Aug 09 2005
I have seen another wave of dismissive rationalizations that use the argument that it was only in hindsight that the Able Danger folks found the names of Atta and Al-Shehhi and the two others from the thousands that would have surfaced from a data mining activity after 9-11. Basically they claim the names were mined post 9-11.
Hate to burst bubbles, but that would mean there never was a request to alert the FBI on these four people in 2000. I like to call this a logic bomb blowing up wild speculation.
When will people stop working so hard to disbelieve, and work hard to find out what happened?
OK, back from the brink. If the report in 2000 from Able Danger was a broad list of names, then I will agree the claims of Able Danger’s were exaggerated by Weldon.
More here on terrorists identified and their possible roles in 9-11
The 9-11 Commission, being caught off guard by this revelation, are going to investigate this situation. They have a lot of questions to answer, let’s hope they are up to it. It should require more than a week I am afraid. [hat tip: Mark Coffey].
And Captain Ed notes confirmation of the events by the AP – so sorry to Slate and their attempts at personal smears against Weldon. Facts are not theories, never confuse the two.
Thanks for stopping by Free Republic readers – look forward to watching your comments
Searching around the web and reading some comments posted here it is clear some people have somehow been quite easily diverted by some simple diversionary tactics. In a response to a comment on my first post on this subject, it was quite simple to dismiss the completely ridiculous rationalization from this Slate article, which tried to compare acts of speculation with acts of record.
Slate attempts top dismiss the fact that a US intelligence group ID’d Atta and 3 other 9-11 terrorists in 2000 by comparing it to speculation by Rep Weldon on the where-abouts of Bin Laden. We do not know where Bin Laden is and ‘sources’ can be questioned, that is obvious.
But we also do know who attacked us on 9-11. We do know that Able Danger made their report about four of the attackers in 2000. We do know the report was submitted and the request for action was denied. We do know the Gorelick policy ‘wall’ was in effect at the time. We do know Clinton was President and Dick Clark was terrorism guru. We do know 9-11 commission staffers were briefed on these events and 9-11 commissioners were not.
These are facts of record – not speculation. So unless someone wants to prove the record is wrong I find the Slate excuses irrelevant – to say the least.
But let’s establish a time line here.
First off, from Capt Ed we know the Gorelick ‘wall’ was imposed prior to 1999 – so it was in effect when these events transpired.
From the NYTimes we see that Able Danger was set up in 1999
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.
At this same time the Clinton administration (and its NSC) was circulating a plan to disrupt Al Qaeda operations, as we see from a timely NRO article by Mark Levin. This is Levin’s quote from AG Ashscroft when first lowered the boom on Gorelick and Clark
[T]he Commission should study carefully the National Security Council plan to disrupt the al Qaeda network in the U.S. that our government failed to implement fully seventeen months before September 11.
In March 2000, the review warns the prior Administration of a substantial al Qaeda network and affiliated foreign terrorist presence within the U.S., capable of supporting additional terrorist attacks here.
Furthermore, fully seventeen months before the September 11 attacks, the review recommends disrupting the al Qaeda network and terrorist presence here using immigration violations, minor criminal infractions, and tougher visa and border controls.
Does anyone think with this kind of security alert in place in March the notice of an AQ cell in NY would be ignored in September?
But first let’s bring in the Sandy Berger angle just to establish it within this overall timeline. According to the Washington Post and Dick Clark (yes, I know he prefers Richard Clark) we have this timeline for the memo’s Burger burglared:
The missing copies, according to Breuer and their author, Richard A. Clarke, the counterterrorism chief in the Clinton administration and early in President Bush’s administration, were versions of after-action reports recommending changes following threats of terrorism as 1999 turned to 2000. Clarke said he prepared about two dozen ideas for countering terrorist threats. The recommendations were circulated among Cabinet agencies, and various versions of the memo contained additions and refinements, Clarke said last night.
