Demorats stunned and disoriented

1 view
Skip to first unread message

Andy Freeze

Nov 17, 2005, 9:47:00 AM11/17/05
An Incomplete Investigation
Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?

Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
It was interesting to hear from the 9/11 Commission again on Tuesday. This
self-perpetuating and privately funded group of lobbyists and lawyers has
recently opined on hurricanes, nuclear weapons, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel
and even the New York subway system. Now it offers yet another "report card"
on the progress of the FBI and CIA in the war against terrorism, along with
its "back-seat" take and some further unsolicited narrative about how things
ought to be on the "front lines."

Yet this is also a good time for the country to make some assessments of the
9/11 Commission itself. Recent revelations from the military intelligence
operation code-named "Able Danger" have cast light on a missed opportunity
that could have potentially prevented 9/11. Specifically, Able Danger
concluded in February 2000 that military experts had identified Mohamed Atta
by name (and maybe photograph) as an al Qaeda agent operating in the U.S.
Subsequently, military officers assigned to Able Danger were prevented from
sharing this critical information with FBI agents, even though appointments
had been made to do so. Why?

There are other questions that need answers. Was Able Danger intelligence
provided to the 9/11 Commission prior to the finalization of its report,
and, if so, why was it not explored? In sum, what did the 9/11 commissioners
and their staff know about Able Danger and when did they know it?

The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant
fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Even the most junior investigator
would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is
precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed
to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. Yet the 9/11 Commission
inexplicably concluded that it "was not historically significant." This
astounding conclusion--in combination with the failure to investigate Able
Danger and incorporate it into its findings--raises serious challenges to
the commission's credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render
the commission historically insignificant itself.

The facts relating to Able Danger finally started to be reported in
mid-August. U.S. Army Col. Anthony Shaffer, a veteran intelligence officer,
publicly revealed that the Able Danger team had identified Atta and three
other 9/11 hijackers by mid-2000 but were prevented by military lawyers from
giving this information to the FBI. One week later, Navy Capt. Scott J.
Phillpott, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who managed the program for the
Pentagon's Special Operations Command, confirmed "Atta was identified by
Able Danger by January-February of 2000."
On Aug. 18, 2005, the Pentagon initially stated that "a probe" had found
nothing to back up Col. Shaffer's claims. Two weeks later, however, Defense
Department officials acknowledged that its "inquiry" had found "three more
people who recall seeing an intelligence briefing slide that identified the
ringleader of the 9/11 attacks a year before the hijackings and terrorist
strikes." These same officials also stated that "documents and electronic
files created by . . . Able Danger were destroyed under standing orders that
limit the military's use of intelligence gathered about people in the United
States." Then in September 2005, the Pentagon doubled back and blocked
several military officers from testifying at an open Congressional hearing
about the Able Danger program.

Two members of Congress, Curt Weldon and Dan Burton, have also publicly
stated that shortly after the 9/11 attacks they provided then-Deputy
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley with a "chart" containing preattack
information collected by Able Danger about al Qaeda. A spokesperson for the
White House has confirmed that Mr. Hadley "recalled seeing such a chart in
that time period but . . . did not recall whether he saw it during a meeting
. . . and that a search of National Security Council files had failed to
produce such a chart."

Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, reacted to Able Danger
with the standard Washington PR approach. He lashed out at the Bush
administration and demanded that the Pentagon conduct an "investigation" to
evaluate the "credibility" of Col. Shaffer and Capt. Phillpott--rather than
demand a substantive investigation into what failed in the first place. This
from a former New Jersey governor who, along with other commissioners,
routinely appeared in public espousing his own conclusions about 9/11 long
before the commission's inquiry was completed and long before all the facts
were in! This while dismissing out of hand the major conflicts of interest
on the commission itself about obstructions to information-sharing within
the intelligence community!

Nevertheless, the final 9/11 Commission report, released on July 22, 2004,
concluded that "American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta
until the day of the attacks." This now looks to be embarrassingly wrong.
Yet amazingly, commission leaders acknowledged on Aug. 12 that their staff
in fact met with a Navy officer 10 days before releasing the report, who
"asserted that a highly classified intelligence operation, Able Danger, had
identified Mohammed Atta to be a member of an al Qaeda cell located in
Brooklyn." (Capt. Phillpott says he briefed them in July 2004.) The
commission's statement goes on to say that the staff determined that "the
officer's account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the
report or further investigation," and that the intelligence operation "did
not turn out to be historically significant," despite substantial
corroboration from other seasoned intelligence officers.

