Aug 08 2005

Jamie Gorelick – Have You No Shame?

Published by at 11:43 pm under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions


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It has long been known that the ‘wall’ between local law enforcement and the intelligence agency that 9-11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick established while working for Bill Clinton was an obstacle to finding terrorists in our midst pre 9-11.

But now the NYTimes, of all MSM sources, has a story that ties Gorelick’s actions to bar coordination between intelligence and law enforcement probably led to 9-11 being successful, as opposed to stopped:

In the summer of 2000, the military 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.

The recommendation was rejected and the information was not shared, they said, apparently at least in part because Mr. Atta, and the others were in the United States on valid entry visas. Under American law, United States citizens and green-card holders may not be singled out in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but Mr. Weldon and the former intelligence official said it might have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law enforcement agency.

What this means is simple. Gorelick’s actions were so intense, so strident, that protections where expanded beyong the legal requirement to include visa holders – aka, the 9-11 terrorists. I think the commission needs to re-open the role of their commision member who was directly responsible for the law, and the resulting tone in law enforcement circles that led a positive lead to be squashed on the alter of political correctness.

former spokesman for the Sept. 11 commission, Al Felzenberg, confirmed that members of its staff, including Philip Zelikow, the executive director, were told about the program on an overseas trip in October 2003 that included stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Mr. Felzenberg said the briefers did not mention Mr. Atta’s name.

The report produced by the commission last year does not mention the episode.

Did Gorelick withhold critical information from the Commission? How is it that a group in the DoD was able to identify Atta as a risk well ahead of 9-11 and this not be in the final commission report?

The account is the first assertion that Mr. 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 al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi had been identified as potential threats by the Central Intelligence Agency before the summer of 2000, and information about them was not provided to the F.B.I. until the spring of 2001

This is the same CIA leaking about Saddam’s nuclear intentions in Niger prior to the his removal. What is it with these people? They get all exercised about 16 words in a speech but cannot see a threat right under their noses? When did the become obssessed with national politics and take their eyes of our enemies?

He said the team 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.

“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 delivered the chart in summer 2000 to the Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and said that it had been based on information 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.

Sorry, but Jamie Gorelick decided that was not ‘proper’. Better not to inconvenience visa holders than worry about losing a few thousand American lives.

More here, where it is surprising that the cell Atta came from, and which Able Danger wanted to eliminate, was based in New York.

The recommendation to bring down that New York City cell — in which two other Al Qaeda terrorists were also active — was not pursued during the weeks leading up to the 2000 presidential election, said Weldon.

Note to Dick Clark: This was under your’s and Clinton’s watch. You also need to be back in front of Congress and doing some ‘splaining.

DoD lawyers may also have been reluctant to suggest a bold action by FBI agents after the bureau’s disastrous 1993 strike against the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco, TX, said Weldon and the intelligence officer.

That was the problem with Clinton. He and his team were so inept (Somalia, Waco) they became parallelized and impotent. The MSM better get serious and get on Gorelick and Dick Clark for their efforts in assisting Atta when he was in our cross hairs.

Food for thought: Was this information on the documents Sandy Burger heisted from the National Archives and destroyed? Was “Able Danger” a phrase written in the margins of those documents?

UPDATE, 8:20 AM Eastern, Aug 9th:

Of course this would be big news. Captain Ed has a good post on the historical calls on Gorelick’s conflict of interest. Mark Coffey is rightfully infuriated (and the guy is rarely infuriated from what I can tell).

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Jamie Gorelick – Have You No Shame?”

  1. Decision '08 says:

    Another Story of What Might Have Been

    AJStrata has the scoop on yet another story that illustrates how close we had been to preventing 9/11 if red tape could have been replaced with better cooperation. It is certainly borderline infuriating (hell, infuriating, period) how much informatio…

  2. megapotamus says:

    “the altar of political correctness.” Man, that is it. These PC types have a messianic aversion to thinking ill of anyone. Except Republicans of course.

  3. Greg Bullock says:

    Eric Umansky has today (8.9.05) departed from merely summarizing what’s in Today’s Papers and has come up with an analysis of this story. I thought his take was interesting, comparatively. He tees off on the NY Times, primarily, and doesn’t focus on the Gorelick angle at all.

    His piece is linked to numerous others so those interested may want to read it at

    He writes:

    “Relying on Representative Curt Weldon, R-Pa., and a “former defense intelligence official,” the NYT says above the fold on Page One that a secret Pentagon program actually pegged four of the 9/11 hijackers—including Mohamed Atta—as al-Qaida men back in 2000. The secret program, which used data-mining, defined as the nontrivial extraction of implicit, previously unknown, and potentially useful information from data, was called “Able Danger.” Again, according to Weldon and the other source, program officials wanted to pass along the tips to the FBI but were overruled by Pentagon lawyers concerned that the military would be overstepping its authority. “We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them,” the former unnamed DoD official said. That source also charged that the 9/11 commission was told about the scoop but never followed up.

    Now to the wrinkles in the NYT’s piece: This is the first time the story has hit the big time, but it’s been around for at least a few months. As the Times mentions, Weldon actually spoke about the whole deal publicly back in June in a “speech on the House floor.” The allegations were picked up only in Weldon’s local paper and then recently in more depth by an industry magazine. Presumably, there are only two explanations for this: 1) Other reporters just blew it and didn’t notice. 2) They did notice but didn’t buy it.

    Which brings us to the next wrinkle: As the Times mentions in passing, Weldon has a reputation for relying on iffy sources. He recently wrote a much-panned book alleging all sorts of Iranian plots, including that Tehran is hosting Bin Laden. The book relied on one source—a source one CIA official told the Times “was a waste of my time and resources.” A “fabricator” recalled another former spook. (The American Prospect has more on Weldon’s source troubles.)

    As for the former unnamed defense official, he talked to the NYT while “in Mr. Weldon’s office.” And given the allegations being made, the Times offers a loopy explanation for why the former official isn’t named: “He did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly.” (If his accusations are true, how would his being named undercut future data-mining efforts?)

    So, what we have in the NYT are allegations by a congressman known to make wildly dubious claims, and one former defense official who backs up the congressman but for some reason declines to put his good name to the … facts. On the other side, you have—as the Times mentions up high but only details in, oh, the 29th paragraph—the 9/11 commission insisting that they did look into the program and found nothing.

    Papers should give articles prominence commensurate with the level of confidence they have in the story’s sources—obviously. Today’s Papaers has no idea whether the major allegations in the above piece are accurate. Does the NYT?”

  4. AJStrata says:


    I thank you for the long posting, but there is a critical flaw in Slate’s logic.

    The problem is in their analogy of Weldon’s claim’s about a possiblility of Bin Laden’s where abouts verses easily validated events of record. While Bin Laden’s supposed location in Iran may be based on speculation and suspect sources, the fact that Able Danger had the four, now known, terrorists tagged in 2000 or earlier is not speculation or based on sources. It is a record of fact (or else there would be no story and no willingness by now nearly 10 intelligence officers in coming forward).

    Therefore there is no speculation – which is the Slate example. 9-11 Commission staffers admit now they were informed of these events, and the Able Danger group has the records to prove it no doubt. And this is why I suspect the Sandy Burger actions tie in – because this information possibly went up to Clark and the NSC level before the word came down to drop the probe on Atta. That last bit is my speculation as to how far the information travelled out into the administration before it returned with a ‘no go’ order.

    But the report was made and the order to stop issued.

    Therefore the alert and the orders to back off should be a matter of record.

    Let Slate be confused if they need to rationalize this away, but they have no case whatsoever.

  5. baldilocks says:

    Placing Blame (UPDATED)

    By now, most interested parties know about the 2000 conclusion of ‘Able Danger,’ a covert US intelligence team—now disbanded–which postulated at that time that Mohammed Atta and three of the other perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attacks o…

  6. […] AJStrata has the scoop on yet another story that illustrates how close we had been to preventing 9/11 if red tape could have been replaced with better cooperation. It is certainly borderline infuriating (hell, infuriating, period) how much information we knew about the hijackers prior to 9/11, including monitoring by government agencies that knew they were national security risks. I still think many people, including the main culprit of AJ’s story, got off way too easy for what seem to be colossal, incredibly costly blunders… […]