Dec 07 2005

Able Danger, China, Cohen, AQ Data Purge = 9-11

Published by at 10:32 pm under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions

Folks, I have corrected the sections which did not copy right

Looks like this is the week for my Able Danger predictions to come true. Yesterday, Gen Hugh Shelton confirmed my early suspicions that Able Danger was a technology demonstration program.

Today there is a major article on Able Danger out from, which has many fascinating details I want to discuss. This goes back to my theory that Able Danger had its initial data set purged when results of the China study, being done in parallel to the Al Qaeda study that had ID’ the four 9-11 terrorists/pilots Atta, Shehhei, Hazmi and Mihdar, came up with results that implicated people in the Clinton administration. I made this prediction back in September when the NY Post broke the China connection aspect of Able Danger (here and here). This is what JD Smith had to say about those times:

The China chart was put together by James Smith, who confirmed yesterday that his contract with the military was canceled and he was fired from his company because the military brass became concerned about the focus on U.S. citizens.

“It was shut down in a matter of hours. The colonel said our service was no longer needed and told me: ‘You just ended my career.’ ”

Back then, in the referenced post, I pulled the name of John Podesta’s brother out of the news and wondered if he was the name that panicked the Clinton administration, which was just getting through impeachment. The GovExec story has a different name:

The people involved said the experiment looked specifically at technology transfers to China, whose military posed the gravest post-Cold War threat to the United States. Kleinsmith says the particular technology the IDC researched was arbitrary. “I think we flipped a coin” to decide. The point was to show the Pentagon that data mining could identify front companies, potential leaks of technology, and other vulnerabilities. “What we found was absolutely enormous,” Kleinsmith said.

Former IDC employees and others familiar with the work say the China research exposed a variety of avenues through which military technology designs could end up in Chinese government hands. The IDC created a diagram showing how organizations and people in the United States were connected to the Chinese. Hamre had visited the center, and according to Weldon, reported back, “It is amazing what they are doing there.”

The experiment “went well,” the former IDC employee said. “Unfortunately, it went too well.” During construction of those link diagrams, the names of a number of U.S. citizens popped up, including some very prominent figures. Condoleezza Rice, then the provost at Stanford University, appeared in one of the harvests, the by-product of a presumably innocuous connection between other subjects and the university, which hosts notable Chinese scholars.

William Cohen, then the secretary of Defense, also appeared. As one former senior Defense official explained, the IDC’s results “raised eyebrows,” and leaders in the Pentagon grew nervous about the political implications of turning up such high-profile names, or those of any American citizens who were not the subject of a legally authorized intelligence investigation. Rumors still abound about other notable figures caught up in the IDC’s harvest. “I heard they turned up Hillary Clinton,” the official said. The experiment was not continued.

That is clear as it gets folks. Able Danger was working to identify Al Qaeda and had struck gold with the Hamburg cell. But the same technology and group, working on a completely independent study implicates the Clinton administration so all the data, China and Al Qaeda targets, is destroyed in a moment of political panic.

It is now highly possible 9-11 happened because the Clinton administration was afraid of bad PR.

The contractor for the unclassified work was Orion, working for LIWA. They fed their unclassified results to Lt Col Shaffer at DIA to pass on to the classified portion of Able Danger at SOCOM.

The article solidifies timelines and sequences along the lines the blogoshpere has coalesced around.

In the fall of 1999, top officials in the Special Operations Command were looking for a way to take the nascent fight on terrorism to its source. Al Qaeda had recently destroyed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Special Operations’ top officers, including the commander, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, “wanted the mission of ‘putting boots on the ground’ to get at [Osama] bin Laden and Al Qaeda,” according to the 9/11 commission report.

But the military leadership believed that without concrete intelligence about Al Qaeda, a strike on the group was doomed to fail. President Clinton told the 9/11 commission, “If we had really good intelligence about … where [bin Laden] was, I would have done it.” Plans were already under way to attack Al Qaeda using AC-130 gunships. What was lacking was actionable intelligence to tell the military whom to hit and where.

