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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Clinton NSC Team Targets Weldon

From News Max:

High-ranking members of Bill Clinton's national security team have joined together to defeat Pennsylvania Republican Curt Weldon's House re-election bid this November - in what looks like retaliation for Weldon's efforts in exposing the Clinton administration's Able Danger scandal.

In June 2005, Weldon went public with news that Clinton administration lawyers prevented the Defense Intelligence Agency's Able Danger group from blowing the whistle on two al-Qaida terrorists who would later pilot the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center.

Though the media downplayed Weldon's bombshell, a number of high ranking Clinton officials apparently haven't forgotten - and they're pouring money into the campaign of Weldon's opponent, Joe Sestak.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has given $500 to Sestak.

Disgraced former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has given Weldon's opponent $1,000.

Disgraced ex-Clinton CIA director John Deutch gave $500.

Former Clinton Navy secretary John Dalton ponied up $500 to defeat Weldon.

Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta - $300.

Berger's predecessor as national security adviser, Anthony Lake - $500.

Even Hillary Clinton has gotten into the act, contributing $2,500 to defeat Curt Weldon.

Actually, they forgot one more Clintonista:

U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon called yesterday for Democratic opponent Joe Sestak to return $350 in campaign contributions from Mary O. McCarthy, the CIA investigator fired last week for allegedly leaking classified information to the news media.

Sestak's spokeswoman noted, in reply, that the CIA employee had not been charged with any crime and said she saw no reason for the money to be returned "at this time."

McCarthy, who worked at the National Security Council when Sestak worked there in the 1990s, donated $100 to Sestak on March 1 and $250 on March 11, according to a campaign finance report the Seventh Congressional District candidate filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Weldon on Lou Dobbs tonight

No indication they will be discussing Able Danger, but still worth tuning in.

From CNN:

The War on the Middle Class continues unabated. But Congressman
Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania is fighting to ease the burden of
skyrocketing gasoline prices for America's middle class. The
Congressman joins Lou tonight to explain how he’s trying to
help working men and women.

UPDATE: Not sure what happened here. Lou even intros the segment with Weldon before commercial breaks, but there is no sign of any Weldon interview in the transcript. I'm guessing that it either got bumped or Weldon had to cancel at the last minute.

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.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Unclassified Proposal for Able Providence

Here is a full copy of the unclassified proposal for a new effort designed to build on the successes of the Able Danger program. You might have seen Captain Ed's series of posts on this here, here, and here. This proposal has also been discussed publicly here, here, and here. My current understanding is that the Able Providence proposal is being worked, but it has not been fully funded, and there has been no progress on fixing the stovepiping, bureaucratic, or operational issues that the proposal was intended to address.

ABLE PROVIDENCE Executive Summary 25 May 2005

ABLE PROVIDENCE is the umbrella construct for creating the ultimate "situational awareness" capability that will allow decision makers, military operators and law enforcement superior speed and agility in order to identify, target and counter terrorist entities, individuals and organizations on a global scale. The objective of ABLE PROVIDENCE is to enable the national command authority to break cultural, interagency barriers and identify and seize decisive points in the global war on terrorism (GWOT) through the use of a proven methodology that blends technology, massive parallel processing of data to produce actionable information; creating a global "armored cavalry" capability.

ABLE PROVIDENCE will be established through three phases:

Phase I. Establish ABLE PROVIDENCE as element of the Director of National Intelligence, with joint oversight of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Using a cell of experienced operators, intelligence officers, information system experts, technologists, and planners, lay the foundation for the technology, location and authorities, to include creation of a "beta" test-bed capability. Cost: $2 million.

Phase II. Establish KIMBERLITE MAGIC. The follow-on and update to the original Special Operations Command (SOCOM) ABLE DANGER effort and National Operational Analysis Hub (NOAH) concept. Establish effective data mining and data visualization suites, combined with decision support software in the northern Virginia area. Establish open source and classified data pipes to populate the databases. Cost: $11.9 million.

Phase III. Establish partnerships with key military, homeland defense and law enforcement partners. Establish key relationships with National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), SOCOM, Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS (Customs/TSA, etc) and partner with Army 1st Info Ops Command (IDC), Army Asymmetric Warfare Group (ASW), Navy DEEP BLUE, Air Force CHECKMATE to produce actionable "Decision Support" Option Packets. ABLE PROVIDENCE would then "shepherd" packets that identify "decisive points" to operators or law enforcement. Cost $10.5 million.

