The Able Danger Program

The Able Danger Program

ABLE DANGER ARCHIVE
This is a very long archive of 24 articles on Able Danger associated with the analysis published Sep 2, 2005 at 911Truth.org.

Original Link >>> http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20050830191215604

Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in ’00
NY TIMES, August 9, 2005
By DOUGLAS JEHL


WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 – More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, according to a former defense intelligence official and a Republican member of Congress.

In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military’s Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.

The recommendation was rejected and the information was not shared, they said, apparently at least in part because Mr. Atta, and the others were in the United States on valid entry visas. Under American law, United States citizens and green-card holders may not be singled out in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but Mr. Weldon and the former intelligence official said it might have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law enforcement agency.

A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including Philip Zelikow, the executive director, were told about the program on an overseas trip in October 2003 that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Mr. Felzenberg said the briefers did not mention Mr. Atta’s name.

The report produced by the commission last year does not mention the episode.

Mr. Weldon first spoke publicly about the episode in June, in a little-noticed speech on the House floor and in an interview with The Times-Herald in Norristown, Pa. The matter resurfaced on Monday in a report by GSN: Government Security News, which is published every two weeks and covers domestic-security issues. The GSN report was based on accounts provided by Mr. Weldon and the same former intelligence official, who was interviewed on Monday by The New York Times in Mr. Weldon’s office.

In a telephone interview from his home in Pennsylvania, Mr. Weldon said he was basing his assertions on similar ones by at least three other former intelligence officers with direct knowledge of the project, and said that some had first called the episode to his attention shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The account is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks. Among the 19 hijackers, only Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi had been identified as potential threats by the Central Intelligence Agency before the summer of 2000, and information about them was not provided to the F.B.I. until the spring of 2001.

Mr. Weldon has long been a champion of the kind of data-mining analysis that was the basis for the work of the Able Danger team.

The former intelligence official spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly. He said the team had been established by the Special Operations Command in 1999, under a classified directive issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about Al Qaeda networks around the world.

“Ultimately, Able Danger was going to give decision makers options for taking out Al Qaeda targets,” the former defense intelligence official said.

He said that he delivered the chart in summer 2000 to the Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and said that it had been based on information from unclassified sources and government records, including those of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them,” the former intelligence official said.

The unit, which relied heavily on data-mining techniques, was modeled after those first established by Army intelligence at the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center, now known as the Information Dominance Center, at Fort Belvoir, Va., the official said.

Mr. Weldon is an outspoken figure who is a vice chairman of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. He said he had recognized the significance of the episode only recently, when he contacted members of the military intelligence team as part of research for his book, “Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America and How the C.I.A. Has Ignored It.”

Mr. Weldon’s book prompted one veteran C.I.A. case officer to strongly dispute the reliability of one Iranian source cited in the book, saying the Iranian “was a waste of my time and resources.”

Mr. Weldon said that he had discussed the Able Danger episode with Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and that at least two Congressional committees were looking into the episode.

In the interview on Monday, Mr. Weldon said he had been aware of the episode since shortly after the Sept. 11 attack, when members of the team first brought it to his attention. He said he had told Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, about it in a conversation in September or October 2001, and had been surprised when the Sept. 11 commission report made no mention of the operation.

Col. Samuel Taylor, a spokesman for the military’s Special Operations Command, said no one at the command now had any knowledge of the Able Danger program, its mission or its findings. If the program existed, Colonel Taylor said, it was probably a highly classified “special access program” on which only a few military personnel would have been briefed.

During the interview in Mr. Weldon’s office, the former defense intelligence official showed a floor-sized chart depicting Al Qaeda networks around the world that he said was a larger, more detailed version similar to the one prepared by the Able Danger team in the summer of 2000.

He said the original chart, like the new one, had included the names and photographs of Mr. Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, as well as Mr. Mihdhar and Mr. Hazmi, who were identified as members of what was described as an American-based “Brooklyn” cell, as one of five such Al Qaeda cells around the world.

The official said the link to Brooklyn was meant as a term of art rather than to be interpreted literally, saying that the unit had produced no firm evidence linking the men to the borough of New York City but that a computer analysis seeking to establish patterns in links between the four men had found that “the software put them all together in Brooklyn.”

According to the commission report, Mr. Mihdhar and Mr. Hazmi were first identified in late 1999 or 2000 by the C.I.A. as Qaeda members who might be involved in a terrorist operation. They were tracked from Yemen to Malaysia before their trail was lost in Thailand. Neither man was put on a State Department watch list before they flew to Los Angeles in early 2000. The F.B.I. was not warned about them until the spring of 2001, and no efforts to track them were made until August 2001.

Neither Mr. Shehhi nor Mr. Atta was identified by the American intelligence agencies as a potential threat, the commission report said. Mr. Shehhi arrived in Newark on a flight from Brussels on May 29, 2000, and Mr. Atta arrived in Newark from Prague on June 3 that year.

The former intelligence official said the first Able Danger report identified all four men as members of a “Brooklyn” cell, and was produced within two months after Mr. Atta arrived in the United States. The former intelligence official said he was among a group that briefed Mr. Zelikow and at least three other members of the Sept. 11 commission staff about Able Danger when they visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in October 2003.

The official said he had explicitly mentioned Mr. Atta as a member of a Qaeda cell in the United States. He said the staff encouraged him to call the commission when he returned to Washington at the end of the year. When he did so, the ex-official said, the calls were not returned.

Mr. Felzenberg, the former Sept. 11 commission spokesman, said on Monday that he had talked with some of the former staff members who participated in the briefing.

“They all say that they were not told anything about a Brooklyn cell,” Mr. Felzenberg said. “They were told about the Pentagon operation. They were not told about the Brooklyn cell. They said that if the briefers had mentioned anything that startling, it would have gotten their attention.”

As a result of the briefing, he said, the commission staff filed document requests with the Pentagon for information about the program. The Pentagon complied, he said, adding that the staff had not hidden anything from the commissioners.

“The commissioners were certainly told of the document requests and what the findings were,” Mr. Felzenberg said.

Philip Shenon and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original Link >>> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/11/politics/11intel.html

9/11 Commission’s Staff Rejected Report on Early Identification of Chief Hijacker

NY TIMES, August 11, 2005
By DOUGLAS JEHL and PHILIP SHENON – NY Times


WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 – The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday. The officials said that the information had not been included in the report because aspects of the officer’s account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about that Qaeda member, Mohammed Atta, the plot’s leader.

But aides to the Republican congressman who has sought to call attention to the military unit that conducted the secret operation said such a conclusion relied too much on specific dates involving Mr. Atta’s travels and not nearly enough on the operation’s broader determination that he was a threat.

The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission’s staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.

Mr. Weldon has accused the commission of ignoring information that would have forced a rewriting of the history of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has asserted that the Able Danger unit, whose work relied on computer-driven data-mining techniques, sought to call their superiors’ attention to Mr. Atta and three other future hijackers in the summer of 2000. Their work, he says, had identified the men as likely members of a Qaeda cell already in the United States.

In a letter sent Wednesday to members of the commission, Mr. Weldon criticized the panel in scathing terms, saying that its “refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst tendencies in the federal government that the commission worked to expose.”

Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission’s chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.

Both Mr. Weldon’s office and commission officials said they knew the name, rank and service of the officer, but they declined to make that information public.

Mr. Weldon and a former defense intelligence official who was interviewed on Monday have said that the Able Danger team sought but failed in the summer of 2000 to persuade the military’s Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla., to pass on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the information they had gathered about Mr. Atta and the three other men. The Pentagon and the Special Operations Command have declined to comment, saying they are still trying to learn more about what may have happened.

Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday that the military was working with the commission’s unofficial follow-up group – the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which was formed by the panel’s members when it was disbanded – to try to clarify what had occurred.

Mr. Felzenberg said the commission’s staff remained convinced that the information provided by the military officer in the July 2004 briefing was inaccurate in a significant way.

“He wasn’t brushed off,” Mr. Felzenberg said of the officer. “I’m not aware of anybody being brushed off. The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing” from the commission’s investigation.

Mr. Felzenberg said staff investigators had become wary of the officer because he argued that Able Danger had identified Mr. Atta, an Egyptian, as having been in the United States in late 1999 or early 2000. The investigators knew this was impossible, Mr. Felzenberg said, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000.

“There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn’t give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report,” Mr. Felzenberg said. “This information was not meshing with the other information that we had.”

But Russell Caso, Mr. Weldon’s chief of staff, said that “while the dates may not have meshed” with the commission’s information, the central element of the officer’s claim was that “Mohammed Atta was identified as being tied to Al Qaeda and a Brooklyn cell more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, and that should have warranted further investigation by the commission.”

“Furthermore,” Mr. Caso said, “if Mohammed Atta was identified by the Able Danger project, why didn’t the Department of Defense provide that information to the F.B.I.?”

Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon’s staff that the briefing, at the commission’s offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel’s lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission’s protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration “minder” attend all the panel’s major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.

The Sept. 11 commission issued its final report on July 22, 2004. Mr. Felzenberg noted that the interview with the military officer had taken place in the final, hectic days before the commission sent the report to the printers, and said the meeting reflected a willingness by the commission to gather facts, even at the last possible minute.

“Lots of stuff was coming in over the transom,” Mr. Felzenberg said. “Lots of stuff was flying around. At the end of the day, when you’re writing the report, you have to take facts presented to you.” Former Commissioner Spokesperson had this to say about the Commission’s leaving Able Danger details out of their report: “Lots of stuff was coming in over the transom,” Mr. Felzenberg said. “Lots of stuff was flying around. At the end of the day, when you’re writing the report, you have to take facts presented to you.”

Copyright 2005 The New York Times. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/16/politics/16cnd-intel.html

August 16, 2005

Officer Says Pentagon Barred Sharing Pre-9/11 Qaeda Data With F.B.I.

By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 – 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 F.B.I.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview that the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified by name the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the F.B.I.’s Washington field office to share the information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

“I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued,” Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Defense Department’s Special Operations Command 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.

The Defense Department did not dispute the account from Colonel Shaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., who is the first military officer associated with the so-called data-mining program to come forward and acknowledge his role.

At the same time, the department said in a statement that it was “working to gain more clarity on this issue” and that “it’s too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger.” The F.B.I. referred calls about Colonel Shaffer to the Pentagon.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part-time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged that it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public.

In a statement issued last week, the leaders of the Sept. 11 commission said the panel had concluded that the intelligence program “did not turn out to be historically significant.” The statement said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about the program, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

Colonel Shaffer said that his role in Able Danger was as the program’s liaison with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and that he was not an intelligence analyst. The interview with Colonel Shaffer on Monday night was arranged for The New York Times and Fox News by Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a champion of data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Colonel Shaffer’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department – first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

Mr. Zaid said that Colonel Shaffer’s security clearance had been suspended last year because of what the lawyer said were a series of “petty allegations” involving $67 in personal charges on a military cellphone. He noted that despite the disciplinary action, Colonel Shaffer had been promoted this year from the rank of major.

Colonel Shaffer said he had decided to allow his name to be used in news accounts in part because of his frustration with the statement issued last week by the commission leaders, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.

The commission said in its final report last year that American intelligence agencies had not identified Mr. Atta as a terrorist before Sept. 11, 2001, when he flew an American Airlines jet into one of towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

A commission spokesman did not return repeated phone calls for comment. A Democratic member of the commission, Richard Ben Veniste, the former Watergate prosecutor, said in an interview today that while he could not judge the credibility of the information from Colonel Shaffer and others, the Pentagon needed to “provide a clear and comprehensive explanation regarding what information it had in its possession regarding Mr. Atta.”

“And if these assertions are credible,” he continued, “the Pentagon would need to explain why it was that the 9/11 commissioners were not provided this information despite request for all information regarding to Able Danger.”

Colonel Shaffer said that he had provided information about Able Danger and its identification of Mr. Atta in a private meeting in October 2003 with members of the Sept. 11 commission staff when they visited Afghanistan, where he was then serving. Commission members have disputed that, saying they do not recall hearing Mr. Atta’s name during the briefing and that the terrorist’s name did not appear in documents about Able Danger that were later turned over by the Pentagon.

“I would implore the 9/11 commission to support a follow-on investigation to ascertain what the real truth is,” Colonel Shaffer said in the interview this week. “I do believe the 9/11 commission should have done that job: figuring out what went wrong with Able Danger.”

“This was a good news story because, before 9/11, you had an element of the military – our unit – which was actually out looking for Al Qaeda,” he continued. “I can’t believe the 9/11 commission would somehow believe that the historical value was not relevant.”

Colonel Shaffer said that because he was not an intelligence analyst, he was not involved in the details of the procedures used in Able Danger to glean information from terrorist databases. Nor was he aware, he said, which databases had supplied the information that might have led to the name of Mr. Atta or other terrorists so long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said he did know that Able Danger had made use of publicly available information from government immigration agencies, from internet sites and from paid search engines such as Lexis Nexis.

“We didn’t that Atta’s name was significant” at the time, he said, adding that “we just knew there were these linkages between him and these other individuals who were in this loose configuration” of people who appeared to be tied to an American-based cell of Al Qaeda.

Colonel Shaffer said he assumed that by speaking out publicly this week about Able Danger, he might effectively be ending his military career and limiting his ability to participate in intelligence work in the government. “I’m proud of my operational record and I love what I do,” he said. “But there comes a time – and I believe the time for me is now — to stand for something, to stand for what is right.”

Copyright 2005 The New York Times. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/23/politics/23intel.html

NY Times, August 23, 2005

Second Officer Says 9/11 Leader Was Named Before Attacks

By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 – An active-duty Navy captain has become the second military officer to come forward publicly to say that a secret intelligence program tagged the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a possible terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The officer, Scott J. Phillpott, said in a statement on Monday that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. “My story is consistent,” said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command. “Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000.”

His comments came on the same day that the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters that the Defense Department had been unable to validate the assertions made by an Army intelligence veteran, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and now backed up by Captain Phillpott, about the early identification of Mr. Atta.

Colonel Shaffer went public with his assertions last week, saying that analysts in the intelligence project were overruled by military lawyers when they tried to share the program’s findings with the F.B.I. in 2000 in hopes of tracking down terrorist suspects tied to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Di Rita said in an interview that while the department continued to investigate the assertions, there was no evidence so far that the intelligence unit came up with such specific information about Mr. Atta and any of the other hijackers.

He said that while Colonel Shaffer and Captain Phillpott were respected military officers whose accounts were taken seriously, “thus far we’ve not been able to uncover what these people said they saw – memory is a complicated thing.”

The statement from Captain Phillpott , a 1983 Naval Academy graduate who has served in the Navy for 22 years, was provided to The New York Times and Fox News through the office of Representative Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a longtime proponent of so-called data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Asked if the Defense Department had questioned Captain Phillpott in its two-week-old investigation of Able Danger, another Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Paul Swiergosz, said he did not know.

Representative Weldon also arranged an interview on Monday with a former employee of a defense contractor who said he had helped create a chart in 2000 for the intelligence program that included Mr. Atta’s photograph and name.

The former contractor, James D. Smith, said that Mr. Atta’s name and photograph were obtained through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. Mr. Smith said that he had retained a copy of the chart until last year and that it had been posted on his office wall at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He said it had become stuck to the wall and was impossible to remove when he switched jobs.

In its final report last year, the Sept. 11 commission said that American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the attacks.

The leaders of the Sept. 11 commission acknowledged on Aug. 12 that their staff had met with a Navy officer last July, 10 days before releasing the panel’s final report, who asserted that a highly classified intelligence operation, Able Danger, had identified “Mohamed Atta to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn.”

But the statement, which did not identify the officer, said the staff determined that “the officer’s account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation” and that the intelligence operation “did not turn out to be historically significant.”

With his comments on Monday, Captain Phillpott acknowledged that he was the officer who had briefed the commission last year. “I will not discuss the issues outside of my chain of command and the Department of Defense,” he said. “But my story is consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000. I have nothing else to say.”

Copyright 2005 The New York Times. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/01/politics/01intel.html

NY Times, September 1, 2005

Senate Panel Plans Hearing Into Reports on Terrorist

By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 – The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that it was investigating reports from two military officers that a highly classified Pentagon intelligence program identified the Sept. 11 ringleader as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that he was scheduling a public hearing on Sept. 14 “to get to the bottom of this” and that the military officers “appear to have credibility.”

The senator said his staff had confirmed reports from the two officers that employees of the intelligence program tried to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 to discuss the work of the program, known as Able Danger.

The officers, Capt. Scott J. Phillpott of the Navy and Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer of the Army, have said the intelligence program identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by early 2000. Colonel Shaffer, a reservist, has said three meetings with F.B.I. agents in 2000 to discuss Able Danger were canceled on the order of military lawyers.

Senator Specter’s announcement came as the Pentagon said again on Wednesday that while it was not disputing the officers’ reports, it could find no documentation to back up what they were saying.

“Not only can we not find documentation, we can’t find documents to lead us to the documentation,” said Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman.

Other Pentagon officials have suggested that the memories of Captain Phillpott and Colonel Shaffer are flawed and that Mr. Atta could not have been identified before the attacks, a view shared by members of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

But Colonel Shaffer and military officials involved in the intelligence program say it may not be surprising that documents were destroyed, since the project became controversial within the Pentagon because of potential privacy violations.

“I don’t know what kind of documentation they’d be looking for,” Senator Specter said of Defense Department investigators. “At this point, you have responsible officials at D.O.D. who have made some pretty serious statements and that ought to be investigated.”

The existence of the intelligence program is potentially embarrassing to the Pentagon since it would suggest that the Defense Department developed information about the Sept. 11 hijackers long before they attacked in 2001 but did not share the information with law enforcement or intelligence agencies that could have acted on it.

Senator Specter did not provide a witness list for the Sept. 14 hearing, although he suggested that Captain Phillpott and Colonel Shaffer would testify, along with J. D. Smith, a former Pentagon contractor who worked on the program and has backed up the officers’ accounts about the identification of Mr. Atta.

The senator said that if Mr. Atta and other Sept. 11 terrorists were identified before the attacks, “it would be a very serious breach not to have that information passed along.”

“We ought to get to the bottom of it,” Mr. Specter said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Sept-11-Hijackers.html

NY TIMES, September 2, 2005
Pentagon Finds More Who Recall Atta Intel

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and Washington. But they have been unable to find the chart or other evidence that it existed.

Last month, two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, went public with claims that a secret unit code-named Able Danger used data mining — searching large amounts of data for patterns — to identify Atta in 2000. Shaffer has said three other Sept. 11 hijackers also were identified.

In recent days Pentagon officials have said they could not yet verify or disprove the assertions by Shaffer and Philpott. On Thursday, four intelligence officials provided the first extensive briefing for reporters on the outcome of their interviews with people associated with Able Danger and their review of documents.

They said they interviewed at least 80 people over a three-week period and found three, besides Philpott and Shaffer, who said they remember seeing a chart that either mentioned Atta by name as an al-Qaida operative or showed his photograph. Four of the five recalled a chart with a pre-9/11 photo of Atta; the other person recalled only a reference to his name.

The intelligence officials said they consider the five people to be credible but their recollections are still unverified.

”To date, we have not identified the chart,” said Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. ”We have identified a similar chart but it does not contain the photo of Mohamed Atta or a reference to him or a reference to the other (9/11) hijackers.”

She said more interviews would be conducted, but the search of official documents is finished.

Downs and the other officials said they could not rule out that the chart recalled by Shaffer, Philpott and three others had been destroyed in compliance with regulations pertaining to intelligence information about people inside the United States. They also did not rule out that the five simply had faulty recollections.

Navy Cmdr. Christopher Chope, of the Center for Special Operations at U.S. Special Operations Command, said there were ”negative indications” that anyone ever ordered the destruction of Able Danger documents, other than the materials that were routinely required to be destroyed under existing regulations.

Shaffer, who is now a civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also has publicly asserted that military lawyers stopped the Able Danger staff from sharing the information on Atta with the FBI out of concern about gathering and sharing information on people in the United States legally.

Chope said there is no evidence that military lawyers blocked the sharing of Able Danger information with the FBI.

Chope also said the nature of Able Danger has been misrepresented in some news stories. He said it was created as a result of a directive in early October 1999 by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to U.S. Special Operations Command to develop a campaign plan against transnational terrorism, ”specifically al-Qaida.”

He called it an internal working group with a core of 10 staffers at Special Operations Command. Philpott was the ”team leader,” he said. ”Able Danger was never a military unit,” and it never targeted individual terrorists, he said. It went out of existence when the planning effort was finished in January 2001, he said.

Able Danger’s purpose was to ”characterize the al-Qaida network,” Chope said, and determine the terror network’s vulnerabilities and linkages at a time when U.S. officials were unaware that al-Qaida members were operating inside the United States.

”The effort was never: Determine which individuals we ought to roll up,” he said. ”Did Osama bin Laden’s name come up? Of course it did.” But it was not primarily aimed at identifying individual terrorists, he added.

Of the five people who told Pentagon interviewers they recalled a pre-9/11 chart that either named Atta or showed his photograph, two were on the staff of U.S. Special Operations Command: Philpott and an unidentified civilian analyst. Besides Shaffer, the others were an unidentified private contractor and an analyst with the Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity, Downs said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times/Associated Press. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Other News Reports

Original http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2005/08/09/national/w154220D27.DTL

San Francisco Chronicle, August 09, 2005

Congressman: Defense Knew 9/11 Hijackers

By KIMBERLY HEFLING — Associated Press — Tuesday, August 9, 2005

(08-09) 17:43 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) — The Sept. 11 commission will investigate a claim that U.S. defense intelligence officials identified ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a likely part of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the hijackings but didn’t forward the information to law enforcement.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. and vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said Tuesday the men were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as “Able Danger.” If true, that’s an earlier link to al-Qaida than any previously disclosed intelligence about Atta. Sept. 11 commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said Tuesday that Weldon’s information, which the congressman said came from multiple intelligence sources, warrants a review. He said he hoped the panel could issue a statement on its findings by the end of the week.

“The 9/11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell,” said Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. “Had we learned of it obviously it would’ve been a major focus of our investigation.”

The Sept. 11 commission’s final report, issued last year, recounted numerous government mistakes that allowed the hijackers to succeed. Among them was a failure to share intelligence within and among agencies.

According to Weldon, Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of a cell the unit code-named “Brooklyn” because of some loose connections to New York City.

Weldon said that in September 2000 Able Danger recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI “so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists.” However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally so information on them could not be shared with law enforcement.

Weldon did not provide details on how the intelligence officials identified the future hijackers and determined they might be part of a cell.

Defense Department documents shown to an Associated Press reporter Tuesday said the Able Danger team was set up in 1999 to identify potential al-Qaida operatives for U.S. Special Operations Command. At some point, information provided to the team by the Army’s Information Dominance Center pointed to a possible al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn, the documents said.

However, because of concerns about pursuing information on “U.S. persons” — a legal term that includes U.S. citizens as well as foreigners admitted to the country for permanent residence — Special Operations Command did not provide the Army information to the FBI. It is unclear whether the Army provided the information to anyone else.

The command instead turned its focus to overseas threats.

The documents provided no information on whether the team identified anyone connected to the Sept. 11 attack.

If the team did identify Atta and the others, it’s unclear why the information wasn’t forwarded. The prohibition against sharing intelligence on “U.S. persons” should not have applied since they were in the country on visas — they did not have permanent resident status.

Weldon, considered something of a maverick on Capitol Hill, initially made his allegations about Atta and the others in a floor speech in June that garnered little attention. His talk came at the end of a legislative day during a period described under House rules as “special orders” — a time slot for lawmakers to get up and speak on issues of their choosing.

The issue resurfaced Monday in a story by the bimonthly Government Security News, which covers national security matters.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he was unaware of the intelligence until the latest reports surfaced.

But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the 9/11 Commission looked into the matter during its investigation into government missteps leading to the attacks and chose not to include it in the final report.

Hamilton said 9/11 Commission staff members learned of Able Danger during a meeting with military personnel in October 2003 in Afghanistan, but the staff members do not recall learning of a connection between Able Danger and any of the four terrorists Weldon mentioned.

Associated Press reporter John J. Lumpkin contributed to this report.

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Original http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08/10/Worldandnation/Reports__911_clue_hid.shtml

St. Petersburg Times

Reports: 9/11 clue hid in Tampa

A lawmaker says a Special Operations Command unit identified terrorist Mohammed Atta before the attacks.

By PAUL DE LA GARZA, Times Staff Writer

Published August 10, 2005

TAMPA – Congress and the Sept. 11 Commission have launched multiple investigations into reports that the Special Operations Command in Tampa held back information that could have foiled the 9/11 plot, officials said Tuesday.

The fast-paced developments were in response to information provided by Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., vice chairman of the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. Weldon said a secret military unit known as “Able Danger” discovered a year before the attacks that ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers were in the United States. Weldon said the unit – created at SOCom under a classified directive in 1999 to take out al-Qaida targets – identified Atta and the others as likely members of the organization.

In fall 2000, the unit recommended SOCom share the information with the FBI, Weldon said in an interview Tuesday. But lawyers at either the Pentagon or SOCom determined the men were in the country legally, Weldon said. He said he based his information on intelligence sources.

When members of Able Danger made their presentation at command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Weldon said, the legal team “put stickies on the faces of Mohammed Atta on the chart,” to reinforce that he was off-limits.

“They said, “You can’t talk to Atta because he’s here on a green card,”‘ Weldon said.

Had SOCom shared the information with the FBI, Weldon said, 9/11 might not have happened.

“The outcome would have been seriously affected.”

In a statement Tuesday, SOCom said Able Danger developed information about al-Qaida “as part of an effort to deter transnational terrorist organizations.”

“We do not have any information about whether Able Danger identified Atta or other 9/11 hijackers, or about a recommendation to provide information to the FBI,” SOCom said.

SOCom is responsible for the nation’s secret commando units, and has played a central role in the war on terror since 9/11.

A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 Commission said that members of its staff were told about the program but that the briefers did not mention Atta’s name. The commission report produced last year did not mention Able Danger’s findings.

On Tuesday, commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said that Weldon’s information, which the congressman said came from multiple intelligence sources, warrants a review.

He said he hoped the panel could issue a statement on its findings by the end of the week.

“The 9/11 Commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell,” said Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. “Had we learned of it obviously it would have been a major focus of our investigation.”

At least two congressional committees have begun looking into the episode.

Rep. C.W. Bill Young, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said he, too, had asked the Pentagon for information about the Able Danger program.

The Indian Shores Republican said that in hindsight, it was easy to say that one thing or another could have disrupted the hijackers.

“There should have been better sharing of information,” he said.

Young said that passage of the Patriot Act and appointment of John Negroponte as intelligence czar, which gives one person access to all information generated by the intelligence community, would help resolve future problems.

“The tools weren’t as good then as they are today,” Young said.

Sounding agitated by what he perceived as a missed opportunity, Weldon made a distinction between the military lawyers and Special Operations Forces, whom he praised. Gen. Pete Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, was SOCom commander at the time.

The small military unit developed the information using mostly open sources, not classified channels, Weldon said.

Weldon revealed the Able Danger findings in a little-noticed speech on the floor of the House in June. On Monday, Government Security News, a biweekly publication that covers homeland security, published a cover story on the subject, generating another article in the New York Times.

Until now, Atta had not been identified publicly as a threat to the United States before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

According to Weldon, the military unit identified a terrorist cell in Brooklyn, N.Y., in September 2000.

The individuals identified as members of the cell were Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhamzi.

In late 1999 or 2000, the CIA had identified Almihdhar and Alhamzi as terrorist members who might be involved in a terrorist operation.

The duo arrived in Los Angeles in early 2000, but the FBI was not warned about them until spring 2001. No efforts were made to track them until a month before the terrorist attacks.

In the article published by Government Security News, a former defense intelligence official who worked with Able Danger said he alerted SOCom about the unit’s findings. The publication said it interviewed the source in Weldon’s office.

“The documents included a photo of Mohammed Atta supplied by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and described Atta’s relationship with Osama bin Laden,” the article said.

“The officer was very disappointed when lawyers working for Special Ops decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen.

“Thus, the information Able Danger had amassed about the only terrorist cell they had located inside the United States could not be shared with the FBI, the lawyers concluded.”

Former Sen. Bob Graham, one-time chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was not familiar with the Able Danger program.

However, the Florida Democrat said he was not surprised by Weldon’s account.

“If it’s true,” Graham said, “it would be yet another example of a missed opportunity to learn about the plot and to blow it up before 9/11.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright 2005 The St. Petersburg Times. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.timesherald.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15032471&BRD=1672&PAG=461

(Pennsylvania) Times Herald

Weldon wants answers on Atta

By: KEITH PHUCAS, Times Herald Staff

08/13/2005

NORRISTOWN – Ten days before publication of the 9/11 Commission report, commission staff discounted information from a military officer linking Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta to a terror cell believed to be operating in New York City more than a year before the terrorist attacks.

According to a statement released Friday by The 9/11 Public Discourse Project, the two commission staff members who interviewed the officer in July 2004 concluded his story about a Defense Department intelligence counterterrorism program, called Able Danger, that worked to identify and target al-Qaida and other terrorists, was not credible. As a result, the information was not included in the commission’s final report published July 22, 2004.

The 9/11 Public Discourse Project, formerly known as the 9/11 Commission, issued the statement late Friday to respond to charges made by Congressman Curt Weldon, R-7th Dist., this week that the commission failed to follow up after being tipped off three times about the defense operation.

The Times Herald broke the Able Danger story in its June 19 edition. The story eluded the national media until early last week.

A small group of Defense Intelligence Agency employees ran the Able Danger operation from fall 1999 to February 2001 – just seven months before the terrorist attacks – when the operation was unceremoniously axed, according to a former defense intelligence official familiar with the program. The former official asked not to be identified.

In their efforts to locate terrorists, the operation’s technology analysts used data mining and fusion techniques to search terabyte-sized data sets from open source material – such as travel manifests, bank transactions, hotel records, credit applications – and compared this material with classified information.

By charting the movements and transactions of suspected terrorists, the operation linked Atta to al-Qaida. Between fall 1999 and early 2000, the intelligence team concluded that Atta, and two others, were likely part of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn.

At that point, Able Danger wanted the FBI, assisted by Special Operations Command, to track the group. But to the team’s surprise, SOCOM’s legal counsel shot down the idea.

“I tried to broker meetings between Special Operations and the FBI, but SOCOM’s lawyers squashed it,” the former defense officials said.

According to the former official, the Special Operations attorneys told the team it couldn’t perform surveillance on the suspected terrorist. The foreign nationals had green cards, and thus, had the same protections as American citizens from such scrutiny.

Special Operations had advised the FBI during the ill-fated seige of the Branch Davidian compound, in Waco, Texas, in 1993, that resulted in more than 80 deaths after Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raided the compound, Weldon and the official said.

Following the fiery debacle, all the federal participants in the siege, including SOCOM, were harshly criticized. Fear of suffering the fallout if Able Danger backfired, they said, explains the military’s reluctance to help the FBI.

“We felt that they were terrorists, and we should have done something about it,” the former intelligence officials said. “I believe we could have prevented 9/11.”

Wednesday, after becoming exasperated with former 9/11 Commission staff who claimed it didn’t know anything about Able Danger, Weldon fired off a harsh letter to former commission members demanding to know why the information had not been considered.

In Weldon’s letter, he said his chief of staff actually handed a package on the defense program to one of the commissioners in a Capitol Hill congressional office building April 13, 2004. Also, the congressman criticized the staff for not returning calls from a defense intelligence official with information on the operation.

Scrambling to answer Weldon’s claims, commission staff combed through its archives this week for information related to Able Danger.

In its Friday statement, The 9/11 Public Discourse Project said the commission was first told about Able Danger while commission members were visiting Afghanistan on Oct. 21, 2003. While there, Philip Zelikow, then executive director of the commission, and two senior staffers met with three intelligence officials working for the Defense Department. One official mentioned Able Danger and said it was shut down. According to documents the commission received from the Pentagon, Able Danger began in 1999.

In November 2003, commission staff requested Defense Department material about the operation and received documents in February 2004 that included diagrams of terrorist networks, according to the 9/11 project letter.

The commission, however, said it first heard Atta mentioned in discussions about Able Danger on July 12, 2004, during an interview with a Navy officer. The officer told senior commission staff member Deiter Snell and another staffer that he recalled briefly seeing Atta’s name and photo in a chart belonging to a Defense Department employee, and said the material was dated “February through April 2000.”

According to the commission, Atta first arrived in the United States on June 3, 2001, about three months before the airline he flew crashed into the World Trade Center.

The Navy officer, who said the chart showed Atta to be a member of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn, complained that the identities of other cell members had been removed from the document because Pentagon lawyers were concerned about the propriety of the military’s role with the FBI in a domestic intelligence operation.

Eventually commission staffers found the military officer’s description and explanation of Able Danger to be wanting and concluded the information was “not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the (9/11) report or further investigation.”

Weldon is demanding to know why the Defense Department did not pass information about Able Danger on to the FBI in 2000 and why the commission’s staff failed to pursue the matter. He has vowed to push for a full accounting of the controversy, according to a written response issued from his office Friday evening.

Since 1999 Weldon has called for fusing the government’s intelligence agencies collection system so they could share information and more effectively thwart terrorist plots. Six years ago, he proposed the creation of a National Operations and Analysis Hub (NOAH) for this effort.

In 2004, President Bush established the National Counterterrorism Center to integrate all intelligence the U.S. possesses on terrorism and counterterrorism.

In a new book, “Countdown to Terror: The top-secret information that could prevent the next terrorist attack on America … and how the CIA has ignored it,” Weldon is critical of the CIA for failing to share intelligence information with other agencies and discrediting information he has offered the CIA.

The congressman said he first became aware of the tremendous intelligence collaboration possibilities after visiting the Army’s Land Information Warfare Assistance Center, in Fort Belvoir, Va., where massive amounts of data was mined and fused to profile emerging threats.

Calls to communications director Al Felzenberg at the 9/11 Public Discourse Project by The Times Herald were not returned on Friday. A spokesman for John Lehman, a former 9/11 Commission member, said Lehman did not wish to comment on the matter.

