Skip to comments.9/11 attackers on radar in '00? - (Clinton knew??..)
Posted on 08/09/2005 6:09:18 AM PDT by LibFreeUSA
WASHINGTON - More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military-intelligence unit identified Mohamed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of an al-Qaeda cell operating in the United States, according to Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.) and a former defense intelligence official.
In the summer of 2000, the team, known as "Able Danger," prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military's Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the FBI, Weldon and the former intelligence official said yesterday.
The recommendation was rejected, and the information was not shared, they said, apparently at least in part because Atta and the others were in the United States on valid entry visas.
Under American law, U.S. citizens and green-card holders may not be investigated in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but Weldon and the former intelligence official said it may have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law-enforcement agency.
A former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including executive director Philip Zelikow, were told about the program during an overseas trip in October 2003 that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Felzenberg said the briefers did not mention Atta's name. The report produced by the commission last year does not mention the episode.
Weldon first spoke publicly about the episode in June, in a little-noticed speech on the House floor and in an interview with the Times-Herald in Norristown. The matter resurfaced yesterday in a report by GSN: Government Security News, which is published every two weeks and covers issues related to homeland security. That report was based on accounts by Weldon and the former intelligence official that were made available to the New York Times yesterday in Weldon's office.
In a telephone interview from his home in Pennsylvania, Weldon said he was basing his assertions on similar ones made by at least three other former intelligence officers with direct knowledge of the project. He said some of the officers had first called the episode to his attention shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.
First hint on Atta
The account is believed to be the first assertion that Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks. Among the 19 hijackers, only Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi had been identified as potential threats by the CIA before the summer of 2000, and information about them was not provided to the FBI until the spring of 2001.
Weldon has long been a champion of the kind of data-mining analysis that was the basis for the work done by the Able Danger team.
The former intelligence official spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying that he did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly. He said the Able Danger unit had been established by the Special Operations Command in 1999, under a classified directive issued by Gen. Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about al-Qaeda networks around the world.
'Taking out' targets
"Ultimately, Able Danger was going to give decision-makers options for taking out al-Qaeda targets," the former defense intelligence official said. He said that he himself had delivered the chart in the summer of 2000 to the Special Operations Command headquarters, in Tampa, Fla., and said it had been based on information drawn from unclassified sources and government records, including those of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
"We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them," the former intelligence official said. The unit, which relied heavily on data-mining techniques, was modeled after those first established by Army intelligence at the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center, now known as the Information Dominance Center, at Fort Belvoir, Va., the official said.
Weldon is an outspoken figure who is a vice chairman of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. He said he had recognized the significance of the episode only recently, when he contacted members of the military intelligence team as part of research for his book, Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America and How the CIA Has Ignored It. Weldon's book prompted one veteran CIA member to strongly dispute the reliability of one Iranian source cited in the book, saying the Iranian "was a waste of my time and resources."
Weldon said that he had discussed the Able Danger episode with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R., Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, and that at least two congressional committees were now looking into the episode.
In the interview yesterday, Weldon said he had been aware of the episode since shortly after the Sept. 11 attack, when members of the team first brought it to his attention. He said he had told Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, about it in a conversation in September or October of 2001 and had been surprised when the Sept. 11 commission report made no mention of the operation.
Col. Samuel Taylor, a spokesman for the military's Special Operations Command, said no one at the command now had any knowledge of the Able Danger program, its mission or its findings. Taylor said if the program existed, it was probably a highly classified "special access program" or other highly compartmented program that only a small number of military personnel would have been briefed on.
During the interview in Weldon's office, the former defense intelligence official showed a floor-size chart depicting al-Qaeda networks around the world that he said was a larger, more detailed version of one prepared by the Able Danger team in the summer of 2000.
But he said the original chart, like the new one, had included the names and photos of Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, as well as Mihdhar and Hazmi, all of whom were identified as members of an American-based "Brooklyn" cell, one of five around the world.
The official said the link to Brooklyn was meant as a term of art rather than literally, saying the unit had no firm evidence linking the men to Brooklyn but that a computer analysis seeking to establish patterns in links between the four men had found that "the software put them all together in Brooklyn."
Of course he "knew". Clintoon was too worried about stains on dresses and soggy cigars.
Boy am I SHOCKED. Shocked I tell you.
Any bets Gorelick knew?
What did Clinton know, and when did he know it?
That was why Jamie Gorelik was put on the 9/11 Commission, to keep evidence incriminating the Clintoon administration out of the report. Since she was responsible for the "wall" between FBI and CIA investigations, no doubt to keep nosy agencies off the trail of all of Clinton's foreign contributors, she also had a personal interest in deflecting that feckless committee. God bless Congressman Weldon for bringing this to light. He'd better watch his back...
Only Monica knows for sure.
Makes you wonder exactly what was stuffed down the pants of Sandy Berger.
Not from me.
Of course the left's spin will be that Bush also had access to these documents and did nothing to stop the attacks.
OK, I'm no Bubba-lover, but let's be fair about this. The article says that the recommendation went to the SOC to send this info over to the FBI, and somebody in the SOC said no. That doesn't mean that Beezlbubba necessarily knew anything, or that he was the one that shot this down; I'd be highly surprised if it ever got anywhere near him.
What it DOES mean, however, is that the people that Clinton put into positions of power, the ones that enforced the "wall" between intelligence-gathering arms of the government--including that biatch Gorelick on the 9/11 Commission--screwed the pooch far, far worse than we thought. THAT, he can be held responsible for.
Hi, Jet. Thanks for the ping. Did we know this before?
