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October 1, 2005
Able Danger: Zaid's Rebuttal To The AP

Earlier this week, the AP reported on a series of issues that the DIA used as an excuse to revoke the clearances of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the liaison to the SOCOM program Able Danger and the first public witness to the program's identification of four 9/11 hijackers as al-Qaeda operatives more than a year before the terrorist attacks. Many of us saw the revocation as a transparent attempt to discredit LTC Shaffer before he has a chance to testify to Congress on the Able Danger program, and the failure of the DoD to allow it to share its information with the FBI as well as the 9/11 Commission's refusal to meet with any of the Able Danger team.

Now his attorney, Mark Zaid, has posted his comment on the matter at CQ. With his permission, I'm reposting here so that it gets the most exposure possible.

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I have read through many of the comments posted concerning LTC Anthony Shaffer and it is great to know that so many of you support him and his efforts and see through the DoD/DIA charade. As most may know, I am LTC Shaffer's attorney.

This is my first post on this blog and I want to use this opportunity to comment on something that I find to be very important, and that is the issue of LTC Shaffer's security clearance. The AP story that was issued Friday entitled "Pentagon revokes clearance of 'Able Danger' officer" was replete with many errors and unfortunate omissions that portrayed my client, who the reporter never interviewed, in a false light.

I would like to set the record straight so that everyone knows the situation. I set up the story so that a full and balanced portrait could be drawn. Of course I knew that unfavorable information would be reported, but so long as the substantive responses would be reported alongside we had no qualms about releasing the information. The information I submitted not only from LTC Shaffer to refute the allegations but also from independent third parties would show everyone how petty, pathetic and absurd the allegations were.

Unfortunately, the AP story was terrible. Despite having the documents in her possession the reporter made numerous errors and ignored crucial information. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Twice I got the AP to modify the story and yet still they just couldn't get it right, which is why I am submitting this post here.

Most of you already realized, even with the poor reporting of the AP story, how ridiculous the DIA allegations are. I have been handling security clearance cases for about a decade and I was dumbfounded by the lack of evidence the DIA had against LTC Shaffer and the depths to which DIA transversed to try and manufacture a case against him. Let me further support your conclusions.

First, the AP failed to understand the distinction between DIA and the Army. DIA is LTC Shaffer's civilian employer. The key allegations filed against him were while he served with the Army on active duty. LTC Shaffer is now a reserve Army officer. The Army took no punitive action against LTC Shaffer. Instead, with full knowledge of everything DIA was doing, the Army promoted him from Major to LTC in the midst of the security clearance revocation proceedings. This says everything. It was a slap right in DIA's face. Thus, it is his civilian, not military, security clearance that was revoked.

Second, the initial article noted: "Shaffer says he received a Bronze Star medal for work on a classified operation in Afghanistan in 2003. According to papers provided by Zaid, the military is now questioning whether he deserved it, including challenging whether at least one person who backed Shaffer's nomination for the medal had firsthand knowledge of his actions."

This was not the medal that DIA - again, not the military/Army - raised an issue about. LTC Shaffer was awarded the Bronze Star for his six month deployment in support of combat operations in Afghanistan during his July-Dec 2003 deployment for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. He served as the DHS (Defense Humint Services) representative to the most sensitive, highly classified operational unit conduct operations in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility. This Bronze Star award was provided outside of DIAs Joint Reserve Unit award processing mechanism and presented to him while still in Afghanistan.

The award at issue was the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) - and it had to do with his work on classified operations such as ABLE DANGER. Again, the Army/military is not questioning whether he deserved the DMSM - it was the DIA. The Army resolved this issue by promoting him. In fact, LTC Shaffer was wearing the medal at last week's Senate Judiciary hearing. The Army has never sought to take it back, and I doubt it ever will.

The key aspect here is that we provided the AP with a copy of Col Gerry York's statement to support LTC Shaffer's entitlement to the award. Col York was LTC Shaffer's military AND civilian rater and had full knowledge of LTC Shaffer's activities. His statement makes it clear that LTC Shaffer was entitled to the award and that the individuals who complained about the award had no idea what LTC Shaffer had been doing because they were not properly cleared to know. That is fundamentally important and goes far beyond simply noting that I, as the attorney, or LTC Shaffer, as the "victim", deny the allegations. Col York was a very senior, respected DIA official who as a third-party is completely independent. Yet he was not quoted at all by the AP.