Copyright © 2005 The Times Herald. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,1551268,00.html

The Guardian (UK)

US officer says Pentagon prevented al-Qaida reports reaching the FBI

Julian Borger in Washington

Thursday August 18, 2005

A US army intelligence officer went public yesterday with claims that a secret military unit had identified Mohammed Atta and three other al-Qaida members as a potential threat a year before they carried out the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer said the secret intelligence unit, codenamed Able Danger, had been prevented from passing on its information to the FBI by Pentagon lawyers concerned that the military should not be involved in surveillance of suspects inside the US.

The claim has focused new light on the Pentagon’s part in intelligence failings before the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and called into question last year’s official report on the debacle.

Col Shaffer, a reservist now working part-time at the Pentagon, said he was risking his career by giving on-the-record interviews to the New York Times and television networks, but he said he had been frustrated by the dismissal of his account by the official inquiry into the September 11 attacks. He said information he provided to the investigative staff “never got to the commissioners”.

The commission’s final report last year did not mention Able Danger, despite being briefed on its work by Col Shaffer in October 2003 and by an unnamed navy captain in 2004. The two top commissioners, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, defended that decision last week, arguing its role “did not turn out to be historically significant”.

The commissioners issued a statement last week saying the claim that Mohammed Atta and other plotters had been identified before 2001 was not supported by official documents the commission had requested.

They said Atta had not been mentioned in the 2003 briefing on Able Danger in Afghanistan, and the allegation made by the naval officer in 2004, that Atta was attached to an al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn, was incompatible with official records of his movements.

Col Shaffer countered that the commission was never given all the relevant documentation by the Pentagon.

“I’m told confidently by the person who moved the material over, that the 9/11 commission received two briefcase-sized containers of documents. I can tell you for a fact that would not be one-twentieth of the information that Able Danger consisted of during the time we spent investigating,” the intelligence officer told Fox News.

The Able Danger unit was created in 1999 under the Special Operations Command to carry out computer analysis of huge amounts of data on possible terrorist suspects.

Col Shaffer, who served as a liaison officer between Able Danger and the Defence Intelligence Agency, said that by mid-2000 the unit came up with a chart linking Mohammed Atta, the Egyptian lead hijacker, and three others, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Marwan al-Shehhi, complete with photographs of the plotters. “I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued,” Col Shaffer told the New York Times.

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Original http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0534,mondo1,67096,6.html

Village Voice

Errors of Commission

The hijacking of the probe into the 9-11 hijackers

by James Ridgeway with Natalie Wittlin

August 23rd, 2005 11:49 AM

Whether or not U.S. military intelligence was prevented by Pentagon superiors from alerting the FBI to the presence of Mohammed Atta in 1998, there is little doubt the U.S. was well aware of the infamous hijacker by then. The Republican right wing is raising the Atta issue at a time when Bush is sinking in the polls, people are fed up with Iraq, and there are continuing questions about the administration’s handling of 9-11 and the war on terror. One way to take some of the heat off is to shift the blame to Bill Clinton.

In his book Countdown to Terror, Republican Congressman Curt Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, lays the blame for our lousy intelligence on Clinton: “Given the intelligence community’s poor track record and the political corruption of the intelligence process during the Clinton administration, the intelligence community’s failure to detect and stop the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington seems inevitable. ”

By 1998, Atta was living in a Hamburg apartment (later found to be an Al Qaeda cell) and under surveillance by German intelligence. The Germans were passing along what they knew to the CIA. There are suggestions that Atta may have been known to U.S. intelligence as far back as 1993 and, according to the German press, the CIA itself had other people in the apartment under surveillance. This raises the question of whether this cell might not have been taken out well before 9-11.

In 2004, the German prosecutor who was in charge of the investigation was scheduled to testify about this Hamburg cell to the 9-11 Commission. But his testimony was unexpectedly canceled. The documents from the investigation are reported to be missing.

Last week, Mounir al-Motassadek, one of Atta’s associates, was convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization in a German court and sentenced to seven years in prison. He had been acquitted in another court on charges related to whether he knew anything about the 9-11 attacks. The Germans had him under surveillance and had been tapping his phones since August 1998. He was an associate of Atta’s in the Hamburg apartment. He witnessed Atta’s will and had power of attorney over the hijackers’ bank accounts, shifting money to them while they took flying lessons in the U.S. He trained with them in Afghanistan.

What Weldon and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer are claiming is that the Army Intelligence and Special Operations Command in 1998-1999 launched a secret program, Able Danger, to map out the international Al Qaeda network. One Defense official has said the project was approved by General Henry H. Shelton, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Shelton said recently that he does not remember the project but that “we had lots of initiatives to find out where Al Qaeda was.”

By September 2000, so the story goes-and much of it depends on Shaffer’s shaky memory-Able Danger had discovered Atta and other hijackers working out of a “Brooklyn cell.” They wanted to tell the FBI about their findings in hopes the Bureau would take out the cell. But military lawyers blocked them from doing so on grounds it would reveal the existence of illegal military intelligence operations within the U.S., and that would cause controversy for Clinton-and perhaps damage Al Gore’s campaign against George W. Bush.

In July 2004, a naval officer testified to the 9-11 Commission that he saw an Able Danger document in 2000 that linked Atta to the Al Qaeda cell. Commission chair Thomas Kean and vice-chair Lee Hamilton later said that one piece of testimony had not been “sufficiently reliable” to merit further investigation.

This month Weldon asked the commission how come it had not pursued Able Danger, and Hamilton replied, “The 9-11 Commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9-11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell. Had we learned of it, obviously it would’ve been a major focus of our investigation.” Later both said Able Danger “did not turn out to be historically significant.”

——————————————————————————–

Even if the Pentagon’s supposed discovery of Atta before 9-11 succeeds in shifting some of the political blame from Bush to Clinton, it also raises new questions about the role of the Pentagon and especially that of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 9-11 and the war on terror. And this comes at a time when the military is clamoring for a greater role in intelligence gathering.

At 9:53 on the morning of 9-11, the National Security Agency intercepted a call from an Osama bin Laden operative in Afghanistan to a person in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, as noted in the 9-11 Timeline compiled by Paul Thompson at cooperativeresearch.org. The caller said he had “heard good news” and another target was still to be hit (apparently by the plane that was brought down in the Pennsylvania countryside). This was the first firm indication the government had that bin Laden was behind the attack. Two hours later, at 12:05, CIA director George Tenet told Rumsfeld about the NSA intercept.

As reported by CBS News, based on leaked notes from a National Military Command Center teleconference, the Secretary of Defense was surprisingly reluctant to make much of the call: “Rumsfeld felt it was ‘vague,’ that it ‘might not mean something,’ and that there was ‘no good basis for hanging hat.’ In other words, the evidence was not clear-cut enough to justify military action against Bin Laden. But later that afternoon, the CIA reported the passenger manifests for the hijacked airliners showed three of the hijackers were suspected Al Qaeda operatives.”

According to the notes, Rumsfeld learned that “one guy is associate of bomber”-the Al Qaeda suicide bomber who attacked the U.S. warship in Yemen in 2000.

At 2:40, the notes report, Rumsfeld was beginning to take aim at the target close to his heart: He wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama Bin Laden]. Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” This was the first indication that Rumsfeld was disregarding specific intelligence clearly linking the attack to Al Qaeda and instead had begun to fantasize about getting Saddam Hussein.

Hours later, White House terrorism adviser Richard Clarke went to the White House for meetings that Clarke believed would concern U.S. vulnerabilities, possible future attacks, and what might be done to prevent them. As he writes in one of the most famous passages from his book, Clarke “instead walked into a series of discussions about Iraq.”

“At first,” Clarke writes, “I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq. My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.”

Rumsfeld’s breezy dismissal of Al Qaeda’s involvement in the attacks in the face of specific intelligence is hard to fathom. And if there is buried somewhere in the Pentagon a military intelligence operation-its existence approved at the highest levels-that knew all about Atta and Al Qaeda, then Rumsfeld’s behavior is indefensible.

——————————————————————————–

The 9-11 Commission was established to get to the bottom of the attacks that day. However, it often skipped over key issues:

*Bush and Cheney were interviewed together, in secret, with no record of the meeting.

*Florida senator Bob Graham’s joint congressional inquiry had unearthed the outlines of what may have been a Saudi spy operation linked to Al Qaeda and operating in the U.S. But the commission dismissed Saudi involvement and cleared the royal family.

*The commission never seriously inquired into the activities of Pakistan, whose secret intelligence agency had created the Taliban and subsequently backed Al Qaeda.

*The commission had no time for FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who came up with one tale after another of fishy operations in the FBI translations section, including the mind-boggling information that FBI interpreters were being sent to Guantánamo to translate languages they could not speak.

*The congressional joint inquiry discovered that an FBI informant on the West Coast, unbeknownst to the Bureau, rented an apartment to two hijackers. When Graham tried to interview the landlord, the FBI refused. Later a top FBI official told Graham that the White House had blocked the informant’s testimony. The commission dismissed all this.

*The commission skipped over the scandalous mess at the FAA, suppressing a staff study saying that the agency had ignored numerous warnings issued in the months before the attack. After the election, the commission released parts of this study, leaving some of it classified.

*The commission never seriously inquired into intelligence failures at the Hamburg cell where Atta lived off and on and which was a key center for planning the attacks.

Every day it looks as if the government’s main probe of 9-11 has turned into a political fix.

——————————————————————————–

Additional reporting: Halley Bondy

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Original http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050901/pl_nm/security_attacks_pentagon_dc

Reuters, September 1, 2005
Three more assert Pentagon knew of 9/11 ringleader

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three more people associated with a secret U.S. military intelligence team have asserted that the program identified September 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta as an Al Qaeda suspect inside the United States more than a year before the 2001 attacks, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

The Pentagon said a three-week review had turned up no documents to back up the assertion, but did not rule out that such documents relating to the classified operation had been destroyed.

Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer last month came forward with statements that a secret intelligence program code-named “Able Danger” had identified Atta, the lead hijacker in the attacks that killed 3,000 people, in early 2000. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Curt Weldon (news, bio, voting record), vice chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, also went public with the allegations.

Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told reporters that as part of the review, the Pentagon interviewed 80 people.

Downs said that three more people, as well as Phillpott and Shaffer, recalled the existence of an intelligence chart identifying Atta by name. Four of the five recalled a photo of Atta accompanying the chart, Downs said.

Pentagon officials declined to identify the three by name, but said they were an analyst with the military’s Special Operations Command, an analyst with the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center and a contractor who supported the center.

Downs said all five were considered “credible people.”

But officials said an exhaustive search of tens of thousands of documents and electronic files related to Able Danger failed to find the chart or other documents corroborating the identification of Atta. Phillpott has said Atta was identified by Able Danger by January or February of 2000.

“We have not discovered that chart,” Downs said.

Asked whether it ever existed, she said, “We don’t know. We don’t have it at the moment.” Downs said it was possible that the chart and any other document that might have referred to Atta were destroyed by the military.

“Able Danger,” now disbanded, was a small, classified military operation engaged in data-mining analysis of information including media reports and public records through the use of powerful computer systems.

“There are strict regulations about collection, dissemination and destruction procedures for this type of information. And we know that did happen in the case of Able Danger documentation,” Downs said.

But Navy Cmdr. Christopher Chope of the Special Operations Command said that “we have negative indications” that destruction of such a chart was advised by military lawyers.

When Shaffer, currently on paid leave as an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, went public, he said analysts involved in Able Danger were blocked by military lawyers when they sought to provide the team’s findings to the FBI in 2000 in an effort to find Al Qaeda suspects.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the review turned up no evidence that the Pentagon prevented the disclosure of Atta’s name to other agencies of the U.S. government.

Shaffer also has said Able Danger identified some of Atta’s fellow hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, as part of an al Qaeda cell inside the United States.

Copyright © 2005 Reuters. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Reactions: The Families & The Commission

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 – 08:59 AM

For Immediate Release

August 10, 2005

Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Surveillance of Mohammed Atta

As a group of 9/11 widows who fought for the creation of the 9/11 Independent Commission, we are horrified to learn of further possible evidence (as detailed by the New York Times article, “4 in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in ’00”) that the 9/11 Commission failed to fully investigate all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

By legislative mandate, Public Law 107-306, November 27, 2002, the 9/11 Independent Commission was charged with providing a full accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. As has been indicated repeatedly since the release of the Commission’s Final Report and via the NY Times article published yesterday, the 9/11 Commission failed to provide said full accounting. As a result, each Commissioner and Staff Member should be held accountable. Nearly four years since the attacks of 9/11, we are tired of our nation’s leaders (elected and appointed officials from both political parties) not being held accountable for their actions or inactions – particularly when it comes to fighting the “ongoing war against terrorism.” We believe that the time has come for the American people to demand the necessary accountability from all of our leaders. The 9/11 Commissioners and Staff who had a legal obligation to investigate and report upon all of the facts relevent to the 9/11 attacks should, therefore, be the very first individuals to be held accountable and responsible for their collective failure to meet their legislative mandate.

Because the 9/11 Commission’s Report is incomplete, nearly four years after the 9/11 attacks, the American people clearly suffer from a false sense of security. How can we know that we are truly safer from terrorists if the 9/11 Commission has chosen to hide certain facts? Particularly when those withheld facts detail specific actions made by intelligence community officials at the following agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, and the National Security Council. These are the very same agencies and individuals that are charged with keeping us safe from the terrorists today. Yet, a close inspection of the failures made by these individuals reveals that these same individuals had ample opportunity to unravel the 9/11 plot prior to the 9/11 attacks and failed to do so. In fact, a fair reading of these occurrences could lead one to believe that some of these individual actions or inactions actually contributed to the “catastrophic success” of the 9/11 attacks.

The revelation of this information demands answers that are forthcoming, clear, and concise. The 9/11 attacks could have and should have been prevented. To date, not one individual has been held accountable for this nation’s failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Thus, the 9/11 Commission Report is incomplete and illusory.

As 9/11 widows who fought tirelessly for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, we are wholly disappointed to learn that the Commission’s Final Report is a hollow failure. We spent innumerable hours of our time away from our families to ensure that the 9/11 Commission had the tools and resources necessary to provide a complete and thorough accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. We truly wanted to learn lessons from the 9/11 attacks so that we could all live in a safer environment. We find this latest revelation of the Commission’s failure to adequately and aggressively pursue the complete truth surrounding 9/11 absolutely shameful.

#####

September 11th Advocates

Kristen Breitweiser

Patty Casazza

Monica Gabrielle

Mindy Kleinberg

Lorie Van Auken

PRESS RELEASE

August 12, 2005

Kean-Hamilton Statement on ABLE DANGER

Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, former Chair and Vice Chair of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission),in response to media inquiries about the Commission’s investigation of the ABLE DANGER program, today released the following statement:

On October 21, 2003, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, two senior Commission staff members, and a representative of the executive branch, met at Bagram Base, Afghanistan, with three individuals doing intelligence work for the Department of Defense. One of the men, in recounting information about al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan before 9/11, referred to a DOD program known as ABLE DANGER. He said this program was now closed, but urged Commission staff to get the files on this program and review them, as he thought the Commission would find information about al Qaeda and Bin Ladin that had been developed before the 9/11 attack. He also complained that Congress, particularly the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), had effectively ended a human intelligence network he considered valuable.

As with their other meetings, Commission staff promptly prepared a memorandum for the record. That memorandum, prepared at the time, does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation.

While still in Afghanistan, Dr. Zelikow called back to the Commission headquarters in Washington and requested that staff immediately draft a document request seeking information from DOD on ABLE DANGER. The staff had also heard about ABLE DANGER in another context, related to broader military planning involving possible operations against al Qaeda before 9/11.

In November 2003, shortly after the staff delegation had returned to the United States, two document requests related to ABLE DANGER were finalized and sent to DOD. One, sent on November 6, asked, among other things, for any planning order or analogous documents about military operations related to al Qaeda and Afghanistan issued from the beginning of 1998 to September 20, 2001, and any reports, memoranda, or briefings by or for either the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Commanding General of the U.S. Special Operations Command in connection with such planning, specifically including material related to ABLE DANGER. The other, sent on November 25, treated ABLE DANGER as a possible intelligence program and asked for all documents and files associated with “DIA’s program ‘ABLE DANGER'” from the beginning of 1998 through September 20, 2001.

In February 2004, DOD provided documents responding to these requests. Some were turned over to the Commission and remain in Commission files. Others were available for staff review in a DOD reading room. Commission staff reviewed the documents. Four former staff members have again, this week, reviewed those documents turned over to the Commission, which are held in the Commission’s archived files. Staff who reviewed the documents held in the DOD reading room made notes summarizing each of them. Those notes are also in the Commission archives and have also been reviewed this week.

The records discuss a set of plans, beginning in 1999, for ABLE DANGER, which involved expanding knowledge about the al Qaeda network. Some documents include diagrams of terrorist networks. None of the documents turned over to the Commission mention Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers. Nor do any of the staff notes on documents reviewed in the DOD reading room indicate that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers were mentioned in any of those documents.

A senior staff member also made verbal inquiries to the HPSCI and CIA staff for any information regarding the ABLE DANGER operation. Neither organization produced any documents about the operation, or displayed any knowledge of it.

In 2004, Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA) and his staff contacted the Commission to call the Commission’s attention to the Congressman’s critique of the U.S. intelligence community. No mention was made in these conversations of a claim that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers had been identified by DOD employees before 9/11.

In early July 2004, the Commission’s point of contact at DOD called the Commission’s attention to the existence of a U.S. Navy officer employed at DOD who was seeking to be interviewed by Commission staff in connection with a data mining project on which he had worked. The DOD point of contact indicated that the prospective witness was claiming that the project had linked Atta to an al Qaeda cell located in New York in the 1999-2000 time frame. Shortly after receiving this information, the Commission staff’s front office assigned two staff members with knowledge of the 9/11 plot and the ABLE DANGER operation to interview the witness at one of the Commission’s Washington, D.C. offices.

On July 12, 2004, as the drafting and editing process for the Report was coming to an end (the Report was released on July 22, and editing continued to occur through July 17), a senior staff member, Dieter Snell, accompanied by another staff member, met with the officer at one of the Commission’s Washington, D.C. offices. A representative of the DOD also attended the interview.

According to the memorandum for the record on this meeting, prepared the next day by Mr. Snell, the officer said that ABLE DANGER included work on “link analysis,” mapping links among various people involved in terrorist networks. According to this record, the officer recalled seeing the name and photo of Mohamed Atta on an “analyst notebook chart” assembled by another officer (who he said had retired and was now working as a DOD contractor).

The officer being interviewed said he saw this material only briefly, that the relevant material dated from February through April 2000, and that it showed Mohamed Atta to be a member of an al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn. The officer complained that this information and information about other alleged members of a Brooklyn cell had been soon afterward deleted from the document (“redacted”) because DOD lawyers were concerned about the propriety of DOD intelligence efforts that might be focused inside the United States. The officer referred to these as “posse comitatus” restrictions. Believing the law was being wrongly interpreted, he said he had complained about these restrictions up his chain of command in the U.S. Special Operations Command, to no avail.

The officer then described the remainder of his work on link analysis efforts, until he was eventually transferred to other work. The officer complained about how these methods were being used by the Defense Intelligence Agency, and mentioned other concerns about U.S. officials and foreign governments.

At the time of the officer’s interview, the Commission knew that, according to travel and immigration records, Atta first obtained a U.S. visa on May 18, 2000, and first arrived in the United States (at Newark) on June 3, 2000. Atta joined up with Marwan al-Shehhi. They spent little time in the New York area, traveling later in June to Oklahoma and then to Florida, where they were enrolled in flight school by early July.

The interviewee had no documentary evidence and said he had only seen the document briefly some years earlier. He could not describe what information had led to this supposed Atta identification. Nor could the interviewee recall, when questioned, any details about how he thought a link to Atta could have been made by this DOD program in 2000 or any time before 9/11. The Department of Defense documents had mentioned nothing about Atta, nor had anyone come forward between September 2001 and July 2004 with any similar information. Weighing this with the information about Atta’s actual activities, the negligible information available about Atta to other U.S. government agencies and the German government before 9/11, and the interviewer’s assessment of the interviewee’s knowledge and credibility, the Commission staff concluded that the officer’s account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.

We have seen press accounts alleging that a DOD link analysis had tied Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi (who had arrived in the U.S. shortly before Atta on May 29) to two other future hijackers, Hazmi al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, in 1999-2000. No such claim was made to the Commission by any witness. Moreover, all evidence that was available to the Commission indicates that Hazmi and Mihdhar were never on the East coast until 2001 and that these two pairs of future hijackers had no direct contact with each other until June 2001.

The Commission did not mention ABLE DANGER in its report. The name and character of this classified operation had not, at that time, been publicly disclosed. The operation itself did not turn out to be historically significant, set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts that involved Bin Ladin and al Qaeda. The Report’s description of military planning against al Qaeda prior to 9/11 encompassed this and other military plans. The information we received about this program also contributed to the Commission’s depiction of intelligence efforts against al Qaeda before 9/11.

###

Original http://www.911citizenswatch.org

Second Familes’ Release:
We would like to thank Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer

For Immediate Release — August 17, 2005

We would like to thank Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer for coming forward with invaluable information that could ultimately be used to help make our nation safer.

The mandate of the 9/11 Commission was to unearth these facts so as to provide the necessary fixes that would prevent, thwart or mitigate the results of another attack. We strongly disagree with Thomas Kean’s and Lee Hamilton’s latest conclusion that Able Danger “did not turn out to be historically significant, set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts that involved (Osama) bin Laden and al Qaeda.” Clearly, knowledge of the hijackers whereabouts, one year prior to 9/11, would be of extreme relevance to the 9/11 story and would have bearings on recommendations put forth by the 9/11 Commission. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly apparent that the Commission failed in their obligation to the American Public and to those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Today, with no real fact finding body in place, it will only be when individuals have the courage to speak out about these truths that we can actually hope to make progress in this post 9/11 era.

It is our fervent wish that any other individuals who have information find the strength and courage, as exhibited by Lt. Colonel Shaffer, to come forward and that in doing so they suffer no consequences but instead are properly rewarded for their patriotism.

#####

September 11th Advocates

Kristen Breitweiser

Patty Casazza

Monica Gabrielle

Mindy Kleinberg

Lorie Van Auken

Commentaries and Analysis Around the Web

Original http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/8/10/145513/501

Thursday, August 11, 2005 – 12:00 PM

How Bin Laden and Mohamed Atta Escaped Gen. Franks

Wed Aug 10th, 2005 — Copyright 2005, Mark G. Levey

Tommy Franks, retired U.S. Army four star General, and long-time Texas friend of President George W. Bush, was in command of two of the worst ever counter-terrorism failures of U.S. military intelligence.

Under Frank’s command, Army intelligence released Mohamed Atta along with the main 9/11 hijackers from surveillance in 2000. Then, in early 2002, Usama bin Laden slipped past U.S. forces under Franks and escaped into Pakistan. Beginning in July 2000, General Tommy Franks was commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), headquartered at McDill AF Base near Tampa, Florida. During that three-year tour of duty, he was in charge of US special forces in the Mid-East, and commanded the failed operation there in January 2002 to capture Usama bin Laden (UBL) at Tora Bora, Afghanistan.

Franks was also in command of a secret Army intelligence operation, codename Able Danger, that surveilled al-Qaeda cells known to be inside the United States prior to the 9/11 attack.

According to a front-page New York Times article by Douglas Jehl published yesterday http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/09/politics/09intel.html :

“More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States . . .

“In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military’s Special Operations Command” Gen. Franks had overall command of SOC and its Able Danger unit, that was reportedly involved in tracking al-Qaeda cells by gathering and analyzing electronic communications and other data from multiple sources.

Jehl reports, that a “former intelligence official spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying he did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly. He said the team had been established by the Special Operations Command in 1999, under a classified directive issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about Al Qaeda networks around the world.”

That information was assembled into a giant chart that linked Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi with another al-Qaeda cell headed by Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who had been identified by the CIA. The four were collectively termed the “Brooklyn Cell”, apparently in reference to the initial detection of Atta and al-Shehhi there in late 1999.

Ultimately, according to a US military intelligence officer sourced in the Times article, that officer “said that he delivered the chart in summer 2000 to the Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and said that it had been based on information from unclassified sources and government records, including those of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”

This is particularly notable because CIA officials have testified under oath to Congress and the 9/11 Commission that the agency did not pass on information it had about the arrival in the US on January 15 2000 of al-Hazmi and al-Midhar. The then commander of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), Cofer Black, testified that his unit had simply overlooked the entry of the Flight 77 hijackers. In fact, the head of CIA counter-terrorism ordered an FBI liaison officer to withhold a cable notifying the Bureau’s counterterrorism unit in New York of that entry by known terrorists, after they returned from a CIA-monitored al-Qaeda planning summit in Kuala Lumpur where both the 9/11 attack and the bombing of the USS Cole were discussed. See, Perjury by CIA Counterterrorism Center Director – the Blocked Memo, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/10/105125/910 ; also, see: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-te …

Nonetheless, the presence of all four principal 9/11 hijackers inside the US had become known to Army intelligence by the summer of 2000, when Gen. Franks took command.

Franks and Black have been at the opposite ends of this still unravelling tale of counter-terrorism failure and bureaucratic finger-pointing. The CIA’s Cofer Black was the initial source for media reports in 2002 that Franks had been responsible for bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora that hastened Gen. Franks replacement as CENTCOM commander. For that exposure of Franks, Defense Secretary Runsfeld convinced George Tenet to fire Black. See, Richard Sale, Embarrassed Rumsfeld fired CIA official, UPI, 07/28/04, http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040728-03…

While the DoD and CIA had long been been aware of their presence, for reasons that have not been satisfactorily explained, the FBI was not notified that any of the al-Qaeda cells had entered the U.S. until the summer of 2001, at which time critical information continued to be withheld from Bureau investigators who were attempting to obtain warrants to investigate suspected terrorists.

The former Army intelligence officer is quoted by Jehl as stating, “We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them.”

After the CIA CTC and the DoD Able Danger unit commanders failed to notify the FBI of the terrorist cells presence inside the U.S., these four al-Qaeda operatives went on to successfully commandeer passenger jets that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11, killing some 3,000 people, an outrage that led to the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism and the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

For their part in this fiasco, in 2004 Tommy Franks along with George Tenet received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.

Copyright 2005, Mark G. Levey. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original at wsws.org

Why is the media burying new revelations about 9/11?

Thursday, August 11, 2005 – 10:23 PM

By Joseph Kay and Barry Grey — 11 August 2005

The revelation that a military intelligence unit had identified four September 11 hijackers as Al Qaeda operatives working in the US a year before the 9/11 attacks has sparked a flurry of disclaimers and denials from official sources, while most media outlets have ignored the story altogether.

The fact that the government had long been tracking some of the hijackers, including the putative leader, Mohammad Atta, was revealed in a front page article in the New York Times on Tuesday. Citing Republican Congressman Curt Weldon and an unidentified former military intelligence officer, the article reported that a Pentagon unit known as Able Danger had by the middle of 2000 identified Atta and three of the other September 11 hijackers as members of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the US. The former intelligence officer said that Able Danger was prevented by the military’s Special Operations Command from passing on the information to the FBI.

The former intelligence officer also said that he was in a group that briefed members of the staff of the 9/11 commission on this information in October of 2003. The 9/11 commission made no mention of Able Danger in its final report, nor did it reveal that any government agency had identified Atta as an Al Qaeda operative prior to the hijack bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Weldon has said he talked to top-level administration officials about Able Danger, including then-Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, as early as September or October 2001.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, government officials and members of the September 11 commission scrambled to discount the significance of the revelations, while the media refrained from publicizing the story. The New York Times on Wednesday followed up its front-page report of the previous day with an article placed inconspicuously at the bottom of page 13.

The Washington Post published on an inside page a five-paragraph Associated Press dispatch which explained nothing about the significance of the revelations. The Wall Street Journal did not even take note of the Times exposé, nor did most other American newspapers.

The story received scant treatment on the evening television news on Tuesday, and no coverage on Wednesday.

What accounts for this silence? A US congressman and a former intelligence official have alleged that at least a section of the American military knew the identity and whereabouts of several of the September 11 hijackers over a year before the attacks, and that they were prevented from acting on this knowledge.

The congressman says he told administration officials within a month of the attacks about the work of Able Danger, and the former intelligence officer says the staff of the official investigatory commission into 9/11 was likewise informed. And yet news of these facts has surfaced only this week, nearly four years after the attacks on New York and Washington.

If the claims concerning Able Danger are true, they point to a massive cover-up within the government, a cover-up that can have no innocent explanation. They deliver a further and devastating blow to the official history of an event that has had a profound effect on American foreign and domestic policy. Yet the media is all but silent.

As is often the case, the coverage in the media is inversely proportional to the gravity of the news.

What has been said or reported in response to the Able Danger revelations consists largely of evasions and obfuscations. It seems that in the scramble to cover up their past omissions and lies, Bush administration officials and 9/11 commission members have failed to get their story straight. They are tripping over themselves with contradictory statements and inane disclaimers.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared he had no knowledge of Able Danger. “I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve never heard of it until this morning. I understand our folks are trying to look into it.”

Weldon claims that the Able Danger team was set up in 1999 under the direction of the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Henry Shelton. Yet Shelton said on Tuesday that he did not recall authorizing the creation of the unit.

Hadley, who is now Bush’s national security adviser, has not made any public comments about the revelations.

A spokesman for the Pentagon took a different tact, implying that any investigation into the matter would help terrorist organizations. “There were a number of intelligence operations prior to the attacks of 9/11,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Conway. “It would be irresponsible for us to provide details in a way in which those who wish to do us harm would find beneficial.”

The chairman and co-chairman of the 9/11 commission, while not denying that the October 2003 meeting with Able Danger took place, assert that the commission staff do not recall being given the name of Mohammad Atta. According to the New York Times article on Wednesday, Thomas Kean, the commission’s chairman and a former Republican governor from New Jersey, said 9/11 commission staff members were “confident” Atta’s name was not mentioned in the briefing or subsequent documents from the Pentagon.

Lee Hamilton, co-chairman of the commission and a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, made a similar statement. According to the Associated Press: “Hamilton said 9/11 commission staff members learned of Able Danger during a meeting with military personnel in October 2003 in Afghanistan, but that the staff members do not recall learning of a connection between Able Danger and any of the four terrorists Weldon mentioned.”

Hamilton is quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “The 9/11 commission did not learn of any US government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell. Had we learned of it, obviously it would’ve been a major focus of our investigation.”

Even if one were to take the statements of these commissioners at face value, they do not explain the failure of the commission to even mention the work of Able Danger. Nowhere in its massive report on the September 11 attacks, nowhere in the volumes of documents and transcripts that it published, did the commission consider it relevant to mention the existence of a Pentagon group gathering information on Al Qaeda members operating on US soil. How is this to be explained?

In fact, it is inconceivable that no information was given to the commission concerning precisely who it was that Able Danger was tracking. What else would those associated with Able Danger who briefed the 9/11 commission staff in October 2003 have talked about?

The commission was tasked with investigating the September 11 attacks, and unless a conscious decision was made to cover up the information reported by the military intelligence officials, it would undoubtedly have pursued in great detail any report given by them. Yet Kean and Hamilton would have us believe that no one on the commission thought it necessary to investigate exactly what the military intelligence group had uncovered.

The statements by the commission members are directly contradicted by the military intelligence official who has been speaking to the press. According to a Reuters report, “The former military intelligence official insists he personally told Sept. 11 commission staff members about Atta in Afghanistan, and offered to supply them with documents upon his return to the Untied States, only to be rebuffed.”

The intelligence official has specifically mentioned the panel’s staff director Philip Zelikow as someone he personally spoke to about Atta. Prior to being chosen as head of the 9/11 commission staff, Zelikow was a close associate of then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. He has since been promoted to become a senior advisor to Secretary of State Rice.

Zelikow has refused thus far to comment on the revelations.

The statements by Dean and Hamilton have the appearance of a preemptive alibi for Zelikow, suggesting that the information he was given did not include details relevant to the commission’s investigation.

There can be no innocent explanation for the failure of the 9/11 commission to note in any way the activities of the Able Danger group and its identification of an Al Qaeda cell led by Atta and including three other future hijack-bombers. Why was this information concealed?

Because it points imperiously to the existence of a conspiracy within one or another intelligence or security agency, not to mention the Bush White House, to shield the future hijackers and allow some form of terrorist attack on US soil to occur. All of the efforts of the 9/11 commission—as well as the entire official media and both the Democratic and Republican parties—have been concentrated on excluding even the possibility that something more sinister than bureaucratic

incompetence or institutional roadblocks were responsible for an intelligence failure of staggering dimensions.

But the evidence pointing to some form of government complicity continues to mount, despite official whitewashes, cover-ups, half-truths and lies.

One thing is certain: without the tragedy of 9/11, the government could not possibly have shifted public opinion to tolerate invasions in the oil-rich regions of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf and an open-ended policy of militarism codified in the doctrine of preventive war. Nor could it have carried out the massive attack on democratic rights that has been justified by appeals to national security and the “war on terrorism.”

For the Bush administration and the American ruling elite, 9/11 served, and continues to serve, an indispensable political function in facilitating the pursuit of imperialist policy abroad and social reaction at home.

Copyright (c) 2005 World Socialist Web Site — www.wsws.org — Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.intel-dump.com/archives/archive_2005_08_07-2005_08_13.shtml#1123659720

Legal Aspects of Data Mining and Able Danger

Jon Holdaway, Wednesday August 10, 2005 at 3:42am EST

[Note: This was written in response to an argument that there was a legal basis for suspending Able Danger surveillance of Atta.-ED.]

1. Information Sharing and US Persons.

Phil,

The critical part of your first quote block below is:

Under American law, United States citizens and green-card holders may not be singled out in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but Mr. Weldon and the former intelligence official said it might have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law enforcement agency.

This is just flat-out wrong. First, the “law” cited is Executive Order 12333, which defines the Intelligence Community and its authority to conduct operations. The most important provision of EO 12333 is its rules for when the IC can collect information on “US Persons.” This is a specific definition and applies to a) US citizens, b) Permanent Resident Aliens (green-card holders), c) un-incorporated organizations composed by a majority of a) or b), or d) US corporations not owned by a foreign government.

