Able Danger Blog

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Able Danger Revealed

Rory O'Connor has the answers to twenty previously unanswered questions about Able Danger and what more could have been done to prevent 9/11. As always, go read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:

1. Did Anthony Shaffer, or anyone on the Able Danger team, obtain a photo of Mohamed Atta from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as Shaffer’s interview with Government Security News (GSN) states?

The photo of Atta came from an information broker who provided it and others. Shaffer’s comments were made to GSN based on his knowledge at the time, which came from his knowledge of what the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) operations center had access to. Shaffer’s interview with GSN took place before civilian analyst JD Smith came forward and clarified the issue. Shaffer did not know in 1999-2000 all the specifics of how Smith and company were doing the detailed data mining – it was Shaffer’s belief at the time that the photo had come from INS records. LIWA did have access to INS documents - and a Defense Department intelligence program called the Foreign Visitor Program, in which not only photos of foreign nationals but also their entire visa application were provided – but Shaffer was not aware of LIWA’s use of information brokers.

2. If Atta was identified as early as January or February of 2000 – as Captain Scott Phillpott has said - when were the other three hijackers (Shehhi, Mihdhar, and Hamzi) identified by Able Danger?

Within the same timeframe, since the missing chart contained the names of all four of the then-future hijackers. They were all listed in what Phillpott had called “the Brooklyn Cell” - not that they were all in Brooklyn, but they met the search criteria that linked them to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

3. Did anyone on the Able Danger team know that any of these four were ever in the US? If so, when did they find out and how?

They did not know, as it was not Able Danger’s job to track individuals in the U.S. (based on legal restrictions.) Once it was determined by Defense Department (DOD) lawyers that the “Brooklyn Cell” information could not be used for offensive planning by the Able Danger planners, the Able Danger team then attempted to pass the information to the FBI for its use. At any given time, there was no specific knowledge of where the terrorists were regarding the continental United States. The Able Danger effort, and targeting of specific individuals, was focused on overseas locations.

He's just getting started. Here are a few more:

14. When did Shaffer’s last conversation with Scott Phillpott before 9/11 take place, when Phillpott was “desperately” trying to preserve the data so that someone could use it, even though Able Danger was being shut down?

The conversation occurred in the May 2001 timeframe. Shaffer was jogging outside the Pentagon at the outdoor portion of the Pentagon Athletic Center. Phillpott called Shaffer on his mobile phone to ask if he (Phillpott) could move the data to a clandestine facility in the area – one of four under Shaffer’s control. This one in particular was used for other highly classified intelligence operations and Phillpott had toured it before. Shaffer had already been directed by Major General Rod Isler to “cease all support to Able Danger. ” Shaffer said that he’d love to let Phillpott “use the facility” but felt that his leadership would say no. When Shaffer asked his boss, Colonel Mary Moffitt, she not only said no but also began the process of moving Shaffer from his leadership position to a “desk job” on the Latin America desk of DIA.

15. When were Phillpott and his team members reassigned to other work? Were they each reassigned to different projects or was their unit assigned a new task?

Everyone went back to his “normal” job as Able Danger was disbanded - Able Danger was a form of standing “Task Force". There was some DIA leadership retaliation against the DIA members of Able Danger, but that cannot be fully addressed until the DOD Inspector general completes his current investigation.

16. Raytheon’s Robert Johnson has told Congressman Curt Weldon that data was transferred to SOCOM, including data the Garland unit used to identify Mohamed Atta, separate from the LIWA effort. When was this transferred and how much data was involved?

A new open Internet data run was conducted from about July to September 2000 - this consisted of “spiders” doing whole searches and downloading of web based information, as well as the integration of all available open sources of data. In addition, copies of the full DIA and NSA data bases were moved by STRATUS IVY (Shaffer’s unit) to Garland, Texas - in essence the entire LIWA capability was re-created from scratch and began to function in earnest in early September 2000.