Third, the story notes that "Shaffer says he showed his government credentials during two incidents in 1990, when he was drunk, and 1996, when he was pulled over by police. The military says he misused his credentials, but Shaffer says he was not told he should not have used them. He also said he has joined Alcoholics Anonymous and has been sober for 13 years."

In the 1990 incident Shaffer merely had the credentials on him when he got a "drunk in pubic" charge. He did not use the credentials for any purpose. In 1996 he was on official business with a DIA Counterintelligence Special Agent in the car when he was pulled over. He was explicitly told by the DIA Special Agent to show the credentials. That is a very important fact that was omitted. Moreover, there was no alcohol involved with the 1996 incident though at first glance the article may give that impression. Why the AA comments were included I do not know as they are completely irrelevant to the issue and was never raised by DIA.

Additionally, every allegation prior to 1995 was FULLY investigated by DSS (Defense Security Service) and found to be unsubstantiated or irrelevant and he was given his TS/SCI clearance, which he has had for years. I provided the AP with a statement from DSS Agent Ann Clark who conducted an earlier investigation and stated that these prior issues were favorably resolved for LTC Shaffer. After several versions of the article were published the AP at least added this fact though they attempted to minimize its impact.

Fourth, the story states that: "Falsely claiming $341.80 in mileage and tolls fees. He said he filed travel expenses based on what he was told by human resources staff"

It was $180 - not $341. The entire voucher that LTC Shaffer had submiited and was approved was $341. Tthe New Jersey (Ft. Dix) part, which is what was in contention, was only $180. It was to attend a military school and he was authorized to file for it. In fact, all such claims are deemed legitimate when filed by reg (so I am told) and it routinely happens that sometimes the reimbursements are judged to be inapplicable. Yet neither DIA or the Army has ever requested the funds back, which LTC Shaffer has offered to return.

Fifth, yes, LTC Shaffer took pens and pads from the American Embassy to use at school. However, it was nearly 30, not 20, years ago, in the 1978-79 timeframe - when he was 15 and 16 years old. And, again, this previously investigated and favorably adjudicated.

Sixth, the story quotes: "Going over his chain of command to do briefings. Shaffer said he was providing briefings to higher-ups on projects even his direct superiors did not know about, and he received superior review ratings for that time"

Major General Harding (a two star general) provided a written statement stating that he directed LTC Shaffer to brief him. He had specific permission and guidance from the commanding general of the organization to do exactly what he did. That statement categorically refutes the allegation. That LTC Shaffer's immediate superiors were annoyed the General had him go around them is not LTC Shaffer's problem.General Harding's letter was provided to the AP but completely ignored.

Seventh, the article asserts: "Showing irresponsibility with $2,012 in credit card debt. He said he paid off the debt"

This allegation is not even an issue any longer. DIA dropped it completely, which is clear from the documents I provided the AP but which was not noted until I requested a correction. Moreover, to just have this allegation hanging out there was irresponsible given the stated explanation.

LTC Shaffer was fighting in Afghanistan risking his life and gave his fiancee power of attorney to take care of his bills and she simply neglected to pay it. As soon as he found that out, he paid it. Plain and simple.

Eighth, the story states "Mark Zaid, Shaffer's attorney, said the Pentagon started looking into Shaffer's security clearance about the time in 2003 he met in Afghanistan with staff members of the bipartisan commission that studied the Sept. 11 attacks and told them about Able Danger. Zaid said he can't prove the Pentagon went after Shaffer because he's a whistleblower, but "all the timing associated with the clearance issue has been suspiciously coincidental."

This is perhaps a minor point, but I did not say that. I said DIA started looking into the allegations in late 2003 or early 2004 and then decided to take action against Shaffer only after he told DIA of his meeting with the 9/11 staff.

Finally, the story accurately states that "Shaffer, now a member of the Army Reserves, has been on administrative leave since March 2004. During the same time, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Oct. 1, 2004."

This is the key to the whole story and was lost in the shuffle. If any of the DIA allegations had merit, LTC Shaffer would still be Major Shaffer. So why is DIA taking the action it has?

I wish I had an answer to that question.

Thank you all again for the support you have shown LTC Shaffer.

Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 1, 2005 10:23 PM

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» Zaid's Rebuttal To The AP from TOPDOG08.COM
From Captain's Quarters: Earlier this week, the AP reported on a series of issues that the DIA used as an excuse to revoke the clearances of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the liaison to the SOCOM program Able Danger and the... [Read More]

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» What is Going on at AP on Able Danger? from Tapscott's Copy Desk
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» Able Danger, Shaffer Responds, 10/03/05 from The Strata-Sphere
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