Congressional Record: November 18, 2005 (House)
Page H11029-H11031                       

                              ABLE DANGER

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Weldon) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I include material regarding 
Able Danger for the Record:

                                     House of Representatives,

                                 Washington, DC, November 9, 2005.
     Hon. Donald Rumsfeld,
     Secretary, Department of Defense, The Pentagon, Washington, 
       Dear Secretary Rumsfeld: We the undersigned are formally 
     requesting that you allow former participants in the 
     intelligence program known as Able Danger to testify in an 
     open hearing before the United States Congress. Until this 
     point, congressional efforts to investigate Able Danger have 
     been obstructed by Department of Defense insistence that 
     certain individuals with knowledge of Able Danger be 
     prevented from freely and frankly testifying in an open 
     hearing. We realize that you do not question Congress's 
     authority to maintain effective oversight of executive branch 
     agencies, including your department. It is our understanding 
     that your objection instead derives from concern that 
     classified information could be improperly exposed in an open 
     hearing. We of course would never support any activity that 
     might compromise sensitive information involving national 
     security. However, we firmly believe that testimony from the 
     appropriate individuals in an open hearing on Able Danger 
     would not only fail to jeopardize national security, but 
     would in fact enhance it over the long term. This is due to 
     our abiding belief that America can only better prepare 
     itself against future attacks if it understands the full 
     scope of its past failures to do so.
       On September 21, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary 
     conducted a hearing on Able Danger which Bill Dugan, Acting 
     Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence 
     Oversight, certified did not reveal any classified 
     information. Congressman Curt Weldon's testimony at that 
     hearing was largely based on the information that has been 
     given to him by Able Danger participants barred from open 
     testimony by DOD. Their testimony would therefore closely 
     mirror that of Congressman Weldon, who did not reveal 
     classified information. Therefore we are at a loss as to how 
     the testimony of Able Danger participants would jeopardize 
     classified information. Much of what they would present has 
     already been revealed. Further refusal to allow Able Danger 
     participants to testify in an open congressional hearing can 
     only lead us to conclude that the Department of Defense is 
     uncomfortable with the prospect of Members of Congress 
     questioning these individuals about the circumstances 
     surrounding Able Danger. This would suggest not a concern for 
     national security, but rather an attempt to prevent 
     potentially embarrassing facts from coming to light. Such a 
     consideration would of course be an unacceptable 
     justification for the refusal of a congressional request.
     Curt Weldon,       
     John P. Murtha.

[[Page H11030]]

           Why Did the 9/11 Commission Ignore `Able Danger'?

                            (By Louis Freeh)

