Able Danger Blog


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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Able Danger Revealed

Rory O'Connor has the answers to twenty previously unanswered questions about Able Danger and what more could have been done to prevent 9/11. As always, go read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:

1. Did Anthony Shaffer, or anyone on the Able Danger team, obtain a photo of Mohamed Atta from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as Shaffer’s interview with Government Security News (GSN) states?

The photo of Atta came from an information broker who provided it and others. Shaffer’s comments were made to GSN based on his knowledge at the time, which came from his knowledge of what the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) operations center had access to. Shaffer’s interview with GSN took place before civilian analyst JD Smith came forward and clarified the issue. Shaffer did not know in 1999-2000 all the specifics of how Smith and company were doing the detailed data mining – it was Shaffer’s belief at the time that the photo had come from INS records. LIWA did have access to INS documents - and a Defense Department intelligence program called the Foreign Visitor Program, in which not only photos of foreign nationals but also their entire visa application were provided – but Shaffer was not aware of LIWA’s use of information brokers.

2. If Atta was identified as early as January or February of 2000 – as Captain Scott Phillpott has said - when were the other three hijackers (Shehhi, Mihdhar, and Hamzi) identified by Able Danger?

Within the same timeframe, since the missing chart contained the names of all four of the then-future hijackers. They were all listed in what Phillpott had called “the Brooklyn Cell” - not that they were all in Brooklyn, but they met the search criteria that linked them to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

3. Did anyone on the Able Danger team know that any of these four were ever in the US? If so, when did they find out and how?

They did not know, as it was not Able Danger’s job to track individuals in the U.S. (based on legal restrictions.) Once it was determined by Defense Department (DOD) lawyers that the “Brooklyn Cell” information could not be used for offensive planning by the Able Danger planners, the Able Danger team then attempted to pass the information to the FBI for its use. At any given time, there was no specific knowledge of where the terrorists were regarding the continental United States. The Able Danger effort, and targeting of specific individuals, was focused on overseas locations.


He's just getting started. Here are a few more:

14. When did Shaffer’s last conversation with Scott Phillpott before 9/11 take place, when Phillpott was “desperately” trying to preserve the data so that someone could use it, even though Able Danger was being shut down?

The conversation occurred in the May 2001 timeframe. Shaffer was jogging outside the Pentagon at the outdoor portion of the Pentagon Athletic Center. Phillpott called Shaffer on his mobile phone to ask if he (Phillpott) could move the data to a clandestine facility in the area – one of four under Shaffer’s control. This one in particular was used for other highly classified intelligence operations and Phillpott had toured it before. Shaffer had already been directed by Major General Rod Isler to “cease all support to Able Danger. ” Shaffer said that he’d love to let Phillpott “use the facility” but felt that his leadership would say no. When Shaffer asked his boss, Colonel Mary Moffitt, she not only said no but also began the process of moving Shaffer from his leadership position to a “desk job” on the Latin America desk of DIA.

15. When were Phillpott and his team members reassigned to other work? Were they each reassigned to different projects or was their unit assigned a new task?

Everyone went back to his “normal” job as Able Danger was disbanded - Able Danger was a form of standing “Task Force". There was some DIA leadership retaliation against the DIA members of Able Danger, but that cannot be fully addressed until the DOD Inspector general completes his current investigation.

16. Raytheon’s Robert Johnson has told Congressman Curt Weldon that data was transferred to SOCOM, including data the Garland unit used to identify Mohamed Atta, separate from the LIWA effort. When was this transferred and how much data was involved?

A new open Internet data run was conducted from about July to September 2000 - this consisted of “spiders” doing whole searches and downloading of web based information, as well as the integration of all available open sources of data. In addition, copies of the full DIA and NSA data bases were moved by STRATUS IVY (Shaffer’s unit) to Garland, Texas - in essence the entire LIWA capability was re-created from scratch and began to function in earnest in early September 2000.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Weldon called to testify at Moussaoui sentencing

Once again, Rory O'Connor has the scoop. Read the whole thing. Lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui have called Curt Weldon to testify at his sentencing hearing:

Last week, Representative Curt Weldon, the crusading conservative Republican from Pennsylvania who has been a leading voice in pushing for open hearings about Able Danger, received a subpoena to testify at the sentencing trial, now scheduled to begin next month....

Others connected with the Able Danger program, including defense analysts such as Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Captain Mark Phillpott, are also expected to be called to testify....

Judge Brinkema ordered the government to turn over any threat assessments immediately, especially those (like Able Danger) completed in the year before the 2001 attacks. Her order was released after government censors blacked out about five lines of it....

Moussaoui’s attorney Edward B. McMahon Jr. was unavailable for comment. But another attorney familiar with the case speculated that the defense move to subpoena Weldon and other Able Danger participants might counter the prosecution’s argument. “This could dissociate Moussaoui from the 9/11 attacks,” he explained. “The defense will argue that Able Danger found evidence of four hijackers – but Moussaoui was not one of them, even though he was in the United States at the time. This would buttress the claim that he had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and help exonerate him.”

The defense may also argue that agents already had more information about the plot than Moussaoui could have provided. “Their second argument could be that the authorities could have prevented the 9/11 attacks without apprehending Moussaoui ahead of time,” the attorney reasoned, “Since there is nothing Moussaoui could have told them that they couldn’t have learned about from Able Danger.”

