Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Able Danger Again
As Howard notes, the Pentagon's denial now looks awfully suspicious:
It is more than strange that the Pentagon has "lost" the documentation as has the Committee. Lost info is worse than having damming info that might be explained away.The timing of their public statement is suspicious as well. Shaffer makes a bad showing on an interview and they promptly emerge with a "we cannot confirm" after having said basically nothing for a couple of weeks. NY Times article:
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."A civilian contractor named James D. Smith is also confirming the story of the chart with Atta's picture on it. Let's not kid ourselves. Memory is not that odd a thing, especially about something like this. Captain Phillpott is the person who supposedly told the 9/11 Commission staff about this in July of 2004.
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.
Okay, what if the Pentagon told the commission that the claims were false last year? Is that why this information was not included in the report? What if the Pentagon basically lied to the commission staff? Why on earth did they promote Shaffer when he was suspended for "trivial matters"? Was this a case of the carrot and the goad? From the Washington Times article:
"We have to wonder whether [the chart] did exist," Mr. Di Rita said. "It's a bit of a phantom search here."Let me put it this way. If you learned this man was talking to outsiders about the Able Danger findings, wouldn't you suspend him so that he had no further access to classified information?
He said investigators debriefed Col. Shaffer, who acknowledged that he does not have a copy of the chart and had based his statements on what others told him.
Mr. Di Rita said the probe is continuing, but will end "soon" unless new evidence materializes.
"We have not been able to determine the information Lt. Col. Shaffer and Congressman Weldon described actually existed," Mr. Di Rita said.
Mr. Zaid said Col. Shaffer was on active duty when working as a liaison between the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency and the Able Danger team. He then became a civilian analyst at DIA. He was suspended in March 2004.
The DIA is in the process of revoking Col. Shaffer's security clearance, Mr. Zaid said, for what he called "trivial matters." They include reimbursements for mileage and telephone charges, and whether he properly received an award for his Able Danger work.
Mr. Zaid said the Army promoted Col. Shaffer from the rank of major during the time of his paid suspension.
Until that changes, nothing else will.
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