Aug 23 2005

Able Danger Round Up 08/23/05

Published by at 10:14 am under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions

UPDATE II, 4:10 PM Eastern:

From Laura Rozen we find this very insightful post by Eric Umansky on Atta’s name, or names, and when he used which name.

Atta’s full name is Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta. That’s what was on his passport and if you look carefully on his U.S. visa issued in May of 2000. The name he went by before that–the name he used for example on email–is Mohamed el-Amir. Atta didn’t go by “Mohamed Atta” until the late spring of 2000, after Able Danger supposedly ID’d him.

UPDATE: Here’s the flight manifest from the trip Atta took to Pakitan in November 1999 and his return to Hamburg in February of 2000. On both legs of the flight, the records identify him simply as Mohamed al-Amir.

I speculated before that 9-11 commissioners, Pentagon spokespeople and other naysayers better be careful when they simply focus on the name ‘Atta’. El-Amir counts as well.

For anyone interested, here is copy of the transcript with Slade Gorton on O’Reilly last night. NEW: and now here is the video clip – if you can stomach it.

And Kevin Drum has some thoughts here.



I have put this at the top because I think it adds a large new twist to the story. I heard this on Fox last night but have been waiting for it to come out in print. The path to identifying Atta and Al-Shehhi and the others was alluded to and make this story all the more interesting:

Weldon’s claims also seem to be backed up by a defense contractor who says he worked on Able Danger and for the first time has offered an explanation of how Atta’s name surfaced in the investigation. J.D. Smith told FOX News that he coordinated the information sources, reported to the government on the project’s spending and generated some of the charts, including the “Al Qaeda Global Map” that had Atta’s name on it. He added that he saw Atta’s photo during the unit’s investigation.

Smith said one way the unit came to know Atta was through Omar Abdul Rahman (search), part of the first World Trade Center (search) bomb plot in 1993. Smith said Able Danger used data mining techniques — publicly available information — to look at mosques and religious ties and it was, in part, through the investigation of Rahman that Atta’s name surfaced.

So the ties to Atta go back to the first WTC bombing! OK, now why did this not rattle some cages???


Well, it appears we have a real conundrum going on here. The Pentagon says they cannot confirm Able Danger identified Atta a year before 9-11, they cannot find the documents. But they do confirm some things – which I will get to in a moment.

To recap where we are we have determined Able Danger existed and was a small, demonstration program that did run from 1999 to Jan-Feb 2001. It used data mining techniques to sift through public domain (note, not free, but available to the public) information. We have two Able Danger members (from a team that numbered around 11) who have come forward and make their claims. We have an old picture of Curt Weldon on the floor of the House with his remade diagram of the terrorist cells – which could mean nothing. We have some confirmation that Able Danger did try three times to meet with the FBI but was rebuffed by lawyers working for SOCOM (but we do not know if the lawyers were JAG or Clinton appointees).

In my last post I said three aspects of this story had to be refuted for the entire issue to go away. It would mean that (1) Able Danger never identified all 4 of the 9-11 terrorists they claim they had detected (Atta is only one important name, but the other three would have led to Atta), (2) Able Danger never detected terrorists tied to Al Qaeda in the US in 2000 (which means the terrorists were abroad) and (3) Able Danger never attempted or was never refused access to the FBI.

The reasons why all three things must be true to totally kill this story are obvious. And today we have information from the Pentagon that one of these conditions will not ever be met.

So we begin with the news media outlets and this story in Washington Times, which has this on page 2 of the story:

Mr. Di Rita said Able Danger compiled some information on suspected cells in this country, but that investigators have found no evidence that the operation identified Atta or other September 11 hijackers.

Well, that is news. Able Danger did believe they had detected and AQ cell in the US in 2000 after the millenium bomb attempt was foiled. To get a perspective on the national security environment in the year 2000, at least as claimed by Sandy Bergler and Richard Clarke, you can check out this post I have on the overall timeline for this story.

The NY Post has this story on the coming out of Able Danger member Scott Phillpott, which gives us a little more on Phillpott’s role:

Capt. Scott Phillpott, a former manager of the controversial unit code named Able Danger,…

That appears to be all the new revelations on Able Danger from the news media. Now to the blogs and what they have today.

Jim Geraghty at TKS sums the day up nicely with this post:

What’s great about the Able Danger story is that we often get a bit of information to encourage the skeptics, and another bit of information to encourage the believers, often in the same day.

He also does a ’round of what do we know’ (with another nice plug for The Strata-Sphere). Jim Geraghty also has an update, provided by one of his reades, on that National Geographic special which hinted at something akin to Able Danger. One has to wonder how National Geographic knew about Able Danger and the 9-11 Commission were so oblivious? Even if it did not pan out it should have stuck out as something to remember?

