Able Danger Blog

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Louis Freeh on Lou Dobbs tonight

Specifically to discuss Able Danger at 6PM ET. If the pattern holds it will be in the second half of the show but that is just a guess. I probably won't be able to watch it myself tonight, but I'll still post the transcript sometime around 8PM ET. Watch for Freeh to respond to the Roemer and Gorton letter from November 21st. They implied that he was only criticizing them because they criticized him elsewhere.

UPDATE: Here is the transcript. Not many new facts, but he did offer this insight:

To say that they don't have any documents to prove their case, these aren't informants that we have to verify their credibility. We have testimonial evidence, which, as a prosecutor, that's more potent sometimes than documentary evidence.

From CNN:

DOBBS: Former FBI director Louis Freeh criticized the 9/11 commission, just as Congressman Weldon said. He joins us here tonight. Louis Freeh, it's good to have you here.


DOBBS: Why is there this reaction to what is called by more than half of our congressmen and women, to open up and to allow our elected representatives to know what happened?

FREEH: Well, it's a great question. I mean, the issue here, which was the issue when the 9/11 commission first responded to this, is they obviously missed something. They obviously didn't consider what at least is a very important allegation.

Their response to it, it was historically insignificant. Historically insignificant that an intelligence unit may have identified by name and photo, Mohamed Atta a year before the 9/11 hijackings as a member of al Qaeda in the United States.

DOBBS: Tim Roemer, Slade Gorton, other members of the 9/11 commission have said they just had no hard evidence to deal with here. How do you respond?

FREEH: I disagree with that. I was a prosecutor and an FBI agent for many, many years. I deal in facts. You have two witnesses. You have United States Naval Academy graduate, Captain Philpot, you have Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer, an army intelligence officer. These aren't data loaders, these are intelligence experts who both have said, unequivocally, this unit identified Mohammed Atta by name and possibly photo in mid 2000.

To say that they don't have any documents to prove their case, these aren't informants that we have to verify their credibility. We have testimonial evidence, which, as a prosecutor, that's more potent sometimes than documentary evidence.

DOBBS: You were director of the FBI until June of 2001. Were you ever aware of Able Danger? Was the FBI ever given any reason to sense that there was some military intelligence or military intelligence evidence or suggestion that there would be an attack or some relationship to Mohamed Atta?

FREEH: Absolutely not. Myself, but also my former colleagues and current FBI colleagues, we read about this in the newspapers in August of this year. And what is very significant here Lou -- which is a point that has been made, and which I think you made -- we had officers at Able Danger who made appointments, actually made appointments to go to the FBI and share this intelligence in 2,000 and those appointments were canceled.

It had to be a very powerful stimulus, this intelligence and information, to make these officers want to really breach the chain of command and go directly to the FBI. We'd like to know why those appointments were canceled.

DOBBS: Now when you say they were canceled, you -- the FBI has corroborated that those appointments were made?

FREEH: Well, I think -- I don't know that for a fact, but I know the Able Danger officers, the two officers that we spoke about and their colleagues have said they made the appointments and the appointments were canceled.

And I don't know the rest of the facts, but that's enough to start an inquiry, which is what the 9/11 commission did not do, which is why I criticize them.

DOBBS: Why do you think the Pentagon has blocked those two officers from testifying before Congress or speaking out on this issue?

FREEH: You know, I don't know the inside facts. I know that the prohibition has been for them to appear in an open hearing. And I understand that, I testified in closed hearings over eight years because there are intelligence matters, there are sensitive matters that should not be held in a public hearing.

So if we're talking about having a closed hearing, that's something I know the 246 members of the Congress that you cite would like to know. I don't think it's important whether it's closed or open, but there should be an inquiry. We know now the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting an investigation. Senator Specter tried to conduct a hearing, but the issue is why didn't the 9/11 commission do this? That's what we thought they were doing for two years.

DOBBS: Louis Freeh, we thank you very much for being here. Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI.