For now, at least, the Pentagon refuses to verify the Atta story:
The Pentagon has been unable to validate claims that a secret intelligence unit identified Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta as a terrorist more than a year before the attacks, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday.
Larry Di Rita said that some research into the matter continues, but thus far there has been no evidence that the intelligence unit, called “Able Danger,” came up with information as specific as an officer associated with the program has asserted.
“What we found are mostly general references to terrorist cells,” Di Rita said, without providing detail.
That officer, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said Able Danger identified as terrorists Atta and three other future Sept. 11 hijackers in 2000. But, Shaffer said, military lawyers stopped the unit from sharing the information with the FBI out of concerns about the legality of gathering and sharing information on people in the United States.
However, it appears a second officer has come forward to verify the claims:
An active-duty Navy captain has become the second military officer to come forward publicly to say that a secret defense intelligence program tagged the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a possible terrorist more than a year before the attacks.
The officer, Scott J. Phillpott, said in a statement today that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. “My story is consistent,” said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command. “Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000.”
His comments came on the same day that the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters that the Defense Department had been unable to validate the assertions made by an Army intelligence veteran, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and now backed up by Captain Phillpott, about the early identification of Mr. Atta.
This will be entertaining to watch, and Tom Maguire has wall to wall Able Danger coverage.
Why is the notion that we knew about some of these guys before 9-11 some huge controversial news? I’m not even being snarky or anything, and maybe it’s because I read tinfoil sites more than I should, but I didn’t even realize this was like…unknown. The FBI (or whomever) obviously knew about some of these guys cause like seconds after 9-11 there were pictures and names and the whole bit.
ohohoh, ok, it took typing that for me to realize the problem isn’t that some in the gov knew about them, it’s that all in the gov didn’t know about them, or at least the ones that could have done something about it. Is that what we’re talking about here?
I find this story to be as confusing as the Palme Affair.
This may have something to don with Plame and the DOJ organized crime investigation of her. I stole this from another blog:
Gorelick worked as top lawyer at DOD for ten months prior to moving to DOJ under Janet Reno. I want to know what parts of the “wall foundation” she erected at the Pentagon prior to moving to Justice? Many folks at the FBI called it the “China Wall”. The time line is fascinating. In my opinion the intent of the wall was to block the sharing of criminal intel with national security intel
regarding Clinton and the Riadys and the Chinese. Unfortunately the unintended consequence was 9-11. For much more info Google “Charlie Trie”.
David | Email | Homepage | 08.19.05 – 4:15 pm | #
I haven’t followed this story that closely, but there is one question that I haven’t seen discussed. That is, how many names were on the Able Danger list? This was a data mining operation where intel was cross-correlating various lists to identify possible terrorists. If there were thirty people on the list, then the fact that they didn’t (or couldn’t)(or wouldn’t) pass it on is a problem. If there were 3000 people on the list and Atta was one of them, how effective would it have been to have passed on the list? And let’s say they did pass the list to the FBI and the FBI had everyone on the list under surveillance? I don’t think it follows from that the 9/11 would have been averted.
This story is getting funnier all the time. You still have “The Wall” thing going even though that has been shown to be untrue. Then you have Shaffer’s ever evolving story, from he personally knew about Atta being named before 9/11 to having heard about it from someone after 9/11. Then you have Weldon talking about a chart he had for years with Atta’s name on it but never mentioning that Atta’s name was on it. So what does he do with the chart? He gives it to Hadley without making a copy, only to have Hadley lose it.
Now you have this new guy confirming it. Except DeRita, a man who loves to blame anything and everything on someone else, says there is no rervidence to back it up.
But there is also another person who had the chart with Atta’s name on it. That’s great, let’s see it.
Facinating. A chart of such great importance, that was never discussed before, seems to have some sort of magical power that allows it to disapeer before anyone can see it. Maybe we should get Harry Potter on the case. There’s obviously some sort of special spell on this chart.
Yeah, I thought the whole “wall thing” was just a way to attack the 911 commission, specifically one commissioner, and take pressure off of the administration. I put much more credence in her problems stemming from a conflict of interest (a problem that a lot of the commission, even Republican members, shared) than in her articulating current practices of the intelligence agencies and the FBI pre-911. As for Able Danger, I can’t focus on too many confusing stories at once. I’ve tried to keep up with it when Drum blogs about it, but can’t quite seem to wrap my head around it. I guess there’s some credence to it now though?
The more info that is disclosed, the more it seems the Bush administration wants it to go away. Word is that Bush disbanded Able Danger in March of 2001. I don’t think it would look to good to find out the President who is tough on terrior disbanded one of the only groups who had the intel that could have stopped 9/11. Ouch!