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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Able Danger witness statement

The following affidavit was submitted to the House Armed Services Committee on February 26, 2006, following their February 15, 2006 hearing on Able Danger, where Congressman Weldon referred to this incident during his questions to Steve Cambone.

Can not say more here, but contact me if you would like more details (contact at abledangerblog.com). Anyway, here are a few highlights:

2. On November 30, 2005, I took a flight from Reagan National Airport to Los Cabos, Mexico, via Houston, TX. Seated next to me on the flight out of Houston were a man and woman who, as it turned out, lived in Annandale, VA, not far from my home.

3. Even more coincidentally, the man, who personally identified himself to me as Butch Willard, worked at the Pentagon and told me he was staffing the ABLE DANGER issue for OSD....

8. Surprisingly, he then asked me what I thought of Tony and I replied “Do you mean back when I knew him or now with this clearance stuff?” He responded “Both.” I said that all I knew about the clearance was what I was hearing in the news and reading online, but it looked to me like retribution for his interview with the 9/11 Commission staff while serving in Afghanistan. Willard smiled and said this was not what happened, but is the story Tony wants the public to believe. He very clearly remarked that Tony figured he could run crying to his buddy, Congressman Weldon, to get Weldon to help him get his clearance back insinuating this was the reason Weldon went public with ABLE DANGER. He also told me that the DIA/IG had initially handled this case but screwed it all up PR-wise, but now the OSD/IG has it, and things are under control and everything is “back on track.”

...I stated that I hoped Congressman Weldon succeeds in getting to the bottom of it. I wanted to learn the truth of what happened. This remark elicited no reaction or discernable facial expression from Mr. Willard and the conversation on Shaffer and ABLE DANGER ended.


Here is the full text of the affidavit:

I, (redacted), hereby declare as follows:

1. I am a person over eighteen (18) years of age and competent to testify. I make this initial statement on personal knowledge. I am a former Air Force officer who specialized in Human Intelligence Collection. The last duty position I held was as the Executive Officer to the Director, Defense Humint Services, Defense Intelligence Agency, Clarendon, VA, from 1994-1996.

2. On November 30, 2005, I took a flight from Reagan National Airport to Los Cabos, Mexico, via Houston, TX. Seated next to me on the flight out of Houston were a man and woman who, as it turned out, lived in Annandale, VA, not far from my home.

3. Even more coincidentally, the man, who personally identified himself to me as Butch Willard, worked at the Pentagon and told me he was staffing the ABLE DANGER issue for OSD. I told him I was closely following this hot topic by virtue of the fact that Tony Shaffer had been an AFSAC Intel colleague of mine back in the mid-to-late 1980’s, as had been Dr. Eileen Preisser.

4. Our initial conversation lasted about fifteen minutes and consisted of Intel small talk. I did not engage in any discussion of ABLE DANGER or Shaffer because I had initially, erroneously as it turns out, understood Mr. Willard to say he was connected to the OSD/IG (Intel) office handling Shaffer’s clearance investigation. Therefore, I presumed it would be improper for him to talk about it.

5. During most of the flight, I was either reading or talking to Mr. Willard’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the middle seat.

6. However, as the plane approached Los Cabos and passengers were preparing for the landing, I turned and asked Mr. Willard whether Dr. Preisser had red hair. I explained the reason I was asking was to finally confirm to myself that the Dr. Preisser (analyst) I was reading about in the blogosphere was indeed the same Air Force lieutenant Eileen Preisser (collector) who worked in my unit back in the eighties.

7. He rolled his eyes, laughed and said yes, she still has red hair. He added that he had taken Dr. Preisser to the Hill to testify, relating incredulously that she had actually asked him whether she must answer “all” the questions posed to her, and he told her yes. Although I do not remember the precise adjective he used, Mr. Willard volunteered his opinion of Dr. Preisser, which was that she was a bit “quirky” or “different.”

8. Surprisingly, he then asked me what I thought of Tony and I replied “Do you mean back when I knew him or now with this clearance stuff?” He responded “Both.” I said that all I knew about the clearance was what I was hearing in the news and reading online, but it looked to me like retribution for his interview with the 9/11 Commission staff while serving in Afghanistan. Willard smiled and said this was not what happened, but is the story Tony wants the public to believe. He very clearly remarked that Tony figured he could run crying to his buddy, Congressman Weldon, to get Weldon to help him get his clearance back insinuating this was the reason Weldon went public with ABLE DANGER. He also told me that the DIA/IG had initially handled this case but screwed it all up PR-wise, but now the OSD/IG has it, and things are under control and everything is “back on track.”

9. I then said that I wasn’t so much interested in Tony’s clearance case, and that most of my focus had been on ABLE DANGER itself. It seemed, based on my background and ability to read between the lines, to have been a highly successful program. I stated that I hoped Congressman Weldon succeeds in getting to the bottom of it. I wanted to learn the truth of what happened. This remark elicited no reaction or discernable facial expression from Mr. Willard and the conversation on Shaffer and ABLE DANGER ended.

10. If additional information is needed, please do not hesitate to contact me at (redacted).

I do solemnly affirm under the penalties of perjury and upon personal knowledge that the contents of the foregoing paper are true to the best of my knowledge.

Date: February 26, 2006


___________________________________
(redacted) Major, USAF (Ret.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maybe the I is for Incompetence?

Jack Kelly has another interesting column on the FBI:

Article published Saturday, January 20, 2007

More FBI bumbling

JUST before New Year's, the investigations subcommittee of the House International Relations committee issued a report that criticized the thoroughness of the FBI investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing.

I wrote a column about it. The column drew this nastygram from retired FBI agent Weldon Kennedy:

"How can you write such garbage - full of rumor, innuendo, and just plain falsehoods? The FBI has to deal in facts and has done so with incredible success for the last 50 years."

The subcommittee said the FBI ought not to have abandoned its search for John Doe Number 2; that there is substantial credible evidence he was with Timothy McVeigh on the day of the bombing and is of Middle Eastern extraction.

The FBI also should have pursued evidence linking McVeigh to a neo-Nazi compound in eastern Oklahoma and evidence indicating a connection between McVeigh's convicted accomplice, Terry Nichols, and Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the subcommittee report said.

I also mentioned the investigative reporting of Peter Lance, who said the FBI suppressed information indicating a tie between Mr. Yousef and the destruction of TWA flight 800 in order to protect a corrupt FBI agent (who was indicted on four counts of murder last March chiefly on the basis of the information Mr. Lance reported).

Mr. Kennedy headed the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing and understandably is sensitive to criticism of it. I asked him twice to specify what he considered false, but he did not respond.

In the absence of specifics, Mr. Kennedy's word should not be taken as gospel. In an interview with CNN on June 3, 2002, Mr. Kennedy said:

"Even in the Moussaoui case, there's a lot of uproar over the fact that there was a failure to obtain a warrant to search his computer. The computer was searched and guess what? There was nothing significant on there pertaining to 9/11."

Three days later the Washington Post reported:

"Amid the latest revelations about FBI and CIA lapses prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, congressional investigators say it is now clear that the evidence that lay unexamined in Zacarias Moussaoui's possession was even more valuable than previously believed.

"A notebook and correspondence of Moussaoui's not only appears to link him to the main hijacking cell in Hamburg, Germany, but also to an al-Qaeda associate in Malaysia whose activities were monitored by the CIA more than a year before the terror attacks on New York and Washington."

