News from Fox that Atta was identified using data mining techniques on the first WTC bombing:
Weldon?s claims also seem to be backed up by a defense contractor who says he worked on Able Danger and for the first time has offered an explanation of how Atta?s name surfaced in the investigation. J.D. Smith told FOX News that he coordinated the information sources, reported to the government on the project?s spending and generated some of the charts, including the ?Al Qaeda Global Map? that had Atta?s name on it. He added that he saw Atta?s photo during the unit?s investigation.
Smith said one way the unit came to know Atta was through Omar Abdul Rahman (search), part of the first World Trade Center (search) bomb plot in 1993. Smith said Able Danger used data mining techniques ? publicly available information ? to look at mosques and religious ties and it was, in part, through the investigation of Rahman that Atta?s name surfaced.
Plus the Pentagon is continuing to allege that no documents have been or will be found about Atta’s ID:
“We have been very aggressive,” Mr. Di Rita told The Washington Times. “We haven’t been able to find anything that would corroborate the kind of detail Lt. Col. Shaffer and Congressman Weldon seem to recall.” … “We have to wonder whether [the chart] did exist,” Mr. Di Rita said. “It’s a bit of a phantom search here.”
Mr. Zaid said Col. Shaffer was on active duty when working as a liaison between the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency and the Able Danger team. He then became a civilian analyst at DIA. He was suspended in March 2004.
The DIA is in the process of revoking Col. Shaffer’s security clearance, Mr. Zaid said, for what he called “trivial matters.” They include reimbursements for mileage and telephone charges, and whether he properly received an award for his Able Danger work.
One of the reasons I am using the word allege is because this just doesn’t wash with me. We have 3 people to come forward so far, at great risk to their careers, and there may very well be more:
Col. Shaffer said his conversations with Mr. Hastert and Mr. Hoekstra took place before he and members of the Able Danger team spoke as anonymous sources to reporters in the offices of Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, on Aug. 8
The Captain quotes Big Sea here on the fact that the second person to come forward is a active duty military officer, and it’s significance:
The intel source that wrote “Al-Qaeda Brought The Matches,” Big Sea, has some thoughts on credibility based on the ranks and status of the witnesses:
I’m curious if it has struck anyone else as quite significant that the second person to come forward to talk openly about Able Danger is an active-duty Navy captain? To me this seems huge. Except for the 3 years I worked at NAVSEA, I haven’t had that many direct dealings with military officers, but I have real trouble believing that a Flag Officer would put his career on the line to support questionable or sexed-up claims to embarass a previous administration and the 9/11 commision.
I suspect witness credibility will be the main thing we have to go one in this case: I doubt actual details will be released, given the classification of the project and the risk that significant details would give the terrorists too much info on how we might ID them. And from what I know about document handling for canceled programs, it’s quite possible the revelvant source material simply isn’t around anymore, except in a summarised and downgraded form. So personal testimony may well be as good as it gets.
If Able Danger was all some dirty Rovian trick, I might argue that a Lt. Colonel would be just about the perfect guy to push it along — senior enough to sound impressive with the public, and an excellent “fall guy” if his story does not bear up at a later date. Of all the ranks, Lt. Colonels can probably best afford to be mavericks and whistle blowers since most don’t pursue promotion unless they think they have a good chance of making General. I might also add that Lt. Colonel Schaffer being a liaison officer, not an analyst or program manager, gives him a degree of “plausible deniability” as he can claim he was mislead, having “no direct knowledge.” I certainly don’t believe any of this, but if I was inclined to be conspiracy minded (or playing devil’s advocate), those are the arguments that would occur me.
But an active-duty Navy captain is much too consequential a figure to act as a fall guy. Nor, in my experience, do mavericks make it to that rank. I suppose I could be wrong, but I just can’t imagine Capt. Phillpott coming forward if he wasn’t telling the truth and if he didn’t have official sanction for doing so.
I agree and this is one big reason why I am believing these 3 rather then the 9/11 commission (of course) and the Pentagon.
