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Able Danger: CNN And Shaffer (AbleDanger)
Captain's Quarters ^ | 8-18-05

Posted on 08/17/2005 11:13:31 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182

CNN conducted an interview with Col. Tony Shaffer, the DIA liaison officer to the Able Danger operation who has gone public to tell what he knows about the identification of Mohammed Atta as an al-Qaeda terrorist more than a year before 9/11. TKS points out the transcript and some interesting parts of the interview. Shaffer again drives home the point, this time explicitly, that the Commission's response to the story on August 12th was at least wrong, and probably untruthful:

S. O'BRIEN: And his [Atta] name pops up?

SHAFFER: Well, yes, because terrorists live in the real world. As we recognize from the London bombings, there's a picture of the terrorist in a whitewater rafting trip. They live in the real world just like we do. They plan in the real world. ...

S. O'BRIEN: The 9/11 commissioners says they don't recall Mohamed [sic] Atta's name coming up in their discussion. They also say that his name does not appear in any of the briefings they had before they filed their report.


S. O'BRIEN: Are they -- are they -- you say you've talked to them specifically with that name. Are they lying?

SHAFFER: I can't -- I can't answer that question. What I know is that their statement on the 12th of August is wrong.

I never mentioned anything about a human asset network being turned off by the (INAUDIBLE). That's one of their statements that they claim I made. I never said that.

And the other thing they say that I said was that I talked about Able Danger being a project in Afghanistan. I never said that.

So if they got those two points wrong, I don't know what else they got wrong. The only thing they got right, basically, was that -- that there was information about this network that related to the fact that they were interested in it. 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."

Shaffer also said that the Commission followed up with the wrong agency, which could explain why they never got the data or documentation Shaffer thought they would receive. The DIA did not run Able Danger directly. Shaffer provided liaison to the project, but it ran under a different command structure. Instead of the cartons of documentation they should have received, the Commission only got two briefcase-sized boxes, which Shaffer estimates amounted to less than 5% of the overall data produced by Able Danger.

Soledad O'Brien asked one other interesting question of Shaffer -- why it took him a year to come forward on Able Danger. The Commission report came out just over a year ago and clearly did not include the information he knew he provided to the staffers. Why wait?

To be totally honest with you, we believed that there may have been a classified annex [to the report]. Not being on the commission, not being -- not working at that level, I had no way of knowing. I had to believe that there must have been some reason that that information was not provided to the public, either by follow-on information -- operations of some sort that related to this or something else.

In other words, Shaffer expected that a secret codicil had been published for high-ranking government officials explaining what he had told the Commission, and presumably other sensitive data as well. It took him a while to determine that never happened, and that the final report had been considered definitive.

Clearly this leaves very little wiggle room now. We have two sources, one public and one anonymous, that both say they told Commission on two occasions about identifying Mohammed Atta as a potential AQ terrorist in the US long before 9/11. Either they lied then, are lying now, or the Commission and their staff have lied. Shaffer's determination to go public and essentially end his career in intelligence ops to tell this story at least strongly indicates a high degree of credibility on his part. The Commission's constantly changing story over the last seven days after the revelation of Able Danger demonstrates the opposite about their credibility.

UPDATE: John Podhoretz' sources vouch for Shaffer's credibility.

UPDATE II: Voice of the Taciturn knows Shaffer and also endorses his credibility:

This story about State’s late-90s assessment about al-Qaida and LTC Shaffer's revelations have knocked the lid off of a long-simmering pot of disdain I have had for people who don't have the stones to bring up issues when they have a chance to do something about it. Instead they stall and cover and obfuscate and otherwise come up with excusive not to act and nip things in the bud. Boy, wouldn't a strategy to contain or otherwise negate the efforts of UBL in the late 90s been a neat thing to have? ...

Guys like Tony Shaffer (who I am proud to say was a colleague of mine for a time) are NOT the focus of my vitriol. He did what he could without becoming a martyr for a cause no one would have heard of. Truth be told (and few shoot straighter than Tony - don't just take my word for it) he's been suffering for his acts of "near insubordination" for some time. We should all hope that if he falls on his sword now, it won't be in vain.