Kleinsmith said that a pair of Special Operations officials visited him at the IDC in December 1999. At the instruction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the officials wanted as much intelligence on Al Qaeda and other transnational terrorists that could be mustered. They called the project Able Danger. (The word “able” has been commonly used for military exercises for more than two decades.)

This would be Shaffer, and I believe Philpott.

In January 2000, Special Operations gave Kleinsmith and his team the green light to find as much information as they could. “They told us, ‘Start with the words “Al Qaeda,” and go,’ ” he said. A month later, the IDC conducted the first Able Danger harvest. The initial results, while impressive, were hardly what Special Operations forces needed to put boots on the ground.

The harvest “was a mile wide and an inch deep,” Kleinsmith said. It included more than two terabytes of information, too vast an amount to provide specific targets. The IDC analysts could see the broad outlines of Al Qaeda, particularly its transformation from an idealistic movement into an operational network that could possibly inflict damage. Names, locations, and capabilities, and even the group’s financial sources, were “coming together,” Kleinsmith said. But the data set was still too big.

As they distilled the data playing the ‘Kevin Bacon’ game, more detailed patterns began to appear.

Eventually, they were able to isolate some 20 people about whom Special Operations wanted further, deeper analysis, Kleinsmith said.

The team developed charts to serve as “simplified explanations” of what they found. But those charts, now famously alluded to by Weldon and others as having named Mohamed Atta, sometimes measured 20 feet in length and were covered with small type, the former IDC employee said. The charts were so big, in fact, that analysts had to hang them on walls just to read them. The former employee doesn’t remember seeing Atta’s picture.

Let’s jump ahead to determine when the China study caused the Al Qaeda data to be destroyed:

In early 2000, in the midst of Able Danger, a lawyer with the Army’s general counsel visited Kleinsmith. As Kleinsmith testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, the lawyer reminded him that under Army regulations, any data the IDC collected on U.S. persons — even inadvertently — had to be destroyed within 90 days. If analysts could establish a legitimate reason to investigate a person further, they could keep the corresponding data.

But with potentially tens of thousands of names, checking each one would have been impossible, Kleinsmith said. In the Pentagon briefing, Gandy concurred: “I don’t think they had the capability to scrub it in the fashion that the oversight rules could live with.”

By the spring of 2000, Kleinsmith said, the IDC had the list of 20 individuals whom Special Operations wanted investigated further under Able Danger. But in March, Kleinsmith was ordered to cease all work on the project. He believes the order came from outside the IDC’s command. From May to June, Kleinsmith and his team destroyed the information, and possibly the linkages between Mohamed Atta, Al Qaeda, and convicted terrorists already sitting in U.S. prisons.

Not only did the Clinton panic destroy all the leads to Al Qaeda that had been developed at a key juncture in the 9-11 plot’s execution, it caused Able Danger to stand down for months as LIWA and Orion were replaced. This is the time Atta’s movements were lost.

Another one of my predictions was the replacement was a group in Texas (the Garland group). This prediction also has been proven accurate in this article:

Special Operations Command, unhappy because the IDC’s attention had shifted, moved Able Danger to a private intelligence research center run by Raytheon in Garland, Texas, Kleinsmith said.

While I am happy to be correct in so much of my speculation, I have to admit to being depressed to think our leads to Al Qaeda in Germany, and the 9-11 plotters, was probably lost due to the Clinton administration being shell shocked from the impeachment process. As I pointed out here, had Atta and company been pursued, 9-11 would have, in all likelihood, been avoided.

Now there is still the problem of the CIA turf wars and the barrier that posed to Able Danger being taken seriously. But it would have been one step closer to saving 3000 lives.

Please refer to this blog when using the analysis presented here, in whole or in part. Thanks.


Top Dog a The Able Danger Blog has two posts up on this same story covering other angles I wanted to get to, but did not have the energy to address. They are here and here – check them out.


