Sep 02 2005

Able Danger Update 09/02/05

Published by at 10:44 am under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions

The big news today is the results of the Defense Department special briefing on Able Danger that was held yesterday, which we posted on here as the first reports began to come out. The full transcript of the briefing is here, which will be the focus for this news round up. It is a bit long since there is a lot of matrial out today.

First it is important to note the presenters, since these folks and their organizations are now leading the effort to address Able Danger claims.

Mr. Bryan Whitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (Media Operations)

Ms. Pat Downs, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence)

Mr. Thomas Gandy, Army G-2 Director of Counterintelligence and HUMINT

Mr. Bill Huntington, Vice Deputy Director for HUMINT, Defense Intelligence Agency

Cmdr. Christopher Chope, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command

After the media lead, these are all intel folks. Interestingly there was no one with a purely legal focus listed. The investigation appears to be quite extensive, given this was a small effort:

We have conducted two types of activities. One is extensive document searches from all the organizations including contracting firms that were associated with the Able Danger program. To date we have not identified the chart that is referenced in public statements by Mr. Schaeffer and Captain Philpot in particular, who say they saw a chart with the photo of Mohammed Attah and other hijackers, particularly Mohammed Attah, pre-9/11. We have not discovered that chart. We have identified a similar chart, but it does not contain the photo of Mohammed Attah or reference to him or reference to the other hijackers.

That last line clears up a question I had from the Washington Post story – which only mentioned no reference to ‘Atta’.

We have, the two other individuals are, one is from the Land Information Warfare Activity, the Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity, now actually part of the Information Dominance Center. The last one is with the O’Ryan contractors.

More on the new witnesses, which may include JD Smith. It is hard to tell.

Throughout the Able Danger effort we’re going to talk about data mining and nodal analysis. What the data mining and nodal analysis actions were designed to do was characterize the al-Qaida terrorist network.

So this was specifically to find Al Qaeda elements around the world. That is a fairly clear and simple statement. Which begs the question – why ignore all its findings?

Media: It would seem you would want to deal with individual names of people if you were trying to understand vulnerability and linkages. No?

Chope: I’m sure that they got to that level of detail, however when you look at the plan, what the task was rather, the task was develop a plan, so that was the focus of the effort. The effort was never determine which individuals we ought to roll up. Did Osama bin Laden’s name come up? Of course it did. But as far as that granularity, that level of detail, that was not the desired or required level of effort on the project. It was a by-product.

Gandy: This is Tom Gandy from the Army. Let me just help out here a little. The way it works is there’s a campaign plan and then if someone decides to act upon that plan they will give that plan to someone to execute. At that point you get into various specifics about how you’re going to execute it, phases of the operation, what the targets are in each phase, and get really down to the down and dirty side of things.

As I mentioned yesterday with regards to the Washington Post story, I feel the DoD is being what I like to call ‘precise without purpose’. Chope and Gandy are focusing on the product – the requirements. They are trying to distinguish that from the process, design and implementation to get to the product.

Also, the military differentiates between a plan to actually engage an enemy and the more general planning exercises. I used to support the planning exercise area and to this day the distinction is somewhat lost on me. But it explains some of the discrepencies we are seeing in the reporting. The task was not an action plan to take out AQ. It was a plan to identify all possible AQ targets. Target identification is different than engaging the target.

Whitman: In the SOCOM people there’s an unnamed analyst who’s going to remain unnamed. Then there’s Captain Philpot. Those are the two from the ten.

Media: Civilian analyst?

Whitman: Yes.

I am going to go out on a limb here and speculate this is our woman PhD that Shaffer mentioned previously. The one who talked to him post 9-11 and made the connection between their work and 9-11. They probably crossed paths someplace and where catching up when the subject came up.

Down: There are regulations. At the time how they were interpreted, very strictly pre-9/11, for destruction of information which is embedded, I guess is the way I would say it, that would contain any information on U.S. persons. In a major data mining effort like this you’re reaching out to a lot of open sources and within that there could be a lot of information on U.S. persons. We’re not allowed to collect that type of information. So there are strict regulations about collection, dissemination, destruction procedures for this type of information. And we know that that did happen in the case of Able Danger documentation.

