Able Afficianados should mark Sept 14 on their calendar - Sen. Specter has told the NY Times that he will hold a hearing that day because Officers Shaffer and Phillpott "appear to have credibility". Apparently, the FBI provided something useful in response to Specter's earlier request. And WTOP, a Washington DC radio station, continues its coverage with a report that the Army ordered the Able Danger documents to be destroyed. From the Times:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 - The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that it was investigating reports from two military officers that a highly classified Pentagon intelligence program identified the Sept. 11 ringleader as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.
The committee's chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that he was scheduling a public hearing on Sept. 14 "to get to the bottom of this" and that the military officers "appear to have credibility."
The senator said his staff had confirmed reports from the two officers that employees of the intelligence program tried to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 to discuss the work of the program, known as Able Danger.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon remains in limbo:
Senator Specter's announcement came as the Pentagon said again on Wednesday that while it was not disputing the officers' reports, it could find no documentation to back up what they were saying.
"Not only can we not find documentation, we can't find documents to lead us to the documentation," said Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman.
The Times whispers the "Pentagon cover-up" theory; Earlier, WTOP provided background which pointed in that direction. From the Times:
But Colonel Shaffer and military officials involved in the intelligence program say it may not be surprising that documents were destroyed, since the project became controversial within the Pentagon because of potential privacy violations.
...The existence of the intelligence program is potentially embarrassing to the Pentagon since it would suggest that the Defense Department developed information about the Sept. 11 hijackers long before they attacked in 2001 but did not share the information with law enforcement or intelligence agencies that could have acted on it.
Let's bring in the latest from WTOP:
Key documents related to those prominent individuals, including a university provost and a former high ranking government official, no longer exist.
"There were two individuals who were ordered by the Army to destroy the documents," says Mark Zaid, an attorney for several of the Able Danger team members. "I've spoken to one of them and confirmed that the documents were destroyed."
Able Danger was shut down in part because of concerns about intelligence on U.S. citizens that the sophisticated software dug up.
No witness list has been set, but this page of the Judiciary Committee website should get it in due course.
And here are the press relations contacts for the Judiciary Committee members. These good people are not formally described as "blogger relations contacts", but who knows?