Weldon: Pentagon just trying to cover its backside
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© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
Posted: October 21, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to talk to our colleagues and through our colleagues to the American people about an issue that troubles me greatly.

I have been in this institution 19 years, and during those 19 years I have been on the Committee on Armed Services. Currently, I am the vice chairman of that committee and chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the purchase of our weapons systems. In the past I have chaired the research subcommittee. I have chaired the readiness subcommittee, and I have spent every available hour of my time working to make sure that our military troops were properly protected and have the proper equipment and training.

I am a strong supporter of our military. Whether it was in the last 2 years of the Reagan administration, the four years of the Bush administration, the 8 years of the Clinton administration, or the current administration of President George W. Bush, I have been a strong supporter of our military. I am a strong supporter of President Bush. I campaigned for him. I am a strong supporter of Secretary Rumsfeld. I say all of that, Mr. Speaker, because tonight I rise to express my absolute outrage and disgust with what is happening in our defense intelligence agencies.

Mr. Speaker, back in 1999 when I was Chair of the defense research subcommittee, the Army was doing cutting-edge work on a new type of technology to allow us to understand and predict emerging transnational terrorist threats. That technology was being done at several locations, but was being led by our Special Forces Command. The work that they were doing was unprecedented. And because of what I saw there, I supported the development of a national capability of a collaborative center that the CIA would just not accept.

In fact, in November 4 of 1999, 2 years before 9/11, in a meeting in my office with the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Deputy Director of the CIA, Deputy Director of the FBI, we presented a nine-page proposal to create a national collaborative center. When we finished the brief, the CIA said we did not need that capability, and so before 9/11 we did not have it.

When President Bush came in after a year of research, he announced the formation of the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, exactly what I had proposed in 1999. Today it is known as the NCTC, the National Counterterrorism Center. But, Mr. Speaker, what troubles me is not the fact that we did not take those steps.

What troubles me is that I now have learned in the last 4 months that one of the tasks that was being done in 1999 and 2000 was a top-secret program organized at the request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, carried out by the general in charge of our Special Forces Command, a very elite unit focusing on information regarding al Qaeda. It was a military language effort to allow us to identify the key cells of al Qaeda around the world and to give the military the capability to plan actions against those cells so they could not attack us as they did in 1993 at the Trade Center, at the Khobar Towers, the U.S.S. Cole attack, and the African embassy bombings.

What I did not know, Mr. Speaker, up until June of this year, was that that secret program called Able Danger actually identified the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda in January and February of 2000, over 1 year before 9/11 every happened. In addition, I learned that not only did we identify the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda, but we identified Mohamed Atta as one of the members of that Brooklyn cell along with three other terrorists who were the leadership of the 9/11 attack.

I have also learned, Mr. Speaker, that in September of 2000, again, over 1 year before 9/11, that Able Danger team attempted on three separate occasions to provide information to the FBI about the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda, and on three separate occasions they were denied by lawyers in the previous administration to transfer that information.

Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday on "Meet the Press," Louis Freeh, FBI Director at the time, was interviewed by Tim Russert. The first question to Louis Freeh was in regard to the FBI's ability to ferret out the terrorists. Louis Freeh's response, which can be obtained by anyone in this country as a part of the official record, was, Well, Tim, we are now finding out that a top-secret program of the military called Able Danger actually identified the Brooklyn cell of al Qaeda and Mohammed Atta over a year before 9/11.

And what Louis Freeh said, Mr. Speaker, is that that kind of actionable data could have allowed us to prevent the hijackings that occurred on September 11.

So now we know, Mr. Speaker, that military intelligence officers working in a program authorized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general in charge of Special Forces Command, identified Mohammed Atta and three terrorists a year before 9/11, tried to transfer that information to the FBI were denied; and the FBI Director has now said publicly if he would have had that information, the FBI could have used it to perhaps prevent the hijackings that struck the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane that landed in Pennsylvania and perhaps saved 3,000 lives and changed the course of world history.

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight because we have been trying to get the story out about Able Danger and what really happened. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I have to rise tonight to tell you that as bad as this story is, and as bad as it is that the data was not transferred to the FBI, and as bad as it is that the 9/11 Commission totally ignored this entire story and referred to it as historically insignificant even though it was authorized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, even though Louis Freeh has now said it could have provided information to prevent the attack against us, the 9/11 Commission ignored it. Not because the commissioners ignored it, but because someone at the staff level on the 9/11 Commission staff decided for whatever reason that they did not want to pursue the Abel Danger story.

Mr. Speaker, in August and September I met with the military officials involved with Abel Danger and one by one they told their story, until, Mr. Speaker, leaders in the Defense Intelligence Agency, including the deputy director, decided they do not want the story told. I think because they perhaps are fearful of being embarrassed and humiliated.

So what direction had they taken, Mr. Speaker?

