Operation Able Danger: A Lt. Col. steps forward

The crap is getting ready to hit the fan on this one, methinks:

Officer Says Pentagon Barred Sharing Pre-9/11 Qaeda Data With F.B.I.

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 F.B.I.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview that the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified by name the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the F.B.I.’s Washington field office to share the information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

“I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued,” Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Defense Department’s Special Operations Command had canceled the F.B.I. meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States. “It was because of the chain of command saying we’re not going to pass on information – if something goes wrong, we’ll get blamed,” he said.

Sigh. So many missed opportunities. Frankly, I’m at a loss as to what else to say at this point about this.

Jimmie at the Sundries Shack:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again. We need to break out the summonses and get every one of the people involved with the Able Danger revelations in front of Congress and the American people, under oath. Nothing less will suffice.


Junkyard Blog comments on this and also discusses Shaffer’s believability. See Captain Ed for more as well. Mark in Mexico has a blogger round-up.

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