Skip to comments.WE MAY OWE THEM A BIG APOLOGY (And other selections from NRO RE: Able Danger)
Posted on 08/14/2005 6:10:27 PM PDT by Stellar Dendrite
WE MAY OWE THEM A BIG APOLOGY [John Podhoretz] A day or two ago, I posted a note of caution about the Able Danger scandal, and that note of caution has now turned into a full-fledged symphony -- and some of us on the Right who have been making a big stink about this may have been had.
The 9/11 Commission has put out a very detailed memo defending itself that basically says Rep. Curt Weldon and the unnamed Navy officers who have made a big stink about Able Danger are stretching it bigtime. The basis of their charge is two-fold:
First, that 9/11 staffers met with folks in Afghanistan in 2003 who told them about Able Danger and that Mohammed Atta had been identified by that military-intelligence operation. Here's what the commission says: "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."
What's more, in February 2004, commission staff members read Able Danger documents at the Pentagon: "None of the documents turned over to the Commission mention Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers. Nor do any of the staff notes on documents reviewed in the DOD reading room indicate that Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers were mentioned in any of those documents."
That's about as strong a denial as there can be, and it sounds credible to me.
The second part of the charge is that in July 2004, the Commission met with the unnamed Naval officer. Here's its description of what happened: " In early July 2004...the prospective witness was claiming that the project had linked Atta to an al Qaeda cell located in New York in the 1999-2000 time frame. Shortly after receiving this information, the Commission staffs front office assigned two staff members with knowledge of the 9/11 plot and the ABLE DANGER operation to interview the witness at one of the Commissions Washington, D.C. offices....
"According to the memorandum for the record on this meeting, prepared the next day..., the officer said that ABLE DANGER included work on 'link analysis,' mapping links among various people involved in terrorist networks. According to this record, the officer recalled seeing the name and photo of Mohamed Atta on an 'analyst notebook chart'....The officer being interviewed said he saw this material only briefly, that the relevant material dated from February through April 2000, and that it showed Mohamed Atta to be a member of an al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn."
We now know that there were 60-odd names on that chart. Is it really plausible that this Navy officer specifically recalled the name "Mohammed Atta" and the image of his face? Especially since there is no documentary record to support his charge in Defense Department files, at least not in the files shown to the 9/11 Commission?
I submit there is good reason to believe the Navy officer may have been extrapolating because he was so upset to discover that the "data mining" operation he found out about wasn't being properly shared with domestic law-enforcement agencies. And without more proof than a four-year-old memory that may have been faulty, the Commission was right to be skeptical about the value of this testimony.
As for Curt Weldon, remember that he's trying to sell a book. It's now up to him to put up or shut up. Can he or anyone else supply evidence stronger than the evidence presented to date about this that the Pentagon was in possession of Mohammed Atta's name a year before the attacks? I doubt he can or he would have already.
WHAT HATH CURT WELDON WROUGHT? [John Podhoretz] From tomorrow's Time Magazine about Rep. Curt Weldon and his Able Danger claims, which arose out of a soon-to-be-published book: "In a particularly dramatic scene in Weldons book, Countdown to Terror, the Pennsylvania Republican described personally handing to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, just after Sept. 11, an Able Danger chart produced in 1999 identifying Atta. But Weldon told TIME hes no longer certain Attas name was on that original document. The congressman says he handed Hadley his only copy. Still, last week he referred reporters to a recently reconstructed version of the chart in his office where, among dozens of names and photos of terrorists from around the world, there was a color mug shot of Mohammad Atta, circled in black marker."
If Time's account is accurate, Weldon has done something very, very bad with this whole story -- something either knowingly dishonest, unknowingly crazy, or foolishly naive -- and he should be held accountable for it. Posted at 02:40 PM
THE RECORD SHOWS I'M NO FAN OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION... [John Podhoretz] ...in fact, I've written innumerable columns and scores of thousands of words against it, some of them in this space. The commission was intellectually corrupt and corrupted. But Andy, consider this: The commission hears, in July 2004, from a guy who says that four years earlier he saw, on a chart with 60 other people on it, the face and name of Mohammed Atta. He has no proof of this, and the commission itself examined documents at the Pentagon months earlier from the same operation and found nothing there. With nothing else to go on, this isn't even worthy of a footnote. It's just blather and palaver, and let's be honest here -- would you have remembered a specific name like "Mohammed Atta" from a list of 60 names in 2000? We didn't know it was 60 names when this first came out. Weldon and the Naval officer guy made it sound like there were only five names.
Now, as my earlier item on Time magazine noted, Weldon is backing off his contention in his book that he had given the Bush NSC a chart with Atta's name on it just after the attacks in 2001.
None of this passes the smell test. And an apology is due the 9/11 Commission staff at the very least, I think, because some of us were in effect contending that they were sloppy or dishonest or covering something up. Sounds like they were being professional to me.
Podhoretz things he knows more than he does. Go visit Captains Quarters blog.com
unless Weldon totally invented this, totally made it up - it warrants further investigation. if this story is to get more traction, there will have to be more "revelations" and details forthcoming.
Sounds like someone who has received his talking points and has been told to kill the story and discredit Weldon.
This guy seems to be trying too hard to condemn weldon and this whole issue. The question is why?
This should be added to the mix:
NO APOLOGY, BUT A DEMAND FOR FACTS [Andy McCarthy]
I dont think an apology is or will be owed to the 9/11 Commission. Most of us who have asked questions about the Able Danger controversy were careful to note that nothing untoward had been proved yet. But the Commission has a dubious track record, having closed ranks around Jamie Gorelick when it was obvious that she had a blatant conflict of interest, having whitewashed the significance of the wall to pre-9/11 intelligence failure, and having gone out of its way in the absence of any meaningful investigation to deny Iraq/Qaeda ties. It was and it remains sensible to ask questions here, and the Commissions initial reaction last week only gave more cause for concern.
