Nov 10 2005
Updates below – keep coming back and checking the end for new information
Weldon’s timing is horrific – as usual. The same day the oil execs are testifying he schedules a news conference. No way the media-previously-known-as-mainstream is going to pre-empt big oil on the witness stand (so to speak).
There has been some reporting on the news conference:
The Pentagon inspector general is investigating the Defense Intelligence Agency’s treatment of an Army colonel who was the first to claim publicly that the government knew about four September 11 hijackers long before the 2001 attacks, officials said on Wednesday.
Among the issues under review is whether the DIA revoked the security clearance of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer last September in retaliation for repeated comments he made in the media about a military intelligence team code-named Able Danger, sources familiar with the case said.
Well the question is whether this will be a serious investigation with consequences are some pretend motions to try and make the whole thing disappear. The fact the reporting has major errors in it starting in the 3rd paragraph is not a good sign:
Revelations about Able Danger, a small data-mining operation that ended in 2000…
For those not up on the details, Able danger began in the fall of 1999 and with the central management/customer in special operations in SOCOM. The DIA (Tony Shaffer) provided liaison between the classified portion of Able Danger which was charged to identify and find Al Qaeda members world wide for possible future action by the US. The unclassified side was managed by the Army LIWA group using Orion Corp (now a subsidiary of SRA International) to purchase/acquire public data and process it through commercially available data mining tools. The raw runs with connections both harmless and important were delivered to LIWA, who passed them to DIA for their primary customers in SOCOM. The LIWA-Orion portion was completely unclassified.
DIA-LIWA-Orion also were performing a parallel data mining study for a different customer to look into US citizens’ connections to communist China. In the spring of 2000 the Able Danger terrorism study was rolling along and had produced data sets with Atta and the three other 9-11 highjackers identified as possible AQ members via connections with the blind sheik at the center of the WTC bombings in 1993.
The China study was also generating results which caught the unfortunate eye/ear of some Clinton appointees in the Pentagon’s General Counsels office. The resulting backlash was a blanket purge of all LIWA-Orion datasets, firing Orion and moving the unclassified front end work to another arm in SOCOM in Florida (here and here). SOCOM had the ability to mate the unclassified data with classified intel to verify actual AQ members from the list of potential candidates culled from the public data.
The purge was done in the spring of 200o on the unclassified data sets at Orion and LIWA. There has always been the chance these early data sets with Atta and Co. were provided to SOCOM and still exist. In the late summer, early fall of 200o was when SOCOM, throuhg Lt Col. Shaffer, attempted on three occasions to meet with the FBI to alert them to the possibility of AQ terrorists in the US. These potential threats did not include Atta and Co. as far as we know. Able Danger completed its analysis the spring of 2001 and was ended right after Bush was sworn in.
All this can be found among the numerous Able Danger posts we have accumulated here. Now, with the context set we can look again at the news out today:
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the inspector general began reviewing Shaffer’s case after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld received a written request on October 20 from Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services.
The trumped up charges on Shaffer have been exposed to the public – so we will know if the Pentagon takes this seriously. In one sense, Weldon’s timing is not good for democrats and the media clamoring for an assessment of intelligence mistakes and misuses:
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who has championed Able Danger and other data-mining projects, told reporters on Wednesday that Able Danger also uncovered evidence of a threat to U.S. interests in Yemen two days before the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole, which killed 17 sailors.
Weldon, who attributed his information to Phillpott, said the Able Danger team passed along the warning through proper channels but no word of danger ever reached the Cole.
“They sent it up but they don’t know what happened,” Weldon said. “That’s part of what needs to be investigated.”
TopDog has a post up at his new Able Danger Blog on a Weldon interview with Lou Dobbs on CNN. At least someone allowed Weldon on the news tonight.
Here is the video of the news conference. This is a 47 minute press conference. I will do my best to highlight only new information or of major import.
Weldon begins by announcing his meetings with Pentagon Inspector general and his request (among two others) for a criminal investigation.
