Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Monday Morning Intelligence with Kool Aid and the NY Times

Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in '00

Both Captain's Quarters and Tom Mcguire are pouring over the NYT story today about how the core of the 9/11 cell had been identified by a Military Intelligence Team called "Able Danger" more than a year before 9/11, but that they couldn't get the information up the chain to stop the attack.

"More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, according to a former defense intelligence official and a Republican member of Congress.

In the summer of 2000, the military team, known as Able Danger, prepared a chart that included visa photographs of the four men and recommended to the military's Special Operations Command that the information be shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the congressman, Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and the former intelligence official said Monday.

Both Ed. and Tom cover the problems with Weldon's veracity, I can't add too much there. But as far as "specialized" military intelligence units, I can speak to the veracity of a covert unit code named,"Able Danger". If they ever did exist, all info on them went "dark" or has been wiped. It's as if they never existed - IF they ever existed.

I'm not alone it seems:

"Col. Samuel Taylor, a spokesman for the military's Special Operations Command, said no one at the command now had any knowledge of the Able Danger program, its mission or its findings. If the program existed, Colonel Taylor said, it was probably a highly classified "special access program" on which only a few military personnel would have been briefed."

You know? I wish that when these "out of closet dolts" and MSM talk about "Military Intelligence", I wish they would define WHOM they are talking about. For instance there are more flavors of MI than just one.

Such as:

NSA (National Security Agency)
DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency)
NRO (National Reconnaissance Office)
NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency - formerly NIMA)
AFI (Air Force Intelligence)
AI (Army Intelligence)
NI (Naval Intelligence)
MCID (Marine Corps Intelligence Department)

More branches affiliations of MI can be found here. So was this Team from AI, NI, AFI, a joint effort, special group? Of course as with many of these Monday Morning after-the-fact reports we aren't told, which get's my radar up.

The point is important because if persay it were my own stomping grounds in Army Intelligence, while you do have many different kinds of covert activity going on at any given time the "chain of reporting" isn't exactly a straight line to the FBI or even the CIA. In fact in the years I was "active" we very rarely reported to the "suits". Of course since the FBI had been then and up to the point of recent reforms basically domestic law enforcement, the idea that a "special group" would have the ability to compress the information for them to do anything about it is, well doubtful. Simply, the atmostphere didn't exist in my experience or in 2000 for this story to be true.

As the Captain said, the 9/11 Commission report has it's own problems, and what we know about the "Wall of Separation" was only mere tip of the iceberg, compared to what I remember as being "blocks" to information reporting and referral from the field.

Yet from reading around some of the other blogs on this, the assumption is that based on the fact that such a unit even existed, which I doubt at this point.

Even though I have my own suspicions about the veracity of the Commission findings and a general distain for Jamie Gorlick, the fact is RIGHT NOW, whether or not there ever was a Able Danger group is unproven at this point. We only have Weldon's word for it.

Again, I, unlike other commentors have experience in AI, and I know how the system works. In 1983 I was a member of a unit that was detailed to gather information on certain terrorist groups in europe. It was a multi-juridictional endeavor comprising AI, CID, MIP, as well NIS. However, that operation was completed, intel dessiminated, and there are still records on file of it. Therefore, I'm assuming this information of a "special" covert group that is "suddently disbanded" without a trace, is spurious at best. I'm sorry unless Mr. "unnamed" intelligence guy comes forward and gives more specifics, I'm not buying the story.

I doubt this or any other MI "special" unit had direct reporting ability to the FBI or even the CIA. At least in everyday AI ops it just didn't work that way.

Not to mention, Ok, I will, that the name alone, "Able Danger" made me laugh out loud when I first read it - cripes are these guys kidding me? What is this Tom Clancy?

Take this story with two cups of kool aid and a dose of skepticism. Until I see more info than what is mentioned here, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

UPDATE: Ok, emails are pouring in, so I guess I should clarify that it's not that I don't think this story isn't "plausible" as I said, I am very familiar with covert special untis, but there are too many "holes" and quite frankly, it's just to patent to believe. Yet I AM looking into this. Forget Weldon or his "annoymouse" source, I have my own ways. I'll followup once I get the scoop from some old friends. Check back later.

UPDATE I: Counterterrorism Blog is taking the story IF true, to be another example of the "Gorelick Gotcha".

"Assuming this is accurate, it is another outrage against "the wall," the Department of Justice (DOJ) driven policy in place at the time that prevented Intelligence agents from easily sharing information with criminal investigators and prosecutors. This policy was one of the key problems identified by the 9/11 Commission in the Government’s failure to “connect the dots” before the 9/11 terror attacks.'

First I note the skepticism here, but with caution. Again, before anyone flies off the handle it is extremely important that this units authencity be verified by someone in the know. All we have now is an obvert denial by spokesmen, and no paper trail of any report.

There are a lot of conservative bloggers jumping on this story (interesting since the normally conservatively malignged NYT's put it out), in what I think is a desire to slap another one on Gorlick who seem to skate unscathed through the commission hearing despite being identfied as a part of the problem. Again, for me I'm not interested in rehashing that argument again - and quite frankly IF such a unit existed and IF it gathered intel on Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, and IF they actually tried to report this but were disavowed, then YES it would be important. But for what reason three years after 3000 died? So we can "spank some more butt" over it?

Again, more verification people - more evidence is needed. I'm glad the commission is going to look into it, at least one way or another it's put to rest. Whatever the problems pre-9/11, much has been improved and fixed now - let's get on with it then.

UPDATE II: From AP "Defense Department documents shown to an Associated Press reporter Tuesday said the Able Danger team was set up in 1999 to identify potential al-Qaida operatives for U.S. Special Operations Command. At some point, information provided to the team by the Army's Information Dominance Center pointed to a possible al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn, the documents said.

However, because of concerns about pursuing information on "U.S. persons" — a legal term that includes U.S. citizens as well as foreigners admitted to the country for permanent residence — Special Operations Command did not provide the Army information to the FBI. It is unclear whether the Army provided the information to anyone else."

Ok, now we're talking - Army Intelligence (AI), my old alma-malter

Yet, I ask.....What documents? Cripes, am I seeing things? First the NYT and then the AP and some bloggers are sucking this up like it's a fact now.....sheesh!

"Documents shown to a AP reporter...." Are you kidding me?? This is a fact??

We have an anonymous "intel guy" and now an "anonymous AP" reporter who saw some "documents"......

Somebody HOLD ME!

More on this at Decision08 and Junkyard Blog and the Anchoress.

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