Feb 16 2006
I will be back this afternoon (2/16/06) to do more listening and appending to the end. Will alert of updates here at the top of the page.
update: I am highlighting what I think are important items with a bold font.
For reference I am listening to part 1 of the hearings at QT Monsters. As context I will use the post QT liveblogged as a reference. I will not repeat anything she has written, though I will expand on points or pick up new points.
Hearings Begin (2:39 PM Eastern)
The opening remarks by the Chairman and Co-Chairman foreshadow the conclusions: no one did anything wrong. Which I have a hard time believing. Whoever overreacted to the China Study results which implicated some Clinton Administration and well known Republican names clearly panicked in destroying the terrorist study data as well as the China study data. We may be seeing loose ends loosely tied up, quietly.
First Item: The opening statement determines the “alleged Atta chart” was developed at a stage when the data was not being used for “operational purposes”. This conclusion confirms earlier reporting that Atta and others showed up in the early test runs which were used to show potential. Shaffer and others recall the names (and some pictures) in a report from Jan-Feb. But it could mean more. The term “operational” is key to these kinds of systems. The “operatoinal” status would be achieved once the data was in SOCOM, merged with classified intel and integrated as the baseline ‘battlefield intelligence’, which involves some steps of authentication and other determinations. Being a technology demonstration for most of its existance, Able Danger was probably NEVER operational. All that means is the data was not taken seriously and promulgated throughout the intel community as actionable. I find this precise use of the word “operational” very telling. But the Chairman is admitting Able Danger had identified 9-11 terrorists – no doubt.
Second Item: Able Danger’s decendant program is alive and well at SOCOM – thankfully.
Ranking Leaders’ Opening Statements (2:45 PM)
Third Item: Vi is correct, Meehan is trying to play down Able Danger calling it ‘small, short in duration, disjoint and uncoordinated’. In other words ignored because it was new to the community. This a lame excuse for arrogance found in tenured approaches and people.
Fourth Item: Reiz (sp?) stated Able Danger ended in late 2000 (not early 2001 after Bush was sworn in).
Testimony of Stephen Cambone plus Panel 1 witnesses (2:52 PM)
Fifth Item: Cambone is doing his CYA in his opening statement by describing his investigation last year. Not being an eyewitness to events this is window dressing and irrelevant. They looked and did not find much. But we all know they did not look everywhere (Garland for example) and much was destroyed. The investigation did cover two contractor sites (Orion-SRA (LIWA) and Raytheon (Garland). But I will tell you how bogus this was. Cambone stated 90 personel conducted over 6500 hours of investigation. Do the math and each person spent 72+ hours (less than two weeks) investigating, interviewing and writing the results and then reviewing the combined results. Not a lot of time.
Sixth Item: No one in the first witness panel has first hand knowledge of Able Danger.
Seventh Item: The review did not find any charts or data with “Atta” from the period prior to 9-11. Nothing on Hazmi, Midhar or Shehi – the three other prime 9-11 terrorists. Why doesn’t the investigation results ever discuss these three? Very strange.
Eigth Item: More word smything: Cambone says they “did not find that the department deliberately failed to share Able Danger information with the FBI”. What is this ‘deliberately failed’ garbage? Who deliberately fails? They failed but not deliberately? They are hiding something.
Ninth Item: Jan – Mar 2002 was the first phase prior to the purge which had ‘the chart’ – which is well known but nice to have it confirmed. This was the LIWA-Orion phase I mentioned in yesterday’s post. The second phase used Raytheon and the Garland site. One thing comes out clearly: these two phases were the development or ‘campaign’ phase Cambone discusses – building the capability and doing initial runs. The effort goes ‘operational’ after all this is completed and the capabilities are now at SOCOM (I would guess). So the people we have heard from were the ones building the capability – which then went operational with I would guess a smaller sustaining engineering group maintaining the systems and someone out acquiring data. All this says is the key data was lost before the thing went ‘live’. Geez, 9-11 sort told us that much.