The general rule for EO 12333 is basically, “thou shalt not collect information (that is, spy on) US Persons, except . . .” The “except” portion is critical. There are 13 exceptions under which an intelligence agency can collect information on US Persons. These include for personnel security investigations, for administrative purposes, when the subject gives consent to collect. The two most important categories are for Foreign Intelligence purposes (that is, collecting information on US Persons who are agents of a foreign power) and for Counterintelligence purposes. The Counterintelligence exception also includes collection for counternarcotics and international counterterrorism purposes. It also allows for collection of not just individuals reasonably believed to be engaged in international terrorism activities, but also collection of information on people associated with individuals reasonably believed to engaged in international terrorism activities (for the purpose of determining the relationship â?? if no significant relationship, then the info is destroyed).

All of this falls under the rubric of “intelligence oversight”, which is a well-ingrained program within the military intelligence community ensuring that collection (especially HUMINT) activities did not retain information on US Persons without authority.

So when someone says that the military couldn’t share information because of rules against collection of US Person information, that is not an accurate statement. Even if Mohammed Atta was a Permanent Resident Alien, the Intelligence Community was free to spy on him, collect the information, database it, and use it in intelligence reporting community-wide. The excuse doesn’t make sense logically, either: How could have Able Danger conducted intelligence collection, using Army intelligence resources at LIWA have built the briefing to begin with? Once the information has been properly collected, it can be shared (theoretically). The reason the information was not forwarded probably had more to do with the infamous “wall” created by Justice Department’s misreading of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, fixed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Appeals and the Patriot Act.

2. Datamining.

When one talks of datamining, they need to be clear on what exactly they mean. All datamining is is a set of tools used to dip into databases which can sort through the data and provide the answer to the query. Think of Westlaw or Lexis/Nexis on speed. The controversy in TIA was created over the types of databases they were going to search. DARPA was talking about applying the analytical toolkits to civilian business databases such as credit cards, hotel bookings, rental cars, etc. Even then, there were rules in place (using EO 12333 as the foundation) to ensure that the databases were not being queried without a legitimate purpose.

However, TIA was killed in a spate of misinformation. Before its death, these toolkits were already being used and improved by the Information Dominance Center at Fort Belvoir, VA. The significant difference between TIA’s goals and the IDC’s actual practice is that IDC is only analyzing databases of Intel Community information already collected.

Here’s how IDC (at this discussion level) works: if Army intelligence has a reasonable belief that I am either engaging in or supporting international terrorist activities (or had a relationship with those engaged in the same) based on information that I had attended a mosque with a known terrorist and/or had made pro-terrorist statements, the first thing Army intel is going to do is to “tip” its own databases and see what has already been collected on me. Low and behold, they find a report written about a Gitmo detainee, explaining the pocket litter when he was captured. In his pocket litter was my business card. Now analysts can build linkages and determine relationships between me and others in the database to see if there may be other linkages out there that look innocuous at first, but when compared with other pieces of information show patterns and indications of terrorist activity. And the best thing is that the database check is multi-INT, tapping into SIGINT, HUMINT, and other sources of information. What happens with this information? Do the links mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. It’s usually not enough to create “actionable intelligence”. But what it does is become used to determine whether further investigation is required or whether the linkages are just coincidental. It is also used to build the bigger intel picture of the hydra that is international jihadist terrorism.

If I could actually explain how the datamining toolkits work, you would be amazed at their speed and accuracy in pointing out links and indicators (think Minority Report without the precogs). Of course, with great power comes great responsibility, but after the TIA debacle, the owners of IDC have ensured that its operations receive the highest levels of oversight and scrutiny. In the IDC operations I was involved in, each US Person database query had to have legal counsel approval.

The defense contractors involved in developing the datamining software are interested in taking it civilian, so you may see variations of the technology on the market soon. For instance, it would very helpful in complex litigation, such as tobacco or asbestos litigation, where discovery leads to thousands of documents and reports.

There’s a longer discussion about whether information already databased by the intel community is already “collected” for purposes of intelligence oversight and therefore can be queried using analytical toolkits without worrying about collection exceptions. This will be for another day.

Copyright 2005 Jon Holdaway. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Cong. Weldon’s Preemptive Strike Against the CIA

Friday, August 12, 2005 – 07:43 PM

Copyright 2005, Mark G. Levey

Fri Aug 12th, 2005 at 10:16:35 PDT

Republican Cong. Curt Weldon’s disclosure that U.S. Army Intelligence watched four al-Qaeda hijackers inside the U.S. before 9/11 is a GOP attempt to deflect a long-expected report by the CIA’s Inspector General’s office. Like the FBI IG report into the Bureau’s pre-9/11 “intelligence failure” released in June, the CIA’s internal audit is expected to contain shocking new details of errors and negligence by senior Bush Administration officials that led to the “catastrophic success” of the al-Qaeda attacks.

Weldon’s widely-publicized campaign of disinformation has spun the story so that blame is laid at the feet of the Clinton Administration for the 9/11 attacks after the CIA and DoD failed to notify the FBI about the presence inside the U.S. of terrorists known to have entered the country in late 1999 and early 2000. The CIA IG report is reportedly complete, and is currently being reviewed by former DCI George Tenet and other Agency officials who are the subject of highly damaging accusations that the CIA withheld information and misled U.S. law enforcement about the 9/11 hijackers.

Cong. Weldon’s remarks have fueled controversy over responsibility for the failure by US government agencies to prevent the 9/11 hijackings.

Weldon first spoke publicly about the issue on 27 June in a little-noticed speech on the House floor, and to a local paper in his Pennsylvania constituency.

According to a front-page New York Times report published on August 10, a US Army intelligence unit prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to Special Operations Command that the FBI be informed. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/11/politics/11intel.html; also, see, How Bin Laden and Mohamed Atta Escaped Gen. Franks http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/8/10/145513/501

Weldon claims that course of action was rejected in large part because the four al-Qaeda operatives were in the US on valid entry visas.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4135400.stm

He asserts Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally.

That claim is simply inconsistent with the law as it existed at the time. That was not and is not government policy. For one thing, the Pentagon’s lawyers whom Weldon claims made the decision to withhold information from FBI knew full well that the four suspects were not “U.S. persons” (citizens or lawful permanent residents, aka “green card” holders.)

The matrix the Army Able Danger unit had compiled was based on data from entry records provided by INS, which clearly showed the four al-Qaeda operatives had all entered the U.S. as non-immigrants with visas.

Warrant requirements under the Foreign Intelligence Survellance Act (FISA) and information-sharing restrictions simply did not apply to the 9/11 hijackers. This is basic national security and immigration law. Anyone who’s familiar with FISA warrant and information sharing guidelines in place at that time knows Weldon’s version is a most implausible cover story.

In fact, CIA, DOD and other intelligence agencies could do all the electronic monitoring they wanted on the al-Qaeda suspects, AND SHARE IT WITH THE FBI, because the subjects of wiretaps were all non-resident aliens, exempt from FISA warrant requirements.

Certainly, DoD lawyers didn’t get that one wrong. Not for the reason being offered by Weldon and other GOP operatives.

Weldon’s account does not explain why Post-It stickies might be applied to photos of Atta before the matrix could be shown outside the DoD. The story being spread by Weldon and the GOP is a flimsy, almost laughable CYA cover now being resurrected to blame Clinton.

It is time that the public learns why things got complicated, and stickies might have been applied. In 2000, the surveillance of the incoming al-Qaeda cells was just part of an enormous, ongoing multi-agency monitoring operation of international terrorism, WMD proliferation, arms and drug dealing, political influence peddling, and money laundering. The Army’s Able Danger Intelligence unit apparently had indiscriminate access to a lot of this data, which also included data gained from warrantless NSA taps of the communications of US persons and non-US persons, alike.

Intelligence analysts are supposed to separate this out, and obtain FISA warrants where US persons are involved to authorize continuation of these intercepts. But, the agencies by and large didn’t bother to seek warrants — which is a violation of the law. That made this data the fruit of illegal searches, and the FBI didn’t want to touch it, for fear that it would ruin its criminal investigations that overlapped the CIA and DIA’s domestic operations.

Meanwhile, over at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, FBI national security managers were attempting to cover a maelstrom of terrorist groups, Saudi financiers, Israeli espionage agents, corrupt politicians, and corruption within the US intelligence agencies. This is what Sibel Edmonds has tried so hard to blow the whistle about. This job was immensely complicated by the fact that the al-Qaeda ranks were riddled with double-agents serving multiple intelligence agencies, all of which were simultaneously spying on each other inside the U.S. The whole thing got too hot, and the bureaucracy overloaded. Bad decisions were made to allow operations to continue for fear of stepping on the toes of the CIA and foreign agencies working both with and against U.S. interests.

After the 2000 election, national security managers put the brakes on investigative lines that were touching on subjects that might get people fired. For its own reasons, the Bush Administration shut down much of the remaining counter-terrorism apparatus. By early 2001, it was widely known within law enforcement and intelligence circles that some strange things were going on at DoD, the FISA court, and within FBI counter-terrorism. The number of FISA warrant requests actually declined during the 18 months leading up to the 9/11 attacks, and few new applications were filed during the summer before the attacks. Recall, this is at a time that Tenet’s hair was said to be “on fire”. For more on the chaos of US counterterrorism in 2001, please see: THE CRIMES OF 9/11 (Part 4):

Bush White House, CIA, FBI Bungled Risky Warrantless Surveillance Operation – 3,000 Died, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0310/S00257.htm

9/11 could have been avoided. The al-Qaeda cells could have been rolled up, if the order had been given by President Bush. Without that order, nobody was going to be arrested.

Finally, everyone knew there was a serious problem and nobody wanted to create more of paper trail than they had to. Warrants create paper trails, which might get people fired, subpoenaed before hostile committees, and indicted by grand juries. As a result, given the choice, people stopped requesting warrants. Had the agencies complied with the law regarding FISA warrants, Mohamed Atta and his buddies would have had to be arrested, given what was being learned from illegal wiretaps and consensual monitoring. This is an area, not surprisingly, the 9/11 Commission didn’t even begin to touch on.

The CIA Inspector General’s Report does not exonerate Tenet and other Agency officials for withholding information from the FBI on the basis that Cong. Weldon claims. The law clearly allowed CIA, DoD and FBI to share information about Mohamed Atta and the Al-Qaeda suspects. They did. The so-called FISA Wall did not cause the failure of US counterterrorism that led to their “catastrophic success” on 9/11.

Weldon’s accusations are what’s known as a “limited hangout” in intelligence jargon. It is an attempt to poison the well of public discourse for the far more damaging revelations about Bush Administration incompetence and obstruction of U.S. counter-terrorism that are about to be made public.

Instead, the CIA report will detail a much more complex picture of bad decisions by Agency policymakers who tried to comply with Bush White House orders that interfered with management of a mounting crisis.

COPYRIGHT 2005, Mark G. Levey. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=6923

August 12, 2005

9/11 Revisionism, Revisited

The mystery of ‘Able Danger’

by Justin Raimondo

In January of this year, Rep. Curt Weldon made a speech to the House of Representatives – a speech which no one took notice of, and which hardly anyone heard, except maybe inveterate C-SPAN watchers – in which he made a number of extraordinary assertions:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise because information has come to my attention over the past several months that is very disturbing. I have learned that, in fact, one of our Federal agencies had, in fact, identified the major New York cell of Mohamed Atta prior to 9/11; and I have learned, Mr. Speaker, that in September of 2000, that Federal agency actually was prepared to bring the FBI in and prepared to work with the FBI to take down the cell that Mohamed Atta was involved in in New York City, along with two of the other terrorists.

“I have also learned, Mr. Speaker, that when that recommendation was discussed within that Federal agency, the lawyers in the administration at that time said, you cannot pursue contact with the FBI against that cell. Mohamed Atta is in the U.S. on a green card, and we are fearful of the fallout from the Waco incident. So we did not allow that Federal agency to proceed.

“Mr. Speaker, what this now means is that prior to September 11, we had employees of the Federal Government in one of our agencies who actually identified the Mohamed Atta cell and made a specific recommendation to act on that cell, but were denied the ability to go forward. Obviously, if we had taken out that cell, 9/11 would not have occurred and, certainly, taking out those three principal players in that cell would have severely crippled, if not totally stopped, the operation that killed 3,000 people in America.”

Something about this doesn’t quite ring true: none [.pdf] of the hijackers had a green card. Most came in on tourist visas: some had made easily detectable false statements on their visa applications, and might have been legally deported.

And what does Waco have to do with anything? The connection seems tenuous, at best. However, let us pass over that, for the moment, and concentrate on Rep. Weldon’s further remarks: he avers that two weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, his “friends” at the Army’s Information Dominance Center – “in cooperation with special ops” – brought him a chart that had been created by a secret military unit known as “Able Danger”: using “data-mining” techniques, this top secret military intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and three of the hijackers as being part of an Al Qaeda cell in the U.S. This chart, with a visa photo of Mohammed Atta at its center, was created a year before 9/11. Weldon says he took the chart to Stephen Hadley, at the National Security Council, who said he had never seen any such chart, and that he would bring it to “the man” – i.e., the President.

Now it isn’t all that surprising that neither Hadley, nor the President, had any inkling of Operation “Able Danger.” What’s truly startling, however, is that when Weldon talked to those who made the chart, he discovered that not only had they identified the New York cell of Mohammed Atta and two of the other terrorists, but also that a recommendation had been made to take out the cell – and it had been vetoed. By whom – and why? As Weldon put it in his speech:

“That is a question that needs to be answered, Mr. Speaker. I have to ask, Mr. Speaker, with all the good work that the 9/11 Commission did, why is there nothing in their report about able danger? Why is there no mention of the work that able danger did against al Qaeda? Why is there no mention, Mr. Speaker, of a recommendation in September of 2000 to take out Mohammed Atta’s cell which would have detained three of the terrorists who struck us?”

A good question, one that was thoroughly ignored for months, until something called the “Government Security News” picked up the story, and this was followed by a piece in the New York Times by Douglas Jehl, and one this [Thursday] morning, that basically confirmed the outlines of Weldon’s story.

A “former defense intelligence official” involved in “Able Danger” was cited to buttress Weldon’s assertion, and he claims in the first Times story that, yes, he brought the chart produced by his team to Special Operations Command (SOC) because “We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them.” At SOC headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, however, they draw a complete blank:

“Col. Samuel Taylor, a spokesman for the military’s Special Operations Command, said no one at the command now had any knowledge of the Able Danger program, its mission or its findings. If the program existed, Colonel Taylor said, it was probably a highly classified “special access program” on which only a few military personnel would have been briefed.”

According to Al Felzenberg, former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, investigators on his staff had been told about the “Able Danger” program, but, he claimed, there was no mention of Atta, which is why the 9/11 Commission report never mentions the subject, even obliquely. However, the former defense intelligence official cited in Jehl’s first story begs to differ. He says that Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and three other members of the Commission staff, had been briefed, and that

“He had explicitly mentioned Mr. Atta as a member of a Qaeda cell in the United States. He said the staff encouraged him to call the commission when he returned to Washington at the end of the year. When he did so, the ex-official said, the calls were not returned.”

Jehl reported on Wednesday that, according to Felzenberg, who had talked to former staff members of the Commission,

“They all say that they were not told anything about a Brooklyn cell. They were told about the Pentagon operation. They were not told about the Brooklyn cell. They said that if the briefers had mentioned anything that startling, it would have gotten their attention.”

The next day, however, the former Commission staffers were singing a different tune. In their follow-up story, Jehl and Philip Shenon report the Commission staff was indeed briefed in a meeting held on July 12, 2004, at which Atta’s name figured prominently, and that this has been acknowledged by the same officials who were denying everything 24 hours earlier. The briefing had been discounted, these officials now claim, because the information offered didn’t “mesh” with what they thought they already knew, and, besides, the 9/11 Commission report was all ready to go to the printer. The addition of a piece of information that would have substantially altered the content was apparently not considered important enough to tell the printer to wait.

The main thrust of the 9/11 Commission’s findings was that there was a “lack of actionable intelligence”: the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center represented a gigantic “intelligence failure,” which blocked attempts to take out Bin Laden in Afghanistan. But the point is that what was needed was actionable intelligence in America, not Afghanistan. In the aftermath, many lamented the fact that, if only some version of the PATRIOT Act had been in place prior to 9/11, the attacks might have been prevented. As I wrote when the Commission first began its work, this

“Sounds superficially plausible, except when one considers that there was plenty of actionable intelligence about the 9/11 plotters: there were warnings galore, as we are beginning to discover, not only from foreign intelligence agencies but from our own agents and analysts.

“Yes, but these warnings were ‘nonspecific’: that’s the standard official excuse. Except it isn’t true: the ringleader of the 9/11 plot, Mohammed Atta, was under surveillance by authorities the year before the attacks, in Hamburg, Germany. Atta and his associates were well-known to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, U.S. and foreign, long before the 9/11 terror attacks.

“What did they know and when did they know it? That is a key question for the 9/11 Commission to ask, and answer.”

It is interesting to note that the Commission staffer who received – and discounted – the “Able Danger” information, Dietrich L. Snell, is the prosecutor who convicted Abdul Hakim Murad in the “Bojinka” terrorist conspiracy case, a 1995 plot to crash airplanes into several U.S. landmark buildings, including the Pentagon and the World Trade Center – a scheme that later morphed into the 9/11 conspiracy. Murad offered to cooperate with investigators in return for a sentence reduction, but prosecutors, led by Snell, turned him down.

The list of “mistakes,” glitches, and tales of staggering incompetence that preceded the worst “intelligence failure” since a certain wooden horse was brought behind the walls of Troy, is getting rather suspiciously long. Here’s another:

“The National Security Agency intercepted two messages on the eve of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon warning that something was going to happen the next day, but the messages were not translated until Sept. 12, senior U.S. intelligence officials said yesterday.

“The Arabic-language messages said, ‘The match is about to begin’ and ‘Tomorrow is zero hour.’ They were discussed Tuesday before the House-Senate intelligence committee during closed-door questioning of Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the NSA, the agency responsible for intercepting and analyzing electronic messages.”

This Washington Post story, you’ll recall – and certainly Slate media columnist Jack Shafer will recall it – was the occasion for a stern rebuke from the White House, and especially from Vice President Dick Cheney, whose anger was sufficient to spark an FBI investigation into who leaked the truth.

As we approach the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the official story of what happened that day, and how it happened, is beginning to unravel in a spectacular manner. The official version is that the nineteen conspirators, acting alone and without the foreknowledge or even the suspicion of any outside agency, pulled off a complex series of operations involving at least four separate airplanes, all carried out within minutes of each other, pirouetting in the sky in perfect synchronicity before barreling down on their targets nearly simultaneously. This fiery moment was the climax of years – as many as five years – of plotting, preparations, and a largely subterranean existence lived by the conspirators, until they emerged, on that fateful day, like avenging angels of darkness coming down from the sky.

However, the various anomalies that go unexplained by this fanciful theory have begun to accumulate until the pressure to revise what we know of the history of the 9/11 conspiracy has become irresistible. The “Able Danger” revelations merely confirm what we’ve been saying in this space for years: that revisionism in this area of historical research is essential if we’re going to begin to understand 9/11, and all that followed from it. As Condi Rice’s appearance before the 9/11 Commission showed, the administration knew a lot more than it ever told anyone.

In December, 2001, Carl Cameron did a four-part series on Fox News that detailed extensive Israeli spying in the U.S., a report that proved prescient in light of recent developments, and he started out his riveting account with a bang:

“Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States.

“There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.'”

While the story was largely ignored in the U.S., Germany’s Die Zeit followed it up, in 2002, with an account entitled “Next Door to Mohammed Atta,” in which the respected German weekly detailed close surveillance of Atta and his crew in southern Florida by Israeli intelligence in the months leading up to 9/11.

In April, 2004, I wrote about another Die Zeit piece by the same author, Oliver Schrom, entitled “Deadly Mistakes,” a fascinating chronology of the errors, bureaucratic bungling, and seemingly deliberate obstructions that prevented U.S. authorities from taking what they knew about the hijackers, putting it together, and apprehending Atta and his gang before they could pull off their deadly deed. From Schrom we learned that the fabled Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) for August 6, 2001, whose title – “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” – Rice famously blurted out at her appearance before the 9/11 Commission, was originally much longer than the version finally declassified and released by the White House. In the course of this account, Schrom also revealed the following:

“Langley, August 23, 2001. The Israeli Mossad intelligence agency handed its American counterpart a list of names of terrorists who were staying in the US and were presumably planning to launch an attack in the foreseeable future. According to documents obtained by Die Zeit, Mossad agents in the US were in all probability surveilling at least four of the 19 hijackers, among them [Khalid ] al-Midhar. The CIA now does what it should have done 18 months earlier. It informs the State Dept., the FBI and the INS. The names al-Midhar and [Nawaf] al-Hazmi are promptly put on an investigation list, as probable members of Al Qaeda. Al-Midhar is expressly noted as a probable accomplice in the USS Cole attack. The first acknowledgement arrives quickly. The INS writes that according to its information, both men are currently in the US.

“Now both men are pursued vigorously….”

These individuals – Atta, Khalid al-Midhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi, and Marwan al-Shehhi – are the very same “Brooklyn cell” identified by the “Able Danger” data-miners. The Mossad “observed” them for nearly half a year, and then, at the very last moment, turned over their names to the Americans. Too late, as it turns out: but is that really the end of the story?

In both instances, you’ll note, we have the same sort of excuse – not quite airtight – for why we didn’t move to apprehend the 9/11 plotters. In the case of the “Able Danger” operation, although the authorities had the legal means at their disposal, they were supposedly restrained by the recent memory of … Waco. This seems not at all credible: is there really any comparison between the figures of David Koresh and Osama bin Laden, either in terms of impact or importance? One was a marginal messiah of a homegrown mini-cult, the other an international terrorist leader of a well-financed and far-flung military organization.

In the case of the Israelis’ belated intelligence-sharing, the rationale for inaction was supposedly due to legal constraints that erected a “firewall” preventing the sharing of intelligence procured by different agencies, notably the FBI and the CIA. As critics of this excuse-making note, however, law enforcement agencies failed to make proper use of the legal tools available to them:

“On May 24, 2002, in response to an FOIA lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the FBI released a confidential memorandum sent by a Justice Department official to an FBI lawyer in April 2000. The memo voiced concern about mistakes made by the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section, and in particular, by that Section’s (UBL) Osama Bin Laden Unit: ‘You have a pattern of occurrences indicating an inability on the part of the FBI to manage its FISAs [foreign intelligence surveillance operations].’ One well-publicized episode revealed that an FBI agent had prevented Minneapolis agents from obtaining a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s computer just a month before 9/11. This, apparently, was not an isolated incident. …

“We now know that two of the 9/11 hijackers were on FBI watch lists of suspected terrorists, yet they were able to enter the country and remain undetected. In March 2002 the media reported that the INS had wrongly issued visa waivers for four Pakistanis who arrived in the US on a Russian merchant ship and quickly disappeared.”

We’re supposed to believe that, if only we’d passed the PATRIOT Act before 9/11, and subjected ourselves to a regime of total surveillance, giving up such remnants of our civil liberties as still existed, we might have escaped the wiles of Bin Laden and his fellow Islamist supermen, who single-handedly pulled off a spectacular terrorist act that changed the course of history. Now, according to this all-too-familiar refrain, we’ll just have to get used to having our email read, our phones tapped, and our every movement kept under close surveillance by our beneficent and all-knowing government. The only alternative is living at the mercy of terrorists.

As we are beginning to learn, however, that is lie, and a rather self-serving one to boot. It wasn’t the lack of information, or an inability to detect the death cultists in our midst, that prevented us from stopping the plot dead in its tracks. Rather, it was a persistent obstructionism coming from some quarters. As Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who blew the whistle on the efforts of the FBI’s Washington office to quash the investigation into Al Qaeda, put it:

“I know I shouldn’t be flippant about this, but jokes were actually made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles, like Robert Hansen, who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis’ effort.”

As the number of unfortunate “coincidences” and “mistakes” begins to pile up, Rowley’s quip is no longer a joke. Is it possible that Bin Laden had allies, enablers, some of them inside the U.S. government? In a September 13, 2001 New York Times column that purported to give an exclusive window on what went on inside the presidential bunker as the Twin Towers burned, William Safire wrote:

“A threatening message received by the Secret Service was relayed to the agents with the president that “Air Force One is next.” According to the high official, American code words were used showing a knowledge of procedures that made the threat credible.

“(I have a second, on-the-record source about that: Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, tells me: “When the president said `I don’t want some tinhorn terrorists keeping me out of Washington,’ the Secret Service informed him that the threat contained language that was evidence that the terrorists had knowledge of his procedures and whereabouts. In light of the specific and credible threat, it was decided to get airborne with a fighter escort.”)

The terrorists could have had knowledge of top secret U.S. security procedures only if they had moles – spies – inside the government. How else would Bin Laden’s boys get direct access to our code words?

No one doubts that the nineteen hijackers, and the Al Qaeda organization, financed, organized, and carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But there is growing doubt that they did it without at least the passive collaboration of a silent partner, one who wielded considerable influence on our government – and had ready access to its secrets. In retrospect, it appears as if Atta and his fellow mass murderers had a guardian angel – or rather, a guardian devil – watching over them. At every turn, just when it seemed they would be apprehended, fate – or whomever – intervened, obstructing the normal means of interception and keeping the conspiracy on track. It’s almost as if they traveled in a security bubble, protected by – what? By whom?

I can hear the skeptics now: It’s a “conspiracy theory”! Yikes! But what explanation for how and why 9/11 happened isn’t a “conspiracy theory,” after all? Atta & Co. certainly didn’t advertise their plans. The question is, will we accept the Official Conspiracy Theory, or an alternative one that comports with all the known facts?

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

My short book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection, compiles pretty much all we know up to this point about the “silent partner” angle on the 9/11 narrative – one, I might add, that was completely ignored by the 9/11 Commission, along with the information about the “Able Danger” intelligence-gathering operation. Check it out.

– Justin Raimondo

Copyright 2005 Justin Raimondo. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.madcowprod.com/08122005.html

Army Intel Unit Exposes Massive FBI 9.11 Cover-Up

August 12,2005-Venice, FL.

by Daniel Hopsicker

The importance of this week’s revelation that an Army intelligence unit was tracking Mohamed Atta’s movements in the U.S. during 1999 and 2000 is so mind-boggling that it seems nobody quite gets it yet…

You’ve been hearing it for three years in articles in the MadCowMorningNews, and in “Welcome to TerrorLand.”

Now you can hear it from an elite Army intelligence unit, one with at least several patriots with very large cojones. Their testimony is clear, explicit, and uncompromisingly contradicts the FBI’s official story. Only one conclusion can be drawn from it…

The FBI has been telling a massive lie to the 9.11 Commission and the American people, a lie whose result has been to halt in its tracks, as a Commission spokesman freely admitted on Thursday, the investigation into the murder of almost 3000 people.

People go to jail for that sort of thing, don’t they?

God willing, we may be about to find out.

The Dog Ate the 9.11 Commission’s Homework

9.11 Commission spokesman Al Felzenberg on Thursday excused the Commission’s decision to withhold from their Report any mention of the Army Able Danger intelligence unit in Tampa which was tracking Mohamed Atta and other members of his terrorist cadre during 1999 and 2000.

Felzenberg cited the fact that the information provided to them by military officers in the unit did not agree with the FBI’s timeline concerning Atta’s arrival in the U.S.

Information provided by a military officer from Able Danger did not make it into the final report, “because it was not consistent with what the commission knew about Atta’s whereabouts before the attacks,” Commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said.

Staff investigators became wary of the officer, Felzenberg stated, after he stated that the military unit had identified Atta as having been in the United States by late 1999 or early 2000. ‘The investigators knew this was impossible, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000.”

“There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn’t give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report.”

Forget Jamie Gorelick. Forget trumped-up allegations that former Clinton Administration officials were weak on terror…

Al Felzenberg is lying. So is the FBI.

The Big Question Nobody’s Asked

911 Commission did no independent investigation of their own. Instead they relied entirely on the much criticized and beleaguered FBI… an Agency whose competence has been questioned by prominent individuals across all party lines… An Agency which has never managed to offer a coherent account of such investigative niceties as an accurate chronology of when Atta arrived in the United States, and what he did (and with whom) when he got here.

Here’s the big question nobody seems to be ready to ask: Upon what basis did the 9.11 Commission conclude that the FBI’s timeline was correct and that an elite Army Intel unit was mistaken in saying they were tracking Mohamed Atta roaming freely across America during 1999 and 2000?

We’d love to hear Felzenberg hem and haw his way around that.

So too, we suspect, would relatives of the innocent murdered victims.

What’s at Stake: The Fate of what’s left of what used to be called The Free World.

The controversy over news that an Army intelligence unit was tracking the movements in the U.S. of Mohamed Atta’s terrorist cadre during 1999 and 2000 offers the last best hope for Americans to take a close look at the FBI’s timeline of Mohamed Atta’s time in the U.S.

What they will see is a tissue of lies comprising a deliberate cover-up.

Calling unwelcome attention to the massive inaccuracies in the FBI’s timeline was probably not Republican Curt Weldon’s purpose when he brought the story to light… But if his efforts to implicate Clinton Administration officials results in highlighting the FBI’s incomplete and corrupt investigation, we think he get some kind of medal, maybe called the Inadvertent ‘Dumb-Ass’ Hero Award.

We suspect his Republican friends would much prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. Because it isn’t just one elite Army Intel unit that’s saying it… In the aftermath of the 9.11 attack numerous eyewitnesses came forward to attest to Atta’s presence in the U.S. before June of 2000.

Their number even includes a U.S. Government official with a signed and dated loan application from Mohamed Atta his-ownself.

In interviews with major news organizations Johnelle Bryant, an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, revealed that Atta and three other September 11th terrorists visited her Florida office seeking a government loan.

ABC’s Brian Ross reported: “Johnelle Bryant is the USDA loan officer in Homestead, Florida, who Atta approached in May of 2000, long before al-Qaeda and bin Laden were household words.”

Mr. Atta swung by in May, 2000, and Ms. Bryant remembers quite a bit about it.

“At first,” she says, “he refused to speak with me,” on the grounds that she was, in his words, “but a female.”

“I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me.”

Ms. Bryant says the applicant was asking for $650,000 to start a crop-dusting business. His plan was to buy a six-seater twin-prop and then remove the seats. “He wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.”

Here’s the kicker, or rather, the smoking gun: Before Atta left her office he filled out a loan application.

Loan applications are dated, aren’t they? That’s why Johnelle Bryant knows exactly when Atta was in her office. so, without even referencing any of the other numerous indicators of Atta’s presence in the U.S., one thing that can be said with absolute certainty:

The FBI’s timeline, their chronology of events, the essential tool of any homicide investigation, is wrong. And not wrong by accident, either.

Wrong on purpose. Wrong by design.

By the way: don’t try dropping by Bryant’s Homestead office to confirm the details with her, as we did…She’s no longer there.

She’s (presumably) been airlifted to the Island of Lost Witnesses.

Another Question We Bet You Thought Has Already Been Answered

Where did Atta and Marwan first go to flight school in the US.?

If you answered “Huffman Aviation” you’d be wrong That’s because the flight school Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi first attended in the U.S. has never been named.

It is unknown. It is The Mystery Flight School.

The name of the first school Atta attended would seem to be one of the first facts uncovered in the 9/11 investigation. But it hasn’t been… After first visiting a flight school in Norman Oklahoma, the FBI said Huffman Aviation was the first flight school Atta attend

ed. But the owner of Huffman Aviation, Rudi Dekkers, denied it, declaiming responsibility for the terrorists having been allowed into the U.S.

On the morning after the disaster anchor Jane Clayton of the CBS Morning News asked Dekkers: “How was it that they (Atta and Marwan) could gain access and admittance to your school?

“Well, they didn’t came through our paperwork,” Dekkers replied.

In interviews as well as sworn testimony before Congress, Dekkers passed any blame onto the first flight school the terrorists first attended.

It was this school, Dekkers said, which held responsibility for Atta’s INS paperwork and visas, not his.

“Like if they were calling from Europe and we know two months ahead and we know they are showing up. As I say, they came from another flight school out of Florida. Probably that flight school did all the INS paperwork with them in their country.”

“Another flight school out of Florida.”

He was equally vague later that day on ABC’s Good Morning America. Only now he changed the location of the unnamed first school. Correspondent Jim Mora asked Dekkers: “Now, how did they get to you? Did they apply to the school? Did they just show up?”

“No, they just walked up into the front door,” Dekkers replied. “Apparently they were flying at another school—I’ve heard Tampa; I can’t confirm that.”

This is a really obscure flight school. It has no name. Its located somewhere out of Florida, but near Tampa.

Dekkers’ reference to Atta’s first flight school—attended before he came to Huffman Aviation—went completely un-remarked upon in the national media. And Dekkers didn’t just mention the mystery flight school once or twice…

He did it numerous times. “The two men were clearly from the Middle East,” he told the New York Times on September 13. “They complained that they had begun instruction elsewhere but didn’t like the school.”

Did the New York Times ask Dekkers where “elsewhere” had been? They did not.

The Washington Post reported a similar story on Sept. 19,2001 quoting Dekkers saying Atta and Al-Shehhi showed up complaining about the experience at “another school.” “Another school.” Located where?

Did the Post ask for the name of this flight school located elsewhere? They did not. Or if they did, they’re not telling us.

Making this omission seem even more sinister is the Post’s own headline. A headline like “Hijack Suspects Tried Many Flight Schools” promises, at a bare minimum, a story containing a list of the flight schools “tried.”

When two of the largest and most respected newspapers in America are both guilty of an omission this glaring, what other conclusion is there than that a massive cover-up is in progress?

“I said up North somewhere. Why do you want to know?”

Even in his sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on March 19, 2002, Dekkers is vague about the earlier flight school attended by Atta and Al-Shehhi. This time he places it ‘up North.’ “They had stated they were unhappy with a flying school they attended up North,” Dekkers told the Committee.

Maybe they just weren’t all that interested. Maybe not. Maybe the reason officials insist with a straight face that Atta did not arrive before June of 2000 is that telling the truth will open up a big ‘can of worms.’

During April and May of 1999, for example, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Ft. Myers, FL. has accused Wally Hilliard and Rudi Dekkers of using three separate Lear jets to take 26 unsupervised and unauthorized passenger flights from Naples, Florida to numerous locations around the country. Reportedly, they were flying rich Saudi Princes around.

But whatever it was Hilliard and Dekkers were up to in 1999 proved more than a little dangerous to one man, Robert Michael Johnson. A six-passenger Cessna 210 belonging to Hilliard crashed in the Gulf two miles off the Naples Pier in early February, resulting in the death of the pilot. The cause of the deadly crash remains unclear.

