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August 22, 2005
Able Danger: Team Members Spoke With Reporters

The Washington Times reports that although Col. Tony Shaffer remains the only person connected to Able Danger to willingly part with anonymity, several other sources met with the press on August 8 when the story went public, including members of the AD team. The meetings with reporters came with the explicit blessings of key Congressmen and the "tacit" approval of the Pentagon, Shaffer says:

House Republican leaders approved in advance plans by a military intelligence official to go public with details of a top-secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger. ...

"I spoke personally to Denny Hastert and to Pete Hoekstra," Col. Shaffer said. Mr. Hastert, Illinois Republican, is speaker of the House, and Mr. Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"I was given assurances by [them] that this was the right thing to do. ... I was given assurances we would not suffer any adverse consequences for bringing this to the attention of the public," Col. Shaffer said.

Col. Shaffer said his conversations with Mr. Hastert and Mr. Hoekstra took place before he and members of the Able Danger team spoke as anonymous sources to reporters in the offices of Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, on Aug. 8.

This last paragraph gets repeated by Shaun Waterman as fact later in the article, saying that "members of the Able Danger team" joined Shaffer on at least one occasion on August 8. This should change some evaluations of this story. Now we have multiple sources, including people who had their hands on the data, telling reporters what they know about the identification of Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers over a year before the attacks. Up to now, the assumption has been that only two sources came forward, one of which (Shaffer) only worked in a liaison capacity.

This explains why the New York Times and other media ran the story despite the anonymous sourcing. It also explains some of the inconsistencies between the first reporting on the story and Shaffer's interviews later. We had all assumed that Shaffer and the Navy captain were the only two original sources for the story. However, the original articles on Able Danger just mention "sources" as a generic term, and if the team members took part in this press conference on August 8th as the Washington Times says, then the information gleaned would have had more detail than Shaffer knew from first-hand experience.

We need to have these witnesses come forward publicly. At the least, we need the Times and other media outlets that participated in this August 8 meeting to confirm the number and nature of these sources, even without their names.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 22, 2005 6:46 AM

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Ed Morrissey links to this Washington Times report stating that several other sources met with the press on August 8, including members of the Able Danger team: This should change some evaluations of this story. Now we have multiple sources, [Read More]

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