AJStrata and Macranger both wrote some excellent posts that illustrate the ties between the 9/11 hijackers, specifically Atta, and the Able Danger operation. AJ first points to this article printed in 2004:
Epstein and other Prague-Connection proponents believe Mohamed Atta met on April 8, 2001 with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Consul and Second Secretary at Iraq?s Czech embassy between March 1999 and April 22, 2001. Al-Ani, a suspected intelligence officer, allegedly handled several agents, possibly including Atta.
According to his May 26, 2000 Czech visa application, submitted in Bonn, Germany, Atta called himself a “Hamburg student.” He had studied urban planning for seven years at Hamburg-Harburg Technical University and launched an Islamic club there in 1999.
Atta apparently had pressing business in Prague. With his visa application pending until May 31, Atta nonetheless flew to Prague International Airport on May 30 and remained in its transit lounge for about six hours before flying back to Germany. Czech officials suspect he may have met someone there. Two days later, on June 2, he returned to Prague by bus on Czech visa number BONN200005260024. He stayed there for some 20 hours, and then flew to Newark, New Jersey, on June 3.~~~
While skeptics dismiss this encounter, Czech intelligence found Al-Ani’s appointment calendar in Iraq’s Prague embassy, presumably after Saddam Hussein’s defeat. Al-Ani’s diary lists an April 8, 2001, meeting with “Hamburg student.” Maybe, in a massive coincidence, Al-Ani dined with a young scholar and traversed the nuances of Nietzsche. Or perhaps Al-Ani saw Mohamed Atta and discussed more practical matters.
And then he proceeds to skewer the 9/11 Commissions finding that Atta was in Virginia Beach during the time period where he met with Iraqi agents in Prague:
The 9-11 commission would leave you to believe there is evidence of Atta in Virginia Beach (my native beach hang out BTW). But in reality there isn?t:
On April 4, 2001, the FBI says, Atta departed Virginia Beach?s Diplomat Inn with Al-Shehhi and cashed a SunTrust check for $8,000. No American eyewitness saw Atta again until April 11.
Gone. Disappeared. After years of investigation and tracing purchase, hotels, etc all they have is someone using Atta?s cell phone ( a phone which is most likely useless in Europe due to the different mobile phone protocols). One last item:
As is well known, on June 18, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet told the Congressional Joint Inquiry on 9/11 that his agency could not ?establish that Atta left the US or entered Europe in April 2001.? But Tenet also admitted: “It is possible that Atta traveled under an unknown alias.”
That means there are a number of international travelers that the CIA found during that time period that they cannot clearly identify with a person they could track down. They knew who flew in and out of the country on the days that could support Atta being in Prague. But obviously there is some name or names which have defied scrutiny and been eliminated as being Atta under an assumed name.
Again, are we to believe the mastermind of 9-11 over leaders from a western nation?
Hynek Kmonicek booted Al-Ani from Prague. He was then the Czech Republic?s deputy foreign minister, and today is its United Nations ambassador. As Kmonicek tersely insisted in the Prague Post in June 2002: ?The meeting took place.?
He then points us to a recent article that describes an interesting apartment in Germany:
There was nothing in outward appearance to draw attention to the four-bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse. Nonetheless, the attention of the intelligence services of Germany, the U.S., Israel, and other Middle Eastern and European countries had been drawn to the nondescript flat in Hamburg, Germany, as early as 1998. That was when Mohammed Atta signed the lease and he and Ramzi bin al Shibh moved in. Soon thereafter, it was identified by intelligence agencies as a target of interest. It became known as the hub of al-Qaeda’s “Hamburg Cell.”
Over the next two and a half years, dozens of al-Qaeda operatives, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the reputed 9/11 “mastermind,” passed through the 54 Marienstrasse apartment. Twenty-nine al-Qaeda recruits from the Middle East or Northern Africa listed it as their registered address. Mohammed Atta would later be labeled, after the fact, as the “ringleader” of the 9/11 terrorists who hijacked four jetliners to use as missiles against targets in New York City and Washington, D.C. Atta is believed to have been the suicide pilot who flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center. His Hamburg roommate, Ramzi bin al Shibh, captured in Pakistan in 2002, has been described by U.S. officials as the al-Qaeda “coordinator and paymaster” for 9/11. In the months leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terror network were under intense scrutiny by intelligence services worldwide.
From 1998 until mid 2000 this apartment had “dozens” of Al-Qaeda members as residents. What AJ points out is that this time period corresponds pretty well to the shelf life of Able Danger:
But notice the timeframe nicely overlaps the Able Danger timeframe and all that traffic is exactly the kind of signature a data mining analysis would pick up. And you know what, that kind of traffic is impossible to miss (given the US Embassy bombings in 1998 and the millennium scare in 2000).
The same article that highlighted the Al-Qaeda apartment also makes this observation:
This much we do know: first, the Clinton administration in 2000 and then the Bush administration in 2001 failed to heed the Able Danger warnings on al-Qaeda. Moreover, Clinton administration officials ordered the main Able Danger files destroyed in 2000; Bush administration officials ordered Lt. Col. Schaffer?s duplicate Able Danger files destroyed in 2004.
AJ points out that the officials who ordered Shaffer’s files destroyed, specifically the DIA Deputy Director is a Clinton appointee. With the ongoing misinformation campaign being waged by rogue CIA agents it’s not too difficult to believe that there are some Clinton protectors in the DIA.