They have gagged the military officers. They have prevented them from talking to any Member of Congress. They have prevented them from talking to the media. And the Defense Intelligence Agency has began a process to destroy the career and the life of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer.

Now, it might be easy for us to ignore this, Mr. Speaker. We all have busy careers and worry about reelections every 2 years and worry about our own families and our jobs. But I cannot do that in this case and neither can this body, and neither can the other body. You see, Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer took an oath to defend our Constitution. He took the words "duty, honor, country" seriously and devoted 23 years of his life in four deployed intelligence operations of our military to protect America.

During the time he served our country, he has received the Bronze Star, an award that does not come easily, for showing acts of courage, leadership, and bravery in the course of his activities.

He has received public commendations from previous directors of the Defense Intelligence Agency, including General Patrick Hughes, including generals at Special Forces Command, and including Admiral Wilson of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has received dozens of letters and commendations for his work. The laudatory comments I reviewed in his files are unbelievable.

But, you see, Mr. Speaker, there is a problem. The Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency was in a meeting with Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer almost a year before 9/11, and Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer showed him a disk in his office with information about al Qaeda and Mohammed Atta, and the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency stopped the briefing and said, you cannot show me that. I do not want to see it. It might contain information I cannot look at.

Now, Tony Shaffer was not in the room alone, Mr. Speaker. There were other people, and we know their names. So we have witnesses. Now, the Deputy Director has denied that meeting and denied he was there and denied this particular story, but the fact is he knows that we are going to pursue it.

So what has happened to Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer, Mr. Speaker? The Defense Intelligence Agency has lifted his security clearance. One day before he was to testify before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, in uniform, they permanently removed his security clearance. And now our Defense Intelligence Agency has told Colonel Shaffer's lawyer that they plan to seek a permanent removal of his pay and his health care benefits for him and his two children. Why, Mr. Speaker? Because Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer, like Commander Scott Philpot of the Navy, like J. D. Smith, and like a host of other Able Danger employees, has told the truth.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I sat here in the 1990s and I sat here during the 9/11 investigation and watched a ridiculous situation develop with Sandy Berger, the National Security Adviser under President Clinton. He walked into the National Archives before he was to testify before the 9/11 Commission looking through documents. He took documents out of the archives and stuffed them in his socks and pants so that no one would see them as he left the National Archives. Now, that is a felony, tampering with Federal documents and removing classified information regarding our security and information that the 9/11 commission needed to see.

Sandy Berger initially lied about it. He said he did not do it. Then he admitted it, and he was given a punishment. And, oh, by the way, his security clearance was temporarily lifted, but he will get it back again, for lying, for stealing, and for committing an act of outrage against our country's security. Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer, a Bronze Star 23-year military veteran, simply told the truth and now his life is being ruined.

His career is ended. He is no longer in military intelligence. They have taken his security clearance, and they are about to destroy him as a person. They are about to deny him the basic health care and the salary that he has earned, and they are doing it in this way. This is outrageous. It is evil. They do not want to fire Tony because they also do not want him to talk to the media. So by suspending him and removing his pay and his health care, they hurt him bad, but he cannot talk because he is under suspension and his lawyer has advised him that to talk to the media, to talk to Members of Congress, even when he is not being paid, would cause him further problems and totally prevent him from ever having this gross problem reversed. Mr. Speaker, this is outrageous. Mr. Speaker, this is not America.

Over my 19 years in Congress, I have led 40 delegations to the former Soviet Union. I have sat in the face of the Soviet Communists and confronted them on full transparency. I sat at the table with President Lukashenko of Belarus, who has been called by our Secretary of State the last dictator in Europe. I took both delegations to North Korea, Mr. Speaker, and sat across the table from Kim Gye Gwan and I told him we abhor the way they treat their people, the way they lie about what is happening, and the way they distort information.

Mr. Speaker, I took three delegations to Libya to meet with Qadhafi, and I told him that we are absolutely outraged at what Libya did in helping complete the Lockerbie bombing and the bombing of the Berlin nightclub.

You know, Mr. Speaker, I never thought I would have to take the floor of this Chamber and make the same statements about the Defense Intelligence Agency. As a supporter of the President, as a supporter of the military, Mr. Speaker, if we allow this to go forward, then we send the signal to every man and woman wearing a uniform that if you tell the truth, you will be destroyed if a career bureaucrat above you does not like what you are saying. If you tell the truth, we will take your health care benefits away from your kids. If you tell the truth, we will ruin you.

Mr. Speaker, this is not America. Mr. Speaker, this is not what I have been told by Secretary Rumsfeld that we are doing with our troops in protecting them, in giving them the best equipment and the best training. This is not what I spend hours in committee hearings on. This sends the wrong signal to America's troops. It tells them, do not be honest. Do not respect the fact that you have to be truthful. If there is somebody that the truth offends, then you better be silent.

End Part I