This is going to be tough, because this is a cousin of the Gorelick wall. It may not be a blood-line cousin – i.e., directly related to the Gorelick push to seperate law enforcement from intelligence. If Atta and company are in the US, you are going to get connections to US citizens. It is unavoidable. The question then may come down to how do you destroy the information on these connections? Do you purge the name and other information of the US citizen and leave it at that? Or do you purge that plus all connections to that person? That is not clear. And depending on the amount of CYA the legal person covering this wants, they will go for blanket destruction so they do not have to think too hard about what is or is not required to be purged.

I have seen this lazy thinking all over the government – just look at the export restrictions on satellite information and components. For example, though the entire world flies satellites using Brand X Computer Processor, it is against our export rules to say a US bird is flying Brand X Computer Processor – for fear of giving design information to our enemies! The entire world uses this processor and government lawyers, out of their league in technical matters, just throw their hands up and say ‘anything that is tied to a satellite is export controlled as a munition”. They take the simplest, most clumsy way out. The information may be gone due to this lazy approach to applying the law.

A little further down my suspicion that they deleted more data than necessary in order to be conservative may be correct:

but we also have the better ability now to say okay, this data came from this source, it’s a U.S. person that has nothing to do with our problem set and we can expunge it a lot more easily than we could in the past. In the old days it was kind of an all or nothing.

They probably used to throw entire data sets away as opposed to sifting through and retaining information that was not about US Persons.

Chope: We have negative indications that that was ever the case. We’ve spoken to all the attorneys at all levels of command and organization that were involved with Able Danger, and there was no legal advice given along those lines.

Media: That lines?

Chope: Along the lines to destroy anything.

All this means is no one has admitted to it. Who knows if they have talked to everyone yet. But they have seen no paper work or notes to destroy documents. The problem is there may be no requirement for paper work. Curious.

OK, further down this is totally cleaned up. They destroyed the data based on protocol, not directions from lawyers.

You had this commingling of U.S. person data with lots of other data, and there was no way to really pull it out.

So their process at the time was a data set tainted with any US person’s information was to be deleted. We need to find out if this truly was a technical issue – it seems very plausible it was, or if it was a process put in place due to some guidance from above a few years earlier (the Gorelick memo was in 1995, this is 2000-2001).

Down: Maybe Tom can help with the details of the interviews, but I believe Captain Philpot says he saw the chart in January, February 2000. That’s the general reference point.

Media: Are you saying that the recollections of Schaeffer and Philpot are incredible?

Down: They’re our starting point. They’re DoD people who — Captain Philpot, or then Commander during when the 9/11 Commission was wrapping up, came to us and said I have this information. We took him to the 9/11 Commission to examine it further. It’s really up to the Commission to determine the relevancy of the information.

Two things here. The date Philpot recalls seeing the chart comports with the timeline I generated here. A major presentation/report was created in April, the one believed to be made for the FBI presentations, which meant work on it spanned back to Jan-Feb of 2000.

The other thing here it is clear Captain Philpot proactively contacted the 9-11 commission on this subject near the end of their work. He felt this was important enough to step forward. More nailing down of the timeline and intentions.

Chope: I can’t be certain. That would really be the, then Commander Philpot would be the one. The remainder talk about Attah and a picture, or Attah’s name. The one person who only saw a name and no picture, and the others saw a picture and a name.

Media: So Philpot is the only one who recalls other hijackers?

Chope: I believe, but I’d have to check the notes I have from the discussions we had.

I think this is incorrect from other statements. However – if it is correct – then Shaffer is the only person who sees a picture and a name. To me, this is more precision without purpose. My view is Able Danger goes away as an important issue if it is shown Atta, Shehhi and the other highjackers were not identified – no connection to 9-11. I could care less if they had a picture of him. If they were identified and either in the US or not there are still some serious issues.

Media: Let me go back to the U.S. persons question for a second. To what extent did any controversy over that issue lead to the shutdown of this program? I talked to several people who said there was a separate program developing. They were looking at Chinese tech transfer. It wasn’t Able Danger, but it used some of the same personnel, some of the same facilities at LIWA and came up with a name list of some very prominent U.S. persons and led to somebody saying terminate this thing. Is there any truth to that at all?

Chope: No. It had nothing — There was a prior effort involved with those topics that you mentioned. That effort ended with a subpoena by Congress in November of ’99. That was the end of it. It was a completely different target, different subjects, different data, everything.

Well, that goes directly at some reports from on statements from JD Smith. It could be the media confused the reasons his company left the work verses how those reasons related to Able Danger (apparently there was no relation). But the China-Rice topic seems to be totally irrelevant now to Able Danger.

So what that was about was demonstrating can experimental stuff like this be useful in helping us solve some technology transfer riddles.

More confirmation of my suspicions this was a pilot program that tripped over something. It was being used to support a planning effort against Al Qaeda. It may not have even been central to the planning effort. It may have been used as an independent validation methodology on other information coming from elsewhere in the government (more on that when we hit the Ed Morrissey Post later).

Gandy: Captain Philpot will contend there are upwards of 60 names on that chart. Not all of them will have photographs attributed to them. Some will just be outlined silhouettes of a head.

From what I have seen or heard, this is the most likely description – some pictures and many place holders. Which is why recollections of photographs may be spotty.

Down: I don’t know. We’ve seen a chart with different Mohammed’s on them. Is it possible that Mohammed Ajaz, Mohammed — what’s the other one.

Chope: Arateff.

Down: Arateff, thank you. So we have charts with those names but not Mohammed Attah.

Interesting. They have found charts with terrorist suspects on them produced by Able Danger. That provides a lot more credibility to their claims.

If it came out early, such as in a proof of concept chart, we may never find it.

This is a big hint here. Jan-Feb 2000, when people recall the Atta chart, is was very early on. The thinking is obvious here. It was draft chart with some current names and photos on it, which was worked and refined over time. In fact – the squashing of the meeting with the FBI, and the directive to forget about Atta and his cohorts since they were here ‘legally’ – could be the reason the final charts (Jan 2001) do not have people that were on earlier versions (summer 2000). Recall Shaffer was nearly insubordinate in the fall of 2000 – so the pressure to eliminate the Atta information may have been immense. Sounds like is is possible that the destruction of interim products in the fall of 2000 is the reason things disapeared.

Media: So you talked to all of the lawyers who might have tried to stop this because it was U.S. person information and couldn’t be disseminated to domestic agencies. And no one remembers —

Chope: We have talked to all the lawyers involved in the project and there is no hindrance upon the sharing of information.

Note the response is more focused than the question. The DoD is clearly indicating no Able Danger and possibly SOCOM lawyer squashed a meeting with the FBI.

Like I said folks, a lot of new, detailed information. To summarize, the witnesses are credible and support each other to some degree. The claims fit into the Able Danger history and products. The information iron clad information that could support the claims may have been in working versions of the final products and destroyed.

Tom Maguire has his observations as an update to this ever growing post here.

Ed Morrissey has an extensive post on a Shaffer interview with some interesting elements as well. First off, is some clear shots at the CIA for being arrogant and uncooperative:

After briefing the CIA’s representative stationed at SOCOM headquarters, and explaining that Able Danger would not be competing with the CIA’s own separate mission to find and kill Osama bin Laden, Shaffer was surprised by the CIA rep’s stern resistance to sharing any information, said Shaffer. “I clearly understand the difference,” the CIA rep told him, according to Shaffer. “I clearly understand. We’re going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is, CIA will never give you the best information from ‘Alex Base’ or anywhere else. CIA will never provide that to you because if you were successful in your effort to target Al Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, we will not support this.” Shaffer told GSN that one key to Able Danger’s success in identifying suspected terrorists was its willingness to buy information from brokers that identified visits by individuals to specific mosques located around the world.

Turf over national security? Where have we heard that before? Oh yes, from all those ex CIA employees who felt they knew better than the President on Iraq and other subjects.

Jim Geraghty is back from his trip to Israel and has this post on Able Danger.

Andy McCarthy has this over at the NRO Corner

Remember, the show starts on Sept 14th in the Senate!


Mac at Mac’s Mind has some great insights here.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Able Danger Update 09/02/05”

  1. Jim says:

    I was trying on new chapeaux at the Tin Hattery on August 29th and settled upon a daring new style, not yet in fashion. Over the next several days I grew increasingly morose because my friends would not offer their opinions on my choice. Rats! Another impulsive faux pas, another lamentable crime against couture. By September 2, I was miserable, and determined to restore my flagging spirits. Hat in hand, I was about to enter the Tin Hattery to exchange my poor chapeau for something less outre, when a most able, vaguely dangerous looking man holding a hatbox exited the store and held the door for me. Spying my unfortunate purchase, he inquired who was the hatter. Why it’s a Zelikow, Rice & Bush I said brightly. “Oh?” he said somewhat doubtfully, “this here’s only a Zelikow and Rice. I want to try it on for size for awhile, but I’m sure yours suits you just fine.” Eagerly nodding agreement, I smiled as he walked away, and though I would not swear on it, I believe he tipped his cap as he rounded the corner!