Just as Brigadier General Buford and his cavalry seized and held the decisive high ground on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg on the 1st of July in 1863, the pivotal point of the civil war, we need to establish an element that will serve as the global level intellectual "scout" to rapidly out think, anticipate and engage terrorist targets before they can engage us. ABLE PROVIDENCE will be that element and that capability to identify decisive points that will result in our ultimate victory in the GWOT.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Two months versus a few hours

Able Danger Blog is hearing that while it took two months for the House Armed Services Committee and the Department of Defense to finally get the written questions Cynthia McKinney submitted for the record to Lt. Col. Shaffer, they wanted him to respond the same day they gave him the questions! In fact, if he did not reply the same day, they said they would add a footnote to the official record of the hearing to state that the witness did not respond to McKinney's questions!

Welcome to Able Danger, proving 2006 is 1984 more and more each day.

UPDATE: Erik Kleinsmith or someone using his name, left the following:

Please check your story here. I received my questions from Cynthia McKinney on or about 16 March with a return date requested by 10 April. I did not talk to LTC Shaffer, but can only assume that his questions were dated the same day.

Erik, you are correct on the approximate date of the letter from the HASC, over a month after the hearing. Unfortunately, the problem is that it was sent to the Pentagon and they never passed it to Shaffer until the day the reply was required! For those who are wondering, my understanding is that Shaffer did answer all the questions, but took a few days past the deadline so he could provide a detailed, accurate response.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Judge Posner mentions Able Danger

In a new report published by the AEI Judge Richard Posner discusses Able Danger, but might be confusing it with Total Information Awareness:

Congress decreed reorganization of the U.S. intelligence system in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which the president signed into law in December of that year. The intelligence community has been engaged in implementing the law for a year, since the president appointed Ambassador John Negroponte to be the first director of national intelligence (DNI). A recent article by Scott Shane in the New York Times states that “a year after the sweeping government reorganization [of intelligence] began, the [intelligence] agencies . . . remain troubled by high-level turnover, overlapping responsibilities and bureaucratic rivalry,” and that the reorganization has “bloated the bureaucracy, adding boxes to the government organization chart without producing clearly defined roles.”[1] The question on which I focus in this article is whether these are merely teething troubles--the inevitable transition costs involved in an ambitious government reorganization--or whether they point to fundamental design flaws in the intelligence reorganization.

It is tempting to suppose that all must be well because the DNI has hired able people. Indeed he has. But it is possible that these people could be working equally or even more productively for the individual agencies from which they (largely) came. The reorganization reshuffled rather than augmented the nation’s federal intelligence personnel. In evaluating a reorganization, one must always consider the incremental benefits created by it, and compare them with the incremental costs.

The fundamental cause of the ambitious reorganization of the intelligence community that we are living through is not, I believe, some deep flaws in the system as it existed on the eve of the 9/11 attacks. Rather, it is a deep misunderstanding of the limitations of national-security intelligence. It is the kind of misunderstanding that the commissioner of baseball might harbor if he thought it a scandal that 70 percent of the time even the best hitters fail to get a hit, and if he proposed to boost batting averages to 1.000 by reorganizing the leagues. His thinking would be deeply flawed, and his reorganization would fail to raise batting averages, though it might lower them....

Another Pentagon agency that has gotten into the domestic intelligence act is the Information Dominance Center (IDC), which developed the Able Danger data-mining program, a very promising program derailed by the involvement of Admiral John Poindexter and the failure of the administration to explain and defend the program. Another recent article in the Times reported

that the military’s counterterrorism effort is hampered by bureaucratic duplication, officials said, citing in particular an overlap between new government centers, including the National Counterterrorism Center . . . The review found that the government-wide national security bureaucracy still does not respond rapidly and effectively to the new requirements of the counterterrorism campaign. The report said more streamlining was necessary across a broad swath of the civilian bureaucracy and military.[7]

Able Providence anyone?

Monday, April 10, 2006

SOCOM admits to using post-it notes

Sources familiar with the unclassified testimony at the closed session of the Able Danger hearing in February have described some interesting details from the hearing.

For one thing, a SOCOM attorney named Kevin Brew admitted that SOCOM had required the faces of suspected Al Qaeda members to be covered with yellow post-it notes if the individual might be here in the US legally. Brew apparently referred to this procedure as "minimization" and while SOCOM would not admit that it had covered the face of Mohamed Atta himself with a yellow post-it, we already know from the testimony of Steve Cambone that the Brooklyn cell Atta was linked with is the only cell identified by Able Danger with links to persons inside the United States:

WELDON: I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

Dr. Cambone, do you agree in your assessment -- or your team here -- that the Able Danger team identified five hotspots, what they called hotspots, which would include Malaysia, Mauritania, Hamburg, Germany, New York and Aden, Yemen?

CAMBONE: Yes, there's said to be that sort of designation of places, to include the Brooklyn cell issue.

