9/22/2005

Pentagon Nixes 9/11 Hearing Testimony - Yahoo! News

As I mentioned before, there is no way data mining could have identified just 60, including Mohamed Atta. Not unless the Able Danger people were tipped off about Atta from a piece of information that has yet to be revealed. A piece of info about Atta's terror connections that the FBI, the INS and the CIA obviously didn't have. And THAT must be what the Pentagon is hiding -- law

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Wednesday he would look into whether the
Pentagon obstructed his committee by refusing to allow testimony from five people who had knowledge of a secret military unit named "Able Danger."

They were expected to testify Wednesday about a link between al-Qaida and four of the Sept. 11 hijackers — including leader Mohamed Atta — that the unit is said to have uncovered more than a year before the 2001 attacks.

"I think the
Department of Defense owes the American people an explanation of what went on here," said Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said later Wednesday during a briefing on Capitol Hill that an offer was made to do a classified briefing on Able Danger.

"As I understand it, the Judiciary Committee preferred to have an open hearing on a classified matter, and therefore the department declined to participate in an open hearing on a classified matter," Rumsfeld said.

The Pentagon has acknowledged that some employees recall seeing an intelligence chart identifying Atta as a terrorist before the attacks.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Pentagon believes it has provided sufficient information on Able Danger to the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, which oversee the department.

Lt. Col. Mark Shaffer, a military intelligence officer who worked on Able Danger, was prepared to testify that three different times he tried to meet with the
FBI to discuss the unit's findings, but was prevented from doing so because of legal concerns by department lawyers, according to Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, who testified on his behalf.

Specter said one reason for the hearing was to determine whether the federal Posse Comitatus law needs to be amended. The 1878 law restricts the military's law enforcement functions in the United States.

The Pentagon was represented at the hearing by William Dugan, the acting assistant to the secretary for intelligence oversight.

Dugan testified that he had very limited knowledge of Able Danger. But, he said, if the information were properly collected, Posse Comitatus should not have prevented intelligence sharing between the Pentagon and the FBI.

Specter told Dugan to inform his superiors that the committee wants to hear from people with firsthand knowledge of Able Danger.

Zaid, the lawyer, also testified on behalf of James Smith, a defense contractor. Zaid said Smith recalls seeing, before the Sept. 11 attacks, a chart bearing Atta's picture. The picture was purchased from a California contractor, Zaid said.

Erik Kleinsmith, a former Army major who worked on Able Danger, said he destroyed documents pertaining to Able Danger in 2000 because he was required to do so under Army regulations.

Rep. Curt Weldon (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., was the first to come forward to assert that Able Danger had identified Atta and three others as being members of an al-Qaida cell. If correct, the intelligence would change the timeline for when government officials first became aware of Atta's links to al-Qaida.

Slade Gorton, a member of the commission that investigated the attacks, said a review of Able Danger documents found "no charts, no data sets, and no analysis identifying Mohamed Atta or any of the other hijackers pre-9/11."

Pentagon Nixes 9/11 Hearing Testimony - Yahoo! News

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