Feb 18 2006

Able Danger Hearings Part IV

Published by at 11:42 am under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions

** updating this at the end today **

update: I am attempting to identify the big news using bold font.

The first posts on this subject are Part I, Part II and Part III.

As before, I am listening to part 2 of the hearings at QT Monster. As context I will use the post QT liveblogged as a reference. We pick up at the 4:35 PM Eastern mark in the live blogging timeline.

36th Item: We come in the middle of the response about the 90 day rule on data. The problem is this doesn’t make sense since the data was there much longer than 90 days. The corrective action is to process the proper forms. Somehow that was fixed easily in Garland (the data set contents had not changed), but in LIWA it caused the deletion of the data, then the firing of the contractor in mid performance, and then it closed down the LIWA support for SOCOM. Sorry, not buying it. The purge was a response to issues in the China study. The result was a massive upheavel. This data retention issue is a lame smoke screen. Moreover, if there was a data problem then SOCOM would have been called in to ask them what they wanted to do, since THEY were paying for the whole thing. The fact the general in SOCOM was not informed and was not happy is another sign protocol was not followed. It is obvious SOCOM could have taken responsibility for the data and washed LIWA’s hands of the problem – but that would entail informing them. Someone wanted that data purged and the entire effort closed down and they had the political muscle to make it happen. It took some equivalent effort to restart in Garland, I am sure. This is not about data retention forms. Cambone admits it was done in Garland, but he never once explains why it was not simply corrected at LIWA. The guy is just incompetent.

Second Panel Now Being Seated with Kleinsmith (LIWA), Shaffer (DIA), JD Smith (ORION)

37th Item: Kleinsmith was Chief of Intelligence for LIWA, who Cambone named as the one and only person to decide to purge the data. Kleinsmith does acknowledge LIWA was not an intelligence group which made the Able Danger work a bit different for them – but not much. You still have security clearances and you still deal with the US government contractors – and many people have worked all sides. Not sure why he is making a big deal about this. He does point out LIWA had many customers accessing their data mining technology (he and Dr. Preisser).

38th Item: BINGO! Kleinsmith’s Opening Statemen: Now we get to the prime pivotal issue: what caused the data purge in the first quarter of 2000. LIWA had the experience and expertise through all their other support efforts. Kleinsmith also goes out of his way to say their group had the backing of their full chain of command (hinting I suspect that to change their direction would have had to come from higher than that level). They generated dozens of charts and determined there was a significantly ‘large footprint’ of possible terrorists in the United States. In essence they were on a roll, and then it happened. In the middle of their efforts word came down to cease support to SOCOM because there were “intelligence oversight concerns”. This is simply BS since these tools and methods had been used numerous times and I doubt overseas terrrorist would trigger a problem. What this means it the people responsible for the purge had determined the alibi they would use to purge the data. That implies a cadre of people somewhere planning how to get this effort stopped and this data deleted. Kleinsmith testified the order came from well above his chain of command – INSCOM (ph). So this WAS NOT a decision by Kleinsmith as Cambone testified earlier. It eminated from somewhere in the Pentagon which is truly amazing. You have a small, tiny group doing a prototype effort in a fairly small area of the military (LIWA) and somehow someone in the Pentagon detects this tiny effort and works to shut it down. Not clean up the data retention problem – shut it down. And this caused what can only be seen as a Battle of the Brass because it took 6 months to find a way to restart the program at Garland. Except I doubt it was a battle inside the military, I bet it was a battle between the military and the political appointess – some coming from the Pentagon’s General Counsel Office (Gorelick’s old stomping grounds). SOCOM was fighting the stoppage as well. So there we have it, the order to purge came from outside Able Danger, above LIWA and SOCOM, and therefore from the Pentagon (if not higher still).. Kleinsmith was ordered to do this – it was not his decision.

39th Item: The attack on the USS Cole seemed to be a breaking point on those trying to tamp down Able Danger. Someone finally woke up and probably decided the PR problems in early 2000 were nothing compared to a sobering attack on the US Navy – and how they responded to that.

Now Lt Col Shaffer’s opening statement.

40th Item: Shaffer challenges Cambone’s assertion Able Danger was simply a planning exercise (and not an operational one). Truth is, planning systems are used operational to track progress and update the plans, so no system lives only on one side of the fence. Another “Cam-boner” (by the way, I reserve the rights to that little play on words!).

41st Item: Shaffer challenges statements regarding the FBI and attempts to set up the meetings.

42nd Item: Wow. DIA questioned Shaffer about his testimony today, asked him what he said to the Inspector General (that is a big time no-no) and went to court to strip Shaffer of DIA counsel in closed session. OK Cam-boner is either a real idiot or covering up. First they leak information from Shaffers security clearance papers and interviews, and then they ask him what he said to the IG who is investigating DIA for possible harrassment? Shaffer is going into the closed session without counsel and under protest. Brave move.

JD Smith’s Opening Statement. I am going to go live blogging from here on since it is nearly 11:00 AM and my readers probably want something to read! I’ll fix the typos later folks.

43 rd Item: JD Smith worked at Orion through August 2000 (in Mclean, VA – my home town!). All support was unclassified and offsight. There was no access to classified information from Orion. All tasking was from Dr. Preisser at LIWA. They had no knowledge of the code name Able Danger. Orion simply collected open source, unclassified data and delivered products including charts. Basically he is pointing out that the 90 day retention problem probably did not apply to Orion. What Smith does confirm is the ‘Brooklyn Cell’ was so named because the center of the linakges was to the Blind Sheik Rahman of WTC I fame. It is this connection that runs out to Mahomed Atta. As I said in the previous post, anyone trying to re-run a data mining analysis who doesn’t seed the starting point with Rahman is going to miss Atta – period.

