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September 20, 2005
Able Danger: Pentagon Spikes Witnesses While Shaffer Reveals New Source

The New York Times reports this evening that the Pentagon has blocked its military witnesses from testifying on Able Danger at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings tomorrow. Senator Arlen Specter registered his surprise but plans on holding the hearings anyway (h/t: AJ Strata):

The Pentagon said today that it had blocked a group of military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified military intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The announcement came a day before the officers and intelligence analysts had been scheduled to testify about the program, known as Able Danger, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ...

Mr. Specter said his staff had talked to all five of the potential witnesses and found that "credibility has been established" for all of them.

"There are quite a few credible people who are prepared to testify that Mohamed Atta was identified long before 9/11," he said. "Now maybe there's more than one Mohamed Atta. Or maybe there's some mistake. But that's what we're trying to find out."

The Pentagon might think that withdrawing its witnesses will keep Able Danger from breaking wide open, but they will find themselves sorely mistaken. This only demonstrates that the program found something that the Pentagon still wants hidden. If that includes a finding that their program not only found Atta and other AQ terrorists over a year before the attacks, but also predicted the USS Cole attack three weeks before it happened, and that the Pentagon shut down the program anyway, eighteen Senators will want to know why.

In fact, the withdrawal of the witnesses clearly shows that the story has substance and isn't a case of mistaken identity. Had this just been an identification of a second Mohammed Atta, as Specter postulates, the Pentagon should have no problem putting its witnesses on the stand. Nothing about a mistaken identity would create a classification problem for the hearing tomorrow.

QT Monster has a transcript from tonight's interview of LTC Tony Shaffer on the Jerry Doyle radio show. Shaffer says Donald Rumsfeld himself gave the order to stop the witnesses from appearing at the Judiciary Committee hearing:

JD: Well, when you say DoD, where's this coming from at DoD? Is this instructions to DoD from higher ups? Is this people in DoD who are afraid of what information gets out? I mean who is the person who's making this happen?

AS: What I will tell you is I was told by 2 DoD officials today directly that it is their understanding that the Secretary of Defense directed that we not testify tomorrow. That is my understanding.

However, Shaffer says that former Major Eric Kleinsmith, now a civilian contractor, will still testify at the panel. Kleinsmith received the orders to destroy the Able Danger database. Specter's insistence that the hearings go forward probably hinges on Kleinsmith's ability to testify to the information that got destroyed, who ordered its destruction, and why. From that point, the committee could unravel an entire command sequence that will uncover how Able Danger got missed by the 9/11 Commission.

Another interesting fact got mentioned in Shaffer's interview. He spoke about a Dr. Eileen Pricer. One of the more mysterious potential sources of the Able Danger story involved a female PhD that could corroborate Shaffer and Phillpott, the woman who actually developed the Atta identification in the first place. I Googled Eileen Pricer and got just one hit -- but it's a doozy.

It turns out that Dr. Pricer testified before a closed session of Congressional subcommittee on national security exactly one month after 9/11. That testimony isn't available, but Rep. Christopher Shays mentions her on the record in the next day's public testimony:

Mr. Shays. In a briefing we had yesterday, we had Eileen Pricer, who argues that we don't have the data we need because we don't take all the public data that is available and mix it with the security data. And just taking public data, using, you know, computer systems that are high-speed and able to digest, you know, literally floors' worth of material, she can take relationships that are seven times removed, seven units removed, and when she does that, she ends up with relationships to the bin Laden group where she sees the purchase of chemicals, the sending of students to universities. You wouldn't see it if you isolated it there, but if that unit is connected to that unit, which is connected to that unit, which is connected to that unit, you then see the relationship. So we don't know ultimately the authenticity of how she does it, but when she does it, she comes up with the kind of answer that you have just asked, which is a little unsettling.

Unsettling? Christopher Shays described Able Danger thirty-one days after the 9/11 attacks. What else did Eileen Pricer tell the Congressional subcommittee on national security on October 11, 2001? Did Pricer tell Shays that the information no longer existed but did at one time?

Senator Specter should invite Christopher Shays to have a seat on the witness bench, and he should also start issuing subpoenas for the witnesses that the Pentagon wants to silence. We need answers, and we need to know that our country will fight terrorism with every tool at its disposal.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 20, 2005 9:42 PM

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