Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I haven't really commented on the Able Danger story yet. When I first heard it, I knew that it had the potential to be explosive. But I was hesitant--and I still am--to jump on the bandwagon just yet.

First off, the fact that it proves that the Clinton administration dropped the ball on dealing with terrorism is a moot point. They aren't alone in failing to do all that realistically could have been done, but if failing to deal with a growing terrorist threat was an Olympic sport, Team Clinton would win the gold medal hands down. More proof of that won't change my opinion on the subject.

Secondly, the whole story on Able Danger isn't in yet. Let's say they did identify Atta and several of his accomplices. And let's say they did have information that pointed to an aviation-oriented threat. We still need context. For every terrorist or terrorist threat an analysis team accurately identifies, there are usually hundreds, even thousands that appear equally credible, but turn out to be wild goose chases. At this point, there is not enough info available to the public to paint a complete picture. We can only hope that there will be in the near future.

So far, three AD team members have come forward to blow the whistle about this breakdown in national security caused by the now-infamous "Wall". That's a good start, but I have a feeling there's even more to the story than what has been told so far. Like this little tidbit from a recent column by former USMC intel officer H. Thomas Hayden:
Critics of the Commission contend that the problems created by “The Wall” were never fully investigated by the 9/11 Commission, and no one involved in the process was ever called as a witness.

Some have reported that there may be other information in Able Danger that could
have significant ramifications in regard to the war in Iraq. Specifically, there was speculation that Able Danger links the 9/11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden to Iraq. Reportedly, Able Danger supports information from the Czech Republic's intelligence service that Atta met with the Iraqi ambassador at the Prague airport on April 9, 2001. Of course, the CIA of George Tenant disputes the Czech intelligence report.

Regardless, Czech intelligence informed the U.S. about this meeting shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Also, other intelligence documents indicate that two of the four terrorists that piloted the hijacked airliners were in Germany from late 2000 to early 2001. It was during that time that German authorities arrested two Iraqi agents on charges of spying against Germany. One of the hijacker pilots, Ziad Jarrah, left Germany the same week that the Germans arrested the two Iraqi agents.

At the same time, the Paris-based Islamic newspaper Al-Watan Al-Arabi linked Iraq to radical Islamic groups and Osama bin Laden. The paper reported that the Iraqi agents were part of an Iraqi operation to form a network of terrorist alliances to strike U.S. targets.

Would it surprise anyone to know that this information is also not in the Commission report?

(emphasis mine)

I'm not ready to get all worked up about this just yet, but I'm certain we haven't heard the end of this story.

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