Able Danger Blog

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ready, Aim, Hit the "Enter" Key

Sorry for the light posting lately, but I haven't had much to report on the Able Danger front for a while.

Here's an interesting piece from Haft of the Spear by Michael Tanji:

The significance of this story:

The U.S. military has been quietly developing capabilities to attack enemy computer networks, including hacking into terrorist Web sites, military officials and experts say.

The move comes as al-Qaida and other groups fighting in Iraq and elsewhere have expanded their activities on the Internet and increased the sophistication and volume of their videos and messages. Much of the material is designed to raise money and recruit fighters for Iraq.

"You should not let them operate uncontested" on the Internet and elsewhere in cyberspace, said Marine Brig. Gen. John Davis, who heads a military command at the National Security Agency. The command was established to develop capabilities to attack computer networks.

Is severely impacted by this one:

Congress publicly registered its impatience with the management of the National Security Agency yesterday as lawmakers criticized the agency's new multibillion-dollar effort to identify, track and analyze emerging threats in cyberspace.

Dubbed "Turbulence," the signature initiative of the NSA director, Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, is experiencing "management deficiencies" just 18 months after it was launched....

Turbulence is a loose collection of at least nine programs designed to give the NSA the ability to continuously patrol global communications networks. The Sun revealed the existence of Turbulence and outlined its management problems earlier this year.

“Professionalization” programs and shake-and-bake Hopkins and Maryland degrees not working out so well then?

These items highlight key parts of a much larger piece on IO that I hope to finish up soon. In the interim you just need to understand that our cyber war capabilities are divvied up between STRATCOM (umbrella), NSA (offense) and the JTF-GNO (defense). Kind of hard to engage with and destroy the enemy (story one) if you can’t see what you are aiming at or trust that the targets provided are not friendlies (story two).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bagram Airbase Cast of Characters

CORRECTION: Bellinger was not at Bagram after all. It was Dylan Cors:

Special Counsel for the 9/11 Commission, National Security Council, 2003-2004

According to the Duke Law Magazine:

Cors joined the Central Intelligence Agency in April 2002. He was detailed to the National Security Council in August 2003, as special counsel for the 9/11 Commission.

Briefed at Bagram by LTC Shaffer:

Philip Zelikow, Kevin Scheid, Michael Hurley, Dylan Cors
(Condi Rice hired both Zelikow and Hurley in January 2005).

Not briefed but on the same trip:

Dietrich Snell, Daniel Byman

Without revealing our sources or methods, Able Danger Blog is proud to finally announce the results from our investigation into the identities of the unnamed staffers who were briefed by LTC Tony Shaffer at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan in October 2003. Some of this is not a surprise. Zelikow has always admitted he was briefed. LTC Shaffer even has his business card. Scheid has also publicly acknowledged his role:

Mr. Scheid participated in the full scope of the Commission’s review including a fact-finding mission to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Kean and Hamilton listed the names of all five commission staffers who went on the trip. Our own sources identified Bellinger as the NSC attorney who went along. The Inspector General uncovered the fact that Hurley was present, although the IG never mentioned it - or anything of substance about the Commission - in their report.

I contacted Dan Byman, who said he left the trip early and never made it to Afghanistan. Dieter Snell has consistently declined requests for interviews, including a 2006 request from the House Armed Services Committee. He might or might not have even been in Afghanistan but I have no reason to believe that he was present at the briefing or proof that he decided to bury the story then. Yet we do know when Captain Phillpott came forward several months later, Snell was the Commission staffer who interviewed him and decided to dismiss his claims, too.

Regardless, there are a few things that can't be dismissed:

After questioning NSC chief Rice, among others, the 9/11 Commission published it's report on July 22, 2004. In January 2005, Condoleeza Rice was appointed to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State.

Term of Appointment: 02/01/2005 to 12/19/2006

Dr. Philip D. Zelikow was appointed Counselor of the U.S. Department of State in February 2005, where he serves as a senior policy advisor on a wide range of issues to the Secretary of State.

Term of Appointment: 04/08/2005 to present

John B. Bellinger, III was sworn in as the Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State on April 8, 2005. He is the principal adviser on all domestic and international law matters to the Department of State, the Foreign Service, and the diplomatic and consular posts abroad. He is also the principal adviser on legal matters relating to the conduct of foreign relations to other agencies and, through the Secretary of State, to the President and the National Security Council.

Mr. Bellinger joined the Department of State in January 2005 as Senior Advisor to Secretary Rice, having previously co-directed her transition team.

The Minnesota Daily: 04/10/2006

One of the panelists, Mike Hurley, was a CIA officer and senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, is now with the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism.

