Monday, August 22, 2005

Able Danger gets stranger and stranger

As you'll remember, it was Col. Tony Shaffer who first came out publicly with the findings of the top-secret Able Danger project. Now after looking into the matter, the Pentagon is saying that no information has yet turned up to confirm Shaffers claims:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon has been unable to validate claims that a secret intelligence unit identified Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta as a terrorist more than a year before the attacks, a Defense Department spokesman said Monday.

Larry Di Rita said that some research into the matter continues, but thus far there has been no evidence that the intelligence unit, called ''Able Danger,'' came up with information as specific as an officer associated with the program has asserted.

''What we found are mostly general references to terrorist cells,'' Di Rita said, without providing detail.

Very odd indeed. Especially since the Washington Times reports that there were multiple sources that provided the same information:

"I spoke personally to Denny Hastert and to Pete Hoekstra," Col. Shaffer said. Mr. Hastert, Illinois Republican, is speaker of the House, and Mr. Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"I was given assurances by [them] that this was the right thing to do. ... I was given assurances we would not suffer any adverse consequences for bringing this to the attention of the public," Col. Shaffer said.

Col. Shaffer said his conversations with Mr. Hastert and Mr. Hoekstra took place before he and members of the Able Danger team spoke as anonymous sources to reporters in the offices of Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, on Aug. 8.

So what to make of this? Either Shaffer and the other Able Danger sources are lying or the Pentagon is not being forthcoming with the details of the information they have. I don't see any indication that Shaffer has an axe to grind as was the case with Bill Burkett and the forged National Guard memos. But I also don't know why the Pentagon would hang the Colonel out to dry. There is certainly no reason to believe that they would be trying to protect Clinton from embarrassment.

But there is another possibility. It could be that no information has been found because the information is no longer there.

Ahem... Mr. Berger.... roll up your pantlegs please, sir.