44th Item: JD Smith confirms they were tracking Atta through multiple names (which he used). Apparently they were able to discern all other persons with similar names and also identify aliases for Atta. My guess is Atta was possibly one of the core players in the Hamburg cell, while Rahman was the center of the Brooklyn cell. The timing is right for that to be the case.

45th Item: Shaffer states that in the three attempts to meet with the FBI, it was SOCOM who failed to show up the first two times. The FBI special agent called Shaffer wondering why they would not come to the meetings. Shaffer talked to Philpott and Philpott were being told by their legal attornies not to show up. So the direction to stop is only known to SOCOM folks (who was only testifying in the closed session). Philpott alluded to Shaffer that passing terrorist leads to the FBI could be misused (The Gorelick and FISA Walls of course) and rebound on SOCOM. The example was the WACO experience, but the mechanisms were probably the Gorelick and FISA Walls. Could be something else because all these acts and regulations and policies fed together to make communicating leads like this illegal. Federal organizations orking together to identify threats to Americans was (and may still be) illegal. Not the negligence of not stopping attacks – the act of trying to stop attacks is illegal.

46th Item: Shaffer’s recollection (albeit second hand) is the information of interest involved the Brooklyn Cell and that members may be in the US legally. An interesting question to ask is did the analysts move a person from one cell to the other if their connections or location changed? Anyway, from previous testimony the topic of the aborted meetings did not include the 9-11 terrorists, which leads me again to believe Atta, at this time, was tied to the Hamburg cell.

47th Item: Shaffer discusses a parallel effort he was doing with the FBI on a target in Europe to demonstrate why some of the ‘excuses’ that were coming out of SOCOM and the LIWA order to purge were not believable. By having a concurrent program doing basically the same work it does make the case the concerns were hyped. LIWA and SOCOM were following what even they thought at the time was bad advise. What we need to know is who was giving this bad advise and how high up it went.

48th Item: Weldon is faced with a final 10 minutes to get all three witnesses to state they all three agree with Louis Freeh that the Able Danger information could have prevented 9-11. That is stunning. Even McKinney is taken aback by this (for different reasons obviously).

49th Item: JD Smith drops a bombshell: no information was collected in US persons, only persons of interest (re terrorists). There were linkages being developed and US names would come up – but no information was collected on these US names! This is really big news. If Able Danger holds the name “John Smith” in its databases and there is no way to identify which John Smith (DOB, SSN, Address, Phone, etc) then Smith is right – that is not collecting or holding information an a US person because there is no direct link to a specific person. They probably argued this ad nasuem against the purge orders.

50th Item: Another JD Smith bombshell. Smith was not there when the officers came to clear out Orion (which is strange since he was he PM) but those coming for the data claimed the data was classified – but that is not possible. Someone was really bending and breaking rules to get this data destroyed. The data was not classified. Kleinsmith dodges a confirmation question on this matter – not sure why?

51st Item: Bob Johnson and Shiffrin from Garland maintain that all that was required to hold the data was the proper form in the file – which is clearly how Garland solved the issue after the LIWA purge. Someone needs to ask why LIWA had to be shutdown over stale data as opposed to simply remedying the issue the way Garland did. Shaffer sites the fact that publically available data is an exception to the 90 day rule! Nuff said. There are additional exceptions for tracking terrorists. Kleinsmith comments that he was barred from working on the data to clean it up! What a joke. But he does confirm there were products from LIWA going to SOCOM as I suspected.

52nd Item: McKinney opens up a really interesting angle about parallel operations in other areas of the government (CIA). Shaffer responds about the CIA finding regarding terrorists – but they were walled off (CIA would not coordinate).

53rd Item: Kleinsmith discusses Maj General Lambert’s (SOCOM) anger that someone had ordered LIWA (Kleinsmith) to destroy the data since it was ‘his’ data (for SOCOM. But Kleinsmith does add something: the data could have been reconstituted, but the analysis would have to be redone. If the issue was data retention past 90 days, why was the order to shut LIWA down? They could recapture the data, cleanse it were necessary and start over (basically what happened in Garland). No, this was not about retention of publically available, unclassified data. There were hundreds if not thousands of steps to take on this before purging and closing the whole thing down.

54th Item: Weldon gets to the nub and asks Kleinsmith if he was aware of the parallel LIWA China study and how the results had identified nationally known figures and that was why there was such a push on the 90 day rule. Kleinsmith says he was part of that as well – in fact four them worked both China and Able Danger. Another Weldon bombshell! The names uncovered made their way to CAPITOL HILL! How is that? Again, this is a small, backwater technology demonstration program – why would anyone run to the Hill? Kleinsmith says the result is a lot more attention than he has ever experienced. Hold the presses – is this a bi-partisan CYA from Congress??? The China report needed to disappear and the best way to get that done was through this lame 90 day excuse. These people KNOW what was in that report. Weldon recalls it and claims other members on the Hill saw it. It tied innocent, well known names to key technology lapses to China. 2 of the 3 (Shaffer, JD Smith) testify people want this to go away. Follow the China study, that is the lead to the people who deleted critical national security information in a sad attempt to not look bad.

That’s it folks. I want to do a summary post on all the big items in this which will come later today or tonight. Unfortunately I think we will need some key leaks from the closed session to track down who panicked over the China story and destroyed our leads on the 9-11 terrorists. Because if Able Danger was such a huge success after 9-11, as Cambone claimed, it had all the potential to be a huge success prior to 9-11.

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One Response to “Able Danger Hearings Part IV”

  1. [...] Jack Kelly went to the Able Danger hearing on the 16th and came back with audio and observations. He wonders, as do we all, why there seems to be a bi-partisan (and successive administration) attempt to keep this story quiet. Amazing. The only time they all want to work together is to apparently cover stuff up. AJ has more. [...]