Not by accident, either… “A federal investigation into a fatal plane crash offshore from Naples may be hampered because the aircraft’s owner has suspended salvage operations,” reported the Feb 9, 1999 Fort Myers News-Press. “AeroJet Service Center called off the salvage operation, apparently because it was costing more than the aircraft was worth.”

This news may not have helped the dead pilot’s mom gain closure. But hey… you have to break a few eggs, right?

One last example will have to suffice. We can feel a queasiness coming on, a need to excuse ourselves and go throw up.

Regular readers of the MadCowMorningNews are already well aware of Atta’s presence in Venice in April and May of 2001, where he lived right across from Rudi Dekker’s Huffman Aviation at the Venice Airport.

“Somebody didn’t get the memo, okay? It was an honest mistake.”

But that’s too easy. Poetic justice would be to let the FBI hoist itself with its own petard:

Mohamed Atta’s sojourn in Charlotte County is not even in the official story, which is really strange, because the FBI itself wrote a memo to the INS which was introduced in court during the deportation hearing of a Tunisian flight student at the Charlotte County Airport who was suspected of espionage.

If they had known anybody would be paying attention, they’d have probably remanded her to a military tribunal.

Professional Aviation at the Charlotte County Airport catered to a student body consisting mainly of foreign nationals from the small Mediterranean country of Tunisia, considered a moderate Arab state. There were so many Tunisians at the school that it made the news well before the 9/11 attack…

“From the steady hand on the throttle to the aviator sunglasses, Mariem Ezzahi looked every bit like the experienced pilot she hopes to be back in her native country of Tunisia,” reported the Charlotte Sun-Herald. “Mariem’s goal is to become a commercial pilot like her late father, who flew jets for Tunis Air, the country’s national airline.”

Alas, Mariem got stiffed by the owners of the school, who, come to think of it, just might get their paychecks from the same place as Rudi Dekkers and Wally Hilliard. Dozens of Tunisian students were left stranded by the bankrupting of the flight school at the Charlotte County Airport. Wally Hilliard, who knew Mohamed Atta personally while he was “attending” his flight school, pulled the same scam in Orlando.

Many student pilots lost their life savings. The story received a flurry of local media attention. Students picketed the company’s offices and staged a sit-in. Television news crews from Charlotte County and Fort Myers broadcast their plight.

Then three of the Tunisian students attending Professional Aviation were taken into custody during the week after the attack…

One of them was 21 year-old Maryem Bedoui.

When Professional Aviation went under, Bedoui moved to Venice and took lessons from the “Quiet” Magic Dutch Boy, Arne Kruithof, located two doors down from the loudmouth Magic Dutch Boy’s school, Huffman Aviation.

During a deportation hearing in Bradenton, Florida Bedoui told the Judge that she had been friends with one of Atta’s roommates, but she denied knowing Atta, and denied involvement or knowledge of the 9/11 plot.

But the FBI wrote a letter to the immigration judge presenting evidence for why Bedoui should be deported. The letter said Bedoui attended flight schools in Punta Gorda at the Charlotte County Airport and in Venice at the same time hijackers Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were there.

And this is where the FBI get caught telling a Big Lie. Because according to the FBI’s chronology Atta and Al-Shehhi were only at Huffman Aviation from July to December 2000.

And Maryem Bedoui didn’t enter the U.S. until 2001.

The revelation that this nations chief investigative agency has knowingly fabricated their chronology of Atta’s time in the U.S. might be cause for nothing but a shrug. After all, Democratic Republics have had trouble with their own Praetorian Guards since Roman times.

But looking at the “Big Picture” may provide little solace to anyone who saw a loved one hanging half-in and half-out of a window 100 stories above the earth on the morning of September 11, 2001.

If some find it difficult to stomach taking the long view, who can blame them?

Maybe what the FBI is really trying to say is: “It just can’t be helped.”

We’ll see…

Copyright 2005 Daniel Hopsicker. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-breitweiser/enabling-danger-part-one_b_5951.html

K. Breitweiser Blog: Enabling Danger (part 1)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

by: Kristen Breitweiser – HuffingtonPost.com – August 20, 2005

The press has recently been reporting on the issue of surveillance pertaining to four “key” 9/11 hijackers.

Specifically, Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) has gone public with accusations that the Pentagon had four of the 9/11 hijackers under its surveillance in December of 2000. Initial press accounts detailed that four of the 9/11 hijackers — al Mihdhar, al Hazmi, al Shehi, and Atta — were identified by a data mining operation (Project Able Danger) run out of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The revelation of this new information is astounding for two reasons. First, if true, this would mean that four of the key hijackers in the 9/11 plot were in the cross-hairs of our Pentagon one year prior to the attacks during the summer of 2000. Second, it raises credibility issues surrounding the 9/11 Commission since the Commission’s Final Report does not mention—let alone report upon—the Able Danger operation.

Let’s address the concept that DIA had four 9/11 hijackers identified as al Qaeda operatives in 2000. First, why was this information withheld from the FBI when it was allegedly collected by DIA back in the summer of 2000? Second, if this information was not passed to the FBI, was any of this information passed on to the CIA? Third, what difference would it have made if DIA had informed the FBI about these four al Qaeda targets? Fourth, if it indeed exists, where is the Able Danger chart that allegedly contains Atta’s name, and most importantly, have we capitalized on any other information or names contained in that chart?

Withholding from the FBI:

News reports state that the information regarding the 9/11 hijackers was not passed onto the FBI because Pentagon attorneys believed that the targets of the data-mining operation (the four 9/11 hijackers) were green card holders thereby banning the passage of this information to the FBI since laws were in place during the summer of 2000 that banned domestic surveillance of Americans by the FBI. Of course, the DOD attorneys were patently wrong in their interpretation since the four 9/11 hijackers that were identified were merely U.S. visa holders (some of which had already expired and/or were illegal). These men were not U.S. citizens—therefore, the information could have been readily passed to the FBI with no worry of breaking any rules or laws. Nevertheless, the Able Danger information did not get shared with the FBI. (The identities and whereabouts of the DOD attorneys who provided such wrong legal counsel remains unknown—which raises the obvious question as to whether these individuals are still working at DOD and making the same erroneous and deadly decisions.)

It should be mentioned that two of the men mentioned in the Able Danger operation—al Mihdhar and al Hazmi—were already known by the CIA as al Qaeda operatives by late December 1999. Much like DIA and their failure to share information with the FBI, the CIA also failed to share their information about these two men being inside the United States and planning terrorist activities.

In December 1999, CIA was actively investigating and tracking al Mihdhar and al Hazmi as they traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While in Kuala Lumpur in early January 2000, al Mihdhar and al Hazmi attended a meeting with other known al Qaeda operatives. The meeting was a planning session for the U.S.S. Cole bombing that occurred in October 2000 and for the 9/11 attacks. Our CIA conducted surveillance on this meeting.

After the meeting in Malaysia, Al Mihdhar and al Hazmi arrived in the United States in January 2000. The CIA knew about the two men coming to America, but chose not to tell the FBI about their presence inside the United States on a number of occasions for the 18 months preceding 9/11. Why? Most likely, because the CIA did not want the FBI stepping on their toes while they were conducting an ongoing surveillance operation on these known al Qaeda operatives. At any rate, the record shows that for 18 months prior to 9/11, the CIA conducted surveillance on these two targets while they were in the United States and failed to tell the FBI about it. The question remains whether DIA and CIA were collaborating on their surveillance operations of these al Qaeda operatives or acting independently.

Why does it matter that the FBI was not given the information?

The four men allegedly under surveillance by Project Able Danger, were four key players in the 9/11 plot. They spent from the spring of 2000 through the summer of 2001 coming into regular contact with the other 9/11 hijackers—namely and most importantly, Hani Hanjour and Ziad Jarrah. Additionally, all four of the identified hijackers had contacts at the same flight school that Zaccarias Moussaoui was arrested at by the FBI in August 2001. The hijackers received numerous wire transfers from known al Qaeda operatives—such as Ramzi Binalshibh. They had ongoing contacts with other known al Qaeda operatives including Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They trained in U.S. flight schools. They participated in numerous cross-country practice flights during the summer of 2001. They bought flight control manuals and global positioning equipment, knives and pepper spray. They traveled in and out of this country (sometimes to meet with other al Qaeda operatives) on a number of occasions from the spring of 2000 until the summer of 2001. Had the FBI been told about their presence in the United States, most certainly, the 9/11 attacks would have been prevented. How can I say this with such conviction?

Mohammed Atta was the pilot for Flight 11, the plane that hit WTC 1. Marwan al Shehhi was the pilot of Flight 175, the plane that hit WTC 2. Hani Hanjour was the pilot of Flight 77, the plane that hit the Pentagon. And, Ziad Jarrah was the pilot of Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Let’s look at the details.

Flight 77—al Mihdhar, al Hazmi, and Hanjour

It should be noted that Hani Hanjour, the pilot of Flight 77, lived with al Hazmi for the 9 months preceding the 9/11 attacks. Recall, that al Hazmi was targeted and identified by CIA and allegedly also DIA by the summer of 2000. Thus, when Hazmi and Hanjour met in December of 2000, surveillance would have been active on Hazmi for approximately 4 months. Both Hazmi and Hanjour attended flight school together in the Phoenix area of Arizona (the same Phoenix that was the subject of the “Phoenix Memo” penned by FBI agent Kenneth Williams in the summer of 2001. Williams’ memo discussed strange patterns of middle-eastern men taking flying lessons in U.S. flight schools but the memo was ignored by FBI Headquarters). In the spring of 2001, both Hazmi and Hanjour moved to the East Coast settling in Virginia and then New Jersey. While on the East Coast, Hazmi and Hanjour came into regular contact with the remaining hijackers—the muscle hijackers–that would help them commandeer Flight 77. From December 2000 until the 9/11 attacks, Al Hazmi and Hanjour were inseparable. Thus, had al Hazmi been under surveillance and identified, it goes without saying that Hanjour would have been likewise identified as an al Qaeda operative.

Once identified, the FBI would have learned that Hanjour did not attend school after entering this country on a student visa in December 2000, thereby violating his immigration status and making him deportable under 8 USC 1227 (a)(1)(B). Necessarily, if deported, Hanjour would have been unable to pilot Flight 77 into the Pentagon. As an aside, al Hazmi would have also been deported since he overstayed the terms of his admission, a violation of immigration laws rendering him deportable under 8 USC 1227 (a)(1)(B).

Flight 93—Ziad Jarrah

Ziad Jarrah, the pilot of Flight 93, was a roommate with Mohammed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi while they lived in Hamburg, Germany. Once in the United States, Jarrah attended flight school in Venice, Florida from the summer of 2000 until the summer of 2001. Likewise, during the summer of 2000, Atta and al Shehhi arrived in Florida to take their flight lessons in Venice, Florida. All three had ongoing and continued contacts with one another for the year preceding the 9/11 attacks, and during the summer of 2001 they came into regular contact with the other muscle hijackers that would help them commandeer each of the flights they piloted on the day of 9/11.

It seems likely that if our CIA and DIA had identified both Atta and al Shehhi, they would have likewise identified Jarrah as an al Qaeda operative. Notably, Jarrah left and returned to the United States six times between the summer of 2000 and the 9/11 attacks. Jarrah also made hundreds of phone calls to his girlfriend who remained overseas in Germany during this time period and he also communicated frequently by email. Thus, there were ample opportunities to gather the kinds of information that both DIA and CIA could capitalize upon while Jarrah was living inside the United States.

Jarrah attended flight school in June 2000 without properly adjusting his immigration status, thereby violating his immigration status and rendering him inadmissible under 8 USC 1182 (a)(7)(B) each of the subsequent six times he re-entered the United States between June 2000 and August 5, 2001. Thus, Jarrah could have been either denied entry or deported had our FBI been aware of his identification as an al Qaeda operative. Whether arrested and deported or barred entry into the country, Jarrah clearly would have been unable to pilot Flight 93 on the morning of 9/11.

Flight 11—Mohammed Atta

Mohammed Atta was the pilot of Flight 11—the plane that flew into the first Tower of the World Trade Center. Atta is widely considered the ringleader of the 9/11 plot. He had ongoing contacts with Ramsi Binalshibh. He received regular wire transfers from known al Qaeda sources like Binalshibh. He traveled abroad at least twice and met with other known al Qaeda operatives throughout the time period of the summer of 2000 until the summer of 2001. He took flight lessons in Venice, Florida along with Marwan al Shehhi (another hijacker allegedly identified by Able Danger). Atta visited and made inquiries to the same flight school that Zaccarias Moussaoui was arrested at by the FBI in August 2001. Had lead-hijacker Atta been under surveillance by the FBI, there is absolutely no plausible way the 9/11 attacks could have been carried out.

Atta failed to present a proper M-1 visa when he entered the United States in January 2001. He had previously overstayed his tourist visa and therefore was inadmissible under 8 USC 1182(a)(7)(B). If he had been arrested and deported, Atta would not have been able to pilot Flight 11 into WTC 1 on the morning of 9/11.

Flight 175—Marwan al Shehhi

The final person allegedly identified by DIA was Marwan al Shehhi. As it turns out, DIA was not the only agency in the U.S. intelligence community that was aware of “Marwan” because in 1999, the German government had provided CIA with the name “Marwan” along with his telephone number. German intelligence had received his name and number as a result of their own surveillance of the Hamburg cell—the same cell that Atta and Jarrah were members.

From the summer of 2000 until the summer of 2001, Al Shehhi took his flight lessons in Florida alongside of Atta. They were inseparable. They opened joint bank accounts and received wire transfers from Binalshibh–a known al Qaeda operative. Together, they came into regular contact with the other hijackers particularly throughout the summer of 2001 when they all were located on the East Coast and making final plans for the 9/11 attacks.

The legality of al Shehhi’s presence in the United States remains questionable. The discrepancy surrounds whether al Shehhi was considered a “student pilot” or a full-blown pilot. If he was considered a “student pilot”, his admission as a business visitor was erroneous, and he therefore, could have been barred entry to the country when he re-entered from a trip abroad in January 2001. If barred entry, clearly al Shehhi would have been unable to pilot flight 175 that flew into WTC 2 on the morning of 9/11.

Did Able Danger exist? And, if so, where is the chart that supposedly identifies Atta?

If the Able Danger chart exists, I think our government and its intelligence agencies had best locate it. It would seem that the chart might hold the names of other terrorists bent on murdering Americans. Why would such a chart go missing? Why wouldn’t our intelligence agencies want to utilize the wealth of information contained in that chart? In other words, shouldn’t we want to follow up on the other names listed on the chart? I know I would feel a lot better if I knew as a fact that every name on the chart was investigated, wouldn’t you? Or, if we do have the chart, I wonder if any of the other names on the Able Danger chart match any of the individuals’ identities in Gitmo? Why hasn’t anyone in our government given an accounting of where this chart is and whether the information held within the chart has been properly capitalized upon? Where is the urgency to locate this valuable document that contains another approximately 200 terrorists’ names? (As an aside, I find our entire government’s handling of this issue extremely uncomfortable. If the chart did not exist, then a clear, emphatic statement should have been issued by each entity: the Pentagon, the 9/11 Commission, and the Administration. Think about it. If you genuinely know that something never existed, then you can flatly deny its existence. Unless, it turns up, and then you’re on the record denying its existence. It seems to me, that the deafening silence and hedging comments made by all those involved—comments along the lines of “well, if it turns out the chart exists, then…”— are very suspicious and quite disturbing. Its like nobody wants to get caught lying to the American public, but yet, nobody wants to confirm the Able Danger chart’s existence because the implications of the existence of such a chart is so damning. So now we have all of our government leaders and experts clamming up and acting like a bunch of potential criminal teenage boys in Aruba.)

Additionally, some questions have been raised about the ability of DIA to label or “identify” Atta as an al Qaeda operative as early as 2000. To me, it would seem logical that DIA was able to do so, after all, in 2000 Atta was living in Hamburg, Germany and having regular contacts with other known al Qaeda operatives namely Ramzi Binalshibh, Said Bahaji, Zakariya Essabar, Muhammed Zammar, Mounir Motassadeq, Abdelghani Mzoudi, and Mamoun Darkazanli. We know that the German government had Atta’s cell—the Hamburg cell—under surveillance and we also know that our CIA was conducting parallel surveillance during the same time period. Information surrounding the Hamburg cell and the surveillance is documented throughout the German trials of Mzoudi and Mottasedeq—two of the al Qaeda operatives that were prosecuted for their ties to the 9/11 attacks but eventually released after the United States refused to cooperate with the German courts by sharing intelligence evidence linking the men to the 9/11 plot. (Both men are walking the streets of Germany today as free men because our government refused to share evidence linking them to the 9/11 plot—something that frustrates many of the 9/11 families since we have yet to hold one terrorist accountable for the 9/11 attacks.) The surveillance of the Hamburg cell is also mentioned in overseas news reports from both London and Germany. One account even goes so far as to say that the CIA attempted to “flip” one of Atta’s comrades (Darkazanli) into being an informant for the CIA. Clearly, by December 2000, the CIA knew at least that Atta was a person of interest, so why should it seem so hard for the agency and others in our government to understand how DIA was able to do so, too?

Surveillance of the Hijackers—the proof.

The speed by which our government was able to accumulate such a vast amount of information immediately following the 9/11 attacks (in less than 24 hours) is the most persuasive proof that our government had the hijackers under its surveillance. FBI agents descended upon the very flight schools (out of the thousands of flight schools in our country) that the hijackers attended within two hours of the attacks. They were seen removing files from the flight schools buildings. Furthermore, photos of the hijackers and details about their activities in the final days before the attacks were also immediately presented to the American people. I mean you are talking about an intelligence apparatus that according to official accounts was completely in the dark about the plotting and planning of the 9/11 attacks. They — our intelligence agencies — knew nothing about the operatives living in this country—the operatives that were fully imbedded and openly training in our flight schools, partaking in practice flights across this country, receiving wire transfers from al Qaeda sources, and repeatedly traveling in and out of this country to visit other terrorists and terrorist facilities. Yet, for a group of agencies caught completely flat-footed on the day of 9/11, they certainly were able to get their act together at a time when most—if not all– of this nation’s citizens were brought to their knees.

Additionally, when one carefully reads the 9/11 chronology and information provided in the public record, it becomes increasingly clear that the CIA’s repeated failure to share information with the FBI about two of the 9/11 hijackers—al Mihdhar and al Hazmi– was purposeful. There exists at least seven instances between January 2000 and September 11th, 2001, that the CIA withheld vital information from the FBI about these two hijackers who were inside this country training for the attacks. Once, twice, maybe even three times could be considered merely careless oversights. But at least seven documented times? To me, that suggests something else. (To read about these instances, I suggest you read 9/11 materials relating to the “watchlisting issue” involving al Mihdhar and al Hazmi which is a story so detailed, that it deserves its own lengthy blog.)

The 9/11 Commission

At a bare minimum, the 9/11 Commission is not being honest with the American people. First, the Commission feigned total ignorance about Able Danger. Then, they admitted that they remembered hearing something about it. Next, they acknowledged that they were briefed about the program but found a discrepancy in the dates provided by the Able Danger informant, and therefore decided that the information was irrelevant to their investigation. Convenient excuses. But, wrong. Because, I happen to be one of the 9/11 widows that received personal commitments from each of the 9/11 Commissioners that they would track down every lead, and turn over every rock so as to provide the most thorough and definitive account of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. Last week’s revelations about Able Danger prove that the Commission has not been above-board with their investigation. Nor has their investigation been anywhere near exhaustive.

Now, legally speaking, the 9/11 Commissioners were mandated to provide a full accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. If the Able Danger operation and its accompanying information turn out to be true, then necessarily each Commissioner has broken the law in that they failed to fulfill their legislative mandate in providing a full and just accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. However, if we also come to learn that Atta’s or any of the other hijackers names were mentioned in the Able Danger chart, I think this nation will have bigger problems to deal with than accusing the 9/11 Commission of not following their mandate in providing a full accounting to the American people. As with most things in life, only time will tell.

Stay tuned for Part II. Kristen Breitweiser, a co-founder of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee which was responsible for forcing the Government to launch a broad investigation into the attacks of 9/11. She lost her husband Kenneth on September 11, 2001.

Copyright 2005 Kristen Breitweiser. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Original http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/082405Chin/082405chin.html

The spinning of the smoking guns

More pre-9/11 US intelligence connections to al-Qaeda exposed and spun

By Larry Chin

Online Journal Associate Editor

August 24, 2005—In recent weeks, two “revelations” of pre-9/11 US military-intelligence relationships with al-Qaeda “terrorists” and Osama bin Laden are being used as cannon fodder in an intensifying power struggle between rival political factions vying to seize the “war on terrorism” agenda for their own, and deepen the cover-up of 9/11.

The furor over new stories involving alleged 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and US-bin Laden go-between Tarik Hamdi pits spinmasters against other spinmasters—Kean 9/11 Commission supporters versus hawkish Bush-linked 9/11 Commission attackers, neocons versus neoliberals, and intelligence and law enforcement agencies are at each other’s throats again over “intelligence failures.”

While the spin has dwelled exclusively around “anti-terrorism” and various red herrings, and the supposed frustration over the tracking and arrest of al-Qaeda members, the true evidence trail continues to be purposely ignored. This trail leads directly to high-level US government officials and US intelligence agencies themselves (and US intelligence branches such as Pakistan’s ISI), for their nurturing, guiding and placement of “Islamic terrorist” intelligence assets (including Atta, Hamdi, bin Laden and al-Qaeda), and US complicity in 9/11.

Osama’s US Contact

Newly unsealed court papers charge that Tarik A. Hamdi, an Iraqi-born American citizen and a former resident of Herndon, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC, and a hotbed of intelligence-connected groups), and a direct and key American contact for Osama bin Laden, is now a member of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Ankara, Turkey.

According to the affadavit from Customs Agent David Kane, and facts confirmed by US authorities (including the FBI), Hamdi supplied a satellite telephone battery to bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan in 1998.

Hamdi, former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistraro, and Pakistani journalist (and ISI “favorite”) Rahimullah Yusufszai were among the few go-betweens with bin Laden who set up interviews with bin Laden for American journalists, such as John Miller (now a Commanding Officer in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau). During this period, Cannistraro, Miller and Yusufszai worked for ABC News. Hamdi also had a working relationship with recently deceased ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, who tapped Hamdi as a Middle East expert more than once.

As noted by Chaim Kupferberg, “Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, provided covert aid to the Afghani mujahadeen in the late 80s, as well as supervised CIA operations with the contras. He was also a point man in the notoriously circumspect investigation at Lockerbie.”

Hamdi has also been indicted on fraud and immigration charges. Federal agents have also held Hamdi under scrutiny since 2002 for his involvement with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) think tank in northern Virginia, and ties to other alleged members of al-Qaeda. The IIIT itself has been suspected of ties to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Interestingly, the IIIT is one of many Saudi/Islamic fronts under investigation (see “Role of Charities and NGOs In the Financing of Terrorist Activities”), but also deeply connected to the Republican Party apparatus and Bush/Rove, via Grover Norquist.

The relationship Hamdi enjoyed with ABC, Miller, and Cannistraro leads to deeper issues that go to the heart of the 9/11 operation, as detailed by Kupferberg in “The Propaganda Preparation for 9/11″.

Kupferberg points out that ” . . . if the bin Laden threat was, pre-9/11, a close-knit propaganda campaign, one would expect to find the same names showing up repeatedly in combination with one another.” Among the short list of “same names” who managed the flow of available information on bin Laden, we find Miller and Cannistraro.

Specifically regarding ABC and bin Laden, Kupferberg said:

” . . . it is my contention that al-Qaida and bin Laden are elaborate ‘legends’ set up to promote a plausibly sophisticated and ferocious enemy to stand against American interests. I am not, however, implying that bin Laden himself is a total fabrication. Rather, it is my contention that confederates, believing themselves to act on behalf of bin Laden, are being set up in a ‘false flag operation’ to perform operations as their controllers see fit.

“If [9/11] were an ‘inside job,’ the first thing to do was to look at who conveyed specific information on bin Laden before—and I stress, before—9/11, for they were most likely involved wittingly or not with those who masterminded it.

“Yusufszai . . . moonlighted as an ABC News producer, charged with guiding ABC News correspondent John Miller through the Afghani marshes to bin Laden’s cave—one of the very few American journalists to be accorded such an honour (and also, as it happens, a good friend of bin Laden arch-foe John O’Neill . . . )

“Yusufszai’s ABC colleague, John Miller, mused about running into his buddy John O’Neill in Yemen while reporting on the U.S.S. Cole bombing the year before.

“Miller, one of the very few Americans who can give a first-hand account of bin Laden, bumps into his friend, bin Laden’s chief investigator, while both are investigating a bombing in Yemen that will later be tagged onto bin Laden—and only a year before O’Neill dies at the hands of . . . allegedly . . . bin Laden.

” . . . Vincent Cannistraro, the ABC News analyst who also escorted John Miller to his bin Laden interview, as well as provided running commentary in the days immediately following 9/11. Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, provided covert aid to the Afghani mujahadeen in the late 80s, as well as supervised CIA operations with the contras. He was also a point man in the notoriously circumspect investigation at Lockerbie. In the above noted [Washington Post reporter Vernon] Loeb and [Washington Post’s Walter] Pincus article—in which bin Laden is quoted from the ABC News Miller and Yusufszai interview—Cannistraro weighs in with his assessment of the embassy bombings: ‘I believe Osama bin Laden is the sponsor of this operation, and I think all of the indications are pointing that way.'”

As the man who “had contacts with the contacts” and helped Cannistraro lead Miller to bin Laden, Hamdi is at the center of the network that created the al-Qaeda “terror” legend. And that may be the tip of the iceberg. Over the past decade, Hamdi has served Anglo-American intelligence interests. He has gone from being a key bin Laden go-between, to becoming an official in the new Iraqi government, right under the nose of the authorities of several nations, including the CIA, the FBI, US law enforcement, the State Department, and the US occupation in Baghdad.

At the time of this writing, no information is available to explain how Hamdi secured his Iraqi government post. Cannistraro remains in contact with Hamdi, and believes that Hamdi is being unfairly harassed by federal authorities who, he believes, have failed to make their case.

Able Danger/Mohammed Atta: How Many Ways Can You Spell and Spin, “Foreknowledge?”

Over the past month, Washington political circles and major media organs (Washington Post, the New York Times, etc.) have been galvanized over what appears to be a new claim that yet another US intelligence unit “knew.”

Army intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa), have gone public with the charge that a Special Operations Command data mining program run by a secret US intelligence unit, code named Able Danger, had identified alleged 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and three other al-Qaeda operatives operating in the United States, as early as 1999.

The Able Danger team, with whom Shaffer worked as a liason, claims it sought but failed to persuade the Defense Department and the Tampa, Florida-based Special Operations Command to share this information, that the unit believes could have stopped 9/11, with the FBI. They further charge that this information was rejected by the 9/11 Commission, even after repeated overtures from both Weldon and Shaffer, which included meetings with commission members and document exchanges.

The 9/11 Commission has defended itself, claiming that the charges of Shaffer and Weldon are unreliable. In a statement, Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton stated that the Able Danger program was not “historically significant, set against the larger context of US policy and intelligence efforts.” Shaffer considers this charge absurd: Able Danger was created specifically to target al-Qaeda.

As this controversy continues to unfold, it would seem that Shaffer/Able Danger thoroughly vindicates what legions of critics of the official version of 9/11 have been documenting and exposing for the past four years. In “9/11 Commission told of Atta cover-up”, Patrick Martin of the World Socialist Website wrote that the Shaffer statements “shatter the official story of the September 11 attacks, as devised by the Bush administration, endorsed by the entire Washington political establishment, and parroted obediently by the media.

“It is now clear that those who have rejected [the official account of 9/11] have been proven right,” writes Martin. “The future hijackers were detected by US government agencies, including the CIA and military intelligence, yet nothing was done either to arrest them or disrupt their activities . . . There is only one politically serious explanation of this now-indisputable fact: powerful forces within the US military/intelligence complex wanted a terrorist incident on US soil in order to create the needed shift in public opinion required to embark on a long-planned campaign of military intervention in Central Asia and the Middle East.”

From a deeper perspective, however, the new Atta/Able Danger information is not a “revelation.” In fact, it is old news, and an original 9/11 red herring, warmed over. In short, it shows that a US intelligence unit “knew, and were prevented from acting on what they knew” and perhaps “stopping 9/11.” While the newly disclosed source—Able Danger and the DIA—is relevant and interesting for many reasons, as is the timing and political game unfolding, nothing has been added to the actual Atta evidence. More importantly, the al-Qaeda’s network’s connection to US military-intelligence, the evidence that 9/11 was a false flag operation, is not addressed at all. Atta and company are assumed foreign terrorists responsible for attacking America, fully consistent with the core of the official and original 9/11 lie.

Able Danger/Atta adds little to what independent researchers and analysts (Center for Research on Globalization/Global Outlook, From The Wilderness, Online Journal, and Center for Cooperative Research to name just a handful) already know:

We know that the “Islamic terrorism” is a creation and tool of Anglo-American geostrategy, created by the US government in the 1970s, fully utilized during the Clinton administration, and nurtured from the Reagan-Bush administrations to the present Bush administrations.

We know who Osama bin Laden is (or was). In Crossing The Rubicon, Mike Ruppert noted:

“The Washington Post explicitly suggested that the real relationship between the United States government [USG] and Osama bin Laden may be quite the opposite of what it seems. ‘As early as March 1996, the government of Sudan offered to extradite bin Laden to the United States. US officials turned down the offer, perhaps preferring to use him ‘as a combatant in an underground war.'” In other words, as a US government agent. In a footnote, Ruppert analyzes the above passage, and cuts to the core of 9/11, and the deception that the world has faced for the past four years:

“If this means that OBL is to be ‘used as a combatant’ on the USG side, it strongly suggests that he is a willing participant in such an effort and that his CIA affiliation from the Mujahadeen war of the 1980s has persisted. If the same locution means that OBL is to be ‘used’ as a combatant on the anti-USG terrorist side of the supposed war on terror, it strongly suggests that the USG is engaged in the business of supplying itself with enemies. That practice is called ‘false flag’ operation, and 9/11 is the greatest exemplar in history.”

We know that al-Qaeda is connected to the ISI, which, in turn is a virtual branch of the CIA, and involved in US covert operations.

We know that numerous intelligence agencies had monitored, penetrated, and guided al-Qaeda assets. Notwithstanding the denials of Washington’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies, al-Qaeda and its operatives were under scrutiny years before 9/11, and completely penetrated.

According to Ruppert, who exhaustively broke down this penetration over several chapters of his book, Crossing the Rubicon, “based on what is known about successful intelligence penetrations for years prior to the attacks of 9/11, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda could not have sneezed without the CIA or the NSA knowing about it.”

We know that it is standard intelligence procedure to create intelligence legends and multiple layers of plausible deniability around their operatives.

We know who, and what, Atta was. Investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker exposed the backgrounds and movements of the Atta cell and the “hijackers” prior to 9/11. Members of the Atta cell received military training, and had connections to intelligence and intelligence-connected Floridians with direct Bush family ties.

We know that various US intelligence and law enforcement agencies, agents, and officers had information—and were systematically blocked from reporting the information and acting on it by gatekeepers of the 9/11 false flag operation.

We know that Atta received funding from the ISI for 9/11, and that then-ISI Chief Mahmoud Ahmad wired $100,000 directly to Atta, and met with Washington lawmakers on the morning of 9/11 (including the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Porter Goss).

We know that there were and are 9/11 gatekeepers in the government, the FBI, the CIA, and all over the world.

We know that 9/11 was not an “intelligence failure,” but an “intelligence success” that included the use of guided al-Qaeda assets, and “hijacker” intelligence legends.

We know that the Kean 9/11 Commission has been a massive cover-up, from its inception to the very end.

What is somewhat “revelatory” is how US intelligence and law enforcement agents, and politicians, seem to be stumbling over themselves to blow the whistle now, four years after the fact, and they are being (selectively) permitted to do so. As Martin points out: “That a serving intelligence of Shaffer’s rank should come forward publicly is a sign of intense and deepening crisis within the US intelligence apparatus . . . Within military/intelligence circles, the knives are out.”

Similarly, we see the new parameters of media treatment of the “war on terrorism” and Bush. Damning evidence that would have been blocked from public dissemination immediately following 9/11 (through various forms of censorship and intimidation) is now permissible mainstream news fodder.

What this suggests is that the Bush regime has lost its grip over the “management” of the 9/11 legend. Indeed, this administration is losing the war it created, in all of the most important ways.

Worse, as Martin writes, “the 9/11 Commission report is now discredited as a bipartisan cover-up, in which Democrats and Republicans joined forces to protect the key institutions of the state.” This is forcing competing elite factions of various agendas into a new struggle put the “war on terrorism” and the 9/11 story “back on track,” lest Anglo-American geostrategy lose its central pretext.

Right-Wing Distortion

Patrick Martin astutely points out, “The representatives of the extreme right—Fox, the Murdoch press, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing talk radio hosts, and an array of bloggers—have made more noise about Able Danger, but only on the service of a political diversion. They have sought to use Shaffer’s account to indict the Clinton administration and shift responsibility for the 9/11 security failure from Bush to his Democratic predecessor.” While Republicans involved with the Kean Commission, such as Phil Zelikow, have gotten a free pass from the right wing, Democrats have been smeared, from Jamie Gorelick, to former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who was accused of stealing 9/11-related documents (he was later cleared over this still-questionable activity).

Congressman Curt Weldon, who has been spearheading the Able Danger case in Washington, is pushing a right-wing agenda. Weldon, the number one critic of the 9/11 Commission, has a reputation as a loose cannon. His book Countdown to Terror not only pushes for more aggressive anti-terrorism, but also goes after Iran (Iran-as-terrorist, Iran-targeting-nuclear-facilities, etc.). Weldon has been criticized by Dana Priest of the Washington Post, and the New York Times. The bottom line: Weldon’s bias and goals must be questioned.