Captain Ed Morrissey also comments on this, asking another great question:

…but it still doesn’t explain why the FBI never went back and rechecked on the status of this promising counterterrorism program.

Excellent pointpost.


Mac Ranger has very important post on this matter, questioning whether America is ready to lose its innocence.


More at Jawa Report


More at Cooperative Research – lots more!

A report commissioned in mid-1999 by Rep. Curt Weldon (R) looks into possible Chinese front companies in the US seeking technology for the Chinese military. Dr. Eileen Preisser and Michael Maloof are commissioned to make the report. Dr. Preisser, who runs the Information Dominance Center at the US Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) and will later become closely tied to Able Danger, uses LIWA’s data mining capabilities to search unclassified information. According to Maloof, their results show Chinese front companies in the US posing as US corporations that acquire technology from US defense contractors. When the study is completed in November 1999, the General Counsel’s office in the Office of the Defense Secretary orders the study destroyed. Weldon complains about this to Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, and apparently delays the destruction of the report. Weldon also writes a letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting an espionage investigation into these Chinese links, but Freeh never responds to this. [Washington Times, 10/9/05] As part of this report, LIWA analysts had produced a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the US. But this data mining effort runs into controversy when the chart apparently shows connections between future National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent US figures, and business deals benefiting the Chinese military.

Able Danger and LIWA’s data mining efforts will be severely proscribed in April 2000 as part of the fallout from this China controversy (see April 2000), and the destruction of their collected data will follow shortly thereafter (see May-June 2000).

More concurrence here. Honestly folks, I had no idea this information had been compiled this way.

27 responses so far

27 Responses to “Able Danger, China, Cohen, AQ Data Purge = 9-11”

  1. MerryJ1 says:

    Excellent work, kudos.

    It also helps to explain the “9-11 Commission’s omissions.” It has always pretty much looked as though the main job of that panel was to protect the Clinton Administration from (their) just desserts.

    Maybe the edges are starting to unravel on just how much misconduct and malfeasance they need(ed) protection from.

  2. Able Danger – Data-mining, Atta, and a Blue Dress

    GovEx, has this article today that has ole AJ Strata “sorta” dancing in the streets, but like I told ’em before, “you should have been in the business” – AJ had this thing pegged from the git-go. Give it a read.

  3. […] Was the Able Danger plug pulled to save the Clinton administration from embarrassment? So says AJ… […]

  4. April 2000 deletion was not the end

    I knew we could not agree on everything.

    It is now highly possible 9-11 happened because the Clinton administration was afraid of bad PR.

    I think AJ is overlooking one fact.

    Remember, the destruction of data at LIWA’s IDC in April 2000 was …

  5. Did Post-Impeachment Hypersensitivity Cause the Te

    AJ Strata, again has an original, intriguing and thought provoking analysis based on information contained in today’s Able Danger article by Shane Harris:

  6. Able Danger — There’s a lot they still aren’t telling us

    Will the whole truth ever come out about Able Danger, the data mining project that might very well have prevented 9/11 if it hadn’t been shut down for political reasons? There’s an lot of CYA going on by people who don’t want it known how badly they…

  7. sisu says:

    Data mine no evil

    It is now highly possible 9/11 happened because the Clinton administration was afraid of bad PR, wries AJStrata of The Strata-Sphere, citing a major article on [the Clinton-era data-mining project] Able Danger out from, which has many fasci…

  8. Was Then, Is Now

    It is now highly possible 9-11 happened because the Clinton administration was afraid of bad PR.
    Well… DUH!
    But then Able Danger is, like, y’know… a myth, right?

  9. […] Once looking like a dying story, Able Danger springs to life at Strata-Sphere, Macsmind, The Jawa Report, and here and here at the Able Danger blog. […]

  10. […] The story of Able Danger has been intriguing but until now it has been difficult to comprehend just what happened and what may have gone wrong. Now AJStrata @ The Strata-Sphere has put together “Able Danger, China, Cohen, AQ Data Purge = 9-11″ which might turn out to be the definitive story behind the story. […]

  11. […] The Strata-Sphere has been leading the investigation into the late 1990’s, top secret data mining project called “Able Danger”. What follows is a synopsis of his latest findings. […]

  12. BurbankErnie says:

    Holy Cow!
    That link to Cooperative Research has it all. That is the most thourough listing of events I have seen in one place. More info I had never seen and I thought I had researched the AD issue to death.

    A must required 1 hour sit down. Read it all. Click through to the links. That guy in New Jersey has some incredible links.

    This just blows me away. The Yemen Attack could have most likel been prevented, along with 9/11. Un-freaking-believable.

  13. mary mapes says:

    WOW AJ, Link-o-rama to your Blog. Fantastic Job!

  14. Media Lies says:

    Andrew McCarthy, writing in National Review, points out the obvious — the single most important piece of the 9/11 puzzle has been completely ignored.

  15. lucm says:

    for a detailed chronology of Able Danger check

  16. Hannah K OLuthon says:

    This is very interesting, and quite coherent with a very long term (decades, at least) tradition by which the honest efforts of mid-level government officials have been frustrated, deviated, and terminated by higher-ups with a different agenda. One need only think of the generations of DEA agents frustrated in their work by CIA sachems working hand-in-glove with drug lords, or of Sibel Edmonds or Cathleen Rowley in the FBI. Moreover, this culture of treason has usually been a distinctly bipartisan endeavor, with cover-ups on order in those fleeting moments when the enduring parallel government’s misdeeds came to public attention. Unfortunately, I believe this will continue to be the case, since such unpleasant realities, while regarded as well-worn commonplaces in the blog-world, remain safely beyond the pale of respectable discourse as enforced by media gatekeepers. The truth should make us free, but our inability to act in consequence will only make us angrier.

  17. Atlas Shrugs says:

    Fisking Zawahari Video

    HEADLINE READS: Bin Laden still leading war: Zawahri video al reutersVideo here (note how al reuters and every other major news outlet report it as fact. Every headline reads the same) Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden is still alive and

  18. Snapple says:

    Over at Free Republic they have posted a SNIP from a Wall Street Journal article on the Libby trial.

    You have to subscribe, but the article is by Daniel Henninger and the date is December 9, 2005.

    Henninger says that Libby’s lawyers will use the trial to expose journalists.

    Here is the FR link and their snip:

    I sort of wonder if Libby deliberately got himself in trouble so he could pull everyone into court. Is this possible?

    I am not too sophisticated about Washington politics, but that’s what it seems like to me.

  19. AJStrata says:


    Check out today’s Fly By – I talk about that article briefly.


  20. Jim says:

    If we had real guts in this country, we’d be demanding an investigation into the “presumably innocuous” links connecting Condi, Hillary, and former Defense Secretaries Perry and Cohen to the acquisition of prohibited technology by the Pink Chinese. The country is being sold down the river, and until we force Congress to grow a spine and use its subpoena power to investigate the mounting scandals that beset the nation and follow the evidence wherever it leads, irrespective of faction, we are doomed to bankruptcy and dissolution, or worse. Hannah K has the right of it; we’re chumps and we deserve every bit of bad news the kakistocracy and the people they work for have in store for us. It doesn’t matter which of the two, the neoconservatives or the neoliberals, is in the ascendancy. The result is the same…the country is being hollowed out from the inside. No wonder the 9-11 Commission and members of the current and former administrations are running away from Able Danger as fast as they can. Able Danger threatens to tear the mask off the corruption, betrayal, and treason in which our leaders are complicit. If you think I am talking out of my tin hat, read Safire on “Angel Is Next”, or dig up the transcripts of Condi on the Sunday shows verifying that this threat (on 9-11) to Air Force One was indeed made. Then ask yourself how the cavedwellers in Afghanistan broke our most secret codes.