If the jury agrees with the defense, Moussaoui will receive life in prison. If jurors agree with prosecutors, they will decide whether he should be executed....


UPDATE: For what it's worth, his lawyer's are making a huge mistake. If anything the prosecutor should be interested in Able Danger, not the defense. Able Danger proves Atta and Shehhi were connected to Al Qaeda well before 9/11. While Able Danger might not have identified Ramzi Binalshibh (we will never know for sure without seeing that infamous chart) Binalshibh was Atta's roommate in Hamburg! With Mousssaoui's known connections to Binalshibh, if he thinks showing the jury more information about the Hamburg and Brooklyn cells will spare his life, he's mistaken.

Here is some background from CNN in December 2001:

In February of 2001, Moussaoui arrived in the United States, opened a bank account with $32,000 in cash, and immediately enrolled in flight school. And also charged in the indictment, in early August 2001, Moussaoui received $14,000 from Germany sent to him by Binalshibh. And lastly, on August 10, as the indictment alleges, he paid for flight lessons with $6,300 in cash.


As you can see, he didn't even enter the US until after Able Danger was largely shut down, in February or March of 2001. The fact that it did not detect him is simply a reflection of the fact it no longer existed, not proof he was not connected to Atta. On the scale of desparate defense attorney gambles, this one tops the scales. On the up side, it might mean we get to hear from Phillpott after all.

Gary Aldrich from the Patrick Henry Center

You might remember him from when his organization named Shaffer as a recipient of their Whistleblower award in November. Today he has an interesting piece with some questions about Able Danger and the current discussions about the secret NSA program:

This happened during the Clinton years of “purity,” apparently admired by the ACLU.

Back then, members of the Able-Danger unit made up of military officers and private contractors discovered the existence of a terrorist cell that included the 9/11 lead hijacker, Mohammad Atta. However, the information was useless because they were unable to notify the FBI about these potential terrorists or what they might be planning. This was because of incompetent Clinton policies. Clinton is gone, but too many of the incompetent bureaucrats he brought with him remain.

And now, they are attacking members of Able-Danger for revealing the truth!

The feds were also aware – through efforts of Able-Danger – that the U.S. Navy warship Cole was about to be attacked. Again, nervous bureaucrats could not find a way to warn the captain. Able Danger found out about the attack listening to conversations or reviewing documents, presumably without a warrant....

Why do I have the feeling that we’re being told we must give up more simply because the federal government refuses to institute needed reforms to guarantee more excellence? There still is no evidence of accountability or competence, and excellence in the federal workplace is hardly mentioned during speeches made by the various leaders of our government. Have the feds decided to settle for what they have, and not bother to expect higher quality?

Don’t ask me to give up more of my liberties, such as privacy, because the federal government has settled into a comfortable pattern of incompetence, unaccountability, and political correctness. They need to remember that they work for us, not the other way around. Let’s get this mess fixed!

Peter Lance on Lou Dobbs tonight

From CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight:

And investigative reporter Peter Lance on why the Justice
Department didn’t learn as much as it should have about the
Able Danger investigation.

UPDATE: Here is the transcript from CNN. Lou only gave the segment two or three minutes. Other than some new details on an investigation into the Scarpa case, Peter did not have time to do much other than rehash the key points from his book last year, Cover Up. He has a new book on the way, though. Stay tuned for new developments on that end.

DOBBS: Tonight, an organized crime investigation under way now in New York City could shed new light into the controversy over Able Danger and uncover new U.S. intelligence failures leading up to September 11.

Joining me now to discuss his findings, Emmy award winning journalist Peter Lance. He's the author on of the book "Cover Up," with an extensive examination of this investigation, now under way in Brooklyn as well. Peter, good to have you here. What's the connection between this case in Brooklyn and 91/1 and Able Danger?

PETER LANCE, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Try to do it in three dots, OK. Dot number one, 1996, Ramsi Yusef, the original World Trade Center bomber. The man who I say is the architect of 9/11, he's in federal jail in lower Manhattan, awaiting trial. In the cell next to him, Gregory Scarpa Jr. Greg Scarpa Jr. is awaiting racketeering charges. He's a wise guy for the Colombo crime family.

DOBBS: A hit man.

LANCE: No, he sold marijuana. He was a relatively benign organized crime figure. RICO charges. Nothing heavy.

DOBBS: Minor item?

LANCE: Pardon me?

DOBBS: A minor item?

LANCE: Well, when you compare it to what he uncovered for this country it was amazing. What he did, Lou, over 11 month, he risked his life. Ramsi Yusef is passing him notes with extraordinary pieces of information about al Qaeda: admissions that there's an al Qaeda cell in New York City in 1996. Admissions they want to hijack a plane to free blind Sheikh Rahman, et cetera. And --

DOBBS: How could this tie to Able Danger. LANCE: Deitrick Snell (ph). Our friend, Detrick Snell. Detrick Snell is the prosecutor of Yusef in this upcoming case. He's the man that is privy to all of this intelligence and ultimately what happens is, because Scarpa Jr.'s father was involved in a relationship with an FBI agent named DeVecchio, and that's what the Brooklyn D.A. is looking into now, this alleged corrupt relationship.

