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December 7, 2005
Shelton: Able Danger My Idea

General Hugh Shelton confirmed that the Able Danger program had backing from the highest levels of the military and that he had at least two personal briefings on the progress of the program tracking al-Qaeda prior to 9/11 -- again raising the question as to why the 9/11 Commission ignored this program entirely in its supposedly thorough look into American preparedness for a terrorist attack:

In his first public comments on the initiative, which some former intelligence officers now say was code-named Able Danger, Shelton also confirmed that he received two briefings on the clandestine mission - both well before the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Right after I left SOCOM (Special Operations Command), I asked my successor to put together a small team, if he could, to try to use the Internet and start trying to see if there was any way that we could track down Osama bin Laden or where he was getting his money from or anything of that nature," Shelton said Tuesday in an interview. ...

In Washington, sometime between 1999 and 2001, Shelton received a more extensive briefing from Defense Intelligence Agency officers involved in the program.

Shelton said he doesn't recall hearing or seeing Atta's name in those briefings or at any time before the Sept. 11 attacks.

"To be candid, there were not many specifics in it," Shelton said of the later briefing. "There were no names that surfaced that had not surfaced before through normal intelligence channels. There was no identification of any new players, or anything of that type."

Shelton, though, said that a CIA representative and an FBI representative were present at the second briefing. And he said, "I know for a fact that I was told that they had been a part of the effort" to track al-Qaida through computer data-mining.

That puts a much different light on the status of the program. Up to now, we've heard that the FBI knew nothing of AD and its efforts. Now we have the FBI attending high-level briefings on its progress. No one before this, to my knowledge, has shown any operational awareness of the program on the FBI's part prior to the 9/11 attacks. Doesn't that beg the question of why the FBI never followed up on AD and any information it might supply?

Check out AJ Strata for more, and we'll stay on top of this as developments warrant.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 7, 2005 7:27 AM

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