In three books (A Thousand Years for Revenge, Cover Up, and Triple Cross), Mr. Lance detailed FBI bumbling in the war on terror and the tendency of the FBI to promote the bumblers.

Bill Gertz, national security writer for the Washington Times, has written an equally disturbing book, Enemies, about how foreign spies have been eating the FBI's lunch.

Enemies focuses chiefly on the case of Katrina Leung, who was permitted to pass along critical national secrets for years after she'd confessed to being a spy because the two FBI agents who were supposed to be monitoring her were sleeping with her. Neither of those agents was punished....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another Side of Pat Fitzgerald

From PeterLance.com:

As the Libby trial starts: TRIPLE CROSS: Chapter 21: In early 1996, almost three years after the WTC bombing, the Clinton administration began to focus its response to the “jihad army” whose members had been convicted the... previous October. In the middle of the Day of Terror trial, the president had signed Presidential Decision Directive 39, a secret order designed to “deter, defeat and respond vigorously to all terrorist attacks.” The PDD tasked the CIA to take “an aggressive program of foreign intelligence collection, analysis, counterintelligence and covert action”—authorizing the “return of suspects by force, without the cooperation of host government(s)” if necessary. The FBI was charged as lead U.S. agency to reduce the nation’s security vulnerabilities.

Though the unclassified version of the PDD is heavily redacted, it’s clear that Osama bin Laden soon became a principal target.

Before January was over, the CIA had created “Alec Station,” the first “virtual” office that focused on a specific individual (as opposed to a country). Formally known as “the bin Laden issue station,” it was initially staffed by sixteen analysts and located in an office park a few miles from the headquarters at Langley. It was run by Michael Scheuer, by then a fourteen-year veteran of the Agency. Scheuer named the station “Alec” after his son. The FBI representative from the NYO at the station was Dan Coleman, who soon developed such an expertise on al Qaeda he was nicknamed “the professor. In order to work the station, Coleman had to submit to a polygraph and get a series of new clearances that would allow him to gain access to the CIA’s Hercules database system.

At the same time, the two bin Laden “offices of origin” in New York, the SDNY and the FBI’s NYO, dedicated an existing unit, “Squad I-49,” to building a case against the Saudi billionaire. Coleman became a key component, along with Special Agent Jack Cloonan. Patrick Fitzgerald, the AUSA who was the “second seat” to Andrew McCarthy in the Day of Terror trial, had since become chief of the Organized Crime-Terrorism Unit in the SDNY. He was effectively tasked to direct the squad as lead prosecutor.

It would be a career-making position for Fitzgerald, the Harvard-educated son of Irish immigrants. In years to come he would emerge as the DOJ’s leading bin Laden authority, described in a February 2006 Vanity Fair profile as a man with “scary smart intelligence,” an “uncanny memory,” and “a mainframe computer brain.” As lead prosecutor in United States v. bin Laden, the African Embassy bombing case in 2001, Fitzgerald would be rewarded for his conviction of the Saudi billionaire in absentia with an appointment as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois—becoming the top Fed in Chicago, a city infamous for political corruption. With a staff of 161 AUSAs, Fitzgerald, whose close friends called him “Fitzie,” would oversee Operation Safe Road, a public corruption case that would result in the conviction of seventy-three defendants, including thirty public employees and officials.

If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, by December 2003 Fitzgerald would be tapped by George W. Bush’s Justice Department as special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. It would be his job, in essence, to determine whether presidential aide Karl Rove, one of the most powerful men in Washington, had leaked the name of former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame in an effort to punish her husband, for writing an op-ed page piece critical of the Bush White House for using false intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq.


Continue with TRACKING FITZGERALD’S AWARENESS OF AL QAEDA.

Monday, January 15, 2007

My rebuttal to the SSCI review

Last Tuesday, I posted a rebuttal to the SSCI review of Able Danger which I obtained from sources in the House of Representatives. Apparently, someone is still reading Able Danger Blog because two days later the full SSCI report showed up at FAS.org:

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded its review of the ABLE DANGER program with a letter report (pdf) finding that, contrary to claims advanced by former Rep. Curt Weldon and others, the program "never produced a chart with Mohammed Atta's photograph or name prior to the 9/11 attacks."


Well, here is my take on the SSCI "review" of Able Danger.

To start with they admit on page two they had already concluded the Able Danger story was dubious before they even talked to all of the witnesses:

In September 2005, Committee staff advised Committee Members during a briefing about this inquiry that, based on initial witness interviews and document reviews, staff believed the individuals who claimed to see Mohammed Atta's picture on an Able Danger chart prior to September 11, 2001, were mistaken. Following that brief, Committee staff conducted additional interviews and document reviews. Committtee staff interviewed numerous individuals who had worked on the Able Danger program or had knowledge of the issues surrounding its activities, including each of the individuals who claimed to have seen Mohammed Atta's name and picture on an Able Danger chart produced prior to 9/11.


Of course, that last sentence is directly contradicted by both the rebuttal I posted earlier and the DODIG report the SSCI review claims to agree with:

Dear Colleague,

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staff has completed its review of the Department of Defense (DOD) program known as "Able Danger" and we wanted to appraise you of the findings. The results of this staff review were confirmed in all respects by the DOD Inspector General investigation of the Able Danger program (Case Number H05L9790521) released on September 20, 2006.


From page three of the SSCI review:

Committee staff found that all Able Danger charts containing photographs were produced by a single defense contractor, using open source information. These charts were produced for training purposes to show link analysis of known al-Qa'ida members. The former president of the defense contractor and the former employee who produced the charts with the photographs of al-Qa'ida associates were emphatic that no charts produced by the defense contractor included the name or photograph of Mohammed Atta, or any of the other 9/11 hijackers, prior to the 9/11 attacks.


The only problem is the DOD IG identified not one but two former Orion employees who produced charts of Al Qaeda associates with photos, Jay L Boesen and James D Smith. While Boesen denies producing such a chart, Smith not only claims to have produced it, but actually kept a copy on his wall and looked at it every day for two years:

Mr. XXXXXX testified that from October 2002 until August 2004 he prominently displayed the chart containing Mohammed Atta's picture while he was employed by Beta Analytics in Maryland. He testified that he placed the chart on the wall directly across from his desk and stated, "I stared at that everyday." Mr. XXXXXX testified that he worked with four other people in the office area, but of those four coworkers, "Some of them recall the chart, but don't specifically recall Atta." Mr. XXXXXX added that on 30 to 40 different occasions, when people came to his office and asked about the chart he would "go right to the picture [of Mohammed Atta] and say there, there is that asshole right there."


Furthermore, discussing Dr. Preisser on page four, the SSCI states:

Likewise, when interviewed by Committee staff, she said that at the time of the Hadley meeting, she did not have any pre-9/11 Able Danger charts in her possession.


Compare this to the DOD IG report:

She recalled that one chart was produced by Orion and allegedly contained a photograph of Mohammed Atta. However, she denied that this was the chart at Figure 1. The other chart was a "parentage" or "dot" chart that was produced by LIWA. Dr. XXXXXX described the parentage chart as not having any photographs but, rather containing names of entities such as people or companies designated by small circles, or "dots," on the chart (similar to the propeller chart at Figure 3). Both charts were provided to CAPT XXXXXX in order to demonstrate link analysis. Dr. XXXXXX testified that any link analysis chart with photographs was produced by Orion because LIWA did not have that capability to produce such charts.


