Third source backs Able Danger claim

…. z’ plot thickenz:

WASHINGTON — A third person has now come forward to verify claims made by a military intelligence unit that a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it had information showing that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta and other terrorists were identified as being in the United States.

J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who claims he worked on the technical side of the unit, code-named "Able Danger", told reporters Friday that he helped gather open-source information, reported on government spending and helped generate charts associated with the unit’s work. Able Danger was set up in the 1990s to track Al Qaeda activity worldwide.

"I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City," Smith said.

Smith said data was gathered from a variety of sources, including about 30 or 40 individuals. He said they all had strong Middle Eastern connections and were paid for their information. Smith said Able Danger’s photo of Atta was obtained from overseas.

Rep. Curt Weldon R-Pa., arranged the media roundtable with Smith. Weldon drew attention to Able Danger by speaking about it on the House floor months ago and has publicly called for the Sept. 11 commission to explain why the intelligence information wasn’t detailed in its final report.

Besides Smith, Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Captain Scott Philpott have also gone on the record, saying they were discouraged from looking further into Atta, and their attempts to share their information with the FBI were thwarted because Atta was a legal foreign visitor at the time.

"This story needs to be told. The American people need to be told what could have been done to prevent 3,000 people from losing their lives," Weldon told FOX News this week.

Indeed.  The article goes on to say:

Aides to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., are actively discussing scheduling a hearing on Able Danger and the larger issue of information-sharing between the Pentagon and the FBI.

One of the central Able Danger claims — that military lawyers blocked the sharing of the Atta information from the FBI in the late summer and early fall of 2000 — will be a focus of the committee if a hearing takes place, FOX News has confirmed.

Excellent.  Let’s just hope that this is a real hearing and not just an arena for political grandstanding and posturing (I know, I expect too much …).

Of Rep. Weldon, Bryan Preston says:

When the Able Danger saga is done, Curt Weldon will deserve one of two things: a Congressional Medal of Freedom for his courage, or a straight jacket for his lunacy.

Yep – my hunch is that he’s going to come out of this smelling like a rose.

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