This dismissive and apparently unsupported conclusion would have us believe
that a key piece of evidence was summarily rejected in less than 10 days
without serious investigation. The commission, at the very least, should
have interviewed the 80 members of Able Danger, as the Pentagon did, five of
whom say they saw "the chart." But this would have required admitting that
the late-breaking news was inconveniently raised. So it was grossly
neglected and branded as insignificant. Such a half-baked conclusion, drawn
in only 10 days without any real investigation, simply ignores what looks
like substantial direct evidence to the contrary coming from our own trained
military intelligence officers.

No wonder the 9/11 families were outraged by these revelations and called
for a "new" commission to investigate. "I'm angry that my son's death could
have been prevented," seethed Diane Horning, whose son Matthew was killed at
the World Trade Center. On Aug. 17, 2005, a coalition of family members
known as the September 11 Advocates rightly blasted 9/11 Commission leaders
Mr. Kean and Lee Hamilton for pooh-poohing Able Danger's findings as not
"historically significant." Advocate Mindy Kleinberg aptly notes, "They [the
9/11 Commission] somehow made a determination that this was not important
enough. To me, that says somebody there is not using good judgment. And if
I'm questioning the judgment of this one case, what other things might they
have missed?" This is a stinging indictment of the commission by the 9/11

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, has led the
way in cleaning up the 9/11 Commission's unfinished business. Amid a very
full plate of responsibilities, he conducted a hearing after noting that
Col. Shaffer and Capt. Phillpott "appear to have credibility." Himself a
former prosecutor, Mr. Specter noted: "If Mr. Atta and other 9/11 terrorists
were identified before the attacks, it would be a very serious breach not to
have that information passed along . . . we ought to get to the bottom of
it." Indeed we should. The 9/11 Commission gets an "I"
grade--incomplete--for its dereliction regarding Able Danger. The Joint
Intelligence Committees should reconvene and, in addition to Able Danger
team members, we should have the 9/11 commissioners appear as witnesses so
the families can hear their explanation why this doesn't matter.
Mr. Freeh, a former FBI director, is the author of "My FBI" (St. Martin's,


Arizona Bushwhacker

Nov 17, 2005, 10:04:50 AM11/17/05
I think Able Danger should be investigated 100%
Let the chips fall where they may.

Unlike any republican, I always take the side of
getting at the truth.

Why the fuck did Bush prevent the 911 commission
from looking into who financed 911? And how come
republicans say they want to find out more about what
happened on 911, but never want to look at who was
behind 911???

Rob Olsen

Nov 17, 2005, 9:52:56 AM11/17/05
On Thu, 17 Nov 2005 09:47:00 -0500, "Andy Freeze" <>

> An Incomplete Investigation
>Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?

They weren't ignored. They were found to lack credibility.


"The only truly new ideas [the right] has come up with
in the last twenty years are:(1) supply side economics, which is a way of redistributing
the wealth upward toward those who already have more than
they know what to do with, and; (2) creationism, which is a parallel idea for redistributing
ignorance out from its fundamentalist strongholds to those
who know more than they need to.

-Barbara Ehrenreich


Nov 17, 2005, 11:25:10 AM11/17/05

"Rob Olsen" <> wrote in message

> On Thu, 17 Nov 2005 09:47:00 -0500, "Andy Freeze" <>
> wrote:
> > An Incomplete Investigation
> >Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?
> >
> >
> They weren't ignored. They were found to lack credibility.

Lawmakers join Weldon in calling for testimony on Able Danger
By Roxana Tiron

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) has gathered at least 202 Congress members'
signatures for a request that participants of an intelligence cell that may
have identified some of the Sept. 11 ringleaders a year before the attacks
be allowed to testify before Congress.

Weldon has been leading the crusade for months, but his colleagues,
several of them prominent members of the GOP conference, now appear to be

Weldon plans to send the letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
in the coming days requesting that he allow the participants in the cell
known as "Able Danger" to testify in open congressional hearings.

So far, the officers involved in the intelligence cell have not been
allowed to testify in the only hearing on the topic, which the Senate
Judiciary Committee held in early fall.

