Able Danger Blog

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

From someone who knows Shaffer

An interesting perspective from Michael Tanji at Group Intel:

Knowing Tony Shaffer as I do (albeit in a limited fashion) I have tried to keep my distance from the Able Danger controversy. Generally speaking in the spooky business one likes to keep a stiff-arm out for those in the spotlight, though there is a lot of quiet cheering (or jeering) in private.

Giving his testimony the once over I am struck by a couple of things, not the least of which is his willingness to name the names of the good, bad and ugly associated with this case. Some will attribute this to motives of revenge, which may be true, but more likely it is rooted in the fact that without a sufficiently strong dose of sunlight we cannot hope for any real progress in fixing the problems that brought us to the point where hearings were necessary. These things didn’t happen in a vacuum, so to me naming names is appropriate (let a more thorough investigation indict or exonerate them).

It also struck me that no matter how much of a bad light is cast on those who may have been involved in thwarting the full success that Able Danger could have had, none of them really have anything to fear. Despite the various post-mortem findings spawned from 9/11, no one was held accountable even when it was fairly clear that blame could have been laid. There was a time when being the MFIC meant not only did you get all the bennies and the glory, but all the responsibility too. The last great surprise on US soil saw the end of the careers of those in charge; though with the passage of time it seems that the definition of what “responsibility” means has changed. How skewed is it that crashing a ship with nominal effect brings with it more retribution than allowing the failures that led to the death of thousands?

Go read the whole thing. FYI, MFIC is Mother Figure in Charge (military; polite form).