I know, I know….might as well change the name of this blog to Able Danger since I focus on it so much but there is just so many thread’s to this story that I’m afraid if I don’t keep track of it I will just get confused. You know how us jarheads are.
Anyways, the big news today was the Pentagon’s Kerryesque flip-flopping:
The Pentagon appears to have reversed its position on Able Danger, the Army intelligence collection team.
A Pentagon spokesman now says ?there?s no reason to doubt the specific recollections? of the growing number of team members. The team members say the project had pre-Sept. 11 intelligence on al Qaida, which Defense Department lawyers prohibited them from sharing with the FBI.
Members of the team say they identified the lead Sept. 11 terrorist Mohamed Atta as a cell leader more than a year before the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.
?You could touch the picture and literally drill down and it would give you all the facts that we had from whatever source we had, we identified our sources and then why we had made a link,? says defense contractor J.D. Smith, describing how Able Danger?s computer software program worked.
First they say there is no Able Danger group, then they say there is but it’s not historically significant, now they say the Able Danger guys may be right after all. Do I think there is something sinister here? When it comes to the Pentagon, no. After having dealt with a huge bureaucracy before I can understand lines getting crossed at the Pentagon. As far as the 9/11 Commission there is no way I will rule out something sinister…back scratching coverups would fall into that category.
The other big news from the same article was that the group was shut down in a matter of hours because:
“The 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.
It turned out to be more than just a claim.
“On some of my charts I had links to U.S citizens,” he says.
Smith notes that it’s illegal for the military to collect intelligence on U.S. citizens.
While I find it disconcerting that a program that had identified 4 of the hijackers who would later commit the greatest terrorist act on US soil would be shut down due to the simple fact that they had collected information on US citizens, I can definitely see that it would cause great concern in an Administration that treated terrorism as a law enforcement issue.
While this was going on at the Pentagon, an election was in full swing and the Clinton administration saw watergate all over this. I’m sure all the upper brass at the Pentagon also saw visions of jail also.
Which ties in with the news that the Able Danger documents were ordered destroyed:
Congressman Curt Weldon (R – Pennsylvania) gave another exclusive interview to Dom Giordano this evening (Monday) and broke the news that he will be giving a speech on September 8th (next Monday) during which he will present yet another ‘Able Danger’ witness. This new witness will attest (and will swear under oath when called) that he was “ordered to destroy records” relating to the ‘Able Danger’ program.
This order to destroy the records occurred prior to 9-11-01. Weldon intimated that it happened during the Clinton Administration.
The witness, who Weldon did not name, says that he was ordered to destroy records and was threatened with jail if he failed to comply. Weldon said that he has the names of the people involved, including the person who gave the order, and HE WILL NAME THEM in his speech.
Congressman Weldon also said that his staff has met with Senator Arlen Specter’s (R – Pennsylvania) staff regarding the upcoming Judiciary Committee hearings. Weldon wants to be sure that everybody is on the same page. Weldon also said that he will do whatever he has to do to make sure that ALL the facts come out and that the process “is not manipulated”.
So they freaked out and ordered everything destroyed. Great.
Ed Morrissey has some thoughts on the problems created by Data Mining, and the benefits if handled right:
Without a doubt, data mining will cause problems with privacy, but rather than toss out the technique — which appeared to work pretty well for the Able Danger team — we should instead move to limit its application. For instance, the need for the Internal Revenue Service to conduct data-mining operations eludes me. The IRS already has its hands on almost every single movement of cash through the requirement of federal tax IDs and Social Security numbers for financial transactions to take place. What more does the IRS need, and what kind of information would it mine from open-source data? The same question should go to the Department of Agriculture. Those agencies that perform data-mining for non-critical purposes should drop it altogether.
On the other hand, those who have missions that involve national security should continue to use the techniques. The State Department had exemptions from many of the rules Congress put in place as its operations looked primarily outside the United States. The FBI needs to have the flexibility to make these connections on operations within the United States if we want to find the “sleeper cells” of Islamist terror that cause us so much concern. Context makes all the difference; Americans understand the need for wartime sacrifice. We will accept reasonable and limited incursions into our lives, especially regarding open-source data, in order to protect our nation from attack. We will rightly object to such measures, however, if the grand purpose of it only works to float the price of pork bellies or to figure out how to wring more taxes from our paychecks.
Congress should make clear the uses and parameters of data mining to head off major abuses of the data, and it should limit the use of this technique to critical national-security functions. Do not let the privacy-at-all-costs make us fight the war without the effective tools necessary to find our enemies before they find us.
