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August 23, 2005



I responded to your question on my site.

Need to catch a bite - hope you do not mind dropping over there to get my response.



In case you don't recall which post you commented on it was




Seems the members of the 9/11 Comish are in full CYA Mode now.

How anyone can actually call for a Congressional Investigation is beyond me. Yeah, like I would believe the likes of these POS Members of House and Senate who put this Comish together.

All of D.C. is now trying to save the Body Politic, but the facts will expose all who deserve exposing.

I really don't care if it is both Parties that have to clean house after this debacle, but please, folks, no more Dems in the WH until they can prove they can handle Natl Sec.

Elections Matter.


The NYT reported another source today (8/23/05).

Representative Weldon also arranged an interview on Monday with a former employee of a defense contractor who said he had helped create a chart in 2000 for the intelligence program that included Mr. Atta's photograph and name.

The former contractor, James D. Smith, said that Mr. Atta's name and photograph were obtained through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East.


To the question of why he doesn't have the mysterious chart today, James D. Smith has the most creative excuse yet - he stuck it to the wall of his old office, and when he switched offices, he could not get it down.

That excuse is so lame it might even be true.


sploid links to this Village Voice article: Errors of Commission by James Ridgeway, with Natalie Wittlin.

By 1998, Atta was living in a Hamburg apartment (later found to be an Al Qaeda cell) and under surveillance by German intelligence. The Germans were passing along what they knew to the CIA. There are suggestions that Atta may have been known to U.S. intelligence as far back as 1993 and, according to the German press, the CIA itself had other people in the apartment under surveillance.

I'd love to know if the Able Danger charts had also posted a photo of Mounir al-Motassadek.

My real fear in this story is that the information gathered has been deep-sixed to protect self-serving careerists. If this is what happened, pensions should be revoked. Jaimie Gorlick's Wall is water under the bridge, I'd like to know how the information gathered changed Atta and his cohorts timeline. Was there a meeting in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer?


Rumsfeld today said that the 9-11 Commission were briefed on Able Danger.


I'm just watching this one unfold. Beyond wanting to KNOW what the hell happened then and what the hell is happening now, I have no opinions, information, or analysis worth 2 cents...not that that's ever stopped me before.

At least this waste of bandwidth has been short. :)

Carry on. I trust Tom and AJ to keep us the best informed.


it begins in earnest after lobor day.


In this tale of yesteryear's dataminers, where are today's dataminers?


Answer: Into everybody's business, we hope.

And TM, you won't have to be confused for long. Soon the DataBank will give you the answer. Just ask JBG.


Last week, I was wondering why so many conservatives felt so confident that this amounted to a Clinton admin CYA . Why, I asked, would the Repubs on the 9/11 commission buy into a coverup? One answer was that all politicians take care of each other. But I think the more obvious answer is that all politicians take care of themselves. And the Repubs are not going to come out of this smelling anything like a rose.

From the Kean Hamilton Statement on ABLE DANGER, we get proof that Shaffer spoke to Philip Zelitow, who is Condi Rice's hand picked protogee, executive director of the 9/11 Commission and a member of the 2000-2001 Bush transition team: On October 21, 2003, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, two senior Commission staff members, and a representative of the executive branch, met at Bagram Base, Afghanistan, with three individuals doing intelligence work for the Department of Defense. One of the men, in recounting information about al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan before 9/11, referred to a DOD program known as ABLE DANGER. He said this program was now closed, but urged Commission staff to get the files on this program and review them, as he thought the Commission would find information about al Qaeda and Bin Ladin that had been developed before the 9/11 attack. He also complained that Congress, particularly the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), had effectively ended a human intelligence network he considered valuable.

And who chaired the HPSCI during this period when they ended the intelligence network referred to? None other than Porter Goss

This story is increasingly difficult to follow, but I think one thing is clear - any Republican using this to throw mud on Clinton era Dems is going to find a heck of a lot of mud thrown back in his own face. There was significant Repub involvement in discounting this information - starting with the fact that it was the incoming Bush admin that killed Able Danger in Feb '01 - and it would almost seem that the concealment efforts are ongoing.

I've noticed all calls for HEARINGS have disappeared into the mist on other conservative blogs. I think the reality is dawning here.


Well, I agree the Hell to pay is yet to come. I suspect there will be blame enough for all involved. Now with the blame should come some guilt and shame but they should be measured. The blame, and guilt and shame, here properly belong to Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda.

And maybe Saddam.


You know, Etienne, fundamentally I agree the recriminations are only going to help if they are used as feedback for improvement. Our who;le establishment, Democratic, and Republican, was vulnerable and clever criminals)warriors?) took advantage of that vulnerability. Let's not add morbidity to injury by devouring each other on the security issue

I've mentioned before that this whole mess has a silver-lining and that is that it should engender a 21st Century national discussion on the balance between privacy and public order. The fragility of public order is increased by increased complexity of society, yet the tools to preserve order have also become more complex. With that complexity has come a re-arrangement, perhaps re-definition, of privacy.


Kim, if we are going to remain a free and open democracy in the face of terrorist threats, any redefinition of privacy is going to have to be accompanied by an increase in the transparency of our government and citizen oversight of the integrity of our government, starting with what should be the sacred inviolability of our voting processes.

I am in agreement with those who do not feel there is any sense to placing blind trust in our government - as represented by either party, as both are currently beholden to corporate (rather than the public) interests and are prone to the rot of corruption. We need to find a way to return the government from the grip of corporate socialists to the hands of We, The People. One first step is to try and stop our partisan feeding upon one another and recognize that patriotism can't exist if it's based on hating half of your fellow citizens.

I try and feel hopeful because I have three kids, but it doesn't come natural when I look out over the wasteland of partisan hatred our country has become, ironically in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that initially drew us (and the outside world, which has now turned against us) closer together. However, this Able Danger story, if fully investigated, is only going to reveal that the rot in our government is truly bipartisan. And I guess, in a sad way, that's a start.


Not a word I could really disagree with, and I like the ironic use of the word 'socialism'.

Yes, let's clean up the process of determining the democratic will. Machines with paper trails to verifiable voters seem the best.


"is only going to reveal that the rot in our government is truly bipartisan."

Hate to be a downer-but abandon all hope.

It's an illusion to think that an essentially good populace is held captive by a corrupt government. It's the population itself that is corrupt, and, like a fetid pond, the brightest scum simply rises to the top.


This one is coming back around like Scheivo did. Lots of folks seem afraid to let go of that tiger's tail - seems the other end of that tiger is scarier and scarier.


I like the hopefulness of Kim and Etienne's exchange. But Martin puts the blame squarely where it belongs: on all of us.

It's been so easy at this time in history to take freedom and security (privacy, too) for granted, that I'm afriad we've left politics to hustlers and 'C' students while we went about various missions of personal or professional (me guilty) fulfillment.

Many of us don't know much about the structure of our local governments and school boards or how they operate. Yet we're all experts on geopolitics.

The 'rot' begins with our lack of participation and vigilence (HT to Etienne, who I usually disagree with, often strongly).

Keep going, guys.


Too true, Cosmo. I have to admit the truth of Martin's statement. I know as a nation we have become the poster children of Greedy, Selfish & Lazy (especially intellectually). But I think people sense more and more we are entering a crisis period, if at no other time than when their oil bills arrive or they feel heart palpitations every time they pull up to the gas pump. (Note: I'm not saying these prices are direct consequences of politics, but the fragile finances of the average American family doesn't have the elasticity to absorb them - and that fragility is indeed a political consequence.)

Another possible good side effect of the partisanship you see on blogs like this is that people being asked to "link" and "source" are developing a good deal of education about their government. I know I am. In just the past year I have learned everything I was never taught in school about how our Congress operates, why we spend so much on useless pork, why good bills can't get to the floor, who is really writing the bills, who is (not) reading the bills,etc - in other words, why Congress doesn't work to serve the people's interests. And, as a very average family type with no visible loony-leftiness about me, I find myself in a good position to pass on this information to those I meet in my daily life. "We the People" really does have to start with ... We the People.