       It was interesting to hear from the 9/11 Commission again 
     on Tuesday. This self-perpetuating and privately funded group 
     of lobbyists and lawyers has recently opined on hurricanes, 
     nuclear weapons, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and even the New 
     York subway system. Now it offers yet another ``report card'' 
     on the progress of the FBI and CIA in the war against 
     terrorism, along with its ``back-seat'' take and some further 
     unsolicited narrative about how things ought to be on the 
     ``front lines.''
       Yet this is also a good time for the country to make some 
     assessments of the 9/11 Commission itself. Recent revelation 
     from the military intelligence operation code-named, ``Able 
     Danger'' have cast light on a missed opportunity that could 
     have potentially prevented 9/11. Specifically, Able Danger 
     concluded in February 2000 that military experts had 
     identified Mohamed Atta by name (and maybe by photograph) as 
     an al Qaeda agent operating in the U.S. Subsequently, 
     military officers assigned to Able Danger were prevented from 
     sharing this critical information with FBI agents, even 
     though appointments had been made to do so. Why?
       There are other questions that need answers. Was Able 
     Danger intelligence provided to the 9/11 Commission prior to 
     the finalization of its report, and, if so, why was it not 
     explored? In sum, what did the 9/11 commissioners and their 
     staff know about Able Danger and when did they know it?
       The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly 
     the most relevant fact of the entire post 9/11 inquiry. Even 
     the most junior investigator would immediately know that the 
     name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is precisely the kind of 
     tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to 
     prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. Yet the 9/11 
     Commission inexplicably concluded that it ``was not 
     historically significant.'' This astounding conclusion--in 
     combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and 
     incorporate it into its findings--raises serious challenges 
     to the commission's credibility and, if the facts prove out, 
     might just render the commission historically insignificant 
       The facts relating to Able Danger finally started to be 
     reported in mid-August. U.S. Army Col. Anthony Shaffer, a 
     veteran intelligence officer, publicly revealed that the Able 
     Danger team had identified Atta and three other 9/11 
     hijackers by mid-2000 but were prevented by military lawyers 
     from giving this information to the FBI. One week later, Navy 
     Capt. Scott J. Phillpott, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who 
     managed the program for the Pentagon's Special Operations 
     Command, confirmed ``Atta was iden- tified by Able Danger by 
     January-February of 2000.''
       On Aug. 18, 2005, the Pentagon initially stated that ``a 
     probe'' had found nothing to back up Col. Shaffer's claims. 
     Two weeks later, however, Defense Department officials 
     acknowledged that its ``inquiry'' had found ``three more 
     people who recall seeing an intelligence briefing slide that 
     identified the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks a year before 
     the hijackings and terrorist strikes.'' These same officials 
     also stated that ``documents and electronic files created by 
     . . . Able Danger were destroyed under standing orders that 
     limit the military's use of intelligence gathered about 
     people in the United States.'' Then, in September 2005, the 
     Pentagon doubled back and blocked several military officers 
     from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about the 
     Able Danger program.
       Two members of Congress, Curt Weldon and Dan Burton, have 
     also publicly stated that shortly after 9/11 attacks they 
     provided then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley 
     with a ``chart'' containing preattack information collected 
     by Able danger about al Qaeda. a spokesperson for the White 
     House has confirmed that Mr. Hadley ``recalled seeing such a 
     chart in that time period but . . . did not recall whether he 
     saw it during a meeting . . . and that a search of National 
     Security Council files had failed to produce such a chart.''
       Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, reacted 
     to Able Danger with the standard Washington PR approach. He 
     lashed out at the Bush administration and demanded that the 
     Pentagon conduct an ``investigation'' to evaluate the 
     ``credibility'' of Col. Shaffer and Capt. Phillpott--rather 
     than demand a substantive investigation into what failed in 
     the first place. This from a former New Jersey governor who, 
     along with other commissioners, routinely appeared in public 
     espousing his own conclusions about 9/11 long before the 
     commission's inquiry was completed and long before all the 
     facts were in! This while dismissing out of hand the major 
     conflicts of interest on the commission itself about 
     obstructions to information-sharing within the intelligence 
       Nevertheless, the final 9/11 commission report, released on 
     July 22, 2004, concluded that ``American intelligence 
     agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the 
     attacks.'' This now looks to be embarrassingly wrong. Yet 
     amazingly, commission leaders acknowledged on Aug. 12 that 
     their staff in fact met with a Navy officer 10 days before 
     releasing the report, who ``asserted that a highly classified 
     intelligence operation, Able Danger, had identified Mohammed 
     Atta to be a member of an al Qaeda cell located in 
     Brooklyn.'' (Capt. Phillpott says he briefed them in July 
     2004.) The commission's statement goes on to say that the 
     staff determined that ``the officer's account was not 
     sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or 
     further investigation,'' and that the intelligence 
     operation ``did not turn out to be historically 
     significant,'' despite substantial corroboration from 
     other seasoned intelligence officers.
       This dismissive and apparently unsupported conclusion would 
     have us believe that a key piece of evidence was summarily 
     rejected in less than 10 days without serious investigation. 
     The commission, at the very least, should have interviewed 
     the 80 members of Able Danger, as the Pentagon did, five of 
     whom say they saw ``the chart.'' But this would have required 
     admitting that the late-breaking news was inconveniently 
     raised. So it was grossly neglected and branded as 
     significant. Such a half-baked conclusion, drawn in only 10 
     days without any real investigation, simply ignores what 
     looks like substantial direct evidence to the contrary coming 
     from our own trained military intelligence officers.
       No wonder the 9/11 families were outraged by these 
     revelations and called for a ``new'' commission to 
     investigate. ``I'm angry that my son's death could have been 
     prevented,'' seethed Diane Horning, whose son Matthew was 
     killed at the World Trade Center. On Aug. 17, 2005, a 
     coalition of family members known as the September 11 
     Advocates rightly blasted 9/11 Commission leaders Mr. Kean 
     and Lee Hamilton for pooh-poohing Able Danger's findings as 
     not ``historically significant.'' Advocate Mindy Kleinberg 
     aptly notes, ``They [the 9/11 Commission] somehow made a 
     determination that this was not important enough. To me, that 
     says somebody there is not using good judgment. And if I'm 
     questioning the judgment of this one case, what other things 
     might they have missed?'' This is a stinging indictment of 
     the commission by the 9/11 families.
       The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen 
     Specter, has led the way in cleaning up the 9/11 Commission's 
     unfinished business. Amid a very full plate of 
     responsibilities, he conducted a hearing after noting that 
     Col. Shaffer and Capt. Phillpott ``appear to have 
     credibility.'' Himself and former prosecutor, Mr. Specter 
     noted: ``If M? Atta and other 9/11 terrorists were identified 
     before the attacks, it would be a very serious breach not to 
     have that information passed along . . . we ought to get to 
     the bottom of it.'' Indeed we should. The 9/11 Commission 
     gets an ``I'' grade incomplete--for its dereliction regarding 
     Able Danger. The Joint Intelligence Committee 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.

     Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 9:21 AM
     To: curtpa07
     Subject: USS COLE
       Our son Kenneth was the 1st killed on the USS Cole when it 
     was attacked. Every since President Bush came into office 
     I've been trying to get a meeting with him and the 17 
     families and the White House will not even acknowledge. I've 
     been saying things like you are now saying ever since the 
     attacked happened and NO one in government will talk to us. 
     The FBI has lied to us on several facts and my own 
     Congressmen will do anything for me except a meeting with the 
     President. President Clinton did nothing to go after those 
     that attacked the Cole and if he had of they would have 
     uncovered numerous signs out there about what was going to 
     happen on 9/11. We sure would like to talk to you.
     John Clodfelter.

     Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 9:21 PM
     To: curtpa07
     Subject: Able Danger--9/11 Family Member
       Dear Congressman Weldon: I write again to thank you for all 
     you are doing to uncover the ``Able Danger'' story. I lost my 
     brother Pete on 9/11, and over the last 4 years I have done 
     what I could to educate myself on the ``how's, why's and 
     who's'' of 9/11. I attended the Commission hearings both in 
     Washington, D.C. and New York City, and to be frank . . . I 
     thought the Commission was a farce. They may have reached 
     recommendations that may prove worthy, but the agenda of some 
     was all too obvious. I have felt from the beginning that 
     certain Commissioners sat on the wrong side of the table, so 
     to speak. Now that you have uncovered Able Danger, I want 
     them all to sit as witnesses before Congress. Just who knew 
     what and who decided these most important findings to be 
     ``historically insignificant,'' are questions that must be 
       The loss of Pete on 9/11 is something I deal with every 
     moment, of every day. Now that we are 2 weeks from what 
     would've been his 47th birthday (one he shared with my 
     sister, Kathy), a week away from Thanksgiving, 5 weeks from 
     his favorite day of the year--Christmas . . . well, the 
     heartache of his murder is felt a bit deeper.
       On a personal note, Pete's death on 9/11 was one tragedy 
     from that day, but it is not the only one. What his murder 
     has done to our family is quite another. There is no way to 
     explain how those terrorists ruined more than one life that 
     day and there is no way to express my anger at how life for 
     us will never again be the same. We struggle to find joy, we 
     find it difficult to accomplish what once were ordinary tasks 
     . . . but we do, and thanks to our faith. I also believe we 
     do because of public servants like you. Decent

[[Page H11031]]

     elected officials who actually serve the public instead of 
     themselves. You have my family's backing and full support and 
     we pray to GOD that more and more elected officials join you 
     in your fight to expose Able Danger and in your fight to keep 
     our Nation safe and secure, so no other family has to endure 
     what we did on 9/11, and what we continue to endure since 
     because of the acts of hate filled cowards.
       Thank you again Congressman Weldon and God bless! Please 
     keep up the good fight on Able Danger!
       You remain in our thought & prayers, as does our President 
     and our Brave Troops!
           A proud American,
                                                    John P. Owens,
     Loving brother of Peter J. Owens, Jr.