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August 25, 2005
Able Danger: Congress Takes Charge (Update)

Senator Arlen Specter has announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the revelations surrounding Able Danger and plans to cover wider-ranging issues on intelligence and information sharing:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., plans to hold a hearing on the "Able Danger" allegations and the larger issue of information-sharing between the Pentagon and the FBI, FOX News has confirmed. ...

One of the central Able Danger claims that military lawyers blocked the sharing of the Atta information from the FBI in the late summer and early fall of 2000 will be a priority of the committee's probe, FOX News has confirmed.

Some analysts involved with Able Danger have recently gone public with their findings, saying they were discouraged from looking further into Atta, and their attempts to share their information with the FBI were thwarted, because Atta was a legal foreign visitor at the time.

Not only is this news overdue, the use of the Judiciary Committee seems rather extraordinary. Issues surrounding intelligence and military matters would normally get hearings before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or the Armed Services Committee, not Judiciary. It makes some sense in this case, as the issue of coordination with law enforcement prior to 9/11 will undoubtedly -- and finally -- come back to the actions of the Clinton Administration and the Department of Justice in 1995 to make that coordination much more difficult.

Curt Weldon says that he has five people connected to the Able Danger project willing to testify under oath about data-mining, the identification of Atta, and their efforts to pass the information to the FBI. If Weldon delivers and the testimony remains consistent with what we have already heard, the 9/11 Commission will find itself in full retreat, its findings discredited and its members marginalized. But it won't just be them with questions to answer, nor the Clinton Administration; the Bush administration will also come back under scrutiny, especially in the Pentagon, which has yet to make any definitive statement regarding Able Danger.

These hearings should take place in full public view, with only the testimony regarding specific methodology taking place in closed session. Four years after the worst attacks on American soil since the Civil War, we deserve answers as to all of the parties behind those attacks, how we failed to prevent them, and now how we failed to investigate the terrorist attacks properly the first time around. Specter's hearings provide a good start for Congress. We need to make sure they also finish the job right this time.

UPDATE: I understand everyone's reservations about Senator Specter, but Kathryn Jean Lopez at the Corner has this memo which makes it sound like Specter takes this seriously. It also has more information about his efforts to involve the FBI regarding Atta and the terrorist cell before 9/11:

Honorable Robert Mueller Director Federal Bureau of Investigation 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D. C. 20535-0001

Dear Director Mueller,

It has been reported in the news media and directly to my staff that Army Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer was the operations officer for a secret military program referred to as Able Danger. The mission of Able Danger was to use a sophisticated data mining program in conjunction with more traditional military intelligence methods to identify and track al Qaida terrorists oversees.

In connection with this mission, Shaffer reports that he and his associates discovered the names and U.S. locations of three of the four 9-11 pilots a year prior to 9-11. Because the suspected al Qaida terrorists were located in the U.S., Shaffer reports that he made repeated requests of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials to schedule a meeting with FBI officials in order to present this intelligence to the FBI for further investigation. Shaffer further contacted FBI agent Xanthig Mangum and asked her to schedule such a meeting within FBI. Shaffer states that he made this request both verbally and by email to Agent Mangum. Shaffer claims that the DIA decided not to share this information with the FBI on the advice of legal counsel and that certain meetings that had been scheduled on this issue were cancelled as a result.

This is an official request that your office provide to the Judiciary Committee all information and documents it has in connection with Able Danger, Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer, Captain Scott Phillipot or any other persons having any connections with Project Able Danger, including, but not limited to, email communication, notes, phone message slips, memos or any other supporting documentation.

I would appreciate it if you would provide Agent Mangum for an interview with my staff at your earliest convenience. Also, please provide information concerning any and all requests made to the FBI by any other entity, agency, branch or commission in connection with Agent Mangum, Lt Colonel Shaffer, Project Able Danger or any related matters, including, but not limited to, requests for interviews or documents.

Thank you for your attention to this important question about cross agency information sharing.

Sincerely,

Arlen Specter

If the Able Danger team made contact with the FBI and the FBI refused the meeting, the explanation for that refusal should make for interesting viewing on C-SPAN 2.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 25, 2005 1:00 PM

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» Interested in the Able Danger stuff? from Milblog
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Tracked on August 26, 2005 5:51 PM



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