Aug 14 2005
It’s bad when you feel the need to update a recently published update (here), but Update X got so long and mixed up it was Too Much Information (TMI). So I decided to follow John Geraghty’s lead and list what we know today. All of this is somewhere in the last update or linked to here.
What we know:
This dovetails exactly into my early predictions this would be the case. Able Danger was a small upstart concept program that probably rattled the establishment’s cage when it surprisingly found a terrorist cell in the US – which is why it was rebuffed. That is speculation, but I was correct initially about what an Able Danger program would look like, so why should I cave now?
The statement clearly indicates it does not have all the related documents on Able Danger (makes sense since this was a code word classified program) and that they only reviewed their notes on the documents DoD has. Their notes could be incomplete or their review of the documents incomplete. If they went in with some doubt and preconceptions to dismiss the program, they could have easily missed something.
And they shouldn’t have that in their files most likely. That could easily be retained in the higher security files of the DIA. But they do note this:
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.
This means they did generate a report (but when?). It had terrorists networks (but in the US?). Are there other reasons why the names Atta and Al-Shehhi were not seen – were they under aliases?
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 â€œposse comitatusâ€ restrictions.
That is another prediction I made many times (here for one, comments on other people’s sites as well)
So that is what we have. Able Danger existed and was doing what Weldon claimed it was doing. We at the Strata-Sphere accurately predicted Able Danger was likely a small demonstration effort. The record shows the program was in the DIA here in Northern Virginia, and was code word classified. We know they produced possible terrorist networks. We know much of the documents are in the DoD files, and that the DoD has not made a statement yet. And all the commission said is its records have no mention of terrorists names from Able Danger.
I am not jumping in the skeptics corner – not yet. No walking back. This is pretty easy to resolve, because the names Atta and Al-Shehhi are not important (they may have been working backwards and found that they were under aliases at the time). What is worth knowing is whether an AQ cell was found in the US and never followed up. Even that is cause for alarm. But the commission’s denial is strangely focused down to one minor point: they have no record of terrorist names in their files. And that makes me more curious than anything. Why?
Well, if they missed this whole event wouldn’t it be the case they have no record of it?
Here, on Route 23, bathed in the August morning sun and only a short drive from Route 80 and the Willowbrook Mall, a roadside motel bears silent witness to a police bust that might have been.
For a year before the 9/11 attacks, the Wayne Inn was home to Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaida mastermind behind the hijacking plot that killed almost 3,000 people.
In those horrific weeks after the attacks, the official story line was that U.S. counterterror officials had no idea who Atta was before that murderous plot unfolded – or where he was before 9/11. Only after the attacks could authorities track Atta’s movements.
Now that story seems to be false.
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.
The 11-person group called itself “Project Able Danger.” Think of them as a super-secret Delta Force or SEAL team. But instead of guns, they relied on advanced math training as their key weapons.
The Able Danger team swept together information from al-Qaida chat rooms, news accounts, Web sites and financial records. Then they connected the dots, comparing the information with visa applications by foreign tourists and other government records.
From there, the computer sleuths noticed four names – Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
All four turned out to be hijackers. Atta and al-Shehhi took a room at the Wayne Inn. They rented a Wayne mail drop, too, and even went to Willowbrook Mall. Al-Mihdar and al-Hazmi took rooms at a motel on Route 46 in South Hackensack.
What is interesting about this information now is that a CIA team, working separately from the Able Danger Team, had set its sights on al-Mihdar and al-Hazmi. The two were already on a CIA terror watch list and still had managed to obtain U.S. visas.
This story has not played itself out yet – not by a long shot. If you read the entire story you will find this interview confirms my suspicions that this upstart group was rebuffed in a fashion I am all too familiar with, and the decision to not follow up was based on concerns over posse comitatus.
Michelle, don’t walk back yet!