Able Danger Blog

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Quotes from the hearing Wednesday

From James Rosen's new piece:

"It shocked us how entrenched of a presence al-Qaeda had in the United States," former Army Maj. Erik Kleinsmith told two subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee.

J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who also worked on the Able Danger team, said he used Arab intermediaries in the Los Angeles area to buy a photograph of Atta. Smith said Atta's photo was among about 40 photos of al-Qaeda members on a large chart that he personally delivered to Pentagon officials in 2000, more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Asked by Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania, how certain he was that the chart contained Atta's photograph, Smith responded that he kept a copy of the chart on the office wall.

"I'm absolutely certain," Smith said. "I looked at it every day."

The dramatic hearing came five months after the Pentagon had prevented the former Able Danger operatives from testifying in public at a Senate Armed Services Committee session. It was a victory for Weldon, who persuaded 247 fellow lawmakers to sign a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, demanding open hearings on Able Danger.