The SSCI makes it sound like she has no recollection of any Atta charts despite the fact they know full well this is not the case! Last but not least, the SSCI claims:

Committee staff found no evidence to support the Lieutenant Colonel's claims. Furthermore, Committee staff found no evidence that the Able Danger program produced any actionable intelligence or any information which would have warranted sharing with the FBI.


You know, it's interesting how both the DODIG and SSCI go to great lengths to avoid discussing the attack on the USS Cole, but as Rory O'Connor has previously reported:

After the attack on the USS Cole, was there any attempt to use the information Able Danger had based its prediction on - either to investigate the attack, or to determine how they had been so accurate - in order to replicate their efforts?

Yes - there was an “after action” forensic investigation and briefing of the Able Danger data, which is still extant but highly classified.


That sure sounds like "actionable intelligence" worth sharing with the FBI to me! Funny how the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did not bother to mention it.

News update from Peter Lance

From PeterLance.com:

Two official events occurred in recent days that have impacted my ongoing investigation into the full truth behind the 9/11 attacks. First, on December 26th, 2006, a House Oversight Subcommittee issued a report with startling new evidence of an al Qaeda connection to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and on January 9th, 2007 a Federal judge in Brooklyn cleared the way for the trial of a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent on four counts of murder. The first story was detailed in depth in 1000 YEARS FOR REVENGE. The second in COVER UP. Both stories were advanced in TRIPLE CROSS and this report sheds new light on my earlier findings READ ON.


I might also add the release of the Sandy Berger document theft report to that list.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Judiciary Committee Hearing on Data Mining

While you were out, the Senate Judiciary Committee had a hearing this morning. More details at the link below, but C-SPAN 2 is scheduled to air it from 3:25AM to 5:25AM tonight. Follow the link for the witness list (mostly think tanks) and statements. Noticeably absent: Dr. Eileen Preisser.

"Balancing Privacy and Security: The Privacy Implications of Government Data Mining Programs"
Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee

DATE: January 10, 2007
TIME: 09:30 AM
ROOM: Dirksen 226

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Rebuttal to DODIG and SSCI on Able Danger

Just received the following from sources in the House in response to the SSCI "investigation" of Able Danger. Click here for a fifteen page rebuttal of the DODIG report, on which SSCI relied. Here is an intro:

We always suspected, and received many indications, that the SSCI "investigation" of ABLE DANGER was pursued lethargically and with great reluctance. SSCI deliberately avoided witnesses who could corroborate the claims of the ABLE DANGER team. SSCI refused to exercise its subpoena powers against targets we recommended that could have cracked the case.

Many in the public and among the press fail to understand that SSCI, like the DOD IG, is an oversight institution in name only. The truth is that the relationship between SSCI and the intelligence agencies they oversee, and between the DOD IG and the DOD, is essentially corrupt. SSCI staffers have served in the Intelligence Community, or hope to rotate from Congress to jobs in the Intelligence Community. The SSCI staff has an interest in keeping happy their old friends in the Intelligence Community, and potential future employers. This explains why the SSCI is always virtually the last one to discover or acknowledge an intelligence failure.

For example: Have you ever wondered why the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), not the SSCI, launched the Rumsfeld Commission that exposed the intelligence failure that was NIE 95/19, that grossly underestimated the emerging nuclear missile threat to the United States, thereby implying that the U.S. does not need a National Missile Defense? Today virtually all serious people acknowledge the emerging nuclear missile threat from states like North Korea and the necessity of National Missile Defense.

For example: Why did the HASC, not the SSCI, discover the potential terrorist threat from missing Russian "suitcase nukes"--acknowledged in HASC hearings by General Aleksandr Lebed and by many other Russian witnesses of unimpeachable credibility? Today virtually all serious people acknowledge the threat from nuclear terrorism.

For example: Why did the HASC, not the SSCI, propose prior to 9/11, the establishment of intelligence fusion centers for counterterrorism purposes? At the time, the Intelligence Community fiercely resisted this initiative, and the SSCI was at best invisible. Only after 9/11 did the wisdom of sharing intelligence through counterrorism fusion centers become clear to everyone, after it was too late to save 3,000 American lives.

All of the above intelligence failures were discovered, and a corrective achieved or at least attempted, by Congressman Curt Weldon. His list of accomplishments, where he discovered and tried to fix some failure by the Intelligence Community, is much longer than this. Weldon's record of achievement earned the bipartisan trust of his colleagues and his elevation to Vice Chairman of both the HASC and the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Consider just one of Weldon's many achievements--for example, exposing the fallacious NIE 95/19. This paved the way for Mr. Weldon to establish the legal basis for a National Missile Defense, supported by both Democrats and Republicans by a veto-proof margin, during the Clinton Administration. President Bush is usually given credit for National Missile Defense. But Congressman Weldon had already won the battle on the Hill for NMD when Bush entered the White House. One would think that this alone would be enough to persuade the press that Mr. Weldon probably knows what he is talking about when it comes to intelligence failures, like ABLE DANGER.

One would think that the sorry record of the Intelligence Community, and of their minions in the SSCI and DOD IG, would produce a healthy skepticism about reports from these sources supposedly proving that Mr. Weldon is in the wrong about ABLE DANGER.

Yet the Washington and National press corps has shown little or no skepticism abut the DOD IG and SSCI reports on ABLE DANGER. Indeed, the press appears to have taken these reports at face value, as if the objectivity and competence of the SSCI and DOD IG are beyond challenge, despite all historical evidence to the contrary.

Most amazing and disappointing is that the SSCI and DOD IG appear to be succeeding in whitewashing the ABLE DANGER affair with reports that, in the case of SSCI, are not even published for review by the people and, in the case of the DOD IG report, is transparently a coverup. Did the press even read beyond the one page executive summary of the DOD IG report? I think not. The DOD IG report manifests outrageous circular reasoning, the use of double hearsay, selective and biased use of evidence, exclusion of exculpatory evidence, and, worst of all, the use of transcripts carefully edited to undermine the credibility of the ABLE DANGER team, while falsely professing full disclosure! But judge for yourself whether my critique is just from the attached rebuttal.


Among the points in their rebuttal of the IG are the following new details:

When the Inspector General briefed Congressman Weldon on their report, Weldon criticized the Inspector General for excluding from their report any mention of the pre-9/11 data on Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists existing in other government databases. The Inspector General acknowledged the existence of this data, but argued that it was irrelevant to their tasking, that focused narrowly on the Able Danger database.

Therefore, the Inspector General report's assertion that they conducted a "review" of the Able Danger records, and found no evidence of Mohammed Atta or other 9/11 terrorists, is highly misleading on two counts. First, a review of Able Danger records is impossible, since the Able Danger records were destroyed. Second, the Inspector General defined their tasking so narrowly as to exclude pre-9/11 data on Atta and other terrorists existing in other government databases, that certainly would have been collected by Able Danger.

Sources within the U.S. Intelligence Community have told the U.S. Congress that some Able Danger records still survive proving that the program detected Mohammed Atta and several of his fellow terrorists prior to 9/11. These sources have not yet provided evidence to prove their allegations, claiming they cannot do so without sacrificing their anonymity, that they insist on preserving because they allegedly do not trust the Inspector General and fear retaliation from DoD.

