Able Danger Blog


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Monday, November 28, 2005

Tim Roemer calls for public hearings

UPDATE: Here is the transcript from Lou Dobbs. I almost agree with Roemer for once on this part at least:

ROEMER: Well first of all, I'd say that gag orders should be issued by courts, not by the Defense Department on people that may or may not know something about the factual existence of a chart that identified hijackers a year before 9/11.

So I agree that one, Congress should continue to look at this. Two, the Senate Intelligence Committee should make public their findings, I think they're done.

And three, Secretary Rumsfeld should respond and Congress should -- they can compel people to testify before Congress. They can tell Mr. Rumsfeld to come and tell us everything he knows about this issue.


Remember that Weldon is on tomorrow, and Louis Freeh on Wednesday.

The full transcript from CNN:

It has been 10 days since Congressman Curt Weldon sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld demanding an investigation of Able Danger and a hearing in Congress. Weldon sent that letter Friday, November 18. And as of this broadcast, we understand that the defense secretary has not responded.

Almost 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed that letter, along with Congressman Weldon. They are demanding that members of the Able Danger Army intelligence unit be allowed to testify about what they knew and what transpired in the year before 9/11, and to do so before Congress.

Able Danger officials claim to have identified 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 radical Islamist terrorists more than a year before that attack. They say they were not allowed to share that information with the FBI. The FBI, of course, might have been able to do something to prevent 9/11.

You can read Congressman Weldon's letter to the defense secretary on our Web site, loudobbs.com. My next guest says there is no documentary evidence that Able Danger ever identified Mohammad Atta.

Tim Roemer is a former member of the 9/11 commission. He and other commissioners blasting Congressman Weldon and former FBI director Louis Freeh for accusations that the commission failed to investigate Able Danger. He joins us now from Washington. Good to have you here.

TIM ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Lou, always good to see.

DOBBS: Why do you think Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI, would be so critical of the commission and so insistent that we need to know more about Able Danger, if there's nothing do it?

ROEMER: Well first of all, I think Director Freeh was a very good prosecutor, an excellent agent in the FBI before he was director. He knows that you need cold facts and hard evidence in those kinds of jobs.

Similarly, Lou, the 9/11 commission, we did public hearings, we wanted accountability, we wanted facts in evidence. We couldn't put a chapter in our book saying that people thought they saw a chart without having the evidence of that chart. So we need substantiation that there was a chart. This is about the evidence involved and factually presenting a chart that shows that Atta and the other terrorists were investigated or identified ahead of time. And finally, I'd say, let's get to the bottom of it, Lou.

We do need to make sure that Congress is doing its job of investigative oversight. The Senate Intelligence Committee has done a look at this Able Danger. I encourage to you have the chairman and vice chairman on your show and have them give you your take on Able Danger, too. Let's get to the bottom of the issue.

DOBBS: Certainly, I would like nothing better, but like you say, cold, hard facts are what I want, and what this audience wants, and we're not going to get it, frankly, from about third parties and what they decided to do or not to do, what they decided to look into and what not to.

The cold hard facts can only come, as I'm sure you would agree, Tim, by the secretary of defense, unleashing all of the members of Able Danger to state straightforwardly before our elected representatives in Congress, what they knew, when they knew it, and to demonstrate hard empirical evidence that they knew it. And were, as the allegation goes, blocked from sharing that information. Would you not agree?

ROEMER: Well first of all, I'd say that gag orders should be issued by courts, not by the Defense Department on people that may or may not know something about the factual existence of a chart that identified hijackers a year before 9/11.

So I agree that one, Congress should continue to look at this. Two, the Senate Intelligence Committee should make public their findings, I think they're done.

And three, Secretary Rumsfeld should respond and Congress should -- they can compel people to testify before Congress. They can tell Mr. Rumsfeld to come and tell us everything he knows about this issue.

DOBBS: Let me ask you two questions. Congressman Weldon as you know in that letter to former members of the commission on August 10th, he asked two questions. One, who decided not to pass the Able Danger information onto the FBI? And two, why did the 9/11 commission staff not pass that information onto the commissioners? Can you answer either of those questions?

ROEMER: I think I can answer both of them for you.

DOBBS: Good.

ROEMER: One, when the evidence came to us from Mr. Philpot, on I think it was on July 12th, 2004, two weeks before we issued our report, four years after 9/11. Before that name or recollection of the chart was mentioned to somebody on the commission, Lou. That was two weeks before we went to print.

DOBBS: I understand. ROEMER: And there was no evidence that this person had the chart. They didn't have the chart with them, they only recollected that they thought they saw the name. That's not evidence in the facts that you and I both want to see.

DOBBS: And as to why the commission staff didn't pass it onto the commissioners?

ROEMER: Because there was not the evidence that a chart was there. There were other agencies, Lou, like the CIA and DIA that were doing data mining, something similar to what Able Danger was doing.

DOBBS: So you would agree, then, with Congressman Weldon, that it's time to unleash whatever is known about Able Danger and the principal part -- as you referred to Mr. Philpot, Captain Philpot -- and his colleagues in Able Danger and let him speak to the American people, through at least a hearing in the U.S. Congress?

ROEMER: I would say this. As a private citizen, I'm no longer officially a part of the 9/11 commission, Lou. I think that the Congress needs to do its investigative oversight. We say on the 9/11 commission, oversight in Congress is dysfunctional and broken, they can have Mr. Rumsfeld come before them. They can have Steve Hadley, the national security adviser, who supposedly got a copy of this.

DOBBS: I think they just want to talk to the folks that made up Able Danger?

ROEMER: They could talk to any or all of those folks. I think they need to talk to top-level government people, they need to talk to the good and capable people at Able Danger.

They also, Lou, could talk to people at DIA and CIA who were also doing data mining, that is a very valuable tool in trying to fight terrorism.

DOBBS: Tim Roemer, as always, good to have you here.

ROEMER: Great to be with you, Lou. Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you. We'll have much more on Able Danger and this controversy throughout the week, as we focus on the issue. Congressman Curt Weldon will be our guest tomorrow night.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh will join us as our guest here Wednesday. And our reporting will continue throughout the week.