[lit-ideas] Able Danger

  • From: JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005 09:41:56 EDT

_http://www.alternet.org/story/25697/_ (http://www.alternet.org/story/25697/) 

<<Pentagon Pushes to Hide 9/11 Mistakes
By Rory O'Connor,  AlterNet

Posted on September 20, 2005

Will the press and the public be  excluded from this week's Senate Judiciary 
Committee hearings concerning a  once-secret military intelligence unit called 
"Able Danger" that identified four  of the 9/11 hijackers in 2000?
Yes, if the Pentagon has its way. According to Fox News, military officials  
have been exerting pressure to close the hearings for at least a week. But  
Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Penn., is said to be resisting their 
 to classify the "intelligence information sharing" hearings, expected to 
feature  testimony from several Pentagon sources.
Why should you care? In addition to the fact that members of the once  
clandestine intelligence unit say they identified Mohammed Atta and three other 
9/11 hijackers as threats a year before the attacks, former Able Danger 
also claim that they tried to turn the information over to the FBI -- but 
were  repeatedly ignored.
Although Pentagon officials originally cast doubt on Able Danger's very  
existence, they now confirm that five former members of the unit remember 
picture or name being on a chart in 2000.
Rep. Curt Weldon -- a Republican from Pennsylvania -- has been pushing the  
issue for weeks. Now he appears to have succeeded in persuading Congress to 
look  into what the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United 
States,  (informally known as the Sept. 11 Commission) knew about the Able 
intelligence group, and whether the Commission ignored evidence about the  
hijackers' presence in the United States.
Weldon has also been critical of the Commission for not including the Able  
Danger project in its report on the attacks. But Commission Chairman Thomas 
Kean  maintains the panel acquired no evidence indicating that anyone in the  
government knew about Atta in advance of the attacks.
"The Sept. 11 commission's statement that it does not believe a secret  
military intelligence unit discovered a group of future hijackers more than a  
before the terrorist attacks is a total denial of the facts," Weldon says.  
"For the 9/11 commission to say that this did not exist is just absolutely  
Members of Able Danger say their group identified Atta and three other  
hijackers as potential members of a terrorist cell in New York City. Able 
analysts Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott add that  
Pentagon lawyers rejected a recommendation that the information be turned 
over  to the FBI in 2000. Shaffer and Phillpott also say they met with staff 
members  on the Sept. 11 Commission about their findings. But commission 
say Atta  was never mentioned by name at those meetings.
No one questions the credibility of Shaffer and Phillpott, but Defense  
Department officials can find no documents to back up the claims, have not 
the chart and don't even know if it exists, despite having reviewed hundreds of 
 thousands of documents. Since the Pentagon confirmed this month that 
documents  associated with Able Danger were destroyed (because of strict 
governing the collection of data on foreign visitors in the United States) 
this  is not surprising. Nor, given the volatile subject matter, is the 
 pressure to close the judiciary hearings to the press and public.
What is surprising, however, is the fact that former members of the Sept.  11 
commission roundly reject the claim that the Able Danger group identified the 
 hijackers so early. Commissioner Slade Gorton, a former Republican senator 
from  Washington, for example, dismissed it out of hand. "Bluntly, it just 
didn't  happen and that's the conclusion of all 10 of us," Gorton said.
Senator Specter's Communications Director says that no decision on whether  
to classify the hearings or not has been made and that discussions with the  
Defense Department continue. Speaking on behalf of Rep. Weldon, Communications  
Director John Tomaszewski said the Congressman "would be disappointed" if  
Pentagon pressure led to the closing of the hearings. "We all want to get to 
bottom of this," Tomaszewski told me. "We need to bring these issues before 
the  public, not to hide them."
Maybe it will all be sorted out in front of Arlen Specter and his committee  
this week. But if the hearings are in fact closed, we the people may never 
know  the truth.>>

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