Remember, the Commissioners who spoke out said initially that there was no way the Commission had been told about U.S. officials making an Atta identification prior to 9/11, and acknowledged that if the Commission had been told such a thing it would have been a big deal, requiring further inquiry. Within 72 hours, they had changed their tune, saying: what do you know, we did hear such a thing, but we decided the U.S. naval intelligence officer who told us about it was not reliable, and that the program he cited to us was not historically significant.
The Commissions new memo is indeed an impressive piece of rebuttal, but its not a show-stopper. Two things if only two things are clear. First, Rep. Weldon has some answering to do. If he has answers, he should provide them promptly.
On this score, it is noteworthy that he is not on his own in these startling allegations. He has said he is in contact with knowledgeable witnesses who are in a position to testify. Further, the New York Times account last Thursday reported that both Weldon and a former defense intelligence official who was interviewed on Monday have said that the Able Danger team sought but failed in the summer of 2000 to persuade the military's Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla., to pass on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the information they had gathered about Mr. Atta and the three other men. (Emphasis added.) Its high time for these sources to come forward and explain themselves.
Second, as noted above, in their initial public denials last week, Commission members opined that evidence of an Atta identification would have been significant if the Commission had learned about it. It turns out the Commission did learn about such evidence (viz., the naval intelligence officers account) but was not persuaded by it. Well, thats why God made footnotes. If, as the Commissioners concede, government awareness of Atta was a highly important topic, and if, as the new memo indicates, there were good reasons to be skeptical about the naval officers version of events, the simple solution was to mention his allegation in a footnote and knock it down with the rebutting information.
The Commission's task, as the first sentence of its final report reflects, was to submit a report for the government and the country's consideration. It was fine for the Commission to make judgments about the weight of the evidence as long as it was comprehensively reporting what the evidence was. It was not fine to withhold conflicting evidence on significant topics so that others would not know there was an alternative to be considered. There are hundreds of footnotes in the report, some of which are, in fact, efforts to explain how the Commission resolved conflicting evidence on various topics. There is no good reason not to have handled the naval officers claims this way so that Congress could have asked follow-up questions and Weldon and others could have come forward with their conflicting contentions a year ago.
Posted at 04:54 PM
All along, we've been assuming that Weldon has the goods. But where did HE get this stuff from? What's his evidence?
Maybe in our rush to blame it all on Clinton and Gorelick we just agreed with something that's simply too good to be true because we WANTED it to be true?
I have no special knowledge, but I'm saying this looks like Weldon (who some here were proposing should run for president based on this alone!) is stretching the truth to sell books.
I hope he's got the goods to back this up, or he's made us all look like asses.
Nothing to see here. Move right along. Weldon is just trying to sell books, right?
Who IS this John Podhoretz guy? I know hes a reporter for the NY Post and Fox contributor...he also wrote "Bush Country".
I still have to wonder why Able Danger was just ignored--wouldn't it be in the "comprehensive" 9-11 Commission report because of what it IS (in relation to our country's investigative mechanisms working on terrorism), even if it's to say that nothing was found?
Via Time magazine...
In a particularly dramatic scene in Weldons book, Countdown to Terror, the Pennsylvania Republican described personally handing to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, just after Sept. 11, an Able Danger chart produced in 1999 identifying Atta. But Weldon told TIME hes no longer certain Attas name was on that original document. The congressman says he handed Hadley his only copy. Still, last week he referred reporters to a recently reconstructed version of the chart in his office where, among dozens of names and photos of terrorists from around the world, there was a color mug shot of Mohammad Atta, circled in black marker.
Pentagon officials are playing down any controversy. They say they can find nothing produced by the Able Danger program, which involved fewer than half a dozen intelligence analysts, mentioning Attas name. A senior Pentagon official briefed on the program told TIME, This is much ado about nothing. a source close to the former 9/11 commission aides who chased down the story last week said they had been led to believe the Pentagon would issue a statement along these lines on Friday. But as of Sunday, this had not occurred. "We have been working with the 9/11 public discourse project to gain more clarity into this issue," said a Pentagon spokeswoman, Air Force Lieut. Col. Ellen Krenke. "Clearly there was information that was developed through this program, but it is unclear what was provided to the 9/11 Commission." Krenke said she did not know about any statement planned that would say no information had been developed about Atta before the Sept. 11 attacks.
I guess I should type "We want it to be true so it IS true"? I thought that's what DUmmies did, while we relied on facts.
its too soon to draw that conclusion.
if the story is true, and if this DoD team wants this story out, they had better start leaking some hard facts, its the only way.
The 'rats make sh*t up day in and day out, and then demand investigations....bring it on!
I guess I am the one who is urging a Weldon White House bid! LOL! :)
I don't think so.
IF the issues are as Podhoretz says, than this only affects the issues regarding the 9-11 Commission (whether or not it supressed the Able Danger information). It does not affect the issues regarding Gorelick's (and Shnell's?) precence in that commission (which blatantly comprimised it, in most of our opinions), and it in no way affects the revelations about The Wall and its part in spiking the investigations that had the 9-11 terrorists on the tips of our fingers a year out.
John Podhoretz is the son of Norman Podhoretz, the founder of the neo-conservative movement. He's a Washington insider who worked in the George Bush Senior Administration.
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