The Able Danger hearings yesterday were of considerable interest to many.Here's some background explaining why. Among other things, it is likely that they will highlight serious intelligence problems during the Clinton Administration, shortcomings which helped make 9/11 possible.
Many expected that C—SPAN would cover these important hearings. Alas, that was not to be.
C—SPAN instead concentrated on anti—Bush Katrina hearings and an interview with an ex—CIA critic of the President, Paul Pillar, of whom I've already written. Pillar is one of those men who think terrorism is not important, can be contained, and that it's an outrage that this Administration didn't defer to the mandarinate of which he was a part in the prior Administration. And he's been trotted out on commercial network shows for over a week.
There was also a lot of coverage on Warren G. Harding and a report on the 2007 Department of State budget....
Call me skeptical that this network is seriously trying to carry out its stated mission of giving its viewers a chance to see unmediated coverage of key governmental proceedings.
Since no network covered the open portion of the Able Danger Hearing to my knowledge, you will have to find out what happened by going to this site which has a video and a live blog of it:
Here are some highlights, courtesy of QT Monster:
5:17 PM — Shaffer says he has met Zelikow. Shaffer was later told the commission didn't want to talk to him. (Shaffer is hampered seriously here because the DoD will not give him access to his email) Each of the witnesses state that the AD information could have prevented 9—11. Shaffer states that there was never an adequate investigation of AD. Atta's photo was from an Arab source. The 9—11 Commission never talked to Kleinsmith or Smith.(snip)
5:28 PM — Ms. McKinney: She says it's incredible that 3 witnesses are here saying that 9—11 could have been prevented. Shaffer says that Gandy was incorrect in what he said under oath about what information could be retained by the government. The AD information could legally be retained indefinitely. A CIA operative told Shaffer that if AD succeeded it would steal CIA thunder and they would not cooperate.
5:35 PM — Gen. Lambert was very upset that his data had been purged. Weldon says that the LIWA information was destroyed because people in DC were upset about the China data. Weldon asks if there are people who want this story covered up. Shaffer/Smith all agree that there are people who will do anything to cover up this story. Smith has lost 2 jobs already. Kleinsmith cannot say. Shaffer confirms that he was extremely close to being fired. Shaffer briefed the deputy director of CIA in January 2000 and it included AD information. He left his own office and said that he couldn't see the information. Shaffer is aware of the AD/USS Cole information. 2 weeks before the Cole attack, AD found there were activities of interest in the port of Aiden. Philpott gave the information to the proper authorities and he asked that actions be taken. The Cole commander's career has been placed on hold. The commander said that he would not have [g]one to that port if he had had any idea of the dangers there.
Clarice Feldman 2 16 06
QT Monster has posted a link to the audio archives of yesterday's hearing.
via the Able Danger Blog, we get this quotation from James Rosen's article in the Raleigh News & Observer:
"It shocked us how entrenched of a presence al—Qaeda had in the United States," former Army Maj. Erik Kleinsmith told two subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee.
J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who also worked on the Able Danger team, said he used Arab intermediaries in the Los Angeles area to buy a photograph of Atta. Smith said Atta's photo was among about 40 photos of al—Qaeda members on a large chart that he personally delivered to Pentagon officials in 2000, more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Asked by Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania, how certain he was that the chart contained Atta's photograph, Smith responded that he kept a copy of the chart on the office wall.
"I'm absolutely certain," Smith said. "I looked at it every day."