8/24/2005

House GOP leaders backed Able Danger exposee

By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published August 22, 2005

WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders approved in advance plans by a military intelligence official to go public with details of a top-secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger.

Army reserve Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer says the data-mining project identified Mohammed Atta and three other of the Sept. 11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks.

"I spoke personally to Denny Hastert and to Pete Hoekstra," Shaffer told United Press International. Rep. Hastert, R-Ill., is speaker of the House, and Rep. Hoekstra, R-Mich., is chairman of that chamber's intelligence committee.

"I was given assurances by (them) that this was the right thing to do ... I was given assurances we would not suffer any adverse consequences for bringing this to the attention of the public," Shaffer said, adding that the conversations took place before he and members of the Able Danger team spoke to the media anonymously in the offices of Republican firebrand Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, Aug. 8.

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean told UPI in an e-mail message Sunday that he had no information about the meeting and had no comment to make. Hoekstra was said by staff to be out of the country.

Shaffer also said he was given what he interpreted as tacit approval from senior Pentagon officials before going on the record to Fox News and the New York Times last week, thus revealing his identity and adding both credibility and a new twist to the story.

Shaffer he said he had met the previous day with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Steven Cambone and Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, the staff director for outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers.

"They knew that this would be the next logical step," Shaffer said, and did not ask him to refrain from going public. Asked whether he interpreted this as tacit approval, Shaffer said, "Well they are not asking me to stop (talking about the project)... I hope that they approve."

A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.

World Peace Herald

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