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  1. #1
    ehnyah Guest

    Rice aide hid disbandment of Atta's trackers from 9/11 report

    [ehnyah: this is a long read, I'm not an expert on able danger, verify?]

    embedded links: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/8/23/20200/6070

    Rice aide hid disbandment of Atta's trackers from 9/11 report
    by topdog08
    Tue Aug 23rd, 2005 at 17:20:00 PDT

    The story is not the sharing of intelligence, it's the fact that Bush cancelled the program!

    Wonder why Philip Zelikow might not have wanted the 9/11 Commission Report to include the fact that Able Danger, a program shut down in February 2001 just after Bush took office, had been actively tracking the movements of Mohammed Atta at the time? Think it might have jeopardized his promotion to the State Department after Bush's re-election?

    Counselor of the Department


    Term of Appointment: 02/01/2005 to present

    Dr. Philip D. Zelikow was appointed Counselor of the U.S. Department of State in February 2005, where he serves as a senior policy advisor on a wide range of issues to the Secretary of State.


    From the Times Herald on 08/17/2005:


    Shaffer, however, claims he mentioned Atta by name to the 9/11 Commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, when the two met in Afghanistan in October 2003.

    "I kept my talking points (from the meeting)," Shaffer said. "And I'm confident about what I said."


    Still think Able Danger is just a right wing plot to blame Bill Clinton? More details below.
    topdog08's diary :: ::



    From Wikipedia:


    Philip Zelikow served on President Bush's transition team in 2000-2001. After George W. Bush took office, Zelikow was named to a position on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and worked on other task forces and commissions as well, including the National Commission on Federal Election Reform.

    In Rise of the Vulcans (Viking, 2004), James Mann reports that when Richard Haass, a senior aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell and the director of policy planning at the State Department, drafted for the administration an overview of America's national security strategy following September 11, Dr. Rice, the national security advisor, "ordered that the document be completely rewritten. She thought the Bush administration needed something bolder, something that would represent a more dramatic break with the ideas of the past. Rice turned the writing over to her old colleague, University of Virginia Professor Philip Zelikow." This document, issued on September 17, 2002, is generally recognized as a watershed document in the War on Terrorism.

    Because Philip Zelikow's significant involvement with the administration of George W. Bush, many have questioned the propriety of his position as executive director of the 9/11 Commission, which examined the conduct of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. Both the 9/11 Family Steering Committee and 9-11 Citizens Watch demanded his resignation, without success.


    From Salon.com:


    Zelikow is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he also directs the Miller Center of Public Affairs. His qualifications to run the 9/11 commission are more than academic, however. During the first Bush administration he served on the National Security Council staff, and at the beginning of the second Bush administration he was appointed to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). He also happens to be a longtime confidant, collaborator and friend of Rice, with whom he authored a book on German reunification in 1995 -- and whom he advised on the restructuring of the National Security Council during the Bush transition in late 2000.

    Former counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke revealed that Zelikow, as a member of the Bush transition team, had been extensively briefed on al-Qaida terrorism by the outgoing Clinton national security officials. When the widows learned first of Zelikow's close relationship with Rice and then of his presence at the terrorism briefings, they were outraged.

    "As executive director, he has pretty much the most important job on the commission," said Mindy Kleinberg. "He hires the staff, he sets the direction and focus, he chooses witnesses at the hearings." She and her friends fear that even with the best of intentions, Zelikow's connections to the Bush White House will "taint the validity" of the commission's final report. Their demand that he resign or be fired has been rejected by the commission's co-chairmen, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton....

    "If he was there during the transition, making recommendations about restructuring the NSC, on prioritizing issues, on handling terrorism, on Iraq -- then how can he oversee the report on those issues?" Kleinberg asked.


    Hmm, I wonder if Zelikow advised Rice about this?

