Able Danger Blog

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Monday, March 20, 2006

An update from Mark Zaid

On Friday, I had a conversation with Tony's attorney Mark Zaid about both the latest and the next developments in the case. Among other things we discussed his rare comic books business, He appreciated our donations, but so far they amount to less than five percent of Tony's legal bills to date. If you have not made a donation, please consider it.

Friday morning, Mark was in court again on the recent suit they filed to attempt to win legal representation for Tony and JD in any future closed hearings before Congress. In summary, he said the government is "throwing the kitchen sink at us" and will file a motion to dismiss on multiple grounds by April 7th. Among other things, the DoD attorneys are claiming the court has no jurisdiction or standing to take the case and has raised "service of process" issues, as well. This after they blocked Mark from representing Tony in closed session the morning of the Armed Services hearing.

Anyway, Mark will have up to a month to respond to the motion to dismiss, at which point the government will have two weeks to reply to his response. The earliest it could even go to trial is June, but it will probably be much later. In the meantime, he will be back in court March 21st filing document production requests and interrogatories. None of these documents involve the critical Able Danger documents, but rather documents involved in the DoD effort to deny legal counsel to Tony. Again, the government will have thirty days to respond. The main problem from Mark's point of view, is not that they are making this prohibitively expensive for him to pursue, but rather that Congressional hearings are pending and this needs to be resolved right away. If the judge rules that Tony and JD have a right to counsel after all the hearings are over, it will not make much of a difference.

As he had discussed on our conference call in February, Mark said the four things bloggers could help with the most were the following. First, provide as much data and analysis as we can, since the media is not covering it so there is no where else people can go to learn the facts. Second, encourage as many people as possible to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to take an active role in getting to the bottom of this. Third, contact their local newspapers, radio stations, and talk shows. Ask them to start covering Able Danger. Fourth, as I mentioned above, the more financial support we can give to the legal battle he is waging against an army of DoD lawyers, the more likely it is that he can succeed.

Unfortunately, this is not just an academic argument. As Tony makes clear in his written testimony, the capability that Able Danger had does not exist today. When he was deployed in Afghanistan, based out of Bagram Airbase, pursuing High Value Targets along the border with Pakistan, he did not have the kind of actionable intelligence that Able Danger had provided years before 9/11. That is why the Able Danger team is so adamant this needs to be pursued. The fact that some officials are still more interested - five years later - in covering up their mistakes than in preventing the next attack, makes you understand why Curt Weldon chose the title for his book that he chose - "Countdown to Terror". Clearly, the clock is still ticking.

Unfortunately, a lot of high level bureaucrats are betting they can wait it out.