ABLE DANGER and the 9/11 Whitewash


On Wednesday, February 15th, 2006, LTC Anthony Shaffer submitted an amazing written statement detailing his involvement with ABLE DANGER to Congress. For those people who are new to the ABLE DANGER (AD), story, I can’t think of a better starting point.

The idea was to take the ‘best and brightest’ military operators, intelligence officers, technicians and planners from the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in an entrepreneurial endeavor, much like bringing the best minds and capabilities from Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler to focus on a single challenge. In the case of ABLE DANGER, the challenge was to discover the global ‘body’ of Al Qaeda – then, with this knowledge, prepare military and intelligence “options” that would be supported by the “actionable information” that was being produced by the project. – Prepared Statement Of LTC Shaffer, 2/15/06.

That was the idea.

Screen capture of Lt. Col. (LTC) Anthony Shaffer during TV interview about his prepared statement

Prepared Statement of LTC Shaffer

LTC Anthony Shaffer Testimony 2-15-06

reprehensor’s diary :: :: And they had successes. Most notoriously identifying a threat in Yemen that may have saved lives in the USS Cole bombing, and identifying Mohammed Atta prior to 9/11; this once again reiterated in the February 15th Congressional hearing by a contractor, James D. Smith, who worked at Orion Scientific Systems in Viginia;

During the Orion support (on or about 25 October 1999 to 04 August 2000), James Smith delivered multiple open-source task order visual charts and printed support documentation that identified “linkages” or “associations” of people of interest and events including timeline charts, and historical events visual charts, as defined by the U.S. Army INSCOM interests. James Smith was the Task Lead/Program Manager/Business Developer for this support effort during the identified timeframe. Detailed analytical support was supplied by a variety of experienced analysts on a, “per task/availability” schedule. Produced within James Smith’s support timeframe (to the best of his recollection) was a visual chart that identified associates of known terrorists (Omar Abdul Rahman) within the New York City geographical area (name of the visual chart is not documented within current notes); Mohamed Atta’s picture and association with Rahman was on the chart. Several of these visual charts were printed and due to the size of the charts (approximately 41/2′ X 5′) in size, printing irregularities would result. Several of these charts addressing multiple topics were retained by JD Smith and turned over to Representative Curt Weldon. James Smith’s copy of the chart containing the picture of Mohamed Atta was destroyed in an office move in 2004. – Prepared Statement Of James D. Smith, 2/15/06

I think it’s time to accept this fact, they did ID Atta . Smith went on to say that there are two other Intelligence contractors willing to sign affadavits saying that yes, that was Atta, not some “other Atta“.

Able Danger charts at hearing

Shaffer’s prepared statement is packed with explosive details…

My veteran ABLE DANGER colleagues and I share the common fear that the seeds of the next 9-11 attack have already been sewn – and that much of the critical data that was harvested for the ABLE DANGER project, that could be used again now in the search for sleeper cells and others that matched the “Atta” profile is now gone – destroyed at the direction of DoD officials in the 2000 timeframe. You have heard from Eric Kleinsmith of his work on ABLE DANGER, and his receiving direction to “destroy the data and background documents or go to jail” – which he did. However, it must be noted that despite citing AR 380-10 as the “authority” for this action, the DoD lawyer is wrong and, worse, deceptive. There are two exceptions that allow the retention of U.S. person information – both of those were met by then MAJ Kleinsmith – yet lawyers directed that he destroy the data anyway. Those exceptions are:

2. Publicly available information. Information may be collected about a United States person if it is publicly available.

3( c ) Persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics Therefore, there was no “legal” reason for the directive that the ABLE DANGER information and charts be destroyed then. So then, what was the real reason? What is the real justification for these documents – this critical data – to have been destroyed? Embarrassment and political CYA to protect themselves from accountability for their bad, and in this case, fatal decisions, made in 2001 regarding ABLE DANGER. – Prepared Statement Of LTC Shaffer, 2/15/06.

In his testimony, Shaffer relates that the CIA was uncooperative with AD because if AD was successful, it would “steal CIA’s thunder”.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Shaffer has been perpetually harrassed by the DIA ever since he went to the 9/11 Commission and gave a briefing to Zelikow and other 9/11 staffers at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan in late 2003;

There is no incentive for the bureaucrats to change – and instead of embracing change, and being accountable to their actions, they obfuscate and inveigle and hide their own failures. In my specific instance, DIA has been allowed by DoD to make an “example” of me to try and intimidate the others from coming forward by spending what we now estimate $2 million in an effort to discredit and malign me by creating false allegations, and using these false allegations to justify revocation of my Top Secret security clearance. How can it be that we, as a country at war, have such officers in the government who are more concerned about suppressing the truth than winning the war? How many sets of body armor, or enhanced protection for military vehicles in Iraq or Afghanistan would $2 million buy? – Prepared Statement Of LTC Shaffer, 2/15/06.

