The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Codename: Able Danger

This story has been percolating on the 'Net for a day or two, and I'm glad that GE (who brings bad things to light) brought it to my attention. I'm normally pretty dismissive of the most cynical arguments against this administration-- for example, they might be evil, but surely can't be so evil that let terrorists run loose for political gain. Sadly, it's starting to look more and more like the neocon agenda was so Iraq-centric that they might've done just that to get their much-needed justification. Chilling.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the bureau.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview on Monday night that the small, highly classified intelligence program, known as Able Danger, had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, and three other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its information. . . .

The Defense Department did not dispute the account from Colonel Shaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., who is the first military officer associated with the program to acknowledge his role publicly.

At the same time, the department said in a statement that it was "working to gain more clarity on this issue" and that "it's too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger." The F.B.I. referred calls about Colonel Shaffer to the Pentagon.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public. In a statement issued last week, the leaders of the commission said the panel had concluded that the intelligence program "did not turn out to be historically significant."