Posted by Curt on 1 September, 2005 at 10:39 am. Be the first to comment!


UPDATE 9/1 1640hrs

More witnesses to be called:

Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and Washington. But they have been unable to find the chart or other evidence that it existed.

In recent days Pentagon officials have said they could not yet verify or disprove the assertions by Shaffer and Philpott. On Thursday, four intelligence officials provided the first extensive briefing for reporters on the outcome of their interviews with people associated with Able Danger and their review of documents.

They said they interviewed at least 80 people over a three-week period and found three, besides Philpott and Shaffer, who said they remember seeing a chart that either mentioned Atta by name as an al-Qaida operative or showed his photograph. Four of the five recalled a chart with a pre-9/11 photo of Atta; the other person recalled only a reference to his name.

The intelligence officials said they consider the five people to be credible but their recollections are still unverified.

“To date, we have not identified the chart,” said Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. “We have identified a similar chart but it does not contain the photo of Mohamed Atta or a reference to him or a reference to the other (9/11) hijackers.”

She said more interviews would be conducted, but the search of official documents is finished.

So now we know that no smoking gun is coming forth from the Pentagon.


Apparently Arlen Specter will now hold hearings to investigate the Able Danger information on Sept 14th:

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that it was investigating reports from two military officers that a highly classified Pentagon intelligence program identified the Sept. 11 ringleader as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that he was scheduling a public hearing on Sept. 14 “to get to the bottom of this” and that the military officers “appear to have credibility.”

The senator said his staff had confirmed reports from the two officers that employees of the intelligence program tried to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 to discuss the work of the program, known as Able Danger.

The same article then goes on to detail the Pentagon’s latest claim:

Senator Specter’s announcement came as the Pentagon said again on Wednesday that while it was not disputing the officers’ reports, it could find no documentation to back up what they were saying.

“Not only can we not find documentation, we can’t find documents to lead us to the documentation,” said Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman.

Other Pentagon officials have suggested that the memories of Captain Phillpott and Colonel Shaffer are flawed and that Mr. Atta could not have been identified before the attacks, a view shared by members of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

But Colonel Shaffer and military officials involved in the intelligence program say it may not be surprising that documents were destroyed, since the project became controversial within the Pentagon because of potential privacy violations.

I’ve written at length about these privacy violations in my past updates. When the China side of Able Danger came across Condi’s name it scared the bejesus out of the brass:

The names of U.S. citizens with connections to the military, political organizations and educational institutions reportedly turned up when the Pentagon collected intelligence as part of its Able Danger effort.

The Pentagon shut down the data mining operation that uncovered the names of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers a year before the terror attacks.

Defense contractor J.D. Smith who worked on the project says his job was to find connections among people and where those connections went.

The names and the origin of the information turned out to be so sensitive that Smith says,?It cost me a contract and a eventually my job at the company that employed me at the time.?

But the names the intelligence group investigated turned out not to be connected with al Qaida.

WTOP has some new information in today’s article:

The unit that was looking for information on al Qaida uncovered the names of prominent American citizens and their questionable connections to China. Those individuals were never accused of any wrongdoing.

“But what you don’t know is all the other things that we’ve done that haven’t come to light,” says Able Danger team member J.D. Smith.

Key documents related to those prominent individuals, including a university provost and a former high ranking government official, no longer exist.

“There were two individuals who were ordered by the Army to destroy the documents,” says Mark Zaid, an attorney for several of the Able Danger team members. “I’ve spoken to one of them and confirmed that the documents were destroyed.”

Able Danger was shut down in part because of concerns about intelligence on U.S. citizens that the sophisticated software dug up.

The elite unit used computer programs, such as Spire, Parentage and Starlight, to track threats to U.S national security.

“What they were doing was determining who had associational links to certain people or entities or places,” Zaid says.

Although the Able Danger intelligence pipeline has been terminated, Smith gives the impression that the China issue is still open.

“In my personal opinion, the stovepipes are alive and well. And for those of us in the contractor world, we’re very much aware of that,” he said

Not really sure what to make of the news that the China group may still be operating. Wasn’t that the group that hit on the two high ranking officials accidently? If so, why would it still be operating?

But the good news is that Specter and his staff has obviously come across those at the FBI and the Pentagon who have some knowledge of the groups find, or the attempted contacts between Able Danger and the FBI. Why else would he say they had confirmed reports of the contacts.

MacRanger at Mac’s Mind has a intriguing post where he claims that JD Smith is not who he is claiming to be:

“Growing number of team members” Double “hmmmmmm”

Haven’t grown since JD Smith, who incidently isn’t who he said he is (more on that coming).