The FBI and the Justice Department, I say, made an end's means decision. If they believed young Greg Jr for the intelligence about Yusef, he would be credible. And if he's credible in that case, he will be credible when he went to expose later on, his father and this corrupt FBI agent. And therefore, they made an end's means decision. Let's flush this intelligence on al Qaeda so we can preserve 60 mob cases in the Eastern District in Brooklyn.

DOBBS: So that's the reason you think they basically were discrediting?

LANCE: Absolutely. The proof of it is on my Web site peterlance.com, Lou, I have dozens of FBI 302 memos that prove the intelligence from Ramsey Yusef to Greg Scarpa in 1996, including --

DOBBS: Are we going it see much this much come out into you think in the Able Danger hearings or are we going to be focused otherwise?

LANCE: I believe Congressman Curt Weldon.

DOBBS: The leading to the charge. Trying to get to the truth.

LANCE: And now his staff in particular sees the connection and the value in the Brooklyn's D.A.'s really courageous investigation.

DOBBS: Hearings which we have yet to learn when they will begin but nonetheless promised. Thank you very much, Peter Lance.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Able Danger and NSA spying

Here is someone who disagrees with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

By PETER VAN LAARHOVEN | Holmen, Wis.

On June 27, 2005, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., gave a speech about a super-secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger. According to Weldon, this elite unit was organized at the request of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and carried out by members of U.S. Special Forces.

Weldon said this unit “actually identified the Brooklyn cell of al-Qaida in January and February of 2000, over one year before 9/11 happened.”

He also said, “We identified Mohamed Atta as one of the members of that Brooklyn cell, along with three other terrorists who were the leadership of the 9/11 attack.”

In a Sept. 21, 2005, interview with Michael Savage, Weldon claimed that Steve Cambone, a top deputy of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was briefed on the Able Danger program nearly half a year before 9/11.

So let’s fast-forward to the NSA wire-tapping of U.S. citizens. President Bush claims he needs every tool available to protect Americans from terrorism. Vice President Dick Cheney laments that if there had been secret wire-tapping before the terrible events of 9/11, we “might have been able to pick up on two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon.” Oh, really? What about Weldon’s testimony? What about the Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief that warned that followers of Osama bin Laden were planning to hijack airplanes and strike U.S. targets?

Repeatedly, this administration has proven itself incapable of surmounting its own dogma and actually taking action on good intelligence.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Drafting Weldon for the Senate?

I'm not sure that a sophomore at Wharton writing in the Pennsylvania Independent qualifies as buzz, but here it is:

But a Featherman candidacy is not the only other alternative to Santorum. With two solid Republican candidates polling within striking distance of Governor Ed Rendell, it could make sense for either Steelers hall-of-fame receiver Lynn Swann or former lieutenant governor Bill Scranton to challenge Casey instead of beating each other up for the opportunity to face Rendell.

Other prominent Pennsylvania Republicans who might stand a better chance than Santorum include past governors Mark Schweiker and Tom Ridge or Representative Curt Weldon. Weldon gained national exposure for breaking the Able Danger cover-up story early last August.

So far, neither Republican gubernatorial candidate has publicly contemplated switching races nor have any of the other names voiced aspirations of running. Such a move is unlikely to occur as long as Santorum continues with his campaign. But come next November, this may be to Republican chagrin.


To be clear, I am sure Weldon fully support Santorum. I just thought that "Senator Weldon" had a nice ring to it. Couldn't pass that up.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review Editorial blasts Gore

It's clear who they'll be rooting for a week from Sunday, and it's just as clear they see a connection between the Able Danger and NSA stories:

The other day, Al Gore was blustering about the Bush administration's warrantless monitoring of telephone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of having ties with terrorists.

But a project undertaken by the Pentagon under the Clinton-Gore administration called Able Danger, an Internet data-mining operation, may have as early as 1999 or 2000 identified Mohammed Atta, head of the terror cell responsible for 9/11.

Because of legal restrictions lifted later by the Patriot Act, the data was not shared by Defense with the CIA and FBI. This separation between intelligence agencies -- called the "Wall" -- had its roots in the anti-intelligence hysteria of the Carter administration. It was reaffirmed during the Clinton reign.

Before Mr. Gore assails the strategy in the war on terror, let him beg forgiveness for his administration's deadly failure to protect the homeland.

U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) has been in the lead in the search for truth on Able Danger. He says the 9/11 commission stonewalled.

There is quite enough evidence from people involved in Able Danger to justify a full-scale investigation and to break through the bureaucratic butt-covering that is endemic to Washington.

It's time to listen very carefully to Mr. Weldon -- if our interest is the truth.

Monday, January 23, 2006

If they fire him, he can talk to the media

Wes Vernon reports some new developments:

Two Pentagon military officers — Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Philpott — say that a secret unit named Able Danger identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammad Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and Washington. Others have since come forward to say they saw the same intelligence chart to which Shaffer and Philpot alluded.

