November 21, 2005 – Writing for the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page, former FBI Director Louis Freeh has become the most recent critic of the 9/11 Commission’s investigation into the terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. He also leveled criticism at the 9/11 Commission Report, which he says is flawed because it is incomplete.
Able Danger, a relatively small data-mining operation, claims it identified several terrorist cells in this country and elsewhere before the 9/11 attacks. It also claims that members identified Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers in mid-2000. They further claim that they warned defense officials about activity in Aden, Yemen. They advised against entering the Port of Aden two days before the attack on the U.S.S. Cole on October 12, 2000, which left seventeen American sailors dead.
According to Able Danger participants, this vital information about terrorists in our midst was never allowed to get to those who may have used it to thwart the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They claim they tried three separate times to present it to the FBI and were barred three separate times from doing so by attorneys for the Clinton administration.
When LTC Anthony Shaffer of Able Danger went public with his allegations, appearing on talk shows, retaliation was swift. Representative Curt Weldon, who has gone to bat for Shaffer, relates: “They have gagged the military officers. They have prevented them from talking to any member of Congress. They have prevented them from talking to the media. And the Defense Intelligence Agency has began a process to destroy the career and the life of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer.” In other action, according to Representative Weldon, one day before the Lieutenant Colonel was to testify before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, in uniform, they permanently removed his security clearance. The Defense Intelligence Agency told LTC Shaffer’s attorney they planned to seek a permanent removal of his pay and his health care benefits for him and his two children. Reports are that this punishment has been lightened somewhat, but we still may not hear from LTC Shaffer. He has been effectively muzzled.
Why did this information never get to the FBI? Former Director Freeh has remarked that the Able Danger information was the kind of intelligence that could have prevented the hijackings. What the 9/11 Commission did show was the lack of communication between the different agencies because of a “firewall” set up to hinder such communication. It has been charged that the person responsible for that wall was none other than Jamie Gorelick, who was part of the Clinton administration, and who was the lead Democrat on the 9/11 Commission.
Congressman Weldon has called for a criminal investigation into what he says is the most important story of our lifetime. He says he has support from 202 fellow lawmakers from both parties, noting on Thursday, November 17, that their goal was to force Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to allow “former participants in the intelligence program-known as Able Danger-to testify in an open hearing before the United States Congress.” However, Congressman Weldon has encountered resistance for such a criminal investigation from some on the 9/11 Commission. Slade Gorton appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight to say there is nothing to the reports about Able Danger and they are not important enough to consider further action. Tim Roemer has chimed in that Able Danger presented no helpful information for the 9/11 Commission to consider.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh disagrees. He charged that the 9/11 Commission ignored or “summarily rejected” the most critical evidence that could have prevented the horrible deaths of 3,000 of our fellow citizens. Evidence collected by Able Danger, if true, is “undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry.” However, the 9/11 Commission concluded, and members have publicly stated, that it was “not historically significant”. Thus was valuable information dismissed. Thus was Able Danger rendered irrelevant.
In righteous anger Congressman Weldon has noted that “in two weeks with two staffers, I’ve uncovered more in this regard than they did with 80 staffers and $15 million of taxpayers’ money!” He also claimed that “there’s something very sinister that’s going on here that really troubles me.”
Freeh says that new revelations point out that it is “a good time for the country to make some assessments of the 9/11 Commission itself.” Freeh has commended the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Arlen Specter, for examining some of these matters. Able Danger was not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report. Weldon has claimed, “There’s a cover-up here. It’s clear and unequivocal”. Freeh makes a good case for an investigation, saying “The Joint Intelligence Committees should reconvene and, in addition to Able Danger team members, we should have the 9/11 commissioners appear as witnesses so the families can hear their explanation why this doesn’t matter.” Many other Americans would like to hear that explanation, also.