    From the Times Herald on 08/13/2005:


    A small group of Defense Intelligence Agency employees ran the Able Danger operation from fall 1999 to February 2001 - just seven months before the terrorist attacks - when the operation was unceremoniously axed, according to a former defense intelligence official familiar with the program. The former official asked not to be identified.
    In their efforts to locate terrorists, the operation's technology analysts used data mining and fusion techniques to search terabyte-sized data sets from open source material - such as travel manifests, bank transactions, hotel records, credit applications - and compared this material with classified information.
    By charting the movements and transactions of suspected terrorists, the operation linked Atta to al-Qaida. Between fall 1999 and early 2000, the intelligence team concluded that Atta, and two others, were likely part of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn.


    Update: Kudos to Booman23 and Sherlock Google for pointing me in the right direction.

    Update two: For those who are skeptical of the Atta story, what about this: Able Danger's main focus was tracking terrorists, including al Qaeda, but it was cancelled in February 2001, and for some reason there is no mention of Able Danger at all in the 9/11 Commission Report?

    Update three: The Kean-Hamilton Statement on ABLE DANGER (PDF) verifies that Shaffer spoke to Zelikow:
    On October 21, 2003, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, two senior Commission staff members, and a representative of the executive branch, met at Bagram Base, Afghanistan, with three individuals doing intelligence work for the Department of Defense. One of the men, in recounting information about al Qaeda?s activities in Afghanistan before 9/11, referred to a DOD program known as ABLE DANGER. He said this program was now closed, but urged Commission staff to get the files on this program and review them, as he thought the Commission would find information about al Qaeda and Bin Ladin that had been developed before the 9/11 attack. He also complained that Congress, particularly the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), had effectively ended a human intelligence network he considered valuable.

    As with their other meetings, Commission staff promptly prepared a memorandum for the record. That memorandum, prepared at the time, does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation.

    Think it might not mention Atta because Zelikow forgot to mention it? After taking the time to blame the cancellation of the program on the House Select Committee instead of Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, the press release goes on to say that they did not report on operation ABLE DANGER because they deemed it not to be historically significant!

    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.

    The Commission did not mention ABLE DANGER in its report. The name and character of this classified operation had not, at that time, been publicly disclosed. The operation itself did not turn out to be historically significant, set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts that involved Bin Ladin and al Qaeda. The Report?s description of military planning against al Qaeda prior to 9/11 encompassed this and other military plans. The information we received about this program also contributed to the Commission?s depiction of intelligence efforts against al Qaeda before 9/11.

    Not historically significant, indeed! It could have only prevented 9/11 if it wasn't cancelled!

    Update four: If you are wondering who chaired the House Select Committee on Intelligence in 2001, it was none other than Porter Goss, who is now the Director of the CIA. Nancy Pelosi was the Ranking Democrat, but we all know how much power the minority has in the house. Here's the list of members. (Pelosi had only replaced the previous Ranking Democrat, Julian Dixon D-CA, in January 2001. Goss was the Chairman for many years).

    Update five: If you missed the NY Times story this morning (or yesterday morning by now), it quotes TWO sources besides Shaffer, who say they had identified Atta in 2000:
    The officer, Scott J. Phillpott, said in a statement on Monday that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. "My story is consistent," said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command. "Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000."

    ...Representative Weldon also arranged an interview on Monday with a former employee of a defense contractor who said he had helped create a chart in 2000 for the intelligence program that included Mr. Atta's photograph and name.

    The former contractor, James D. Smith, said that Mr. Atta's name and photograph were obtained through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. Mr. Smith said that he had retained a copy of the chart until last year and that it had been posted on his office wall at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He said it had become stuck to the wall and was impossible to remove when he switched jobs.
    Update six: From the Shaffer's 8/17 CNN transcript:
    And they -- Mr. Zelicow's (ph) own admission, the next paragraph of their 12 August statement, says they called back immediately after talking to me, which would mean they heard something that I said which resonated.

    The other thing is Mr. Zelicow (ph) himself gave me his card and asked me to contact him upon my return from the deployment. And I did contact him in January of '04. That's where I was essentially blown off.

