First we had the Senate report on Iraq/Al-Qaeda links so full of holes you could drive a truck through them, now comes this DoD report. Many of us suspected the DoD would whitewash the Able Danger information.
We were not disappointed:
A Pentagon report rejects the idea that intelligence gathered by a secret military unit could have been used to stop the Sept. 11 hijackings.
The Pentagon inspector general’s office said Thursday that a review of records from the unit, known as Able Danger, found no evidence it had identified ringleader Mohamed Atta or any other terrorist who participated in the 2001 attacks.[…]Weldon questioned the “motives and the content” of the report and rejected its conclusions. “Acting in a sickening bureaucratic manner, the DOD IG cherry-picked testimony from witnesses in an effort to minimize the historical importance of the Able Danger effort,” Weldon said in a statement.
“The report trashes the reputations of military officers who had the courage to step forward and put their necks on the line to describe important work they were doing to track al-Qaida prior to 9/11,” Weldon said. He said the investigation did little to answer the questions it was supposed to examine.
The report acknowledged that one Able Danger member alleged he was prohibited from providing a chart to the FBI in 2000 by a senior Special Operations commander. But, the report said, “the senior official did not recall the incident and we are persuaded that the chart would have been of minimal value to the FBI.”
The Pentagon had said some employees recall seeing an intelligence chart identifying Atta as a terrorist before the attacks. The report said those accounts “varied significantly” and witnesses were inconsistent at times in their statements.
You can view the report here.
No one can really say they would be surprised by this new report. The DoD has been covering their backside since this whole scandal started. It isn’t even surprising that they release this so close to election day, not that it was done on purpose…./sarcasm.
As you can imagine, Weldon is a bit miffed:
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, today released the following statement about the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report on “Alleged Misconduct by Senior DoD Officials Concerning the Able Danger Program and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony A. Shaffer, U.S. Army Reserve.”
“The purpose of the DOD IG investigation was to shed light on the pressures and harassment placed on LTC Shaffer and other Able Danger team members. It was also supposed to investigate why Able Danger was glossed over by the Pentagon and why there was such a fight to get information out of the Department of Defense about Able Danger, its findings and the reasoning behind destroying crucial data about linkages and relationship of al-Qaeda prior to 9/11. The IG’s report did little to answer these questions.
“The DOD IG failed to brief LTC Shaffer’s lawyer before releasing the report. The contents and overall tone and scope of the report were leaked to the media before Congress was even briefed of its findings. The DOD IG failed to explain in their briefing to me and my staff how such information got out to the media. They said they would investigate, but I have very little confidence that anything will come of that. Also, the timeliness of this report, just weeks before Congressional elections, also raises serious questions about the IG’s motivations.
“Acting in a sickening bureaucratic manner, the DOD IG cherry picked testimony from witnesses in an effort to minimize the historical importance of the Able Danger effort. The IG narrowly focused their investigation on the witnesses recollections of the 9/11 hijackers and a chart. The report trashes the reputations of military officers who had the courage to step forward and put their necks on the line to describe important work they were doing to track al-Qaeda prior to 9/11.
“To further substantiate the Able Danger effort, within the last three months of the DOD IG investigation, another person who recently retired from the military has come forward and corroborated the work of the Able Danger program. Additionally, another official within DOD has conducted data runs of stored pre-9/11 data that has yielded information about the Brooklyn cell.
“They do not explain why LTC Shaffer and other Able Danger principles were harassed by their superiors. Specifically, the report did not address why the Defense Intelligence Agency trumped up phony charges against LTC Shaffer in an effort to revoke his clearance. When the DOD IG briefed me, they could not account for why they failed to interview key witnesses connected to this harassment, except for claiming that these witnesses â€˜did not come to us’ â€“ evidence that this was not a proactive investigation.
“The FBI agent that was tasked with setting up meetings between Able Danger and FBI officials â€“ meetings that were block by DOD lawyers â€“ was not interviewed in this report, yet it concluded that â€˜Able Danger members were not prohibited from sharing intelligence information with law enforcement authorities.’
“I am appalled that the DOD IG would expect the American people to actually consider this a full and thorough investigation. I question their motives and the content of this report, and I reject the conclusions they have drawn.
While reading the report you cannot help but notice how much credibility they put on commanding officers while reduing the credibility of lower level officers. They basically call Shaffer a liar and cast his whole testimony in a bad light by suggesting he stole a GPS unit. They spend quite a bit of time on this incident, one in which it could easily have been a mix-up, either Shaffer forgot it was in his deployment bag (this one has happened to me personally while I was in the Marines) or some other kind of mix-up. But the time they spend on this incident smells to me. They cast all his testimony and memories away because of it.
This is a whitewash from top to bottom. Please check my other Able Danger posts, and there are many of them, for much of the evidence that this group did indeed identify Atta prior to 9/11….but no one listened to them.
TopDog notices some more wordplay in this report.
From page six of the IG report:
GEN Shelton testified that he had no specific recollection of term “Able Danger” or the Able Danger program, but did recall that while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he was concerned about al Qaeda and the need to develop a holistic view of al Qaeda. GEN Shelton stated,
the genesis of starting to try to collect on a worldwide basis against terrorists, came about as a result of me looking at all the information that was coming into the Chairman’s office, and seeing that we would get — we were just being inundated with information, and it wasn’t really intelligence, but little snippets.
From James Rosen at McClatchy News Service, December 7, 2005:
While Shelton said he never heard the program referred to as “Able Danger” until news reports on it first emerged in the summer, the retired general said he authorized a computer data-mining effort to target bin Laden and his associates.
“I dealt with a million damn acronyms and different kinds of code names for operations,” Shelton said. “Able Danger was not one that jumped out at me when it first surfaced” in news reports.
But under his direction, Shelton said, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, now Army chief of staff, set up a team of five to seven intelligence officers after Shelton was promoted to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997 and Schoomaker succeeded him as Special Operations commander.
The program began at Special Operations headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, Shelton said, but it was expanded later and moved to Fort Belvoir, Va., outside Washington. Schoomaker briefed Shelton on the program’s progress in late 1997 when Shelton made a return visit to his old command post in Florida.
In Washington, sometime between 1999 and 2001, Shelton received a more extensive briefing from Defense Intelligence Agency officers involved in the program.
So a year ago he states he didn’t remember the AD name but does recall the program. In this report they state he now had no recollection of even the program.
No whitewash here.