Most of the mainstream media ignored this one. However, in answer to a question, Congressman Weldon told me the other day that "Lou Dobbs on CNN is in this [story] up to his eyeballs, and he's determined to stay with it until the end....The same thing is true with Fox News and one reporter Katherine Herridge. She's very much on it. The New York Times [perhaps surprisingly] is on it. It's all over talk radio." He might have added columnist Michelle Malkin has been following the story. But ABC, NBC, CBS, the Washington Post? The biggies [other than NYT]? "I don't know," says the congressman, "I don't think the mainstream media wants to get into it."

On TV, Weldon said, "You can't let a Lt. Col.'s career be ruined because of a bureaucrat at DIA. We're seeing lying and distortion, Wolf Blitzer [CNN] told me that a Defense Department official [likely DIA or originating with DIA] had told him that Shaffer was having an affair with a member of my staff. He doesn't even know my staff. What do we stand for, if not truth?" Also the Feds leaked to the mainstream media info that Shaffer stole pens when he was 15. That's how desperate these people are.

But it doesn't end there. In a January 18 talk before the National Press Club's American Legion Post #20 here in Washington, Weldon said not only has the DIA denied Col Shaffer his clearance, "they're about to do the unthinkable." Now it turns out, "[t]hey're going to deny his health care benefits for his kids, take away his pay without firing him because if they fire him, he can talk to the media." Pentagon authorities — partly at Weldon's insistence — have backed off on that pending a report from the in-house Inspector General.

There's another angle to this: The 9/11 commission missed the all-important Able Danger scandal on Mohammed Atta, even though the information had been handed to a member of the commission staff. Weldon says Peter Lance, an ABC investigative reporter is coming out in a few months with "an earth-shaker" of a book charging that a staffer for 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, limited the scope of the commission.


UPDATE: Vi noticed this near the end of the article, too:

Next month or perhaps very soon thereafter, several congressional committees, in both the House and the Senate, will hold hearings on the Able Danger mess. Armed Services, Government Reform, Judiciary, and Foreign Affairs panels reportedly are making preparations. Some hearings may be held behind closed doors.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

64% of Americans still trust their government

Here is an interesting perspective on Able Danger and the concerns with data mining, from a new site called Group Intel:

Developing meaningful and actionable intelligence requires information, which in turn is built up by collecting a lot of data. I hear tell that we are in the information age, so getting our hands on a lot of data should be fairly easy. That we have the technical capability to do so is apparently a problem for those who think that our fight against terrorism should be based on a strategy that is information free.

Take the open source, data mining effort that was Able Danger. It sorted through vast amounts of completely unclassified, publicly available data and reportedly identified a number of the 9/11 hijackers (before 9/11) as well as the threat to the USS Cole. The program was reportedly shut down and its data deleted because of (unwarranted) fears that “US Persons” data had been viewed/used.

More recently phone numbers and email addresses obtained from captured terrorist phones and computers were used to seed NSA efforts to identify potential terrorists or their supporters in the US. This has sparked fears that the NSA is “spying on Americans” though based on all accounts the only people actually subjected to any scrutiny had some kind of connection (tenuous as it may have been) to an actual bad guy.

Commentary and opinion from those who think that we shouldn’t be taking advantage of information age tools in the information age – those not suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome - primarily concern themselves with potential violations of privacy rights, and view the use of both public and private information as a harbinger of a return to the bad old days of COINTELPRO and the Nixon Enemies List. They use words like “surveillance” and “spying” when in fact an almost infinitesimal number of Americans are actually being “surveilled” while the vast majority of us are merely being scanned, filtered, and discarded. When asked 64% of Americans could apparently care less.


Here is the survey he is referring to at the end:

December 28, 2005--Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.


Electronic intercepts aside, Choicepoint, finance companies, the DNC, the RNC, mass marketers, and others already have massive data mining capabilities. Do we really want to prevent our counterintelligence professionals from using the same tools?

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"The U.S. is to privacy what Caribbean islands are to money laundering," said Chris Jay Hoofnagle, deputy counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. "If you want to store personal information in a jurisdiction where there are almost no legal protections, the U.S. is the place to do it."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Weldon on Neil Cavuto today

The show is at 4pm and Weldon is scheduled to lead it off talking about the latest Bin Laden tape, and about Able Danger.

UPDATE: Intelligence Summit has the video. It was a shorter segment and Able Danger did not come up, only sleeper cells and fighting Al Qaeda in general.

Mueller questioned about Able Danger

No, it wasn't a congressional hearing. It was a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce.

From GovExec.com:

Speaking at a breakfast, Mueller told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that pending legislation to renew the law includes provisions to better protect civil liberties than under the current law.

The chamber opposes the pending reauthorization bill....

Rolf Lundberg, a senior vice president of congressional and public affairs at the chamber, asked Mueller several questions about the status of the FBI's enforcement of international anti-counterfeiting law, the agency's technology upgrade and the awarding of a related tech contract.

Lundberg also asked about Congress' inquiry into Able Danger, a data-mining project of the Defense Department that has been scrapped but that was the subject of a congressional inquiry last year because of privacy concerns.

Mueller did not provide details on that investigation or on the technology upgrade. However, he said the FBI has been successful in pursuing a case in which a Corning official tried to sell its trade secrets to a competitor in Taiwan.


C-SPAN has the video here. I haven't watched it yet, but it sounds like Mueller simply avoided answering the question, whatever the question was Lundberg asked.