Perhaps significantly, buried in the middle of the Inspector General report is what some might describe as a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card for the Inspector General, just in case surviving Able Danger records identifying Mohammed Atta are discovered. The Inspector General report concedes that Able Danger may well have detected Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists prior to September 11, 2001, but argues such an intelligence coup would be insignificant. According to the Inspector General report (p. 34), "Although it is conceivable that the name 'Mohammed Atta' or a photograph of Mohammed Atta may have appeared along with thousands of other bits of information examined by the Able Danger team, neither Mohammed Atta nor any other 9/11 terrorist was identified in a manner that would have linked them to al Qaeda or justified more focused information gathering."

The concession by the Inspector General that Able Danger might have detected Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists before September 11, 2001, is immensely important, is in fact at the heart of the entire controversy over Able Danger. Yet the Inspector General fails to include this finding in its summary or among its key judgments. Nor does the Inspector General allow the acknowledged possibility that Able Danger might have detected Mohammed Atta to soften or make more circumspect its assertions about the supposed insignificance of the Able Danger program or the implied dishonesty of the Able Danger team.


Here is the full text of the rebuttal to the IG Report:

REBUTTAL
OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT
ON THE
ABLE DANGER PROGRAM

Background

Beginning with a letter dated October 7, 2005, from Congressman Curt Weldon, Vice Chairman of the House Committees on Armed Services and Homeland Security, the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Inspector General was directed to conduct an investigation into allegations: 1) that a DoD intelligence program called Able Danger discovered 9/11 terrorists one year before the September 11 attacks; 2) that DoD failed to share that intelligence with the FBI, thereby losing the best known opportunity to prevent the airliner hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington; 3) that DoD terminated Able Danger prematurely, thereby losing further opportunities to collect early warning of the impending 9/11 attacks; and 4) that DoD undertook inappropriate and illegal retaliatory action against Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Anthony A. Shaffer for making the above allegations to the U.S. Congress.

Congressman Weldon’s October 2005 request to the DoD Inspector General for an investigation was joined by numerous other members of Congress who issued letters and verbal directives continuing into 2006 demanding that the Inspector General investigate the Able Danger affair. Among those pressing the Inspector General to conduct an investigation were Congressman Duncan Hunter (Chairman, House Armed Services Committee), Congressman Peter Hoekstra (Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence), Congressman Frank R. Wolf, Senator Charles E. Grassley (Chairman, Senate Finance Committee), Senator John McCain, and Senator Joseph Lieberman.

On September 14, 2006, the DoD Office of the Inspector General issued their report “Alleged Misconduct By Senior DoD Officials Concerning the Able Danger Program and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony A. Shaffer, U.S. Army Reserve.” The report concludes, “The evidence did not support assertions that Able Danger identified the September 11, 2001, terrorists nearly a year before the attack, that Able Danger team members were prohibited from sharing information with law enforcement authorities, or that DoD officials reprised against LTC Shaffer for his disclosures regarding Able Danger.”

The Inspector General report was released to the press before any member of Congress requesting the report received a copy or briefing. Moreover, the report itself was unusual for being unclassified, although it dealt with highly sensitive subject matter both as regards national security and personnel.

A reliable source working in the DoD Office of the Inspector General alleged to the Congress that the report was completed and could have been released much earlier, in July 2006, but the Inspector General deliberately delayed release of the report until September 2006. The timing of the release of the report coincided with the completion of the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Bill, other major legislation including border security, and the mid-term congressional elections, giving the Congress little opportunity to respond to the Inspector General report promptly.

As shall be demonstrated, the Inspector General report is grossly incompetent, or deliberately dishonest, in its process of discovering and reporting facts and in its analysis. The bottom line of the Inspector General report is that numerous senior members of the Able Danger team are liars, a necessary conclusion in order to completely exonerate senior DoD and Administration officials of bungling a near ideal opportunity to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, this erroneous conclusion from the DoD Inspector General is not surprising, given the long history of that office in covering-up embarrassments to DoD and presidential administrations.

Since the DoD Inspector General Office has failed in its duty to competently investigate the Able Danger affair, the U.S. Congress must exercise its oversight powers and conduct its own independent investigation. This rebuttal to the Inspector General report is a first step in that process.

Congress and the DoD Inspector General: Checks and Balances

Merely because the Congress asked the DoD Inspector General to investigate the Able Danger affair, some in the press have treated the DoD Inspector General report on Able Danger as definitive, the final word on the subject. This reflects a misunderstanding about the constitutional relationship between Congress and the Department of Defense, and about how the process of congressional oversight works.

Under the Constitution of the United States, the Congress is responsible for “regulating” the activities of the armed forces of the United States, including the expenditure of monies, the administration of programs, and the management of personnel. Congress routinely tasks the DoD Inspector General to conduct a fact finding investigation as a corrective or as a first step in the process of exercising its oversight powers. Usually Congress can rely upon the DoD Inspector General to conduct an impartial investigation and administer correctives.

However, most matters of concern to the Congress and the DoD Inspector General do not put at risk the reputations of senior DoD officials, or of presidents and their administrations, that would pose a special challenge to the integrity of an investigation conducted by the DoD Inspector General. Congress understands that in cases of major national controversy, where careers and reputations of senior officials are at stake, the objectivity of the DoD Inspector General may be challenged.

Afterall, the DoD Office of the Inspector General is part of the Department of Defense and the careers of its personnel depend upon the Department. Common sense suggests that in some cases DoD may not be trustworthy to investigate itself. For that reason, the founding fathers vested powers to “regulate” the armed forces, not in the armed forces themselves, or in the commander-in-chief (the head of the armed forces), but in Congress.

Unfortunately, there are many historical precedents warning that the Department of Defense cannot always be relied upon to objectively investigate itself. Indeed, there are cases where the DoD Inspector General has failed in its duty to faithfully discover and report facts. There are cases where the Office of the Inspector General has become a co-conspirator with DoD, or with a presidential administration, in trying to conceal facts embarrassing to the Department. For example:

• USS Iowa Affair. On April 19, 1989, a gun turret explosion on the USS Iowa killed 47 sailors. The DoD Inspector General defended an attempted Navy cover-up that leaked false allegations to the press blaming two sailors for the explosion, supposedly the result of a homosexual affair turned homicidal. The sailors were not homosexuals, did not cause the explosion, and their families protested the defamation of their sons. The DoD Inspector General defended the false allegations leaked to the press claiming they “did not malign the character” of the sailors. The DoD Inspector General even praised the malicious lies against the sailors stating, “Some of the leaks may more properly be described as good investigative journalism.”

• Tailhook Scandal. At the September 1991 Tailhook convention, numerous female U.S. Navy officers were sexually harassed by some of their male colleagues. The DoD Inspector General report on the Tailhook scandal was judged so untrustworthy as to be inadmissible as evidence in court. In a 1994 trial on Tailhook before the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Justice Philip Pro tossed out the DoD Inspector General report describing it as “not sufficiently trustworthy” and “replete with double hearsay and summaries of testimony attributed to various unidentified individuals who were not subject to cross examination.”

