Daily Kos: Rice aide hid disbandment of Atta's trackers from 9/11 report

Rice aide hid disbandment of Atta's trackers from 9/11 report
by topdog08 [Subscribe]
Tue Aug 23rd, 2005 at 19:20:00 CDT

The story is not the sharing of intelligence, it's the fact that Bush cancelled the program!

Wonder why Philip Zelikow might not have wanted the 9/11 Commission Report to include the fact that Able Danger, a program shut down in February 2001 just after Bush took office, had been actively tracking the movements of Mohammed Atta at the time? Think it might have jeopardized his promotion to the State Department after Bush's re-election?

Counselor of the Department

Term of Appointment: 02/01/2005 to present

Dr. Philip D. Zelikow was appointed Counselor of the U.S. Department of State in February 2005, where he serves as a senior policy advisor on a wide range of issues to the Secretary of State.

From the Times Herald on 08/17/2005:

Shaffer, however, claims he mentioned Atta by name to the 9/11 Commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, when the two met in Afghanistan in October 2003.

"I kept my talking points (from the meeting)," Shaffer said. "And I'm confident about what I said."

Still think Able Danger is just a right wing plot to blame Bill Clinton? More details below.

* topdog08's diary :: ::


From Wikipedia:

Philip Zelikow served on President Bush's transition team in 2000-2001. After George W. Bush took office, Zelikow was named to a position on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and worked on other task forces and commissions as well, including the National Commission on Federal Election Reform.

In Rise of the Vulcans (Viking, 2004), James Mann reports that when Richard Haass, a senior aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell and the director of policy planning at the State Department, drafted for the administration an overview of America's national security strategy following September 11, Dr. Rice, the national security advisor, "ordered that the document be completely rewritten. She thought the Bush administration needed something bolder, something that would represent a more dramatic break with the ideas of the past. Rice turned the writing over to her old colleague, University of Virginia Professor Philip Zelikow." This document, issued on September 17, 2002, is generally recognized as a watershed document in the War on Terrorism.

Because Philip Zelikow's significant involvement with the administration of George W. Bush, many have questioned the propriety of his position as executive director of the 9/11 Commission, which examined the conduct of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. Both the 9/11 Family Steering Committee and 9-11 Citizens Watch demanded his resignation, without success.

From Salon.com:

Zelikow is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he also directs the Miller Center of Public Affairs. His qualifications to run the 9/11 commission are more than academic, however. During the first Bush administration he served on the National Security Council staff, and at the beginning of the second Bush administration he was appointed to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). He also happens to be a longtime confidant, collaborator and friend of Rice, with whom he authored a book on German reunification in 1995 -- and whom he advised on the restructuring of the National Security Council during the Bush transition in late 2000.

Former counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke revealed that Zelikow, as a member of the Bush transition team, had been extensively briefed on al-Qaida terrorism by the outgoing Clinton national security officials. When the widows learned first of Zelikow's close relationship with Rice and then of his presence at the terrorism briefings, they were outraged.

"As executive director, he has pretty much the most important job on the commission," said Mindy Kleinberg. "He hires the staff, he sets the direction and focus, he chooses witnesses at the hearings." She and her friends fear that even with the best of intentions, Zelikow's connections to the Bush White House will "taint the validity" of the commission's final report. Their demand that he resign or be fired has been rejected by the commission's co-chairmen, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton....

"If he was there during the transition, making recommendations about restructuring the NSC, on prioritizing issues, on handling terrorism, on Iraq -- then how can he oversee the report on those issues?" Kleinberg asked.

Hmm, I wonder if Zelikow advised Rice about this?

From the Times Herald on 08/13/2005:

A small group of Defense Intelligence Agency employees ran the Able Danger operation from fall 1999 to February 2001 - just seven months before the terrorist attacks - when the operation was unceremoniously axed, according to a former defense intelligence official familiar with the program. The former official asked not to be identified.
In their efforts to locate terrorists, the operation's technology analysts used data mining and fusion techniques to search terabyte-sized data sets from open source material - such as travel manifests, bank transactions, hotel records, credit applications - and compared this material with classified information.
By charting the movements and transactions of suspected terrorists, the operation linked Atta to al-Qaida. Between fall 1999 and early 2000, the intelligence team concluded that Atta, and two others, were likely part of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn.

Update: Kudos to Booman23 and Sherlock Google for pointing me in the right direction.

Update two: For those who are skeptical of the Atta story, what about this: Able Danger's main focus was tracking terrorists, including al Qaeda, but it was cancelled in February 2001, and for some reason there is no mention of Able Danger at all in the 9/11 Commission Report?

Update three: The Kean-Hamilton Statement on ABLE DANGER (PDF) verifies that Shaffer spoke to Zelikow:

On October 21, 2003, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, two senior Commission staff members, and a representative of the executive branch, met at Bagram Base, Afghanistan, with three individuals doing intelligence work for the Department of Defense. One of the men, in recounting information about al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan before 9/11, referred to a DOD program known as ABLE DANGER. He said this program was now closed, but urged Commission staff to get the files on this program and review them, as he thought the Commission would find information about al Qaeda and Bin Ladin that had been developed before the 9/11 attack. He also complained that Congress, particularly the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), had effectively ended a human intelligence network he considered valuable.

As with their other meetings, Commission staff promptly prepared a memorandum for the record. That memorandum, prepared at the time, does not record any mention of Mohamed Atta or any of the other future hijackers, or any suggestion that their identities were known to anyone at DOD before 9/11. Nor do any of the three Commission staffers who participated in the interview, or the executive branch lawyer, recall hearing any such allegation.

Think it might not mention Atta because Zelikow forgot to mention it? After taking the time to blame the cancellation of the program on the House Select Committee instead of Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, the press release goes on to say that they did not report on operation ABLE DANGER because they deemed it not to be historically significant!

Daily Kos: Rice aide hid disbandment of Atta's trackers from 9/11 report


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