So these reports Burger destroyed were originally developed in the spring of 2000 at the latest. The problem is they could have been worked on for months and months, and reviewed for up to 6 months easily. So they could still be in circulation when Able Danger made its report. And this is reasonable given this other Washington Post article:
The document, written by former National Security Council terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke, was an “after-action review” prepared in early 2000 detailing the administration’s actions to thwart terrorist attacks during the millennium celebration. It contained considerable discussion about the administration’s awareness of the rising threat of attacks on U.S. soil.
You will recall from above that the administration was working the Al Qaeda threat from March 2000 onward – so it is not inconceivable the memo evolved throughout this period and commenting continued into the time of the Able Danger report.
From this source, we find out when the detection of the ‘Brooklyn Cell’ transpired and when the report was made.
In September 2000, one year before the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11, a U.S. Army military intelligence program, known as â€œAble Danger,â€ identified a terrorist cell based in Brooklyn, NY, one of whose members was 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta, and recommended to their military superiors that the FBI be called in to â€œtake out that cell,â€…
The NYTimes has it slightly differently
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…
…”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.
Which puts the Able Danger Report right on top of these other events.
What is missing is when did the DoD lawyers make the determination to drop Atta and his 3 compatriots, and who in the administration was involved in that decision.
Interestingly enough, around 6 months or so after their report on Atta the group was disbanded in Clinton’s last federal budget year
A small group of intelligence employees ran “Able Danger” from the fall of 1999 until February 2001 – just seven months before the terrorist attacks – when the operation was axed.
I think we need to know when the Able Danger report was made and when the decision came down to let Atta go. We need to understand how far up the report went (which would seem pretty high given the Clinton administrations focus on AQ in country) and who participated in the decision to back off Atta.
And all the personal smears against Weldon are a diversion. One has to wonder why they are necessary, but here is Weldon’s floor speech to the House and some interesting snippets
Two weeks after 9/11, my friends from the Army’s Information Dominance Center in cooperation with special ops brought me a chart.
This chart, Mr. Speaker, this chart. Two weeks after 9/11, I took the basic information in this chart down to the White House. I had asked for a meeting with Steve Hadley, who at that time was Deputy National Security Advisor. The chart was smaller. It was 2 feet by 3 feet, but the same information was in the center.
Steve Hadley looked at the chart and said, Congressman, where did you get that chart from? I said, I got it from the military. I said, This is the process; this is the result of the process that I was pitching since 1999 to our government to implement, but the CIA kept saying we do not need it.
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, Mr. Speaker, 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 U.S.? And he said, No, Congressman. So I gave him the chart.
Now, Mr. Speaker, what is interesting in this chart of al Qaeda, and you cannot see this from a distance, but right here in the center is the name of the leader of the New York cell. And that name is very familiar to the people of America. That name is Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 attack against us. So prior to 9/11, this military system that the CIA said we did not need and could not do actually gave us the information that identified Mohammed Atta’s cell in New York. And with Mohammed Atta they identified two of the other terrorists with them.
But I learned something new, Mr. Speaker, over the past several weeks and months. I have talked to some of the military intelligence officers who produced this document, who worked on this effort. And I found something out very startling, Mr. Speaker. Not only did our military identify the Mohammed Atta cell; our military made a recommendation in September of 2000 to bring the FBI in to take out that cell, the cell of Mohammed Atta. So now, Mr. Speaker, for the first time I can tell our colleagues that one of our agencies not only identified the New York cell of Mohammed Atta and two of the terrorists, but actually made a recommendation to bring the FBI in to take out that cell. And they made that recommendation because Madeleine Albright had declared that al Qaeda, an international terrorist organization, and the military units involved here felt they had jurisdiction to go to the FBI.
Why, then, did they not proceed? 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?
I want these questions answered too – and without diversionary static from apologists.
And I am by no means calling the MinuteMan an apologist – but he does have a good opposing case to make here.