[I’d like to welcome Larry Johnson to the site. I posted this, and then saw he had posted on the same topic. Take them together, as complimentary pieces on the same mystery.]
Representative Curt Weldon is a loon. But his allegation that the ‘Able Danger’ military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta as a threat in the summer of 2000 has now been confirmed. His allegation that the 9/11 investigating staff was informed of this information but failed to include any reference to it in the report has also been confirmed.
Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission’s chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.
Felzenberg is essentially retracting his earlier denial. At best, his earlier attempt at denying knowledge of Able Danger’s discovery relied on staff not remembering hearing about it in the October 2003 briefing (even though they remembered it from the July 2004 briefing).
Their excuse for rejecting the information supplied to them in July 2004 is as follows:
The military officer gave them information that put Mohammed Atta in this country in 1999. The commission’s report was about to go to the printers and its narrative stated that Atta first arrived in this country on June 3rd, 2000. The June 3rd date was consistent with the evidence they had, and they had confidence in that date. Therefore, they had doubts about the credibility of the information the officer was giving them.
There have been some published reports of Americans claiming to have encountered Atta in this country before June 3rd. You can read about them here, but unfortunately not all of the links are still functional. Presumably, the thorough FBI and Commission investigations have subsequently ruled out these reports. Nevertheless, while Atta’s exact initial arrival date may be in doubt, it is still true that he was pegged as a bad guy by the ‘Able Danger’ group in 2000. The commission made no reference to this, or to the fact that Atta was linked to two known terrorists living openly in San Diego.
It’s not necessary to draw broad conclusions about the implications of this to be dissatisfied with the Commission’s work. We need to know what information led Able Danger to designate Atta as a bad guy. We need to know the exact reasoning (legal, political, cover-your-ass) that led the military to withhold this information from the FBI.