I'm determined to be optimistic, especially with the militaristic faux-patriotism finally starting to wear off our country. People need to understand that blind faith in any president is profoundly unAmerican, and that when we are led so dismally astray, against our interests as both Americans and human beings, it is our personal responsibility to educate ourselves and start behaving like the patriots we have so flattered ourselves as being.


One issue with your comment, Kim -- Feb. 2001? Because of the election and aftermath, weren't there precious few Bush Admin. officials actually in place? Weren't there primarily Clinton Admin. official holdovers?

Of course, Porter Goss in his capacity wouldn't qualify as a Bush Admin. official at that time but there's no doubt this Able Danger issue may be one of the last manifestations of Republicans being asleep along with Democrats.

None of this, however, removes Jamie Gorelick and all the folks behind the unnecessary 1990s enhancements to "The Wall" from bearing responsibility for arrogantly endangering our culture due to an inadequate concern for security. Nor absolve them for not having proper respect for the concerns detailed by Mary Jo White.

...our government - as represented by either party, as both are currently beholden to corporate (rather than the public) interests...

To which I call "bullshit!" All you psuedo-marxists use the big bad "corporate" boogeyman to distract us with while picking our pockets.

Where are the "corporate interests" in Able Danger? That would be the defense contractors who engineered and built a system which may (or may not) have been able to prevent 9/11 except that the customer screwed up when it came to utilizing the results. The customer being the policy makers, and the policymakers' boss, the electorate. As in us.

And the "corporate interests" all got fired in 2003 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Information_Awareness ). Oh, yeah, there's proof positive about how all-powerful the corporate interests are -- they did their job well, other people screwed up, they got fired, and the people who screwed up are still in the policy-making game. And then a year later the corporate interests got another chance to make their pitch for the efficacy of their product -- and they got blown off by the politicians trying to cover their own butts.

Gee, if that's what having everybody "beholden" to you looks like, how does it look any different to be completely powerless?

cathy :-)


People need to understand that blind faith in any president is profoundly unAmerican . . . .

I agree, but then so is automatic and invariable disbelief of a president.


"I know as a nation we have become the poster children of Greedy, Selfish & Lazy (especially intellectually). "

Like that's a BAD thing? It's the human condition. Accept it and work with it rather than against it. Intellectuals have no more legitimacy in a Democracy than a gas station pumper. An intellectual can say 'the sky is green' but the gas station guy knows better.

There's a real world out there that hasn't changed in thousands of years and unless one accepts the power of Greed and Selfishness one's social experiments will always fail and leave the experimenter wringing his hands and blaming everyone but himself.

All we can do is attempt to be more open and honest about what we do and request that our leaders do the same. There is no overarching end goal beyond living our individual lives as best we can. No pot at the end of the rainbow, no Peace for All Time.

I think we should celebrate life and living instead of pretending it is something it is not and never can be.


Here comes that self education thing again.

Seems the person in command of Able Danger was none other than General Pete Schoonmaker, who was later invited out of retirement by Rummy himself to become Army Chief of Staff. He was the one advising Shaffer & Philpott that Atta's Green Card status kept him protected behind the Wall. This even though Atta didn't have a Green Card, but an expired tourist visa!

As Capt. Scott Philpott posted the other day on Intel Dump: "And yes, Virgina - we tried to tell the lawyers that since the data identified Atta and the others as linked to Al Qaeda, we should be able to collect on them based on SecState Albright's declaration of Al Qaeda as transnational terrorist threat to the US...well the lawyers did not agree...go figure...so we could not collect on them - and for political reasons - could not pass them to the FBI...I know because I brokered three meetings between the FBI and SOCOM to allow SOCOM to pass the informaton to the FBI. And, sadly, SOCOM cancelled them every time... "

In other words there were exceptions to the Wall policy for "transnational terrorists", and Atta qualified. I've been thinking all along the Gorelick Wall really was the explanation for this problem, but it turns out to have been used instead as a kind of excuse by DOD lawyers...only why, really?