I have also heard from an inside source that Shaffer has worked in regular intelligence assignments for the DIA (not just liaison) and fully understands the information he tried to bring to the Commission. He's trustworthy and knowledgeable, which so far beats anything the Commission has going for it.

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: abledanger; anthonyshaffer; atta; wot
If the statements of the interview hold, the 911 has some expalining to do. Thanks to Thumbellina for pointing this out.
1 posted on 08/17/2005 11:13:34 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Anti-Bubba182

This is the best site for checking out the Able Danger story. It's worth reading every day of this is a topic you are interested in.

2 posted on 08/17/2005 11:18:23 PM PDT by the Real fifi
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To: Anti-Bubba182
The pontificating blowhards on the 911 commission are beginning to look pretty silly, if not downright despicable about now.
3 posted on 08/17/2005 11:20:25 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: Anti-Bubba182


4 posted on 08/17/2005 11:21:20 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Anti-Bubba182


5 posted on 08/17/2005 11:23:41 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: Anti-Bubba182

Able Danger is the most interesting story on the news today. When I hear that name, the TV gets my undivided attention.

6 posted on 08/17/2005 11:32:24 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)" - Karl Marx)
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To: Anti-Bubba182

Statements are already wrong and with CNN you'll get the next stage of disinformation... like "Cindy Sheehan partied with Atta and used her panties to torture him..."

7 posted on 08/17/2005 11:55:26 PM PDT by Blind Eye Jones
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To: Anti-Bubba182

Another piece of the puzzle.

The Omission Commission
The 9/11 Commission Report failed to make any mention of Iraqi operations in Germany that might have been connected to al Qaeda.
by Edward Morrissey
08/17/2005 12:00:00 AM

REPRESENTATIVE CURT WELDON dropped a delayed political bombshell with a special-orders speech last June in which he revealed the existence of a data-mining program at the Pentagon named Able Danger, which he claimed had identified Mohammed Atta and three of the other 9/11 hijackers as al Qaeda operatives over a year before the attacks. Almost two months later, an intelligence-community periodical, Government Security News, noted the speech. This caught the attention of New York Times reporter Douglas Jehl, who informed the nation that far from missing the terrorist cell before the 9/11 attacks, military intelligence had identified them with plenty of time to act.

Questions immediately arose about why no law-enforcement agency took action with the information, and why the 9/11 Commission made no mention of Able Danger or the identification of Atta's cell in its final report. The sources for Weldon's revelations insist that the political atmosphere and the attorneys at the Pentagon would not allow the military to share the information with the FBI, believing (1) the existence of the data-mining project would create a political backlash against the Defense Department, and (2) it would violate the policies of the Department of Justice to have coordination between military intelligence and the FBI involving a legal resident in the United States, as they believed Atta to be.

As for why the 9/11 Commission made no mention of Able Danger, the Commission itself seemed completely unable to provide an answer. Weldon's sources claimed that they had briefed the

Commission on two separate occasions, in October 2003 and July 2004, just before the release of their final report. The Commission's spokesman, Al Felzenberg, initially scoffed at that claim. He acknowledged that the Commission had learned of the Able Danger program during the October 2003 briefing, but that Atta's name had not come up at all. "They all say that they were not told anything about a Brooklyn cell," Felzenberg said. "They were told about the Pentagon operation. They were not told about the Brooklyn cell. They said that if the briefers had mentioned anything that startling, it would have gotten their attention."

A competing series of revelations--from Time magazine, Curt Weldon's book, the Bergen Record, and even from the Commission itself (just four days after stating that they had no recollection at all of the July 2004 briefing)--has cast a shroud of doubt over everyone's credibility, including Weldon. Moreover, it has given momentum for those who felt that the Commission's final report left a significant part of the story untold. Noting that Able Danger, or any other data-mining program, gets no mention at all but that the Commission recommendations include expanding existing data-mining efforts and providing better coordination among them (pages 388-389), critics have begun searching for other data points left out of the Commission's analysis.

THEY MIGHT START with a few cryptic media reports from March 2001 regarding two arrests made in Germany. The BBC and Reuters both noted the capture of Iraqi intelligence agents in Heidelberg. Both reports gave essentially the same minimal data on March 1:

German state prosecutors said on Thursday federal police had arrested two Iraqis on suspicion of spying.

