« Air America: The Sun Rises Again, And Again, And Again | Main | Able Danger: More Sources Forthcoming? »
Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, has once again changed directions on the Able Danger program. As the New York Times reports this morning, the effect of Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer going public with his Able Danger information has forced Kean to punt the entire mess back to the Pentagon, backing away from last Friday's detailed defense of the Commission's dismissal of the intelligence:
The chairman of the Sept. 11 commission called on the Pentagon on Wednesday to move quickly to evaluate the credibility of military officers who have said that a highly classified intelligence program managed to identify the Sept. 11 ringleader more than a year before the 2001 attacks. He said the information was not shared in a reliable form with the panel.
The chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, offered no judgment about the accuracy of the officers' accounts. But he said in an interview that if the accounts were true, it suggested that detailed information about the intelligence program, known as Able Danger, was withheld from the commission and that the program and its findings should have been mentioned prominently in the panel's final report last year.
"If they identified Atta and any of the other terrorists, of course it was an important program," Mr. Kean said, referring to Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian ringleader of the attacks. "Obviously, if there were materials that weren't given to us, information that wasn't given to us, we're disappointed. It's up to the Pentagon to clear up any misunderstanding."
In a statement last week, Mr. Kean and the vice chairman of the commission, Lee H. Hamilton, said that Able Danger, a computerized data-mining operation run from within the Defense Department's Special Operations Command, "did not turn out to be historically significant, set against the larger context of U.S. policy and intelligence efforts."
But Mr. Kean suggested Wednesday that the statement would need to be revised if information from officers involved in Able Danger proved to be true.
Once again, the Commission dissembles somewhat. Shaffer has explicitly stated, on the record now, that the Commission's staffers did hear that Able Danger identified Mohammed Atta and three of the 9/11 hijackers as early as 15-18 months before the attack. In fact, two different people told them at least once each: Shaffer in October 2003, and an as-yet unidentified Navy captain in July 2004. Shaffer even tried to follow up with the Commission to give them more information in January 2004, but found them uninterested in the evidence.
It's nice to see Kean acknowledge that any data that identified Atta prior to the attacks is self-evidently an important line of investigation to follow. Why didn't anyone believe that before all of this became public?
The Pentagon, meanwhile, has not yet issued any definitive statement on Able Danger. Media outlets and anonymous sources have expected one since last weekend, always speculating that the statement would come out the next day. It appears that the Pentagon also has been taken by surprise and may need more time to unravel Able Danger, or it may just need more time to establish the authorization and funding for such an extensive data-mining program. My guess is that Congress never authorized such a program, and probably neither did the Clinton White House. That will make Able Danger somewhat embarrassing to top brass and may also explain their reluctance to coordinate information between Able Danger and law-enforcement agencies.
No matter. The time for sheepishness and squeamishness has long passed. The Pentagon needs to get the records together and provide them to Congress along with a public statement that confirms or denies Col. Shaffer's account. The Commission, meanwhile, needs to quit issuing statements and let Congress and the White House get to the bottom of their failure, to determine whether it came from incompetence or corruption.
UPDATE: The 9/11 families will not find themselves mollified by Kean's blameshifting:
A coalition of family members known as the Sept. 11 Advocates blasted 9/11 commission leaders Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton for pooh-poohing Able Danger's findings last week as not "historically significant."
"They somehow made a determination that this was not important enough. To me, that says somebody there is not using good judgment. And if I'm questioning the judgment in this one case, what other things might they have missed?" Mindy Kleinberg, a member of the Sept. 11 Advocates, told The Post.
"I don't think you can understate the significance here. You're talking about the four lead hijackers. If we shared information and did surveillance on them, there is no telling what we could have uncovered and what we could have thwarted. I think we do need a new commission, and that's really sad."
That statement from last Friday was nothing more than an empty bluff, a last stand that depended on Able Danger sources remaining anonymous. Col. Shaffer's courage in jeopardizing his career to call this bluff has blown the Commission's credibility away entirely. Not only do we need an investigation into Able Danger and the Commission, but as Ms. Kleinberg suggests, we need to re-investigate 9/11 and the entire Islamofascist war against America, this time from scratch and without preconceived notions revolving around turf protection and election-year politics.Sphere It View blog reactions
TrackBack URL for this entry is
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Able Danger: Kean Punts:
» ABLE DANGER, THE WALL, AND WACO from Right Wing Nut House
News on Able Danger this morning centers on an article in the New York Times that seems to indicate that the 9/11 Commission will target the Pentagon for blame if Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer’s story checks out. Shaffer was a liason officer with the ... [Read More]
Tracked on August 18, 2005 7:03 AM
» Keep digging, gang from hubs and spokes
Captain's Quarters notes that the 9/11 commission continues to destroy its own credibility with regard to Able Danger: That statement from last Friday was nothing more than an empty bluff, a last stand that depended on Able Danger sources... [Read More]
Tracked on August 18, 2005 7:53 AM
» I Want Keane's Restaurant Receipts from Sue Bob's Diary
Captain Ed deserves a Pulitzer for his work on Able Danger. Here he blasts holes in the blame-shifting, excuse- making of Thomas Kean, the Pontiff of the Panel of Pomposity that comprised the 9-11 Commission. [Read More]
Tracked on August 18, 2005 11:28 AM
Tracked on August 18, 2005 12:03 PM
» The Gorelick Wall & Sandy Berger, Update VIII from Flopping Aces
As each day passes we are all discovering what a huge joke the 9/11 Commission is. A joke played on the American people by politicans covering their backsides. [Read More]
Tracked on August 18, 2005 12:54 PM
» Ground Zero Of Able Danger Fan-Hitting from Hard Starboard
You know how when you shake up a bottle of soda you can watch it fizz briefly but it doesn't spray in all directions until you remove the lid? When I was a boy my friends and I shook up a can of Pepsi the same way. In fact, we did all manner of thing... [Read More]
Tracked on August 19, 2005 2:30 PM
My Other Blog!
Comment Moderation Policy - Please Read!
Skin The Site
Des Moines Register
International Herald Tribune
The Weekly Standard
The New Republic
AP News (Yahoo! Headlines)
Guardian Unlimited (UK)
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
- dave on Another National Health Care System Horror Story
- brooklyn on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- rbj on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- Robin S on Requiem For A Betrayed Hero
- Ken on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- Robin S. on Requiem For A Betrayed Hero
- RBMN on Hillary Not Hsu Happy
- NoDonkey on Another National Health Care System Horror Story
- Robin Munn on Fred Thompson Interview Transcript
- filistro on When Exactly Did Art Die?
Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!