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Monday, April 24, 2006

Lippold still held back by Cole coverup

James Rosen of the Sacramento Bee has a new in-depth article on Kirk Lippold, the commander of the USS Cole. Here is the direct link.

Yet there is more to this story. In particular, there are questions about why Lippold didn't know, before his refueling stop in Yemen, that two separate intelligence programs had found signs of a possible attack on U.S. interests in the Middle East in the days before the Cole bombing.

One of them, a secret Pentagon program now known as Able Danger, had identified Yemen as one of five "hot spots" of al-Qaida activity believed to be targeting U.S. interests. Two Able Danger analysts briefed Gen. Peter Schoomaker, then head of U.S. Special Operations Command, on their findings. The date was Oct. 10, two days before the attack on the Cole.

Nothing about the briefing reached Lippold. Nor was he told that U.S. embassies in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East had been closed for fear of violence....

As the intelligence analysts briefed Schoomaker on Oct. 10, 2000, the USS Cole was sailing at a brisk clip through the Red Sea on its way to Yemen.

After making port at midmorning on Oct. 12, Lippold authorized three Yemeni barges to come out and remove garbage.

As the third boat approached, its two Arab crew members, after waving to the sailors up high on the Cole deck, detonated their cargo of explosives.