Able Danger story not going away
The Pentagon is “unable to validate” any claims about Able Danger but another source has stepped forward to back up Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s claims:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 – An active-duty Navy captain has become the second military officer to come forward publicly to say that a secret defense intelligence program tagged the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a possible terrorist more than a year before the attacks.
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.”
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.
Colonel Shaffer went public with his assertions last week, saying that analysts in the intelligence project had been overruled by military lawyers when they tried to share the program’s findings with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 in hope of tracking down terror suspects tied to Al Qaeda.
Mr. Di Rita said in an interview that while the department continued to investigate the assertions, there was no evidence so far that the intelligence unit had come up with such specific information about Mr. Atta and any of the other hijackers.
He said that while Colonel Shaffer and Captain Phillpott were respected military officers whose accounts were taken seriously, “thus far we’ve not been able to uncover what these people said they saw – memory is a complicated thing.”
I should note that in National Geographic’s 2 part documentary Inside 9-11, a brief mention was given regarding US Special Operations Command identifying Mohammed Atta, as a Kerry Spot emailer noted (all caps his, not mine):
“AT THIS AIR FORCE BASE IN TAMPA (Picture of Entrance Gate to MacDill Air Force Base), MEMBERS OF THE U.S. ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND ARE REVIEWING AN UNUSUAL CHART THAT REPORTEDLY IDENTIFIES BOTH ATTA (picture ID of Atta shown) AND AL-SHEHHI (picture ID of Al-Shehhi shown) AS LIKELY MEMBERS OF AN AL-QAEDA TERROR CELL OPERATING WITHIN THE U.S. THE OFFICIALS DECIDE THEY CANNOT PASS THIS INFORMATION ALONG TO THE FBI, IN PART BECAUSE THE MEN ARE HOLDING VALID U.S. VISAS AND MAY BE OFF LIMITS FROM INTELLIGENCE GATHERING BY THE MILITARY.” The next segment discussed terrorist training camps in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Captain Ed is all over this story. Chris Regan at Junkyard Blog has lots of links and commentary. John at Powerline comments:
[…] let’s start with this: if Mohammed Atta really was in the United States in early 2000, he was traveling under another name–big shock, right?–and the September 11 commission’s carefully constructed timetable under which, among other things, he couldn’t possibly have traveled to Prague to meet with an Iraqi intelligence agent in 2001, is shot to hell.