ABLE DANGER HEARINGS BEGIN
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
At the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on September 21, 2005 about Project Able Danger, William Dugan (Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight) explained: "We operate under Executive Order 12333, 'United States Intelligence Activities,' which was issued by President Reagan in December 1981."
In my column of September 19 on this website, I suggested readers look at this Executive Order, especially Sections 1.11(d) and 1.12(d). Relevant to the destruction of Able Danger (AD) documents, Dugan testified: "If the intelligence component is unsure if the information they have obtained is proper for them to keep, the Intelligence Oversight rules allow them to temporarily retain the information for 90 days solely to determine whether it may be permanently retained." Note especially the words "may be permanently retained." Dugan also replied, "I don't know," when asked if they had information that identified Mohamed Atta in advance of the attacks of 9/11.
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon led off the testimony, and stated that "in the weeks following 9/11, I was provided an extensive analysis chart of Al Qaeda, which I immediately (late September 2001) took to the White House and personally delivered to then-Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Mr. Hadley was extremely interested in the chart and said that he would take it to the President." Weldon further stated that more than a year before 9/11, AD had identified an Al Qaeda cell in Brooklyn, New York, to which 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta was linked (though AD never identified Atta as being in the U.S.). Then in September 2000, three attempts were made to share AD information regarding Al Qaeda with the FBI, but the meetings "were abruptly cancelled hours before they were scheduled to take place."
Weldon next referred to "the person who destroyed" AD data. This was Erik Kleinsmith (Army Major and Chief Intelligence of the Land Information Warfare Analysis, LIWA), who testified: "In December of 1999 we were approached by U.S. Special Operations Command to support Able Danger....In the months that followed, we were able to collect an immense amount of data for analysis that allowed us to map Al Qaeda as a world-wide threat with a surprisingly significant presence within the United States.
In approximately April of 2000 our support to Able Danger became severely restricted and ultimately shut down due to intelligence oversight concerns. Supported vigorously by the LIWA and INSCOM (U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command) chains of command, we actively worked to overcome this shut down for the next several months. In the midst of this shut down, I along with CW3 Terri Stephens were forced to destroy all the data, charts, and other analytical products that we had not already passed on to SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command) related to Able Danger. This destruction was dictated by, and conducted in accordance with, intelligence oversight procedures." The words "that we had not already passed on to SOCOM" are important, because Mohamed Atta was identified as part of a Brooklyn cell of Al Qaeda at least a year before 9/11, and Kleinsmith did not destroy AD documents until December 2000. This means the identification of Atta and his photo on a chart might have been passed along to SOCOM before they were destroyed.
Congressman Weldon explained that Kleinsmith had "also spoken about how Major General (Geoffrey) Lambert, the J3 at U.S. Special Operations Command, was extremely upset when he learned that his data had been destroyed without his knowledge or consent." In an attempt to locate Major General Lambert (now retired from the Army), I called SOCOM Technical Liaison at 813-828-9482 and asked for the main number of Fort Bragg where U.S. Army SOCOM is located. The officer who answered the call asked with surprise, "You want me to spend my time looking that up for you?" How dare a taxpayer make such a request !
The Congressman emphasized that "the Department of Defense never actually conducted an investigation (into AD), but rather an informal inquiry," and he said the Pentagon's attitude was characterized by "denial, deception, character assassination and now silence." He also questioned their justification for destroying AD documents about "U.S. persons" because most of the data "was publicly available, and according to Pentagon policy, would not have to be destroyed." Moreover, when Sen. Arlen Specter asked William Dugan if Atta was considered a "U.S. person" at the time of AD's intelligence gathering, Dugan replied "No, he was not."
