agents conducting “missions . . . in a number of German towns since the beginning of 2001” indicates at least the possibility of more than just a sabotage assignment. Even apart from the al-Watan al-Arabi reporting, the strange coincidence of discovering Iraqi intelligence operations in such close conjunction to known al Qaeda operations should have raised some eyebrows.
If the 9/11 report is any indication, no one on the Commission considered this connection. In fact, no one knows whether or not the Commission even knew about these arrests. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, there has been much argument about the nature of Saddam Hussein’s connections to terror. How could the U.S. government and the 9/11 Commission fail to consider this, given the other activity occurring in Germany during this period:
* Mohammed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh meet in Berlin in January 2001 for a progress meeting, around the same time German counterintelligence claimed that they picked up the Iraqi trail.
* Ziad Jarrah, another of the crucial al Qaeda pilots, transits between Beirut and Florida through Germany twice during the 2000-2001 holiday season, flying back to the United States at the end of February.
* Marwan al-Shehhi disappears in Casablanca, then constructs a cover story about living in Hamburg.
In fact, the Commission report notes that three of the four al Qaeda team leaders (excepting Hani Hanjour, who had at that time just begun his pilot training) interrupted their planning to take foreign trips (page 244). Why would these men interrupt their preparations in this manner? Traveling in and out of the United States presented a risk–a manageable risk, as events proved–but having three of the four team leaders outside of their established cells at the same time looks unnecessarily foolhardy from al Qaeda’s point of view. It also appears to be the only time after their first entry into the United States that this travel occurred. All three had some German connection to their trips. In fact, Jarrah left Germany the same week that the Germans captured the Iraqi agents.
All of this activity in Germany could, of course, just be a coincidence. However, we have no explanation from the 9/11 Commission about why the al Qaeda team leaders who all hailed from the Hamburg cell felt it necessary to travel separately to Germany at the same time that German counterintelligence discovered the Iraqi espionage operation. We have no mention at all of even a coincidental, parallel hostile operation in the vicinity of the al Qaeda team leaders. Just as in the case of Mohammed Afroze, the Commission never bothers even to supply the dots that might connect outside their preferred narrative.
You catch that?
“They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.”
This from a reporter in March, 2001. Hmmm…these arrests had to have been mentioned in the final report right? Wrong.
I will end with this great summation from B.Preston about Clinton and his recent statements via JunkYard Blog:
This has been a very interesting couple of weeks, culminating in what amounts to a docu-dump today. Lt Col Shaffer is now front and center risking his career on this story, and Rep. Weldon has been hinting that more officers may come forward to shed yet more light on Able Danger. We’ve had the State Dept’s 1996 warning about al Qaeda come out on the same day that Mary Jo White’s second Gorelick Wall memo surfaced, both of which point at the various reasons al Qaeda survived the 1990s with sufficient strength to attack us on 9-11. Those reasons turn out to be, unsurprisingly, that the Clinton administration created an atmosphere of legalese that hindered the prosecution of what should have been a war all along, and that the chief architect of that atmosphere was none other than 9-11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. Foolishly violent prosecution at Waco and its fallout seem to have played their role in all of this too–the Pentagon’s posse comitatus fears seem to have had more to do with Waco hangover than the Wall. And in the midst of all of this, we had Clinton’s incredible statement that he wished the Cole bombers would have been identified on his watch so he could have had the satisfaction of striking at bin Laden himself. As though it wasn’t obvious from the get-go that the Cole was an al Qaeda operation…? As though Clinton hadn’t already bombed that factory in Sudan on much flimsier reasoning…? As though Clinton himself hadn’t declared war on al Qaeda long before he even left office, only to do next to nothing about the actual problem…? Clinton’s latest lie doesn’t pass the laugh test. He’s losing his touch.
Clinton knows his legacy is going up in flames. The rest of his former administration are running for cover–where have Sandy Berger and Jamie Gorelick been lately, anyway? Shouldn’t they be talking to some sympathetic reporter by now, if only to defend their reputations?
The Belmont Club also writes a bit about this Clinton angle.
Gonna have to agree with B.Preston here, the Clinton administration is running for cover. It started with Sandy Berger and who know’s where it may end.
Her is a update of my Timeline:
- Early 2000 Khalid al-Mihdhar & Nawaf al-Hazmi arrives in LA
- May 29, 2000 Marwan al-Shehhi arrives in Newark from Brussels
- June 3, 2000 Mohammed Atta arrives in Newark from Prague
- Summer 2000 (within 2 months of Atta’s arrival) Defense official delivered chart identifying Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Mr. Mihdhar and Mr. Hazmi as members of a American based “Brooklyn” Al-Qaeda cell, 1 of 5 such cells in the world, to Special Operations Command HQ in Tampa, Fl.
- Sept 11, 2001 – Al-Qaeda attacks US
- Sept/Oct 2001 – Rep. Weldon tells Deputy NSA Stephen Hadley about the Able Danger report
- 2002 – 9/11 Commission set up
- March, 2003 – 9/11 Commission begins first hearings
- Fall, 2003 – Briefing given to four 9/11 staff members by defense intelligence officials during an overseas trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including Philip Zelikow, the executive director, were told about the program on an overseas trip), Official states he specifically told Zelikow about Atta.
- Sept 2nd & Oct 2nd, 2003 – Sandy Berger observed by Archives staff removing documents
- Feb/March 2004 – 2 briefcase’s of documents given to Commission from Able Danger detailing the Atta connection
- March, 2004 -Madeleine Albright testifies before 9/11 Commission, and defends the Clinton administration’s handling of Al-Qaeda and terrorism
- April, 2004 – Condi Rice testifies before 9/11 Commission; states that there was serious problem in sharing intelligence information prior to 9/11
- May, 2004 – Berger testifies before the 9/11 Commission; completely overshadowed by the fact that Richard Clark and George Tenet also testified on the same day (testimony is here)
- July 12, 2004 – Second meeting with Able Danger team members
- July 21, 2004 – Berger resigns from Kerry team after revelation of burglary
- July 22, 2004 – 9/11 commission releases final report
- April, 2005 – Berger pleads guilty to removing classified documents
- July, 2005 – Berger’s sentencing is delayed to September, 2005.
- August, 2005 -News breaks about the existence of Able Danger and its ID of 9/11 hijackers in 1999 and attempts to pass this information to law enforcement
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update VI
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update V
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, update IV
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update III
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update II
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger