Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Who Disabled Able Danger? 

Conspiracy theorists, set your spines to full tingle mode. Our distinguished colleague Peter of Lone Tree at BlondeSense came across the following item at, of all places, Fox News:
U.S. law enforcement never received information on Sept. 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and his possible connections to Al Qaeda, even though that information was known more than a year before the attacks that left approximately 3,000 people dead, Rep. Curt Weldon said Tuesday.

Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican and vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said the hijackers were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger," which determined they could be members of an Al Qaeda cell. A military spokesman would not confirm or deny the unit's existence to FOX News . . . .

In September 2000, the unit recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists," Weldon said in an interview with the Associated Press.

However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally.

"In fact, I'll tell you how stupid it was. They put stickies on the faces of Mohamed Atta on the chart that the military intelligence unit had completed and they said you can't talk to Atta because he's here on a green card," Weldon said . . . .

Weldon told FOX that the "Able Danger" unit told its bosses that the information should be shared with the FBI.

A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command said there is no knowledge of Able Danger within Special Operations command headquarters right now.

Weldon said the unit is now defunct.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Sept. 11 commission looked into the matter during its investigation into government missteps leading to the attacks and chose not to include it in the final report.
UPDATE (8/10): Laura Rozen, among others, has been casting doubt on Rep. Weldon's bona fides: although he was peddling the same story back in 2002, he inexplicably passed on the opportunity to raise a ruckus before the 9/11 Commission. By coming forward now, Weldon may be trying to buff up his resume: according to the Hill, he's angling for the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee.

We cannot resist passing along a probably-unrelated anecdote, from our august colleague John Gorenfeld, who notes that Rep. Weldon was one of the sponsors, back in March 2004, of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's coronation as messiah in the Everett Dirksen building of the Senate:
Rep. Curt Weldon's office tenaciously denied that the Congressman was there, before being provided by The Gadflyer with a photo depicting Weldon at the event, found on Moon's website. "Apparently he was there, but we really had nothing to do with it," press secretary Angela Sowa finally conceded. "I don't think it's quite accurate that the Washington Times said that we hosted the event. We may have been a Congressional co-host, but we have nothing to do with the agenda, the organization, the scheduling, and our role would be limited explicitly to the attendance of the Congressman."

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