Sep 22 2005

Able Danger, Picture Clears, 09/22/05

Published by at 1:48 pm under Able Danger/9-11,All General Discussions


There are more updates at the end – so keep scrolling. But I was reveiwing the Shaffer interview with Jerry Doyle at QTMonster and came across something that supports the speculation Atta was being tracked by many names:

AS: Jerry, I’ve spoken to a lot of folks about this and I think that my recollection has been pretty consistent. I know the picture, I know what I saw. While there’s obviously disputes about what name was under that picture, J.D. Smith has already said that there were several names under that picture, we all recall the same issue and that the Pentagon confirmed.

Bingo! I cannot go through all the posts we did on this, but I think it is safe to say Mohamed el-Amir was on of the names Able Danger had on their lists. Now, was he tracked in Germany, Pakistan, Afghanistan or all three? Was he tracked to the US?


Well, nothing like two and half days of meetings and a crippled Senate hearing to make your day. There are lots of commentary out on the web today. I will try and address it all. I need to sit down and watch the hearings at some time to see if anything new came out. I have heard some gems on the radio.

It appears Specter and Rumsfeld are heading for a confrontation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said yesterday he would look into whether the Pentagon obstructed his committee by refusing to allow testimony from five people who had knowledge of a secret military unit named “Able Danger.”

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said later yesterday during a briefing on Capitol Hill that an offer was made to do a classified briefing on Able Danger.

“As I understand it, the Judiciary Committee preferred to have an open hearing on a classified matter, and therefore the department declined to participate in an open hearing on a classified matter,” Rumsfeld said.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Pentagon believes it has provided sufficient information on Able Danger to the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, which oversee the department.

If this keeps heading towards an all out battle between the Pentagon and Specter, I think Bush will step in and get a resolution. The material we need on Able Danger is not classified. All we need is these answers:

(1) Did Able Danger identify Atta, and did the track him some point into the US. We don’t need to know how – just whether they did or not.
(2) Who decided to stop the passing of the Able Danger information to the FBI and why?
(3) Who decided to destroy the Able Danger information in 2000 and why?

We know for a fact from yesterday’s hearings Able Danger tried to contact the FBI and massive amounts of information were destroyed in 2000. What little I heard on the radio while driving made it clear the DoD destroyed the data due to an overly cautious concern about what kind of data Able Danger was using. The testimony by the DoD lawyer was, paraphrasing, that we are smarter today – which is an admission of the destruction.

I am not one to hang someone for being in the pre 9-11 mindset we were all in. But I will bet you part of the rationale was the same kind of distrust of the government that led to the Gorelick memo. And there is a good chance the decision to purge the data in 2000 took into account Gorelick’s work at Justice and the DoD. If this is the case, then those who question Gorelick’s seat on the 9-11 commission have a right to be outraged and fed up. Gorelick may not have known going in was a key person in instantiating the pre 9-11 mindset into procedural barriers that led to our ‘achilles heal’ on 9-11. Or she may have known all along.

But once it became clear she was a key person she should have been forced to step down from the commission and step up to the witness stand. We don’t need or want cronyism on this subject.

We cannot have confidence in our government if it allows power players preferrential treatment in this dead serious discussion. We gave our government a lot of support and confidence post 9-11, all the way through the transformation of Iraq. But it can all be shattered if there are doubts about the process of finding out what happened that led to 9-11. Bush could lose his support if he does not get this Able Danger thing resolved openly.

Specter and Grassley have come out calling for the Pentagon to reverse course, hopefully more will join in the chorus.

Two Republican lawmakers blasted Pentagon leaders Wednesday for barring testimony from five members of a classified intelligence unit about whether they identified Sept. 11 plotters well before the attacks.

“That looks to me as if it may be obstruction of the committee’s activities,” said committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., at the hearing.

“The Department of Defense owes the American people an explanation about what went on here,” Specter said. “The American people are entitled to some answers.

“We’re dealing with the intelligence-gathering data of the Department of Defense and prima-facie reasons to believe that there was credible evidence” the team had uncovered four of the 19 terrorist plotters, including Mohamed Atta, the apparent ringleader.

Specter called the Pentagon’s reluctance to provide the witnesses “stonewalling.”

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, another committee member, called the Pentagon’s refusal an “institutional disease” in which the agency is attempting to protect itself from embarrassment. If the intelligence officials had testified, Pentagon leaders would “have egg on their face,” said Grassley, vowing to do “whatever it takes to get this information out.”

Well, let’s hope so.

Dr. Sanity was kind enough to post a link to her incredible post on the hearings. Check it out here. And she notices the kinds of acts which make the average citizen very uncomfortable and als which begin to plant the seeds of doubt regarding the people running this country. From Weldon:

DoD is actively preventing them from testifying and 2 days ago completely revoked Lt. Col Shaffer’s security clearance (up till then it had been suspended).

Sounds like retribution – doesn’t it? Why do this now?

when the Able Danger documents and data were destroyed in March, 2000, it was done without the knowledge of the customer of the data (General Lambert) who was not informed of the destruction until after the fact and was furious.

I want Lambert to testify as well. This is not new to those of us tracking the story – but it does point to someone high up in the civil chain or the adminintration. Who else is able to destroy a general’s prized resource without his permission, and still be standing after the fact? That decision was not made by just anyone.

Weldon states that it was a 9/11 Commission member (unnamed) who encouraged him (Weldon) to pursue the AD story, and claimed that the Commission was never briefed on any of the information Weldon turned over to staff.

I wonder who the maverick commissioner is? My bet is John Lehman, since he is ex-Pentagon. Another timeline tidbit from Erik Kleinsmith who testified to the destruction of Able Danger data:

AD collected an immense amount of data on AQ but in April, 2000 quite abruptly there was “constricted” support for AD activities and it was shut down.

UPDATE: From Kleinsmith’s opening statement it is now clear the shutdown was much later in 2001, so the data to that point – the Atta data – was what was impacted. END UPDATE

This does not completely fit with timelines speculated to date. It does fit with the China study (here and here), which probably established a terminal reputation for Able Danger as a rogue element violating US laws. The China side was shutdown April-May 2000. Initially it was thought the terrorism side continued on. But now it looks like not all of it.

My gut tells me to follow the decision trail on the China study side because that could lead to the person high up the food chain who came down hard again, later on the terrorist side. Or they did closed both up together. Once they irritated this person or persons linking US power players to China they probably created a political enemy for life. More from Kleinsmith:

he was ordered to destroy all analytic data and charts not already turned over to other agencies

This explains why the Able Danger SOCOM group asked to meet with the FBI well after this purge – they had there data by then. I think we can gleen a process going here:

Public Data -> DoD contractors Orion/SRA -> LIWA -> DIA -> SOCOM

Note: Raytheon used to be listed as one of the contractors in the above list. I am not sure where I found all the names of the contractors, and I am not sure whether Raytheon was ever associated with Able Danger. Unfortunately, these same contractors are the same ones I have dealt with my entire life, so sometimes the names blend together. So I have removed Raytheon from the list.

The DoD contractors purchased data sets, and later pictures of people who popped out of the data mining runs. The data mining runs produced lots of candidates of interests which are then provided to LIWA as a contract deliverables. LIWA delivered the data runs with linkages, pictures, etc to DIA. DIA then provide them to SOCOM for final evaluation and determination of who was an Al Qaeda terrorist. That is why the DIA/Contractor side of Able Danger could be ‘shutdown’ while the SOCOM side kept rolling through January 2001 – when it completed its target list of Al Qaeda.

JD Smith is from the contractor side. Shaffer is DIA. Phillpott SOCOM.

Technical expert Dr. Eileen Pricer is hard to place. From the excerpt of the Jerry Doyle interview with Shaffer here at QTMonster (which Ed Morrissey links) we have these comments about Eileen Pricer by Shaffer:

It was DoD’s decision based on whatever they did internally which has now been determined that they will not permit me, Captain Philpott, Dr. Eileen (inaudible), or any other uniformed or civilian member of the Dept. of Defense to testify.

He clearly indicates Pricer is civilian DoD and not a contractor.

I’ve not talked to Eri[c], in the sense, I saw him last in 2000 at LIWA. I don’t know, I’ve not talked to him. He at the time was an active duty Army major. He was deputy to Dr. Eileen Pricer working on this issue

LIWA was the group which had been using the technology to do data mining which Shaffer showed Captian Phillpott when Able Danger was first started (per his GSN interview).

However, I knew from my personal experience in dealing with the Army, that LIWA, the Land Information Warfare Activity, was developing this cutting edge data mining analytical capability which I had used for other operations. So, I recommended to Captain [Scott] Philpott, “You need to go see [a person that has chosen to remain anonymous] down at LIWA and talk about what [that person] is doing.” [Capt. Philpott] goes down and gets his brief and says, “This is it. This is exactly what we’re looking for,”…

So she resides in the LIWA along with Kleinsmith. But what is strange is, in the same GSN interview:

That may have been a contributing factor to why there were problems with Army and Special Operations Command beginning in the spring of 2000. At that point in time, LIWA backed out of the relationship.

There may be more here than that. The purge orders may have caused LIWA to rethink what they were getting into. They could have been getting directions from SOCOM, their customer, via DIA the liason, which made them uncomfortable.

Getting back to Dr Sanities notes, unfortunately we also see there is little chance of some of the data being held in the contractor’s hands (though I still think the source data could be out there somewhere).

– In March, 2000 or thereabouts; armed federal agents came to Orion Corporation to confiscate all data from Able Danger. Smith had some of the data in the trunk of his car (since it was unclassified) and that is the only reason it was preserved (presumably some of the charts, etc.)

But anyway – we have a bit clearer of a picture of the players and events in the timeline. And here I agree 100% with Dr Sanity’s conclusions

From my perspective, listening to this testimony, it seemed that someone or some group went to a considerable effort to destroy all evidence of Able Danger in mid-2000. When it resurfaced again in 2004; similar attempts to suppress and destroy informtion were immediately implemented.

Folks, this is serious stuff.

Very serious. And it appears the hands that destroyed the data, barred SOCOM from contacting the FBI and closed down the data processing side of the effort less than 6 months after the effort began was a powerful hand indeed. This is a big deal involving some heavy players. That is a lot of action in a short time – something the Federal Government cannot do normally.

More in a later post if possible.

Tom Maguires posts here, Ed Morrissey here and Michelle has a good round up here. And don’t forget QT Monster’s Able Danger blog roll. Mac has predicted, again, the end to this story. I have my doubts but appreciate his insights.


Some good commentary at Intel Dump here

Also, it appears Dr Preisser’s name is spelled differently than was originally assumed, according to Kleinmith’s opening remarks. Full transcripts here.

In December of 1999 we were approached by US Special Operations Command to support Able Danger. I assigned the same core team of analysts that worked the JCAG project, and with Dr. Eileen Preisser as the analytical lead…

Lot’s of google hits on that variation of the name! Here and here shed some light. Looks like it is either a different Preisser or she has moved onto Homeland Defense.

One response so far

One Response to “Able Danger, Picture Clears, 09/22/05”

  1. LuckyBogey says:

    Is this Princess Xena?
    Dr. Eileen M. Preisser, a professor at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, is one of the key players in this arena. A congressional fellow on science and technology applicable to national security, she was appointed this year as director of the Air Force Homeland Defense Technology Center. Her role, as she describes it, is “to help prepare American cities for possible terrorist attacks and give them the tools and education required to perform consequence management before any national agency arrives on the scene.”

    Since September, a large portion of Preisser’s time has been spent working with Congress and groups from the Executive Office of the President to make U.S. Defense Department command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and coordination technologies available to first responders throughout the United States, Canada and NATO. “My methods are effective, but I knock over ricebowls. I’ve been called everything on Capitol Hill from Xena Warrior Princess to Joan of Arc,” the former Air Force special activities officer says.