Also, the transcript of the 9/11 special I spoke about in my last post is up via Jim Geraghty:
?AT THIS AIR FORCE BASE IN TAMPA (Picture of Entrance Gate to MacDill Air Force Base), MEMBERS OF THE U.S. ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND ARE REVIEWING AN UNUSUAL CHART THAT REPORTEDLY IDENTIFIES BOTH ATTA (picture ID of Atta shown) AND AL-SHEHHI (picture ID of Al-Shehhi shown) AS LIKELY MEMBERS OF AN AL-QAEDA TERROR CELL OPERATING WITHIN THE U.S. THE OFFICIALS DECIDE THEY CANNOT PASS THIS INFORMATION ALONG TO THE FBI, IN PART BECAUSE THE MEN ARE HOLDING VALID U.S. VISAS AND MAY BE OFF LIMITS FROM INTELLIGENCE GATHERING BY THE MILITARY.? The next segment discussed terrorist training camps in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Hmmmm, so National Geographic got better intel then the 9/11 Commission. Just goes to show you what a great job that Commission did.
Finally Andy McCarthy has a great rundown about the Atta timeline:
The commission staff interviewed Phillpott right before its report was issued in July 2004. His version of events was rejected and deemed unworthy of mention even in a footnote. This seems to have been done in the absence of much follow-up investigation ? such as speaking to other Able Danger members who could have corroborated Phillpott (at least one of whom now has). The rationale for the peremptory dismissal of Phillpott was that his version did not jive with the Atta timeline the commission had already settled on. That is, because the commission was certain Atta did not enter the U.S. until June 2000, it rejected a version that would have put him here five or six months earlier.
This calls to mind the commission?s rejection of the possibility that Atta left the U.S. to meet with an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmed al-Ani, in Prague on or about April 8, 2001. I?ve previously addressed this, here. The commission confidently concluded that Atta could not have been in Prague at the time because the FBI had placed him in Virginia as of April 4 when he was captured by a surveillance camera as he withdrew $8,000 from his bank account. The FBI has no eyewitness account for Atta?s whereabouts in the U.S. for a week ? i.e., until April 11 when he was seen in Florida.
But a Czech witness claims to have seen Atta meeting with al-Ani in Prague on or about April 8. The commission, which never interviewed the witness, rejected this possibility, largely based on cell phone records showing that Atta?s phone was used in Florida on April 6, 9, 10, and 11. Those records, though, only establish that someone, not necessarily Atta, used the phone (like, say, his roommate and fellow hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi). Meanwhile, though al-Ani, the Iraqi, evidently denies meeting Atta, it has been reported that the Czechs have al-Ani’s appointment calendar and it says al-Ani was scheduled to meet on the critical day with a “Hamburg student” ? which is exactly how Atta identified himself when he applied for a visa.
And we also know that Atta had traveled to Prague before ? choosing on June 2, 2000 to stop there on the way to the U.S. rather than flying directly here from Hamburg. (It must be noted that reports of an earlier trip by Atta to Prague on May 31, 2000, which I relied on as more corroboration for the alleged April 2001 trip, were later discounted by the commission, convincingly, as based on mistaken identity. See Final Report, pp. 228 & 522 n.69.)
Significantly for present purposes, the commission also contended that Atta?s practice was to travel under his own name (Final Report at 229), and there is no indication of that in April 2001. But, of course, that Atta traveled under his own name at times (which he may have had good operational reasons for doing ? such as being able to back up his cover story of who he was), does not prove that he did not travel under aliases at times when he wanted his movements to be secret (which might well have been the case in April 2001 given the big cash withdrawal, which suggests a reluctance to pay expenses in a traceable way). You can only prove travel by an alias if you know what the alias is. And there is evidence that Atta used aliases ? both he and fellow plotter Ramzi bin al-Shibh, for example, acquired false passports from a pair of Algerians, Khaled Madani and Moussa Laour.
The commission could, of course, be right. It?s quite possible Atta never went to Prague in April 2001. But the commission could also be dead wrong. And for present purposes, the point is: how sure can we be of its Atta timeline? The timeline based on which the commission insists Atta was not in the U.S. before June 2000, and based on which it rejected Phillpott, whose account has now been seconded.
The Commissions timeline should be thrown out. It’s a flawed document that was made with the preconceived notion that Atta would only travel via his real name, which is just ridiculous.
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update X
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update IX
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update VIII
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update VII
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