In an interview with Government Security News, one of the Able Danger team members revealed that it was lawyers for the Department of Defense who prevented information gleaned from the data mining operation from reaching the FBI:
The intelligence officer recalled carrying documents to the offices of Able Danger, which was being run by the Special Operations Command, headquartered in Tampa, FL. The documents included a photo of Mohammed Atta supplied by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and described Attaâ€™s relationship with Osama bin Laden. The officer was very disappointed when lawyers working for Special Ops decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen. Thus, the information Able Danger had amassed about the only terrorist cell they had located inside the United States could not be shared with the FBI, the lawyers concluded.
â€œWe were directed to take those 3M yellow stickers and place them over the faces of Atta and the other terrorists and pretend they didnâ€™t exist,â€ the intelligence officer told GSN.
DoD lawyers may also have been reluctant to suggest a bold action by FBI agents after the bureauâ€™s disastrous 1993 strike against the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco, TX, said Weldon and the intelligence officer.
Could political correctness have killed 3000 of our fellow citizens? And this charade of covering the faces of Atta and his cell with little yellow pieces of paper borders on the surreal. What kind of bureaucratic mindset could be responsible for such idiocy?
Well…before she became the #2 lawyer at the Department of Justice, Jamie Gorelick was a lawyer for the Department of Defense. Make sense to you now?
The next question would have to be: Is this practice still going on?
We know that the Patriot Act broke down many of these barriers between the CIA and FBI but did it also cure the timidity and stupidity that led to this fiasco?
Meanwhile, the Washington Post points out the interesting fact that we have the fox in charge of investigating the hen house regarding the 9/11 Commission’s probe into the Able Danger allegations; the same people who may have discarded the information about Mohammed Atta and his Brooklyn terror cell in the first place are investigating why they may have done such a stupid thing:
Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission are investigating allegations by a Republican congressman that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta had been identified as a potential threat by a highly classified Defense Department program a year or more before the attacks occurred.
Commission officials confirmed a report in yesterday’s New York Times that two staff members interviewed a uniformed military officer, who alleged in July 2004 that a secret program called “Able Danger” had identified Atta as a potential terrorist threat in 1999 or early 2000.
This is probably why a Congressional investigation is in order. Here we have the staff of the 9/11 Commission investigating themselves. And Congress should look into one particular Commission investigator, Deitrich Snell, who according to the NY Times story yesterday was the staff person who interviewed the Able Danger team member at Commission headquarters in July, 2004 – 10 days before the Commission’s Final Report was released:
Mr. Snell also prosecuted one of the Bojinka plot conspirators and turned down a deal with the terrorist:
Abdul Hakim Murad, a conspirator in the 1995 Bojinka plot with Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and others, was convicted in 1996 of his role in the Bojinka plot (see January 6, 1995). He is about to be sentenced for that crime. He offers to cooperate with federal prosecutors in return for a reduction in his sentence, but prosecutors turn down his offer.
Dietrich Snell, the prosecutor who convicted Murad, says after 9/11 that he doesn’t remember any such offer. But court papers and others familiar with the case later confirmed that Murad does offer to cooperate at this time. Snell claimed he only remembers hearing that Murad had described an intention to hijack a plane and fly it into CIA headquarters. However, in 1995 Murad had confessed to Philippine investigators that this would have been only one part of a larger plot to crash a number of airplanes into prominent US buildings, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a plot that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed later adjusts and turns into the 9/11 plot
You may recall that the Bojinka plot involved the blowing up of 11 US bound airplanes over the Pacific Ocean, in January of 1996. This is the plot KSM eagerly took to Osama Bin Laden for approval only to have OBL scale the attack down to what eventually turned out to be the 9/11 attack. The behavior of Mr. Snell in this case is eerily similar to what he did with the Able Danger information. In other words, Mr. Snell has experience in burying information that may have led to discovery of the 9/11 attack.
According to today’s Washington Post, we may hear something from the Commission today about Able Danger and why the staff failed to include the information in the Final Report.