Posted by Curt on 2 September, 2005 at 7:17 pm. Be the first to comment!


First news from the DoD press briefing: (Via the NYT)

At a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, four intelligence or military officials said investigators had interviewed 80 people who served directly with Able Danger, a team organized to write a counterterrorism campaign plan, or were closely associated with it.

Of those 80, 5 in all now say they saw the chart, including Capt. Scott J. Phillpott of the Navy and Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer of the Army, whose recent comments first brought attention to Able Danger.

At the briefing, the officials said that four of the five recalled seeing a picture of Mohamed Atta, the member of Al Qaeda who planned and carried out the attacks, while one said the chart contained only Mr. Atta’s name.

The officials stressed that their inquiry was continuing, and that they still could not definitively prove or disprove whether the unit identified Mr. Atta – and, perhaps, other members of the hijacking team – before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The witnesses “are credible people,” said Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst for the under secretary of defense for intelligence. But investigators “can’t find the document,” Ms. Downs said.

…The officials acknowledged that documents and electronic files created by the unit, known as Able Danger, were destroyed under standing orders that limit the military’s use of intelligence gathered about people in the United States.

The exact quote here:

Down: There are regulations. At the time how they were interpreted, very strictly pre-9/11, for destruction of information which is embedded, I guess is the way I would say it, that would contain any information on U.S. persons. In a major data mining effort like this you?re reaching out to a lot of open sources and within that there could be a lot of information on U.S. persons. We?re not allowed to collect that type of information. So there are strict regulations about collection, dissemination, destruction procedures for this type of information. And we know that that did happen in the case of Able Danger documentation.

This just seems ludicrous to me. If a terrorist is here he is most likely going to be connected to some Americans, so that means the Military should throw the information away because god forbid some intelligence on Americans is collected?

AJ Strata has some thoughts on what was thrown out:

A little further down my suspicion that they deleted more data than necessary in order to be conservative may be correct:

but we also have the better ability now to say okay, this data came from this source, it?s a U.S. person that has nothing to do with our problem set and we can expunge it a lot more easily than we could in the past. In the old days it was kind of an all or nothing.

They probably used to throw entire data sets away as opposed to sifting through and retaining information that was not about US Persons.

Another interesting part in this interview is this one:

Down: They’re our starting point. They’re DoD people who — Captain Philpot, or then Commander during when the 9/11 Commission was wrapping up, came to us and said I have this information. We took him to the 9/11 Commission to examine it further. It’s really up to the Commission to determine the relevancy of the information.

Fortunately, Captain Philpot or then Commander Philpot did not have documentation either…

So it’s obvious that Philpot was being very pro-active in trying to get the 9/11 Commission to listen to him but they poo-poo’d it because there was no proof, and the proof was shredded because of the DoD’s rules about the gathering of intelligence of Americans.

Instead of the 9/11 Commission attempting to investigate their claims, they just said “you got no proof, we can’t help you”…classic.

Then there is this excellent interview with LTC Shaffer by Government Security News. In it we find that AD was being tasked in Sept, 1999 and that their mission was to target Al-Qaeda globally. What’s amazing is the fights between the CIA and this group:

Did you take that to be the first time that mission was defined and given to some unit or were there already intelligence operations that were trying to pull this Al Qaeda information together.

I was made aware of, at that point in time — my lawyer always tells me to reference this for background ? that there has already been information in the press regarding the fact that the CIA had a finding to kill Bin Laden. A finding to conduct an assassination of him. I was aware of that at the time.

So, one of the issues was we did not want to compete — or be seen as competing — with the CIA in what their mission was, or what they were already assigned to do. Within the first 30 days of Able Danger, the operations officer that you now know as [Navy] Captain Scott Philpott, asked me to go talk to the director of central intelligence rep at the [Special Operations] Command, the DCI rep who represented [CIA Director] George Tenet there in the command. My task was to explain to the rep that we?re not competing with him and explain to him Able Danger.

Wtf! I know I am being naive, but are we not all in this together to defeat Al-Qaeda? Instead the CIA is acting like a spoiled brat in a playground. Want more proof?

What did the CIA representative say when you explained that Able Danger was not competing with him?

He told me, ?I clearly understand the difference. I clearly understand. We?re going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, it doesn?t matter. The bottomline is, CIA will never give you the best information from ?Alex Base? or anywhere else. CIA will never provide that to you because if you were successful in your effort to target Al Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, we will not support this.? [Alex Base was the CIA?s covert action element which was conducting the Osama bin Laden finding.]

I believe he was being a friend. I believe he was sincerely telling me this because it was the truth. He said, short of General Schoomaker calling George Tenet directly, the best information would never be released. To my knowledge, and my other colleagues? knowledge, there was no information ever released to us because CIA chose not to participate in Able Danger.

Incredible. Ed Morrissey finds something else that’s incredible:

He specifically recalls telling Zelikow about Atta:

SHAFFER: Same thing [in Afghanistan.] It took time to go through these points. The bottomline was, and the way I phrased it was, ?We found two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, to include Atta.? That?s the way I phrased it to them. I don?t know if they didn?t recognize the Atta part, but I did specifically mention two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, and at the end of that I threw in Atta. Because my focus, honestly, was that we found two of the three cells. That was to me the most important factor, rather than focusing on Atta, as an individual. And that was what I told them. …

As I recall, at the end of the meeting, there was silence. People were just silent at what I?d said.

Now, I don?t know how to interpret that, but I do know that two things came out of that meeting, some of which are admitted by the 9/11 Commission now.

First, Zelikow approached me at the end of the meeting and said, ?This is important. We need to continue this dialogue when we get back to the states. Here?s my card.?

Now a senior executive handing an [Army] major his card, I would consider that a fairly big indication that ?Hey, there?s something to this.?

Second thing, by the 9/11 Commission?s own statement of 12 August, it talks about Dr. Zelikow calling back [to the U.S.] immediately. My understanding from talking to another member of the press is that [Zelikow?s] call came into America at four o clock in the morning. He got people out of bed over this.

So, I don?t know what they heard. I can only tell you that I was told by Zelikow to re-contact him and we have their own statement here. So, it seems to me that what they?re saying about [Able Danger] not being important is contradicted by the fact that he did tell me to contact him.

After this, strange events start to transpire. Shaffer completes his tour of duty and takes his 30-day leave. By the time he calls Zelikow in January, Zelikow no longer wants to see him. During his initial briefing, he offered to give Zelikow all of his collected documentation for Able Danger, as he had become the repository of the information. The last time he recalls seeing the data was February 2004. By the time Zelikow says he got the information in March 2004, Zelikow reported that it comprised two briefcase-sized boxes of documents, far less than what Shaffer had archived. By the next month, the Pentagon had suspended his security clearance over $67 worth of disputed cell-phone charges which Shaffer offered to pay just to get rid of the nuisance. Eventually the Army cleared him, but in the meantime his collected information on Able Danger had apparently disappeared.

Was the security clearance investigation a warning to him? What happened to the information that he collected himself?

Still, this all comes down to the 9/11 Commission completely ignoring this information and instead issuing a flawed report that blames no one, and everyone.

Check out Powerline, Redstate, & TopDog for more.


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