A more disgusting example can be seen in Iran-Contra thug-turned-media pundit Oliver North’s leap on to the Able Danger bandwagon. North, one of the most shameless political criminals in modern history, is predictably carrying water for his old narco-trafficking war criminal-infested Iran-Contra network, and still playing and profiting from post 9/11 war and covert operations. Lest anyone forget who North is:

CIA IG Report, Volume II

Contra-Intelligence on Oliver North (by Federal Drug Agent Celerino Castillo)

Iran-Contra connections to 9/11

Bush-Bin Laden connections

Oliver North in Fallujah

“Torture Inc.:Oliver North Joins the Party”

Need anyone be reminded that the two Bush administrations have been cesspools of Iran-Contra, from the Bushes themselves to Dick Cheney, Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte, John Bolton, Richard Armitage, etc.?

It does without saying that North’s word is utterly worthless, as is his attempt to distract from the fact that corruption, political crime, and “terrorism” are bipartisan products that the Bush regime happens to be (momentarily) stewarding.

Shifting Deck Chairs on Bush’s Titanic

The “criminalization of the state” is when war criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to decide “who are the criminals,” when in fact they are the criminals.

As pointed out by Michel Chossudovsky in War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11, the media’s incessant spotlight on “lapses” and “foreknowledge” distracts public attention away from what is important.

“Of course they knew,” wrote Chossudovsky. “The foreknowledge issue is a red herring. The ‘Islamic Militant Network’ is a creation of the CIA. In standard CIA jargon, al-Qaeda is categorized as an ‘intelligence asset.’ Support to terrorist organizations is an integral part of U.S. foreign policy. Al-Qaeda continues to this date . . . to participate in CIA covert operations in different parts of the world.” (Add this August 2005 disclosure from Turkish intelligence to the documented evidence pointing to the likelihood that al-Qaeda is a CIA-run operation.)

From the 9/11 Commission’s cover-up, to the selective new releases of “terror” fact and spin, this criminalization and deception continues unabated. The Hamdi case is interesting because it places a direct US-al-Qaeda contact in a continuous role, serving US intelligence interests. The new Atta information itself is not new, although the apparent whistle-blowing contest, and the struggle for control of this information, is.

The political agenda behind this crusade is not the truth, but the co-opting, re-strengthening and intensification of Bush’s “war on terrorism” based on the 9/11 pretext. The most aggressive shills pushing both the Hamdi and Atta/Able Danger stories want more “anti-terrorism,” and more justifications to expand the war throughout the world. To again quote Chossudovsky: “Revealing more lies is not the same thing as establishing the truth.”

Despite what appears to be another round of deck chairs being rearranged on Bush’s Titanic, criminals remain at the controls. Only if and when the full truth about 9/11 and the “war on terrorism” is exposed, and understood on a massive scale, can these criminals be stripped of their power.

The views expressed herein are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of Online Journal.

Email editor@onlinejournal.com

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PROJECT “ABLE DANGER”

By Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.

August 23, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

Recently, there has been revealing news about the U.S. Army’s Project “Able Danger,” which was established in September 1999 by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, then head of the Special Operations Command. Schoomaker had previously advised Texas Governor Ann Richards and the FBI regarding what military equipment could be used in the attack upon the Branch Davidians at Waco (a mock-up of the Davidians’ compound was at Fort Hood, Texas, where Schoomaker was an assistant to Gen. Wesley Clark, a Rhodes Scholar named by fellow Rhodes Scholar President Bill Clinton to be military head of NATO). Schoomaker has also advocated joint military training exercises with the Communist Chinese, and on August 1, 2003 President George W. Bush named him Army Chief of Staff.

Able Danger used advanced technology and data analysis to identify and target Al-Qaeda members around the world. Long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Able Danger identified 9-11 ringleader Mohammed Atta in September 2000 as part of an Al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn, and eventually 60 members of Al-Qaeda were identified.

Concerning Atta’s background, in November 1998 he and several other terrorists moved into a 4-bedroom apartment in Hamburg, Germany. On February 17 of the next year, German intelligence began tapping suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar’s phone, and they heard Zammar was at a meeting with Atta. By December 1999, the CIA began to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkazanli for information because he knew Atta and others of the Hamburg Al-Qaeda terrorist cell.

The next month (January 2000), according to the German intelligence magazine FOCUS (September 24, 2001), the CIA began surveillance of Atta which lasted to May 2000. Christian Elflein and others wrote in the FOCUS article that “U.S. agents followed him (Atta) mainly in the area around Frankfurt am Main and noted that Atta bought large quantities of chemicals for the possible production of explosives….On May 18, 2000 the U.S. Embassy in Berlin gave (Atta) a visa….Strange that the visa application and granting it happened in the period when the (CIA) was still observing the suspicious buying of chemicals by the person (Atta) concerned….Someone from the (German) intelligence service (told) FOCUS: ‘We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the USA.’…German security experts are still stunned about the speed with which the FBI could present the conspirative ties of Atta and his presumed Hamburg accomplices. ‘As (if all it needed was) a push on a button,’ an insider says, ‘As if the Americans for a long time already had loads of info on their computers about the culprits.'”

At this point, it is worth mentioning that Yossef Bodansky (director of the U.S. House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare) in TARGET AMERICA: TERRORISM IN THE U.S. TODAY (1993) referred to a large Islamist network spanning the U.S. including “all the components of a mature terrorist support system (with) safe houses in major cities, weapons, ammunition, money, systems to provide medical and legal aid, false identity papers, and intelligence for the operative.” The point in including this here is to ask how Bodansky would know about all this unless the terrorist network were already being monitored by the federal government?

Returning to Mohammed Atta, he used his aforementioned visa to come to the U.S. on June 3, 2000. He stayed at the Wayne Inn on Route 23 in New Jersey, and in July went to Venice, Florida to take flying lessons at Huffman Aviation flight school. Then in May 2001, he rented an apartment in Hollywood, Florida.

Several months later, Atta received $100,000 wired to him at the request of Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, head of the ISI, Pakistani intelligence (also see my NewsWithViews.com article “Richard Armitage and the ISI”). Shortly thereafter, September 3-5, 2001, members of Atta’s Hamburg terrorist cell left Germany for Pakistan. At about this same time (the week before the 9-11 attacks), Gen. Ahmad came to the U.S. to talk to top Pentagon, CIA and NSC (National Security Council) officials (in May 2001 Gen. Ahmad already had an unusually long meeting in Pakistan with CIA Director George Tenet and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage).

Then, on September 10, 2001 some top Pentagon officials suddenly cancelled their travel plans for the morning of 9-11 apparently because of security concerns. Late that same night (September 10), San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown also received a phone call warning him and all Americans to watch out for air travel (Mayor Brown was supposed to fly to New York City the morning of 9-11). In case you think these top Pentagon officials and Mayor Brown simply received a general warning, alert or emergency ruling from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), I filed 2 Freedom of Information requests and received replies from the Department of Homeland Security stating that while there were 12 warnings, alerts or emergency rulings between May and September 15, 2001, none occurred from September 2 through September 11.

At the end of the Preface of long-time Middle East CIA agent Robert Baer’s 2002 book, SEE NO EVIL, one finds the following: “The other day a reporter friend told me that one of the highest-ranking CIA officials had said to him, off the record, that when the dust finally clears, Americans will see that September 11 was a triumph for the intelligence community, not a failure.”

In October 2003, Able Danger officer Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer testified to the 9-11 Commission about their monitoring Mohammed Atta and other 9-11 terrorists long before the attacks of 9-11, but the Commission did not include this information in its report. Regarding this, NATIONAL REVIEW’s Jim Geraghty exclaimed: “As for the 9-11 commission, after all that patting themselves on the back, all that gushing praise from left, right and center, after their work was called ‘miraculous’ by NEWSDAY, and the nomination for a National Book Award, and calling their own work ‘extraordinary’…man, these guys stink. Really, if this checks out, and the staffers had information like this and they disregarded it, never believing that we in the public deserved to know that the plot’s ringleader was identified, located and recommended to be arrested a year before the attacks…boy, these guys ought to be in stocks in the public square and have rotten fruit thrown at them. What a sham.” In addition, members of the organization SEPTEMBER 11 ADVOCATES released a statement saying in part: “As 9-11 widows who fought tirelessly for the creation of the 9-11 commission, we are wholly disappointed to learn that the commission’s Final Report is a hollow failure.”

Concerning the July 7, 2005 London terrorist bombings, the terrorist ringleader also trained with Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The photo of the 4 bombers widely shown in the press and media appears to be doctored, as the man in the white cap supposedly in front of the railed fence actually has one of the rails in front of his left arm. In a July 29, 2005 interview on Fox News Channel’s “Day Side” program, former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor and terror expert John Loftus said that 7-7 mastermind, Haroon Rashid Aswat, came to America in 1999. Loftus then revealed: “The Justice Department wanted to indict him in Seattle because him and his buddy were trying to set up a terrorist training school in Oregon….We’ve just learned that the headquarters of the U.S. Justice Department ordered the Seattle prosecutors not to touch Aswat…, apparently Aswat was working for British intelligence….The Brits know that the CIA wants to get a hold of Haroon. So what happens? He takes off again, goes right to London. He isn’t arrested when he lands, he isn’t arrested when he leaves….He’s on the watch list. The only reason he could get away with that was if he was working for British intelligence. He was a wanted man.” Aswat allegedly left London on July 6, 2005, the day before the bombings, to go to Pakistan where he was arrested but released within 24 hours.

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Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.

Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS’s Nightwatch.

© 2005 Dennis Cuddy. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.

Orginal http://www.911citizenswatch.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=657

Weldon Says Records Were Ordered Destroyed!! (Able Danger)

Thursday, September 01, 2005 – 02:17 PM

Dom Giordano Show – 1210AM Radio “Big Talker” – Philadelphia | 29 AUG 05 | Vanity

Posted on 08/29/2005 6:23:38 PM PDT by Lancey Howard

Congressman Curt Weldon (R – Pennsylvania) gave another exclusive interview to Dom Giordano this evening (Monday) and broke the news that he will be giving a speech on September 8th (next Monday) during which he will present yet another ‘Able Danger’ witness. This new witness will attest (and will swear under oath when called) that he was “ordered to destroy records” relating to the ‘Able Danger’ program.

This order to destroy the records occurred prior to 9-11-01. Weldon intimated that it happened during the Clinton Administration. The witness, who Weldon did not name, says that he was ordered to destroy records and was threatened with jail if he failed to comply. Weldon said that he has the names of the people involved, including the person who gave the order, and HE WILL NAME THEM in his speech.

Congressman Weldon also said that his staff has met with Senator Arlen Specter’s (R – Pennsylvania) staff regarding the upcoming Judiciary Committee hearings. Weldon wants to be sure that everybody is on the same page. Weldon also said that he will do whatever he has to do to make sure that ALL the facts come out and that the process “is not manipulated”.

Curt Weldon is like a pit bull on a steak. He expressed disgust with the “incompetence” of the 9-11 Commission and said that the victims of the 9-11 terror attacks deserve answers. Weldon is determined to see that they get them.

Weldon did express confidence in Tim Roehmer and John Lehman and speculated that perhaps the poor job done by the Commission was the result of an incompetent staff. Weldon sounded amazed and disappointed that so much important information was either glossed over or swept under the rug by the Commission.

Weldon will give his September 8th speech either to the National Press Club or to a “9-11 families” group which has asked him to speak. He apparently hasn’t nailed down the exact venue yet.

Copyright 2005 Lancey Howard. Used here for information purposes under fair-use provisions, please see Fair-Use Notice, below.
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Late December 1998: Data Mining Program Authorized to Go after Bin Laden

Mohamed Atta and three other alleged ringleaders of the 9/11 hijacking team were under surveillance by an elite US military intelligence program in the summer of 2000, a New York Times story of Aug. 9, 2005 revealed.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) broke the story to the Times after officers with knowledge of the Able Danger program contacted him. Two officers have since gone on record to say they once had Mohamed Atta in their sights. They claim a recommendation to round up Atta and what they termed his “Brooklyn Cell” (!) was rejected in the fall of 2000 by commanders at MacDill Air Force Base, supposedly on the advice of Defense Department lawyers. As of Sept. 2, the Pentagon says three additional people with knowledge of Able Danger have corroborated the story.

This dossier by Nicholas Levis rounds up Able Danger news reports to date, as well as analyses by various authors. The views expressed herein are the writers” own and do not necessarily reflect those of 911Truth.org.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton will later say, “Right after I left SOCOM (Special Operations Command), I asked my successor to put together a small team, if he could, to try to use the Internet and start trying to see if there was any way that we could track down Osama bin Laden or where he was getting his money from or anything of that nature.” A team of six intelligence officers will be given this task and Shelton will be periodically briefed on the progress of the program. But apparently the team, later to be called Able Danger, will focus on data mining tasks relating to Bosnia and China for most of 1999. [Sacramento Bee, 12/7/2005; US Congress, 2/15/2006] Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the head of the military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM), helped come up with the idea for Able Danger and helps to set it up. SOCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for America’s secret commando units. [Government Security News, 9/2005]

Mark Zaid, a lawyer for several Able Danger whistleblowers in 2005, will give this description of Able Danger: “In the most understandable and simplistic terms, Able Danger involved the searching out and compiling of open source or other publicly available information regarding specific targets or tasks that were connected through associational links. No classified information was used. No government database systems were used.… The search and compilation efforts were primarily handled by defense contractors, who did not necessarily know they were working for Able Danger, and that information was then to be utilized by the military members of Able Danger for whatever appropriate purposes.” [US Congress, 9/21/2005] Apparently, Able Danger does not begin to use real data to fight al-Qaeda until near the end of 1999.

Mid-1999-November 1999: Data Mining Study Causes Controversy by Connecting Prominent US Figures to Chinese Military Weapons Purchases

A report commissioned in mid-1999 by Rep. Curt Weldon (R) looks into possible Chinese front companies in the US seeking technology for the Chinese military. Dr. Eileen Preisser and Michael Maloof are commissioned to make the report. Dr. Preisser, who runs the Information Dominance Center at the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) and will later become closely tied to Able Danger, uses LIWA’s data mining capabilities to search unclassified information. According to Maloof, their results show Chinese front companies in the US posing as US corporations that acquire technology from US defense contractors. When the study is completed in November 1999, the General Counsel’s office in the Office of the Defense Secretary orders the study destroyed. Weldon complains about this to Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, and apparently delays the destruction of the report.

Weldon also writes a letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting an espionage investigation into these Chinese links, but Freeh never responds to this. [Washington Times, 10/9/2005] As part of this report, LIWA analysts had produced a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the US. But this data mining effort runs into controversy when the chart apparently shows connections between future National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent US figures, and business deals benefiting the Chinese military. [New York Post, 8/27/2005; Washington Times, 9/22/2005] The China chart was put together by private contractor James D. Smith, who will come forward in August 2005 to corroborate revelations about the Able Danger unit and its findings (see August 22-September 1, 2005).

The New York Post later says there is “no suggestion that Rice or any of the others had done anything wrong.” [New York Post, 8/27/2005] However, articles first appear one month later and through 2001 in the conservative publications WorldNetDaily and NewsMax, which connect Perry and Rice to Hua Di, a Chinese missile scientist and possible spy, and question the nature of their relationship with him. [WorldNetDaily, 12/21/1999; WorldNetDaily, 4/5/2000; NewsMax, 1/24/2001] Di defected to the US in 1989 and worked most of the 1990s at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, which was co-directed by Perry. Di later returned to China and is subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison for writing influential articles said to reveal vital Chinese state secrets. [Stanford Report, 2/7/2001]

However, other accounts claim that he was in fact passing on disinformation through these articles, successfully misleading the US military for a couple of years about the abilities of certain Chinese missile programs. [WorldNetDaily, 12/21/1999] Additionally, Hua Di teamed in 1994 with Stanford professor Dr. John Lewis and William Perry to buy an advanced AT&T fiber-optic communications system for “civilian” use inside China that instead is used by the Chinese army. The General Accounting Office later criticized the sale. In 1997, Stanford University investigated Dr. Lewis for his role in it, but Condoleezza Rice, serving as a Stanford provost at the time, apparently stopped the investigation. [WorldNetDaily, 4/5/2000; NewsMax, 1/24/2001] Able Danger and LIWA’s data mining efforts will be severely proscribed in April 2000 as part of the fallout from this China controversy (see April 2000), and the destruction of their collected data will follow shortly thereafter (see May-June 2000).

Analysis

The corporate media”s Able Danger stories have the character of a “limited hangout,” meaning that certain facts apparently embarrassing to the US government are promoted to create the appearance of disclosure–even as other, far more important and damaging matters are obscured or ignored. Chief among these is that Atta and his friends were known to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of several countries, including the United States, long before Able Danger. Furthermore, the revelations make mincemeat of both the official FBI timeline of Atta”s movements and of the 9/11 Commission”s already spotty credibility.

10 Salient Points About Able Danger

1) In early 2000 the secret Able Danger program under the US Special Operations Command supposedly identified four men as Al-Qaeda operatives working in the United States. Their names were Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. The US government has named Atta as the overall ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers. Atta and al-Shehhi came to the United States from Germany in 2000 and at times lived together in Florida, where they attended the same flight schools. They have been named as the pilots of the two World Trade Center crash planes. They were members of the al-Qaeda “Hamburg Cell,” which the government says also provided the alleged suicide pilot of Flight 93, Ziad Jarrah. Almidhar and Alhazmi are considered to have played an important role in organizing personnel for the attack, and are said to have been among the Flight 77 hijackers.

2) Able Danger used sophisticated electronic “data-mining” or “matrix” techniques to locate potential terrorists. But according to a former Pentagon contractor who worked on the program, James D. Smith, Able Danger obtained Atta”s name and photograph from “a private researcher in California, who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East.” (NYT, 8/23/2005) Who was this private researcher?

Atta”s photo was added to a wall chart plotting “Brooklyn Cell” connections, which included the other three suspects so far named. The chart was ordered destroyed after objections from Defense Department lawyers, according to the officers who have come forward (Col. Anthony Shaffer and Capt. Scott Phillpott). But a spokesman for the Special Operations Command, of which Able Danger was a part, says “that ”we have negative indications” that destruction of such a chart was advised by military lawyers.” (Reuters, 9/1/01) In that case, who did advise it, and why?

3) The original Times story contains a blanket statement that hides the most important facts of all: “The account is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks.”

This is the heart of the “limited hangout.” The Times statement is false for at least two reasons:

– Already in September 2001, German authorities told their own press that the CIA had Atta and the Hamburg Cell under observation from Jan. to June 2000, while they were still in Germany. (This counts as an “assertion.”) The German authorities say the CIA did not inform them of its activities, and that they only found out after the attacks. (See Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01, archived as third article here, among many other German reports at that time.) According to the German authorities and the FBI, Atta received a travel visa from the US Consulate in Berlin in May, and first left for the United States via Prague in June 2000.

– How did the CIA get on Atta”s tail in the first place? It could be because in March 1999, “German intelligence officials gave the Central Intelligence Agency the first name and telephone number of Marwan al-Shehhi, and asked the Americans to track him.” And that is how the New York Times itself reported it (“C.I.A. Was Given Data on Hijacker Long Before 9/11,” NYT Feb. 24, 2004). In late 1999, the CIA attempted to recruit Mamoun Darkazanli, an associate of the “Hamburg Cell” members. (Chicago Tribune, 11/16/2002, archived here.)

4) The exact same four names reportedly uncovered by Able Danger–Atta, al-Shehhi, Almidhar and Alhazmi–were also provided to the CIA on Aug. 23, 2001 by the Mossad, as part of a list of nineteen men the Israelis said were planning a terror attack in the United States (as reported in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, Oct. 2002). Note that Israeli intelligence is known to have maintained a large spy ring in the United States, many of whom posed as art students in attempts to enter federal facilities. About 60 suspected “art students” were rounded up by US authorities before 9/11, and a similar number were arrested in the post-Sept. 11 crackdown. All were ultimately deported or released. (See Forward 3/15/02, Haaretz and Wayne Madsen”s Israeli “art students” dossier, which includes the 60-page text of a suppressed DEA report on the spy ring.) Forward presents claims that the “Israelis in the United States [were] spying on a common enemy, radical Islamic networks suspected of links to Middle East terrorism.”

In particular, a group of five Israelis arrested in New Jersey shortly after the September 11 attacks and held for more than two months was subjected to an unusual number of polygraph tests and interrogated by a series of government agencies including the FBI”s counterintelligence division, which by some reports remains convinced that Israel was conducting an intelligence operation. The five Israelis worked for a moving company with few discernable assets that closed up shop immediately afterward and whose owner fled to Israel. (link)

A couple of the “art students” held Florida addresses just blocks away from Atta and al-Shehhi. Whether or not they were spying on the pair, the list provided to the CIA on Aug. 23, 2001 indicates Mossad was on the trail of the alleged 9/11 hijackers in advance of Sept. 11.

5) The Mossad”s list may have been what finally prompted the CIA for the first time to place Almidhar and Alhazmi (but not Atta or al-Shehhi) on a general watch-list available to the FBI, in late August 2001. However, Almidhar and Alhazmi were under CIA surveillance no later than January 2000, when CIA asked Malaysian intelligence to spy on a purported al-Qaeda conference in Kuala Lumpur. (The official mythology long ago incorporated this as fact, e.g., see Frontline). The official story holds that “Hamburg Cell” member Ramzi Binalshibh also attended the Kuala Lumpur conference. He traveled from there back to Hamburg, where he supposedly convinced Atta & co. to tackle the operation codenamed “Big Wedding,” i.e. 9/11. (The US government says purported 9/11 co-mastermind Binalshibh has been held in custody at undisclosed locations since Sept. 2002.)

6) Meanwhile, Almidhar and Alhazmi left the Malaysia conference via Thailand on their way to San Diego. There, they were met and helped out financially by Omar al-Bayoumi, a recipient of much largesse from the Saudi state and from the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US. They spent two months living under the roof of long-time FBI informant Abdusattar Shaikh (whose name has been all over the press, although The 9/11 Commission Report pretends it”s still a secret). Another coincidence, according to the official story. Though the CIA identified Almidhar and Alhazmi as al-Qaeda operatives involved previously in the bombing of the USS Cole, it did not place them on the watch-list until Aug 2001. Recently we”ve learned (from Newsweek, 6/20/2005) that a Jan. 2000 CIA directive to place them on the watch-list was intentionally blocked by an unnamed person at the CIA Counterterrorist Center. The current story on that is an operative told George Tenet and others at the CIA she had forwarded the alert as agreed to the FBI, without actually doing so.

7) The official FBI timeline of the alleged hijackers” movements holds that Atta entered the United States for the first time in June 2000. Yet many witnesses have said they dealt with him in the period from April to June 2000 (for one example, consider Johnelle Bryant”s incredible story of Atta”s attempt to get a loan from the Agriculture Department). Daniel Hopsicker uncovered much about Atta”s early months in Florida indicating shady dealings, including many press accounts of witness statements verifying his presence in Florida before June 2000. Now we hear that Able Danger also tagged him as being in the United States months before June 2000. It”s almost as though there were two Attas in the spring of 2000–an urban planning student finishing up the semester in Hamburg, and a party animal with drug connections in Florida.

8) The Kean-Hamilton 9/11 Commission received a briefing on Able Danger in advance of their report”s July 2004 publication. This included the information that Atta & co. were specifically identified, which the ever-affable Commission spokesman Al Felzenberg at first denied and then admitted. (NYT, 8/11/2005) Able Danger was kept out of The 9/11 Commission Report, and the former Commissioners have been forced into a series of damage-control statements. Any credibility they had left is now a dead letter. (Interestingly, the Commission members on Aug. 30 summarily canceled two sessions of their laughable “9/11 Public Discourse Project,” scheduled for Sept. 1 and 12, 2005.)

9) Curt Weldon is a hardline war supporter whose just-published book advocates an immediate attack on Iran. As the initial channel for the Able Danger revelations, he has attempted to give it all an anti-Clinton spin. This in turn is prompting Democrats to back away from the material. In fact, the Able Danger leakers may have approached other politicians before Weldon took up their cause. The facts they have revealed about a military intelligence program allow no simple anti-Clinton or anti-Bush interpretration. Able Danger was originally approved in 1998 by Clinton”s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hugh Shelton, and “unceremoniously axed” in February 2001, at the beginning of the Bush administration. (PA Times Herald, 8/13/2005)

10) The fall 2000 decision to drop the “Brooklyn Cell” lead was made by as-yet unnamed military brass at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, headquarters of Special Operations Command and Central Command. (The base is not far from the contemporaneous haunts of Atta and al-Shehhi.) The commander-in-chief of CENTCOM from July 2000 to July 2003 was Gen. Tommy Franks. The pretext for dropping the lead, that Defense Department lawyers were concerned about the civil liberties implications, is absurd on its face. None of the four men named as the “Brooklyn Cell” by Able Danger had green cards, as Weldon has claimed. And when did any US agency, before 9/11, refuse to pursue a potential terrorism case involving foreigners without green cards named as al-Qaeda operatives because of civil liberties concerns? There must be another reason why Able Danger was called off from its pursuit of the “Brooklyn Cell.”
A Tommy Franks Detour

We”ll detour here briefly to note that after Sept. 11, Gen. Franks oversaw both of the post-9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. This is the same Tommy Franks who raised the prospect of military rule in the United States in his notorious Dec. 2003 interview by Cigar Aficianado. After an oily paean to 200-plus years of constitutional democracy that sounds suspiciously like an obituary, Franks informed cigar consumers about

the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the western world–it may be in the United States of America–that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass-casualty-producing event. Which, in fact, then begins to potentially unravel the fabric of our Constitution.

Of his activities on Sept. 11, Franks told Cigar Aficianado:

Kathy [Mrs. Franks] was with me. And we were headed to Pakistan for a visit with President [Pervez] Musharraf. We had stopped in Souda Bay, Crete, to get gas for the jet. Kathy and I had walked into a small market in this little town, because that”s where one buys the best olives in the world. We went back to this little hotel. I was about to take a nap. There was a rap on the door. And I opened the door and one of my assistants said, “Turn on the television.” I turned on the TV just in time to see the second tower strike. My wife would tell you that the first words out of my mouth were “Osama bin Laden.” That”s the first thing that I said. I got on the telephone, called back, talked to people in my headquarters, raced off to the jet, got back here on the 12th of September, talked to [Secretary of Defense] Don Rumsfeld, and we started planning for operations in Afghanistan.
Article

Yes, someone at his base had blocked the investigation of Atta in 2000, but at least the first words out of his mouth on Sept. 11 were “Osama Bin Laden.” And why was Franks on his way to see the Pakistani president? When did he and Rumsfeld really start planning for operations in Afghanistan? Let us recall that on Sept. 9, 2001 the National Security Council placed on Bush”s desk a worldwide “gameplan to remove al-Qaeda off the face of the earth.” This included a strategy to force the Taliban to hand over Bin Ladin under threat of military invasion. The US military deployments underway to South and Central Asia at the time were consistent with an operation against Afghanistan.

During the first few months of 2001, the US provided $125 million in aid to Afghanistan, while also pursuing covert diplomacy designed to get the Taliban to make peace with the Northern Alliance, stabilize the country, and allow the building of an oil pipeline. When the back-channel talks broke down in May, the negotiators delivered threats that the Taliban faced “a carpet of gold, or a carpet of bombs” by mid-October–exactly when the invasion occurred. As of September 9, all that was missing for a war in Afghanistan was a casus belli that the American people could unequivocally support. (See timeline of US preparations for the Afghanistan invasion prior to September 11.)

Conclusion

To review: German authorities fed the CIA information about the Hamburg cell. Without telling the Germans, the CIA independently observed the Hamburg cell in Germany, at least until Atta and al-Shehhi left for the United States. Once they were in the United States, Able Danger identified Atta and al-Shehhi and was blocked from passing their names to other agencies. The Mossad knew about them, and passed their names to the CIA. The CIA was on the tail of Almidhar and Alhazmi before they came to the US, and spied on them at the Kuala Lumpur conference that supposedly initiated the 9/11 attacks. That pair stayed in San Diego with an FBI informant, but the FBI says it didn”t know. They were only put on the general watch-list in August 2001. On Sept. 11, the FBI immediately knew which flight schools to visit to pick up the trail of Atta & co. Finally, the FBI timeline suggests Atta was in two places at once in the spring of 2000.

No matter where Mohamed Atta went, someone was spying on him. But the official story would have us believe each of these surveillances was an isolated incident, and that the failure to stop 9/11 was due to a series of oddities, coincidences and close calls, with no pattern behind it all except for bureaucratic intransigence.

Now recall the long-known accounts of how FBI officials at the Islamic Radicals Unit prior to Sept. 11 actively obstructed and killed field investigations that could have led to the alleged 9/11 perpetrators. (See links to stories here.) Add in the stories of high-level foreign intelligence warnings from various countries, including specific information that the United States would be attacked using hijacked planes directed against prominent targets. Add the widespread knowledge that 9/11 was imminent among individuals who tried to warn the United States, and the reports of insider trading based on prior knowledge of the 9/11 events.

There is an explanation for these facts that is simpler than the official theory of luck for the hijackers and stupidity in government. The alternative hypothesis holds that a network ensconced within multiple US and allied foreign agencies was aware of the alleged 9/11 plotters” movements, and acted to protect them by blocking information flows and suspending investigations.

The motive may have been to shield a covert operation that was using the men, whether they knew about it or not. (A military spokesperson once said that five of the alleged 9/11 hijackers including Atta shared names with men who trained at US military bases, and in its subsequent denials the Pentagon provided no further clarification on who the trainees might have otherwise been.)

Or else the motive may have been to allow the 9/11 plot to succeed, as a necessary sacrifice to launch “The New American Century.” Or else the motive was to protect the patsies and dupes who would later be blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks, if in fact the entire plot was orchestrated by elements within the US and allied government from the go.

The obvious possibility that the failures were intentional, and that the alleged hijackers were not just lucky but living under a protective veil, has never been raised by official investigations, the 9/11 Commission, or the corporate media. Why not?

(nl)

ARCHIVE

New York Times articles on “Able Danger”
(6 out of 16 search results as of Sep 2)

Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in ”00 (NYT, 8/9/2005)
… In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military”s Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation… The account is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks.

9/11 Commission”s Staff Rejected Report on Early Identification of Chief Hijacker (NYT, 8/11/2005)
… Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission”s chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta…

Officer Says Pentagon Barred Sharing Pre-9/11 Qaeda Data With F.B.I. (NYT, 8/16/2005)
… 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… But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 attacks were still being planned… Colonel Shaffer said he assumed that by speaking out publicly this week about Able Danger, he might effectively be ending his military career and limiting his ability to participate in intelligence work in the government. “I”m proud of my operational record and I love what I do,” he said. “But there comes a time – and I believe the time for me is now — to stand for something, to stand for what is right.”…

Second Officer Says 9/11 Leader Was Named Before Attacks (NYT, 8/23/2005)
… “My story is consistent,” said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon”s Special Operations Command. “Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000.” … Representative Weldon also arranged an interview on Monday with a former employee of a defense contractor who said he had helped create a chart in 2000 for the intelligence program that included Mr. Atta”s photograph and name. The former contractor, James D. Smith, said that Mr. Atta”s name and photograph were obtained through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East…

Senate Panel Plans Hearing Into Reports on Terrorist (NYT, 9/1/2005)
… The committee”s chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that he was scheduling a public hearing on Sept. 14 “to get to the bottom of this” and that the military officers “appear to have credibility.” …

Pentagon Finds More Who Recall Atta Intel (Associated Press in NYT, 9/2/2005)
… Four intelligence officials provided the first extensive briefing for reporters on the outcome of their interviews with people associated with Able Danger and their review of documents… They said they interviewed at least 80 people over a three-week period and found three, besides Philpott and Shaffer, who said they remember seeing a chart that either mentioned Atta by name as an al-Qaida operative or showed his photograph. Four of the five recalled a chart with a pre-9/11 photo of Atta… Downs and the other officials said they could not rule out that the chart recalled by Shaffer, Philpott and three others had been destroyed in compliance with regulations pertaining to intelligence information about people inside the United States. They also did not rule out that the five simply had faulty recollections. …

Other News Reports, Aug 13-Sep 2:

Congressman: Defense Knew 9/11 Hijackers (San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press, 8/9/2005)
The Sept. 11 commission will investigate a claim that U.S. defense intelligence officials identified ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a likely part of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the hijackings but didn”t forward the information to law enforcement… [NOTE: This is bizarre. There is no 9/11 Commission, it was disbanded in July 2004. Or did they get a lifetime appointment?] … Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he was unaware of the intelligence until the latest reports surfaced. But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the 9/11 Commission looked into the matter during its investigation into government missteps leading to the attacks and chose not to include it in the final report. [9/11 Commission co-chair Lee] Hamilton said 9/11 Commission staff members learned of Able Danger during a meeting with military personnel in October 2003 in Afghanistan, but the staff members do not recall learning of a connection between Able Danger and any of the four terrorists Weldon mentioned. …

Reports: 9/11 clue hid in Tampa (St. Petersburg Times, 8/10/2005)
… In fall 2000, the unit recommended SOCom share the information with the FBI, [PA Rep. Curt] Weldon said in an interview Tuesday. But lawyers at either the Pentagon or SOCom determined the men were in the country legally, Weldon said. He said he based his information on intelligence sources. When members of Able Danger made their presentation at command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Weldon said, the legal team “put stickies on the faces of Mohammed Atta on the chart,” to reinforce that he was off-limits. “They said, “You can”t talk to Atta because he”s here on a green card,”” Weldon said. … [Who is this legal team? Who dispatched them? What”s this about a green card? None of the alleged hijackers had green cards.]