Rick Moran does a blochbuster update on the story (saving me a bit of effort to chase down links!). He covers a lot of ground so definitely go check out this post. Rick does speculate on one interesting point:

The revelations regarding Able Danger show that at the very least, the 9/11 Commission was so infected with partisan politics that they failed to do their job. I don’t know why the information about Atta and Able Danger was not included in the Commission’s Final Report. But if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that part of the reason was the necessity to reach a consensus on a narrative with both partisan camps on the Committee.

I believe this is 100% correct and why politically led commissions are a farce. Just compare them to a court of law where the search for truth, no matter who it hurts, is the ultimate objective. That is not even a priority on these ‘bipartisan’ committees. It is CYA.

Rick also points us to this hard hitting post by Jack Kelley at Irish Pennants:

The debate about what Shaffer told the 9/11 Commission and whether or not commission staff deliberately suppressed what he had to say is important and interesting, but definitely secondary. The key question is: WHY WAS ABLE DANGER SHUT DOWN IN THE SPRING OF 2001?

The simplest explanation is that — Shaffer to the contrary notwithstanding — ABLE DANGER found little of value, and was shut down as a waste of money.

Well, I can attest to the fact that Able Danger was so small compared to other Pentagon programs it was not the money. And if they were identifying terrorists here and abroad, or making connections between them, there was no reason to shut them down and plenty to keep it running. At least if you believe the 9-11 Commission testimony of Clarke and Bergler. Kelley goes on to propose a lot of really good possible outcomes and reasons for the closure of Able Danger. Interesting to say the least.

Powerline has an interesting response to the NY Times article out yesterday which we referenced in a previous post.

Bryan Preston has some commentary as sub for Michelle Malkin. I doubt he has the legs to really sub for Michelle, but he does have some good points on Able Danger to make up for it.

Since the last round up Ed Morrissey has two posts out. The first one is a reaction to the Pentagon’s rolling quasi-denial, and the second one is speculation on whether Able Danger first identified Atta, Al-Shehhi and other before they entered the US.

One thing that keeps coming up is Shaffers revocation of his security clearance, supposedly for $67 worth of personal calls on his military supplied cell phone. When one recalls Sandy Bergler still has his security clearance after stealing and destroying classified papers which directly related to the run up to 9-11, the total idiocy of this whole mess becomes crystal clear.

Mac at Mac’s Mind has thoughts on a flag officer (Capt Phillpott) now coming forward supporting Lt. Col Shaffer here and here.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Able Danger Round Up 08/23/05”

  1. Wandering the desert of disinformation!

    An alternative what we know list since they appear to be so popular

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  3. tom10023 says:

    Here is something I have seen from Slade Gorton and no one else (from the transcript to which you linked:

    GORTON: Since this has come out, the Defense Department …

    O’REILLY: They issued a statement sayin’ that they didn’t know anything …

    GORTON: … has been scrambling to see if it has something.

    O’REILLY: Absolutely.

    GORTON: It has nothing and, as of today, it tells us that the civilian female whom Col Shaffer has as a source does not corroborate what he has to say.

    O’REILLY: OK. Alright. And that’s all true. The Defense Department has said …

    OK, maybe O’Reily wasn’t listening, but isn’t Gorton saying that the female civilian (whohas been the third witness) is disavowing the story?

    How did allthe other pres accounts miss that?

    And has anyone actually seen a Pentagon press release, or a transcript of a briefing on this? I can’t find one at their website.

  4. AJStrata says:


    Thanks for stopping by! I heard that last night and have been trying to find out if it was true or not since. But Sen Gorton is definitely claiming the PhD scientist that Schaffer has mentioned before, and who supposedly reminded him Atta was one of the terrorists Able Danger was watching, is now backing off the story. I have resisted jumping on this since Gorton’s comments were not accurate to the news. I believe Gorton is referring to the DiRita briefing yesterday where the Pentagon said they could not confirm the Able Danger claims. When I heard it (which is different from reading it) it appeared there was no connection between his claim about the scientist and the Pentagon announcement.

    I was assuming he had some inside information and this was why the good Doctor has not come forward yet as I assumed she would.

    That is the best I can tell you.

  5. Navy Captain Backs Shaffer

    Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s credibility has been significantly strengthened with Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott issuing a statement supporting Shaffer’s claim….

  6. boris says:

    GORTON: It has nothing and, as of today, it tells us that the civilian female whom Col Shaffer has as a source does not corroborate what he has to say.

    Looks like an inferrence to me. He trusts the DoD would provide her testimony in place of documentation. “Vee kent fine zee peepers, vee know nuttzeeng”

  7. amir says:


    I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and have to say thanks. nice read….

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