In addition, there is a temporary duty form - or "TDY" - documenting the travel of Colonel Worthington, Captain Scott Phillpott's direct superior officer on Able Danger, in October 2000 when he was to meet with the FBI regarding Able Danger at their Washington DC headquarters. This is the same meeting that the FBI refuses to provide any witnessees to testify as to whether or not any meetings were actually scheduled. In other words, the FBI dodged the question, but SOCOM has admitted it.

Last but not least, the same sources have confirmed the following exchange between Congressman Curt Weldon and a former DIA analyst named Jay Boesen. At one point Boesen, who believed other witnesses were mistaking Mohamed Atta for Mohamed Atef, complained about the fact that Weldon was using his unclassified charts to show an example of what an Able Danger chart might have looked like if they still existed. When Boesen raised this, Weldon left the room only to return later with a copy of a book by Peter Lance which features one of the same charts by Jay Boesen. When Curt asked him if he was aware that his chart appeared in a book that hold sold millions of copies, Boesen did not have much to say. He'd given permission to use the chart.

Stay tuned for more developments here or at Captain's Quarters, where Ed Morrissey has been providing great coverage of the Able Danger story, too.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bureaucratic Overhead Optional

Captain Ed has the third in his series of posts on Able Providence:

Bypass but inform bureaucracy. That directive aims at the action-validation process, which under the current DNI would have to go through multiple levels of bureaucrats, thanks to the 9/11 Commission recommendations that slapped an entirely new bureaucracy on American intelligence. Able Providence would go to the Joint Chiefs and/or the DNI directly for approval on field ops, with an AP "away team" coordinating with the AP team at home. This is a much-improved model over the existing morass of intel agencies.

Someone's listening and learning.

Convicted Felons for Sestak Club?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Second slide on Able Providence

Captain Ed has the second in his series of exclusive posts on the Able Providence effort. Once the entire slide presentation is available, we will post it here on Able Danger Blog. From Ed:

The program itself is not classified, but also has not received much attention, especially in light of the treatment afforded to the Able Danger team members who have fought to have their successes recognized and repeated. Able Providence appears to be the program that they have desired, and the with the funding now in place, the datamining should soon commence as soon as their team forms.

One improvement over the experiment of Able Danger is a recognition of the enemy being targeted. AD had been a toss of the dice to determine whether the datamining concept could succeed in identifying potential targets. Now that the model has been proved, the focus of the data being mined can narrow towards the Islamofascists....

Sandy Berger hosts fundraiser for Weldon's opponent

What a surprise:

Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger helped host a Washington fund-raising event last week for Sestak. Weldon said Sestak should not have accepted aid from Berger because Berger pleaded guilty last year to removing classified documents from the National Archives.

UPDATE: Here is some background on Sandy Berger and Able Danger:

Of course, the first thing that lept to my mind was that, if true, this could possibly have been the motive behind former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy "docs in his socks" Berger's inexplicable actions in removing classified documents at the National Archives at about the same time as the 9/11 Commission was reviewing documents associated with terrorism.

I know this is a loose association on my part, but it seems to me that if anyone in the Clinton adminsitration knew about Able Danger, it would have been Mr. Berger as National Security Advisor. A revelation that he was behind the decision not to allow military intelligence to pass on information to law enforcement officials about a terror cell that included Atta and other 9/11 murderers provides the first, possibly significant motive for Berger's bizarre behavior in spring of 2004....

More on the fundraiser from the Delco Times last week:

Several members of President Bill Clinton’s national security team are hosting a Washington fund-raiser tonight for retired Vice Adm. Joseph Sestak Jr., the Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon in November.

Officials at Sestak’s campaign headquarters in Media will not comment on the event, though an invitation sent out to potential donors and obtained by the Daily Times lists Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger as a host.

"As a general rule, campaigns don’t comment on fund-raisers or people who hold them," said Sestak’s campaign chairman, Myles Duffy.

Unless of course their name is John Kerry. From Sestak's website:

Two area military veterans hoping to unseat Republican members of Congress in November are getting a national plug from Sen. John Kerry.

In an e-mail to be sent today to three million people, the former Democratic presidential nominee will urge support for three congressional candidates, including Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy and retired Vice Adm. Joseph A. Sestak Jr., according to David Wade, Kerry's press secretary. The message asks for donations and says: "Tell Iraq war veterans that we've got their back."

Remember, Sestak did not actually serve in the Iraq War. Anyway, Judi McLeod has more details:

"I don’t know why this fund-raiser is so secretive–other than the fact that it is a fund-raiser hosted by a convicted felon, a man convicted of destroying information dealing with pre-9/11 intelligence," said Russ Caso, Weldon’s chief of staff....