Of all the 9/11 Commission and WH staff present, Kevin Scheid is the only one Condi did not hire! He was already working for the CIA:

Currently a senior intelligence service officer in the Office of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management. He recently served as staff director of the President’s Review of Intelligence tasked by President Bush in May 2001.

Mr. Scheid was also an RNC donor during the 2004 campaign:

Mr. Kevin J Scheid
Civil Servant
U.S. Federal Government

RNC $1,000

Alexandria, VA 22314

Nonetheless, it seems he learned at least one thing from Able Danger.

Golden Candle Award in Open Source Intelligence: 08/09/2005

IOP '06. To Mr. Kevin Scheid, Senior Intelligence Service, for his sustained professionalism in studying shortfalls related to national access to open sources of information of potential intelligence value, and in working very hard to introduce constructive recommendations at the national level. While serving as senior staff to the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community, he contributed to their finding: “severely deficient” and their recommendation, “top priority for funding.” It was not until the 9-11 Commission, however, that his diligence finally prevailed, with the inclusion on page 413 of the Report of an independent Open Source Agency. Mr. Scheid is one of a handful of individuals who have truly served America with distinction in this vital arena where all nations and organizations are able to share intelligence.

Judge finds Sudan responsible for Cole bombing

Sounds like we might want to rethink our strategy of treading lightly with Sudan because they are "Valuable to America’s War on Terrorism".

From the AP:

NORFOLK, Va. - A federal judge said Wednesday that Sudan is responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole but he needs more time to determine damages for the families of the 17 sailors killed when terrorists bombed the ship in 2000.

"There is substantial evidence in this case presented by the expert testimony that the government of Sudan induced the particular bombing of the Cole by virtue of prior actions of the government of Sudan," U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar said.

The civil trial started Tuesday in which the victims' relatives tried to prove the terrorist attack couldn't have happened without Sudan's support.

Doumar said that he would issue a written opinion later to fully explain his ruling. He requested additional paperwork, including tax returns of the sailors killed, to determine the appropriate damages.

"Words can't express the loss my family has gone through," Shalala Swenchonis-Wood, whose brother died, testified Wednesday. "It's not financial, it's not material, it's always the things, the little things you don't see."

Four experts on terrorism, including R. James Woolsey, CIA director from early 1993 to early 1995, also testified in person or by deposition Tuesday to support the families' position that al-Qaida needed the African nation's help to carry out the attack.

"It would not have been as easy — it might have been possible — but it would not have been as easy," Woolsey said in a videotaped deposition, without Sudan providing economic support, places to train and false documents.

The experts testified that Sudan has given safe haven to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network since 1991 — long before Yemeni operatives attacked the Cole.

They cited testimony from other trials, a declassified Canadian intelligence report, U.S. State Department reports and their own studies as they testified that Sudan let terrorist training camps operate within its borders and gave al-Qaida members diplomatic passports so they could travel without scrutiny and diplomatic pouches to ship explosives and weapons without being searched.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Inside 9/11 re-airs this month

Updated version of Inside 9/11 re-airs this month

The updated version of Inside 9/11, the National Geographic Channel's Emmy-nominated documentary, is being re-broadcast on March 25 at 7:00 p.m. Since the original four-hour miniseries first aired, new details about the tragedy have sprung up, including the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui; information on Able Danger, the intelligence team assigned to track al Qaeda; new video of the attack on the Pentagon; audio from Flight 93; the CIA's dismantling of the bin Laden unit; the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; and new video from bin Laden himself.

It's been over five years since the events of September 11, 2001, and I can understand how some might be sick of hearing about it, but it's not surprising that the aftershocks of an event of this magnitude would still be felt even today. I'd like to think my ongoing curiosity is natural and not morbid, but I still want to learn as much as I can about everything that happened that day, and the people and events it connects to.

Triple Cross mentioned on Limbaugh

From yesterday's show:

RUSH: Chico in California. Welcome, sir, to Open Line Friday. Nice to have you with us.

CALLER: Sir, thank you. Mega Sierra Nevada 82nd Airborne dittos, Rush. Thank you.

RUSH: You bet.

CALLER: I was calling because I'm just pretty incensed about this prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald for just the actions that he's done. He hasn't allowed Scooter Libby to provide experts to corroborate his own memory loss but also others, not to mention just the fact of how memory works, not to allow it for his own defense, and I can't understand how they let this juror, who was writing a book, stay on the jury.

RUSH: Well, they didn't know that the juror was writing a book. I've talked to somebody in the know on this, and by the time this juror, this Denis Collins, got to them, they had used up all their strikes. They had people in the jury pool. They had all kinds of leftists. By the time this guy came around, they knew he was a journalist. They knew he was a neighbor of Russert's, worked for Woodward and worked for the Washington Post, that het'd written books on the CIA and spying. But there was nothing they could do.

