Able Danger Blog

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dancing on 3,000 Graves

That is essentially what the IC, Congress and any number of other functionaries of the status quo have done now that they have almost completely swept Able Danger under the carpet of history.

If you’ve been in this business longer than a day you knew in the back of your mind that Able Danger was never going to make it, but in your heart you were rooting for the bastards.(1) Able Danger pointed out that not only was the 9/11 Commission not-all-that but that with a little loose change, a lot of ingenuity, and some technical horsepower an unencumbered dozen can do what tens of thousands should have. It was everything the IC is not: creative, nimble, open-minded, and un-bound by stovepipes, mindless tradition and parochialism. This ensured that no matter what they found they would never be taken seriously. Unclassified intelligence efforts get short shrift even though the financial centers of the world make and lose billions of dollars based on the collection and analysis of data that doesn’t have “Top Secret” stamped on it. Good enough for Wall Street but not for the IC.

The IC has advocates and lobbyists. They don’t work on K Street, but the function is the same. One need only look at the current make-up of the one big “reform” the IC has seen since 9/11 – the Office of the Directorof National Intelligence – to prove my point: A deputy-director who ran the nation’s SIGINT capability, scores of assistant-deputy directors drawn from the senior ranks of SIGINT and HUMINT agencies, etc. Capable? Sure. The right people to fix a broken system? Hardly.

Congress isn’t any better. Of the 22 members of the subcommittee that could have heard potentially the most damning testimony about AbleDanger, three could bother to show up. Three who thought deeper insight into what we knew prior to 9/11 (or 10/00) was more important than meetings on how to bring home more bacon.

The press? Too busy trying to poo-poo other intelligence-related stories or pretending they know that “over-under” means something other than a position in the Kama Sutra.

In fact, the only lobby for doing the right thing is a raving Congressman, a few curious Bloggers, and the families of the dead.

The end result from the fall-out from Able Danger is that fewer people in the IC will be willing to go out on a limb for a theory or a unique solution to a problem because the message is clear: success means unemployment. They might work it on the side; they just won’t tell anyone about it. A self-imposed SAP. Inevitably this will lead to the loss of more lives, but with any luck they won’t be constituents of most of the members of the HASC terrorism subcommittee or work for the MSM.

(1) I drafted 80% of this over four months ago. This is either a testament to my predictive abilities or my cynicism or maybe both.