AJ then ties it all together:
Able Danger had Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in their sites in January 2000. That is the same time as the Malaysia meeting was being held. Atta and Shehhi could have been tracked back to Hamburg and to all the subsequent meetings with the other Al Qaeda key players like Khalid Sheikh Mohamed. But more importantly, had the Able Danger warnings been dispersed to law enforcement, then the names of Mihdar and Hazmi would never have been missed in the US.~~~
But Able Danger had identified the four key highjackers at the most critical juncture of their planning! So I agree with former FBI Director Freeh: had Able Danger been paid attention to 9-11 could have probably been averted.
For some time I had chalked up ignoring Able Danger to the fact it was using cutting edge technology in a novel way which had not been validated yet. Therefore its results would rightfully be suspect, initially. But now I see that the FBI was tracking these folks and find it disturbing that even questionable information was not passed on when it pertained to terrorists.
Again, back to the article from New American:
Phoenix Cell. FBI informant Aukai Collins, who monitored Middle East terrorist suspects for the FBI for four years in Phoenix, claims to have told the FBI about 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour while Hanjour was in flight training in Phoenix. Collins said the FBI knew Hanjour lived in Phoenix, knew his exact address, his phone number, and even what car he drove. “They knew everything about the guy,” Collins claims. In July 2001, Phoenix FBI agent Ken Williams sent an electronic memo to FBI headquarters in Washington outlining his investigation into area flight schools that led him to believe al-Qaeda may be using U.S. flight schools to train terrorists as pilots.
What does Hanjour have to do with all of this? Again, back to Wikipedia and Hamzi:
In June of 2000, al-Mihdhar returned to Yemen, his birthplace, leaving al-Hazmi to take care of himself. This move was not authorized by al-Qaida. Another al-Qaida operative and future 9/11 hijacker named Hani Hanjour moved in with him. In 2001, al-Hazmi and Hanjour moved to Falls Church, Virginia. Eventually two other hijackers, Ahmed al-Ghamdi and Majed Moqed, moved in with them.
Yep. The killer FBI memo that was ignored probably would not have been if Hamzi?s AQ connection from Able Danger had been distributed into the law enforcement community. Once the flight school link was seen the 9-11 plan would have crumbled into the open.
This could be more damning than I originally suspected. The Able Danger find was right on top of (and maybe due to) key planning meetings on the final stages of 9-11. The four people identified could have easily led to the unraveling of the plot members, and the warning signs that were missed would have been obvious with the four names associated with the events. Able Danger could have been the tipping point for detecting 9-11 in the early stages.
As usual AJ has done an excellent job tying all this information together.
The Star Tribune also had an article today which just goes to show that Weldon isn’t letting all this go quietly:
WASHINGTON – A top-secret military program set up six years ago to probe the Al-Qaida terrorist network is provoking fierce new debate about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Military intelligence officers and contractors who ran the clandestine mission, named Able Danger, say that more than a year before the attacks, the operation identified four of the plot’s 19 hijackers and produced a chart that fingered ringleader Mohamed Atta.
Those claims contradict findings of the 9/11 commission set up by Congress. In its final report last year, the commission spread wide blame for the attacks but concluded that none of the hijackers, some of whom lived in the United States before Sept. 11, had been identified before the tragedy.
Now many in Congress want more answers.
On Friday, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 246 lawmakers demanding that the program’s officers and contractors be allowed to testify in open congressional hearings.
“Further refusal … can only lead us to conclude that the Department of Defense is uncomfortable with the prospect of members of Congress questioning these individuals about the circumstances surrounding Able Danger,” the letter said. “This would suggest not a concern for national security, but rather an attempt to prevent potentially embarrassing facts from coming to light.”~~~
In a speech on the House floor last month, Weldon suggested that information is being covered up. “I am not a conspiracy theorist,” he said, “but there is something desperately wrong.”
Weldon also accuses the Pentagon of engaging in a smear campaign against Shaffer, 42, since the colonel went public — by revoking his security clearance, suspending him and leaking alleged details from his personnel file to reporters and congressional aides.
Among the slurs, Weldon says, are claims that Shaffer was having an affair with a Weldon aide, which Shaffer’s lawyer vehemently denies.
In response to a request by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R.-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the Defense Department’s inspector general is investigating the alleged smear campaign against Shaffer.
In the Senate, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, accused the Pentagon of possible “obstruction of the committee’s activities” after the Defense Department forbade Shaffer, Philpott and other Able Danger analysts from testifying before the panel. Specter and Pentagon officials are negotiating conditions for an open hearing.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, has heard closed-door testimony from Able Danger members and Pentagon employees and is nearing completion of a report.
Weldon is an unlikely Pentagon antagonist. Since he joined the House in 1986 he has been a defense hawk, consistently pushing for larger Pentagon budgets. He speaks Russian and has led dozens of congressional delegations to Russia.
But Weldon’s concerns about Able Danger is puzzling some current and former lawmakers.
Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana Democrat in the House who was cochairman of the 9/11 panel, said he worked closely with and respects Weldon because they share interests in defense and intelligence matters. But he said the commission investigated the Able Danger officers’ claims exhaustively and could not find evidence to support them.
“We’ve asked for that chart repeatedly,” Hamilton said in an interview. “The Pentagon cannot produce it, the White House cannot produce it, and Weldon cannot produce it.”
This last line is just so uncomprehensibly stupid. There are multiple witnesses who have verified that this group identified Atta and his 3 cohorts. From Civilian to Military. Is he saying that in a court of law there better be a videotape depicting the suspect committing the crime or he walks without a trial?
It’s funny how LTC Shaffer is being wrung out to dry about some pens he stole as a kid while Sandy Berger stole documents from the National Archives and had his wrists slapped. The whole thing is simply amazing.