Able Danger Blog

Click here to order Triple Cross in paperback now

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Using Able Danger to smear Weldon

Now that the fifth anniversary of 9/11 has safely passed, Joe Klein is not the first and will probably not be the last to smear Congressman Weldon using Able Danger as a theme:

"Curt can be absolutely brilliant," says a House colleague. "But there's also a slightly unhinged quality to him." Weldon recently insisted, along with Pennsylvania's U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, that there were still weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He also claimed that a secret Pentagon unit called Able Danger had identified Mohamed Atta at the center of the 9/11 terrorist conspiracy a year before the attacks, a claim that has been dismissed by both the White House and the 9/11 commission. Weldon has been associated with some questionable lobbying schemes: both his daughter Karen and his real estate agent, a longtime friend named Cecelia Grimes, have set up lobbying firms representing defense contractors and East European companies that have received Weldon's support for their products. Sestak is 54 and looks younger; Weldon is 59 and seems older. There is a last-hurrah quality to his campaign: Weldon has held the congressional seat for 20 years and has never had a tough race, but the district has trended blue in the latest presidential elections; John Kerry beat George W. Bush 51% to 48% here in 2004. As he traveled from event to event on a recent Sunday, Weldon seemed nervous and slightly desperate. His most persistent line of attack against Sestak was quite silly: that the admiral is a carpetbagger. "He still lives in Washington," Weldon told me. "He drives around the district in a car with Virginia plates. He gets the names of towns wrong when he visits them." Last April, Weldon seemed to go off the deep end when he attacked Sestak for having his daughter's cancer treated in Washington and not in Philadelphia or Delaware. "He's like an out-of-shape boxer," says one of Weldon's friends. "His timing is off. I know he deeply regrets that comment about Sestak's daughter." But Weldon is not the sort to make public concessions.

There are so many problems here, I don't know where to start. Talking about "House colleagues" and "friends" without pointing out their political affiliations or motivations for speaking anonymously is a slime ball tactic. Referring to things like WMD, Able Danger, and that cancer treatment article, without explaining the specifics is misleading at best, dishonest at worst. For one thing, Weldon was misquoted our of context about Sestak's daughter. What he regrets is even talking to the political reporter in question at all. Referring to Congressman Weldon as "nervous", "silly", and "desparate" while comparing his campaign to a "last hurrah" when he still has a comfortable lead in the polls makes Klein's motivation more than clear. Like his friends in the Clinton administration, Klein would much rather see former Clinton NSC staffer Sestak in office than Curt Weldon. Notice how Klein never gets around to mentioning Sestak's ties to Clinton, either?