He has not updated his blog yet with this new information but it will be interesting to see what he has. He has been a skeptic of this scandal since it first broke, can’t say I agree with his take but he always has some good info on his blog.

Chris Matthews, that tough cookie of a interviewer (rolls eyes), had Shaffer and his attorney on his show a few days ago. The transcript is interesting:

MATTHEWS: Again using the ?Minority Report? parallel, if you know someone is going to commit a crime, why don?t you tell law enforcement officials?

SHAFFER: We attempted to do that. And that?s one of the issues…

MATTHEWS: How hard? How hard did you try?

SHAFFER: I can?t tell you. We tried as?to the point of where we thought this was the most important thing. There was no…

MATTHEWS: What?s to stop you from dropping the dime on Mohamed Atta if you think the guy looks suspicious, just going to the nearest phone, call up and say, here?s a tip? This guy, Mohamed Atta, is a dangerous man. He fits the pattern, the profile, of a terrorist. And we?re afraid he is going to strike.

SHAFFER: He wasn?t the only one that we discovered…

MATTHEWS: How many were in that category?

SHAFFER: There were probably about eight total that we had suspicion of.

MATTHEWS: Well, Why not do eight people like that? That? where?that?s not a big chunk of people.


SHAFFER: Because that was where the Able Danger operations officer approached me and said, we have these individuals the lawyers have told us we can?t look at we have to do something about.

That?s where I came in to it, because I had a relationship with the FBI running a similar operation. So, I tried to broker meetings between the Able Danger individuals in Tampa and the FBI. That?s where it went wrong. That?s where we were stopped from providing the information.

MATTHEWS: Mark, what law prevents your client from telling his counterparts at the FBI that there?s a dangerous guy out there that might blow up some things?

MARK ZAID, ATTORNEY FOR ANTHONY SHAFFER: Well, apparently, the concern within the military, similar to what was seen with the Justice Department wall, was that the military could not conduct intelligence operations or gathering of information on U.S. citizens or even U.S. person, meaning individuals here in the United States, foreigners, but who were lawfully here, as most or some of the hijackers were.

MATTHEWS: Where did that law come from, or rule?

ZAID: I?m not entirely clear on that.

MATTHEWS: I mean, why do we collect intelligence information if we?re not going to use it?

ZAID: Well, that?s a good question.

I mean, part of it may come back in 19th century with Posse Comitatus and the military is not allowed to do law enforcement operations.


MATTHEWS: I could give you a list of places to go buy Christmas trees, with the idea that you go buy a Christmas tree. Why would you collect data on locating bad guys if you are not going to pick them up?

ZAID: Well, that was the question.

And there was a division within the military as to what they can do and how long they can do it. And that?s why the program was shut down. Most?a lot of these questions should be directed at the Army, as to why was the program shut down in early 2001, when it was producing the results that it did?

MATTHEWS: Why are the two chairman of the 9/11 Commission denying the value of what you?re saying?

SHAFFER: I think Richard Ben-Veniste said it the best the other day during an interview on CNBC on the Donny Deutsch show.


SHAFFER: When Donny Deutsch asked him, why is it you never checked out, as the commissioners, Colonel Shaffer?s story? His answer was very telling. He said, we had no technology or ability to actually check on what the colonel was telling us. We had??The technology to do so no longer exists??unquote.

So, that was the key. The technology we used to get this information does not exist at the time they were doing the report, the 9/11 Commission research, nor does it exist now. So, that is the key. They couldn?t verify what we were saying.

ZAID: Chris, the problem is, the Defense Department didn?t give them the data that was necessary. And we now know that the Army destroyed a large amount of that data in 2001. And that?s another question that needs to be asked. Why?

Although I can’t stand Chris Matthews this appears to have been a pretty good show. There is a bit more to this interview at the above link.

Finally Ed Morrissey has a suggestion for Arlen Specter:

I suggest that Senator Specter call the Pentagon counsel at the time of Able Danger as a witness, as well as anyone who handled documentation for the project. Something changed the Pentagon’s tenor, something more than the revelation of the names of Phillpott and Smith. Probably the project documentation no longer exists, as it would have been destroyed after the project’s cancellation, given the explosive reasons Smith cited for its abrupt end. A review of their counsel notes regarding meetings held between Pentagon lawyers and the Able Danger team regarding the sharing of the data should still remain extant — and would corroborate a key portion of their testimony.

Check out JustOneMinute, Top Dog,& The Strata-Sphere fore more.


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