Weldon wants answers on Atta (Pennsylvania Times Herald, 8/13/2005)
… The Times Herald broke the Able Danger story in its June 19 edition. The story eluded the national media until early last week. A small group of Defense Intelligence Agency employees ran the Able Danger operation from fall 1999 to February 2001 – just seven months before the terrorist attacks – when the operation was unceremoniously axed, according to a former defense intelligence official familiar with the program. The former official asked not to be identified.
In their efforts to locate terrorists, the operation”s technology analysts used data mining and fusion techniques to search terabyte-sized data sets from open source material – such as travel manifests, bank transactions, hotel records, credit applications – and compared this material with classified information. … By charting the movements and transactions of suspected terrorists, the operation linked Atta to al-Qaida. Between fall 1999 and early 2000, the intelligence team concluded that Atta, and two others, were likely part of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn. … At that point, Able Danger wanted the FBI, assisted by Special Operations Command, to track the group. But to the team”s surprise, SOCOM”s legal counsel shot down the idea. …

US officer says Pentagon prevented al-Qaida reports reaching the FBI (The Guardian, 8/18/2005)
… The commissioners issued a statement last week saying the claim that Mohammed Atta and other plotters had been identified before 2001 was not supported by official documents the commission had requested. They said Atta had not been mentioned in the 2003 briefing on Able Danger in Afghanistan, and the allegation made by the naval officer in 2004, that Atta was attached to an al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn, was incompatible with official records of his movements.
Col Shaffer countered that the commission was never given all the relevant documentation by the Pentagon. “I”m told confidently by the person who moved the material over, that the 9/11 commission received two briefcase-sized containers of documents. I can tell you for a fact that would not be one-twentieth of the information that Able Danger consisted of during the time we spent investigating,” the intelligence officer told Fox News. …

Errors of Commission. The hijacking of the probe into the 9-11 hijackers (Village Voice, 8/23/2005)
… By 1998, Atta was living in a Hamburg apartment (later found to be an Al Qaeda cell) and under surveillance by German intelligence. The Germans were passing along what they knew to the CIA. There are suggestions that Atta may have been known to U.S. intelligence as far back as 1993 and, according to the German press, the CIA itself had other people in the apartment under surveillance… In 2004, the German prosecutor who was in charge of the investigation was scheduled to testify about this Hamburg cell to the 9-11 Commission. But his testimony was unexpectedly canceled. The documents from the investigation are reported to be missing. …
What Weldon and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer are claiming is that the Army Intelligence and Special Operations Command in 1998-1999 launched a secret program, Able Danger, to map out the international Al Qaeda network. One Defense official has said the project was approved by General Henry H. Shelton, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Shelton said recently that he does not remember the project but that “we had lots of initiatives to find out where Al Qaeda was.” …
The 9-11 Commission was established to get to the bottom of the attacks that day. However, it often skipped over key issues:
*Bush and Cheney were interviewed together, in secret, with no record of the meeting.
*Florida senator Bob Graham”s joint congressional inquiry had unearthed the outlines of what may have been a Saudi spy operation linked to Al Qaeda and operating in the U.S. But the commission dismissed Saudi involvement and cleared the royal family.
*The commission never seriously inquired into the activities of Pakistan, whose secret intelligence agency had created the Taliban and subsequently backed Al Qaeda.
*The commission had no time for FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who came up with one tale after another of fishy operations in the FBI translations section, including the mind-boggling information that FBI interpreters were being sent to Guant·namo to translate languages they could not speak.
*The congressional joint inquiry discovered that an FBI informant on the West Coast, unbeknownst to the Bureau, rented an apartment to two hijackers. When Graham tried to interview the landlord, the FBI refused. Later a top FBI official told Graham that the White House had blocked the informant”s testimony. The commission dismissed all this.
*The commission skipped over the scandalous mess at the FAA, suppressing a staff study saying that the agency had ignored numerous warnings issued in the months before the attack. After the election, the commission released parts of this study, leaving some of it classified.
*The commission never seriously inquired into intelligence failures at the Hamburg cell where Atta lived off and on and which was a key center for planning the attacks.
Every day it looks as if the government”s main probe of 9-11 has turned into a political fix.

Three more assert Pentagon knew of 9/11 ringleader (Reuters, September 1, 2005)
… Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told reporters that as part of the review, the Pentagon interviewed 80 people. Downs said that three more people, as well as Phillpott and Shaffer, recalled the existence of an intelligence chart identifying Atta by name. Four of the five recalled a photo of Atta accompanying the chart, Downs said. Pentagon officials declined to identify the three by name, but said they were an analyst with the military”s Special Operations Command, an analyst with the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center and a contractor who supported the center. Downs said all five were considered “credible people.” But officials said an exhaustive search of tens of thousands of documents and electronic files related to Able Danger failed to find the chart or other documents corroborating the identification of Atta. Phillpott has said Atta was identified by Able Danger by January or February of 2000. …

Reactions: The Families & The Commission

Statement of September 11th Advocates Regarding Surveillance of Mohammed Atta (8/10/2005)
… By legislative mandate, Public Law 107-306, November 27, 2002, the 9/11 Independent Commission was charged with providing a full accounting of the 9/11 attacks to the American people. As has been indicated repeatedly since the release of the Commission”s Final Report and via the NY Times article published yesterday, the 9/11 Commission failed to provide said full accounting. As a result, each Commissioner and Staff Member should be held accountable. …

Kean-Hamilton 9/11 Commission Co-Chairs Statement on ABLE DANGER (8/12/2005)
[Passing the buck to Dieter Snell] … On July 12, 2004, as the drafting and editing process for the Report was coming to an end (the Report was released on July 22, and editing continued to occur through July 17), a senior staff member, Dieter Snell, accompanied by another staff member, met with the officer at one of the Commission”s Washington, D.C. offices. A representative of the DOD also attended the interview. …

September 11th Advocates: We would like to thank Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer (8/17/2005)
… It is our fervent wish that any other individuals who have information find the strength and courage, as exhibited by Lt. Colonel Shaffer, to come forward and that in doing so they suffer no consequences but instead are properly rewarded for their patriotism.

Commentaries and Analysis Around the Web

How Bin Laden and Mohamed Atta Escaped Gen. Franks (Mark G. Levey, Daily Kos)
… Tommy Franks, retired U.S. Army four star General, and long-time Texas friend of President George W. Bush, was in command of two of the worst ever counter-terrorism failures of U.S. military intelligence. Under Frank”s command, Army intelligence released Mohamed Atta along with the main 9/11 hijackers from surveillance in 2000. Then, in early 2002, Usama bin Laden slipped past U.S. forces under Franks and escaped into Pakistan. …
Legal Aspects of Data Mining and Able Danger (Jon Holdaway, Intel Dump)
… First, the “law” cited [as a justification for dropping the Able Danger surveillance of Atta and co.] is Executive Order 12333, which defines the Intelligence Community and its authority to conduct operations…. The general rule for EO 12333 is basically, “thou shalt not collect information (that is, spy on) US Persons, except . . .” The “except” portion is critical. There are 13 exceptions under which an intelligence agency can collect information on US Persons. These include for personnel security investigations, for administrative purposes, when the subject gives consent to collect. The two most important categories are for Foreign Intelligence purposes (that is, collecting information on US Persons who are agents of a foreign power) and for Counterintelligence purposes…

Army Intel Unit Exposes Massive FBI 9.11 Cover-Up (Daniel Hopsicker, Mad Cow Morning News)
… 9.11 Commission spokesman Al Felzenberg … cited the fact that the information provided to them by military officers in the unit did not agree with the FBI”s timeline concerning Atta”s arrival in the U.S. Information provided by a military officer from Able Danger did not make it into the final report, “because it was not consistent with what the commission knew about Atta”s whereabouts before the attacks,” … Felzenberg said. … Staff investigators became wary of the officer, Felzenberg stated, after he stated that the military unit had identified Atta as having been in the United States by late 1999 or early 2000. ”The investigators knew this was impossible, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000.” …

The 911 Commission did no independent investigation of their own. Instead they relied entirely on the much criticized and beleaguered FBI… an Agency whose competence has been questioned by prominent individuals across all party lines… An Agency which has never managed to offer a coherent account of such investigative niceties as an accurate chronology of when Atta arrived in the United States, and what he did (and with whom) when he got here. Here”s the big question nobody seems to be ready to ask: Upon what basis did the 9.11 Commission conclude that the FBI”s timeline was correct and that an elite Army Intel unit was mistaken in saying they were tracking Mohamed Atta roaming freely across America during 1999 and 2000? We”d love to hear Felzenberg hem and haw his way around that. So too, we suspect, would relatives of the innocent murdered victims…

Calling unwelcome attention to the massive inaccuracies in the FBI”s timeline was probably not Republican Curt Weldon”s purpose when he brought the story to light… But if his efforts to implicate Clinton Administration officials results in highlighting the FBI”s incomplete and corrupt investigation, we think he get some kind of medal, maybe called the Inadvertent ”Dumb-Ass” Hero Award…
… ABC”s Brian Ross reported: “Johnelle Bryant is the USDA loan officer in Homestead, Florida, who Atta approached in May of 2000, long before al-Qaeda and bin Laden were household words.” Mr. Atta swung by in May, 2000, and Ms. Bryant remembers quite a bit about it. “At first,” she says, “he refused to speak with me,” on the grounds that she was, in his words, “but a female.” “I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me.”
Ms. Bryant says the applicant was asking for $650,000 to start a crop-dusting business. His plan was to buy a six-seater twin-prop and then remove the seats. “He wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.”
Here”s the kicker, or rather, the smoking gun: Before Atta left her office he filled out a loan application. Loan applications are dated, aren”t they? That”s why Johnelle Bryant knows exactly when Atta was in her office. so, without even referencing any of the other numerous indicators of Atta”s presence in the U.S., one thing that can be said with absolute certainty:
The FBI”s timeline, their chronology of events, the essential tool of any homicide investigation, is wrong. And not wrong by accident, either.
Wrong on purpose. Wrong by design.
By the way: don”t try dropping by Bryant”s Homestead office to confirm the details with her, as we did…She”s no longer there.

Cong. Weldon”s Preemptive Strike Against the CIA (Mark G. Levey, Daily Kos)
…Weldon”s widely-publicized campaign of disinformation has spun the story so that blame is laid at the feet of the Clinton Administration for the 9/11 attacks after the CIA and DoD failed to notify the FBI about the presence inside the U.S. of terrorists known to have entered the country in late 1999 and early 2000… 9/11 could have been avoided. The al-Qaeda cells could have been rolled up, if the order had been given by President Bush. Without that order, nobody was going to be arrested. …

Why is the media burying new revelations about 9/11? (Joseph Kay and Barry Grey, World Socialist Web Site)
… What has been said or reported in response to the Able Danger revelations consists largely of evasions and obfuscations. It seems that in the scramble to cover up their past omissions and lies, Bush administration officials and 9/11 commission members have failed to get their story straight. They are tripping over themselves with contradictory statements and inane disclaimers. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared he had no knowledge of Able Danger. “I have no idea,” he said. “I”ve never heard of it until this morning. I understand our folks are trying to look into it.”…

9/11 Revisionism, Revisited: The mystery of ”Able Danger” (Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com)
… The list of “mistakes,” glitches, and tales of staggering incompetence that preceded the worst “intelligence failure” since a certain wooden horse was brought behind the walls of Troy, is getting rather suspiciously long…. It is interesting to note that the Commission staffer who received – and discounted – the “Able Danger” information, Dietrich L. Snell, is the prosecutor who convicted Abdul Hakim Murad in the “Bojinka” terrorist conspiracy case, a 1995 plot to crash airplanes into several U.S. landmark buildings, including the Pentagon and the World Trade Center – a scheme that later morphed into the 9/11 conspiracy. Murad offered to cooperate with investigators in return for a sentence reduction, but prosecutors, led by Snell, turned him down. [Note: Snell now works for Eliot Spitzer in New York!] … In retrospect, it appears as if Atta and his fellow mass murderers had a guardian angel – or rather, a guardian devil – watching over them. At every turn, just when it seemed they would be apprehended, fate – or whomever – intervened, obstructing the normal means of interception and keeping the conspiracy on track. It”s almost as if they traveled in a security bubble, protected by – what? By whom? …

Enabling Danger (Kristen Breitweiser weblog, HuffingtonPost.com, 8/20/2005)
… Additionally, some questions have been raised about the ability of DIA to label or “identify” Atta as an al Qaeda operative as early as 2000. To me, it would seem logical that DIA was able to do so, after all, in 2000 Atta was living in Hamburg, Germany and having regular contacts with other known al Qaeda operatives namely Ramzi Binalshibh, Said Bahaji, Zakariya Essabar, Muhammed Zammar, Mounir Motassadeq, Abdelghani Mzoudi, and Mamoun Darkazanli. We know that the German government had Atta”s cell – the Hamburg cell – under surveillance and we also know that our CIA was conducting parallel surveillance during the same time period. Information surrounding the Hamburg cell and the surveillance is documented throughout the German trials of Mzoudi and Mottasedeq–two of the al Qaeda operatives that were prosecuted for their ties to the 9/11 attacks but eventually released after the United States refused to cooperate with the German courts by sharing intelligence evidence linking the men to the 9/11 plot…

The speed by which our government was able to accumulate such a vast amount of information immediately following the 9/11 attacks (in less than 24 hours) is the most persuasive proof that our government had the hijackers under its surveillance. FBI agents descended upon the very flight schools (out of the thousands of flight schools in our country) that the hijackers attended within two hours of the attacks. They were seen removing files from the flight schools buildings. Furthermore, photos of the hijackers and details about their activities in the final days before the attacks were also immediately presented to the American people. I mean you are talking about an intelligence apparatus that according to official accounts was completely in the dark about the plotting and planning of the 9/11 attacks…
Additionally, when one carefully reads the 9/11 chronology and information provided in the public record, it becomes increasingly clear that the CIA”s repeated failure to share information with the FBI about two of the 9/11 hijackers–al Mihdhar and al Hazmi–was purposeful. There exist at least seven instances between January 2000 and September 11th, 2001, that the CIA withheld vital information from the FBI about these two hijackers who were inside this country training for the attacks. Once, twice, maybe even three times could be considered merely careless oversights. But at least seven documented times? To me, that suggests something else….

The spinning of the smoking guns. More pre-9/11 US intelligence connections to al-Qaeda exposed and spun (Larry Chin, Online Journal)
… The furor over new stories involving alleged 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and US-bin Laden go-between Tarik Hamdi pits spinmasters against other spinmasters–Kean 9/11 Commission supporters versus hawkish Bush-linked 9/11 Commission attackers, neocons versus neoliberals, and intelligence and law enforcement agencies are at each other”s throats again over “intelligence failures.” …
While the spin has dwelled exclusively around “anti-terrorism” and various red herrings, and the supposed frustration over the tracking and arrest of al-Qaeda members, the true evidence trail continues to be purposely ignored. This trail leads directly to high-level US government officials and US intelligence agencies themselves (and US intelligence branches such as Pakistan”s ISI), for their nurturing, guiding and placement of “Islamic terrorist” intelligence assets (including Atta, Hamdi, bin Laden and al-Qaeda), and US complicity in 9/11…

Newly unsealed court papers charge that Tarik A. Hamdi, an Iraqi-born American citizen and a former resident of Herndon, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC, and a hotbed of intelligence-connected groups), and a direct and key American contact for Osama bin Laden, is now a member of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Ankara, Turkey. According to the affadavit from Customs Agent David Kane, and facts confirmed by US authorities (including the FBI), Hamdi supplied a satellite telephone battery to bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan in 1998.
Hamdi, former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistraro, and Pakistani journalist (and ISI “favorite”) Rahimullah Yusufszai were among the few go-betweens with bin Laden who set up interviews with bin Laden for American journalists, such as John Miller (now a Commanding Officer in the Los Angeles Police Department”s Counter-Terrorism Bureau). During this period, Cannistraro, Miller and Yusufszai worked for ABC News. Hamdi also had a working relationship with recently deceased ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, who tapped Hamdi as a Middle East expert more than once.
As noted by Chaim Kupferberg, “Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, provided covert aid to the Afghani mujahadeen in the late 80s, as well as supervised CIA operations with the contras. He was also a point man in the notoriously circumspect investigation at Lockerbie.” …
The relationship Hamdi enjoyed with ABC, Miller, and Cannistraro leads to deeper issues that go to the heart of the 9/11 operation, as detailed by Kupferberg in “The Propaganda Preparation for 9/11″. Kupferberg points out that ” . . . if the bin Laden threat was, pre-9/11, a close-knit propaganda campaign, one would expect to find the same names showing up repeatedly in combination with one another.” Among the short list of “same names” who managed the flow of available information on bin Laden, we find Miller and Cannistraro. … ” . . . it is my contention that al-Qaida and bin Laden are elaborate ”legends” set up to promote a plausibly sophisticated and ferocious enemy to stand against American interests. I am not, however, implying that bin Laden himself is a total fabrication. Rather, it is my contention that confederates, believing themselves to act on behalf of bin Laden, are being set up in a ”false flag operation” to perform operations as their controllers see fit.”

PROJECT “ABLE DANGER”
(Dennis L. Cuddy, NewsWithViews.com, 8/23/2005)

… Christian Elflein and others wrote in the FOCUS article that “U.S. agents followed him (Atta) mainly in the area around Frankfurt am Main and noted that Atta bought large quantities of chemicals for the possible production of explosives….On May 18, 2000 the U.S. Embassy in Berlin gave (Atta) a visa….Strange that the visa application and granting it happened in the period when the (CIA) was still observing the suspicious buying of chemicals by the person (Atta) concerned….Someone from the (German) intelligence service (told) FOCUS: ”We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the USA.”…German security experts are still stunned about the speed with which the FBI could present the conspirative ties of Atta and his presumed Hamburg accomplices. ”As (if all it needed was) a push on a button,” an insider says, ”As if the Americans for a long time already had loads of info on their computers about the culprits.””
At this point, it is worth mentioning that Yossef Bodansky (director of the U.S. House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare) in TARGET AMERICA: TERRORISM IN THE U.S. TODAY (1993) referred to a large Islamist network spanning the U.S. including “all the components of a mature terrorist support system (with) safe houses in major cities, weapons, ammunition, money, systems to provide medical and legal aid, false identity papers, and intelligence for the operative.” The point in including this here is to ask how Bodansky would know about all this unless the terrorist network were already being monitored by the federal government? …

Weldon Says Records Were Ordered Destroyed (Dom Giordano Show, Philadelphia, 8/29/2005)
… Congressman Curt Weldon (R – Pennsylvania) gave another exclusive interview to Dom Giordano this evening (Monday) and broke the news that he will be giving a speech on September 8th (next Monday) during which he will present yet another ”Able Danger” witness. This new witness will attest (and will swear under oath when called) that he was “ordered to destroy records” relating to the ”Able Danger” program.

Late December 1998: Data Mining Program Authorized to Go after Bin Laden Edit event
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton will later say, “Right after I left SOCOM (Special Operations Command), I asked my successor to put together a small team, if he could, to try to use the Internet and start trying to see if there was any way that we could track down Osama bin Laden or where he was getting his money from or anything of that nature.” A team of six intelligence officers will be given this task and Shelton will be periodically briefed on the progress of the program. But apparently the team, later to be called Able Danger, will focus on data mining tasks relating to Bosnia and China for most of 1999. [SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/7/2005; US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006] Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the head of the military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM), helped come up with the idea for Able Danger and helps to set it up. SOCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for America’s secret commando units. [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] Mark Zaid, a lawyer for several Able Danger whistleblowers in 2005, will give this description of Able Danger: “In the most understandable and simplistic terms, Able Danger involved the searching out and compiling of open source or other publicly available information regarding specific targets or tasks that were connected through associational links. No classified information was used. No government database systems were used.… The search and compilation efforts were primarily handled by defense contractors, who did not necessarily know they were working for Able Danger, and that information was then to be utilized by the military members of Able Danger for whatever appropriate purposes.” [US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] Apparently, Able Danger does not begin to use real data to fight al-Qaeda until near the end of 1999.

Entity Tags: Peter J. Schoomaker, Special Operations Command, Mark Zaid, Henry H. Shelton, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

AddThis
Mid-1999-November 1999: Data Mining Study Causes Controversy by Connecting Prominent US Figures to Chinese Military Weapons Purchases Edit event
Hua Di.

Hua Di. [Source: Stanford University]
A report commissioned in mid-1999 by Rep. Curt Weldon (R) looks into possible Chinese front companies in the US seeking technology for the Chinese military. Dr. Eileen Preisser and Michael Maloof are commissioned to make the report. Dr. Preisser, who runs the Information Dominance Center at the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) and will later become closely tied to Able Danger, uses LIWA’s data mining capabilities to search unclassified information. According to Maloof, their results show Chinese front companies in the US posing as US corporations that acquire technology from US defense contractors. When the study is completed in November 1999, the General Counsel’s office in the Office of the Defense Secretary orders the study destroyed. Weldon complains about this to Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, and apparently delays the destruction of the report. Weldon also writes a letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting an espionage investigation into these Chinese links, but Freeh never responds to this. [Washington Times, 10/9/2005] As part of this report, LIWA analysts had produced a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the US. But this data mining effort runs into controversy when the chart apparently shows connections between future National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent US figures, and business deals benefiting the Chinese military. [New York Post, 8/27/2005; Washington Times, 9/22/2005] The China chart was put together by private contractor James D. Smith, who will come forward in August 2005 to corroborate revelations about the Able Danger unit and its findings (see August 22-September 1, 2005). The New York Post later says there is “no suggestion that Rice or any of the others had done anything wrong.” [New York Post, 8/27/2005] However, articles first appear one month later and through 2001 in the conservative publications WorldNetDaily and NewsMax, which connect Perry and Rice to Hua Di, a Chinese missile scientist and possible spy, and question the nature of their relationship with him. [WorldNetDaily, 12/21/1999; WorldNetDaily, 4/5/2000; NewsMax, 1/24/2001] Di defected to the US in 1989 and worked most of the 1990s at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, which was co-directed by Perry. Di later returned to China and is subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison for writing influential articles said to reveal vital Chinese state secrets. [Stanford Report, 2/7/2001] However, other accounts claim that he was in fact passing on disinformation through these articles, successfully misleading the US military for a couple of years about the abilities of certain Chinese missile programs. [WorldNetDaily, 12/21/1999] Additionally, Hua Di teamed in 1994 with Stanford professor Dr. John Lewis and William Perry to buy an advanced AT&T fiber-optic communications system for “civilian” use inside China that instead is used by the Chinese army. The General Accounting Office later criticized the sale. In 1997, Stanford University investigated Dr. Lewis for his role in it, but Condoleezza Rice, serving as a Stanford provost at the time, apparently stopped the investigation. [WorldNetDaily, 4/5/2000; NewsMax, 1/24/2001] Able Danger and LIWA’s data mining efforts will be severely proscribed in April 2000 as part of the fallout from this China controversy (see April 2000), and the destruction of their collected data will follow shortly thereafter (see May-June 2000).
Entity Tags: William Perry, James D. Smith, Eric Shinseki, Condoleezza Rice, China, F. Michael Maloof, Louis J. Freeh, Eileen Preisser, Curt Weldon, Hua Di, Land Information Warfare Activity

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

Fall 1999: Army Intelligence Program Begins Gathering Information on Al-Qaeda Edit event
Gen. Pete Schoomaker.

Gen. Pete Schoomaker. [Source: US Defense Department]
A data mining program called Able Danger was set up by US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in late 1998. It had been collecting data mostly on Bosnia and China (see Late December 1998). But at this time, it begins collecting data on al-Qaeda. [Government Security News, 9/2005] At least some of the data is collected on behalf of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert, the J3 at US Special Operations Command. [US Congress. Senate. Committee on Judiciary, 9/21/2005] Eleven intelligence employees are directly involved in Able Danger’s work. Six are with SOCOM’s Able Danger unit. Four more, including Dr. Eileen Preisser and Maj. Eric Kleinsmith, are with the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), which joins the effort in December 1999. LIWA had been conducing data mining already on a wide variety of topics, including international drug cartels, corruption in Russia and Serbia, terrorist linkages in the Far East, and the proliferation of sensitive military technology to China (see April 2000). [Norristown Times Herald, 6/19/2005; Government Security News, 8/2005; New York Times, 8/9/2005; St. Petersburg Times, 8/10/2005; Bergen Record, 8/14/2005; Government Security News, 9/2005; US Congress, 9/21/2005; US Congress. Senate. Committee on Judiciary, 9/21/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, running a military unit called Stratus Ivy in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), will also take part in the effort. According to Shaffer, Stratus Ivy is tasked “to take on ‘out of the box’ ideas, and develop them into real intelligence operations.” So the goal is to use the information gathered by Able Danger to conduct real operations against al-Qaeda targets. [US Congress, 2/15/2006] Using computers, the unit collects huge amounts of data in a technique called “data mining.” They get information from such sources as al-Qaeda Internet chat rooms, news accounts, web sites, and financial records. Using sophisticated software, they compare this with government records such as visa applications by foreign tourists, to find any correlations and depict these visually. [Bergen Record, 8/14/2005; Government Security News, 9/2005] The program will be shut down early in 2001 (see January-March 2001).
Entity Tags: Geoffrey Lambert, Anthony Shaffer, Eric Kleinsmith, Russia, Special Operations Command, Hugh Shelton, Al-Qaeda, Curt Weldon, Peter J. Schoomaker, Bosnia, China, Able Danger, Eileen Preisser

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

October 1999: CIA Does Not Share Information with Able Danger Program Edit event
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer. [Source: Sandy Schaeffer]
Capt. Scott Phillpott, head of the Able Danger program, asks Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer to talk to a representative of CIA Director George Tenet and attempt to convince him that the new Able Danger program is not competing with the CIA. Shaffer later recalls the CIA representative replying, “I clearly understand the difference. I clearly understand. We’re going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is, CIA will never give you the best information from ‘Alex Base’ [the CIA’s covert action element targeting bin Laden] or anywhere else. CIA will never provide that to you because if you were successful in your effort to target al-Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, we will not support this.” Shaffer claims that for the duration of Able Danger’s existence, “To my knowledge, and my other colleagues’ knowledge, there was no information ever released to us because CIA chose not to participate in Able Danger.” [Government Security News, 9/2005]
Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Scott Phillpott, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

November 4, 1999: CIA Rejects Proposal for Center to Share Data on Terrorist Threats Edit event
Rep. Curt Weldon later claims that while he never learns about Able Danger prior to 9/11, he does become aware of the Land Information Warfare Activity’s (LIWA) similar data mining efforts in 1999 and is very impressed. He says that on this day, he is part of a meeting with the deputy directors of the FBI and the CIA and others. Using LIWA as a model, Weldon proposes a national collaborative center that would use open source data as well as classified information from 33 government agencies “to basically assess emerging transnational terrorists threats. The CIA, two years before 9/11, said, we don’t need that. We’ve put language in three successive defense bills, in spite of that, calling for a national collaborative capability. Prior to 9/11, we didn’t have that capability, and we were hit.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Land Information Warfare Activity, Curt Weldon

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

December 1999: Able Danger Immediately Determines Al-Qaeda Has ‘Surprising Presence in US’ Edit event
The new Able Danger team begins collecting data on al-Qaeda. The aim is to gain intelligence that will allow Special Operations forces to conduct strikes against al-Qaeda around the world. Erik Kleinsmith will later claim that he is visited by Special Operations officials and he gives them a demonstration of what the data mining techniques they’ve developed can do. He claims that within 90 minutes, his analysts finds evidence that al-Qaeda has a “worldwide footprint” including “a surprising presence in the US. That’s when we started losing sleep.” [NATIONAL JOURNAL, 12/3/2005] Using computers, the unit collects huge amounts of data in a technique called “data mining.” They get information from such sources as al-Qaeda Internet chat rooms, news accounts, web sites, and financial records. Using sophisticated software, they compare this with government records such as visa applications by foreign tourists, to find any correlations and depict these visually. [BERGEN RECORD, 8/14/2005; GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] The data harvest is far too huge to be useful, so the analysts try to pare it down by looking at links between known terrorists and finding who they associate with. By the spring of 2000, they are able to isolate about 20 people whom Special Operations wants further analysis. The Able Danger team creates massive charts, measuring up to 20 feet in length and covered in small type, to show all the links between suspects that have been discovered. [NATIONAL JOURNAL, 12/3/2005]

Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Able Danger, Special Operations Command, Eric Kleinsmith

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

2000-2001: Atta and Alshehhi Attend Florida Mosque Edit event
Former Brooklyn imam Gulshair Shukrijumah.
Former Brooklyn imam Gulshair Shukrijumah. [Source: lifeinlegacy.com]
The Congressional Joint Inquiry will later find that several of the hijackers, including Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, attend mosques in the US and that at least one of the mosques is in Florida. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 169 pdf file] The Florida mosque attended by Atta and Alshehhi may be the Al Hijrah mosque run by Gulshair Shukrijumah in Miramar, Broward Country, Florida. Mohamed Atta and several other hijackers live near the mosque (see April 11, 2001) and train at nearby Opa-Locka airport (see December 29-31, 2000). After 9/11, the FBI will visit the mosque and ask Shukrijumah and his wife if they recognize the hijackers and if their son, Adnan, knew Atta or had mentioned trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan. [MIAMI NEW TIMES, 4/3/2003; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/3/2006] Atta was seen with Adnan Shukrijumah, a suspected al-Qaeda operative, in 2001 (see May 2, 2001). His father previously served as an imam at the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn. In addition to working as a translator for Sheikh Abdul-Rahman, he also testified as a character witness at the WTC bombing trial for one of the defendants, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, who attended Al Farouq. [FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE, 10/27/2003; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/3/2006] Gulshair Shukrijumah is receiving money from the Saudi embassy in Washington at this time. [NEWSWEEK, 4/7/2003] The army’s Able Danger data mining program identifies Atta as a member of an al-Qaeda cell centered on Brooklyn. Exactly how it does this is never disclosed, although Atta’s apparent association with Gulshair and Adnan Shukrijumah is one possibile explanation (see January-February 2000).

Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Adnan Shukrijumah, Marwan Alshehhi, Gulshair Shukrijumah

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta

January-May 2000: CIA Has Atta Under Surveillance in Germany Edit event
Hijacker Mohamed Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 9/22/2001; FOCUS (MUNCHEN), 9/24/2001; BERLINER ZEITUNG (BERLIN), 9/24/2001] He is “reportedly observed buying large quantities of chemicals in Frankfurt, apparently for the production of explosives [and/or] for biological warfare.” “The US agents reported to have trailed Atta are said to have failed to inform the German authorities about their investigation,” even as the Germans are investigating many of his associates. “The disclosure that Atta was being trailed by police long before 11 September raises the question why the attacks could not have been prevented with the man’s arrest.” [OBSERVER, 9/30/2001] A German newspaper adds that Atta is able to get a visa into the US on May 18. According to some reports, the surveillance stops when he leaves for the US at the start of June. However, “experts believe that the suspect [remains] under surveillance in the United States.” [BERLINER ZEITUNG (BERLIN), 9/24/2001] A German intelligence official also states, “We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the US.” [FOCUS (MUNCHEN), 9/24/2001] This correlates with a Newsweek claim that US officials knew Atta was a “known [associate] of Islamic terrorists well before [9/11].” [NEWSWEEK, 9/20/2001] However, a congressional inquiry later reports that the US “intelligence community possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information linking 16 of the 19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or terrorist groups.” [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] In 2005, after accounts of the Able Danger program learning Atta’s name become news, newspaper accounts will neglect to mention this prior report about Atta being known by US intelligence. For instance, the New York Times will report, “The account [about Able Danger] is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks”(see August 9, 2005) . [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Warning Signs, Mohamed Atta, Al-Qaeda in Germany, Able Danger, Key Hijacker Events, Key Warnings

January-February 2000: Secret Military Unit Identifies Al-Qaeda ‘Brooklyn’ Cell; Mohamed Atta Is Member Edit event
A blurry photograph of a 2005 reconstruction of the pre-9/11 Able Danger chart showing Mohamed Atta and others.

A blurry photograph of a 2005 reconstruction of the pre-9/11 Able Danger chart showing Mohamed Atta and others. [Source: C-SPAN]
A US Army intelligence program called Able Danger identifies five al-Qaeda terrorist cells; one of them has connections to Brooklyn, New York and will become informally known as the “Brooklyn” cell by the Able Danger team. This cell includes 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, and three other 9/11 hijackers: Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi. According to a former intelligence officer who claims he worked closely with Able Danger, the link to Brooklyn is not based upon any firm evidence, but computer analysis that established patterns in links between the four men. “[T]he software put them all together in Brooklyn.” [New York Times, 8/9/2005; Washington Times, 8/22/2005; Fox News, 8/23/2005; Government Security News, 9/2005] However, that does not necessarily imply them being physically present in Brooklyn. A lawyer later representing members of Able Danger states, “At no time did Able Danger identify Mohamed Atta as being physically present in the United States.” Furthermore, “No information obtained at the time would have led anyone to believe criminal activity had taken place or that any specific terrorist activities were being planned.” [CNN, 9/21/2005; US Congress, 9/21/2005] James D. Smith, a contractor working with the unit, discovers Mohamed Atta’s link to al-Qaeda. [WTOP Radio 103.5 (Washington), 9/1/2005] Smith has been using advanced computer software and analysing individuals who are going between mosques. He has made a link between Mohamed Atta and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, ringleader of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. [Fox News, 8/28/2005; Government Security News, 9/2005] Atta is said to have some unspecified connection to the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, a hotbed of anti-American sentiment once frequented by Abdul-Rahman, which also contained the notorious Al-Kifah Refugee Center. [Times Herald (Norristown), 9/22/2005] Smith obtained Atta’s name and photograph through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. [New York Times, 8/22/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer claims the photo is not the well-known menacing Florida driver’s license photo of Atta. “This is an older, more grainy photo we had of him. It was not the best picture in the world.” It is said to contain several names or aliases for Atta underneath it. [Jerry Doyle Show, 9/20/2005; Chicago Tribune, 9/28/2005] LIWA analysts supporting Able Danger make a chart, which Shaffer describes in a radio interview as, “A chart probably about a 2×3 which had essentially five clusters around the center point which was bin Laden and his leadership.” [Savage Nation, 9/16/2005] The 9/11 Commission later claims that Atta only enters the United States for the first time several months later, in June 2000 (see June 3, 2000). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 224] However, investigations in the months after 9/11 find that Mohamed Atta and another of the hijackers rented rooms in Brooklyn around this time (see Spring 2000). Other newspaper accounts have the CIA monitoring Atta starting in January 2000, while he is living in Germany (see January-May 2000). Atta, Alshehhi, Almihdhar, Alhazmi and other hijackers have connections to associates of Sheikh Abdul-Rahman (see Early 2000-September 10, 2001).
Entity Tags: Al-Kifah Refugee Center, El Farouq, Al-Qaeda, Khalid Almihdhar, Mohamed Atta, Nawaf Alhazmi, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Al Farouq Mosque, Able Danger, Marwan Alshehhi

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Key Hijacker Events, Key Warnings, Warning Signs, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Able Danger, Al-Kifah/MAK

Spring 2000: Atta and Alshehhi Rent Rooms in Brooklyn and the Bronx Edit event
Mohamed Atta and another of the 9/11 hijackers (presumably Marwan Alshehhi) rent rooms in New York City, according to a federal investigator. These rooms are in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Following 9/11, Atta is traced back to Brooklyn by a parking ticket issued to a rental car he was driving. However, immigration records have Mohamed Atta entering the US for the first time on June 3, 2000 (see June 3, 2000). The Associated Press article on this subject does not specify if Atta first stayed in New York before or after that date. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/8/2001] According to a brief mention in the 9/11 Commission’s final report, in the month of June, “As [Atta and Marwan Alshehhi] looked at flight schools on the East Coast, [they] stayed in a series of short-term rentals in New York City.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 224; WASHINGTON POST, 8/13/2005] Earlier in 2000, a US Army intelligence program called Able Danger identified an al-Qaeda terrorist cell based in Brooklyn, of which Atta is a member (see January-February 2000). Also, a number of eyewitnesses later report seeing Atta in Maine and Florida before this official arrival date (see April 2000; Late April-Mid-May 2000).

