Able Danger Blog

Click here to order Triple Cross in paperback now

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Shelton might be alluding to Stratus Ivy

Captain Ed and AJ Strata have pointed to this quote from General Shelton as an issue:

Shelton, though, said that a CIA representative and an FBI representative were present at the second briefing. And he said, "I know for a fact that I was told that they had been a part of the effort" to track al-Qaeda through computer data-mining.

That's important because some of the former intelligence officers who say they were involved with Able Danger have said also that the Pentagon prevented them from relaying data to the FBI for possible pursuit or prosecution.

I think the full meaning of that Shelton quote remains to be seen. Shaffer has talked specifically about briefing the CIA and FBI on Able Danger. He has also said that as the leader of Stratus Ivy, he supported the FBI on its own data mining work, but there were things he could not talk to the FBI about and vice versa. I realize this is getting technical, but it is a complex issue to follow. The key to this is that Able Danger was prevented from sharing the information it collected with the FBI, even after Able Danger was shut down in the months leading up to the attacks. That does not mean the CIA and FBI were not all going after Al Qaeda, in parallel. It just means they never benefitted from the results of the Able Danger effort.

I'm basing this on the detailed GSN Magazine interview with Shaffer:

Even when a program is compartmented, wouldn’t the senior leadership on the civilian side know about it?

I cannot speak to that because I have no direct knowledge. I only know from my direct knowledge that General Shelton was aware because of his tasking this to Special Operations Command. I briefed him on another operation regarding the Internet and data, and I referenced Able Danger to him because we were going to use the same Able Danger methodology to protect U.S. person issues.

I briefed [General Shelton] on that other operation in the spring 2001 timeframe, before 9/11. So, from my knowledge, I believe he remembered Able Danger at that point in time because of the reference to this other operation.

However, I don’t know how far above him or laterally, he shared information regarding Able Danger. I don’t know about the civilian leadership.

The highest level on the civilian side that I’m directly knowledgeable of was that the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict was aware because I briefed him on this. [Editor’s Note: Brian E. Sheridan held that assistant secretary position at the time.]

He received a briefing from me [in 2000] on Stratus Ivy, my unit, and I gave him information on what we were doing for Able Danger. His comment to me was, “You need to get on those guys and push them harder.” That was the way he told me to get on SOCOM to get them to push harder to get this going.

Here is the part about the FBI:

Keep in mind, I had been asked to develop a parallel, but different, capability for the FBI on one of their terrorist targets overseas. So, at that point in time, I was negotiating with the FBI about parameters and scope of support. The same basic team that was doing the SOCOM stuff was going to be assembled to support the FBI mission as well. That includes some of the same data miners, the same technicians, the same analysts.

Here is an excerpt about the CIA:

So, one of the issues was we did not want to compete -- or be seen as competing -- with the CIA in what their mission was, or what they were already assigned to do. Within the first 30 days of Able Danger, the operations officer that you now know as [Navy] Captain Scott Philpott, asked me to go talk to the director of central intelligence rep at the [Special Operations] Command, the DCI rep who represented [CIA Director] George Tenet there in the command. My task was to explain to the rep that we’re not competing with him and explain to him Able Danger.

Clearly, this would be easier to figure out if we knew more about Stratus Ivy.