Able Danger Blog

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Peter Lance on Lou Dobbs tonight

From last night's show:

We'll be continuing our coverage of the Able Danger controversy throughout. Joined us here tomorrow by Pulitzer prize winner investigative journalist Peter Lance.

UPDATE: Here is the transcript from CNN:

DOBBS: Congressman Curt Weldon succeeded in holding congressional hearings on Able Danger this week. But the Able Danger controversy certainly will continue. Emmy Award winning investigative journalist Peter Lance joins me now on the Able Danger situation, controversy, case.

Peter, are you encouraged by the hearings that you watched?

PETER LANCE, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I'm encouraged by Congressman Weldon's tenacity, but frankly, I...

DOBBS: Absolutely

LANCE: I think he was he was betrayed by his own committee, frankly. The fact so much of the hearing was held in closed session, why should Philip Zelikow, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission have testified in closed session? Why did they diminish Lt. Colonel Anthony Schaffer, a decorated member of the Able Danger, calling him Mister Schafer on the witness list.

DOBBS: That is, after all, the Armed Services Committee reaching out there. And the fact is that the testimony that was opened up, about the Colonel Schaffer, as you say, a distinguished veteran.

LANCE: Right.

DOBBS: What the military has done to try to destroy this man's career trying to come forward with what the Able Danger project was able to learn, including information about the USS Cole, that could have saved the USS Cole and those 17 lives; that could, had it been acted on, that interest and concern as Yemen in the days leading up to that attack is remarkable. This much is on the record

LANCE: It is. And that's important. I think another thing that isn't on the record, though, is the testimony of Dietrich Snell, this is where the committee let Congressman Weldon down. They never formally requested that Dietrich Snell show up at the hearing. He was able today to issue a statement saying, well I talked to the committee people. I'd be happy to testify if they ask me, but they really didn't ask me to come, formally.

DOBBS: Actually, well, Dietrich -- or Dieter Snell, his nickname, gave us a statement. Do we have that statement available to put up very quickly? Because we asked Dieter Snell for a statement, and this is -- I'm told we have it.

There it is. And this is his statement. Saying he had talked with and given answers to the staff of the Armed Services Committee about Able Danger. Declined our invitation to be here to discuss Able Danger and his role in the investigation. You have quite a different view of what he has done here?

LANCE Yes. Dietrich Snell is a linchpin to help us explain why the Able Danger information was suppressed both by the FBI and also the 9/11 commission, and yet Dietrich Snell has never been subject to any kind of adversarial questioning. He testified, he was a staff counsel before the 9/11 commission. He presented staff statement 16, a few softball questions from the commissioners.

But Dietrich Snell, in my opinion, is connected with at least four affirmative cover-ups on the road to 9/11 in the Clinton Justice Department and those cover-ups carried over and linked with the Able Danger operation. So if he was here tonight, if you'd let me ask a couple of question, I'd be happy to put these questions forward as to what Mr. Snell should answer. He's a public servant, he has no executive privilege, working for Eliot Spitzer, attorney general of the state of New York. He should come forward in an open forum and answer these questions.

DOBBS: He does not want to do that obviously, or he would. The question is, why do you think he's been involved in? As you put it, a cover-up? He's been a prosecutor, investigator in the war on terrorism?

LANCE: Right. A distinguished prosecutor, in fact, in my first book, "A 1,000 Years for Revenge", I was very praiseworthy of him. But, look, Dietrich Snell, in 1995, the southern district of New York was a party to a suppression's information from the Philippines that the plot, the 9/11 plot had begun as early as 1994. That was suppressed.

In 1996, he participates in a secret indictment of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, no one ever heard of Khalid Shaikh until 1998, at a time, by then he's already got the plot well underway in Hamburg. Dietrich Snell -- when I testified before the Commission it was a closed-door hearing, no stenographer present. He takes my information and basically flushes it. When the Able Danger people, Scott Philpot, presented his information about a direct tie between Al Qaeda and the Brooklyn cell and Yousef and blind Sheikh Rahman, Dietrich Snell flushes that from the 9/11 report. Why? DOBBS: And go on to draw the connection between a plot that -- and you make a convincing case that could have affected even TWA flight 800.

LANCE: 800, absolutely.

DOBBS: And the fact that we do not know the resolution to these instances. It suggests either extraordinarily, terrible, terrible investigatory efforts, and results on the part of a number of our agencies including the FBI, the CIA, the Defense intelligence, as well, State Department intelligence and security.

But at the end of the day, we've got to get to these -- if we're going to understand 9/11, we've got get to the answers. Do you believe that Congressman Weldon and this Congress will pursue this through the Department of Defense?

LANCE: I totally believe Congressman Weldon wants to and if Senator Specter -- I think we have to put this back in the Senate now. Arlen Specter is a courageous lawmaker and I think his committee is now the one that needs to take this up and Dietrich Snell has to answer the largest unsolved mass murder in American history, New York homicides, Lou. And he's in New York state. Why not come forward and tell the truth?

DOBBS: Putting the focus clearly on the principle investigative elements, that is, the New York office of the FBI, and the Southern District of New York U.S. attorneys' office.

Peter Lance, thanks for being here.

LANCE: Thank you.