Posted by Curt on 18 August, 2005 at 9:40 am. Be the first to comment!


Interesting news from Deborah Orin in The New York Post that another Able Danger operative may come forward:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It also appears that in early 2001 Shaffer was ordered to shut down his involvement with Able Danger:

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

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

Who was this General? Why the rush to shut down this unit? Junkyard Blog has some thoughts on this:

The current Chief of Staff of the US Army is Gen. Peter Schoomaker. He rose through the ranks of Special Operations Command, and was in charge of that command at MacDill Air Force Base at the time Able Danger did its work. If the Pentagon is reticent to confirm Lt Col Shaffer?s story, you have two data points to consider as reasons why. One, the likely involvement of NSA, the most secretive and most effective (largely because it?s so secretive) intel agency we have. They stay out of the limelight and generally because of that run rings around the CIA. Anything that puts a spotlight on NSA is bad, so that in and of itself could be a reason to pour cold water on Able Danger. The second data point is that it could boomerang around on the Army Chief of Staff if he was in any way involved in bottling up Able Danger in his old command. The Pentagon does not want this scandal, not now and not ever. So I?ll be surprised if they say anything interesting anytime in the next hundred years about Able Danger.

In other news the chairman of the Commission responded to all the new information:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 – The chairman of the Sept. 11 commission called on the Pentagon on Wednesday to move quickly to evaluate the credibility of military officers who have said that a highly classified intelligence program managed to identify the Sept. 11 ringleader more than a year before the 2001 attacks. He said the information was not shared in a reliable form with the panel.

The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, offered no judgment about the accuracy of the officers’ accounts. But he said in an interview that if the accounts were true, it suggested that detailed information about the intelligence program, known as Able Danger, was withheld from the commission and that the program and its findings should have been mentioned prominently in the panel’s final report last year.

“If they identified Atta and any of the other terrorists, of course it was an important program,” Mr. Kean said, referring to Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian ringleader of the attacks. “Obviously, if there were materials that weren’t given to us, information that wasn’t given to us, we’re disappointed. It’s up to the Pentagon to clear up any misunderstanding.”

Are you kidding me? Materials that weren’t given to you? It appears that this Commission was told twice by two different people connected with Able Danger and now they want to blame the Pentagon?

The fact that Atta’ name wasn’t shared with the FBI is a huge mistake and one that I am sure will be fully vetted due mostly to the courage of Shaffer and the Able Danger operatives who may yet come forward. But there was also another mistake, or coverup, by the Commission in ignoring this information. For Kean to suggest that it’s everyone’s else’s fault other then his and his fellow Commissioners is ridiculous.

Rick at the Rightwing Nuthouse has an idea what the next move by the Commission will be:

The blame game has begun and the Commission would seem to have the Pentagon in its sights. So the focus now shifts to what a possible response by the Pentagon would be?

1. Tell the truth. Admit it made a mistake due to a paperwork snafu. Apologize.

Yeah?right. Next.

2. Smear Colonel Shaffer. Stonewall on the paperwork. Trot out Able Danger team members to refute Shaffner?s assertion.

I’m afraid I have to agree with him. These are politicians, and we all know these animals are experts at shifting blame away from themselves.

He also has some excellent thoughts on the fact that the information wasn’t shared to the FBI because of the military’s past involvement in Waco:

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

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

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

JustOneMinute has found a reference to intelligence being presented to the Commission that showed there was knowledge of attacks by airplanes back in the mid 90’s, and that intelligence being dropped from the Final Report:

here is some AP coverage of the situation – apparently, the report from the Carribbean about an Islamic terrorist plot to fly a plane into the WTC was presented at a Congressional hearing, but dropped from the 9/11 report:

At congressional hearings last week that reviewed the pre-Sept. 11 performance of the CIA, FBI and other agencies in sorting through such possible clues, 10 intelligence reports made public described threats the government received suggesting terrorists might use planes as weapons.

Those, plus two publicly known plots, in 1994 and 1995, that would have crashed planes into targets, suggest the government should have taken a closer look at terrorists’ potential use of planes, investigators said.

The threats detailed in the congressional report do not tell the whole story, said Cannistraro. ”That’s taking one snapshot in a movie that’s five hours long,” he said.

…For example, U.S. intelligence got information in August 1998 that a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center, says the report by Eleanor Hill, staff director of the congressional investigation.

The report does not offer a source for the information. A U.S. intelligence official, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity, said it was from a dubious source: a Caribbean police officer.

”It was viewed as wildly speculative,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ”There was no information to corroborate this report.”

The report was passed on to the FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and other groups, which did little with it.

Officials do not believe the police officer’s report is linked to the Sept. 11 attacks.

What else has been dropped from this report? Or a better question is what the hell was included in this thing?

Finally, the 9/11 families are making their disapproval of the Commission’s recent statements known:

A coalition of family members known as the Sept. 11 Advocates blasted 9/11 commission leaders Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton for pooh-poohing Able Danger’s findings last week as not “historically significant.”

“They somehow made a determination that this was not important enough. To me, that says somebody there is not using good judgment. And if I’m questioning the judgment in this one case, what other things might they have missed?” Mindy Kleinberg, a member of the Sept. 11 Advocates, told The Post.

“I don’t think you can understate the significance here. You’re talking about the four lead hijackers. If we shared information and did surveillance on them, there is no telling what we could have uncovered and what we could have thwarted.

“I think we do need a new commission, and that’s really sad.”

As each day passes we are all discovering what a huge joke the 9/11 Commission is. A joke played on the American people by politicans covering their backsides.

JJ Green has the score so far:

It appears a series of decisions by U.S. government lawyers opened the door for the Sept. 11 hijackers to carry out their attacks.

Afterward, lawyers prohibited the Army’s “Able Danger” intelligence unit from informing the Sept. 11 commission about it.

1996: Strike One

“We had an al Qaida finance person named Khalifa in custody in San Francisco and, in essence, he was the money behind bin Laden,” says Fred Burton, the deputy chief of counter-terrorism at the State Department at the time.

“For foreign policy reasons and legal reasons, we were forced to hand the individual over to a foreign government.”

1998: Strike Two

“bin Laden was located at a house in Kandahar City,” says Mike Scheuer former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit. The military was poised to assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan, but based on legal advice, says Scheuer, “the policy makers were afraid there would be some collateral damage.”

So they called off the strike.

2000: Strike Three

“Our military identified Mohammed Atta’s (al Qaida) cell in New York along with two other terrorists… and they made a recommendation that was denied by the lawyers to take out that cell,” says Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.

Weldon confirms he got that information directly from the Army’s “Able Danger” intel unit. The result of the legal denials: the tragedy on 9/11.

2005: They’re Out

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer tells CBS News that military lawyers stopped the unit from sharing the information with the FBI out of fear they would be exposed as illegally collecting domestic intelligence.

Check out Captain’s Quarters, Isn’t It Rich, Deep Down In Texas, Intel Dump, A Blog For All, Killing Time, The Wide Awake Cafe, & Strata-Sphere for more.


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