Sep 29 2005
Folks I am nursing a nasty cold and facing deadlines, so color me red for never linking to Arkin’s post!
They will have to tear this keyboard from my dead cold hands…….
OK, they can have it.
Bill Arkin has come out with part three of his Able Danger treatise. I posted on his first two installments here and here. To recap, Arkin has (a) provided a lot of detailed background from his sources who seem very knowledgeable about Able Danger, and (b) jumped to unfounded and sometimes conflicting conclusions.
It is pretty clear that among his sources are people familiar with the civilian lawyer side of the issue, possibly with first hand knowledge. It is not a stretch to conclude he is presenting spin for the Clinton appointees encompassing the DoD General Counsel and supporting deputies. They seem to be prime candidates for the decision to purge the initial data sets in the spring of 2000 and bar SOCOM from contacting the FBI in the late summer of 2000.
BTW, I do write these posts as I read the article. So up to this point I have the page up without reading a single line. So here we go with part 3.
The post-Katrina agitation to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act comes in the wake of another assault on a venerable protection of the rights of Americans, namely the web of Executive Orders and regulations restricting military and civilian intelligence agencies from collecting information on U.S. citizens.
Emphasis mine. Again Arkin uses loaded language to make people feel a program meant to identify Al Qaeda members world wide was targetting Americans? This is political spin and a legal defense canard wrapped together. The argument could possibly apply with the China Study which was being done in parallel to Able Danger, but it has nothing to do with Able Danger.
If Arkin is attempting to create a veil of ‘righteous indignation’ against Able Danger and their methods he is as clumsy as he is dangerous. The lengths some power players will go to protect themselves is stunning. They will sacrifice our national needs for their personal salvation. Sacrificing for our country seems to disappear from the equation.
My theory is the China Gate study connected some dots to the Clinton administration and the wrath of the Clintons came down on Orion and LIWA. But the actions by the Clinton appointed lawyers in the DoD were ‘sortched earth’ in nature, and they grabbed up the Able Danger data as well as the China data.
It is this very kind of abuse of power we cannot allow to happen in the future. Even if an intel group does accidentally, in error, connect administration people to some threat or scandal, the purging of the information by those who had been maligned cannot be the solution. There as to be a process of review.
Yet Arkin may be trying to replay this same game today. It appears he is trying to generate a false upswell of intimidation and fear in the populace so those sources he is coordinating with can deflect their wrong doing onto Able Danger and shut it down again! This would not be good for our Global War on Terror.
Let’s see if this speculation holds out through the rest of this article. Well, that did not take long (next paragraph):
Ever since the Able Danger debate began in August, whistle blower Army reserve intelligence officer Anthony Shaffer and his patron Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) have been suggesting that military lawyers protect terrorists under some archaic pre-9/11 rule.
Again, I have never once seen this claim by Weldon or Shaffer. If Arkin is going to make such a claim he should have the professional decency to site a source or reference. The fact Arkin has good details on background yet writes erroneous statements bolsters my contention Arkin may be a mouthpiece for the person or people who are the core of the Able Danger issue – civilian, Clinton appointee lawyers. Not ‘military lawyers’ as Arkin states.
This is another weak attempt to try and drive military lawyers to feel they are the victims of the Able Danger scandal. Well, all I have read has clearly and solely but the terrible decisions regarding Able Danger squarely on the appointed lawyers – who I would guess are not heroes to the real military lawyers who make a career of the military – not a political opportunity.
I pointed out yesterday Arkin was getting cockey and would possibly slip up – and so he did.
Nothing restricts U.S. military intelligence from collecting information on real terrorists, and nothing even stops U.S. intelligence from passing information indicating terrorist involvement on the part of a U.S. citizen from being passed to the FBI.
Debate ended. Able Danger was targetting terrorists and did try and pass information to the FBI. So why the purge and barrier? Let’s see how Arkin tries to spin his way out of this one (or should I say his source close to the legal side of Able Danger, since I think Arkin has a ghost writer).
