8.19.2005

Able Danger redux


I was going to post some questions today on Intel-Dump for Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer but I don't think he's hanging out there anymore. Incidentally, he is not the person who testified to the 911 commission. That was Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott.

Anyway my questions were going to be (and may still be if he pops back up at IntelDump though some of these would probably be better directed at Scott Phillpott):
If you only saw a list of 60 people for a moment 5 years ago, how did you happen to remember the name of Mohammed Atta so well? He was a nobody at the time. It has been reported that the unnamed officer (Shaffer) had only seen the Able Danger information for a moment in 1999 or 2000 (he didn't remember which) and there were 60 people netted in operation Able Danger. What made Atta stick out?

What, if you can speak about it, did you know about the name Mohammed Atta in 1999? Such as, how did you conclude that he was a suspected terrorist. Able Danger was an open source datamining operation, but what had been written about Atta in 1999? Since this is open source information, can't you tell us?

What relevance did the other 56 people have on the investigation? The tone of the articles being written make it seem as if the investigation was quashed because the name Mohammed Atta came up. But why him? What was so special about that name in 1999? Could it be that some of the other 56 people resulted in the operation being shut down?
It's not that I didn't believe him, but things like this just tend to nag on you.

But now it's starting to look like the whole scenario is a bit questionable. The DoD is saying that although they're still looking into it "we're not finding information that substantiates these claims."

Shaffer is now saying that his information is not first hand, it is based on the memories of two other people, Scott Phillpott being one of them, and Phillpott is the one who only briefly saw the names on the chart. He's also saying that all the charts identifying the terrorists have disappeared and that he didn't know much about them at the time, only after 911 was he shown a chart by one of the other people which had the name of Mohammed Atta on it. So did they disappear or did these two other people keep a personal souvenir?

All this started, of course, because Weldon spoke of it in his book "Countdown to Terror." The book itself is ludicrous but it's been assumed that even Weldon can be right once in a while. However, in Weldon's book he writes of being shown the chart by Stephen J. Hadley during a meeting. Now he claims that he may have been mistaken and Atta's name may not have been on the chart at all. Hadley, who is Bush's national security adviser, is declining to comment on the claims. That sends up the red flag right there.

Anyway, what to make of all this? I honestly don't know. The only thing we know for sure is that there was an open cource datamining operation going on in 1999-2000.

There is one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb. Shaffer says he is relying on Phillipot. He says Phillipot showed him a chart with Atta on it after 911 and said "We had them". But Phillipot testified to the 911 commission that he only briefly saw the chart in 1999 or 2000. He said nothing of having a chart after 911.

My personal opinion is that the people involved in Able Danger are wishfully thinking that they could have been able to stop them in 2000 and are looking back and trying hard to remember if anyone named Mohammed Atta was on the list of suspects. But memory is a tricky thing...



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