ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Able Danger... developing

From Austin Bey today. I have nothing to add. He is absolutely right.


Able Danger: It’s time for President Bush to address this

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:21 am

I haven’t written about the military’s Able Danger “data-minig” operation and Rep. Curt Weldon’s accusations that the outfit had identified four 9/11 hijackers prior to the 9/11 attacks. Several things struck me as curious for an allegation of this magnitude, among them: (1) no available paper trail; (2) no knowledgeable Defense official or officer involved providing information “on background”, much less speaking on the record. Allegations of conspiracy don’t impress me; facts do– and I wasn’t getting facts.

That being said, I thought many of the folks serving on the 9/11 panel were weak, pompous politicos — placed there because of personal political connections, not defense and intelligence acumen or reputation for careful analysis. However, Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean have credibility, and they were the men who led the commission. If Able Danger had evidence, I expected Kean and Hamilton to demand to see it and vet it.

Yesterday Fox, the AP and NY Times changed the dimensions of this story. I’m still not certain where the allegations will lead, but we now have an officer involved providing details. How clear and detailed was the Able Danger information? We still don’t know– Weldon’s and Shaffer’s allegations could still unravel if the information amounts to “hearsay.”

But today the Times reports:

A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the bureau.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview on Monday night that the small, highly classified intelligence program, known as Able Danger, had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, and three other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its information. ..

The “wall” between mil/CIA and the police serves a definite civil purpose. That wall has lowered significantly in the past–when we were at war. It’s been lowered since 9/11. Until 9/11 America did not consider the terrorists’ attacks as war. Washington treated the terrorists as criminals. That was the strategic error, no matter what you think of Clinton or Bush.

If Jamie Gorelick wasn’t the weakest commission member, she was the most compromised. Gorelick should have recused herself from participation on the 9/11 Commission– because she did “raise the wall” during the Clinton Administration. Had she done that she would have enhanced her reputation. But she didn’t.

LTC Shaffer told the NY Times:

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Special Operations Command of the Defense Department had canceled the F.B.I. meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States.
“It was because of the chain of command saying we’re not going to pass on information - if something goes wrong, we’ll get blamed,” he said.

I’ll defer to my wife — who is a lawyer– on this point. She says attorneys are trained to say no and raise objections. They’ll hesistate because they anticipate an ACLU law suit and a DC political firestorm. A senior military commander will focus on the potential for attack — he knows the American people are “the final client” and will weigh the data with that in mind. So far there is no evidence that says any discussion between attorneys and senior commanders took place.

It’s time for the President to make a statement about Able Danger, even something as simple as “the lieutenant-colonel’s statements require further investigation.” Then, let’s investigate, with presidential authority.

Stay tuned.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn