Sep 08 2005

Able Danger, Recent Document Destruction, 09/08/05

Published by at 3:49 pm under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions

Some interesting Able Danger news slid through the mountain of Katrina stories today. Rep Weldon claims some of the Able Danger documents were recently destroyed in 2003, around the time of the 9-11 commission investigation. This is well after the destruction of documents that occurred (which is normal) through out the program’s existance (fall 1999 – Jan/Feb 2001), as discussed at the recent Pentagon press briefing. In a hard to find UPI story today Weldon is quoted as saying:

Last week, Pentagon officials told a hastily arranged briefing for reporters that much data generated by the project — code-named Able Danger — was destroyed in accordance with standard operating procedure for handling material that might contain the names of Americans.

Weldon said he had asked the Pentagon for the certificates of destruction that military officials must complete when classified data is destroyed.

He said that there had been ‘a second elimination of data in 2003,’ in addition to the destruction acknowledged last week.

Weldon said that a hearing next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee would hear testimony from the individual who destroyed the data.

‘For some reason, the bureaucracy in the Pentagon — I mean the civilian bureaucracy — didn`t want this to get out,’ he said.

Why would documents like this be destroyed in 2003? The commission report came out in 2004 and you would not want to destroy anything related to the commission prior to their report coming out. There is also some new information on Shaffer and his interactions with the 9-11 commission – plus existance of his notes at the time.

‘I told them that we, Able Danger, had identified two of the three cells that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks,’ Shaffer said. ‘At the end (of the presentation) I mentioned Atta.’

Shaffer says he ‘sort of dropped (the name) in’ at the end of the meeting, and his account of the difference in recollections is conciliatory, ‘If they want to say they didn`t hear it, fair enough. But I know what I said. I said we had two of the three cells.’

Shaffer too has a contemporaneous note of the meeting — talking points he says he prepared for his presentation, and which he has provided to several committees on Capitol Hill.

He declined to provide UPI with a copy, but he did say that Atta was not named in them.

All very interesting. The Able Danger hearings will be a welcomed respite from all the sniping and finger pointing by the media-formally-known-as-mainstream over Katrina.


Captain Ed Morrissey has his perspectives here. He also finds the claim of destruction of documents more than a little strange:

It sounds strange to me that the Pentagon insisted on destroying any data that could help track al-Qaeda cells in the aftermath of 9/11. Typically the data that gets destroyed has lost any value at all to the military or national-security system, but contains or would reveal methodologies that cannot get exposed if declassified. The latter may have been a consideration in deciding to destroy the material, but clearly the information still had an application for intelligence operations work. The Patriot Act made it much easier to coordinate with law-enforcement agencies in order to put this information to good use. So why destroy it?

Good points. The good captain also comments on the disagreement between Shaffer and the 9-11 commission on whether he named Atta. It is clear he referred to the 9-11 terrorists, so using the name ‘Atta’ or not is basically irrelevant. The two are synonymous. While somewhat of a side issue in my mind, the 9-11 commission excuses are becoming too ridiculous to buy anymore.

Tom Maguire has learned, to my disappointment, the Able Danger hearings have been moved back one week to Septembet 21. Tom does a good recap of the issue to date, and posits that Shaffer’s reliability may be in question over the ‘Atta’ fuss with the commission.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Able Danger, Recent Document Destruction, 09/08/05”

  1. A Note on Document Destruction

    Now for some boring insight on how the document destruction process actually works . . .

  2. Jim says:

    AJ, recognizing the necessity to conserve bandwidth, I’ll pick up our September 2 Able Danger discussion here.

    Actually, it’s not “Sidol”, it’s closer to “sibyl” as in female prophet and truthteller. Your last comment is a particularly feeble objection. The tenor of your observation is correct, however, the government does employ as many spinners as it does professional apologists, but this tells us nothing about Sibel Edmond’s particular case. You are perhaps unaware of DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine’s conclusion that her claim, alleging that she was denied due process and wrongfully terminated by the FBI, is meritorious (true). But this argument can wait.


    (PBS Frontline) Millenium Plot Timeline: August 1999
    “During this time, he (Ahmed Ressam) renewed an important relationship with Mokhtar Haouari, another Algerian refugee claimant living in Montreal. The two men had many political discussions, especially about the bombings which took place in the Paris Metro and at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Haouari expressed interest in attending jihad training in Afghanistan, and he helped fund Ressam’s activities. Haouari also connected Ressam WITH AN ASSOCIATE IN NEW YORK Abdelghani Meskini, who was to be his assistant and guide in the U.S.” The fourth man involved in the plot to bomb LAX was Abdelmajid Dahoumane.

    Wikipedia: “In his book Countdown To Terror Weldon asserted that an Able Danger chart produced in 1999 identifying 9/11 hijackers Mohammed Atta, Marwan Al Shehhi, Khalid Al Mihdar, and Nawaf Al Hazmi, HAD BEEN PRESENTED TO THEN DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JIM STEINBERG and that Weldon himself had personally presented the chart to then Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley days after 9/11.” Steinberg was Berger’s man.

    Washington Times Editorial April 5, 2005 “Sandy Berger’s Crime”
    (my summary): Berger pleaded guilty to misdemeanors involving the theft and destruction of copies of Richard Clarke’s “after action” memo on the Millenium 2000 terror plot, a code word classified document. In his office he destroyed three of the five copies that he had purloined. Why speculates the Times? To erase from memory the marginalia he and other Clinton Administration officials had recorded.

    Return to the Tin Hattery…I see two Able Danger hypotheses here:

    The official story of the vigilant Customs agent at Port Angeles, Washington was a “legend” designed to protect sources and methods. Was Ressam’s associate in New York, Abdelghani Meskini, linked by Able Danger to Atta’s “Brooklyn Cell”? Once the connection was sussed out between Meskini and any of the other three conspirators, Ressam was placed on a watch list and subsequently apprehended at the ferry crossing. The difficulty with this is that Ressam was traveling under a false passport, but this problem is not insuperable if he was already under surveillance or if he left a connective tissue of evidence under his assumed identity that Able Danger’s fancy algorithms plucked out of cyberspace. Reading the accounts of the apprehension of his confederates, the FBI certainly was Johnny-on-the-spot.

    Or, the bust went down as we have been told, and Meskini’s name jogged someone’s memory. Hey! Bring me Weldon’s chart! Hot damn, look at this, it’s the Millenium bomber!

    Now in the context of 9/11 and the Commission, a reference to “Able Danger” scribbled in the margin of Clarke’s memo, THAT would be worth all the pains taken by the Washington establishment to arrange the crime and punishment of Sandy Berger, Esq.

  3. Jim says:

    AJ, a clarification is in order here. Weldon did not claim to give Steinberg a chart personally. The chart probably came directly from Able Danger personnel.


    In his book Countdown To Terror, Curt Weldon claims that an Able Danger chart identifying Atta and other 9/11 hijackers was given to James Steinberg, Sandy Berger’s Deputy National Security Advisor during the second Clinton administration. Apparently, the chart was produced in 1999 and presented to Steinberg (per Weldon) before the Millenium 2000 plot was foiled (my conjecture–see above). Weldon’s assertion that he presented a chart identifying the hijackers to Stephen Hadley, Condoleeza Rice’s deputy on the National Security Council, days after 9/11 thus far is given credence. Hadley has not denied Weldon’s charge.

    Jumping ahead… Sandy Berger began deaccessioning duplicate copies (but with unique holographic content which makes a mockery of Berger’s plea agreement if it wasn’t all in his own hand) of Richard Clarke’s highly classified Millenium 2000 memo from the National Archives on or about October 2, 2003. I suspect Berger was acting on a parallel track, but his actions may fit in here anyway.

    On October 21, 2003, Shaffer briefed 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow, a handful of staffers, and two senior members about Able Danger’s extraordinary findings at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. This very select audience, Shaffer claims, was stunned into silence. Now, let’s hear from the Captain, Ed Morrisey: “During his…briefing he (Shaffer) OFFERED TO GIVE ZELIKOW ALL OF HIS COLLECTED DOCUMENTATION FOR ABLE DANGER, AS HE HAD BECOME THE REPOSITORY OF THE INFORMATION.” Within hours of the meeting, Zelikow was on the horn to Washington. The Captain (I believe) quoting Shaffer: “Second thing, by the Commission’s own statement August 12 it talks about Dr. Zelikow calling back (to the U.S.) immediately. MY UNDERSTANDING FROM TALKING TO ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE PRESS IS THAT ZELIKOW’S CALL CAME INTO AMERICA AT FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING. HE GOT PEOPLE OUT OF BED OVER THIS.” The Captain again: “By the time he (Shaffer) calls Zelikow in January (2004), Zelikow no longer wants to see him…The last time he (Shaffer) recalls seeing the data (his archived Able Danger material–my addition) was February 2004. By the time Zelikow says he got the information in March 2004, Zelikow reported that it comprised two briefcase-sized boxes of documents, far less than Shaffer had archived.”

    AJ, as you and others have reported, Weldon is now claiming that there was a second elimination of Able Danger data in 2003, beyond the limits of ordinary procedure. Hmmm…

    And don’t forget the blunt warning the Congressman gave in late August on FOX & Friends: “Larry, (Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita) DON’T EVER GO ON NATIONAL TV AGAIN AND SAY WHAT YOU SAID, WHEN I KNOW THAT (Undersecretary Of Defense For Intelligence) STEVE CAMBONE IS RIGHT NOW GOING THROUGH FOUR BOXES OF (Able Danger) MATERIALS.”

    AJ, at this point this story is practically telling itself, but you’re leaving out half of the dramatis personae. To breathe together, to C-O-N-S-P-I-R-E.