The two men were detained in Heidelberg, according to a German television report. German officials declined to comment on the report. . . . "They are suspected of carrying out missions for an Iraqi intelligence service in a number of German towns since the beginning of 2001,'' said a spokeswoman for state prosecutor Kay Nehm in Karlsruhe.

The Germans did not arrest these Iraqi operatives on a whim. Their counterintelligence operations had tracked them for some time before closing in and capturing the two. At the time, American and British forces had launched air raids on radar stations in Iraq's no-fly zones and the assumption was that the Iraqis may have wanted to hit American forces stationed in Heidelberg in retaliation. However, by March 16, a Paris-based Arabic newspaper had developed more information on the arrests. The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin summarized the report from al-Watan al-Arabi:

Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.

The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery

of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.

Interestingly, journalists such as Amir Taheri considered al-Watan al-Arabi to be a pro-Saddam publication--not surprising given its Parisian readership. Despite its reporting against its presumed interests, the al-Watan al-Arabi article generated no interest either at the time or afterwards. A scan of the Commission report finds no mention of these arrests in Heidelberg, nor any of the CIA or FBI interviews reported by al-Watan al-Arabi.

Why should any of this have mattered to the 9/11 Commission? Their report provides the most important reason: The 9/11 plot began its practical planning in Hamburg, beginning in 1999 and assisting Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 plotters through the summer of 2001. Having discovered two Iraqi intelligence agents conducting "missions . . . in a number of German towns since the beginning of 2001" indicates at least the possibility of more than just a sabotage assignment. Even apart from the al-Watan al-Arabi reporting, the strange coincidence of discovering Iraqi intelligence operations in such close conjunction to known al Qaeda operations should have raised some eyebrows.

If the 9/11 report is any indication, no one on the Commission considered this connection. In fact, no one knows whether or not the Commission even knew about these arrests. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, there has been much argument about the nature of Saddam Hussein's connections to terror. How could the U.S. government and the 9/11 Commission fail to consider this, given the other activity occurring in Germany during this period:

* Mohammed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh meet in Berlin in January 2001 for a progress meeting, around the same time German counterintelligence claimed that they picked up the Iraqi trail.
* Ziad Jarrah, another of the crucial al Qaeda pilots, transits between Beirut and Florida through Germany twice during the 2000-2001 holiday season, flying back to the United States at the end of February.

* Marwan al-Shehhi disappears in Casablanca, then constructs a cover story about living in Hamburg.

In fact, the Commission report notes that three of the four al Qaeda team leaders (excepting Hani Hanjour, who had at that time just begun his pilot training) interrupted their planning to take foreign trips (page 244). Why would these men interrupt their preparations in this manner? Traveling in and out of the United States presented a risk--a manageable risk, as events proved--but having three of the four team leaders outside of their established cells at the same time looks unnecessarily foolhardy from al Qaeda's point of view. It also appears to be the only time after their first entry into the United States that this travel occurred. All three had some German connection to their trips. In fact, Jarrah left Germany the same week that the Germans captured the Iraqi agents.

All of this activity in Germany could, of course, just be a coincidence. However, we have no explanation from the 9/11 Commission about why the al Qaeda team leaders who all hailed from the Hamburg cell felt it necessary to travel separately to Germany at the same time that German counterintelligence discovered the Iraqi espionage operation. We have no mention at all of even a coincidental, parallel hostile operation in the vicinity of the al Qaeda team leaders. Just as in the case of Mohammed Afroze, the Commission never bothers even to supply the dots that might connect outside their preferred narrative.

8 posted on 08/18/2005 12:22:39 AM PDT by Thumbellina (As I recall, Kerry referred to terrorism as "overrated".)
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To: Blind Eye Jones
"Cindy Sheehan partied with Atta and used her panties to torture him..." ----


9 posted on 08/18/2005 3:26:23 AM PDT by beyond the sea ("If you think it's hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball." - Jack Lemmon)
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To: Anti-Bubba182
"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."

Somebody got to Zelikow. WHO and WHY????

10 posted on 08/18/2005 8:38:08 AM PDT by soozla (Some people bring happiness when they enter the room and others........when they leave it.)
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