UPDATE: Ha, here is a transcript of the entire exchange, at about the 30 minute mark:

Lundberg: Mr. Director, certain Congressmen have requested an investigation on the Able Danger issue. Can you address what the FBI is currently doing with respect to those requests?

Mueller: Um, um, the, uh, there, whatever requests there are for investigations are pending at the Department of Justice. I know that Congress is looking at Able Danger at this juncture.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Second hearing in the Judiciary Committee?

Shaun Waterman reports:

Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary is a very busy man these days.

He has just finished a week-long series of hearings on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court, and staff are preparing the ground for a second hearing later this year into the controversial Able Danger program - a top-secret military data mining project, some of whose alumni now claim to have identified the ringleaders of the 11 September 2001 suicide hijackings as much as a year before the attacks.

And on Wednesday, Specter formally announced a hearing into the legality of a White House-authorized program of secret, warrantless eavesdropping on Americans contacting or being contacted from foreign telephone numbers or email addresses thought to be linked to al-Qaida suspects. One witness is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who, in his prior job of White House counsel, reportedly produced the administration’s legal justification for the program in the first place.

Specter has already said he thought the reasoning the administration was using to defend the program - initiated immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks by the National Security Agency, or NSA - was “wrong”.

Able Danger and the five cells

Rory O'Connor has a great post on Able Danger, the attack on the USS Cole, and the scapegoating of yet another career military officer who has been vindicated by every formal investigation undertaken. Go read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:

Although Lippold lacked “the specific intelligence” to prevent the attack on the Cole, his superiors did not.

Analysts associated with the secretive Able Danger program, including Army Reserve Lieutenant Commander Anthony Shaffer and Navy Captain Scott Phillpott, who say they identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers a year before the Al Qaeda-connected terror attacks on America, also say their team passed on warnings about al Qaeda activity in Aden before the attack on the Cole to high officials at both Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM)....

The Able Danger team had uncovered evidence of five ‘hot spots’ of Al Qaeda activity: Mauritania; Malaysia; Hamburg, Germany; Brooklyn, New York; and Aden, Yemen. Captain Phillpott even briefed then-SOCOM head General Peter Schoomaker (now Chief of Staff, U.S. Army) on the findings just two days prior to the attack on the Cole. Phillpott reportedly warned Schoomaker that Able Danger had uncovered information of increased al-Qaeda “activity” in Aden harbor – a warning that was gleaned through a search of bin Laden’s business ties.

Able Danger analysts also passed along the information to the brass at CENTCOM, who had authority over the Fifth Fleet to which the Cole was assigned, but inexplicably took no action to head off the attack on the Cole....

Had the Able Danger information not been “discounted,” a decision could have been made NOT to refuel in Aden, and the attack on the Cole would have been prevented.

In any event, since the Able Danger alert was classified SCI (special compartmented information) no one onboard the Cole, including Commander Lippold, was even cleared to receive it.

9/11 conspiracy theorists

Not that public hearings would have stopped the tin foil hat crowd, but if anyone was hoping to spawn conspiracy theories by delaying public hearings, they succeeded.

From Judy Andreas:

Webster Griffin Tarpley is an activist, historian and expert on international terrorism. He is known for his famous book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography which he wrote in 1992 with Anton Chaikin. Mr. Tarpley's latest bombshell book, 9/11-Synthetic Terror- Made in the USA, was released in October of 2005 and has recently gone into a second printing. It is a brilliant book that explores the attacks of September 11, 2001 as an example of state-sponsored, false-flag terrorism that was carried out by a rogue network within the US government

A mesmerized crowd listened to Webster Tarpley's explanation of the roles of the "patsies" (Mohammed Atta, Osama Bin Ladin), "moles" (powerful people in the government) and "professionals" on 911. He said that this way of operating has been standard in the US for many years. The patsies, dupes, useful idiots and fanatics are the scapegoats. (like Lee Harvey Oswald) The government officials are loyal to a private network and have to make certain that nobody interferes with the patsies beforehand. The professional killers shoot and leave....

Tarpley's bold assertion is that "Able Danger" did not involve a group whose purpose was to "observe " Atta and his cohorts, but rather, it involved a group whose purpose was to "control" them. "Able Danger are the controllers," Tarpley stated. "They helped Atta get through the day....they gave him money ....they told him what to do....how to behave."

Interestingly, to date Able Danger has not been allowed to testify and has managed to destroy their own records. Apparently, they have destroyed approximately 2.5 terabytes of data.

Trouble in Kennebunkport?

No, not really. It's just a letter to the editor, not an editorial by the Kennebec Journal:

Citizens deserve truth about Able Danger

There is a fuse burning in Washington and it leads to a powder keg called Able Danger. This was the name of a data-mining operation begun by the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Clinton administration.

Its mission was to sort through electronic communications for information about al-Qaida. In February 2000 it claimed to have identified Mohammed Atta and three of his fellow hijackers, including photos. There are reports of several attempts to inform the director of this agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the FBI with this information. All the collected data has been destroyed and the security clearances pulled from former Able Danger personnel, and they were forbidden to testify.