• DoD IG Fails Peer Review. In 1997, 2000, and 2001, the DoD Inspector General underwent a review of its standards and practices by peer Inspectors General from other departments and agencies. They found that the quality of work by the DoD Inspector General was inadequate, did not comply with U.S. government auditing standards, and was insufficiently documented, reviewed, and supervised. Moreover, the 2000 peer review found that the DoD Inspector General altered and destroyed documents in an attempt to cover-up its shortcomings.

• Strategic Tanker Cover-Up. In 2004, Pentagon plans to replace KC-135 tankers with Boeing KC-767 tankers, that were converted to this purpose from civilian aircraft, was found to be against the national security interests of the United States and the result of a corrupt deal between government and industry officials. The procurement scandal and investigation by the DoD Inspector General resulted in the jailing of a low-level DoD official. The Senate Armed Services Committee criticized the DoD Inspector General for covering-up wrongdoing by senior officials, and urged Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to “take actions to hold those responsible accountable. Otherwise the fallout from the Air Force procurement scandal will have disastrous effects on the integrity of the acquisition system.”

• Atomic Veterans, Agent Orange, POW/MIAs, Gulf War Syndrome. The Department of Defense has often, on matters of major national concern, failed to adequately investigate itself to satisfy the American people, moving Congress, the press, and public groups to conduct independent investigations. For example, during the 1950s did U.S. military personnel exposed to atomic tests suffer ill effects and die prematurely from radiation-induced diseases? During the Vietnam War, did U.S. military personnel exposed to the defoliant “agent orange” suffer effects injurious to their health? Did the United States government make a maximum effort to recover all U.S. personnel held prisoners-of-war or missing-in-action during and after the Vietnam War? During the first Persian Gulf War, did thousands of U.S. soldiers suffer effects injurious to their health from exposure to low-levels of chemical agents released by U.S. bombing of Iraqi chemical weapon depots? Unfortunately, the Department of Defense has not always acquitted itself honorably and well in answering questions such as these. Consequently, controversy surrounding many of these issues has continued for years, even decades.

Congress showed due diligence in the exercise of its oversight powers by tasking the DoD Office of the Inspector General to investigate the Able Danger affair. The Able Danger affair is a major national controversy, where the reputations of senior DoD officials—and of presidents and their administrations—are at stake over responsibility for the failure to prevent the 9/11 hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington. Therefore, it was incumbent on the DoD Inspector General to conduct an investigation and produce a report that is factually and analytically unimpeachable.

Congressional responsibility does not end with receipt of the Inspector General report. The Congress would be remiss in its constitutional duty if it simply “rubberstamped” the Inspector General report. The U.S. Congress owes to the American people a healthy skepticism toward the DoD Inspector General report on Able Danger.

Even a casual reading of the Inspector General report on the Able Danger affair raises serious questions—if not impugns—the report’s factual and analytical integrity.

What’s Wrong With The DoD Inspector General Report?

Summarizing the problems with the Inspector General report on the Able Danger affair: 1) The report falsely alleges that there is no evidence that the Able Danger program discovered Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists prior to the September 11 attacks. 2) The report falsely claims to prove that the Able Danger project never produced a chart identifying Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader. 3) The report falsely claims the Able Danger witnesses are not credible, and is so clearly hostile and biased against those witnesses that it concocts false “evidence” in an effort to discredit them. Generally, as is evident in the examination that follows of the three specific analytical failures described above, the DoD Inspector General did not exercise due diligence in collecting and reporting facts and interviewing witnesses, and neglected or deliberately ignored exculpatory evidence.

The report falsely alleges that there is no evidence that the Able Danger program discovered Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists prior to the September 11 attacks. The DoD Inspector General concludes, “The evidence did not support assertions that Able Danger identified the September 11, 2001, terrorists nearly a year before the attack…” More specifically, what the Inspector General means by this is significantly clarified in the body of their report (p. 3): “Our review of Able Danger team records found no evidence that Able Danger team members had identified Mohammed Atta or any of the other terrorists who participated in the 9/11 attack.” (Italics added.)

Yet finding evidence in the “Able Danger team records” of the discovery of Mohammed Atta or other terrorists who participated in 9/11 should no longer be possible as, according to testimony by the Able Danger team members to the Congress, those records were destroyed. The Inspector General report confirms that the Able Danger records were, in fact, destroyed (p. 3): “We found that large quantities of data that had been collected at two locations as part of the Able Danger data mining mission were destroyed. One intelligence analyst told us that he destroyed approximately ‘2.5 terabytes’ of Able Danger data that had been collected at the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), Fort Belvoir, VA…”

The Inspector General report does not explain how they could have conducted a “review” of now non-existent Able Danger records. The Inspector General report mentions the destruction of Able Danger records in order to assert that destroying the Able Danger data was legal and “followed established procedure and violated no regulation”—an issue that was never in dispute.

The Inspector General’s assertion that they reviewed Able Danger records is glaringly contradicted by, and cannot be reconciled with, the fact that those records were destroyed.

The Inspector General report makes no mention of the existence of pre-9/11 data—
on Mohammed Atta and other terrorists who participated in the September 11, 2001, attacks—located in other U.S. government databases that would certainly have been collected by the Able Danger data mining operation. Investigation by the U.S. Congress found, for example, that Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists appear hundreds of times in various U.S. government databases prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Indeed, Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists, left a conspicuous “paper trail” in connection with the September 11 conspiracy that certainly would have been detected by Able Danger. Atta associated with prominent known terrorists, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Osama Bin Laden’s right hand man in planning the 9/11 plot. Mohammed Atta traveled back and forth to the United States, Germany, and Spain on a passport. He had a large bank account in the United States and conducted large cash transfers in order to finance the 9/11 operation. While in the U.S., Atta enrolled in flight training school to learn how to fly large commercial airliners. While in the U.S., Atta received a traffic ticket for driving without a license. Atta applied for a driver’s license under his own name.

Further, former Attorney General John Ashcroft in a recently published book (Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice) reveals that the Clinton Administration National Security Council had intelligence on an al Qaeda presence in the United States in the year 2000, just as alleged by the Able Danger witnesses. According to Ashcroft, the highly classified NSC Millennium After Action Review “warned of a substantial al Qaeda network and affiliated terrorist presence within the United States, and it was critical of the nation’s security measures taken prior to 2000.” Ashcroft notes that it is this classified NSC memo that former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger attempted to steal from the National Archives and destroy, prior to President Clinton’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

It is inconceivable that the Able Danger data mining operation would have failed to collect some or all of the copious data on Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists in U.S. government and other public records prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Yet the Inspector General report ignores this data and its significance to Able Danger.

When the Inspector General briefed Congressman Weldon on their report, Weldon criticized the Inspector General for excluding from their report any mention of the pre-9/11 data on Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists existing in other government databases. The Inspector General acknowledged the existence of this data, but argued that it was irrelevant to their tasking, that focused narrowly on the Able Danger database.

Therefore, the Inspector General report’s assertion that they conducted a “review” of the Able Danger records, and found no evidence of Mohammed Atta or other 9/11 terrorists, is highly misleading on two counts. First, a review of Able Danger records is impossible, since the Able Danger records were destroyed. Second, the Inspector General defined their tasking so narrowly as to exclude pre-9/11 data on Atta and other terrorists existing in other government databases, that certainly would have been collected by Able Danger.