Repeats the charge some in the Pentagon accused Shaffer of having an affair with a Weldon staffer.
Weldon absolutely nails down the timeline for the Atta and the other 9-11 terrorists identification to January 2000 – as we had determined indirectly before.
He also places the attempts to reach the FBI were in September of 2000 (corroborated by FBI employee who tried to set up the meetings).
Weldon discusses the warnings about the USS Cole two days before the fateful attack. He met with the Capt of the Cole who is still being assessed for blame in the bombing – though Able Danger knew of the danger from intel regarding a Yemen terrorist cell.
Weldon is stating he can now go public that the 9-11 commission is hiding information on this subject. They have been unwilling to investigate he claims. He is not happy with their response to why they had not investigated since August. Weldon claims cover up. Why? He says people like the current deputy director of the DIA is going to be embarrassed by the findings. Weldon has a corroborative witness to Shaffer on a meeting with this guy who stopped the meeting so he would not have to hear about Able Danger. Weldon does confirm this is today’s acting director: Mark Ewing.
Weldon returns to the claim that 9-11 staffer Dieter Snell is the one who interviewed Phillpott in the summer of 2004 (right before the report was to be released) who barred the 9-11 commission from getting an update to the Able Danger story. Phillpott will testify to seeing Atta in January 2000. This is important since Phillpott is believed to be part of the classified, SOCOM side of Able Danger. If that is true then SOCOM did get initial data sets prior to the purge at LIWA and Orion. This would explain why the purge of data did not set off the SOCOM general in charge of Able Danger when the data was destroyed without his knowledge: he had his own copies. I always wondered how someone could survive taking a general’s data.
Phillpott saw it many times. Dieter Snell’s response: “What are we going to do with that data? We go to print in ten days!”. [BFD – ever hear the phrase “stop the presses”?]
Folks, it is late. I will pick this up again tomorrow sometime.
Starting Up Again – I will see how much I can do before my meetings today. Hopefully I can finish up the whole thing by this evening. Captain Ed Morrissey has some salient points on the Weldon press conference here.
Weldon has now confirmed through Commissioners Lehman and Roehmer that Dieter Snell never passed on the Phillpott information. Phillpott should be more knowledgable in Able Danger since he worked on the SOCOM side, where the public and classified data analyses were merged.
Weldon goes over former FBI director Louis Freeh’s comments that appear to confirm the Atta ID, but also postulates the information could have made a difference with 9-11. Similar comments where made during his floor speech in the House.
Weldon now claims it there was a deliberate attempt to hide the Able Danger news from the American public. He takes aim straight at Slade Gorton and his attacks on the people associated with Able Danger.
Weldon now says Able Danger did end in 2000. Weldon goes onto discuss a January 2001 meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff – and asks again how this could be historically insignificant (which is a damn good point btw) He says people from both administrations want this to go away (not the Bush administration itself – since Able Danger was shutdown before Bush was in office)
Bombshell News: Weldon has been meeting with a Dr. Bob Johnson (son of Sam Johnson)who is a professor, IT expert and mannager on a parallel data mining program called ‘Garland Unit’. Dr Bob Johnson last talked with Able Danger members back in 2000. Dr Johnson c,aims his unit also was able to identify Atta by name before 9-11!
The 9-11 commission never talked to Bob Johns0n – and neither has the Pentagon. Only managers from his employer at the time (Raytheon) talked to him. Johnson’s data also was sent to SOCOM, where Weldon thinks it may still be intact.
Weldon discusses the pentagon’s claims about the 90 day rule on destroying data on US persons. Johnson relayed to Weldon what a joke that pentagon claim was in front of Specter’s committee. Johnson mentioned the in-house lawyer dealing with data mining, Shiffrin (sp?), and claims Shiffrin new about the rule and had a process established to deal with it. Weldon does let slip that Johson’s group was stationed in Garland Texas.
Weldon goes on and says Johnson knows why the data was destroyed. It was due to a SOCOM request to move the Able Danger Data to Garland!
