An Indian Civilizational Perspective

"Able Danger": Did US Army Intelligence know of Mohd. Atta?

Just listened to this section on “Able Danger” on CNN – a secret US Army Intelligence program that had identified, at least Mohd. Atta … A YEAR BEFORE!

Here is what Wikipedia says about what Able Danger is:

Able Danger was a small, highly classified U.S. Army intelligence program under the command of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). It was created as a result of a directive in early October 1999 by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hugh Shelton, to USASOC to develop a campaign plan against transnational terrorism, “specifically al-Qaida.” According to claims made by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and confirmed by four others, Able Danger had identified the 9/11 attack leader, Mohamed Atta, and three other 9/11 hijackers as possible members of an al Qaeda cell operating in the United States by mid-2000, more than a year before the attack. Data mining has been cited as the method by which this information was found. The claim appears to contradict the official conclusion of the 9/11 Commission that American intelligence agencies had not identified Atta as a terrorist prior to the attack. This has resulted in a political controversy that has begun to damage the credibility of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

A new data mining effort based on a reconstituted Able Danger type team called “Able Providence” has been proposed by Congressman Weldon

The controversy was first disclosed on June 27, 2005 by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, in a special orders speech on the House floor:

Mr. Speaker, I rise because information has come to my attention over the past several months that is very disturbing. I have learned that, in fact, one of our Federal agencies had, in fact, identified the major New York cell of Mohamed Atta prior to 9/11; and I have learned, Mr. Speaker, that in September of 2000, that Federal agency actually was prepared to bring the FBI in and prepared to work with the FBI to take down the cell that Mohamed Atta was involved in in New York City, along with two of the other terrorists. I have also learned, Mr. Speaker, that when that recommendation was discussed within that Federal agency, the lawyers in the administration at that time said, you cannot pursue contact with the FBI against that cell. Mohamed Atta is in the U.S. on a green card, and we are fearful of the fallout from the Waco incident. So we did not allow that Federal agency to proceed.

The Able Danger Data is destroyed!

In his book Countdown to Terror [10] Weldon asserted that an Able Danger chart produced in 1999 identifying 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi had been presented to then-Deputy National Security Advisor Jim Steinberg. Weldon went on to claim that he had personally presented the chart to then-Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley in 2001 days after the 9/11 attacks.

A Time magazine article dated August 14, 2005, [11] reports that Weldon admitted he is no longer sure that Atta’s name was on the chart he presented to Hadley and that he was unable to verify whether this was the case, having handed over his only copy, and that a reconstruction was used for post-9/11 presentations. Weldon gave a talk at the Heritage Foundation with a chart he described as the one handed over on May 23, 2002. [12](Time 33:33).

House intelligence committee chairman Peter Hoekstra is currently investigating the matter at Weldon’s request, but is reported by Time as having cautioned against “hyperventilating” before the completion of a “thorough” probe.

Pentagon officials said they were unaware that any Able Danger material named Atta. They declined to comment on the reports as they worked to clarify the matter.

“There’s something very sinister going on here that really troubles me,” Weldon told FOX News on August 25, blasting the Sept. 11 commission for not investigating the Able Danger claims. Weldon said some panel members were trying to smear Shaffer and Able Danger.

Shaffer Jumps in:

After Weldon’s assertions were disputed by the media, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a member of the Able Danger team, identified himself as Weldon’s source. Shaffer claimed that he alerted the FBI in September 2000 about the information uncovered by the secret military unit “Able Danger,” but he alleges three meetings he set up with bureau officials were blocked by military lawyers. Shaffer, who currently works for the Defense Intelligence Agency, claims he communicated to members of the 9/11 Commission that Able Danger had identified two of the three cells responsible for 9/11 prior to the attacks, but the Commission did not include this information in their final report. [16]

Shaffer’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, has revealed that Shaffer had been placed on paid administrative leave for what he called “petty and frivolous” reasons and had his security clearance suspended in March 2004 following a dispute over travel mileage expenses and personal use of a work cell phone.

Here is a piece from Fox (Aug 28, 2005):

A third person has now come forward to verify claims made by a military intelligence unit that a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it had information showing that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta and other terrorists were identified as being in the United States.

J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who claims he worked on the technical side of the unit, code-named “Able Danger”, told reporters Friday that he helped gather open-source information , reported on government spending and helped generate charts associated with the unit’s work. Able Danger was set up in the 1990s to track Al Qaeda activity worldwide.

“I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City,” Smith said.

Here Fox says on Aug 12, 2005 – that Able Danger could REWRITE HISTORY!

The federal commission that probed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks was told twice about “Able Danger,” a military intelligence unit that had identified Mohamed Atta and other hijackers a year before the attacks, a congressman close to the investigation said Wednesday.

Rep. Curt Weldon (search), R-Pa., a champion of integrated intelligence-sharing among U.S. agencies, wrote to the former chairman and vice-chairman of the Sept. 11 commission late Wednesday, telling them that their staff had received two briefings on the military intelligence unit — once in October 2003 and again in July 2004.

Edward Jay Epstein’s Web Log also talks of this program!

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