Sources within the U.S. Intelligence Community have told the U.S. Congress that some Able Danger records still survive proving that the program detected Mohammed Atta and several of his fellow terrorists prior to 9/11. These sources have not yet provided evidence to prove their allegations, claiming they cannot do so without sacrificing their anonymity, that they insist on preserving because they allegedly do not trust the Inspector General and fear retaliation from DoD.

Perhaps significantly, buried in the middle of the Inspector General report is what some might describe as a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card for the Inspector General, just in case surviving Able Danger records identifying Mohammed Atta are discovered. The Inspector General report concedes that Able Danger may well have detected Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists prior to September 11, 2001, but argues such an intelligence coup would be insignificant. According to the Inspector General report (p. 34), “Although it is conceivable that the name ‘Mohammed Atta’ or a photograph of Mohammed Atta may have appeared along with thousands of other bits of information examined by the Able Danger team, neither Mohammed Atta nor any other 9/11 terrorist was identified in a manner that would have linked them to al Qaeda or justified more focused information gathering.”

The concession by the Inspector General that Able Danger might have detected Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists before September 11, 2001, is immensely important, is in fact at the heart of the entire controversy over Able Danger. Yet the Inspector General fails to include this finding in its summary or among its key judgments. Nor does the Inspector General allow the acknowledged possibility that Able Danger might have detected Mohammed Atta to soften or make more circumspect its assertions about the supposed insignificance of the Able Danger program or the implied dishonesty of the Able Danger team.

The Inspector General’s attempts to dismiss the significance of Able Danger’s detection of Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists are unpersuasive. Since the purpose of Able Danger was to discover al Qaeda terrorists, the detection of Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists by Able Danger would, contrary to the Inspector General, have constituted the establishment of a possible link with al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission concluded that the discovery by the FBI of the least important of the 9/11 terrorists, Zacarias Moussaoui, about one month before 9/11, constituted the best opportunity to stop the airliner hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington of September 11, 2001. Surely, the discovery by Able Danger of the 9/11 ringleader, Mohammed Atta, about one year before 9/11, would have been an even better opportunity to prevent the September 11 catastrophe. That the Able Danger team appreciated the significance of their discovery is proven by their thwarted efforts to inform the FBI, and by their willingness to risk their reputations by testifying to Congress after 9/11. But of course, the Inspector General claims that none of the senior members of the Able Danger team who have come forward are trustworthy.

On the issue of whether Able Danger detected Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists before September 11, 2001, the single most important fact bearing on this question is conceded by the Inspector General, but not included in their report. Pre-9/11 data on Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists exists in other U.S. government databases. Through incompetence or dishonesty, the Inspector General report fails to acknowledge this fact or to deduce the obvious conclusion.

The existence of pre-9/11 data on Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists in U.S. government databases proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the Able Danger data mining operation must have collected at least this data on Atta and other 9/11 terrorists. Thus, the best evidence supports the single most important and most controversial claim of the Able Danger witnesses who testified to Congress. As the Able Danger witnesses are proven credible on this crucial point, their general trustworthiness is also proven, and their entire testimony, though there may be the usual inevitable errors of detail, should be deemed generally credible and true.

The DoD Inspector General report falsely claims to prove that the Able Danger program never produced a chart identifying Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader. The cornerstone of the Inspector General’s case that Able Danger never detected Mohammed Atta is a single chart that, according to the Inspector General, is the source of a false collective memory among the Able Danger team that they detected Mohammed Atta.

However, although several of the Able Danger team recollected a chart showing Mohammed Atta as an illustration of their program’s achievement against al Qaeda, all recognized that the chart was relatively unimportant, was merely a symbol of the Able Danger program’s real achievement against al Qaeda—the data mining effort—the records of which were all destroyed.

For example, Mr. Erik Kleinsmith, a senior member of the Able Danger team, who led the data mining project, noted pointedly in his February 15, 2006, testimony to Congress that the chart and its picture of Mohammed Atta was unimportant, compared with Able Danger’s collection of copious data showing an al Qaeda presence in the United States. Kleinsmith: “One of the…questions…was whether or not I recognized or remembered seeing Mohammed Atta . And I reiterate…that I do not remember seeing his name or face on a specific chart. But the more important point is that we were tracking hundreds of names, and we were creating dozens of charts for SOCOM. And while most of these charts contained information and intelligence that needed further analytical vetting, we were still able to identify a significant worldwide footprint with a surprisingly large presence within the United States.”

Kleinsmith in earlier testimony to Congress, on September 21, 2005, made the same point, that a specific chart was unimportant compared to the real achievement of Able Danger, the highly successful data mining effort against al Qaeda: “We were able to collect an immense amount of data for analysis that allowed us to map al Qaeda as a worldwide threat with a surprisingly significant presence within the United States.” Significantly, Kleinsmith also testified that the Able Danger program produced its own charts (that were subsequently destroyed), and that these charts were more sophisticated than charts (only one or two) provided by a contractor, Orion Scientific: “We also had printouts of charts that we had produced…the charts that we had produced, as well as one chart or two that Orion Scientific had provided to us, but we had already gone beyond their analysis. So both soft copy and hard copy was deleted or destroyed.”

Nonetheless, despite the fact that the Able Danger program was about data mining against al Qaeda—not about producing charts—the Inspector General report focuses its analysis of Able Danger almost exclusively on “proving” that Able Danger never produced a chart showing Mohammed Atta. According to the Inspector General report (p. 3), “The preponderance of witness testimony indicated that recollections concerning the identification of 9/11 terrorists were linked to a single chart depicting al Qaeda cells responsible for pre-9/11 terrorist attacks, which was obtained but not produced by the Able Danger team. The chart (Figure 1 of this report) was produced by Orion Scientific Corporation (Orion) in May 1999 and contained the names and/or photographs of 53 terrorists who had been identified and in many cases, incarcerated, before 9/11, including a Brooklyn cell, but it did not identify Mohammed Atta or any of the other terrorists who participated in the 9/11 attack.”

Yet, as noted in Kleinsmith’s testimony above, the head of the Able Danger data mining effort stated specifically that the Able Danger team produced its own charts—that were more sophisticated than the “one chart or two” provided by Orion—and that the Able Danger charts, “both soft copy and hard copy,” were destroyed. Kleinsmith should know the fate of the Able Danger charts better than anyone, since he, in reluctant obedience to orders from DoD lawyers, personally destroyed the Able Danger database.

Why does the Inspector General believe that the Orion chart is the “Mohammed Atta” chart, even though the chart does not show Atta, and even though the Able Danger team denies that this is the correct chart? The Inspector General relies on the memories of the Able Danger witnesses about details of the chart to conclude that the Orion chart is the correct chart. According to the DoD Inspector General report, “The evidence indicated that the chart recalled by these key witnesses is the chart [by Orion] at Figure 1 of this report—Dr. Preisser’s denials notwithstanding. It bears the title mentioned by CAPT Phillpott in a contemporaneous memorandum and contains information described, in various ways, by LTC Shaffer and Dr. Preisser.”

As to the existence of a chart produced by Able Danger showing Mohammed Atta, the Inspector General asserts that the collective memories of the Able Danger witnesses “were in error.”

