Dafydd: An Atta By Any Other Name

The Able Danger argument du jour is whether the group actually had Mohammed Atta’s name, or whether they had “merely” identified his al-Qaeda cell in Brooklyn… as if that makes all the difference.
Oh, well, if they didn’t have his actual name, then busting up the cell and arresting everyone wouldn’t have made any difference, right?
That cell contained not only Atta but several other eventual 9/11 hijackers. If the FBI had gotten the information, they would — one hopes — have surveilled the cell and eventually broken it up. Atta would have either been captured with the rest or forced to flee with a manhunt on his heels; he likely would have used one of his many aliases to flee the country. He may have been caught, or he may have ended up in Iraq.
Because of the cell structure of al-Qaeda, the other hijackers left in the United States would not only not be able to carry on the attack, they probably didn’t even know what their mission was. There is evidence that many of them still didn’t know even during the hijacking that they were going to fly the planes into buildings. Without Atta, the attack would have been aborted; and the intelligence gained from breaking up Atta’s cell in 2000 would probably have included details about the 9/11 plan itself, making any future attempt nearly impossible.
Of course, this is speculation; maybe it would only have postponed the attack for a few years. But the point is that this scenario plays out whether or not Able Danger gave the FBI Mohammed Atta’s actual name. The important datum was the cell information — not the name of one particular member. (Likely, Atta’s name would have bubbled up in the course of the FBI investigation anyway, since he was already known.) Gorelick’s Wall prevented the FBI from learning about the cell at all.
And one final point. Sen. Slade Gorton was on Michael Medved yesterday, and he sought (what a shock!) to exonerate fellow 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. He argued that we can’t blame her policy for the Able Danger scandal (Dangergate?) because her wall of separation of intelligence and law enforcement “only applied to the Justice Department”… and it was DoD lawyers who made the call not to allow Able Danger to brief the FBI. There, she’s off the hook!
This is a real eye-roller. Gorton has been around Washington for what, twenty years? One would expect that by now, he would understand how it all works. And the first rule of any administration is that when the president says “jump,” you act like the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Countybefore the buckshot.
Clinton picked Reno. Reno (and Hillary Clinton) picked Gorelick. Gorelick erected a wall of separation at Justice… and that tells everyone else in the administration everything he needs to know. Bill Cohen and certainly the DoD lawyers “don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” They know what’s happening over at Justice, and what, obviously, the president wants them to do.
Come on, Sen. Gorton… how hick do you think we are? The president cries out “who will rid me of these meddlesome intelligence agencies?” and four cabinet members rush forth with swords in their hands.

3 thoughts on “Dafydd: An Atta By Any Other Name”

  1. Blogstorm Update

    The Captain is staying on top of the story, with sometimes multiple posts a day.
    Today, there’s this:
    The Able Danger argument du jour is whether the group actually had Mohammed Atta’s name, or whether they had “merely” identified his al-Qaeda ce…

  2. Wet Noodle Time

    In a post yesterday on the blogstorm, I attributed authorship of a piece to “The Captain”, as I frequently do.
    My bad.
    This message awaited my bleary-eyed attention when I roused the laptop from its slumbers:
    Dear Everyman;
    In this post of …

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