    I called him. They said they wanted to talk to me. I waited a week, called him back. And they said, "No, we don't need to talk to you now."

    Now, Soledad, I'm sorry. I forgot your first part of the question you asked before.

    S. O'BRIEN: You know, we're actually kind of running out of time.

    SHAFFER: OK.

    S. O'BRIEN: But I was essentially asking you if they were lying, which is sort of a yes or no answer there.

    SHAFFER: I can't -- I'm just letting you know what I -- what I said. I said, specifically, that we, as through the Able Danger process, discovered two of the three cells which conducted 9/11, to include Atta. Now -- and I -- that was, to me, significant, in that they actually pulled me aside after the meeting and said, "Please come talk to us and give us more details."
    Update seven: It's not just that anonymous source saying Able Danger was "shut down" in early 2001, Shaffer has said almost the same thing himself:
    He charges that some defense officials responsible for counterterrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks have returned to their old intelligence-gathering habits and don't want to revisit past failings that an "Able Danger" probe might highlight. "Guys that had a role in the (Sept. 11 intelligence) failure got promoted," he said. "They have not changed the way they do business."

    The objective of "Able Danger" was to identify and target al-Qaeda and other terrorists. The DIA team used data mining, parallel processing and other cutting-edge computer technology from 1999 through early 2001, Shaffer said. By charting the movements and transactions of suspected terrorists, a link was established between Atta and al-Qaida, and the defense intelligence team concluded that the Sept. 11 hijacker, and two others individuals, were part of a New York-based terror cell.

    But when the "Able Danger" team wanted to tap the FBI to track the suspected terrorists, Defense Department attorneys put up roadblocks and eventually shut down the effort.
    Last edited by ehnyah; 08-24-2005 at 03:59 PM. Reason: forgot link

  2. #2
    ehnyah Guest

    continued

    It is also worth noting that Able Danger was run by SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and SOCOM was a tenant at Franks' Mac Dill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. SOCOM commander Schoomaker, a close friend of Franks (Page 200 of American Soldier), who Shaffer says was briefed on Able Danger, served as SOCOM commander from November 1997 to November 2000. Tommy Franks became CENTCOM Commander at Mac Dill in July 2000 when Zinni retired from the post. According to the 9/11 press release, Able Danger was create in 1999 by Hugh Shelton's request.

    Given all the talk about how Posse Comitatus was a particular concern to DoD, this page from General Franks' book American Soldier in particular caught my attention:
    On Friday, September 7, I spoke to the CENTCOM intelligence staff in the MacDill base theater about the roles and responsibilities of the Command as I envisioned them.

    At the end of the presentation, a young sergeant raised her hand and asked, "General, what keeps you awake at night?"

    A helluva question. I thought a minute, then answered. "A terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York - that's what keeps me awake at night."

    The men and women in the audience listened intently.

    "If international terrorists were to strike a major blow against America," I added, "I fear the spector of the nation's military operating as combatants within our borders for the first time since the 1860s."

    I spoke about the excesses of Reconstruction after the Civil War, which had resulted in the enactment of Posse Comitatus, the law that prevents military forces from serving as policemen inside the United States. Would that stricture survive a full-blown terrorist attack?

    "So, the thing that keeps me awake at night, Sergeant," I emphasized, "is the possible use of our armed forces against American citizens. We do our job well, but we're trained to fight foreign enemies. We're not police officers, sheriffs, or the FBI. If we were ever required to act in that capacity during a major emergency like an attack on the World Trade Center, the effect on America could be devastating. Martial law would not sit well in a free and open society." (Page 236-237)

    Was Franks involved in the decision to kill Able Danger? If not Franks then Schoomaker (or his replacement Holland) was definitely involved. Schoomaker's now the Army's Chief of Staff. Holland was named to replace Schoomaker on October 27, 2000. At the time, SOCOM was still a "supportive" command whose assets reported to the local CINCCENT or regional combatant commander for that AOR. In other words, those looking into al Qaeda were probably under Franks' command structure by being under SOCOM.

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