CALLER: Is that an out for a possible appeal? Are they going to use that, do you know, or is that something that they can actually go after?

RUSH: Here's what I think they're going to use on appeal. First, they're going to ask for a new trial. That will be denied. Because you ask the trial judge, and Reggie Walton is not going to say, "Yeah, I screwed up. Let's do it again."

CALLER: Of course not.

RUSH: So here's the grounds for the appeal. The judge was in a state of personal pique when they didn't put Libby on the stand. At the opening of the trial, Ted Wells said they were going to call Libby. They decided not to call Libby. It's none of the judge's business. There's a Fifth Amendment right. You don't have to take the stand when you're the defendant, and it cannot be held against you. This is law. Once you get to the jury room, of course all things can change. But it cannot be held against you, especially by the trial judge when you decide not to testify. Because Libby didn't testify after his lawyers indicated that he would. They did not allow evidence or witnesses to show that Tim Russert had memory lapses, too.

One of the things they wanted to bring forth was video where Russert had said, three times, that he knew that you could not have a lawyer present during grand jury testimony when you are subpoenaed to go in there and be asked questions. But he had said in trial that he didn't know that you couldn't have a lawyer in there. Now, it's germane to nothing, but it would have given the jurors more reason to doubt the credibility of Russert because it was his testimony that many feel was the straw that broke the camel's back because Libby said that he had told Russert about Valerie Plame or Russert had told him, one of the two, and Russert said, "I never spoke to Libby about her," and the jury believed Russert. So the defense wanted to bring in these videotapes to show that Russert doesn't remember saying certain things, that nobody does.

Everybody has faulty memories. Charles Krauthammer wrote about this today and asked a good question. I will repeat to you this question. "When was the first time you heard about Valerie Plame being in the CIA, and who told you?" Where did you read it? Maybe it was me, but stop and think. This is what this trial was about. Libby was out there saying, "Gosh, I don't know. It was this and that." That's why the whole trial was bogus. That will be the grounds for appeal. There were examples that all of these witnesses that were incriminating Libby had also demonstrated that they had infallible memories, and that was not allowed by the judge. So that will probably be one of the areas of appeal that the Libby team will zero in on.

CALLER: Well, I just can't believe that this is actually a process crime that went this far. I have a relative that just recently was elected as a DA of a certain county here in California which I won't say, and I respect his professionalism and his respect of the law, and to see this prosecutor, a federal prosecutor, act this way... I mean, here's a book about this guy that people may not know about, about Patrick Fitzgerald, and it has to do with terrorism in this country. It's called "Triple Cross." I'm not sure if you've ever heard about it, but it is quite eye opening.

RUSH: It doesn't ring a bill, but I can't say I haven't. I might be called to testify since we're reading Fitzgerald here.

CALLER: Well, he was the biggest disconnector of the dots leading up to 9/11 and many years back when they had a special prosecutor --

RUSH: Well, wait a minute, now. Fitzgerald was on a legal team that successfully put a bunch of these terrorists behind bars back in the nineties, the blind sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman and others.

CALLER: Well, when he did his testimony before the 9/11 Commission and he talked about Able Danger but he did not mention this one guy who pretty much infiltrated the CIA, the FBI, and the JFK Special Warfare Unit. He was a former Egyptian officer. He was bin Laden's main trainer of bodyguards, and this is all documented and proved by this author. HIs name is Peter Lance, and it goes back for many, many, many years.

RUSH: Now, I must admit, this is the first I'm hearing of this.

CALLER: The guy's name, the spy, his name was Ali Mohammed and he went by many other aliases, obviously, but I encourage you to read this book, Rush, if you want to be scared about this prosecutor.

RUSH: I'll find out. You wonder why he went forward with the case when you mentioned other prosecutors wouldn't. I'll try to take a stab at it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Peter Lance on You Tube

Monday, March 05, 2007

Weldon earns honor from first responders

From the Delco Times:

So revered among America’s first responders, former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon continues to reap accolades from his political grave. The fact that Weldon, who founded the Congressional Fire Services Caucus in 1987, is no longer a congressman hasn’t stopped a firefighter advocacy group from naming him their 2007 "Legislator of the Year."

As such, the former volunteer fire chief will be honored next month at the Hilton Washington during the 19th annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner. The event is expected to draw more than 2,000 people.

Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, a nonpartisan policy center, said the award has previously been reserved for legislators -- as its name suggests. But Webb said he is willing to make an exception for someone of Weldon’s stature.

"I would say that history will show that Congressman Weldon has probably done more for the fire services as a member of Congress than any other member in the history of Congress," he said. "And that’s not a stretch."