Shaffer and other shadow warriors just don’t like lines. They think that they can conduct surveillance, analyze intelligence, enforce the law, and fight the war on terrorism all by themselves.
Yeah, this ain’t Arkin speaking – this is the person who will be on the hot seat if Able Danger blows open. There was no ‘surveillance’. Running data to see who the WTC 1 terrorist had contact with is not surveillance. Orion and LIWA did not analyze intelligence. The Orion work and products were all unclassified. SOCOM was the organization that took the candidate Al Qaeda members the surfaced from the data mining analysis and did the final determination of who represented an actual Al Qaeda operative – sometimes by reviewing classified intelligence data. But it was not Orion, LIWA or DIA (Shaffer).
The last two claims ( “enforce the law, and fight the war on terrorism”) are laughable. When did Shaffer, Phillpott or anyone attempt enforce the law or fight terrorism outside the command structure?? Yep, this has to be spin from a lawyer trying to CYA. Like most anti-Bush whackos, Arkin has a rough time making coherent arguments:
As a result, they see the rules segregating intelligence from law enforcement, let alone intelligence from war fighting and policy (remember Iraq) as niceties that the global war on terrorism can no longer afford.
I have no idea what that vague reference to Iraq means. It must mean something in the fevered swamps of the leftward fringes, somehow connected to the DSMs! But for a so called intel expert, he seems to have missed the part were SOCOM, following the rules Arkin refers to, attempted to pass on information about possible terrorists in the US when they detected it as a by-product of their efforts to identify Al Qaeda members. They followed the process to the ‘T’. Shaffer points out in the very section of the GSN memo Arking refers to that they brought in legal counsel from day one and wrestled with these rules upfront and continuously.
Arkin is Barkin’ up the wrong tree. Arkin blabs on in true anti-patriot act paranoia for a few paragraphs, nothing having to do with Able Danger. But it is clear is goal is to create a groundswell of fear to shut these programs down, as I said earlier. But there is possibly another purpose. Laying the ground work for a story.
This kind of spin makes is possible to present those who disabled Able Danger in the ‘purge’ and ‘walling off’ of 2000 as defenders of civil rights! What a masterful piece of imagination! WThey were not trying to shutdown a politically uncomfortable investigation into Chinese connections to US entities which may have been in the administration. Nor twas it a case of severely impacting a program to identify AQ members. No! This was an attempt to save our rights as Americans (wave the flags, cue the music).
In Arkin’s mind (and likely the mind of his source on the legal side of the Able Danger issue) this marginal, prototype demonstration program was a threat to America??? Gimme a break.
So, after getting on his soap box about mythical intelligence gathering on US citizens, Arkin ends with this stunner:
One can only wonder at this point what information the Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) really collected on behalf of Able Danger that necessitated a complete purge and destruction of its entire database.
The guy is a class A fool. He makes all these claims that Able Danger breaking the law and then admits he has no clue what data they collected, therefore undermining all his claims about breaking laws! Why did it get purged? Ask your source who was on the legal side of the Able Danger issue.
MacRanger is has had his say on Able Danger in a post where he says good-bye to the Able Danger drama – for now. I hate to see him go, but he has some good points. I too have been ready to step away recently. If it had not been for Arkin’s lame attempt to spin the story I probably would have done so. We need new information, and we need the hearings. And to answer Mac’s question on do we want to know? I say ‘yes’, we need to know. We need to agree on the use of public information to protect ourselves. And we need to make sure no political or partisan concerns ever overshadow national security concerns. And to be honest to this last point means to answer ‘yes’.
Top Dog has some really good observations on Arkin here. He too felt the more Arkin wrote the less impressive he became. Top Dog also has a good reminder:
Both current and past regulations were intended to allow different agencies to work together. Working together is exactly what Shaffer and Phillpott tried to do. Instead, they were beatened back at every turn by bureaucrats worried that “it’s not my job” or concerned someone might “steal their thunder” by actually using shared information to accomplish something.
Definitely read his post.