8/19/2005

War and Piece: Able Danger official identified.

in every single interview [w/ Shaffer] a kind of vagueness about what exactly they found. I asked Zaid about it and he said it had to do with classification issues, that he himself isn't cleared for. But it seems to me that without establishing just what exactly Able Danger came up with that might have been actionable regarding 9/11, the value of Able Danger and the whole question of whether information on its findings were somehow withheld from the commission, etc. will be very difficult to judge.

Able Danger official identified.

Delco Times columnist Gil Spencer, who has long covered Curt Weldon's Pennsylvania district, has just interviewed the Able Danger official who is going public tonight on Fox News. Spencer is the first journalist I am aware of to reveal the identity of the Able Danger official who originally briefed the 9/11 commission staff about Able Danger's findings back in October 2003 at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. That official is DIA civilian and Army reservist Ltn. Col. Tony Shaffer. He served in a liaison capacity between Able Danger and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, Florida, and he flew into Afghanistan with special ops in a boots on the ground capacity. (Shaffer confirmed to Spencer that he is indeed the "Anonymous" who has posted some comments about Able Danger over at Inteldump, by the way.) More soon on their interview. It's still a bit vague as to what exactly on Atta and the "Brooklyn cell" the Able Danger team came up with, but Shaffer did tell Spencer that the Able Danger team briefed then Special Ops commander, now Army Chief of Staff Pete Schoomaker on their findings. Shaffer also told Spencer that he had met with Pentagon intel czar Stephen Cambone in the E-ring today about the Able Danger issue, so clearly the Pentagon is paying attention. Stay tuned.

Update I: Talked to Shaffer's attorney, Mark Zaid. Shaffer apparently is on administrative leave from the DIA...Zaid said over a pretty trumped up clearance issue that may have to do with his role in trying to brief the 9/11 commission on Able Danger, though Zaid says Shaffer had permission from a 2-star general to do so.

A couple thoughts. It seems the next object of scrutiny resulting from the Able Danger revelations may be questions about whether documents from the Able Danger project were somehow blocked from getting from the Pentagon to the 9/11 commission, or even destroyed.

But it's also disturbing that it's so hard to understand even now that Shaffer has gone public what exactly Able Danger came up with in terms of information on Atta and the other "Brooklyn cell" individuals they allegedly identified. I have talked to three different journalists who have all interviewed Shaffer (two before he went public, a third -- Spencer -- after, and a fourth by email), and this is the case in every single interview, a kind of vagueness about what exactly they found. I asked Zaid about it and he said it had to do with classification issues, that he himself isn't cleared for. But it seems to me that without establishing just what exactly Able Danger came up with that might have been actionable regarding 9/11, the value of Able Danger and the whole question of whether information on its findings were somehow withheld from the commission, etc. will be very difficult to judge.

War and Piece:

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