On the Lou Dobbs Tonight TV progam it was announced that the long-awaited House hearings on Able Danger would begin on February 15, 2006. Congressman Curt Weldon has been out front in the effort to get the hearings as to why the Able Danger group was not called to testify in the 9/11 Commission hearings and was not even mentioned in the commission's report. Weldon garnerd the support of 248 House members in providing the House Armed Services Strategic Forces and Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittees' scheduled hearings. They will include open and closed sessions.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, writing in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page, was critical of the 9/11 Commission’s inquiry and subsequent report. Freeh said that if the Able Danger intelligence is confirmed, it is “undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post 9/11 inquiry.” Freeh spoke on Lou Dobbs Tonight and told Dobbs that the information Able Danger collected was the type that could have prevented 9/11 and the horrific deaths of 3,000 fellow Americans. Yet, the 9/11 Commission concluded that it was not “historically significant”.
Able Danger was a relatively small and highly classified data mining operation in the Department of Defense, created in 1999 to uncover clandestine al-Qaida cells in this country and around the world. Analysts from Able Danger claim to have identified several, including the one to which Mohammed Atta belonged, before the 9/11 attacks. They also say they warned defense officials about terrorist activity in Aden, Yemen two weeks before the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole on October 22, 2000 and further warned against entering the Port of Aden two days before the attack on the Cole, which left seventeen American sailors dead.
Representative Weldon’s concerns also include the treatment of the “whistleblowers” of Able Danger, who knew their work was valuable and wanted it to count. When LTC Anthony Shaffer went public, appearing on talk shows, retaliation was swift. Representative Weldon has summed it up:
“They have gagged the military officers. They have prevented them from talking to any member of Congress. They have prevented them from talking to the media. And the Defense Intelligence Agency has began a process to destroy the career and the life of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer”.
Able Danger participants have been effectively silenced. Punitive measures have been enacted against LTC Shaffer and threats made of removing his health care benefits from his two children and loss of pay. The public has not been able to hear anything from them since they were gagged. Before the Pentagon issued its gag order, forbidding LTC Shaffer and other Able Danger officers from discussing the program publicly, Shaffer wrote in an e-mail to September 11 family members: “The 9/11 commission may not have ‘connected the dots’ as completely as they could and should have - and that is my concern and the concern of others working this issue”.
Some members of the 9/11 Commission have come to the defense of their work. Slade Gorton appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight and told the audience that there really was nothing further worth telling about 9/11. Tim Roemer has appeared twice on the same program, giving the same message. On a “Meet the Press” program Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, members of the 9/11 Commission, claimed that “The U.S. is at greater risk for more terrorist attacks because Congress and the White House have failed to enact several strong security measures“. However, they also took the occasion to scoff at the notion that Able Danger had anything of value to offer the commission’s report.
At issue is the problem of the “firewall” reportedly set up by Jamie Gorelick, who was part of the Clinton administration. This wall prevented adequate communication between the FBI and the CIA. Able Danger participants tried three times to bring their information to the FBI and were denied permission three times to do so by attorneys for the Clinton administration. Jamie Gorelick was the lead Democrat on the 9/11 Commission. Jamie Gorelick said on “Good Morning, America” that the country “is less safe than we were 18 months ago”. She did not back this up with any solid information she may have have had.
Representative Weldon has led the way on this issue, but has the support of over 200 member of Congress, which includes Democrats and Republicans. He has important unanswered questions. He wants to know who destroyed 2.5 terabytes of data. Weldon says he was curious as to how much data that actually was and contacted the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, to ask about it. He was told that it is equal to ¼ of all the printed material that the Library of Congress has in its collection. This massive amount of material about the largest and most aggressive international terrorist organization in the world was destroyed. Special Forces General Lambert was never consulted before the data was destroyed and was livid when he found out that his data had been deleted, according to Congressman Weldon. Weldon also wants to know why the officers of Able Danger were never called to testify before the 9/11 Commission and why no mention was made about Able Danger in the final 9/11 Commission report. He charged on Lou Dobbs Tonight “Lou, this is a cover-up. It’s not a third-rate political burglary. It’s a cover-up of information on the largest attack in the history of the country”.
Kristin Breitweiser, a New Jersey woman whose husband died in the World Trade Center’s south tower, says she and other relatives of some September 11 victims have met with the officers of Able Danger. She has expressed confidence that additional facts about Able Danger will emerge. She echoes the feeling that the terrorist attacks could have been prevented.
“As more and more information is coming out, more and more Americans are questioning how this attack could have happened…….We are finding out we are not being told the truth. A lot of information was known, and the attacks could have been prevented”.
The 9/11 families deserve answers. A thorough and transparent hearing would go a long way in giving answers to them and to all other Americans who are still wondering.
Barbara regularly writes for CapitolHillCoffeeHouse. She also appears in California Chronicle, Border Patrol, and Citizens Caucus. Her primary interest is illegal immigration, but she writes about other subjects as well.
Barbara lives in a large city on the West Coast. Her loyalties are with God, family, country, heritage and borders.
She enjoys music, painting, poetry and song writing.