[Speculation alert: OK, we have the China study scaring somebody to the point they go on a slash and burn effort to destroy everything around the China study and fire the contractor – which happened. The Able Danger data get’s caught up in it and the SOCOM General who owns it takes steps to move it to the replacement data mining team in Garland Tx. Home state of Gearge W Bush. In the summer of 2000. What kind of paranoia was driving the Clinton administration?]
Instead of moving the data the data was destroyed.
Bombshell News: Weldon recounts the Jamie Gorelick call where she frantically wanted to tell him she had ‘done nothing wrong’. Now Weldon says he has found out Gorelick had made two phone calls to someone at the Senate saying the same thing! He is clear there is a connection between Snell and Gorelick.
[Amazing how all the news reports somehow miss the major news elements of this story!]
Weldon is on a tear again. He is asking for GAO and criminal investigations. He says no 9-11 commissioner has ever taled to Phillpott or Shaffer. He tell’s Gorton to ‘go get a life’!
Sorry folks, as interesting as this is – I gotta go. More later tonight.
Starting Up Again!
I come back into this with Weldon recalling all the people he knew who died on 9-11. He is not satisfied, in light of all the losses, with the lame excuses he is getting.
He pulls out a pile of charts like the ones developed by Orion (now part of SRA, now an intelligence community contractor). Weldon says Orion/SRA told the Senate Judiciary Committee there was only one chart in existence from the Able Danger days. Weldon pulls out a boat load of charts and claims Orion/SRA lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. That is no small charge in the contractor world!
The list of topics Orion was studying is quite large: drug cartels, organized crime in Russia, Al qaeda, etc.
Weldon says the 9-11 commission only questions Gen Schoomaker and Shelton – no one else personally.
Amazingly, there were three hour breifings on Able Danger scheduled with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in December 2000 and early 2001! That is a lot of face time with the top brass.
Weldon has two witnesses to his meeting with Hadley when he delivered the charts! It was Weldon, Dan Burton and Chris Shayes. Too funny.
In response to questions we now know there were 5 cells identified. One was the Brooklyn cell and one was in Yemen (betcha one was in Germany). The first hint of trouble came 2 weeks prior to the USS Cole bombing because of activity in the Yemen cell. Two days prior the intel pointed to something to happen in the port of Iden (sp?), where the Cole was attacked. Phillpott was trying to get the information from SOCOM to CENTCOM to the USS Cole. Weldon has talked to the Captain of the Cole who had three options of where to go that fateful day. If he had any inkling of trouble at Iden he would have steared clear.
9-11 never heard about USS Cole because they focused on 9-11. [So much for connecting the dots].
DIA never knew about Shaffer contacting Able Danger because his commanding officer at the time did not pass the information on to them.
Weldon has now come to the point where he says it is likely DIA withheld information because of the embarrassment.
Weldon is right about this: it is not about a silly chart. It is about the entire sequence of events and mistakes – the chart being a simple visual of that process.
[It is amazing the Pentagon can gag people from talking to Congress]
News Bombshell: DIA had a annual meeting of liaisons in Florida very recently. At that meeting someone said the top priority this year for DIA was to kill the Able Danger story. [If Weldon can get a witness to confirm that we have something much bigger than the Watergate cover up]. Not national security – cover up. Unbelievable.
Why is the MSM focused on Plame and not this?
Weldon mentions Sandy Berger and ponders whether he took material related to Able Danger! He can’t remember his name initially too. Good stuff!
Able Danger group only numbered 20 people. That is why it is not well known. That is miniscule for a Federal program.
Final thoughts: Weldon is upset, and at times loses credibility because he is wearing his frustration on his sleave. But his points are valid. Likewise, the story doesn’t fit the liberal media’s agenda and the final story will not see the light of day unless a ground swell starts in the blogosphere and conservative press.
17 sailors died unnecessarily. That is sufficient in itself to find out what happened. Weldon is correct when he says the military will not sacrifice if it is hung out to dry by the civilian managers. Hopefully this will come out.