Able Danger Blog

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

First clip from Weldon conference call

Here is the first segment of our conference call with Curt Weldon. It lasts about twenty minutes and contains most of the Congressman's opening remarks. If you turn the volume up too high you will hear some interference during the first ten minutes, but it clears up afterward.

Sorry that we don't have more to post yet. Most of what Curt talked with us about on Thursday was for the record, but some was on background. We are making sure we confirm with John on his staff which parts are on the record and which are not before we post all the audio. We hope to get final confirmation on more of this by Monday afternoon if possible. However, as you can hear on this first clip, Curt went into detail on several subjects that have only been mentioned briefly elsewhere.

One new item is the fact that he met with both Tim Roemer and John Lehman of the 9/11 Commission in June 2005 when he first came forward with the Able Danger story. Both told him they had never been briefed by the 9/11 Commission staff on the topic of Able Danger. The decision not to include anything about it in the report was a staff decision, not one made by the commissioners themselves. We already knew most of that but we did not know it was John Lehman who told Weldon to go public with this and pursue the story. Lehman said that if he didn't, it would never come out.

We got some more details about what happened in the closed session, although obviously not anything on classified details. Weldon said that Zelikow never said anything remotely classified or related to intelligence or national security, and that based on his answers he assumed he had only wanted to testify in closed session to avoid having to answer questions publicly about his work for the 9/11 Commission. Weldon said that Steve Cambone had shown up for the closed session, but Weldon told him he had heard enough spin and didn't have anymore questions for him.

As you can hear in the clip, Weldon also discussed his work on the Cox Commission back in the 1990s and how his own efforts at the time had uncovered direct links between campaign contributions made to the Clinton-Gore reelection campaign, and what he saw as the illegal sharing of military technology with China in return. Mr. Schwartz of the Loral Corporation contributed a million dollars, and his company got almost free reign to transfer technology to China. Curt also discussed some front companies used by the Chinese specifically to acquire American military technology.

One key theme in his opening remarks that came up several times during the call, was how senior administration officials in both the Clinton and now apparently the Bush administration were prepared to put their own personal interests about the interests of the nation. In some cases that took the form of killing critical projects for bureaucratic reasons, not sharing information with other agencies. It also meant covering up their mistakes - not following up and investigating them to prevent us from missing the next lead in the hunt for Al Qaeda or the War on Terror in general.

Both AJ and Pierre picked up on this as well. Here's what AJ had to say:

If people wanted this story to go away they would fix all the problems - none of which involve classified material or details. All the problems surrounding Able Danger are related to people misusing their positions to hide personally embarrassing information. In the Clinton years it was apparently studies regarding technology leaks to China. In the Bush administration it appears to be bad decisions, turf wars and protecting empires. But in all cases, national security is second to the DC CYA.

Pierre Legrand makes a similar point:

As if spitting on the graves of those who died that horrible day bureaucrats spend their time finding ways of making retirement instead of critically analyzing why we failed. Worse, they threaten those who do try to improve our reactions and methods with defamation, libelous slander, even physical threat to prevent the sort of reforms that might actually make a difference. Why you might ask would they spend such effort on trying to prevent improvement? Because in a Bureaucrats eyes change is threat and threat is bad. Blame is worse and worse is to be avoided at all costs. Ruining people’s lives and causing our nations security to suffer are all immediately and gladly laid at the altar of any particular bureaucrats continued successful career.

The Dread Pundit Bluto makes a similar point, contrasting his own view with that of Bill Arkin:

I have a different perspective from Arkin. When I was a Federal employee, I had occasion to blow the whistle myself. Shaffer's testimony rings true. Every word. This is how bureaucrats cover their asses.