Able Danger Blog

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hey, what took them so long?

This is just conjecture on my part, but stay with me while I explain how the coverup of Able Danger adversely affected the hunt for Zarqawi and other High Value Targets in Iraq. Sure, they've done a decent job, but they could have used some more help.

From Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer's written testimony:

(U) While deployed in Afghanistan on this second tour, I was offered a new job by [ ] (GS-15) – the chief of the Iraq Combat Support Task Force. The Afghanistan and Iraq Combat Support Task Forces were to be merged and he asked if I’d serve as the operations officer of the new combined task force. It would mean an extension of active duty for one to two years. After thinking about it for a day, I sent him an e-mail saying he’d let Defense HUMINT leadership know of his decision to select me. Just days before I was due to return to DC (probably the last week of February 2004) Bill sent me a note telling me that he could not offer me the position – that something was going on that he could not talk about and said that I would not be extended on active duty. I requested him to clarify this change of heart and he would not – he would only say that “leadership” would not allow him to put me into the position.

(U) At the conclusion of this fully successful ADVON mission (by all accounts from leadership at both standing task forces in Afghanistan, and from [ ] at DHS HQs), and my return to Washington the first week of March 2004 without warning or reason, my Top Secret/SCI clearance was suspended. Upon my return to DIA, I was called in to Army COL [ ] office, told that the DIA IG had “substantive allegations” against me that required that my clearance be suspended and that I was being transferred to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) Ft. Meyer, VA for the duration of my active duty. My DIA badge was confiscated and I was sent to Ft. Meyer to report to report in to the HHC Company Commander.

(U) Upon reporting in, though the HHC commander Captain Vic Harris could not tell me the content, he did say that he had read the DIA IG report and the allegations against me – and his assessment was simple – they were nothing major – I had pissed someone off. He felt that there was nothing to the allegations, but could not tell me what they were. He allowed me casual duty for the remainder of my active duty period (until 1 Jun 2004).

If you can connect the dots there, the combined task force he is talking about would be Task Force 121:

TF121 is a combination of the now defunct Task Force 5 and Task Force 20, which operated in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Acting on the apparent logistic redundancy of keeping two separate task force teams for Iraq and Afghanistan, General John Abizaid decided to combine both teams into a single streamlined force, forming the TF121.


TF121's primary mission is the apprehension of "High Value Targets" or HVTs: key figures in organizations involved in the War on Terror, such as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Mullah Mohammed Omar and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda, Taliban and high ranking officials of the former Iraqi Regime.

The task force has been organized in such a way that it has a close relationship with intelligence personnel (CIA operators are an integral part of the unit) and has timely and unhindered access to any relevant data gathered by intelligence assets in the area. Such an option is invaluable to any Special Operations team, and especially so to one whose primary mission is hunting elusive fugitive whose hideouts change frequently and randomly.

Many TF121 groups are assigned Special Forces CIRA (Communications Intelligence Reconnaissance and Action) operators with expertise in relevant fields. These operators work closely with the intelligence agencies tied to TF121 and work to pinpoint and identify HVTs aggressively.

That's right, Lt. Col. Shaffer was chasing Bin Laden on Task Force 5 in Afghanistan when he was asked by the chief of Task Force 20 in Iraq if he would serve as the operations officer for Task Force 121. He accepted the offer, but the assignment was rejected by officials at DIA headquarters because Shaffer had spoken to members of the 9/11 Commission about a project called Able Danger when they visited Bagram.

As of today, Lt. Col. Shaffer's security clearance is still revoked.