Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Able Danger To Privacy

Colonel: 9/11 warning ignored / Military team IDd hijack leader, but info refused, he says
Washington -- A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the FBI in 2000 to warn about the existence of a U.S.-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he has decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the FBI.

Shaffer said the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the FBI's Washington field office to share its information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the FBI at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Shaffer said might have led to Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

'I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued,' Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the FBI in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Defense Department's Special Operations Command had canceled the FBI meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States.

"Feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States."

To say nothing of the privacy of civilians who are not only legally in the United States, but U.S. citizens.

What was "Able Danger"? Were its activities legal? Are they ongoing? Are American citizens comfortable with the idea of the U.S. Army and Navy analyzing their phone records, bank records, emails, bookstore purchases, and the like?

What would have been the utility in "Able Danger" participants meeting with the FBI? Didn't the FBI report immediately after 9/11 that it had been following Atta and the other hijackers for months?


At 12:52 PM, Blogger Jen Clark said...

My mother said to me the other day that Bush's eavesdropping should be allowed because there have been no attacks since 9/11.

I reminded her that 9/11 was on Georgie's watch.

Now I have proof that he screwed up.

My mother's going to hate you. Thanks for the post!


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