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August 19, 2005



Well now, still; were the 4 members of the Brooklyn cell mentioned but Atta not specifically named. That might have happened and sustains the storyline. There is just too much attention paid to Atta. What about the other three plotters discovered? And what about the other 50 or so that Able Danger discovered?


Eh? These are supposed to be patriotic Americans -- American officials acting on behalf of our country. After the deadliest attack on American soil. Why does there have to be even a hint of CYOA or a "who said what when" p_____g match?

Mike on Hilton Head Island

It's less important what Able Danger did or did not tell the Commission... It's more important what they were unable to tell the FBI.

What about that story where the photo of Atta was covered over by stickies? Apparently they did know his name.


Look-if you don't give Schaeffer the Wilson treatment at this point-your motive is something other than objective truth.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we're selling out the Kurds again to give the Shias an Islamic state per today's NYT. Charming.


Did Able Danger identify the Millenium Bomber?

Kurds. Hm? You do know that Persians and Kurds hate each other too, don't you?

It's also useful to remember that Saladin was a Kurd, and that the Kurds inhabit a natural fortress, just as do the Afghanis.


I mean I'm fairly confident the Kurds can take care of themselves, though, lately, historically, they've been splintered among Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and the old Soviet Union. We birthed their nation with the No-Fly Zone, and they make Turkey, the ayatollahs, Putin, and others nervous. Ali-Sistani will keep everything copacetic over there, at least as far as Kurd/Iraq Shia relations go.


Funny Martin should bring Wilson/NY Times.

When the NY Times gave Wilson the Dowdist treatment the unwashed masses fell for the "Bush Lied" meme.

Geek, Esq.

I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the details of this story.

I feel fully vindicated.

Pierre Legrand

Alright then if you are going to slant your reporting so much that you totally screw up what Shaffer said shouldn't you apologize to Shaffer for messing it up?

Matter of fact he made it a point to declare to the 9/11 Commission member interviewing him in Afghanistan that Atta was on the Able Danger list.

Wondering if you will issue a correction and apology or spin it that you were misled?



Wondering if you will issue a correction and apology or spin it that you were misled?

Probably spin it that I was misled, since a very reasonable reading of the Fox report was that Shaffer had changed his story.

Obvioulsy, psychic readers and bloggers have no excuse.


You need to head over to Captain's Quarters and read his analysis of the interview. According to him, it's not that Shaeffer didn't name names---it's that Atta was the only name he did name.

Pierre Legrand

Didn't think you would admit to reading into it what you wanted to see. It is clear by reading even the report you linked to that Atta was named, and it is also clear by reading that report compared to the transcript that Foxnews blew it, not Shaffer. But since your objective is to spin it so that its Shaffer and Weldon who are wrong....

Pierre Legrand


Doesn't the basic problem remain?

Shaffer had no documents to back up what he is saying and no one else present seems to remember what he does.

Is there any reason we should believe his recollections are better than the other 4 people present in that meeting?

Captain Ed

Pierre, no need to question Tom's motives. The Fox report I read sounded exactly like what he said, and he updated the post with a link to me after I e-mailed him about the transcript. I'd blame Fox themselves for this one -- I think they got scoop happy and didn't pay attention to what Shaffer said.


Thank you, Captain.


The problem with all these TV interviews is that they are really not interviews. Very often they are platforms for the hosts to push their agenda: (1) they do not give the interviewee the time to express themselves and the segments are so short they can only scratch the surface of any subject; (2) the hosts and other guests (when there are some)interrupt and speak over the person currently speaking.

The Hannity and Colmes "interview" of LTC Shaffer was especially poor. Sean was distracted by being on the border in New Mexico, and was in a hurry to get back to that story. Colmes was not interrested in what LTC Shaffer had to say but only in deflecting any blame from the Clinton administration. As a result, he kept interrupting and speaking over LTC Shaffer so that the viewer (I did) had problems hearing and following what LTC Shaffer was trying to say.
Therefore, I would not take what LTC Shaffer said or did not say on that show as any contradiction of what he has said previously because he did not get a chance to express himself fully.

While I have not seen any other "interviews" of LTC Shaffer, I would not be surprised if the same could not be said of those shows also.
Therefore, until we see a true interview where he is not interrupted mid-sentence or talked over all the time, and where he has the time to relate the whole story in context and in chronology, we run the risk of encountering this type of situation.

By the way, this is not just happening to LTC Shaffer and is most annoying about all those shows, to the point that I tend not to whatch them anymore, and to become angry and frustrated whenever I do!
I am sure I am not the only one.


Doesn't the basic problem remain?

C'mon, GT, we have Weldon with the mysterious chart (he gave his only copy to Hadley right after 9/11, displayed one to the House and at the Heritage in May 2002, and, per Umansky, asked the Able Danger people to recreate it for him in 2005, which is when he first learned that they had ID'ed Atta pror to 9/11); Phillpott, who saw documents identifying Atta, but doesn't have any now and was not a tech guru on the project; and Shaffer.

