WTOP is reporting that the Pentagon now says “there’s no reason to doubt the specific recollections” of Able Danger team members that the top-secret data mining operation had unearthed specific information about at least one of the 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attack.
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon appears to have reversed its position on Able Danger, the Army intelligence collection team.(HT: Tom McGuire)
A Pentagon spokesman now says “there’s no reason to doubt the specific recollections” of the growing number of team members. The team members say the project had pre-Sept. 11 intelligence on al Qaida, which Defense Department lawyers prohibited them from sharing with the FBI.
Well now, that’s a horse of a different color, wouldn’t you say?
We’ve gone from categorical denials on the part of the 9/11 Commission that no such information was given to the Commission, to admitting that the information was not considered “historically relevant, to to a belief by the Pentagon that the information about Able Danger is indeed somewhere…or at least it was.
And the Captain’s speculation about the civil liberties ramifications being the reason why the Pentagon has been so reluctant in coming forward on this appear to be spot on.
Smith says data was gathered from a variety of sources, including about 30 or 40 individuals, but one day it all came to a grinding halt. So why did that happen?
“The I.G. (inspector general) came in and shut down the operation because of a claim that we were collecting information on U.S citizens,” says Smith.
It turned out to be more than just a claim.
“On some of my charts I had links to U.S citizens,” he says.
Smith notes that it’s illegal for the military to collect intelligence on U.S. citizens.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., has alleged a Pentagon coverup regarding Able Danger and is seeking congressional hearings on the matter. Weldon has said coverup will “shake the country to its roots.”
Before we get out the rope to hang the boys at the Pentagon, let’s try and put this into a little context, shall we?
In pre-9/11 America (and to a large extent now) the Pentagon’s sensitivity toward violating civil liberties was a given. It must be said that this attitude was not due to any squeamishness on the part of Pentagon brass about snooping into the lives of private citizens but rather a culture terrified of scandal and blowback. Craig Henry pointed to the Tailhook scandal as a traumatic example of the culture at the Pentagon that wishes to avoid scandal at almost all costs. Couple this with the outright hostility from the executive branch during the Clinton years toward the military and intelligence communities – commented on by dozens of military aides who worked in both places – and you begin to see why Able Danger would have been seen as a lose-lose situation for the Pentagon. Not only were they spying on American citizens but any data gleaned from the operation would be useless in a court of law, the mindset of the time being to put terrorists in jail instead of the ground.
As I’ve asked before, could there have been a shredding party at the Pentagon in the days following 9/11? The fact that any documentation relating specifically to Able Danger and Mohamed Atta has failed to turn up would bolster such a case. And given the nature of the operation, it’s possible that they didn’t even wait for 9/11 to get rid of the incriminating evidence.
And someone put a sock in “Crazy Curt” Weldon’s yap and tell him to sit down and shut up. The revelations about Able Danger are revealing but will hardly “shake the country” when we get to the bottom of the mystery. That kind of hyperbole is why the Pentagon has been able to stonewall for so long. Any man who says that al Qaeda has 20 suitcase nukes already positioned throughout the United States waiting for the right moment to blow us all to kingdom come cannot be taken seriously. Better to let the grown ups on the Senate Judiciary Committee get the ball rolling with hearings. The sooner the better.
Thanks to AJ at Strata-Sphere for all the hard work and for the heads up. Also glad to see he’s given up on the Roman numerals for his updates – they were getting hard to read!