Last night’s soiree, held at the Connecticut Avenue law office of Harold Ickes and Janice Enright, asked for individual contributions ranging from $250 to $2,100. Ickes, a labor attorney and former top aide to President Clinton, was a strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. Enright, a lobbyist, who works with Ickes, is the treasurer of Sen. Clinton’s 2006 re-election committee....

Like the proverbial dog with the bone, Weldon keeps talking about Able Danger even though he’s not getting much support to keep Able Danger before the public eye from his fellow Republicans. In a February 2006 interview, he told Canada Free Press, "I’ll never give up."

If there is one thing that Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger and Company do not need out there, it’s the Double O Seven of American Congress, Curt Weldon keeping Able Danger alive.

More details on Able Providence

Captain Ed has seen a copy of the proposal for an effort to rebuild Able Danger known as Able Providence. Congressman Weldon and Lt. Col. Shaffer have both discussed the program briefly in the past. However, with most of the members of the original Able Danger team still afraid to speak publicly, not because they are afraid of exposing classified information but rather for fear of relation, what does that say about the potential for any effort to rebuild Able Danger itself?

You can also find more details about Able Providence and Able Danger here and here. Meanwhile, stay tuned to Captain Ed for more information. As much as I would like to believe that we have learned from the mistakes of 9/11, everything I've seen around the Able Danger story leads me to believe we have not.

Monday, April 03, 2006

New article on Able Danger

Veteran journalist Wes Vernon has a new column on Able Danger:

A Pentagon official who has been causing much discomfort to powerful people in two administrations has received lucrative job offers. One of them required his presence two states away on the very day he was to testify before Congress on the Able Danger scandal. Coincidence?

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer is one of the military officers who have said that a secret intelligence unit named Able Danger identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammad Atta (living the U.S.) as a terrorist fully one year before attacks on New York and Washington. The warnings were ignored. Shaffer is speaking out. That has earned him the enmity of powerful figures in the Clinton Administration (on whose watch the warnings were first issued), the Bush administration (which did not want to start its White House tenure by rattling cages that would have prompted Clinton acolytes to holler "partisanship"), and the 9/11 commission which ignored the Able Danger information.

So there are lots of people who want to sweep the scandal under the rug, and who wish Shaffer and his whistle-blowing colleague, Navy Capt. Scott Philpott would shut up and get out of the way. But they won't. So they have been harassed. This is reminiscent of Harry Truman's admonition that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

One of the people who understands that warning very well is Congressman Curt Weldon who has been bird-dogging the Able Danger scandal for months. He has even written a book dealing with it. But he has been in Congress for twenty years and is the second ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. So he at least has the clout to fight back against the stonewall, though there is a special effort being made to unseat him in November. That is a separate matter for a future column.

Shaffer and Philpott have no such clout. Thus they depend on people such as Weldon and Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter to go to bat for them when things get especially nasty, as opposed to regular nasty which is a day in-day out occurrence for them right now.

Go read the whole thing.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

What does it all mean?

Good summary from No Such Blog:

It would seem that the "rest of the story" about Able Danger is starting to come out.

"The rest of the story" is the connection between the 9/11 plot and "Operation Bojinka", which was an initiative to hijack several aircraft over the Pacific in 1995, and the connections between Ramzi Yousef and one of the 9/11 Commission Staffers.

"Bojinka" was the brainchild of master terrorist (and nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) Ramzi Yousef. I have written about Yousef before, discussing the various conspiracy theories about Yousef's connections to both Iraq and the Oklahoma City bombing. Yousef was captured in the Philippines in 1995 after he had a little accident while making bombs in a Manila apartment. He was subsequently extradited to the US and incarcerated in New York.

I knew, but hadn't blogged, about the odd story of Ramzi Yousef's relationship there with a jailed New York mobster named Gregory Scarpa, Jr.

Scarpa, while incarcerated in the same facility, made friends with Yousef and received all sorts of extraordinary information from him - information which he passed to the FBI in an effort to reduce his own sentence. Among the tidbits in Scarpa's account was a claim by Yousef that al Qaeda was responsible for the Khobar Towers bombing (the US gov't credits "Saudi Hizballah with support from Iran") and a claim that Yousef had warned various people to "stay away from TWA aircraft" on July 18, 1996. (The crash of TWA 800, which was officially ruled an accident, was on July 17, 1996.)

...So then Able Danger comes along. The Able Danger team had information (about the presence of al Qaeda terrorists in the United States) which contradicted the timeline in the 9/11 Commission's narrative, but fit in a lot better with Ramzi Yousef's story.

And Dieter Snell was the guy who made sure Able Danger was left out of the Commission's report.