A new article today by Keith Phucas detailing the difficulty Lt. Col Shaffer and James Smith are having defending themselves against the retribution coming their way from the DoD:
Lawyers representing Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and James D. Smith complain they cannot adequately defend their clients without access to classified information pertinent to the case. The lawyers for the “Able Danger” plaintiffs filed a civil lawsuit against the Defense Department and three Pentagon attorneys last month.
Shaffer, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) employee on administrative leave, has alleged that DIA revoked his security clearance and harassed him after he revealed details of “Able Danger,” a former Army data mining effort that claims it identified four future Sept. 11 hijackers in 2000. The reservist was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan.
Smith, a former data analyst for defense contractor Orion Scientific Systems, worked on the program that linked hundreds of individuals in the United States and abroad to al-Qaida. He claims the controversy surrounding “Able Danger” has cost him defense work.
The law firm, Krieger & Zaid, filed a suit on behalf of Shaffer and Smith on Feb. 27 claiming the “actions” or “inactions” of DIA lawyers George Peirce and Robert Berry Jr., and Army lawyer Tom Taylor, harmed Shaffer and Smith.
He then details a little bit about the Able Danger program:
According to Feb. 15 testimony before a joint House subcommittee, Smith and Erik Kleinsmith, another data analysts who worked on “Able Danger,” a small team compiled terabyte-size data sets.
A significant amount of information was culled from Internet Web sites run by Islamic extremists, according to Smith, who helped create many charts linking suspicious individuals. Shaffer and Smith testified in February that one chart contained a photograph of Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta in January or February 2000.
The secret program was shut down in 2000 owing to concerns over civil liberties concerns, according to the Pentagon. Defense guidelines prohibit retaining information on U.S. persons for more than 90 days unless it is determined the data would be used for foreign intelligence purposes.
According to the Army’s AR 381-10 intelligence-gathering guidelines, “U.S. persons” are defined as American citizens or foreign nationals in the country legally, including on temporary visas.
The 9/11 Commission staff executive, Philip Zelikow, received information from Shaffer in October 2003 about the data mining program, and from another “Able Danger” principal, Capt. Scott Phillpott, in July 2004, however, the information was not included in the commission’s final report published later that month.
And then he writes about how the brass ordered the destruction of material gathered from unclassified, open-source data when there was no need to destroy it:
In prior interviews with The Times Herald, Shaffer said information obtained from the Internet is public information, and therefore, should not be subject to government restrictions.
“I fundamentally disagree with the (Pentagon) policy,” he said. “If it’s on the Internet, there should be no expectation of privacy.”
During the clamp-down on “Able Danger” in 2000, Shaffer vigorously protested the data retention restrictions with Pentagon attorneys.
“I didn’t agree with them then, and I don’t agree with them now,” he said.
Prior to the September hearing, the Department of Defense refused to give Shaffer permission to testify publicly, claiming “Able Danger” was classified, according to the lawsuit. The DIA revoked Shaffer’s clearance just days before the hearing to retaliate against him, the suit alleges.
An August 2005 request to examine classified information concerning “Able Danger” was denied by Pentagon attorneys Pierce and Berry, according to the legal complaint. Another similar request for “relevant classified information” was denied Feb. 2, 2006.
By refusing to allow Shaffer’s attorney to see classified data, he was without legal counsel during the closed portion of the Feb. 15 congressional hearing, putting him potentially in legal jeopardy, the suit said.
Congressman Curt Weldon indicated to us during that earlier conference call that we could all help move the members of the International Relations subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to hold hearings in which Louie Freeh would testify. Contact the below members here:
- Dana Rohrabacher, CA – (202) 225-2415
- Edward R. Royce, CA – (202) 225-4111
- William D. Delahunt, MA – (202) 225-3111
- Jeff Flake, AZ – (202) 225-2635
- Howard L. Berman, CA – (202) 225-4695
- Mark Green, WI – (202) 225-5665
- Betty McCollum, MN – (202) 225-6631
- Mike Pence, IN – (202) 225-3021
- Adam B. Schiff, CA – (202) 225-4176
- Joe Wilson, SC – (202) 225-2452
And ask that a hearing be scheduled so that the mistakes made in the past can be corrected. It’s best to call them if you live near or in their districts.