So in the end we have an administration that having known all the prior history we had with al-Qaeda, the knowledge that they had attacked us several times and had TOLD us that they will keep on attacking us, they are then giving information that al-Qaeda is in the US and did NOTHING, unforgiveable in my opinion.
As far as the 9/11 Commission goes they get no free pass. They did absolutely nothing but discard information that did not fit their preconceived notions of a few maurading terrorists running around the countryside. I’m not so sure the notions were pre-conceived rather then pre-concocted, since there was no way these politicians wanted to finger a state sponsoring al-Qaeda other then Afghanistan. If they finger Iraq then Bush was right, can’t let that happen.
I’ll end this by referencing a good post by Dafydd at Captain’s Quarters who kinda spells out the Gorelick Wall:
Several previous posts here have discussed Jamie Gorelick’s wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement, enunciated by her now-infamous 1995 memo to U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, FBI Director Louis Freeh, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Jo Ann Harris, and Justice Department Counsel for Intelligence Richard Scruggs, who also ran the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review.
As the OIPR may well have played a role in preventing the intelligence on Mohammed Atta and three other eventual 9/11 hijackers from reaching the FBI, and as this may be related to Bill Clinton’s China problem (as a number of commenters on past Able-Danger posts here have suggested), it’s worth taking a look at this agency and its chief counsel in 2000, Frances Fargo Townsend.
The counsel for intelligence at the Justice Department is also general counsel for the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Department of Justice; Scruggs held this position in 1995 (though not in 2000). The OIPR is tasked with advising the attorney general on “all matters relating to the national security activities of the United States,” according to their website, as well as advising “the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Defense and State Departments, concerning questions of law, regulation, and guidelines as well as the legality of domestic and overseas intelligence operations.”
The OIPR’s primary, day-to-day task is to serve as the gatekeeper to the FISA court on behalf of the FBI and other investigators at the Justice Department. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 established guidelines for obtaining wiretaps, clandestine searches, and other investigative tools in cases involving national security, where intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies might have to cooperate and in which classified materials that cannot be revealed in open court may be involved. The act also established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, commonly called the FISA court, which would meet in secret to consider applications for FISA warrants from the Justice Department; those warrants routinely passed through the OIPR, which rewrote them, could demand more information from the requesting group (often the FBI) — and ultimately had to decide whether to send them on as formal applications to the FISA court or reject them entirely without the court even seeing them.
In August 2002, Accuracy In Media (AIM) wrote a report about the May 21, 2002 letter by FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley to FBI Director Robert Mueller, complaining about the roadblocks thrown up by the FBI and the Justice Department in Rowley’s 2001 investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui. AIM pinpointed the blame on the OIPR, which had repeatedly refused to attempt to obtain a warrant from the FISA court to search Moussaoui’s computer and other possessions. In that report, AIM detailed some of the history of the OIPR and chronicled its role in building the wall of separation, starting even before Jamie Gorelick moved to Justice.
(Curiously, Rowley, a lifelong Democrat, went down to Camp Cindy a couple of weeks ago to protest in support of Cindy Crawford’s call for immediate and unconditional surrender to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. So it goes.)
Gotta love that….only the left can be so loony
Dafydd goes on to detail something I did not know and explains ALOT:
The OIPR had long been a valuable asset to the Justice Department in obtaining warrants from the FISA court.
From 1984 to October 1993, Mary C. Lawton was the Justice Department’s Counsel for Intelligence, in charge of the OIPR, the critical node in the FISA process. During her tenure, she occasionally rejected efforts by the FBI to obtain FISA warrants, but once an application left her office it was never turned down by the FISA court. Lawton also permitted the FBI to work with Justice’s Criminal Division to ensure that it did nothing that would hinder any eventual prosecution. A former agent who worked with her says Lawton had a razor-sharp legal mind, particularly with regard to national security. Agents knew that once she approved it, the final application would sail through the FISA court.
But in 1993, Lawton died. This conveniently allowed Janet Reno to appoint Richard Scruggs, who she had brought to Washington from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami, as the Justice Department’s counsel for intelligence (hence general counsel for the OIPR).
Scruggs had no background whatsoever in national security, no connections with the FBI’s National Security Division, and no ties to the Criminal Division at Justice. I believe he was appointed to be a cat’s paw for Reno (a year later, Reno brought Jamie Gorelick over from the DoD to be her Deputy Attorney General, the second most powerful position in the department — I think for similar reasons). In 1993 — two years before Gorelick’s Wall — Scruggs himself added another layer to the FISA wall, refusing more often, and with flimsier reasons, to allow intelligence agencies to transfer data to criminal investigators.
This thing gets uglier and uglier….for Clinton’s crew that is.
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XVII
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XVI
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XV
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XIV
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XIII
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XII
The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update XI
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