I telephoned the offices of our congressional delegation and asked if any of this was true. Rep. Michael Michaud and Sen. Susan Collins didn't respond. Rep. Tom Allen told me everything was OK and Sen. Olympia Snowe, who gains my respect day by day, said she took my concerns seriously and would "monitor this developing situation."

With news about domestic spying, corruption, bribery, and how we were deceived into starting a war, it seems that if this is true, this may be America's darkest hour.

We, as citizens, must demand truthful answers. This is far too grave an issue to allow it to dwindle off into conspiracy lore. What did Bush and Co. know and when? He and his administration appear to be creating an imperial presidency justified by 9/11 and the war on terror.

Peter McFarland

Jefferson


This is a classic example of the contradictory arguments you hear from people who support the Able Danger program but think the NSA scandal is grounds for impeachment.

Please. Get a grip, people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Most underreported stories of 2005

World Net Daily has a list:

Here, with our readers' help, are WorldNetDaily editors' picks for the 10 most underreported stories of the past year:

1. Failure of the 9-11 commission to investigate "Able Danger." In November, former FBI chief Louis Freeh rebuked the 9-11 commission for ignoring revelations by "Able Danger," a secret data-mining operation that allegedly named Mohamed Atta as an al-Qaida operative a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The assertions made by the Able Danger team contradict government denials that U.S. agencies had any prior knowledge of Atta or any others eventually associated with the attacks.

According to reports, Able Danger had identified Atta, the lead attacker, and three others as probable members of an al-Qaida cell operating in the U.S. by mid-2000.

Last month, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, said he expected Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to green light public hearings before Congress to disclose more information regarding prior knowledge of Islamist cells in the U.S. before 9-11.

The disclosure of the operation and its alleged findings was first made by Weldon in a special orders speech on the House floor and in his new book, "Countdown to Terror."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Able Danger recharge

It has been almost four months now since we last heard from Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer. If you are starting to lose hope that hearings will materialize in February, John from Weldon's office has some updates:

It has been quiet, largely because the House has not been in session. We are currently engaged in discussions with leadership and committees regarding hearings, but nothing significant to report....

Word is that the IG investigation into LTC Shaffer smear by DIA is going well, and that Shaffer has a strong case. No other details available at this moment.

Senate Intel report status is unknown....


He also provided some video links, which are a great way to refresh your memory about just what it is we have been waiting so long for anyways.

Video of Weldon's speech on June 27, 2005.

Video from Weldon's speech on October 6, 2005.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lou Dobbs interview with Congressman Weldon

From CNN on Friday, January 13, 2006:

DOBBS: It's been an eventful couple of months for Congressman Curt Weldon. He's been fighting nonstop to open Able Danger hearings on Capitol Hill. Exactly a month ago, the Pentagon gave its OK for hearings to go forward with the participation of Able Danger intelligence officials who had been prevented from doing so earlier by the DOD.

These officials say they were prevented from sharing top secret information about 9/11 and 9/11 terrorists that they claim they could have prevented the terrorist attacks. Weldon's new challenge is to make sure these hearings begin soon so Americans can finally learn the truth about this controversy.

Congressman Weldon joins me tonight from Wilmington, Delaware. Congressman when do the hearings begin?

REP. CURT WELDON (R) HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE.: Probably as soon as we get back into session, which is in a couple of weeks. We've been methodically relaying the groundwork. There are actually four separate investigations and inquiries under way right now: you've got the IG investigation of DIA's handling of Tony Schaeffer; you've got committee hearings involved both Appropriations and Intelligence; you've got inquiries being done by Armed Services and Homeland Security.

So there's a lot of activity under way, both in the House and separate inquiries over in the Senate. So we're moving along, and I expect that sometime in February we'll begin the formal open hearings.

DOBBS: Right now, you're no longer frustrated, even though it is a slow-as-molasses approach -- you're not longer frustrated by the recalcitrance of the DOD?

WELDON: Well, we've gotten the commitment. Gordon England has really been a fantastic support as the deputy secretary, and we're moving along and I'm confident we're going to finally let the American people see what we knew, when we knew it a year or two before 9/11.

DOBBS: And when you say problems for Colonel Schaeffer, specifically what are you referring to? Share that with our audience.

WELDON: Well, there was a gross attempt to try to -- not just ruin him, but destroy him, an attempt to take away his benefits for his kids, his salary for himself, and ruin his career. With the help of Gordon England and the incoming director of DIA, we got that put on hold until the inspector general completes the investigation. That investigation is underway.

Colonel Schaeffer is currently still being paid. He's still willing to do work and wants to help the country and really wants to help us generate the next capability of this data mining process, a process called Able Providence. And we're working on that as an improvement to allow us to deal with the terrorists in the future.

DOBBS: And you and journalist Peter Lance have both focused on Dieter Snell, who was the counsel for the 9/11 Commission. What do you -- are you going have him come forward, or to what degree are you still interested in him?

WELDON: Well, Peter Lance has done a tremendous amount of investigative work, as a former broadcast journalist, on Dieter Snell and his involvement. I've not focused as much on that. But I think at some point in time, he should willingly come before the Congress and answer some questions why the 9/11 Commission chose the date they did to begin their investigation.