Why exactly do Republicans want to dig into this again?


I've been thinking all along the Gorelick Wall really was the explanation for this problem, but it turns out to have been used instead as a kind of excuse by DOD lawyers...only why, really?

Why exactly do Republicans want to dig into this again?

Who are these lawyers? Are they career DoD lawyers or political appointees who come and go with administrations? Were they aware of - or perhaps even bound by - the positions taken by Attorney General's office regarding the sharing of intelligence?

Others may know the answers to these questions - I do not. But I am interested in the answers.


Yeah, Wolfman, I don't know that answer either, and I've tried to find out.But the problem for Repubs comes from the fact that Philpott is claiming Schoomaker, the commander, was completely informed on all the information, including that Atta was NOT protected as a non foreign, because Sec. State Albright had clearly advised that "transnational terrorists" were not protected...and he basically said, fuggedaboutit. Why? What can explain any of this?

All I can say is the tide has definitely shifted. Righty blogs don't seem to want to discuss this anymore, except for those posters who are always a day late and a dollar short. And lefty blogs are starting to get excited about it.

However it comes out, and it may never become clear, there is no partisan axe to grind here. And I'm pretty sure our Repub Congress is NOT going to be asking for any hearings!


Philpott is claiming Schoomaker, the commander, was completely informed on all the information, including that Atta was NOT protected as a non foreign, because Sec. State Albright had clearly advised that "transnational terrorists" were not protected.

Where are you getting this information? I'm not denying its truth, I simply want to read more about this subject.

As far as your comment that there isn't a partisan axe to grind, I beg to differ simply because so many see the political landscape as a battleground. Every issue must be used as a weapon or defended against.

That often makes it hard to get at the truth because information from every direction is spun or distorted.


"The former defense intelligence official, who was interviewed twice this week, has repeatedly said that Mr. Atta and four others were identified on a chart presented to the Special Operations Command. The former official said the chart identified about 60 probable members of Al Qaeda." [NY Times Archive 8/13/05]

Special Operations Command in Tampa was under Gen. Schoomaker.

From the Intel Dump post by Schaffer:

I was there and I lived through the ABLE DANGER nightmare.
First - yes - The lawyers involved in this (and similar projects) did interpret the 9-11 terrorists as "US persons" - so while you can second guess them all you want - but that was their "legal" call as wrong as it was and is. Unfortunately, the chain of command at SOCOM went along with them (and this, I expect, will be a topic that will become more clear in the near future).

Chain of command at SOCOM = Schoomaker.

By the way, and this is important, no one at SOCOM appeared to understand the so called Gorelick Wall. There was an elementary incompetence in misidentifying Atta as a green card owner, to begin with. Contrary to the repeated mischaracterization by the Attorney General and others, the law never prohibited sharing information between law enforcement and intelligence communities; to the contrary, it expressly provided for such sharing. While the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was interpreted to mean that prosecutors could not direct foreign intelligence wiretaps, as opposed to criminal wiretaps, the 9/11 failures had nothing whatsoever to do with the inability of prosecutors to direct such surveillance. from Justice Watch.

In addition, Madeline Albright had made it clear that NONE of these reservations applied to "transnational terrorists" and clearly Shaffer & Philpott understood that, if Schoomaker did not.



Thanks for the info. I have now visited the Intel-Dump site which has some interesting information.

There isn't a satisfactory explanation for why lawyers - and I note the plural - reached the conclusion they did that the 9/11 terrorists were "U.S. persons" thereby blocking the sharing of intelligence.

I've now seen conjecture about everything from Waco to Gorelick to simple incompetence. I'm leaning toward a theory that the lawyers were risk averse. They could be blamed for mistaken action; inaction wouldn't lead to consequences. If I'm right, then they were horribly wrong.

Tom K

"And I'm pretty sure our Repub Congress is NOT going to be asking for any hearings!"

Etienne, I think you are wrong.

Senate May Hold Hearings on Able Danger, Info-Sharing

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