AJ Strata and Tom Maguire both link to a WTOP report on an apparent shift at the Pentagon on the question of Able Danger’s ID of Mohammed Atta. Last week, Larry di Rita could barely contain his cynicism at the tale told by Colonel Tony Shaffer. Today, however, the Pentagon demonstrated that it can count:
The Pentagon appears to have reversed its position on Able Danger, the Army intelligence collection team.
A Pentagon spokesman now says “there’s no reason to doubt the specific recollections” of the growing number of team members. The team members say the project had pre-Sept. 11 intelligence on al Qaida, which Defense Department lawyers prohibited them from sharing with the FBI.
What does this reversal mean? Besides demonstrating an ability to count to three, I think it means that the Pentagon has completed its search for the missing Able Danger materials. Either they found more information and it corroborates Shaffer, Scott Phillpott, and J.D. Smith in their assertion that Able Danger identified the four lead terrorists in the original al-Qaeda cell as terrorists, or they can’t find anything at all. The formulation saying that they have “no reason to doubt the specific recollections” of the program members sounds like a generic non-endorsement/non-opposition non-position.
My guess says they came up empty for documentation, but that they may have other information that caused them to back off. The attorneys at the Pentagon may have more “specific recollections” than they want to publicly admit at the moment, and perhaps even more specific notes from specific meetings. After all, lawyers tend to maintain those records for good reasons. Had Shaffer and other AD team members actually met with the Pentagon counsel’s office, they would have wanted it on record that they recommended not only dropping the request for coordination but ending the program altogether — if 9/11 never happened. Gathering those notes would have taken just a week or two, meaning that effort should have been complete by now.
If they couldn’t find any record of AD meeting with Pentagon attorneys, they would have announced that. If the documentation turned up, that probably would have been announced regardless of whether it supported the Pentagon’s versions of events. In fact, had they found nothing, they probably would continue to stonewall. Something changed, and it would be good to find out what exactly it is.