August 22, 2005
Questions about Able Danger and the Sep. 11 Commission
Based on the claims of the members of the Able Danger team Captain Ed wonders if the Sep. 11 commission might have gotten Mohammed Atta's whereabouts wrong. The commission put together their timeline on interrogations of captured al Qaeda members Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Able Danger got Atta's name to pop up by data mining "open-source information that was available on the Internet and in other public media." In both cases we could have examples of GIGO--Garbage In Garbage Out. What corresponding information did the Sep. 11 commission have to back up the claims spouted by the al Qaeda members? What data was mined and what process did Able Danger use to mine it? The answers to these questions will help us evaluate how accurate the Sep. 11 report is.
"Able Danger: Did They ID Atta Before He Got Here?"
UPDATE: Or maybe Able Danger is a myth:
But Lawrence DiRita, a Pentagon spokesman, said a review of materials related to Able Danger has so far turned up no evidence that it identified Atta, the reputed leader of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
"Pentagon Says It Has Found No Evidence Atta Identified Before 2001 Attacks" [via Drudge]
UPDATE II: This story gets really strange. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer made the allegation that Able Danger picked up Mohammad Atta as a terrorist in the U.S. in early 2000. He got the information third-hand. Members of the data mining team told him a chart had Atta's picture on it. Based on that miniscule bit of info conservative webloggers and pundits (myself included) ran wild. The strange new element is this from the Washington Times:
The DIA is in the process of revoking Col. Shaffer's security clearance, Mr. Zaid said, for what he called "trivial matters." They include reimbursements for mileage and telephone charges, and whether he properly received an award for his Able Danger work.
Shaffer may be trying to embarass the Pentagon for taking away his security clearance. He has a big-time credibility problem. Where are the Able Danger team members he supposedly talked to? This skeptical writer is waiting.
"Review Finds No Pre-9/11 Atta File"