The reasoning employed by the Inspector General to conclude that the Orion chart is the correct chart, and the object of a collective false memory of Mohammed Atta by the Able Danger witnesses, is clearly erroneous. The Inspector General relies on the memories of the Able Danger witnesses concerning trivial details to single out the Orion chart, but rejects their memories as in error and unreliable on the central matter of the existence of a chart produced by Able Danger showing Mohammed Atta. Logically, the Inspector General cannot have it both ways, cannot deem the Able Danger witnesses reliable for purposes of identifying the correct chart, but unreliable when they disagree with the Inspector General.

Moreover, the Inspector General’s analytical basis for singling out the Orion chart is highly dubious. The details provided by the Able Danger team, such as the chart title, the arrangement of photographs, colors and etc., were common to charts produced by the Able Danger team too. After all, the Able Danger and Orion charts were both serving the same purpose, attempting to illustrate visually the achievements of the Able Danger data mining operation. It is commonplace in Intelligence Community analysis, indeed in most analytical endeavors, for charts, outlines or other illustrations to evolve and be replaced with more sophisticated versions, richer in data and analysis, as the analytical enterprise progresses.

Obeying Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation is the most logical—the most logical explanation for the conundrum of the Mohammed Atta chart is not collective false memory, or collective false witness. The Able Danger team superceded the work of Orion and produced their own chart showing Mohammed Atta, that was later destroyed along with the rest of the Able Danger database. This theory is consistent with the testimony of the Able Danger witnesses, and with the known fact that Able Danger should have collected data on Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists, as that data existed—and still exists—in other U.S. government databases that were among the targets of Able Danger collection.

The Inspector General report bases its entire case upon the fiction that the Orion chart is the correct chart, allegedly the object of a collective false memory about Mohammed Atta. Based solely on this erroneous conclusion, the Inspector General dismisses the achievement of Able Danger in providing early warning of the 9/11 attacks, and slanders the reputation of the Able Danger team.

The DoD Inspector General report falsely claims the Able Danger witnesses are not credible, and is so clearly hostile and biased against those witnesses that it concocts false “evidence” to discredit them. Bias in the Inspector General report is notable from its very beginning, where the Inspector General fails to provide brief biographies or background descriptions of the Able Danger witnesses, whose alleged lack of credibility is crucial to the Inspector General’s case. CAPT Phillpott was entrusted to run the Able Danger project because of his stellar performance as an Annapolis graduate and serving naval officer, and has now been promoted to command a destroyer. LTC Shaffer ran another classified operation associated with Able Danger called “Stratus Ivy,” the details of which are still classified. He won a Bronze Star conducting lethal intelligence operations against Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, and was recently promoted to command a U.S. Army battalion. Dr. Preisser is a double Ph.D. who served in the U.S. Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity at Ft. Belvoir, where she invented the computer software for data mining against al Qaeda, that made possible the Able Danger project.

These facts about the Able Danger witnesses do not support the Inspector General in making a case against their credibility.

The Inspector General report asserts (p. 34), “While several key witnesses—primarily LTC Shaffer, CAPT Phillpott, and Dr. Preisser—claim to have seen Mohammed Atta’s picture on an Orion chart that was provided to CAPT Phillpott in January/February 2000, their recollection was not credible. The conflicts and inconsistency in their testimonies, coupled with other evidence concerning the charts at issue, provided overwhelming rebuttal to their claims.” (Italics added.)

Yet the Able Danger witnesses do not claim to have seen Mohammed Atta’s picture on an Orion chart. They saw Atta on a chart produced by Able Danger. They also downplay the importance of the chart, as it was merely to illustrate the detection of Atta as an al Qaeda operative by the Able Danger data mining operation and his being cataloged in the database.

As noted earlier, the Inspector General ignores denials by the Able Danger witnesses that the “Atta Chart” was made by Orion and concludes instead—based on very dubious reasoning and no real evidence—that the “Atta Chart” was made by Orion, did not in fact depict Mohammed Atta, and the non-existent picture of Atta on the Orion chart is a collective false memory by the Able Danger witnesses.

In a breathtaking example of circular reasoning, the Inspector General condemns the credibility of the Able Danger witnesses because they disagree with the Inspector General theory that the “Atta Chart” is an erroneous memory of the Orion chart, a theory that itself is erroneous, but is treated by the Inspector General like known truth. Thus, LTC Shaffer, Dr. Preisser, and Mr. Smith are judged non-credible by the Inspector General because they would not change their testimony about seeing Mohammed Atta on an Able Danger chart, and refused to embrace the Inspector General’s theory about the Orion chart. Smith had the “Atta Chart” posted on his wall and saw it every day for over a year, but even his memory is condemned as unreliable by the Inspector General. Indeed, a pattern evident in the Inspector General report is that the more strenuously a witness disagrees with the Inspector General about the Orion chart theory, the more harshly they are condemned.

However, neither is there salvation for Able Danger witnesses who agree with the Inspector General’s theory about the Orion chart. When CAPT Phillpott begins to doubt his own memory and concedes that the Inspector General might be right—under repeated cross examination where the Inspector General falsely claims that their theory about the Orion chart is proven fact—Phillpott’s credibility is condemned, his memory judged unreliable, by the Inspector General, along with the other Able Danger witnesses.

The Inspector General, in order to support their assertion that the Able Danger witnesses are “unreliable” and “not credible,” offers “summaries” of their interrogations of the Able Danger witnesses. Full transcripts of the interrogations would be far more revealing and objective evidence bearing on the legitimacy and professionalism of the interrogation process, but are not provided because they would not serve the Inspector General’s purpose. The “summaries” of the interrogations are carefully edited by the Inspector General to highlight every apparent inconsistency in testimony, no matter how trivial, in an effort biased to impugn the credibility of the Able Danger witnesses.

Conspicuous by its absence from the transcripts are the queries and cross-examination of the Inspector General. A skilled interrogator can easily “set up” a witness to provide apparently inconsistent or contradictory testimony, especially when the interrogator has the advantage of editing the transcripts afterwards.

For example, consider the Inspector General’s interrogation of CAPT Phillpott. The Inspector General report, in their summary of the Phillpott interrogation, gives this admission of error by CAPT Phillpott, that is by far the strongest evidence offered by the Inspector General favoring their theory that the “Atta Chart” is a false memory:

CAPT Phillpott testified, “Well, I mean, obviously there’s a
compelling amount of evidence that would make it appear
that I did not see Mohammed Atta. And I will absolutely grant
you that based on what you’re showing me my recollection could
have been wrong. But I still need to stress that if I told you that
I didn’t think I saw Mohammed Atta’s face, that in fact would be
lying…I honestly believe that I saw Atta on the chart. (p. 18)

Reading between the lines of the Phillpott interrogation, it is obvious that the Inspector General’s cross-examination was not an objective search for truth, but an effort to convince Phillpott that there is “a compelling amount of evidence” supporting the Inspector General’s theory about the Orion chart. The Inspector General tried hard to make CAPT Phillpott doubt himself, and succeeded, but only because they misrepresented themselves as “honest brokers” in fact finding. CAPT Phillpott mistakenly trusted the Inspector General who was, in reality, his prosecutor.

Most of the Inspector General’s case attacking the credibility of the Able Danger witnesses is based on their trivial errors of memory over exact dates and precise events found during the interrogation. However, few people are likely to remember such details associated with events that transpired a half-decade ago.