Why did they pick 1996? There had to be a reason. And the reason by he decided not brief the 9/11 commissioners after he debriefed Scott Philpot. Those and many more questions need to be answered so that we can set the record straight and finally give the American people what they've asked for. That is a clear understanding of what happened before 9/11, so it never happens again.

DOBBS: Congressman Curt Weldon, thanks for being here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It's not the NSA you should be worried about

I've made the point before, but government overreach should really be the last of our concerns when it comes to safeguarding our privacy. Lack of government oversight in the private sector is the problem.

From the Chicago Sun Times:

The Chicago Police Department is warning officers their cell phone records are available to anyone -- for a price. Dozens of online services are selling lists of cell phone calls, raising security concerns among law enforcement and privacy experts.

Criminals can use such records to expose a government informant who regularly calls a law enforcement official.

Suspicious spouses can see if their husband or wife is calling a certain someone a bit too often.

And employers can check whether a worker is regularly calling a psychologist -- or a competing company.

Some online services might be skirting the law to obtain these phone lists, according to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has called for legislation to criminalize phone record theft and use.

In some cases, telephone company insiders secretly sell customers' phone-call lists to online brokers, despite strict telephone company rules against such deals, according to Schumer.

And some online brokers have used deception to get the lists from the phone companies, he said.

"Though this problem is all too common, federal law is too narrow to include this type of crime," Schumer said last year in a prepared statement.


In other words, Kossacks want to provoke a constitutional crisis because the NSA did something like this to track Al Qaeda, but anyone with $100 bucks can already do it today. During the Able Danger story "information brokers" and "buying information online" were mentioned several times. Frankly, it makes me wonder if Able Danger might have used a service like this in order to locate Al Qaeda agents.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Louis Freeh on Wolf Blitzer

On December 29th, Freeh was on the Situation Room. Here is a partial transcript:

LOUIS FREEH, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Well, you've asked me two long questions, Wolf -- rhetorical questions, but let me try to answer those.

First of all, John Podesta talking about the nadir and the FBI is quite comical when you look at the presidency that he was chief of staff for.

But leave that aside, John Podesta -- it's interesting he's making all of these criticisms right now, because when he was chief of staff, first of all, he never brought any to my attention. And you know what, if I was that bad, the president should have fired me. So it's interesting to sort of hear the record.

With respect to the 9/11 Commission, I agree with a lot of their findings, particularly the finding that neither President Bush nor President Clinton, nor their national security advisers put the country on a war footing before September 11. And a lot of their criticisms are valid.

But let's remember that prior to September 11, when our enemy was not only declaring but waging war against the United States, blowing up embassies -- they almost sank an Aegis class warship, the USS Cole, in October of 2000. Our response -- and I'm talking about two administrations -- was to get arrest warrants for bin Laden, put him on the top 10 list.

And I went over to President Musharraf in the spring of 2000, asked that he help me arrest and take custody of bin Laden. By the way, he was of no help. He told me that he had spoken to Omar Mullah, who told him that bin Laden was no longer working in terrorism.

So the perspective before 9/11 was quite different. The country did not declare war -- war as you and I would understand it -- until September 11.

And while we're on the subject, the 9/11 Commission, it was interesting to read, at least press accounts, of Able Danger. It appears, from very credible sources, including very decorated military officers, that prior to September 11, actually in 2000, the Able Danger unit had identified...

BLITZER: That was a unit of the Pentagon that supposedly identified Mohammed Atta and some of the others, according to some of those people who say they were involved. Did any of that information ever reach the FBI?

FREEH: Well, absolutely not. In fact, if you read the media accounts, the military officers were forbidden from giving that to the FBI. In fact, they had (inaudible) with the FBI. Now, my point is, that was the kind of tactical intelligence -- had the FBI had it, you know what, that would have been very, very helpful.

FBI agents might have reacted to that. The 9/11 commission apparently was told this before they wrote their report, and we still haven't gotten a straight answer as to what they did with it.

BLITZER: But forget about Able Danger for a moment. As significant potentially as that might be, and there are presumably investigations, reviews under way right now to determine what, if any, role they may have had. But there were FBI agents who were connecting the dots, who were screaming about some of these 9/11 hijackers leading up to it. But apparently it didn't reach your desk or you were unaware of what some of your own field agents were getting.

Peter Lance on Lou Dobbs tonight

Lou Dobbs Tonight
Tuesday, January 3, 2005

Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist Peter Lance sits
down with Lou to share the latest information on Able Danger,
the pre-9/11 intelligence controversy.

UPDATE: Not much new, but here's the transcript:

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much. Looking forward to it.

Capitol Hill is gearing up for hearings into what could be one of the most explosive intelligence failure controversies in our history. Officials in the top-secret Able Danger army intelligence unit say they identified 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 radical Islamist terrorists more than a year before those attacks.

And they say they were prevented by U.S. army attorneys from sharing information with the FBI. Last month, the Pentagon announced that it no longer objects to having Able Danger officials testify in congressional hearings. Hearings could begin as soon as next month. Joining me tonight with his insight into these latest Able Danger developments, Emmy award-winning investigative journalist Peter Lance. The author of the book, "Cover Up."