This goes way beyond partisan politics. This about a defense establishment that will not come clean about what happened on 9/11, from the history of the “Afghan Arabs” to overlapping Intelligence operations that shared different agendas.

It’s time to accept the fact that the 9/11 Commission crafted a political document in the “Final Report”. It is clearly not a reference volume for serious research regarding the events of 9/11.

The omission of AD from the Final Report is but one in a long list of items that didn’t fit the narrative the Commission sought to cobble together;

What happened to those reports that surfaced within months of September 11th stating that 7 or more of the alleged hijackers had come forward and claimed that they were victims of stolen identities, they were alive and well, living in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Tunisia? Why did the Commission choose not even to address this?

What about the terrorist Said Sheikh ? Now sitting in a Pakistani prison on charges of participating in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl. According to Indian intelligence, this man received orders from a Pakistani General to transfer $100,000 to Mohammed Atta. People all over the world are talking about this story. But not a word about it in the Report.

What about Osama bin Laden and his role in the Mujahadin backed by the CIA in the 1980’s to fight the Soviets? The Commission didn’t go there. – Rep. Cynthia McKinney , 7/22/2005

McKinney has been an invaluable asset regarding the pursuit of the truth regarding the events of 9/11. She is deeply entrenched with Weldon on this issue, and is sure to keep the normally rabidly partisan Weldon on the straight and narrow.

As to Zelikow and his whitewash , McKinney and Shaffer are hardly alone in their assessment, but Shaffer’s testimony bears special scrutiny;

During my first meeting with Congressman Weldon I was asked some questions about what became of the overall ABLE DANGER effort – he had heard some details from Capt Phillpott in their first meeting (that preceded my meeting with the Congressman by several days) – he asked me to provide my details – which I did. /11 Commission on Oct of 2003 at Bagram, AFG . During the briefing, Congressman Weldon asked Russ Caso, his chief of staff, to call the 9/11 commission and find out if they (the 9/11 commission) had ever heard of ABLE DANGER. Mr. Caso left the room and called Chris Cojm at the 9/11 Discourse Project and asked him if they had ever “heard of something called ABLE DANGER”. Chris quickly checked and told Russ “Yes – we had heard of it” – Russ then asked him why they had not put it in their final report – Cojm’s answer was this “it did not fit with the story we wanted to tell “. Russ came back in and told Congressman Weldon and me of the comment. Both Congressman Weldon and I could not hide our astonished looks at hearing the news. This was the beginning of the investigation as to why ABLE DANGER information was not examined or included in the 9/11 report that has brought us to where we are today. – Prepared Statement Of LTC Shaffer, 2/15/06.

If you have a copy of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report, I strongly recommend that you consider it’s alternative use; many months’ worth of bird-cage liner. If it’s the Truth that you seek, you may be better off purchasing this volume .

But I digress…

Former CIA analyst Mel Goodman has been very critical of the “balanced partisanship” of the 9/11 Commission, and offered his testimony for the Congressional record last summer;

Let me briefly look at the Commission itself… what this country needed was an independent, non-partisan commission. The Commission wasn’t non-partisan , it was presented to us as bi-partisan; but when you appoint a group of people, 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans, that is certainly not non-partisan, and I would argue that it’s not even bi-partisan, it’s balanced partisanship . And you look at the Commission’s report, time and time again, to see where the Democrats on the Commission checked the views of the Republicans checked the views of the Democrats, so forget this notion that this was some sort of bi-partisan commission, it wasn’t, it was balanced partisanship, and it did a great deal of harm to the final product .

Also if you look at the makeup of the Commission here you have an insufficiency in the kinds of people who were picked to be on the Commission, and I’m not going to look at the Commission members one by one, but the fact of the matter is this is a group of people without any intelligence experience at all . This is not a group of people — not one individual on this Commission had ever received a President’s Daily Briefing report, had never been involved as a consumer of intelligence, had very little understanding, and that was particularly true of one of the chairmen, the Governor from New Jersey, who admitted he had no understanding of the intelligence community whatsoever.

