Able Danger Blog

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Able Danger Timeline in Shaffer's words

This is not his entire written timeline, but it is the portion starting from the LIWA data destruction through September 11th:

(U) Apr-May 2000. Army LIWA/IDC gets cold feet due to "oversight" and U.S. Person issues. Despite a "personal for" message from GEN Schoomaker, Commander SOCOM to GEN Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the Army, to allow LIWA/IDC to continue to support the ABLE DANGER effort, the message is never answered and Army lawyers (in particular, Tom Taylor from the information I was provided at the time by Army staff officers) effectively shuts down all army support. Gen Schoomaker directs the establishment of a replica of the LIWA/IDC technology - at a classified location.

(U) Jun 2000. At the request of SOCOM ([ ], DIA's Rep to SOCOM), with the permission of the DIA/DO leadership, I approach MG Noonan, Commander of Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) to request that Dr. Eileen Preisser be attached to my unit, STRATUS IVY so that she could continue to support ABLE DANGER. This request is denied - I am told later, privately, that MG Noonan felt that by trying to take Dr. Preisser that I was trying to "steal his capability"!!!

(U) Aug 2000. DIA's Directorate of Intelligence (DI) refuses at first to provide SOCOM 100% of all DIA information. Eventually, the DI gives in, but forces the DO to "pick up and sign for" the DIA information. The DIA/DI provides the information in an "unusable" format - but due to an experienced Raytheon programmer being assigned, she is able to create an algorithm that corrects the problem; it is believed that DIA provided the data in an unusable form intentionally.

(U) Late Spring / Early Summer 2000. [ ] Based on my unit's enhanced relationship with the FBI, I set up three separate meetings between SOCOM (COL Worthington, the then ABLE DANGER chief) and FBI Counterterrorism Special Agents in Washington, DC.

(U) SOCOM cancels all three meetings - reason: SOCOM lawyers would not permit the sharing of the U.S. person information regarding terrorists located domestically due to "fear of potential blowback" should the FBI do something with the information and something go wrong. The lawyers were worried about another "Waco" situation. The critical counterterrorism information is never passed form SOCOM to the FBI before 9-11; this information did include the original data regarding Atta and the terrorist cells in New York and the DC area.

(U) Sep-Oct 2000. The ABLE DANGER effort is established and up and running. GEN Schoomaker retires in Oct 2000, to be replaced by Air Force GEN Holland. GEN Holland, in my judgment, did not understand the concept, and orders the effort (Dec 2000) to terminate its activities in Garland, TX and for the personnel to return to Tampa - there he directs the ABLE DANGER effort become a J2/intelligence effort and the Special Operations Joint Intelligence Center (SOJIC) is created in its place.

(U) January-March 2001. DIA is requested to provide udpated info for the effort to be re-established in Tampa. DIA begins to drag its feet across the board with the departure of LTG Hughes, MG Harding and COL York. STRATUS IVY is prohibited by DIA/DO's new leadership, MG Isler, from participating in the NSA and DIA data transfer.

At this point he discusses a larger project, details of which were redacted:

(U) January-March 2001 - [ ]

  • (U) DCI George Tenet - During this briefing, the DCI approved our conduct of this special project - I did specifically mention the ABLE DANGER effort to him regarding the use of its methodology to separate out U.S. Person issues.

  • (U) Chairman of the JCS, GEN Hugh Shelton - During this briefing, GEN Shelton approved the project [ ] His comment was "The people of this country think we are doing things like this. We should be doing things like this".

  • (U) Director of the Joint Staff, LTG Peter Pace - he was briefed, seemed impressed, and supported the project. He did not seem to be aware of ABLE DANGER when I mentioned the name of the project as part of the briefing.

  • (U) [ ]

  • (U) The National Security Counsel (twice) - Shortly after the briefing to Dr. Cambone, Mark Garlasco and I were directed to brief the National Security Counsel (NSC) on the operation on two separate occasions. I cannot recall the specific dates of, or individuals present at, the briefing.

At this point he returns to discussing the ABLE DANGER project:

(U) 2001 spring. The Special Operations Joint Integration Center (SOJIC) is created - watered down by Mitre contractors - the teeth and operational focus were removed and the capability to do the complex data mining and mission planning support (leadership support) is eliminated.

(U) May 2001. Scott Phillpott calls me in desperation in the May 2001 timeframe on my mobile phone. He asked if he can bring "the ABLE DANGER options" that ABLE DANGER had come up with to DC and to use one of my STRATUS IVY facilities to do the work. I tell him with all candor that I would love nothing better than to loan him my facility and work the options with him (to exploit them for both Intel potential and for actual offensive operations) but tell him that my DIA chain of command has directed my to stop all suppport to him and the project. In good faith, I ask my boss, COL Mary Moffitt if I can help Scott and exploit the options - and that there would be a DIA quid pro quo of obtaining new "lead" information from the project. She takes offensive at me even mentioning ABLE DANGER in this conversation, tells me that I am being insubordinate, and begins the process of removing my from my position as chief of STRATUS IVY. As a direct result of this conversation, she directs that I be "moved" to a desk officer position to oversee Defense HUMINT operations in Latin America.

(U) 11 Sep 2001. We are attacked.

(U) Late September 2001. Eileen Preisser calls me for coffee and tells me she has something she needs to show me. At coffee she shows me a chart she had brought with her - a large desk top size chart. On it she has me look at the 'Brooklyn Cell' - I was confused at first - but she kept telling me to look - and in the "cluster" I eventually found the picture of Atta. She pointed out (and I recognized) that this was one of the charts I LIWA had produced in Jan 2000, and that I had taken down to Tampa. I was shocked - and had a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach - I felt that we had been on the right track - and that because of the bureaucracy we had been stopped - and that we might well have been able to have done something to stop the 9/11 attack. I ask Eileen what she plans to do with the information/chart - she tells me that she does not know but she plans to do something.

(U) Last week of September 2001. I am on my normal afternoon run from the Pentagon to the Lincoln Memorial - and I receive a call from Dr. Preisser. She tells me "you'll never guess where I am" - she tells me about sitting in the outer office of Scooter Libby and the fact that she, Congressman Curt Weldon, Congressman Chris Shays and Congressman Dan Burton are going in to brief Steven Hadley on the Atta chart. I am both amazed and satisfied that the Atta information and our work on ABLE DANGER had been provided to proper government leadership and fully expected that the ABLE DANGER team might even be reconstituted. It was not.

(U) Nov 2001-July 2003 - I accept recall to active duty as a Major in the Army and command a Defense HUMINT unit named Field Operating Base (FOB) Alpha. During this period I attempted to work with ASD/SOLIC to resurrect ABLE DANGER as part of FOB Alpha's mission. When some sensitive information relating SOLIC was leaked to the press the effort to bring back ABLE DANGER was also terminated. Dr. Priesser was involved in this attempt to resurrect the project.