Despite the fact that some blogs are giving the Able Danger story a lot of attention, seemingly in order to defend the administration against all comers, we have not seen fit to run with it endlessly. This word from the Pentagon is sufficient. From AFP, with thanks to D.W.
A Pentagon review has so far found no evidence that a secret intelligence operation identified Mohammad Atta as a member of a US-based Al-Qaeda cell before the September 11, 2001 attacks, a spokesman said.
Representative Curt Weldon and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer have charged that Atta and three other September 11 hijackers were identified as early as mid-2000 through a data-mining program codenamed “Able Danger.”
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…
“What we have found are mostly sort of general reference to terrorist cells that people were generally aware of,” DiRita told reporters.
“But nothing that would seem to corroborate specifically what congressman Weldon and Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer recall, although as you know they don’t have what they said they saw. That makes it a little more difficult,” he said.
Weldon and Shaffer have said Atta and three other future hijackers appeared as members of a Brooklyn-based Al-Qaeda cell on a chart that was presented by Able Danger to the US Special Operations Command in early to mid 2000.
They said the group had recommended the information be shared with the FBI, but that the command’s lawyers rejected that course of action.
If true, it would have been the first time Atta was known to have been identified by the US intelligence community as an Al-Qaeda member before the September 11 attacks. Providing Atta’s name to the FBI might have helped disrupt the attack, according to Weldon.
Neither Weldon nor Shaffer have been able to produce a copy of the chart itself, however.
Shaffer acknowledged in an interview published Saturday by the Washington Post that his allegations about the chart were based on the recollections of a navy officer and an unidentified civilian official affiliated with Able Danger.
He said that after the September 11 attacks, the civilian employee showed him a chart from 2000 that had the names of Atta and three other hijackers.
Navy Captain Scott Phillpott, whose recollections Shaffer also said he relied on, told a presidential commission investigating the September 11 attacks in July 2004 that he remembered seeing Atta’s name on an Able Danger chart in the spring of 2000.