Able Danger Blog

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Integrity and Efficiency

That's what it says on the seal of the Department of Defense Inspector General. It's the first thing I noticed when I printed a copy of the IG report. The second thing you will notice when you look at it is the title: "Alleged Misconduct by Senior DOD Officials Concerning the Able Danger program and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony A. Shaffer, U.S. Army Reserve"

Of course, when you read the 90 page report - which took over a year to write - you will also notice it never gets into misconduct on the part of senior DOD officials. Instead, it focuses on dismissing members of the Able Danger team, just like those senior DOD officials are accused of doing. As I told Peter Lance the other day, just like the 9/11 Commission, the Inspector General Gimble knew the conclusions he wanted to reach and only looked for information that fit those conclusions. Instead of investigating retaliation against members of the Able Danger team who have spoken out, the IG accuses Eileen Preisser, Scott Phillpott, and Tony Shaffer of inventing the story about Mohamed Atta in order to advance their personal agendas or their careers. The IG was also asked to investigate the trumped up charges against Tony Shaffer the DIA used to revoke his security clearance on the morning of the Senate Judiciary hearing about Able Danger in September 2005. Instead, they go even further and imply he stole a GPS device while he was deployed to Afghanistan!

If you want more examples of distortions, consider these:

1-The IG claims to have identified "the" chart and apparently it has Jay Boesen's name on it. Of course, this chart does not name Atta and does not match any of the descriptions of the Atta chart provided by all of the witnesses. The only detail it has in common is that is was produced using Orion Magic and refers to a "Brooklyn Cell" that actually carried out the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. None of the witnesses say the chart with a photo of Atta was made by Jay Boesen. All those who claim to know its origin say it was produced by JD Smith. Shaffer and others have made clear the actual Atta chart was built using patterns identified from the first WTC bombing to identify more suspects who fit the same pattern. It was not a chart showing the people who carried out the 1993 attack, which is all that Figure 1 on Page 8 of the IG report shows. Furthermore, the only cells on the Jay Boesen chart are Brooklyn, Tanzania, and Uganda. Not Yemen, Manila, or Hamburg.

2-They devote nine paragraphs starting on Page 14 to criticizing LTC Shaffer as only having had "limited" participation in Able Danger. They even quote an unnamed witness who refers to him as "basically the delivery boy". What, if anything, does that have to do with the "Alleged Misconduct by Senior DOD Officials Concerning the Able Danger program and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony A. Shaffer, U.S. Army Reserve"? Shaffer has described himself as a "liaison" and "not a member of the team" and the report confirms "LTC Shaffer assisted Able Danger team members in receiving special authorization that enhanced their ability to access various World Wide Web sites and coordinated with DIA and other intelligence agencies to provide data bases to the Able Danger team.... CAPT Phillpott and Dr. Preisser characterized LTC Shaffer's contributions to the Able Danger mission as significant." Yet, they throw is the "delivery boy" comment from an unnamed witness, as if it was a gossip column.

3-On page 35, the IG makes their bias clear. It almost speaks for itself:

Based on the testimonial evidence from GEN Schwartz, CDR ??????, Mr. ??????, and Mr. Snell, it is our conclusion that CAPT Phillpott inflated his claims regarding Able Danger's success in identifying 9/11 terrorists in order to promote his role as an advocate for data mining in the war against terrorism. His representations to those officials however, were so tenuous that they were either not specifically recalled (CDR ??????), refuted (GEN Schwatrz), or not considered worthy of pursuit (Mr. ??????, Mr. Snell). We considered Mr. Snell's negative assessment of CAPT Phillpott's claims particularly persuasive given Mr. Snell's knowledge and background in antiterrorist efforts involving al Qaeda. Further diminishing CAPT Phillpott's credibility was his assertion to us that the last time he saw a link analysis chart (Figure 1) was in July or October 2000, contrary to CDR ??????'s testimony at CAPT Phillpott shared the charts at Figures 1 and 2 with him aboard the USS ESTOCIN during the 2002-2003 time period.

They accuse Phillpott of using the Atta claim to advance his career but can not quote a single person who says that he used it to advance his career. Clearly, going to the 9/11 Commission was not an attempt to get a promotion, given the lack of any legal protections at all for whistleblowers on issues of national security. Even more laughable is their claim that Phillpott was motivated by self interest while they take the opinion of Dieter Snell at face value, as if he would have no interest in diminishing the significance of something he decided not to include in the 9/11 report? Not to mention the fact that Able Danger brought up the Ramsey Yousef link between KSM and the 1993 WTC bombing, which Snell avoided entirely when he wrote the 9/11 report, or the still classified after action report which Phillpott wrote regarding their prediction of an attack in Yemen two days before the bombing of the Cole. Snell didn't think that was important, either, and the IG is similarly dismissive, not even mentioning the after action report once. As far as Phillpott saying he had not seen the Atta chart since 2000, if anything it enhances his credibility. He said all along the charts in Figure 1 and 2 were not the Atta chart. If he had those charts with him in 2002 or 2003, you would think he would have looked at them and seen Atta was not pictured on the chart. If he had thought it was the same chart at that point, but still insisted Atta was there, then it would diminish his credibility. Even the IG acknowledges that just did not happen.

4-The most egregious example of bureacratic stupidity can be found on pages 55 to 62 of the report. While the investigation of Able Danger appears to have consisted mainly of reinterviewing Phillpott, Priesser, Shaffer, and Smith, until they could intimidate them into changing their answers then accuse them of being inconsist, the IG did some real hard nose detective work here. They launched a full scale investigation of Shaffer himself to accuse him of stealing a GPS device while he was deployed to Afghanistan searching for Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership in 2004. While they can not seem to locate the computer hard drives of any of the individuals who actually had an Atta chart, or figure out how to forensically look for old data on those hard drives, they are able to document in detail the chain of custody regarding personal items and equipment later mailed to Shaffer's attorney by DIA. In fact, they are so confident in their record keeping the only conclusion they can reach based on the lack of a receipt for the GPS device is that Shaffer must have stolen it and then pretended the DIA mailed it to him when he sent it back to them.

5-Despite documenting in detail how Shaffer's documents were shipped from one hallway to another, over to DIA headquarters and back, then placed in the corner of a conference room with "SHAFFER" written on them in big letters, the IG finds no misconduct on the part of DOD officials in this regard. Despite the fact there would have been ample opportunity for almost anyone within DIA to have taken what they wanted from Shaffer's office contents once his clearance was revoked and he was barred from entering the building, the IG attributes only the purest intentions and motives to those in charge. Instead, they claim the lack of documents is proof such documents never existed and imply it was all just a figment of his imagination or something that he made up. They heaping all the blame on none other than Shaffer. If the documents can no longer be found, then it must be LTC Shaffer's fault for not answering that email about cleaning out his office. Didn't he have email at Bagram?

In summary, I think there is a line missing after the conclusion of this report on the only pre-9/11 military intelligence effort aimed at "taking down" Osama Bin Laden and his worldwide Al Qaeda terrorist network:


We recommend that the Director, DIA, review procedures concerning disposition of personal belongings when abandoned by DIA employees and procedures for rendering military performance reports to ensure that Service requirements are met.

"Nothing to see here, move along!"