Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"Able Danger" - Did They or Didn't They?

The September 11th Commission will reopen an investigation into a claim by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) that a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger" identified Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as early as 1999. According to Weldon, information was not passed from the Pentagon to the FBI since the group was in the US legally. (AP Congressman: U.S. Intel Knew 9/11 Plotters )

Weldon claims Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of a terrorist cell code named "Brooklyn". He first raised this claim in a House open forum session in June, however the nature of that type of forum is such that the claim did not garner much attention.

This is all part of the "what did they know and when did they know it" quest to lay blame for the September 11th terrorist attacks. The added twist on this piece of information is that it pushes the blame game back into the Clinton administration.

The bottom line is this. That there were terrorist cells both abroad and in the US that wanted to carry out acts of terror against US interests was not hidden from any administration going as far back as the Islamic Revolution during the Carter era. Giving Weldon the benefit of the doubt and assuming the Pentagon was aware of Atta and company as early as 1999 is still a far cry from being able to prevent the attacks that occured on 9/11.

Hindsight allows us to view the actions of Atta et al with remarkable clarity. The Pentagon in 1999 had no such benefit. Analyzing the pieces of intelligence known to each agency is of value if we will use that information to improve inter-agency communication and perhaps prevent future acts of terror here and abroad. To continue trying to play the blame game is nothing more than a waste of taxpayer's money, however. It's time to end the quest for blame and start actually fixing the problem. Until we're serious about that, stop wasting our time and money.

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1 comment :

Alan Fraser said...

Agreed. It's already been established that FBI agents were aware but the report(s) didn't make it up the chain of command. I have my doubts as to whether Homeland Security is doing anything more than adding bureaucracy rather than really solving that problem but to point to Able Danger or the FBI as the root is dangerously short-sighted.