Aug 26 2005
‘Able Danger’ Ball Advances: Fox News reports on this morning’s press conference with J.D. Smith, the latest Able Danger figure to step forward. Smith, a defense contractor, claims Mohamed Atta’s name and picture were on a chart on his wall well before 9/11. … Bonus Value-Adding Info! Kf also hears: 1) Smith said the data mined by Able Danger was public data, which would seem to rule out the kind of searches (e.g. of “Arab males who applied for a U.S. visa with a newly issued passport”) envisioned by Ed Epstein;
Here is the FOXNews Report on James Smith
J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who claims he worked on the technical side of the unit, code-named “Able Danger” (search), told reporters Friday that he helped gather open-source information (search), reported on government spending and helped generate charts associated with the unit’s work. Able Danger was set up in the 1990s to track Al Qaeda activity worldwide.
“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,” Smith said.
During Friday’s roundtable with Smith, he was asked by reporters about Atta, who was using another name during 1999-2000. Smith said the charts Able Danger was using had identified him through a number of name variations, one being “Atta.”
Yep, that is what seemed to make sense, Atta used many forms of his name as we discovered here.
Smith claims that one way the unit came to know Atta was through Rahman. Smith said Able Danger used data mining techniques â€” publicly available information â€” to look at mosques and religious ties and it was, in part, through the investigation of Rahman that Atta’s name surfaced.
Lots of good stuff in this story. Check it out.
Captain Ed Morrissey joins in on the breaking news with a hammer hit of a statement:
This further confirmation puts more pressure on the Pentagon to either come up with specific data that discounts this testimony or a better explanation for the disappearance of Able Danger’s data.
And what is going to be the link between Able Danger and Jamie Gorelick’s wall is aptly captured by the good Captain in this question
If the Army could go through open-source data and draw lines from the Blind Sheikh to other terrorists, especially in the US, why didn’t the FBI try that?
Recall also that Mary Jo White was the lead in the Rahman case. One has to wonder if the reason this connections was missed by the FBI was the wall that slammed down on her work. NY was the lead FBI center for Al Qaeda and obviously must work with the AG’s office White was in. Until the Reno/Gorelick memo mucked things up.
Sorry for the light posting, trying to put a major report to bed.
But I was able to take a short break and do a quick rundown of new information that has come out. First from the news outlets.
FOXNews has follow up on the Specter request for information which could lead to Senate hearings. New in this is a name of an FBI agent who was in correspodence with Lt Col Shaffer (not sure of his rank back in 2000) when he was attempting to pass the Able Danger results over to the FBI.
Though no date has been set for any hearings, Specter sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday asking the agency to provide to the committee “all information and documents it has in connection with Able Danger, Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer, Captain Scott Philpott or any other persons having any connections with Project Able Danger, including, but not limited to, e-mail communication, notes, phone message slips, memos or any other supporting documentation.”
Specter also asked Mueller to make available FBI agent Xanthig Mangum to meet with his staff. Mangum is reported to have corresponded in 2000 with Shaffer, who helped run Able Danger’s mission and has offered to testify on its findings, about scheduling a meeting between Able Danger and FBI staffs. No meeting ever took place.
Also in this article is some hint of back pedaling by the DoD on the conclusiveness of their recent statements.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Thursday that the department has interviewed both Shaffer and Philpott as part of its investigation.
But Weldon on Thursday urged the Pentagon not to issue any more statements on Able Danger until its findings are complete.
Weldon said in a statement that doing so “might give the unfortunate impression that its results are predetermined.”
The congressman said he spoke to DiRita on Wednesday and that “he was backpedaling left and right,” claiming he was misquoted about the status of the search.
OK, this is Weldon speaking for DiRita. I would prefer DiRita speak for himself. Also, we appear to have a total number of confirmed witnesses (recall three are already out in the open: Shaffer, Phillpott and the consultant James Smith)
Weldon added that at least five people on the federal payroll will testify under oath about the validity of the Able Danger intelligence.
More here from local news station in DC WTOP (CBS affiliate). It has some interesting commentary from Shaffer:
The primary whistleblower who says a secret military intelligence unit identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist a year before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks is coming forward to say the the Pentagon and Sept. 11 commission have tried to discredit him.
“Some folks in DoD I don’t think are too happy with this information coming forward for whatever reason, and lot of folks who have this information are considering very carefully how they bring themselves forward,” Shaffer tells federalnewsradio.com and WFED, which are part of the WTOP Radio Network.
“Every time I’ve talked to the Army they’ve said tell the truth. There have been other conversations that I have had with other elements of DoD, and I think you all have seen some of this in the press where there was a whisper campaign and some other not so subtle means of dissuasion — kind of put out there to wave people off this.”
U.S. Sen. Slade Gordon, R-Wash., came out and said the Pentagon was leaking information to him and others on the commission, Shaffer said, raising the question of whether the defense department is trying to cover up something.
That would explain Gorton’s idiotic interview on O’Reilly we covered earlier here. Looks like there are som heavy duty posteriors here in DC needing some coverage. The first act in a CYA move in this town is discredit the source. Shaffer has one good point I have been saying for a while:
“Why would the Pentagon be providing information to a commission that no longer exists? The 9-11 commission does not exist.”
NewsMax has more on the Weldon tirades here.
The Norristown Times Herald has had a lot of breaking news on this, and today’s article is no exception. Here we learn that Shaffer has already met with the judicial committee and provided names of the lawyers responsible for the barriers.
Shaffer has met with the Judiciary Committee twice recently, he said, and revealed the names of about five Defense Department attorneys who advised shutting down “Able Danger” prior to the terrorist attacks.
If these are Clinton appointees, as suspected, and not uniformed lawyers this will be interesting. And there are more details on the size of the potential witness pool from the project itself.
The defense intelligence employees worked on “Able Danger,” between 1999 and 2001, at the Army’s Land Information Warfare Assistance Center (LIWA), in Fort Belvoir, Va.
Shaffer said as many as 25 individuals supported the LIWA program, though only about a dozen were fully briefed on the project’s objective: To identify and target terrorists.
But the stunner is at the end, discussing Sen Specter’s letter:
The letter also requested an interview with Mangum.
In June, Shaffer said he tried to “broker” a working arrangement between Special Operations and the FBI for the operation, but the effort failed.
After reading the letter Thursday, Shaffer said the text was at odds with what he told the committee.
“They got it wrong,” he said.
Shaffer claimed he directed the committee to ask for information from an agency other than the FBI, which he refused to identify for The Times Herald.
“This (request) isn’t going to get (the committee) the information they’re looking for,” he said.
Interesting. There is another agency besided DIA and FBI involved? Wonder where this is heading?
Now to the bloggers.
At Just One Minute the Minute Man discusses the Specter call for hearings and information
Mac at Mac’s Mind is also onto the Senate hearings, and things brewing at the CIA.
The Anchoress brings her brilliant mind and graciousness to the debat with her post here on the hearings.
Laura Rozen continues to also amaze with her contacts with Shaffer and others who knew him too. And she is the one who has pictures of the mock up of the charts Shaffer claims existed.
Eric Umansky discusses the classic skepticism found in a recent LATimes editorial by Terry McDermott, doing a great impression of an ostrich buns up.
The Junkyard Blog see Weldon as calling the bluff with an ‘all in’. How true.