Tenth Item: Cambone claims it was the LIWA Intelligence Oversight Officer who determined that the Able Danger data had to be destroyed (I guess along with the China study data). I seriously doubt that. The data was the property of a SOCOM general and no oversight officer is going to destroy a general’s data without telling him. Is Cambone being spun or is he doing the spinning? Cambone said the officer looked at LIWA support for SOCOM and determined this was not proper. Except JD Smith and others have said it was the China Study that triggered the purge, which I seriously doubt was for SOCOM. I mean 95% confident it was not. This is bogus and inconsistent with what the blogosphere has learned since last summer. It was not LIWA-SOCOM issues with data – why is Cambone making these inaccurate statements?
Then he goes on to some truly silly claim about a “Required Terms of Reference” authorizing cross support between LIWA and SOCOM not being in place. But this would not cause destruction of data! I believe all that represents is paper work between two government organizations to move funds – nothing more. That is a real stretch of an excuse to destroy data. That TOR bit is a smoke screen. We need to know about the China study data, who owned it and who ordered it destroyed.
Eleventh Item: He does admit that 9-11 terrorists were on a chart in 1999 used to demonstrate and train people. Then he goes on to make some lame statement about how that data still had to be assessed to filter out the false positive linkages to Al Qaeda. I mean – duh! We all know the raw runs with unvalidated linkages is what came out of LIWA-Orion. It was the fact those sets with 9-11 terrorists never got out of LIWA-Orion and to SOCOM and the operational phase that IS THE ISSUE!
OK – Cambone is really a disaster and its late. I will pick it up again tomorrow – possibly late in the day. Check out Top Dog’s find at Able Danger were DIA admits they destroyed Shaffer’s Able Danger data which did not fall under the same excuses used in 2000 at LIWA. And apparently the DIA did not follow proper recording processes for destruction of this classified data. That’s a big time no-no.
Picking it back up for a short bit. Top Dog at the Able Danger blog is reviewing the written statements and has more on who at DIA was a thorn in Shaffer’s side.
Twelfth Item: Cambone said the investigation attempted to use contemporary tools and data sets (post 9-11). But this effort is really not trivial and further calls into question the 72 hours per ‘investigator’ and illustrating that this may not have been in-depth.
Thirteenth Item: Cambone mentions one chart from the period (late 1999 to early 2000) by Orion that has the name & picture of Mohamed Attif or Ajaf (sp?) but not Atta. Of course in Germany Atta was going by the name Mohamed el-Amir! Cambone says this does not prove anything – which is ridiculous. With the name and picture is personal data like phone, address, drivers license, credit card, etc. This is the information that should be part of the data sets and kept with the individual. How is it Cambone’s investigators simply looked at the name and did not check the underlying personal information? Is he another Inspector Clousseau? I am agreeing with Mac Ranger on this and wishing Cambone had just not opened his mouth.
Fourteenth Item: Cambone says the FBI agent has not confirmed that SOCOM had cancelled 3 attempted meetings between the FBI and SOCOM to pass data. Why would the FBI agent know who cancelled the meetings or why? He then goes on to say the DoJ denies such claims. Of course, they would not know who cancelled the meetings or why on the DoD side. Then Cambone goes on to say they found no one who ‘admitted’ cancelling the meetings on the DoD side. Big surprise there. One thing people know how to do instictively is CYA. Except for the fact you have an FBI agent, a Lt Col at DIA and a Navy Captain at SOCOM all saying three scheduled meetings were magically cancelled on them, there is nothing. This is a bad smoke screen. Then Cambone talks about a chatroom for coordination being set up. Well, Cambone must be pretty dumb because everyone knows you cannot post classified material, like leads on terrorists, to a website chatroom. Does he think we are all naive out here in the hinterlands? Then he slides in the comment ‘the chatroom was not actively used’. Duh.
Fifteenth Item: I don’t get this Cambone guy at all. First he claims the LIWA-Orion data set was a problem due to the mingling of US Persons data and was deleted, then he says by the time Garland-Raytheon stand up in the summer the problem is fixed – basically admitting it was a simple paperwork issue – and the data is retained and passed to SOCOM. He is conflicting his own testimony by stating the DoD has the authority to hold data on US persons. So why not fix the paperwork instead of purging the data?
That ends Cambone’s opening statement. More this afternoon.