  2. Jim says:

    Sorry, for the purposes of clarification, the earlier comment of mine to which I refer above was posted on September 1st in AJ’s August 29th Able Danger thread (#10). My bad. AJ, I am the first to admit that my more fervid speculations are probably pure bosh at this point, but the facts are catching up to the proposition, which I have argued here for some days now, that Able Danger is a bipartisan scandal. The clear import of the Captain’s concluding remarks on September 2nd about the Shaffer interview is that the Able Danger cover-up, and that is what it increasingly appears to be, touches not only members of the Clinton government and the 9-11 Commission, but also highly placed members of the Bush Administration. It is a reasonable bet that Condi Rice is the linchpin to Bush’s knowledge of this whole affair, and that she, and possibly the President himself, faces embarrassing questions over this affair.

  3. AJStrata says:


    I seriously doubt this has anything to do with Bush. It closed up before his team took over. Sorry, just ain’t going to happen.

  4. Jim says:

    AJ, your last is a statement in serious need of enlargement. Leaving Rice out of it for the moment, I note you do not exempt Zelikow from your doubts, ergo you admit to the possibility, if only by default, that Able Danger is a problem for him. He is a Republican closely tied to a Republican administration. As you have already implicated the Democrats, by definition then, Able Danger is a bipartisan scandal. By the way, when do you give me credit for raising this point? I have been making this argument for a week and you give me no love.

    I note also that you do not take exception to my characterization of Able Danger as a cover-up, so you read the Captain’s report the same way I do. Good. Zelikow’s urgent phone call to Washington (it was 4 A.M. there) from Bagram the very same day Shaffer briefed him about Able Danger, and the subsequent disappearance from a secure location of Shaffer’s Able Danger files, over which he apparently exercised sole custody, cannot at this point be viewed with anything but suspicion absent some other compelling explanantion for these closely related events. To amplify the Captain’s question, what do phone logs or other telephonic records show? Who did Zelikow call at 4 A.M. Beltway time? Who did he call after that? Who did they call? It escapes me why Zelikow should find it necessary to roust some slumbering 9-11 Panel member out of bed in D.C. since two senior members of the Commission accompanied him to Shaffer’s briefing earlier that day. By a process of elimination then, who did Zelikow ring? Sandy Berger? (You better hope not.) Some other Democrat? Unlikely. A Republican then? Yes. Just any Republican? No. A Republican senior to him? Yes, makes sense. A Republican senior to him inside the Administration? Makes even more sense. A Republican senior to him inside the Administration with whom he shares only a nodding acquaintance, or one whom he trusts implicitly, with whom he has co-authored a book on public affairs, and with whom he has enjoyed a long and productive relationship? Ring, ring,ring…”Condi, it’s Philip. We have a problem…”.

    What a seeming, even if untrue, construct this is. Now a Vulcan is dutiful, Vulcans are prized for their loyalty, and knows not to withhold information above her paygrade. In turn her boss is especially fond of her for her long years of patient service, her well-practiced sense of discretion, her accomplished and soothing pianoforte, and their shared passion for endorphins. How could she forgive herself if even by the slightest act of disregard on her part she exposed him to scandal? What concern of hers, no matter how personal and trifling, had he ever ignored in the past? For his part, what burden upon her conscience would he, a man of the people, a compassionate man walking boldly in God’s light, not strive to lift? In a land of unrepentant sinners, Laura was his shield, but in a world teeming with Evildoers, Condi was his sword. The two of them had a seamless understanding, and when trouble loomed he instinctively turned to her as she well understood. “Mr. President, I knew you’d be awake…”.

    AJ, say it with me now, B-I-P-A-R-T-I-S-A-N. You will probably be proven correct in the long run when the Times squats on the story and Congress makes sausage out of it, but for now “just ain’t gonna happen” is a political prognostication, not an argument you are winning on the merits. (The Times curious decision to break this story may be a warning shot across the bow of the Administration. Find a way to render Judith Miller to us pronto or things could get real ugly real fast because we were with you when you buried the bodies. Sincerely Yours, Punch).