So there was insufficient stature, insufficient experience, insufficient knowledge of intelligence, and this was totally relevant to what needed to be done . It would have been very easy to get a Blue Ribbon commission. Where were people such as Sam Nunn, William Perry, George Schultz, General Brent Scowcroft, Bill Bradley, David Boren, Gary Hart, even Warren Rudman. People who had served on the intelligence committees, who had studied the problem of intelligence and policy very closely and may have had a contribution to make on the importance of change on the intelligence community. – Mel Goodman, 7/22/2005 .

Major omissions and factual errors abound in the Final Report. In her testimony last year, “Jersey Girl” Lorie Van Auken whittled the Final Report from a fencepost to a matchstick: here she names some names;

The 9/11 Commission summarily blames the failure to connect the two dots of the Phoenix Memo and Zacarias Moussaoui’s file on the FBI’s institutional misunderstanding of the Reno wall, and the agency’s inherent inability to share information across and throughout its ranks.

What is missing from this analysis and rather facile conclusion was that it was two individuals, who worked together, and not a ‘misunderstanding of the Reno wall’, that is to blame for the failure of the FBI to receive a FISA warrant in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui . It is likewise those same individuals who are responsible for the Phoenix Memo being downplayed and all but ignored.

FBI supervisor David Frasca and his underling, Michael Maltbie failed to permit FBI agents to request a FISA warrant for Moussaoui but also altered the agent’s initial request for it. Specifically, on August 28th, 2001, Maltbie edited the Minnesota FBI’s request for a FISA warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s possessions. The Minnesota FBI’s field office wanted to prove that Moussaoui was connected to Al Qaeda through a rebel group in Chechnya. But the RFU agent Maltbie removed the information connecting the Chechen rebels to Al Qaeda.

Subsequently, the FBI General Counsel who received the edited request, scrubbed clean of any international terrorist ties, decided that there wasn’t enough of a connection between Moussaoui and Al Qaeda to allow for an application for a search warrant through FISA.

Thus, a FISA warrant was never even applied for . – Lorie Van Auken, 7/22/2005 .

Shaffer, with literally nothing left to lose career-wise, is also naming names;

As one of the reports in the press commented last year regarding the story, there are “bad guys” who were not held accountable for their failures . There were those who were fearful of what we were doing who played politics and shortchanged the nation in both their duty and loyalty to the country, and in the end they put their career ahead of doing the right thing.

Mr. William Huntington , who was just promoted to serve as the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who after becoming the Deputy Director of HUMINT in the early 2001 timeframe passed the buck. When I attempted to brief him on the DORHAWK GALLEY project, to include information on the ABLE DANGER project that was specific portions of the ABLE DANGER methodology to sort through and separate U.S. Person information from Foreign Intelligence information, refused to hear the briefing, announcing that ” I can’t be here, I can’t see this ” as he left his office and refused to hear the information. By doing this, he could later feign ignorance of the project should it have been compromised to the public. It is my belief that he is an example of the cultural problem – senior bureaucrats who are more focused on their own career and having “plausible deniability” to never allow anything “controversial or risky” to “touch them”. It is of grave concern that Mr. Huntington is the one who is behind the troubling coincidence regarding my security clearance being suspended in March of 2004, just after reporting to my DIA chain of command (to include Mr. Huntington) of my contact with the 9-11 commission, and my offer to share the ABLE DANGER information to the 9-11 commission . I would question the judgment of DIA’s leadership to offer Mr. Huntington up as its “expert” on ABLE DANGER based on his earlier refusal to deal with this issue in 2001. Further, I have direct knowledge of two officers – one a senior DoD civilian, the other a senior active duty military officer – both former members of Defense HUMINT – that Mr. Huntington directed them to lie to congress to conceal the true scope and nature of problems within Defense HUMINT . Both refused his directive to lie and are no longer members of Defense HUMINT. Mr. Huntington’s conduct speaks for itself. – Prepared Statement Of LTC Shaffer, 2/15/06.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are way beyond the looking glass here.

I urge you join’s (Media for Democracy project) call to demand Press Coverage of ABLE DANGER.

This is bad.

Recommended reading:

9/11 Commission Report One Year Later; Did the Commission Get it Right?

Wikipedia’s list of the 9/11 Commissioners: 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats

Editor’s Note:
Excellent current analysis of Able Danger, posted at DailyKos by author, reprehensor, quotes Anthony Shaffer extensively and includes many helpful links.
See also Bryan Sacks’ excellent piece on the 9/11 Commission’s Executive Director, Philip Zelikow: The Bush Administration Investigates the Bush Administration
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