Able Danger Blog


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Sunday, November 27, 2005

WTF IMI

When is data mining and information sharing a good thing? Apparently, after all hell has broken loose, “reform” has taken place, and there appears to be all the time in the world until the next attack against the homeland. What else to make of this latest gem from the Washington Post:

The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.


The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. […]


The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. […]


One CIFA activity, threat assessments, involves using "leading edge information technologies and data harvesting," […]. This involves "exploiting commercial data" with the help of outside contractors including White Oak Technologies Inc. of Silver Spring, and MZM Inc., a Washington-based research organization, according to the Pentagon document.

MZM, the best contract support money can buy.

See, I’m confused: When data mining was carried out and attempts to share what – by all public accounts – was detailed and actionable intelligence information before all hell broke loose, such activities were a bad thing. Why else the madness surrounding Able Danger, as more recently captured by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

On Friday, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 246 lawmakers demanding that the program's officers and contractors be allowed to testify in open congressional hearings. […]


But others in Washington are scoffing at the request for an inquiry.


"By the way he talks about Able Danger these days, you'd think it would have prevented Pearl Harbor," said Timothy Roemer, a former Indiana Republican congressman and member of the 9/11 commission.


Class act Mr. Roemer. Tell me; do you shave yourself in the morning or do you have someone else do it for you? Because if I threw out callous and ignorant comments like that I’d have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror. Then again, I have always suffered from a bad case of consciousness that overwhelmed my under-developed political acumen.


If you needed further proof that the 9/11 Commission’s work in this area comes up short you need only read the last few lines of the piece, which tell us that:


Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana Democrat in the House who was cochairman of the 9/11 panel, said he worked closely with and respects Weldon because they share interests in defense and intelligence matters. But he said the commission investigated the Able Danger officers' claims exhaustively and could not find evidence to support them.


"We've asked for that chart repeatedly," Hamilton said in an interview. "The Pentagon cannot produce it, the White House cannot produce it, and Weldon cannot produce it."

They had access to the chart, if I am not mistaken, back when the investigation was going on. In every TV appearance I’ve seen Weldon in, charts abound. Does “the” chart show up? It does not look like it, but I’m not entirely convinced that it is gone for good. Remember, this is the program that DIA/Pentagon said didn’t exist, until they had to admit that it did. This is all based on data that was destroyed, until it was revealed that maybe it wasn’t. My own experience supporting searches of this type, and knowledge of how data like this is passed around, leads me to believe that no one is even scratching the surface of what still remains of Able Danger.

But no matter; all that took place before we cared. Talking about it now just ends up embarrassing those in power then (who are still in power now, only in different offices) and highlighting how broke-dick things were. Doing this sort of thing now is reforming and revolutionary and paradigm breaking . . . excuse me . . . I’m feeling queezy . . . must be too much turkey . . .