Congressman Weldon also took great exception to the 9/11 Commission's recent statement that AD was "historically insignificant," and he suggested that certain questions needed to be answered, among which are the following: (1) Why was Able Danger a "historically insignificant" event even though we knew that Al Qaeda was responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Khobar Towers, Embassy bombings in Africa, and the USS Cole? (2) Who ordered the destruction of 2.5 terabytes of data about Al Qaeda and why? (3) Who stopped the meetings between the FBI and Able Danger personnel in September 2000 and why? (4) What was the extent of the 3-hour brief provided to General Hugh Shelton in January 2001 regarding Able Danger? and (5) Why have threats been made to Able Danger witnesses who were simply telling their stories?
Speaking of those "who were simply telling their stories," Attorney Mark Zaid testified: "Unfortunately I am here today as a surrogate for several witnesses (e.g., Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and contractor James Smith) who the Department of Defense has forbidden from appearing before you." Senators of both parties accused the Department of Defense of obstructing their investigation because of this, with Sen. Joseph Biden accusing the Pentagon of "a cover-up." On September 23, 2005, the Pentagon dropped its objections to those involved with AD testifying, and the next hearings are scheduled for October 5.
Regarding the much publicized AD chart produced in 2000 with Mohamed Atta's picture on it, Zaid explained that "at least one chart, and possibly more, featured a photograph of Mohamed Atta and had him linked through associational activities to the blind Sheik (Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman) and others operating in or around Brooklyn, New York." The words "and others" (perhaps associated with the Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn) are important here because some have questioned how Atta could have been linked to the blind Sheik when the latter was sent to prison (in 1995) for life, long before Atta arrived in the U.S. Remember that four of Rahman's associates were convicted in 2002 of conspiring with him to commit terrorist acts while he was in prison (see "Testimony barred by Pentagon" by Keith Phucas of the TIMES-HERALD, September 22, 2005).
Attorney Zaid went on to reveal that "Eventually during the period December 2000 and March 2001, all records, both electronic and hard copy, were destroyed under orders of the Army. Additionally, we just recently learned that duplicate documentation that was maintained by Lt. Col. Shaffer at his civilian DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) office was apparently destroyed---for reasons unknown---by DIA in Spring 2004."
Referring to Congressman Weldon delivering the AD chart with Atta's photograph on it to Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Zaid remarked: "To my knowledge neither Mr. Hadley nor the NSC (National Security Council) has ever commented upon this fact. Presumably one or more of the contractors would have retained copies of either the charts or at least some of the underlying data, and I would encourage the Committee to subpoena the information." To this suggestion, I would add that the Senate Judiciary Committee should subpoena all AD documents anyone at SOCOM might have and all relevant information from all involved agencies, because in the concluding statement of William Dugan's testimony, he revealed that "if an intelligence component is in receipt of information that pertains to the function of other DoD components or agencies outside DoD, such as the FBI, the intelligence component can transmit or deliver the information to them for their independent determination whether it can be collected, retained, or disseminated in accordance with their governing policy."
It's clearly possible that AD information, including the chart with Atta's photo, given to agencies outside the Department of Defense may not have been destroyed by those agencies, and would be extremely important to obtain. One reason it would be important to obtain this information is that according to Attorney Mark Zaid, the charts contained "several dozen terrorists who may still be out there and planning attacks." In addition, Congressman Weldon concluded his testimony with the following plea: "As it stands now, the 9/11 story has not been fully examined and told. The families of the victims and the American people deserve answers and we must not stop until we get them."
Author's Note: TIME has just published "Saddam's Revenge" (September 26, 2005) by Joe Klein regarding Saddam Hussein's guerrilla warfare strategy against the U.S. in Iraq. On page 78 of my book, COVER-UP: GOVERNMENT SPIN OR TRUTH? (offered for sale by NewsWithViews, and published BEFORE the war with Iraq began), I include a quote by an Iraqi General foretelling a guerrilla strategy. If TIME and other publications had paid attention to what was in my book, perhaps many lives could have been saved.
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Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
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Attorney Zaid went on to reveal that "Eventually during the period December 2000 and March 2001, all records, both electronic and hard copy, were destroyed under orders of the Army.