Weldon, who has been waging a war against the Defense Intelligence
Agency (DIA) almost single-handedly, now has the signatures of more than 100
GOP members and 80 Democrats for the letter. At press time, Weldon was still
gathering signatures from his colleagues.

Weldon also hopes to obtain signatures from some Senators before the
letter is sent, according to his spokesperson.

Among those signing Weldon's letter are House Majority Leader Roy
Blunt (R-Mo.), Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.), Government
Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.), Transportation and Infrastructure
Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), Small Business Chairman Donald Manzullo
(R-Ill.) and Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), as well
as Reps. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) and John Linder (R-Ga.).

There are also several members of the Armed Services Committee,
including Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), Roscoe
Bartlett (R-Md.) and Todd Akin (R-Mo.). By press time, Duncan Hunter
(R-Calif.), the panel's chairman, was not among the signatories.

Among the approximately 80 Democrats signing the letter are Reps. John
Murtha (Pa.), ranking member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; Ike
Skelton (Mo.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee; Mike McIntyre
(N.C.); and Ellen Tauscher (Calif.).

Weldon has acused the DIA, a unit of the Pentagon, of trying to keep
the information that the intelligence unit discovered under wraps.

The military revoked the security clearance of one of the officers,
Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who was scheduled to testify before
the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Pentagon said his clearance was revoked
for a series of alleged violations of military rules, none of them related
to whistle-blowing. Pentagon officials also have refused to allow Navy Capt.
Scott Phillpott, another officer with knowledge of the Able Danger findings,
to testify.

"Until this point, congressional efforts to investigate Able Danger
have been obstructed by Department of Defense insistence that certain
individuals with knowledge of Able Danger will be prevented from freely and
frankly testifying in an open hearing," Weldon wrote in the letter to

"We of course would never support any activity that might compromise
sensitive information involving national security. However, we firmly
believe that testimony from the appropriate individuals in an open hearing
on Able Danger would not only fail to jeopardize national security, but
would in fact enhance it over the long term."

Weldon said he believes that the DIA stifled crucial information about
Mohammed Atta, who became the lead Sept. 11 terrorist, and then destroyed
related documents. He also said that the Sept. 11 commission, which was
appointed to investigate the attacks and the intelligence failure involved
in them, disregarded information it received from Able Danger members.

Weldon has said he learned that a secret program known as Able Danger
was put into place in 1999 and 2000 by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff and by the general in charge of the Special Forces Command. It was
devoted to uncovering key cells of al Qaeda globally, giving the military
the capability to destroy those cells.

Weldon told The Hill last month that he believes the DIA is carrying
out a smear campaign against Shaffer, who spoke the truth about the cell.


Nov 17, 2005, 11:25:55 AM11/17/05

"Arizona Bushwhacker" <> wrote in message

> I think Able Danger should be investigated 100%
> Let the chips fall where they may.
> Unlike any republican, I always take the side of
> getting at the truth.

I'm a Republican & I agree with you, you POS...

Rob Olsen

Nov 17, 2005, 11:31:11 AM11/17/05
On Thu, 17 Nov 2005 11:25:10 -0500, "Pookie"
<> wrote:

>"Rob Olsen" <> wrote in message
>> On Thu, 17 Nov 2005 09:47:00 -0500, "Andy Freeze" <>
>> wrote:
>> > An Incomplete Investigation
>> >Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?
>> >
>> >
>> They weren't ignored. They were found to lack credibility.

The question was 'Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?

The asnwer is that they were found to lack credibility.

Your cut and paste job doesn't change that.


Nov 17, 2005, 12:08:39 PM11/17/05

"Rob Olsen" <> wrote in message

> On Thu, 17 Nov 2005 11:25:10 -0500, "Pookie"
> <> wrote:
> >
> >"Rob Olsen" <> wrote in message
> >
> >> On Thu, 17 Nov 2005 09:47:00 -0500, "Andy Freeze" <>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >> > An Incomplete Investigation
> >> >Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?
> >> >
> >> >
> >>
> >> They weren't ignored. They were found to lack credibility.
> >
> >
> The question was 'Why did the 9/11 Commission ignore "Able Danger"?
> The asnwer is that they were found to lack credibility.
> Your cut and paste job doesn't change that.

That's your asnwer (sic)...let the investigation go forward & we'll see how
credible you are...

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages