We have a long post below on the Thursday NY Times story telling us that the 9/11 Commission now admits to having been briefed twice about "Able Danger", the secret Pentagon data-mining project that identified Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2000.
A couple of days back, I noted a lot of holes in the original Times story. Well, I am not throwing in the towel now, but I'll admit that I am checking it for heft and "tossability". However, skeptics in need of some spine-stiffening will be bucked up by MacRanger, who has done military intel for a living and wants to learn more before climbing onto this bandwagon.
Eric Umansky, who had a big "Not So Fast" article at Slate on Tuesday, waves some more yellow flags at Slate and his own blog. Eric credits another reporter, and I will credit some of my commenters with promoting this caveat to the Able Danger briefing:
I was talking about this story with LAT reporter Terry McDermott, who recently published a history of the 9/11 hijackers, Perfect Soldiers. He pointed out a key bit of context missing from the Times' story: If the Pentagon's secret data-mining program really did finger some of the future hijackers, how many other names were on the list? Tens, hundreds, thousands?
If it was closer to thousands, maybe officials presumably (rightly? wrongly?) that they were dealing with too many false positives and the info was, essentially, not of high enough quality to be actionable. And, just guessing here, maybe there were so many names on the list that nobody noticed Atta's et. al until recently.
Let's advance the Times story, which told us that the 9/11 staffers now remember hearing Atta's name only at the second briefing in July 2004 - this is from Fox:
On Thursday, Weldon told FOX News that the military official, who was under cover when he was in Afghanistan for the October 2003 briefing, is certain he told the staffers about Atta at that time.
The military intelligence officer who attended that meeting with staffers "kept notes of that meeting and will testify under oath that he not only told" the staffers about Able Danger's mission, but about Atta.
I do not want to be forced to absorb more revisions to the 9/11 Commission's story.
And for "fair and balanced", here is the Captain, who thinks the 9/11 Commission is discredited. I'll say this, contra MacRanger - even if the Commission staffers weren't convinced about the veracity of Able Danger, it is hard to understand how they failed to mention it in the final report, especially since they recommended better communication and an attempt at data-mining. Well, let's find out.
For background, here are some interesting links:
Rep. Weldon speaks about "Able Danger" to the House, May 21, 2002. No use of the phrase "Able Danger", and no mention of Atta. Was it still classified, or did the Able Danger team only learn later that they had Atta on their list? Ahh! Per Weldon, the Able Danger team briefed Gen. Shelton in January 2001, but what did they say? Presentation, notes, recollections, testimony please.
Laura Rozen links to video of a similar speech to the Heritage Foundation, also May 2002.
Rep. Weldon addresses the House on "Able Danger", June 2005.
TIN FOIL SPECIAL - I found this while Googling around, and have not had a moment to evaluate it, but...
From the Times:
Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.
Now, in trying to find out about Mr. Snell, I came across this, which I pass on *WITHOUT ENDORSEMENT*:
But Philip Zelikow, Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, shocked [Peter] Lance, [author of "Cover Up", about the 9/11 Commission] with the news that his information would be taken privately by Commission team leader Dietrich Snell. For in 1996, when he was Assistant U.S. Attorney, Snell himself had helped to prosecute Yousef in the Bojinka trial, in a way that systematically excluded not only Scarpa's testimony but all reference to both KSM and Bojinka II.
As Lance wrote later in Cover Up,
Under objective circumstances, Snell would have made an important witness before the Commission. But in the heavily conflicted world of the Commission staff, he was hired to be one of its senior attorneys and team leaders. 
The cover-up Lance wished to discuss with Snell was not over.
[The Commission's] Staff Statement No. 16, co-written by Dietrich Snell, concluded that KSM didn't begin planning the 9/11 attacks until 1996. There was no mention of Yousef's involvement in the plot. . . . If this take on the story were true, it would let the Justice Department and the FBI off the hook for ignoring the evidence presented to them . . . in 1995 -- evidence showing that Yousef and KSM . . . were planning to hijack airliners and fly them into six U.S. buildings . . . including the WTC. 
I have NO IDEA if that is credible or relevant, and I hate to wander into tin foil territory, but - I do want to know a bit more about whether Mr. Snell might have been a Gorelick crony - otherwise, I cannot understand Ms. Gorelick's seemingly extraordinary power over this commission.
MORE: RedState is intrigued by Mr. Snell; they also note that the question of our ability to pin down Atta's travels was politically fraught, since it ties to the question of whether he met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague on April 9, 2001. See the 9/11 Report, Ch. 7.