I would say this story is buttoned down, squared away, and good to go.

Pierre Legrand

Captain and Tom,

Sorry but after having read Rep Curt Weldon's book I am not as apt to find him funny as many seem to do. His recommendations on whats wrong with our intelligence agencies struck me as some of the best thinking on the subject pubished. And yet I see nearly everyone on the right acting like he is the newest punching bag and that his credibility is nil. Right now the NRO is running wild acting as if Weldon is a crackpot because of a misreporting of Foxnews.

If you read Weldons House speech of 2002 it is apparent that he knows of the Data Mining capabilities of the Special Forces if not the name Able Danger. It is also apparent that this same group had indeed named Atta. So it is quite understandable that he hadnt heard the name Able Danger, while he did know of the work.

All of the supposed mis-statements of Curt Weldon and Shaffer can be laid down as Tom graciously put it the "interview" method or outright misquoting. For instance to play Gotcha when Weldon says he hadnt heard of Able Danger until 3 months ago. He hadnt, he simply heard of the Data Mining operation without hearing of its code name.

What we are seeing is a bunch of people playing word games to see how clever everyone is all the while our enemy watches in disbelief as we allow the same agencies who failed so miserably on 9/11 to continue on, indeed we not only allow them to continue we exacerbate their faults...wooo hoo.

I take this stuff seriously, we are not playing, we got stuffed on 9/11. The Alphabet soup agencies shamed themselves and if they had any honor they would have resigned in disgrace. The next time we get stuffed it will be far worse and its likely that parts of my family will be on the recieving end.

Rep Curt Weldon may be a pompous politician but he is right about what is wrong with our intelligence agencies and that is the main thrust of his book, fixing it. I honor him for that effort since President Bush doesnt seem to have the stomach for it.

The Blogsphere is supposed to be self correcting but what I am seeing instead is an avalanche of disinformation overcoming reality however badly enunciated and the glee with which its being done is distressing. It is enough to make you believe that the CIA disinformation is as powerful as the nutcases make it out to be.


Cecil Turner

"Rep Curt Weldon may be a pompous politician but he is right about what is wrong with our intelligence agencies and that is the main thrust of his book, fixing it. I honor him for that effort since President Bush doesnt seem to have the stomach for it."

Don't disagree with the sentiment, but differ on practical application. In the first place, IMO, 9/11 was primarily a failure of the FBI (specifically an overemphasis on legal matters, and too little attention to "protect and serve"). The issue of proper warning is certainly a valid one, but in the face of the FBI failure to act on the intelligence it had, it appears secondary.

The issue of what to do about intelligence is also problematic. There is only so much reorganization one can profitably accomplish in a given amount of time, and the Homeland Security department and overarching intel architecture uses up a good amount of that managerial effort. Add in the CIA's direct action mission in the WoT (which I think most agree is a good idea), and the unavoidable upheaval associated with Porter Goss's taking over CIA, and it looks to me like a full plate. (Though admittedly it's hard for an outsider to gauge.)

I find myself in rare agreement with Geek on the import of this issue, and think Weldon's effort could more profitably be spent in loosening legislative restrictions on CIA activities (both overseas and domestically).

Pierre Legrand

I don't think that reorganizing the CIA has any hope, nor do I think that Porter Goss has any hope. The Agency has moved from a useful tool to a broken rogue elephant. The best thing that could happen would be for most of the top of that agency to be reassigned to something useful like keeping track of the water buffalo population in Antartica. Fire all of them above GS-15 and rehire the ones who deserve it while bringing some back that have left in disgust.

Centralizing the Intelligence agencies was about the stupidest thing that could have ever been done. That encourages group think...we need competing visions. Instead of 1 Team B we need 10 team B's to make sure we dont get caught with our heads up our asses again.

When Imperial Hubris came out I became convinced that the CIA was no longer any thing useful.

I would recommend Rep Curt Weldon's book to anyone interested in some interesting viewpoints on our intelligence agencies.


Cecil Turner

"Centralizing the Intelligence agencies was about the stupidest thing that could have ever been done."

No argument. The "centralize to avoid groupthink" position never made much sense, and reorganizing is inherently inefficient. I'm reminded of the (unfortunately fake) Petronius Arbiter quote:

I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
"When Imperial Hubris came out I became convinced that the CIA was no longer any thing useful."

It's hard for an outsider to evaluate, but I thought Scheuer was symptomatic of the political infighting, which was definitely a part of the problem. (Though other reports of politically-motivated management suggest it's very much a bipartisan issue.) I also found his analysis of the war flawed--and that of the Pentagon folks more sensible--but that may be more a reflection of my own background and cultural bias. In any event it affects the weight I give his opinion, perhaps unfairly. And while I'd be all in favor of firing overly political types at CIA, rehiring the disgruntled types (that apparently quit for political reasons) strikes me as counterproductive.

"I would recommend Rep Curt Weldon's book . . ."

Sounds like something to add to the reading list. Cheers.

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