Peter, you say the Bush administration's secret wiretap program boosts the credibility of Able Danger. How so? PETER LANCE, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, the idea that the NSA, which is the biggest of all the big five intelligence agencies was using data mining, the same technique as the Able Danger operation shows that this was not some rogue operation that they had just done a one-off intelligence investigative technique.

When, in fact, the government itself for years has been practicing this data mining, where they sweep the Internet and look for connections. So I think it enhances the credibility of people like Tony Shaffer and Scott Philpot who have come forward at great risk to say that they had this information on Atta, et cetera.

DOBBS: Well, and Shaffer and Philpot, as they have expressed themselves in this limited way to this point, apparently they're going to be able to speak straightforwardly and openly. We don't know yet whether there will be open hearings or closed, but at least they're going to be appearing before elected representatives. What do you expect that the American people will be learning, if not directly at least through their elected representatives?

LANCE: Well, again, as I've said with you before, the most important information is the corroboration between -- that they found between the active al Qaeda cells in 1999 and the original World Trade Center bombing cell of the blind sheik and Ramzi Yousef.

DOBBS: In 1993.

LANCE: '93 -- that's a crucial, crucial piece of information.

DOBBS: Which you've been investigating for years.

LANCE: Which has been the contention in the findings of the my two books, but also it was ignored by the 9/11 commission. That's like a massive difference of opinion as to what happened on the road to 9/11.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this, because I talked with a number of the 9/11 commissioners, former commissioners, and each one with varying degrees of reluctance have either defended the commission's work or denied altogether that there is any relevance here whatsoever for Able Danger. How do you analyze it? How do you react?

LANCE: The reason I believe, Lou, is -- and I had a source inside the commission. I believe that this commission on the Democratic and the Republican side as it was conceived, they made a decision to limit the investigation to the last few years prior to 9/11 from '96 forward.

They intentionally decided not to go back to 1989 when they had these same guys on the radar of the FBI, not to look at World Trade Center bombing in '93, and the reason being, I believe, to remove the culpability of the FBI's New York office and the southern district, the offices of origin, from any culpability for not stopping Yousef in '93. If you take him out of 9/11 plot, then effectively then they're not liable for having not stopped him in '93. DOBBS: Do you think these hearings will produce real, tangible results for the American people, a real understanding of what happened?

LANCE: It's the best chance to reopen the investigation, and they have to get this fellow Dietrich Snell, put him under oath, subpoena him. And if Dietrich Snell tells the truth about what happened when he was on the 9/11 Commission in the southern district, we will get the truth on 9/11.

DOBBS: Peter Lance, thank you very much for your contributions to truth. And we'll be talking throughout. Thank you.

LANCE: Thanks, Lou.

Monday, January 02, 2006

FISA and data mining technology

Dave Nelle at Red State has an interesting post on FISA and Able Danger:

Data mining has real value in fighting terrorism. The military had actually identified four of the 9/11 suspects including Mohammed Atta a year before the attack by using data mining under a controversial Department of Defense program called Able Danger, unfortunately no action was taken against them prior to the attacks on 9/11. If used widely it could certainly play a major role in discovering terrorists before they strike.

The problem with data mining is that it may be most effective not at gathering evidence like a traditional wiretap, but rather as a tool to identify potential suspects out of a much larger pool of mostly innocent people. It certainly can be used effectively to figure out which calls to monitor and which to ignore, but it can also be used to figure out which people to monitor and which to ignore. That means a great deal of random monitoring of people who are not suspects, not named in warrants, and who are guaranteed a certain level of privacy under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. These people ought to be protected in some way from having their privacy randomly invaded in order to identify those people who actually need to be spied on.

The counter-argument is that data mining does no real harm to the innocent - the old "what have you got to hide if you're innocent" argument used by cheesy cops in many a TV show. The computers sift out and eliminate most of the innocent calls and they are erased before anyone even sees them. Those calls which do get sorted out by a human aren't retained unless they are relevant to an investigation, so theoretically once the information is fully processed the innocent are eliminated and only information on the guilty is retained. Nonetheless, the innocent are still exposed to scrutiny and that's a violation of their privacy rights. This technology also raises the specter of a day when computers might be used to monitor all communications to sort out the good eggs from the bad throughout the entire population, looking not just at terrorism but at every potential minor legal infraction, a big step towards a 'big brother' style high-tech police state, the mechanism for which may already exist in the much feared Project Echelon.

Data mining certainly isn't the only subject for concern in the intelligence gathering arena of the War on Terror, but it's a good example of how difficult it is to draw a clear line between legitimate investigative techniques and innovative but potentially questionable methods demanded by necessity, but not necessarily clearly acceptable under existing law which has likely been written to address very different concerns. Changes in intelligence needs and technology often leave government agents operating in a gray area and doing whatever they think they have to up until the point where someone in authority specifically tells them they're out of line or Congress catches up and passes a law specifically authorizing their activities.

Should NSA computers be sorting through thousands of innocent phonecalls to find a few suspect conversations? Certainly not in an ideal world. Is that small potential violation of privacy a justifiable price to pay for such an effective tool in finding threats to the nation? In the real world that's certainly a reasonable argument. What's certain in all of this is that we need clear and up to date laws which express unequivocally what intelligence gathering methods are and are not permissible given contemporary needs and modern technology, and the FISA system is not the answer.