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Al-Qaeda

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi

March-April 2000: Able Danger Data Confiscated by Federal Agents Edit event
James D. Smith.

James D. Smith. [Source: Getty Images/ Alex Wong]
James D. Smith is working for the private company Orion Scientific Systems on a contract that assists the Able Danger project. Smith will later claim that around March or April 2000, armed federal agents come into Orion and confiscate much of the data that Orion had compiled for Able Danger. Orion’s contract stops at this time and Smith has no further involvement with Able Danger. However, Smith happens to have some unclassified charts made for Able Danger in the trunk of his car when the agents raid his office. The chart with Mohamed Atta’s picture on it will thus survive and be remembered well by Smith, though it will be destroyed in the summer of 2004 (see August 22-September 1, 2005). Smith will later state, “All information that we have ever produced, which was all unclassified, was confiscated and to this day we don’t know who by.” [US Congress, 9/21/2005; US Congress, 2/15/2006]
Entity Tags: Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, James D. Smith, Orion Scientific Systems

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

April 2000: LIWA Support For Able Danger Program Ends; It Later Restarts Edit event
Four analysts from the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) unit are forced to stop their work supporting the Able Danger program. At the same time, private contractors working for Able Danger are fired. This occurs around the time that it becomes known by some inside the military that LIWA had identified future National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent Americans as potential security risks (see April 2000). It was apparently these LIWA analysts (such as Dr. Eileen Preisser) and contractors (such as James D. Smith) who conducted most of the data mining and analysis of al-Qaeda in the preceding months. One of the four LIWA analysts, Maj. Erik Kleinsmith, will later be ordered to destroy all the data collected (see May-June 2000). LIWA’s support for Able Danger will resume a few months later (see Late September 2000). [NEW YORK POST, 8/27/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005; WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/22/2005]

Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Able Danger, Eileen Preisser, James D. Smith, Land Information Warfare Activity, William Perry

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

April 2000: LIWA and Able Danger Face Trouble After LIWA Connects Prominent US Figures to Chinese Military Edit event
A 1999 study by the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) to look into possible Chinese front companies in the US seeking technology for the Chinese military created controversy and was ordered destroyed in November 1999 (see Mid-1999-November 1999). However, apparently Rep. Curt Weldon (R) protests, and the issue finally comes to a head during this month. One result of this controversy will be what Maj. Erik Kleinsmith will later call “severely restricted” support for Able Danger, including a temporary end to LIWA support (see April 2000) In an April 14, 2000 memorandum from the legal counsel in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Capt. Michael Lohr writes that the concern over the LIWA data mining study raises privacy concerns: “Preliminary review of subject methodology raised the possibility that LIWA ‘data mining’ would potentially access both foreign intelligence (FI) information and domestic information relating to US citizens (i.e. law enforcement, tax, customs, immigration, etc…… I recognize that an argument can be made that LIWA is not ‘collecting’ in the strict sense (i.e. they are accessing public areas of the Internet and non-FI federal government databases of already lawfully collected information). This effort would, however, have the potential to pull together into a single database a wealth of privacy-protected US citizen information in a more sweeping and exhaustive manner than was previously contemplated.” Additionally, the content of the study is another reason why it caused what Weldon calls a “wave of controversy.” The study had connected future National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent US citizens to business transactions with Chinese military officials.(see Mid-1999-November 1999). [NEW YORK POST, 8/27/2005; OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON, 9/17/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005; WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/22/2005; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/9/2005] One article on the subject will comment, “Sources familiar with Able Danger say the project was shut down because it could have led to the exposure of a separate secret data mining project focusing on US citizens allegedly transferring super-sensitive US technology illegally to the Chinese government.” [WTOP RADIO 103.5 (WASHINGTON), 9/1/2005] A massive destruction of data from Able Danger and LIWA’s data mining efforts will follow, one month later (see May-June 2000).

Entity Tags: William Perry, Land Information Warfare Activity, Able Danger, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Lohr, Curt Weldon

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

May-June 2000: Army Officer Told to Destroy Able Danger Documents Edit event
Erik Kleinsmith.
Erik Kleinsmith. [Source: C-SPAN]
Maj. Eric Kleinsmith, chief of intelligence for the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) unit, is ordered to destroy data and documents related to a military intelligence program set up to gather information about al-Qaeda. The program, called Able Danger, has identified Mohamed Atta and three other future hijackers as potential threats (see January-February 2000). According to Kleinsmith, by April 2000 it has collected “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.”(see January-February 2000) [FOX NEWS, 9/21/2005; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/22/2005] The data is being collected on behalf of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert, the J3 at US Special Operations Command, who is said to be extremely upset when he learns that the data had been destroyed without his knowledge or consent. [US CONGRESS. SENATE. COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, 9/21/2005] Around this time, a separate LIWA effort showing links between prominent US citizens and the Chinese military has been causing controversy, and apparently this data faces destruction as well (see April 2000). The data and documents have to be destroyed in accordance with Army regulations prohibiting the retention of data about US persons for longer than 90 days, unless it falls under one of several restrictive categories. However, during a Senate Judiciary Committee public hearing in September 2005, a Defense Department representative admits that Mohamed Atta was not considered a US person. The representative also acknowledges that regulations would have probably allowed the Able Danger information to be shared with law enforcement agencies before its destruction. Asked why this was not done, he responds, “I can’t tell you.” [CNET NEWS, 9/21/2005] The order to destroy the data and documents is given to Kleinsmith by Army Intelligence and Security Command General Counsel Tony Gentry, who jokingly tells him, “Remember to delete the data—or you’ll go to jail.” [GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE, 9/21/2005] The quantity of information destroyed is later described as “2.5 terabytes,” about as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/16/2005] Other records associated with the unit are allegedly destroyed in March 2001 and spring 2004 (see Spring 2004). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/21/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005; FOX NEWS, 9/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Eric Kleinsmith, Al-Qaeda, Land Information Warfare Activity, Mohamed Atta, Tony Gentry, Geoffrey Lambert

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

May 2000-Late September 2000: Defense Agency Analyst Assembles Unheeded Attack Warning; Able Danger Information May Be One Source Edit event
Kie Fallis, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) terrorism intelligence analyst, has been gathering evidence of an upcoming al-Qaeda attack or attacks. In 2002, he will describe to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry a research process similar to what Able Danger is using at the same time: “I began to notice there was a voluminous amount of information, as others have testified, regarding al-Qaeda. Most of it appeared to be unrelated to other pieces of information. It appeared to be almost chat. By using a piece of [commercial software called ‘Analyst’s Notebook’] I was able to put these small snippets of information into, and graphically represent them as well, I was able to, over a course of many months, to determine certain linkages between these items—linkages that would never be apparent without the use of this tool. It would be lost in the weeds. And there were a lot of weeds to look through.” [WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/26/2002; US CONGRESS, 10/8/2002] In his research, he claims to find links between al-Qaeda and Iranian intelligence. By May 2000, he writes a classified report on his conclusion that “terrorists were planning two or three major attacks against the United States. The only gaps were where and when.” Apparently, he envisions at least one of these attacks will use a small boat to blow up a US warship. However, the DIA has already issued a report concluding that such a method of attack would be impossible to carry out successfully, and the agency sticks by this assessment. A video message put out by bin Laden in mid-September convinces Fallis that an al-Qaeda attack will happen in the next month or two.(see Mid-September 2000). Shortly after learning about this message, Fallis reaches “the ‘eureka point’… in determining an impending terrorist attack.” This comes “from a still-classified intelligence report in September 2000, which he will not discuss.” [WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/26/2002] This may be a reference to a lead by the Able Danger team on increased al-Qaeda activity in Yemen at this time (see Late September 2000), and/or it may refer to other intelligence leads. Fallis goes to his supervisor and asks that at least a general warning of an attack in the Middle East be issued. He hopes such a warning will at least put US military forces in the region on a higher alert. His superior turns him down, and other superiors fail to even learn of his suggested warning. The USS Cole will be successfully attacked in the port of Aden, Yemen, by a small boat of terrorists on October 12, 2000 (see October 12, 2000) . [WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/26/2002] One day after the Cole attack, Fallis will resign in protest. According to Sen. John Warner (R),“What [Fallis] felt is that his assessment was not given that proper level of consideration by his superiors and, as such, was not incorporated in the final intelligence reports provided to military commanders in the [Middle East region].” [CNN, 10/25/2000]

Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Able Danger, Iran, Osama bin Laden, Kie Fallis, John W. Warner

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Able Danger

(Before September 2000): Army Intelligence Unit Said to Discover Hijackers Renting Rooms at New Jersey Motels Edit event
According to an anonymous Able Danger official speaking to the Bergen Record, a US Army intelligence unit tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks worldwide discovers that several of the 9/11 hijackers are taking rooms at motels in New Jersey and meeting together there. The intelligence unit, called Able Danger, which uses high-speed computers to analyze vast amounts of data, notices that Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi take a room at the Wayne Inn (see (Before September 2000-12 Months Later)). After the existence of the Able Danger unit comes to light in 2005, Bergen Record columnist and reporter Mike Kelly says, “The connect-the-dots tracking by the team was so good that it even knew Atta conducted meetings with the three future hijackers. One of those meetings took place at the Wayne Inn. That’s how close all this was—to us and to being solved, if only the information had been passed up the line to FBI agents or even to local cops. This new piece of 9/11 history, revealed only last week by a Pennsylvania congressman and confirmed by two former members of the intelligence team, could turn out to be one of the most explosive revelations since the publication last summer of the 9/11 commission report.” [BERGEN RECORD, 8/14/2005] The other two hijackers said to be present at the meetings, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, periodically live in the town of Paterson, only one mile away from Wayne (see March 2001-September 1, 2001). However, contradicting this account, a lawyer representing members of Able Danger later testifies, “At no time did Able Danger identify Mohamed Atta as being physically present in the United States.” [CNN, 9/21/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] Some media accounts have stated that the Able Danger program determined Atta was in the US before 9/11. For instance, Fox News reported in August 2005, “[Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer] is standing by his claim that he told them that the lead hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks had been identified in the summer of 2000 as an al-Qaeda operative living in the United States.” [FOX NEWS, 8/17/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Khalid Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Key Hijacker Events

(Before September 2000-12 Months Later): Mohamed Atta Has Long Term Stay in Wayne, New Jersey; Other Hijackers Seen There Edit event
In 2003, New Jersey state police officials say Mohamed Atta lived in the Wayne Inn, in Wayne, New Jersey, for an unspecified 12-month period prior to 9/11. He lives with one other hijacker who is presumably his usual partner Marwan Alshehhi (Alshehhi is seen eating in nearby restaurants with Atta). [BERGEN RECORD, 6/20/2003] In 2004, an unnamed whistleblower involved in the Able Danger program will claim that prior to 9/11, Able Danger discovered that Atta and Alshehhi were renting a room at the Wayne Inn, and occasionally meeting with Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar at the inn or near it (see (Before September 2000)). From March 2001 onwards, other hijackers, including Alhazmi and Almihdhar, live in Paterson, New Jersey, only one mile away from Wayne (see March 2001-September 1, 2001). Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi rent mailboxes in Wayne at some unknown point before 9/11. Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour rent cars from a Wayne car dealership between June and August 2001. There is also evidence Nawaf Alhazmi and Marwan Alshehhi shop in Wayne. [CNN, 9/26/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/27/2001] The 9/11 Commission does not mention any hijacker connection to Wayne. This long-term stay in Wayne is surprising because Atta and Alshehhi have generally been placed in Florida most of the time from July 2000 until shortly before 9/11. However, this discrepancy may be explained by one account which states Atta had “two places he lived and 10 safe houses” in the US (see Mid-September 2001).

Entity Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Alhazmi and Almihdhar

September 2000: Military Lawyers Prevent Able Danger From Sharing Information about Atta and Others with FBI Edit event
On three occasions, military lawyers force members of Able Danger to cancel scheduled meetings with the FBI at the last minute. Able Danger officials want to share information about the Brooklyn al-Qaeda cell they believe they’ve discovered which includes Mohamed Atta and other hijackers (see January-February 2000). The exact timing of these meetings remains unclear, but they appear to happen around the time military lawyers tell Able Danger they are not allowed to pursue Mohamed Atta and other figures (see September 2000) . [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] In 2005, it will be reported that Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer contacted FBI agent Xanthig Magnum in attempts to set up these meetings. Magnum is willing to testify about her communications with Shaffer, but apparently she has not yet been able to do so. [FOX NEWS, 8/28/2005] Shaffer will later elaborate that the meetings were set up around early summer. Col. Worthington, then head of Able Danger, is one of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) officials scheduled to meet with FBI Counterterrorism agents. Shaffer ater claims the meetings were cancelled because “SOCOM lawyers would not permit the sharing of the US person information regarding terrorists located domestically due to ‘fear of potential blowback’ should the FBI do something with the information and something should go wrong. The lawyers were worried about another ‘Waco’ situation. The critical counterterrorism information is never passed from SOCOM to the FBI before 9-11; this information did include the original data regarding Atta and the terrorist cells in New York and the DC area.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006] Rep. Curt Weldon (R), who in 2005 helps bring to light the existence of the program, says, “Obviously, if we had taken out that cell, 9/11 would not have occurred and, certainly, taking out those three principal players in that cell would have severely crippled, if not totally stopped, the operation that killed 3,000 people in America.” [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 8/2005]

Entity Tags: Xanthig Magnum, Special Operations Command, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Anthony Shaffer, Curt Weldon, Able Danger, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

September 2000: Chart with Hijacker Atta’s Photo Presented by Able Danger at SOCOM Headquarters; Meetings with FBI Cancelled Edit event
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert. [Source: Special Forces Command]
Members of a US Army intelligence unit tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda have prepared a chart that includes the names and photographs of four future hijackers, who they have identified as members of an al-Qaeda cell based in Brooklyn, New York. The four hijackers in the cell are Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi. The members of the intelligence unit, called Able Danger, present their chart at the headquarters of the US military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, Florida, with the recommendation that the FBI should be called in to take out the al-Qaeda cell. Lawyers working for SOCOM argue that anyone with a green card has to be granted the same legal protections as any US citizen, so the information about the al-Qaeda cell cannot be shared with the FBI. The legal team directs them to put yellow stickers over the photographs of Mohamed Atta and the other cell members, to symbolize that they are off limits. [Norristown Times Herald, 6/19/2005; Government Security News, 8/2005; New York Times, 8/9/2005; St. Petersburg Times, 8/10/2005; New York Times, 8/17/2005; Government Security News, 9/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer later says that an unnamed two-star general above him is “very adamant” about not looking further at Atta. “I was directed several times [to ignore Atta], to the point where he had to remind me he was a general and I was not… [and] I would essentially be fired.” [Fox News, 8/19/2005] Military leaders at the meeting take the side of the lawyers and prohibit any sharing of information about the al-Qaeda cell. Shaffer believes that the decision to side with the lawyers is made by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert (who had previously expressed distress when Able Danger data was destroyed without his prior notification (see May-June 2000)). He also believes that Gen. Peter Schoomaker, head of SOCOM, is not aware of the decision. [Government Security News, 9/2005]
Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Special Operations Command, Marwan Alshehhi, Al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Peter J. Schoomaker, Khalid Almihdhar, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, Geoffrey Lambert

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, Key Hijacker Events

Mid-September 2000: Bin Laden Message Gives Hint of Upcoming USS Cole Attack Edit event
A videotape message featuring bin Laden calling for more attacks on the US is aired on Al Jazeera. The video ends with al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri saying, “Enough of words, it is time to take action against this iniquitous and faithless force [the United States], which has spread troops through Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.” [CNN, 10/20/2000; WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/26/2002] Further, bin Laden is wearing a distinctive, curved Yemeni dagger. Lawrence Wright will later mention in the book The Looming Tower that this was a “teasing clue” similar to other clues he had left before other attacks. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 318] DIA analyst Kie Fallis later recalls, “Every time he put out one of these videotapes, it was a signal that action was coming.” He claims that after hearing of the video, he “knew then it would be within a month or two.” But nonetheless, his suggestion to put out a general attack warning will go unheeded (see May 2000-Late September 2000). An al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole follows less than a month later (see October 12, 2000). [WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/26/2002]

Entity Tags: Kie Fallis, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, United States

Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Able Danger

Late September 2000: Able Danger Data Collection Begins Again; Mohamed Atta Supposedly Identified Again Edit event
The Able Danger data collection program—which lost the support of the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) unit last April (see April 2000)—is reconstituted and moved to a private intelligence research center run by Raytheon in Garland, Texas. While the program worked only with unclassified data under LIWA, the new Able Danger, referred to by some as “Able Danger II,” has permission to mine classified information as well. [US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] SOCOM apparently believes that this new arrangement will allow Able Danger to do its work free of some of the political interference that had hobbled the earlier effort. Other data mining teams at LIWA work on non-al-Qaeda related projects while Able Danger continue to focus on al-Qaeda. [NATIONAL JOURNAL, 12/3/2005] Most accounts have the first version of Able Danger in early 2000 being the version that identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers. However, according to Rep. Curt Weldon (R), a Raytheon employee named Bob Johnson will later claim that Atta is independently identified by this second version of Able Danger as well (see November 11, 2005).

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Land Information Warfare Activity

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, Key Warnings, Warning Signs

Late September 2000: Able Danger Warns of Increased Al-Qaeda Activity in Aden Harbor Shortly Before Attack There Edit event
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will later claim that Capt. Scott Phillpott, leader of the Able Danger program, briefs Gen. Peter Schoomaker, head of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), that Able Danger has uncovered information of increased al-Qaeda “activity” in Aden harbor, Yemen. Shaffer, plus two other officials familiar with Able Danger later tell the New York Post that this warning was gleaned through a search of bin Laden’s business ties. Shaffer later recalls, “Yemen was elevated by Able Danger to be one of the top three hot spots for al-Qaeda in the entire world.” This warning, plus another possibly connected warning from Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Kie Fallis (see May 2000-Late September 2000), go unheeded and no official warning is issued. The USS Cole is attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists in Aden harbor in October 2000 (see October 12, 2000). Shaffer later claims that Phillpott tells the 9/11 Commission about this warning in 2004 to show that Able Danger could have had a significant impact, but the Commission’s findings fail to mention the warning, or in fact anything else about Able Danger (see July 12, 2004). [NEW YORK POST, 9/17/2005; JERRY DOYLE SHOW, 9/20/2005] Rep. Curt Weldon (R) will similarly tell Fox News,“[T]wo weeks before the attack on the Cole, in fact, two days before the attack on the Cole, [Able Danger] saw an increase of activity that led them to say to the senior leadership in the Pentagon at that time, in the Clinton administration, there’s something going to happen in Yemen and we better be on high alert, but it was discounted. That story has yet to be told to the American people.” [FOX NEWS, 10/8/2005]

Entity Tags: Scott Phillpott, Peter J. Schoomaker, Curt Weldon, Al-Qaeda, Able Danger, Clinton administration, Osama bin Laden

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Able Danger

October 2000: DIA Official Refuses to Look at Information about Al-Qaeda, Mohamed Atta Edit event
Able Danger member Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer meets with the DIA deputy director and offers him a computer disc with information about al-Qaeda (including Mohamed Atta), but the DIA official declines to accept the disc. [SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Anthony Shaffer, Al-Qaeda, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

October 10, 2000: Able Danger Members Warn of Imminent Event at Port of Aden Edit event
Special Operations Command official Christopher Chope will later claim that in early October 2000, “one of the intelligence analysts assigned to the Able Danger effort began to get what he calls gut feel that things were going awry in Yemen; he didn’t have any hard intelligence. He asked then Commander Scott Philpott if that could be briefed at a high level briefing.” The briefing takes place on this day during a VIP visit to Garland, Texas, where the Able Danger program is based in late 2000 (see Late September 2000). [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006] Rep. Curt Weldon (R) will later describe the warning in more serious terms than Chope, saying, “They saw information that led them to unequivocally understand that something was going to happen in the port at Yemen involving an American entity. Two days before the attack, they were jumping up and down because they knew something was going to happen… at the port of Aden.” [HEARST NEWSPAPERS, 11/10/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will also later describe the warning in serious terms, claiming that the Able Danger team he was on determined that Yemen was one of the three most dangerous locations for al-Qaeda activity in the world (see Late September 2000). According to Shaffer, Gen. Pete Schoomaker, commander of Special Operations Command, attends the briefing. Shaffer says that “Philpott requested they do something with it, they take action on it,” but apparently the warning does not reach the military commanders in Yemen before the USS Cole is bombed in Yemen two days later. Rep. Curt Weldon (R) will later say that the commander of the Cole told him in an interview that he “had three options on that day. He could have refueled the ship at sea. He had two other harbors. If he would have had any indication that there was a problem with Aden in Yemen, he would not have gone there. He was never given that information.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Scott Phillpott, Curt Weldon, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, Christopher Chope, Peter J. Schoomaker

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Able Danger

November-December 2000: Able Danger Stops Data Collection and Moves into Operational Phase Edit event
Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone will later state, “[T]he purpose of Able Danger was to develop a campaign plan. By November of 2000, the Garland effort was terminated—that is, the activity with Raytheon—and resources were shifted to the development of the actual draft of the campaign plan. That is, for a period of about five months or so, continuous effort was made to develop the tools. But by the time we come to the end of 2000, we need the plan. And so, SOCOM decides that it’s going to put its resources against developing the plan, terminate the activity at Garland, Texas, and begins to draft the plan. That plan, in the end, was rolled into a larger activity within the Joint Staff in the early 2001 timeframe, and that larger plan has within it components that are very much connected to the heritage of the Able Danger activity.… As best we can ascertain, US SOCOM had Raytheon, at the end of its effort in November of 2000, take most of the data that had been generated at Raytheon, and take it out of its system, essentially to purge it. A small percentage of information, roughly about one percent of that developed at Garland, was in turn transferred over to US Special Operations Command.” Cambone says the reason for this second massive data purge was, “[W]here we are by the end of the year 2000 is that, information that had been generated at LIWA [Land Information Warfare Activity] runs up against the concern about US persons information being stored improperly, as well as having the authority to do the operation for the Army.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will later blame the retirement of Gen. Pete Schoomaker in October 2000 and his replacement by Gen. Charles Holland as a major reason for the shut down of the data mining effort. He says, “Gen. Holland, in my judgment, did not understand the concept, and order[ed] the effort to terminate its activities in Garland, Texas, and for the personnel to return to Tampa [Florida, the location of SOCOM headquarters].” Over the next few months, Holland will direct Able Danger to change into the Special Operations Joint Integration Center (SOJIC). According to Shaffer, “the teeth and operational focus [are] removed and the capability to do the complex data mining and mission planning support (leadership support) is eliminated,” effectively ending Able Danger. [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Land Information Warfare Activity, Able Danger, Charles Holland, Raytheon, Stephen A. Cambone, Anthony Shaffer

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

Early 2001: Top Military Leaders Attend Briefings on Able Danger Edit event
In January, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton is given a three hour briefing on Able Danger. Shelton supported the formation of Able Danger back in 1999 (see Fall 1999). The content of the briefing has never been reported. Then in March, during a briefing on another classified program called Door Hop Galley, Able Danger is again brought up. This briefing, given by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, is attended by Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Richard Schiefren, an attorney at DOD; and Stephen Cambone, Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense. [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005; OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON, 9/17/2005 SOURCES: CURT WELDON] In mid-September 2005, Weldon will say, “I knew that the Clinton administration clearly knew about this. Now I know of at least two briefings in the Bush administration.” He calls these two briefings “very troubling.” He wants to know what became of the information presented in these briefings, suggesting it shouldn’t have been destroyed as part of the other Able Danger data purges. [DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES, 9/16/2005; OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON, 9/17/2005]

Entity Tags: Bush administration, Clinton administration, Henry H. Shelton, Thomas Wilson, Stephen A. Cambone, Richard Schiefren, Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

January 2001: High Ranking Official Refuses to Hear about Able Danger Edit event
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will later claim that DIA Deputy Director of Human Intelligence William Huntington is briefed by Shaffer at this time about a project named Dorhawk Galley. Some information about Able Danger’s methodology comes up. According to Shaffer, Huntington refuses to hear it and announces, “I can’t be here, I can’t see this.” Huntington immediately leaves Shaffer’s office and refuses to hear the information. Commenting on the episode, Shaffer later notes, “By doing this, he could later feign ignorance of the project should it have been compromised to the public. It is my belief that he is an example of the cultural problem—senior bureaucrats who are more focused on their own career and having ‘plausible deniability’ to never allow anything ‘controversial or risky’ to ‘touch them.’” Shaffer will also state, “It is of grave concern that Mr. Huntington is the one who is behind the troubling coincidence regarding my security clearance being suspended in March of 2004, just after reporting to my DIA chain of command [to include Mr. Huntington] of my contact with the 9-11 Commission, and my offer to share the Able Danger information to the 9-11 commission.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006; US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Dorhawk Galley, William Huntington

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

January-March 2001: Intelligence Unit Tracking Al-Qaeda is Closed Down; Change in Leadership Factors in Closure Edit event
A secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which is tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks around the world, is shut down. Some accounts say the program is shut down in January, some say February, and some say March. [NORRISTOWN TIMES HERALD, 6/19/2005; TIMES HERALD (NORRISTOWN), 9/12/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] The unit has identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell operating in the United States (see January-February 2000). According to James D. Smith, a Pentagon contractor involved with the unit, the inspector general shuts down the operation “because of a claim that we were collecting information on US citizens,” and it is illegal for the military to do this. [WTOP RADIO 103.5 (WASHINGTON), 9/1/2005] Others familiar with the unit later say it is closed down because it might have led to the exposure of another data mining project that was investigating US citizens allegedly illegally transferring sensitive US technology to the Chinese government. [WTOP RADIO 103.5 (WASHINGTON), 9/1/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer blames the change in leadership brought by the new Bush administration. “Once the four star [General Schoomaker] went away, it was pretty much like the world closing around us [Schoomaker retired in November 2000, but returned as Army Chief of Staff in 2003]. There was no political will to continue this at that point in time. Plus, my direct leadership: Colonel [Jerry] York and General [Bob] Harding had moved on as well. Therefore, I had a new chain of command above me. They were very risk adverse. This [Able Danger] operation, as with other operations which were very high risk / high gain, some of which are still ongoing—seemed to not be appreciated by the incoming leadership.” [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 6/17/2003; GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] For example, Shaffer will say that Col. Mary Moffitt, who replaces Col. Gerry York around this time (“spring 2001”), “dismantled the Defense [human intelligence] support to Able Danger just months before the 9-11 attacks… [and ] became focused on shutting down our support to Able Danger under the guise of ‘reorganization’ and in the end, disestablished Stratus Ivy [the unit Shaffer headed] and its cutting edge focus.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: James D. Smith, Mary Moffitt, Al-Qaeda, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

January-March 2001: CIA Director, National Security Counsel Briefed on Able Danger Edit event
In addition to briefings about Able Danger with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see Early 2001) and other military leaders (see March 2001), Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer claims that there are other briefings about the project in the same early 2001 time frame. In one briefing, Shaffer says CIA Director George Tenet approves “our conduct of this special project—I did specifically mention the Able Danger effort to him regarding the use of its methodology to separate out US Person issues.” Shaffer also claims that the National Security Counsel (NSC) is briefed twice on Able Danger around this time. He says, “I cannot recall the specific dates of, or individuals present at, the briefing.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: National Security Council, Able Danger, George J. Tenet, Anthony Shaffer

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

February 2001-March 2001: Withdrawal of DIA Support Contributes to End of Able Danger Program Edit event
The new Director of Operations for the DIA, General Ron Isler, has Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer brief him on a series of operations. According to Shaffer, Isler strongly objects to Shaffer assisting Able Danger. “I said, ‘Well, sir, with all due respect, this is an important operation focused on the global al-Qaeda target,’ and he said, ‘You’re not hearing me, Tony. This is not your job.’” After further disagreement, Shaffer recalls the argument ending, “‘Tony, I’m the two star here. I’m the two star. I’m telling you I don’t want you doing anything with Able Danger.’ ‘Sir, if not us then who?’ ‘I don’t know, but it’s not your job.’ And that effectively ended my direct support and my unit’s [Stratus Ivy] support to Able Danger.” Recalling how this helped end Able Danger, Shaffer says, “I remember the last conversation I had with Captain Scott Phillpott on this was a desperate call from him asking me to try to help use one of my operational facilities to at least try to exploit the information [Able Danger ha
Maj. Gen. Rod Isler.

Maj. Gen. Rod Isler. [Source: US Defense Department]
d collected] before it got lost.” However, Isler says he cannot recall any discussion with Shaffer about Able Danger. [Government Security News, 9/2005]
Entity Tags: Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, Scott Phillpott, Ron Isler

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

March 2001: Senior Military Officials Informed of Able Danger Program Edit event
During a briefing on another classified program called Dorkawk Galley, Able Danger is again brought up. This briefing, given by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, is attended by Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Richard Schiffrin, an attorney at DOD; and Stephen Cambone, Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense. [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005; OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON, 9/17/2005 SOURCES: CURT WELDON] In mid-September 2005, Weldon will say, “I knew that the Clinton administration clearly knew about this.” Referring to this meeting and another meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see Early 2001), he will add, “Now I know of at least two briefings in the Bush administration.” He calls these two briefings “very troubling.” He wants to know what became of the information presented in these briefings, suggesting it shouldn’t have been destroyed as part of the other Able Danger data purges. [DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES, 9/16/2005; OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON, 9/17/2005]

Entity Tags: Stephen A. Cambone, Thomas Wilson, Richard Schiefren, Clinton administration, Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Bush administration, Henry H. Shelton

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

March 2001-September 1, 2001: Hani Hanjour and Other Hijackers Live in Paterson, New Jersey Edit event
The apartment building in Paterson, New Jersey, where some of the hijackers lived.
The apartment building in Paterson, New Jersey, where some of the hijackers lived. [Source: Associated Press]
Hani Hanjour and Salem Alhazmi rent a one-room apartment in Paterson, New Jersey. Hanjour signs the lease. Nawaf Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Mohamed Atta are also seen coming and going by neighbors. One unnamed hijacker has to be told by a neighbor how to screw in a light bulb. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/27/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/30/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/7/2001] The 9/11 Commission’s account of this differs from previous press accounts, and has Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi (instead of his brother Salem) first moving to Paterson in mid-May. Salem Alhazmi, Majed Moqed, Abdulaziz Alomari, Khalid Almihdhar, and probably Ahmed Alghamdi are all seen living there as well during the summer. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 230] Other reports have Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi living periodically in Falls Church, Virginia, over nearly the exact same time period, from March through August 2001 (see March 2001 and After). During this time, Mohamed Atta and other hijackers live in Wayne, New Jersey, a town only one mile from Paterson (see (Before September 2000-12 Months Later)), and Atta purchases a plane ticket to Spain from Apollo Travel in Paterson in early July (see July 8-19, 2001).” [BERGEN RECORD, 9/27/2001; BERGEN RECORD, 9/27/2001; CNN, 10/29/2001; NEWSDAY, 9/19/2002]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Majed Moqed, Saeed Alghamdi, Hani Hanjour, Salem Alhazmi, Mohamed Atta, Nawaf Alhazmi, Apollo Travel, Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alghamdi

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Hani Hanjour, Other 9/11 Hijackers

May 2001: Effort to Keep Able Danger Alive Is Unsuccessful Edit event
According to a later account by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Capt. Scott Phillpott calls him “in desperation” around this time. Able Danger has been effectively shut down, but Phillpott wants to know if he can bring the Able Danger options that had been presented to higher officials in early 2001 (see Early 2001, January-March 2001 and March 2001) and use one of Shaffer’s Stratus Ivy facilities to continue to work. Shaffer claims that he replies, “I tell him with all candor that I would love nothing better than to loan him my facility and work the options with him (to exploit them for both [intelligence] potential and for actual offensive operations) but tell him that my DIA chain of command has directed me to stop all support to him and the project. In good faith, I ask my boss, Col. Mary Moffitt if I can help Scott and exploit the options—and that there would be a DIA quid pro quo of obtaining new ‘lead’ information from the project. She takes offense at me even mentioning Able Danger in this conversation, tells me that I am being insubordinate, and begins the process of removing me from my position as chief of Stratus Ivy. As a direct result of this conversation, she directs that I be ‘moved’ to a desk officer position to oversee Defense [human intelligence] operations in Latin America.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Scott Phillpott, Mary Moffitt, Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

September 11, 2001: The 9/11 Attack: 3,000 Die in New York City and Washington, D.C. Edit event

The September 11, 2001 attacks. From left to right: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash.
The September 11, 2001 attacks. From left to right: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash. [Source: unknown] (click image to enlarge)
The 9/11 attack: Four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Pentagon, Al-Qaeda, United Airlines, American Airlines

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Warning Signs, Pipeline Politics, Al-Qaeda in Germany, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the ISI, US Dominance, Zacarias Moussaoui, Nabil Al-Marabh, Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Ali Mohamed, Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Military Exercises, Mamoun Darkazanli, BMI and Ptech, Osama Bin Laden, Phoenix Memo, Remote Surveillance, Al Taqwa Bank, Terrorism Financing, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, Yemen Hub, Alleged Al-Qaeda Linked Attacks, Counterterrorism Policy Before 9/11

Shortly Before September 25, 2001: Atta Reportedly Identified on Pre-9/11 Chart by Able Danger Team Members Edit event
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will later claim that he receives a call from Dr. Eileen Preisser, who worked with him on the Able Danger program before 9/11. He claims that they meet and “she shows me a chart she had brought with her—a large desk top size chart. On it she has me look at the ‘Brooklyn Cell’—I was confused at first—but she kept telling me to look—and in the ‘cluster’ I eventually found the picture of [Mohamed] Atta. She pointed out (and I recognized) that this was one of the charts [we] had produced in January 2000, and had a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach—I felt that we had been on the right track—and that because of the bureaucracy we had been stopped—and that we might well have been able to have done something to stop the 9/11 attack. I ask Eileen what she plans to do with the information/chart—she tells me that she does not know but she plans to do something.” Shaffer claims that Dr. Preisser shows the chart to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and others a few days later. However, as of early 2006, Dr. Preisser herself has never publicly commented on this or any other matter relating to Able Danger. [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Eileen Preisser, Stephen J. Hadley, Anthony Shaffer, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

September 25, 2001: Congressman Gives Able Danger Chart to White House, Mention of Atta Is Uncertain Edit event
Rep. Curt Weldon (R) later claims that about two weeks after 9/11, he is given a chart by friends of his from the Army’s Information Dominance Center, in cooperation with special ops. The chart indicates various al-Qaeda cells that were identified by a military intelligence unit called Able Danger. Early in 2000, this unit identified, amongst others, an al-Qaeda cell based in Brooklyn, New York, which included Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers (see January-February 2000). Atta’s name is said to be on the chart given to Weldon. Shortly after being given the chart, Weldon meets with Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, and shows the chart to him. Weldon claims, “Hadley looked at the chart and said, Congressman, where did you get that chart from? I said, I got it from the military.… Steve Hadley said, Congressman, I am going to take this chart, and I am going to show it to the man. The man that he meant… was the President of the United States. I said, Mr. Hadley, you mean you have not seen something like this before from the CIA, this chart of al-Qaeda worldwide and in the US? And he said, No, Congressman. So I gave him the chart.” [US CONGRESS. HOUSE, 6/27/2005; DELAWARE COUNTY DAILY TIMES, 8/12/2005; FOX NEWS, 8/22/2005] However, a spokesman for Hadley later disputes this account, and says, “Mr. Hadley does not recall any chart bearing the name or photo of Mohamed Atta. [National Security Council] staff reviewed the files of Mr. Hadley as well as of all [National Security Council] personnel… That search has turned up no chart.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/24/2005] Rep. Dan Burton (R) later recalls attending the meeting and remembers the chart, but can’t recall if Atta was on it or not. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/1/2005] Curt Weldon also later claims that the copy of the chart he gives to Hadley is his only one. [TIME, 8/29/2005] However, apparently contradicting this, Weldon will give a speech in 2002 showing the chart (see May 23, 2002).

Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Mohamed Atta, Dan Burton, Central Intelligence Agency, Information Dominance Center, Stephen J. Hadley, Curt Weldon, Able Danger, Special Operations Command

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

October 11, 2001: Early Account of Able Danger Remains Classified Edit event
Dr. Eileen Preisser testifies before a congressional briefing. Dr. Preisser was one of four analysts in the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) supporting Able Danger in late 1999 and 2000 (see Fall 1999). While her testimony remains classified, the next day, Representative Christopher Shays (R) gives a brief summary: “In a briefing we had yesterday, we had Eileen [Preisser], who argues that we don’t have the data we need because we don’t take all the public data that is available and mix it with the security data. And just taking public data, using, you know, computer systems that are high-speed and able to digest, you know, literally floors’ worth of material, she can take relationships that are seven times removed, seven units removed, and when she does that, she ends up with relationships to the bin Laden group where she sees the purchase of chemicals, the sending of students to universities. You wouldn’t see it if you isolated it there, but if that unit is connected to that unit, which is connected to that unit, which is connected to that unit, you then see the relationship. So we don’t know ultimately the authenticity of how she does it, but when she does it, she comes up with the kind of answer that you have just asked, which is a little unsettling.” [US CONGRESS. HOUSE. COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM. SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY, VETERANS AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, 10/12/2001 SOURCES: CHRISTOPHER SHAYS] Note that according to some media accounts, the CIA monitored Mohamed Atta purchasing large quantities of chemicals in Germany in the spring of 2000 (see January-May 2000). Atta also sends a series of e-mails to the US in the spring of 2000, inquiring about flight school opportunities for himself and a “small group” of his associates (see January-March 2000). Dr. Preisser is apparently willing to testify about her role in how Able Danger uncovered Atta’s name, but in September 2005 she is prohibited from publicly testifying before Congress (see September 21, 2005).

Entity Tags: Eileen Preisser, Al-Qaeda

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

May 23, 2002: Rep. Curt Weldon Said to Show Able Danger Chart in Public Speech Edit event

A blurry image of the chart Rep. Curt Weldon presented to the Heritage Foundation in 2002.

A blurry image of the chart Rep. Curt Weldon presented to the Heritage Foundation in 2002. [Source: Heritage Foundation]
During a speech before the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Curt Weldon (R) unfurls a chart, which, his comments suggest, was produced by Able Danger. He says it is “the unclassified chart that was done by the Special Forces Command briefing center one year before 9/11. It is the complete architecture of al-Qaeda and pan-Islamic extremism. It gives all the linkages.” However, he does not mention Mohamed Atta or any other 9/11 hijackers during the speech. Video footage of the speech shows the chart, but picture quality is too poor to determine whether Atta is on it. [NewsMax, 8/29/2005] Weldon later claims to have given up his only copy of the chart showing Atta’s face in late 2001 (see September 25, 2001). [Time, 8/29/2005] In September 2005, Weldon will refer to the chart shown in this 2002 speech and suggest it may not have been the same chart that contained Atta’s face. He also says he can’t find the chart used in the speech anymore. [Office of Congressman Curt Weldon, 9/17/2005]
Entity Tags: Curt Weldon, Heritage Foundation, Al-Qaeda, Special Operations Command, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

October 21, 2003: 9/11 Commission Staff Meet Member of Able Danger Unit Edit event
Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, along with two members of the commission’s staff and an unnamed “representative of the executive branch,” meets at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan with three individuals doing intelligence work for the US Defense Department. [CNN, 8/17/2005; SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/24/2005] Among these is Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which between fall 1999 and spring 2001 was tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks around the world (see Fall 1999 and January-March 2001). According to Shaffer’s own later account, he gives the commission staff a detailed account of what Able Danger was, and tells them, “We found two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, to include [Mohamed] Atta.” At the end of the meeting, Philip Zelikow approaches him and says, “This is important. We need to continue this dialogue when we get back to the states.” [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] Following the meeting, Zelikow calls back to the 9/11 Commission’s headquarters in Washington to request that staff draft a document request, seeking information on Able Danger from the Department of Defense. [THOMAS H. KEAN AND LEE H. HAMILTON, 8/12/2005 pdf file] According to Anthony Shaffer, “My understanding from talking to another member of the press is that [Zelikow’s] call came into America at four o clock in the morning. He got people out of bed over this.” [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] Shaffer subsequently tries contacting Philip Zelikow in January 2004 (see Early January 2004). After it is revealed in the press that the commission, which includes no mention of Able Danger in its final report, had been briefed on the unit, spokesmen for commission members will insist that while they were informed of Able Danger at this time, they were not informed that it had identified Mohamed Atta or any other hijackers as threats. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/10/2005] Head commissioners Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton will later say in an official statement that a memorandum prepared by the commission staff after the meeting “does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation.” [THOMAS H. KEAN AND LEE H. HAMILTON, 8/12/2005 pdf file]

Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Able Danger, Philip Zelikow, Mohamed Atta, Anthony Shaffer, 9/11 Commission

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Investigations, 9/11 Commission

Early 2004: Weldon Fails to Convince 9/11 Commission to Look into Data Mining Programs Edit event

Rep. Curt Weldon.

Rep. Curt Weldon. [Source: House of Representatives]
Rep. Curt Weldon (R) is not yet familiar with Able Danger, though he will help bring information about the program to light in 2005. However, he is familiar with the closely related Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) program, having had dealings with it before 9/11. He says he is frustrated at the apparent lack of understanding about programs like LIWA based on the lines of questioning at public 9/11 Commission hearings in early 2004, so, “On at least four occasions, I personally tried to brief the 9/11 Commissioners on: NOAH [Weldon’s pre-9/11 suggestion to have a National Operations and Analysis Hub]; integrative data collaboration capabilities; my frustration with intelligence stovepipes; and al-Qaeda analysis. However, I was never able to achieve more than a five-minute telephone conversation with Commissioner Thomas Kean. On March 24, 2004, I also had my Chief of Staff personally hand deliver a document about LIWA, along [with] questions for George Tenet to the Commission, but neither was ever used.” [US Congress. Senate. Committee on Judiciary, 9/21/2005] He says, “The next week, they sent a staffer over to pick up some additional materials about the NIWA, about the concept, and about information I had briefed them on. They never followed up and invited me to come in and meet with them. So they can’t say that I didn’t try.” [Office of Congressman Curt Weldon, 9/17/2005]
Entity Tags: Curt Weldon, Land Information Warfare Activity, 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, George J. Tenet

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Investigations

Early January 2004: Able Danger Intelligence Officer Tries Contacting 9/11 Commission Edit event
Following an October 2003 meeting with three members of the 9/11 Commission’s staff (see October 21, 2003), Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer tries contacting Philip Zelikow, the commission’s executive director, as requested by Zelikow himself. Shaffer is an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers in early 2000 (see January-February 2000). He phones Zelikow’s number the first week of January 2004. The person who replies tells him, “I will talk to Dr. Zelikow and find out when he wants you to come in.” However, Shaffer receives no call back, so a week later he phones again. This time, the person who answers him says, “Dr. Zelikow tells me that he does not see the need for you to come in. We have all the information on Able Danger.” [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] Yet the commission doesn’t even receive the Able Danger documentation they had previously requested from the Defense Department until the following month (see February 2004). [THOMAS H. KEAN AND LEE H. HAMILTON, 8/12/2005 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Philip Zelikow, Philip Zelikow, 9/11 Commission, Anthony Shaffer

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Investigations

February 2004: 9/11 Commission Receives Documentation Relating to Able Danger Program Edit event
The 9/11 Commission receives documents that it had requested from the Department of Defense, relating to a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which had allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/9/2005; TIMES HERALD (NORRISTOWN), 8/13/2005] The commission requested the documents in November 2003, after a meeting in Afghanistan with Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who had worked closely with the unit (see October 21, 2003). Some documents are given directly to the commission, others are available for review in a Department of Defense reading room, where commission staff make notes summarizing them. Some of the documents include diagrams of Islamic militant networks. However, an official statement later claims, “None of the documents turned over to the Commission mention Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers. Nor do any of the staff notes on documents reviewed in the DOD reading room indicate that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers were mentioned in any of those documents.” [THOMAS H. KEAN AND LEE H. HAMILTON, 8/12/2005 pdf file; WASHINGTON POST, 8/13/2005] Shaffer responds, “I’m told confidently by the person who moved the material over, that the Sept. 11 commission received two briefcase-sized containers of documents. I can tell you for a fact that would not be one-twentieth of the information that Able Danger consisted of during the time we spent.” [FOX NEWS, 8/17/2005]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, US Department of Defense, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Investigations

Spring 2004: DIA Destroys Copies of Able Danger Documents Edit event
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington, DC apparently destroys duplicate copies of documentation relating to a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, for unknown reasons. The documents had been maintained by one of the DIA’s employees, intelligence officer Anthony Shaffer. [US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] The Able Danger unit was established in fall 1999, to assemble information about al-Qaeda networks worldwide (see Fall 1999). Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer had served as a liaison officer between the unit and the DIA. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/17/2005; GUARDIAN, 8/18/2005] Able Danger allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks (see January-February 2000). Other records relating to the unit were destroyed in May and June 2000, and March 2001 (see May-June 2000). [US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005; FOX NEWS, 9/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Defense Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

March 2004: Able Danger Intelligence Officer Has Security Clearance Suspended Edit event
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, has his security clearance suspended for what his lawyer later describes as “petty and frivolous” reasons, including a dispute over mileage reimbursement and charges for personal calls on a work cell phone. [FOX NEWS, 8/19/2005] According to Shaffer, allegations are made against him over $67 in phone charges, which he accumulated over 18 months. He says, “Even though when they told me about this issue, I offered to pay it back, they chose instead to spend in our estimation $400,000 to investigate all these issues simply to drum up this information.” No formal action is ever taken against Shaffer, and later in the year the Army promotes him to lieutenant colonel. [FOX NEWS, 8/17/2005; GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] A few months previous, Shaffer had met with staff from the 9/11 Commission, and allegedly informed them that Able Danger had, more than a year before the attacks, identified two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, including Mohamed Atta (see October 21, 2003). According to Shaffer’s lawyer, it is because of him having his security clearance suspended that he does not later have any documentation relating to Able Danger. [FOX NEWS, 8/19/2005] Rep. Curt Weldon (R) will later comment, “In January of 2004 when [Shaffer] was twice rebuffed by the 9/11 Commission for a personal follow-up meeting, he was assigned back to Afghanistan to lead a special classified program. When he returned in March, he was called in and verbally his security clearance was temporarily lifted. By lifting his security clearance, he could not go back into DIA quarters where all the materials he had about Able Danger were, in fact, stored. He could not get access to memos that, in fact, he will tell you discussed the briefings he provided both to the previous administration and this administration.” [FOX NEWS, 8/19/2005] These documents Shaffer are trying to reach are destroyed by the DIA roughly around this time (see Spring 2004). In September 2005, Shaffer has his security clearance revoked, just two days before he is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Able Danger’s activities (see September 19, 2005).

Entity Tags: Curt Weldon, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

July 12, 2004: 9/11 Commission Staff Meet with Navy Officer Involved with Able Danger Unit Edit event
Ten days before the 9/11 Commission releases its final report, a senior member of its staff, Dietrich Snell, accompanied by another commission staff member, meets at one of the commission’s Washington, DC offices with a US Navy officer who worked with a US Army intelligence program called Able Danger, which had been tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks around the world. This officer, Captain Scott Phillpott, tells them he saw an Able Danger document in 2000 that described Mohamed Atta as part of a Brooklyn al-Qaeda cell. He complains that this information about Atta, and information about other alleged members of the Brooklyn cell, was deleted from the document soon after he saw it, due to the concerns of Department of Defense lawyers. However, despite having this meeting with Phillpott, and having met previously with an Army intelligence officer who was also involved with Able Danger (see October 21, 2003), the 9/11 Commission makes no mention of the unit in their final report. The commissioners later claim that Phillpott’s information “[does] not mesh with other conclusions” they are drawing from their investigation. Consequently, the commission staff conclude “that the officer’s account [is] not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.” Able Danger is not mentioned in their final report, they claim, because “the operation itself did not turn out to be historically significant.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/11/2005; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/11/2005; THOMAS H. KEAN AND LEE H. HAMILTON, 8/12/2005 pdf file; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/13/2005; WASHINGTON POST, 8/13/2005; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/22/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer additionally claims, “Captain Phillpott actually told the 9/11 Commission about the fact that Able Danger discovered information regarding the Cole attack.… There was information that Able Danger found that related to al-Qaeda planning an attack. That information unfortunately didn’t get anywhere either. So that is another clue that was given to the 9/11 Commission to say, hey, this [Able Danger] capability did some stuff, and they chose not to even look at that.” [JERRY DOYLE SHOW, 9/20/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Mohamed Atta, US Department of Defense, Al-Qaeda, Anthony Shaffer, Scott Phillpott, 9/11 Commission, Dietrich Snell

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Investigations

August 9, 2005: New York Times Reveals Able Danger Unit that Identified Four 9/11 Hijackers Before Attacks Edit event
A front page article in the New York Times reveals the existence of a highly classified military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which had identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as likely members of an al-Qaeda cell operating in the United States more than a year before the attacks. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/9/2005] Members of the unit had recommended that the FBI be called in to take out the cell, but Pentagon lawyers had blocked their request (see September 2000). The incident was first described in a June 2005 speech on the House floor by Rep. Curt Weldon (R), and in an interview with Weldon around the same time in the Norristown Times Herald, neither of which had garnered much attention. [NORRISTOWN TIMES HERALD, 6/19/2005; US CONGRESS. HOUSE, 6/27/2005] Weldon, who is vice chairman of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, claims he only recognized the significance of the incident after contacting members of the Able Danger unit during research for a book about terrorism. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/10/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohamed Atta, Al-Qaeda, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

August 11, 2005: 9/11 Commission Admits Being Informed of Able Danger Unit that Identified Mohamed Atta in 2000 Edit event
In response to new revelations about a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks, Al Felzenberg—formerly the chief spokesman for the 9/11 Commission—acknowledges that a uniformed officer briefed two of the commission’s staff members about the unit in early July 2004 (see July 12, 2004). He also admits that the officer said the program had identified Mohamed Atta as part of an al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn. This information was not mentioned anywhere in the commission’s final report. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/11/2005] The existence of the Able Danger program was first revealed two days ago in an August 9 New York Times article (see August 9, 2005). In that article, the Times reported that Felzenberg had confirmed that an October 2003 briefing had taken place which did not include any references to Mohamed Atta or the Brooklyn al-Qaeda cell. But Felzenberg did not tell the newspaper about the July 2004 briefing, which apparently had provided the commission with far more details about the Able Danger program. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/9/2005; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/11/2005] It is not clear who exactly in the commission was aware of the program. Former 9/11 Commissioners Tim Roemer and John Lehman say they were never briefed about Able Danger before the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report was published. [GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 8/2005 SOURCES: CURT WELDON]

Entity Tags: Curt Weldon, Mohamed Atta, Al Felzenberg, 9/11 Commission, Able Danger, Al-Qaeda

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Investigations, 9/11 Commission

August 12, 2005: 9/11 Commission Heads Says Officer Who Briefed Commission on Able Danger Provided ‘No Documentary Evidence’ Edit event
Former leaders of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, release a statement saying that panel staff members have found no documents or other witnesses that support allegations that hijacker Mohamed Atta was identified by a secret Pentagon program, known as Able Danger, before the 9/11 attacks. The existence of Able Danger first received wide public attention a few days before by the New York Times (see August 11, 2005). According to the commissioners, “The interviewee had no documentary evidence” to back up his claims and “the Commission staff concluded that the officer’s account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation.” [THOMAS H. KEAN AND LEE H. HAMILTON, 8/12/2005 pdf file; WASHINGTON POST, 8/13/2005]

Entity Tags: Thomas Kean, Lee Hamilton

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Investigations, 9/11 Commission

August 17, 2005: Intelligence Officer Comes Forward with Allegations about Secret Military Unit Called Able Danger Edit event
A US Army intelligence officer comes forward, saying he was involved with a secret military intelligence unit, which had identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers by mid-2000. He says the unit, called Able Danger, had tried to meet with agents at the FBI’s Washington field office that summer to share its information, but was prevented from doing so by military lawyers (see September 2000). Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who served as a liaison officer between Able Danger and the Defense Intelligence Agency, is the first military officer associated with Able Danger to publicly acknowledge his involvement with the unit. Shaffer says that, had they been allowed to alert the FBI to Mohamed Atta being in the US, they might have been able to prevent 9/11. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/17/2005; GUARDIAN, 8/18/2005; NEW YORK POST, 8/18/2005] A week prior to Shaffer’s coming forward, Able Danger was brought to the public’s attention in a New York Times front page article (see August 9, 2005). Shaffer says he met privately with staff from the 9/11 Commission in Afghanistan in October 2003, and explicitly mentioned Atta as a member of the “Brooklyn” al-Qaeda cell (see October 21, 2003).

Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, Anthony Shaffer, FBI Washington Field Office

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

August 22-September 1, 2005: More Individuals Come Forward to Confirm Able Danger Allegations Edit event
Several individuals come forward and corroborate claims made about a military intelligence unit called Able Danger that, by mid-2000, allegedly identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers. Days previously, a US Army intelligence officer called Anthony Shaffer made claims about the unit (see August 17, 2005). On August 22, Scott J. Phillpott, an active-duty Navy captain who managed the Able Danger program for the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, comes forward and corroborates Shaffer’s claims. He says, “My story is consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger in January-February of 2000.” Phillpott states that he was the officer who met with staff from the 9/11 Commission in July 2004, and told them about the program (see July 12, 2004). [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/22/2005] Claims about the program are further corroborated when a former employee of a defense contractor who says he worked on the technical side of the unit, also comes forward. James D. Smith, who worked for Orion Scientific Systems [TIMES HERALD (NORRISTOWN), 9/22/2005] , states that in 2000 he helped create a chart for Able Danger. He says, “I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City.” [FOX NEWS, 8/28/2005] Furthermore, the Pentagon admits that they have found three others, apart from Anthony Shaffer and Scott Phillpott, associated with Able Danger who assert that the program identified Mohamed Atta as an al-Qaeda suspect inside the US more than a year before 9/11. An official says that the five individuals associated with the program (including Shaffer and Phillpott) were all considered “credible people,” and that four of them recalled a photo of Mohamed Atta accompanying the chart they produced. [REUTERS, 9/1/2005] Eleven people ran Able Danger. [BERGEN RECORD, 8/14/2005] The Pentagon interviewed a total of 80 people who had some kind of association with the Able Danger program. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Al-Qaeda, US Department of Defense, Scott Phillpott, James D. Smith

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

September 14, 2005: Former 9/11 Commission Members Dismiss Able Danger Evidence Edit event
Former members of the 9/11 Commission dismiss recent allegations regarding a secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which had been set up in 1999 to bring together information about al-Qaeda. Several former members of the unit have come forward claiming the program identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks (see August 17, 2005; August 22-September 1, 2005). The 9/11 Commission has been criticized for not mentioning Able Danger in its final report. In response, its former chairman, Thomas Kean, claims there is no evidence that anyone in the government knew about Mohamed Atta before 9/11, and there are no documents that verify the claims made by former members of the unit. However, the Pentagon has recently confirmed that documents associated with Able Danger were destroyed in accordance with regulations about gathering intelligence on people inside the US. Another former commissioner, Slade Gorton, says, “Bluntly, it just didn’t happen and that’s the conclusion of all 10 of us.” But a spokesman for Rep. Curt Weldon (R), who helped bring to light the existence of the program, says that none of the commissioners met with anyone from Able Danger, “yet they choose to speak with some form of certainty without firsthand knowledge.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/15/2005; FOX NEWS, 9/16/2005] The commission’s claim that no one in the US knew about Mohamed Atta before 9/11 is further contradicted by reports stating that the CIA had been tracking him while he was still in Germany, early in 2000 (see January-May 2000). And soon after 9/11, Newsweek reported US officials stating that Atta “had been known as [an associate] of Islamic terrorists” well before 9/11. [NEWSWEEK, 9/20/2001]

Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, Curt Weldon, 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean, Slade Gorton

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, 9/11 Investigations

September 19, 2005: Able Danger Intelligence Officer Has Security Clearance Revoked Edit event

Mark Zaid.

Mark Zaid. [Source: C-SPAN]
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, an Army intelligence officer who worked closely with a military intelligence unit called Able Danger, has his security clearance revoked. [Government Executive, 9/21/2005; Times Herald (Norristown), 9/22/2005] Shaffer alleges that Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta and three other future 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks (see August 17, 2005). Shaffer’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, states, “I specialize in security clearance cases.… Based on years of experience I can say categorically that the basis for the revocation was questionable at best.” [US Congress, 9/21/2005] Shaffer is due to testify two days later in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Able Danger, though he is subsequently prohibited from doing so by the Defense Department (see September 21, 2005). His security clearance had been suspended 18 months previously (see March 2004).
Entity Tags: Mark Zaid, Anthony Shaffer, Able Danger, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

September 21, 2005: Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Public Hearing on Able Danger Unit; Key Officers Barred From Testifying Edit event
Sen. Arlen Specter.
Sen. Arlen Specter. [Source: C-SPAN]
The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Arlen Specter (R), holds a public hearing to investigate an intelligence program called Able Danger, to explore allegations that it identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers more than a year before 9/11, and to learn why the Pentagon disbanded it and destroyed the information it had gathered. [GOVERNMENT COMPUTER NEWS, 9/21/2005; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/21/2005; UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 9/21/2005] The committee is seeking testimony from several former Able Danger members. Among these are Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, Dr. Eileen Preisser, and civilian analyst James D. Smith; all but Preisser have recently come forward with allegations about the unit (see August 17, 2005; August 22-September 1, 2005). However, the day before the hearing, Defense Department lawyers ordered them and other former Able Danger members not to testify. [JERRY DOYLE SHOW, 9/20/2005; UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 9/21/2005] Shaffer says in an interview, “I was told by two [Defense Department] officials today directly that it is their understanding that [Defense Secretary Rumsfeld] directed that we not testify…” [JERRY DOYLE SHOW, 9/20/2005] The Defense Department’s only reason for doing so, offered by a spokesman, is that they have “expressed [their] security concerns and believe it is simply not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum open testimony of these witnesses.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/21/2005] Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter says, “That looks to me like it may be obstruction of the committee’s activities, something we will have to determine.” He complains that the Pentagon only delivered hundreds of pages of documents related to Able Danger late on the eve of the hearing, leaving no time for committee staff to review the material. [REUTERS, 9/21/2005] Furthermore, the Pentagon’s representative at the hearing, William Dugan, admits that he has very limited knowledge of Able Danger. Arlen Specter tells him, “You were sent over—perhaps with the calculation you wouldn’t have the information.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/21/2005; GOVERNMENT COMPUTER NEWS, 9/21/2005]

Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, US Department of Defense, Scott Phillpott, James D. Smith, Eileen Preisser, Anthony Shaffer, Arlen Specter, Donald Rumsfeld, Able Danger, Senate Judiciary Committee, William Dugan

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Investigations

November 11, 2005: Second Version of Able Danger Supposedly Also Identified Atta Edit event
Rep. Curt Weldon (R) claims in a press conference that Bob Johnson, an employee of the defense contractor Raytheon, claims to have independently identified Mohamed Atta prior to 9/11. The second version of Able Danger in late 2000 was associated with Raytheon while the first version was not, so presumably Johnson’s identification of Atta would have taken place then. If true, that would mean that both versions of Able Danger identified Atta independently of each other in early 2000 and late 2000, respectively. Weldon claims that this is the sixth person to corroborate the claim that Atta was identified prior to the 9/11 attacks. [TIMES HERALD (NORRISTOWN), 11/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Curt Weldon, Bob Johnson, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

November 17, 2005: Former FBI Director Says Able Danger Could Have Stopped 9/11 Attacks Edit event
Louis Freeh, FBI Director for the duration of the Able Danger program, calls Able Danger “a missed opportunity that could have potentially prevented 9/11.” He also says, “The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry.… Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it ‘was not historically significant.’ This astounding conclusion—in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings—raises serious challenges to the commission’s credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.” [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/17/2005]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, Louis J. Freeh, Able Danger

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

November 18, 2005: More Than Half of Congress Calls for Open Able Danger Hearings Edit event
Rep. Curt Weldon (R) sends Defense Secretary Rumsfeld a letter signed by 246 congresspeople demanding that Able Danger program officers and contractors be allowed to testify in open congressional hearings. There is a nearly even split between Democrat and Republican signatures. [SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, Curt Weldon, Donald Rumsfeld

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

November 30, 2005: Congressman Calls Able Danger ‘Bigger Cover-up than Watergate’ Edit event
Rep. Curt Weldon (R) says of Able Danger, “I am convinced this is a bigger cover-up than Watergate.… More than 3,000 people were slaughtered and [the 9/11 Commission] deliberately kept the story from being part of its report because it would have embarrassed some of its members.” [DELCO TIMES, 11/30/2005]

Entity Tags: Able Danger, 9/11 Commission, Curt Weldon

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

February 14, 2006: Mohamed Atta’s Name Reportedly Appears 13 Times in Pre-9/11 Government Databases Edit event
Rep. Curt Weldon (R) says that he is in contact with people who are still able to do data mining on pre-9/11 data, and, in “those data runs that are now being done today, in spite of what DOD (Department of Defense) said, I have 13 hits on Mohamed Atta.” He also says that additional Able Danger material continues to be found in Pentagon files, and that in early February, a general was present as Able Danger was recovered from filing cabinets. This came from the early 2000 version of Able Danger that supposedly had all of its data destroyed by Erik Kleinsmith. Weldon also claims, “At least one additional witness has come forward who just retired from one of the intelligence agencies, who will also testify under oath that he was well-aware of and identified Mohamed Atta’s both name and photo prior to 9/11 occurring.” The Defense Department claims to have perform recent data mining on pre-9/11 and failed to find Mohamed Atta’s name. A Defense Department official also says one day after Weldon’s claims, “It is true that in the course of this more recent review, we have indeed unearthed additional documents related to Able Danger. These documents were found, I must say, with some considerable effort, only because they were filed and misfiled and in a place where they weren’t easily gotten to, not because they were being hidden.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2/14/2006; CNS NEWS, 2/15/2006; US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: Curt Weldon, Able Danger, Mohamed Atta

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

February 15, 2006: Second Congressional Hearing Held on Able Danger; Former Members Testify Edit event
A second open Congressional hearing on Able Danger is held. Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone testifies that an extensive review of Able Danger under his direction failed to locate the chart with Mohamed Atta’s picture and failed to find any other pre-9/11 references to Atta. Rep. Curt Weldon (R) repeatedly spars with Cambone, and says that since 9/11, “There’s been no investigation! There’s been no analysis [of Able Danger] by the 9/11 commission or anyone else.” Three members of the Able Danger team, Eric Kleinsmith, Anthony Shaffer, and James D. Smith, testify in public. All three of them say that the 9/11 attacks might have been prevented if law-enforcement agencies had acted on the information about al-Qaeda they discovered. The three of them had been prevented from testifying in the first public hearings on Able Danger in September 2005 (see September 21, 2005). [SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/15/2006] Capt. Scott Phillpott, the former head of Able Danger, apparently joins other former team members in closed testimony. [MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE, 2/15/2006] The Congressional committee asked 9/11 Commission staff member Dietrich Snell to testify. But Snell’s boss, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, said that Snell would not be available. Rep. Curt Weldon has said he wants to ask Snell under oath why Snell did not inform any of the 9/11 Commissioners what he had learned about Able Danger. [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]

Entity Tags: James D. Smith, Dietrich Snell, Curt Weldon, Scott Phillpott, Eric Kleinsmith, Able Danger, Stephen A. Cambone, Anthony Shaffer

Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline

Category Tags: Able Danger

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Key Events

Key Day of 9/11 Events (90)
Key Hijacker Events (86)
Key Warnings (92)
Before 9/11

Soviet-Afghan War (82)
Al-Qaeda in Balkans (138)
Warning Signs (387)
Insider Trading/ Foreknowledge (44)
Counterterrorism Policy Before 9/11 (189)
Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11 (181)
US Air Security (53)
Hunt for Bin Laden (138)
Military Exercises (66)
Pipeline Politics (65)
Other Pre-9/11 Events (4)
Warning Signs: Specific Cases

1993 WTC Bombing (61)
Bojinka Plot (68)
1998 US Embassy Bombings (93)
Millennium Bomb Plots (41)
2000 USS Cole Bombing (97)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (29)
Bush’s Aug. 6, 2001 PDB (24)
Presidential Level Warnings (29)
The Alleged 9/11 Hijackers

Alhazmi and Almihdhar (259)
Marwan Alshehhi (104)
Mohamed Atta (168)
Hani Hanjour (63)
Ziad Jarrah (44)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (86)
Alleged Hijackers’ Flight Training (64)
Hijacker Contact w Government in US (19)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar: Specific Cases

Bayoumi and Basnan Saudi Connection (41)
CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar (86)
Possible Al-Qaeda-Linked Moles or Informants

Ali Mohamed (71)
Khalil Deek (18)
Luai Sakra (12)
Mamoun Darkazanli (29)
Nabil Al-Marabh (40)
Other Possible Moles or Informants (119)
Other Al-Qaeda-Linked Figures

Al-Qaeda in Germany (108)
Abu Zubaida (77)
Ayman Al-Zawahiri (41)
Hambali (28)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (87)
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa (45)
Osama Bin Laden (125)
Ramzi Yousef (61)
Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (58)
Wadih El-Hage (30)
Zacarias Moussaoui (141)
Day of 9/11

All Day of 9/11 Events (716)
Flight AA 11 (91)
Flight UA 175 (64)
Flight AA 77 (94)
Flight UA 93 (152)
George Bush (88)
Dick Cheney (38)
Richard Clarke (30)
Donald Rumsfeld (31)
Pentagon (62)
World Trade Center (70)
Alleged Passenger Phone Calls (44)
Projects and Programs

Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit (137)
Able Danger (59)
Sibel Edmonds (56)
Phoenix Memo (26)
Randy Glass/ Diamondback (8)
Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal (66)
Remote Surveillance (153)
Yemen Hub (55)
Geopolitics and Islamic Militancy

US Dominance (80)
Iraq (159)
Israel (52)
Pakistan and the ISI (258)
Saudi Arabia (219)
Terrorism Financing (276)
Londonistan – UK Counterterrorism (73)
US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy (44)
Algerian Militant Collusion (28)
Philippine Militant Collusion (68)
Yemeni Militant Collusion (16)
Other Government-Militant Collusion (6)
The ISI: Specific Cases

Pakistani Nukes & Islamic Militancy (34)
Saeed Sheikh (53)
Mahmood Ahmed (26)
Terrorism Financing: Specific Cases

Al Taqwa Bank (28)
Al-Kifah/MAK (52)
BCCI (27)
BIF (26)
BMI and Ptech (21)
Bin Laden Family (54)
Drugs (61)
The Post-9/11 World

9/11 Investigations (421)
9/11 Denials (26)
US Government and 9/11 Criticism (41)
9/11 Related Lawsuits (21)
Media (35)
Other Events (42)
Investigations: Specific Cases

9/11 Commission (99)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (32)
FBI 9/11 Investigation (81)
WTC Investigation (93)
‘War on Terrorism’ Outside Iraq

Afghanistan (187)
Alleged Al-Qaeda Linked Attacks (46)
Destruction of CIA Tapes (92)
Escape From Afghanistan (55)
High Value Detainees (129)
Key Captures and Deaths (71)
Terror Alerts (42)
Counterterrorism Action After 9/11 (492)
Counterterrorism Policy After 9/11 (0)
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April 2000: LIWA and Able Danger Face Trouble After LIWA Connects Prominent US Figures to Chinese Military