    Why doesn’t somebody else weigh in on this? Anybody? And please ignore AJ’s strawman. Before anyone else draws the same facile conclusion that the date of termination is the salient fact of the Able Danger story, please consider that under Bush’s watch Berger intentionally destroyed classified documents from the National Archives which had been set aside to aid the 9-11 Commission in their work…and was given Saturday afternoon detention by a REPUBLICAN judge. Berger’s security clearance will be restored in less than two years. Also under Bush’s watch, Shaffer’s extensive cache of Able Danger material went missing from a secure compartmented location. If anyone would care to explain to me how authorization to seize or shred Shaffer’s files could come down the chain-of-command from the Clinton gang during a Bush Presidency, I’m all ears.

    This is not a defense of Clinton, nor an attack on Bush, it is an effort to understand how and why Able Danger, the one silver bullet in our arsenal against Al Queda, was declared off limits to the good guys precisely at the time when it was most needed, and why to this day Able Danger is poison to both parties in Washington, such that the 9-11 Commission, composed of equal parts hacks and fixers from across the aisle, found it necessary to rewrite history and write Able Danger out of the picture. Before it was killed Able Danger was virtually one phone call away from stopping 9-11 in its tracks, and the Commission and two administrations have conspired to conceal this fact from the American people. Ask yourselves, if Able Danger was an unambiguous tale of Clinton era incompetency why did Bush’s people not utter a single word about it during the 2004 election? (Between the time of Zelikow’s mysterious phone call to Washington and the general election there was ample time to formulate a nuanced approach to the findings of Able Danger for the Bush campaign). Regret over the Impeachment? Not in a million years! Politics, not love, means never having to say you’re sorry. There is great mischief afoot over Able Danger. It is not now beyond the pale to believe that Able Danger uncovered high crimes, possibly involving 9-11 itself.

  5. AJStrata says:


    The reason know one is going to buy into your theories is they are so silly. Bergler was caught destroying files on Bush’s watch? Too much of a stretch for most of us.

  6. Jim says:

    AJ, relying upon your commentary, (#4) in the August 29th Able Danger update, yes, I did state that Berger was caught absconding with and destroying classified documents. The point of raising this issue was to illustrate the absurdity of the claim that Bush administration exposure to the Able Danger scandal ended with the termination of the program. The mystery surrounding Professor Plum’s apprehension in the library at the National Archives only deepened when he was handed such a risibly lenient sentence by a Republican judge. We will agree for the record then that the original crime (and the non-punishment punishment) did, in fact, occur under Bush’s watch and that a scofflaw Bush Department Of Justice permitted Berger to plead out on charges not remotely commensurate with the gravity of his offenses, which arrangement a Republican judge was only too happy to ratify. It seems to me that certain aspects of Berger’s conduct must have run afoul of USC Title 18 statutes (brush up on 793 and 794 because I suspect we are going to hear a lot about them in coming days), but that in the end he was charged with a miscellany of misdemeanor offenses under the Uniform Commercial Code, the Marine Fisheries Act, and the District Of Columbia Traffic Code. This lack of consequences for Berger’s brazen violation of national security, abetted by a Republican Justice Department, should be deeply troubling to ordinary Americans who, if they were to engage in comparable conduct, would be locked up with Jonathan Pollard, Aldrich Ames, Robert Hansen, and other Bergeresque “patriots” with a comically regrettable penchant for “mishandling” state secrets. The rank stench of the Berger prosecution lingers still. Sandy took one for the team, but what team are we talking about here folks? It is a team unrecognizable in the annals of American politics.

    The most compelling evidence of Bush administration exposure remains the disappearance from a secure location and presumed destruction of Shaffer’s Able Danger files under Bush’s watch, LONG AFTER THE ABLE DANGER PROGRAM WAS SHUT DOWN. Who authorized this break-in, and what was in those files?

    Let us review the narrowing field of battle. Subjects no longer under consideration (which reasonable people understand to mean ground which has been tacitly conceded):

    1) Able Danger is not a Scarlet Letter for Clinton alone. There are glass houses.

    2) The exclusion of Able Danger findings by the Commission must have been more than an effort to protect Clinton from the harsh judgment of history, and to undermine Bush’s strong performance on 9-11 and his case for Iraq. Else, why did the Republicans agree to a one-sided Final Report? Why did they not clobber the Democrats with such clear-cut evidence of pre-9/11 malfeasance before the ’04 election? Why has Bush never used Able Danger findings linking Saddam to Al Queda to defend his decision to invade Iraq?

    3) The Able Danger findings are a BIPARTISAN SCANDAL BY DEFINITION . Philip Zelikow is in this up to his horn-rimmed glasses. This passes without mention.

    4) Philip and Condi are joined at the hip. This relationship is noted in certain quarters, but not here.

    5) In defense of the indefensible, we are given weak assurances that Bush can’t possibly be involved because…well…people seriously doubt it (for unstated reasons).

    As always, my logic is often faulty, and my recall of facts is tenuous. These are silly inferences in which you will find great latitude given to grotesque mischaracterizations of people, places, and things, naked partisanship, anti-Americanism, and a childlike worship of falsehood. For the consumption of minor children only. Above all, do not expect me to engage these issues on rational grounds.

  7. AJStrata says:


    You write nice, long and unpersausive posts. I am afraid with grasping connection like the ones you propose you have little chance of swaying my position.

    Your attempts to defend Clinton are laudible, if not pretty much a failure. I come at this issue wanting to know what happened and let the chips fall where they may. You come from a partisan position which means nothing to me.

  8. Jim says:

    But of course AJ, I am having my little joke on you, and you are having your little joke on me. Parse out the philo-Clinton content in the following position (which I have consistently taken by the way):

    1) More than a year before 9-11, Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta et al in situ. Team members desperately sought authorization to share their information with law enforcement and were repeatedly rebuffed, UNDER COLOR OF LAW. This, the beginning phase of what history will ultimately record as the greatest political crime in American history, HAPPENED UNDER CLINTON’S WATCH, and watch me now AJ, may have been directed by Clinton himself while he was being serviced in the Oval Office. I supported his Impeachment, despise Lady Macbeth, and would gladly consign them and their whole Administration, along with their legions of sycophants in the press, to the tender mercies of the Serbs whom they bombed mercilessly. Elvisism was a loathsome, fraudulent interlude in U.S. politics which I hope never to see repeated. (I would tape “Kick Me” signs on George and Dick, and turn them, their lickspittles in the press corps, and many other members of the Bush Administration over to new American friends in Fallujah and old American friends in New Orleans).

    2) During the transition, Able Danger was disabled. Why, and by whose authority is not yet understood. UNDER WHOSE WATCH THIS HAPPENED IS NOT YET KNOWN.

    3) The “Independent”9-11 Commission omitted the scandalous findings of Able Danger from their report. Laughably, they claim these findings have no historical significance. Whether this further attempt to flush the findings of Able Danger down the Memory Hole was taken in concert with Bush, Clinton, or Bush AND Clinton Administration insiders is yet to be determined. Sergeant Schultz proclaims the omission “very suspicious”. As always, Colonel Klink wrings his hands.

    4) Beyond any doubt, the theft and presumed destruction of Shaffer’s Able Danger records occurred UNDER BUSH’S WATCH. A risky endeavor and curious fate for information deemed devoid of historical significance.

    AJ as you well know what I say is not fact, it is speculation, but what theory of yours accounts for point #4 above and Zelikow’s mysterious phone call? In all seriousness, you are to be commended for patiently adding to the record, but the anomalies are piling up, and you are no longer even making an attempt to explain them away. Why?

  9. AJStrata says:


    In your last comment I suggest you reread the transcript on what happened to Able Danger – it is quite clear. This was a planning effort to identify Al Qaeda elements. Its job was done Jan-Feb 2001. The technology used still exists and is still being evolved. The use of public information is still processed and handled under the same rules that have applied before – it is just easier to take a lead and follow it. Most of what you worry about is answered. Your views of Washington DC and the Pentagon demonstrate an enormous distance and lack of personal understanding. Do you know how many people work in the US Government? Do you know why an 11 person effort would not be visible to people at the very top of government? Do the math.

  10. Jim says:

    Here’s the math AJ, in your own language, and the question you studiously ignore. Why did the intel product of an eleven person effort working deep in the bowels of the Pentagon suddenly require the visible attention of someone back in Washington (presumably it was a high level figure in the Bush Administration whom Zelikow called in the middle of the night D.C. time within hours of receiving Shaffer’s briefing on Able Danger), and then subsequently go missing from a secure location? If the disappearance of Shaffer’s Able Danger records wasn’t a black-bag job, from whose authority did the order to seize them flow down the chain-of-command? Somebody in the Polk Administration?

    That the Able Danger project was cancelled, or went black, or lives on in evolving iterations, is a factoid that has no explanatory power, your obfuscatory fetish about the termination notwithstanding. What was the totality of the intel produced by Able Danger AND RELATED DATA MINING PROGRAMS pre-9/11, and how was it used and not used (and why), before, during, and after the tragedy? Why has all of official Washington (Bush, Clinton, the 9-11 Commission) sought so desperately to suppress the findings of Able Danger long after the program was shut down? These are the questions that people are going to ask from here on out.

    Standard operating procedure evidently did not preclude Shaffer from keeping and securing his own cache of records. If, among his files were actual Able Danger intel findings, why do you suppose he was permitted to keep them? If he was permitted to save this intel, then either he was exempt from SOP, or the intel was cleansed, and warrantable. (I believe the transcript shows that the technology to purge problematic sources was available in at least a rudimentary form. It seems to me the Pentagon briefers said that it was not used in the development of the Atta intel. In truth, I am not sure that the question was even asked. What do team members say? Do they recall a greater or lesser degree of refinement of the Atta leads, and how it was sorted?) Now the interesting thing here is, if it wasn’t Atta intel, what intel was it? If it wasn’t Able Danger program findings gone missing from Shaffer’s depository, was it the intel product of some associated data mining effort, and what intel was THAT? If it was none of the above, why were Shaffer’s files pilfered in the first place? Tell me how this adds up in your mind AJ, I earnestly desire to know.

    As you no doubt recall, because you made a conscious decision not to address the issue when I raised it, in an August 25th FOX & Friends interview, Congressman Weldon claimed to possess ten charts of Able Danger intel, three of Al Queda worked up before 9/11. From the Congressman’s phrasing (comment #2 your 8/31 AD Round Up), it is unclear whether he is implying that all ten charts are Atta centric or that seven of the ten are not. If the seven are not, what might they be?

    So many charts, where did they come from? I believe that Shaffer approached Weldon only after his disillusionment shaded into outright suspicion. I don’t believe we yet know the sequence of events, but try this. Shaffer’s faith in the predictive value of the Al Queda intel that Able Danger developed was so great he grew impassioned to the point of insubordination when the intel was rejected. After 9/11 he was dismayed to learn that the Atta intel was prophetic. 9/11 Commission Executive Director Zelikow initially embraced the information then made himself unavailable for follow-up consultation. Shaffer assumed Zelikow cancelled because he had found another source who would confirm for the Commission the miraculous and ultimately melancholy findings of the Able Danger team. Either before or after the 9/11 Commission issued its Final Report, Shaffer’s hoard of Able Danger records vanished from secure compartmented deposit. It was this disappearance coupled with the complete omission of the Able Danger story from the Final Report which breathed conspiracy in his ear. When exactly he sought out Congressman Weldon is unknown, but together they surreptitiously contacted former Able Danger team members and contractors and went about assembling the remaining documentation and determining who would be willing to come forward. At this point only Weldon and Shaffer know the totality of what they have and what their witnesses will testify to. Weldon is playing from a position of strength and he knows it.

    If it is striking to you that the Congressman is imprecise in the details he offers about his own knowledge and participation in the Able Danger saga, it is striking to me that he is perfectly unconcerned that his recollection is imperfect. At first blush his sometimes shaky grasp of the facts tends to diminish his credibility, but what his behavior tells me is that HE HAS THE GOODS, and they are bulletproof. THE GOODS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, and not needing to gild the lily, the Congressman does not trouble his memory. When the time comes, the documentary evidence he has amassed, along with missing context helpfully supplied by Able Danger team member testimony, will decide his case going away, whatever it may be. I am inclined to agree with you here Ahab, at first glance this does indeed look very bad for the White Whale faction, but Richard Clarke threw a bucket of cold seawater on this comfortable assumption today. If Clarke didn’t know, did Willy? However, the really notable feature about the Able Danger media blitz, which you have totally overlooked, is that in laying the groundwork for hearings, between the two of them Weldon and Shaffer have not only called out the Clinton Administration, and the Commission, THEY (not the media, not the Dems) have placed Stephen Hadley and Philip Zelikow squarely in the crosshairs. If these two aren’t implicated in the scandal, why has Weldon, A FELLOW REPUBLICAN, left them to twist in the wind? For now, they aren’t talking. Does it not occur to you that the Congressman is giving all sides fair warning, AND IS IT NOT NOW SELF-EVIDENT THAT WELDON IS ABOUT TO USE ABLE DANGER TO ATTACK BOTH PARTIES AND THE ESTABLISHMENT CONSENSUS ON SEPTEMBER THE ELEVENTH? Unless of course there is something he wants and is willing to stand down to get. I don’t see him as venal, but maybe you, with your consummate panoptic insider’s understanding of Washington know better.

    Word to the wise AJ, you’re looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Washington is as far from the people as any of us are from you. The days of “understanding” are no longer passing, they are gone. If I cared to examine the compounding processes of bureaucratic digestive tracts, I’d buy a proctoscope. You know, trillions in taxpayer dollars and obligations IN…and 9/11, Iraq, and Katrina OUT (in the past five years alone). Kakistocracy IN…caca OUT. Let me tell you what I know about how the Pentagon works. OPERATION NORTHWOODS. It’s declassified. It’s on the net. It’s all anybody needs to know about the Pentagon. A frisson of recognition, perhaps?

  11. Jim says:


    *****From An Interview With Chris Deliso*****

    “Essentially, there is only one investigation–a very big one, an all-inclusive one. Completely by chance, I, a lowly translator, stumbled over one piece of it. But I can tell you there are a lot of people involved, A LOT OF RANKING OFFICIALS, and a lot of illegal activities that include multi-billion-dollar drug-smuggling operations, BLACK MARKET NUCLEAR SALES TO TERRORISTS AND UNSAVORY REGIMES, you name it. And of course a lot of people from abroad are involved. It’s massive. So to do this investigation, to really do it, they will have to look into everything.”


    “Again, it’s hard to talk about this around the gag order, but this is what I have been saying for the past three years, that’s why I refer to the transcript of CBS 60 Minutes. These people who call themselves Americans and these people are using their position, their official position within these agencies–SOME OF THEM IN THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, SOME OF THEM IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE–and yet, WHAT THEY ARE DOING WITH THEIR POSITION, WITH THEIR INFLUENCE IS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES’ NATIONAL SECURITY, IT’S AGAINST THE BEST INTERESTS OF ITS PEOPLE, AND THAT IS TREASON.”

    AJ, ask yourself, why is the Ashcroft DOJ State Secrets gag not lifted on this woman, and why aren’t our elected representatives falling all over themselves to demand hearings, if even to refute her “silly” charges?

  12. AJStrata says:


    Try and stay on topic please. If there was something there with Sidol I am sure the media-formally-known-as-mainstream would have had a field day with it. The government is an Equal Opportunity Employer – it hires kooks as wells as saints.

  13. TonyGuitar says:

    Hi AJ, Jim readers et all..
    As a world citizen, lived many places including Corpus Christi Texas and Ventura California. Presently living on Vancouver Island B.C.

    I would generally like to thank Americans for investments and sacrifices made supressing al Qaeda terrorism and keeping it from our collective doorsteps.

    This thanks is offered by far more Canadians than our Main Stream Media may lead you to believe.

    I will ask that you not condemn all Canadians just because a selfish and limited prime minister Chretien failed to throw Canadian support to America when he should have. The material support was limited, but the political advantage of that support was, or would have been of immense value to the U.S.A.

    My sympathy to you all considering the huge scope of Katrina and the loss of a major tourist and music asset is heartfelt.
    Though further west of that, I loved Padre Island and Port Isabelle, as well as Corpus .

    One other thing,
    I wish the army of the brain-dead would drop the, *no weapons of mad destruction* whine. Once the practice of gas genocide of Kurd villages was verified, it was green light to open season on Saddam, his gaseous sons and their *bullet squads*.
    The discovery of hundrds of anti-gas suits hidden in the hospital during the war was the clincher for justification for me.

    Time is pressing, but I’m glad to get that stuff said. Later, and 73s TonyGuitar

  14. AJStrata says:


    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and share your thoughts. I kow your time is prescious.

  15. […] How do they know the Able Danger team is wrong? Especially after the Pentagon did a complete ‘about face’ as a result of their review of their files: which dwarfs the material the 9-11 commission was allowed to retain on the subject. Kean said the recollections of the intelligence officers cannot be verified by any document. […]

  16. […] It is still not clear when the order was given. The volume mentioned is consistent with the large commercially available data sets that have been mentioned in previous news sources. It was made clear in the recent DoD press conference that these data sets had to be destroyed becuase they were riddled with information on US citizens and the data on terrorists could not be easily separated from the total data set. […]

  17. […] The order to destroy the documents, apparently after being rebuffed on their attempts to contact the FBI, is not the normal cleaning up of preliminary data and reports we have were told was happening in the DoD briefing earlier this month. This is referred to in the Fox story as well However, the Pentagon confirmed this month that documents associated with Able Danger were destroyed because of strict regulations governing the collection of data on foreign visitors in the United States. […]