In many cases, the Inspector General report attempts to create the impression of serious contradictions or lapses in memory between the Able Danger witnesses, where none exist. For example, the Inspector General makes much of a “contradiction” between LTC Shaffer and Dr. Preisser over their memory of meeting at a Starbuck’s coffee house, where LTC Shaffer remembers Preisser showing him the “Atta Chart.” They both remember meeting at Starbucks shortly after September 11, 2001. But Dr. Preisser, during her interrogation, denied bringing a large paper “chart” to Starbucks:

Preisser: “Starbucks had those little tables. That chart, I would have
had to have rolled out. I can’t imagine myself doing that.” (p. 28)

But Dr. Preisser did have a “briefing on the computer not a hard copy chart” that she did likely show LTC Shaffer at Starbucks. So the “contradiction” between LTC Shaffer and Dr. Preisser over the Starbucks meeting is not really a contradiction at all, but a strained attempt by the Inspector General to create the appearance of a contradiction over the definition of the word “chart” as used by LTC Shaffer and Dr. Preisser.

The Inspector General report routinely excludes exculpatory evidence supporting the credibility of the Able Danger witnesses. For example, the Inspector General strongly implies that LTC Shaffer lied about DIA accidentally—and illegally—mailing classified materials and a U.S. government Global Positioning System (GPS) to Shaffer when returning his personal property. The Inspector General implies that LTC Shaffer stole the GPS and put it in the box received from DIA in order to make DIA look incompetent. Yet the Inspector General report fails to mention that two attorneys witnessed Shaffer receiving and opening the box and discovering classified material and the GPS from DIA. The Inspector General report excludes sworn testimony from the attorneys supporting Shaffer.

The Inspector General report makes a solitary recommendation, that strongly suggests LTC Shaffer is telling the truth about receiving classified material and a GPS from DIA, even though the Inspector General does not want to admit it. The Inspector General report, Section VII “Recommendations” comprises this single sentence: “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.” If Shaffer is lying about receiving classified material and a GPS from an incompetent DIA, why does the Inspector General recommend a review of DIA procedures?

The Inspector General report employs a double standard in treating Able Danger witnesses on the one hand, and witnesses hostile to the Able Danger team on the other. For example, the Inspector General speculates why one or more of the Able Danger witnesses might lie about detecting Mohammed Atta before 9/11. The Inspector General report never speculates why those hostile to the Able Danger witnesses might lie. Indeed, two of the hostile witnesses, Dieter Snell of the 9/11 Commission and COL. Worthington, are praised by the Inspector General report, as if their testimony is unimpeachable. Yet Snell and Worthington would suffer damage to their professional reputations, and in the judgment of history, if the Able Danger witnesses are believed.

The Inspector General report attempts to discredit two of the most important Able Danger witnesses—LTC Shaffer and Dr. Preisser—by suggesting that they played merely minor roles in the Able Danger program, a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Although CAPT Phillpott, who ran the Able Danger program, describes LTC Shaffer as an important member of the team, the Inspector General gives equal weight to an anonymous source describing Shaffer as merely an errand boy. The Inspector General simply asserts, without proof, that Dr. Preisser’s role in Able Danger was minor—neglecting to mention the fact that she invented the software for data mining against al Qaeda that made Able Danger possible. It is no exaggeration to say that the Able Danger project would not exist were it not for Dr. Preisser’s expertise.

The Inspector General makes much of the absence of many witnesses able and willing to corroborate the testimony of the Able Danger team that they detected Mohammed Atta before 9/11. But as Able Danger was a small, deeply classified program, there would not be many more witnesses than those principal actors in the Able Danger program who have already come forward. Nor is it surprising that other witnesses may be reluctant to volunteer, since the Inspector General vilifies the character of every witness supporting the Able Danger team.

Finally, the Inspector General has not earned the right to challenge the credibility of the Able Danger witnesses by exercising due diligence in the conduct of their investigation. For example, the Inspector General did not exercise its power to subpoena witnesses and evidence. Cooperation with the Inspector General by departments, agencies, and individuals was voluntary. The Inspector General did not polygraph witnesses, including hostile witnesses. The Inspector General allowed hostile witnesses to offer testimony anonymously. The Inspector General failed to discover, and then ignored discovery by the U.S. Congress, of pre-9/11 data in other U.S. government databases on Mohammed Atta, that confirms the allegations of the Able Danger team. The Inspector General failed to discover, and then ignored discovery by the U.S. Congress, of at least one more witness, a former member of the Able Danger project, who confirms the detection of Mohammed Atta about one year prior to 9/11.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General report, “Alleged Misconduct By Senior DoD Officials Concerning the Able Danger Program And Lieutenant Colonel Anthony A, Shaffer, U.S. Army Reserve,” shows strong evidence of bias and is deeply flawed analytically. Therefore, the DoD Inspector General report is untrustworthy to serve as a basis for public policy or history regarding the Able Danger affair.

This critique of the DoD Inspector General report does not constitute a point-by-point or line-by-line rebuttal, although such a rebuttal in detail is certainly possible. The errors in methodology and analysis found in the Inspector General’s treatment of the key issues of the Able Danger affair are repeated and replete throughout the Inspector General’s report, including on issues of lesser consequence, such as the reprisal by DIA against LTC Shaffer for revealing to Congress that the Able Danger program detected Mohammed Atta before 9/11.

On the key issues of the Able Danger affair, this critique has demonstrated that the preponderance of evidence points to conclusions exactly opposite those drawn by the DoD Inspector General. Contrary to the Inspector General, the preponderance of evidence indicates the Able Danger team did detect Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists about one year prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Contrary to the Inspector General, the preponderance of evidence indicates that the Able Danger program did make a chart depicting Mohammed Atta. Contrary to the Inspector General, the preponderance of evidence indicates that the testimony of the Able Danger witnesses to the U.S. Congress is credible and true.

The DoD Inspector General having failed in their task to provide a credible and trustworthy investigation of the Able Danger affair, it is now the responsibility of the U.S. Congress to exercise its oversight powers and conduct an investigation. The DoD Inspector General should be included as an object of that investigation, as their report is apparently a cover-up for senior officials at DoD, and has made the Inspector General part of the Able Danger affair.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Curt Weldon for National Intelligence Director

Okay, someone had to suggest it.

Negroponte to leave intel director post

WASHINGTON - National Intelligence Director John Negroponte will resign after 20 months in the job to become deputy secretary of state, two U.S. government officials said Wednesday night.

Negroponte took over in April 2005 as the nation's first intelligence chief, responsible for overseeing all 16 U.S. spy agencies. He will return to his roots as a career diplomat to become the No. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the officials said.

One of the officials said that the timing of Negroponte's departure was uncertain but that it was expected soon. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no announcement of the move.

Negroponte, 67, is stepping down as President Bush develops a new strategy on Iraq. The president has ordered reviews from his own agencies and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which recommended a series of changes to reverse the "slide toward chaos."

Negroponte has held a series of tough posts in the Bush administration and has been at the center of the Iraq debate since before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. He served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2001 to 2004 and ambassador to Baghdad until March 2005 before becoming intelligence chief. He also was ambassador to Mexico, from 1989-93.

Democrats taking control of Congress on Thursday have promised greater oversight of government agencies. The Senate Intelligence Committee, for instance, is planning hearings this month on the intelligence overhaul that Negroponte helped put in place.

A top candidate for the intelligence chief opening is retired Adm. Mike McConnell, the director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996. McConnell is now a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, a government contractor and consulting firm.