Do you suppose that this is some of what Sandy Berger was taking?
I cannot recall now. I think this is new.
Gorelick was the Roadblock.
"Makes you wonder exactly what was stuffed down the pants of Sandy Berger."
The Able Danger memo?
I didn't remember some aspects but others seemed familiar, Jet.
Clinton was most upset that the 9-11 event didn't happen while he was President, so he could have declared martial law and postponed the 2000 elections for 4 or 8 more years. He wanted so desperately to be in office during a disaster, to help his sagging (and bent) legacy.
Having Gorelick on the 9/11 commission raised some talk of this. I remember that. She would play cover for BJ.
bump for later read.
Perhaps someday, Sandy will stand trial in a real court, where the sentence won't be published in the WSJ before trial...
I don't remember a group or report labeled "Able Danger", but it's interesting to see the 9/11 Commission admit they knew about this at the time of their report, but didn't include it in their report.
Just like they didn't include other important pieces of information in their report. Like Salmon Pak. That only made one of the Staff Reports (December '03) but didn't make the final report. Shameful and puts to bed the left's mantra that the 9/11 Commission report is THE final report on intelligence failures.
That was just what I was going to say. I'd be willing to bet that's what was in Sandy Berger's pants.
The Commission staff - knowingly - omitted the information according to Congressman Weldon. He recently spoke with Navy Sec'y Lehman who is more than torqued that this information was not passed onto the commission. According to Weldon's account of his conversation with Lehman there was "a lot of information" that the staff did not pass on.
There was TONS of information that the Commission either didn't hear or didn't include in the final report and it ticks me off to a fairtheewell when I hear people say that is the definitive report on anything.
It was not and new information comes in almost daily.
The way Clinton waxed poetically at the missed opportunity to mourn for the nation because 9-11 came after his term. I wouldn't be surprised if in reality he knew and wanted to let it happen to "secure his legacy".
Disclaimer: though the above reads very similar to DU tinfoil moonbat rants about our current President, I do not really believe that even the Sink could allow something like that to happen.
If al-Qaeda was smart they would quit blowing themselves up. They should sit back, relax, and watch the 'Great Satan' collapse under the shear weight of its bloated bureaucracy.
Let's remember, Hillary was co-President. Now she faces a race against Pirro who is tough on terrorism and Hillary let's terrorists walk.
"It was not and new information comes in almost daily."
Lehman and company knew that, but he apparently thought half a loaf was better than none. Weldon, the #2 Ranking Republican in the House on Homeland Security and Defense has been on this and in the know for quite sometime and is responsible for breaking the story. He gave it the the Philly Inquirer - his home town paper - a month ago but couldn't get them to write a story about it.
He's going to put some of the Able Danger guys on the radio here - anonymously of course. I can't wait to listen to what they have to say.
According to Weldon part of the reason for not taking out Atta and the other 4 was that the Administration and FBI did not want to be embarassed again like they were at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Sad.
But, ...but, ...He WAS!
OMG. Clinton did so much damage to this country and we only know the half of it, imo.
If you hear the radio report with the Able Danger guys, will you post a thread here?
Someone correct me if I am wrong, I think this law was pushed through by Jamie Gorlick the Assistant of Janet Reno. Jamie Gorlick was handpicked by Hillary Clinton and was the real power in the office of Attorney General, Janet Reno was just an incompetent boozer.
Way to go Mr. Lehman, pass the buck."Staff did it."
"If you hear the radio report with the Able Danger guys, will you post a thread here?"
Weldon has been the voice crying in the desert for a l-o-n-g time, but it wasn't until he came out with a book on "what he knew, when he knew it, and who he told about it" that the CIA/FBI et al stopped ignoring his threats to bring all of this information to light .
Here's the link to his book.
I'm going to send a note to Mike Smerconish, the local radio host in Philly on the Big Talker and ask him to post the clips of the radio exchange with the Able Danger guys when he has them on.
Thank you, markedman.
Wrong. Clinton knew, but he wasn't stopped by "stains on a dress". That was later.
Clinton's "terrorist units" were going after white middle-aged American men who used words like "constitution" and had high priest who killed policemen. ( Of course there's never been one documented case of one policemen being killed so someone could become a high priest, but it stirred up police forces at the time).
Clinton used the power of the government to go after the "vast right wing conspiracy" instead of UBL or Atta or any of the other real threats to our nation. There was a meeting in South Florida a few months before Hillary spilled the beans...
"Way to go Mr. Lehman, pass the buck."Staff did it.""
You've got the _wrong_ take on Lehman. Weldon phoned Lehman, Tom Kane and Lee Hamilton. Apparently all felt that they were not getting _all_ of the information that was coming into the commission. In Weldon's recent conversation with Hamilton and Lehman regarding this latest story, apparently both a pretty pissed over the ommission. It still does not change the conclusion of their report though:
Al Qaeda was at war with us for sometime but we as a nation did not treat is as such, and ignored them at our own peril.
They knew, the FBI knew....the Phoenix memos proved that long ago.
I keep saying that the same folks who allowed 9-11 brought you Waco.
"They knew, the FBI knew....the Phoenix memos proved that long ago."
Yeah, but this is the first smoking gun that the US Military and some CIA operatives wanted persmission to ambush 4 of the 9/11 Hijackers and were rebuffed, becuase of the memo that Gorelick published preventing the CIA and FBI from sharing information, and for political reasons related to Waco.
I'm just happy to know that Jack Bauer really is alive and well with his finger on the trigger somewhere.