Pentagon Blocks Able Danger Testimony
Sept. 21, 2005
Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff
Pentagon lawyers have ordered five members of the Able Danger intelligence team not to testify at an open Senate in hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning about information they developed on lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta a year before the 9/11 attacks.
"We have been told I cannot testify tomorrow," Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer told ABC Radio host Sean Hannity. "We have been told to stand down."
Lt. Col. Shaffer, who was the Defense Intelligence Agency's liaison officer to Able Danger, said he was preparing his testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon when he was told that the hearing "will be classified, it will be secret."
Hours after Lt. Col. Shaffer revealed that he'd been muzzled, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told the New York Times that open testimony on Able Danger "would not be appropriate."
"We have expressed our security concerns and believe it is simply not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum."
However Shaffer maintained that he intended to discuss only details on the program already made public by Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon, a chief advocate of the intense data mining developed by Able Danger.
Lt. Col. Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, told United Press International that Able Danger team members "were told verbally that they would not be allowed to testify," and that he had requested the decision about his client be put in writing.
Zaid said that the team leader, Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, a civilian analyst named James Smith and other members of the team had all been denied permission to testify.
Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter told the New York Times late Tuesday that he intended to go ahead with the hearing on Wednesday and hoped that it "may produce a change of heart by the Department of Defense in answering some very basic questions."
Lt. Col. Shaffer was clearly frustrated by the bid to muzzle him and the other Able Danger witnesses.
"I'm past the point of no return here. I'm committed to this course of action," he told Hannity. "I'm truly sorry that it appears right now that the Department of Defense is more worried about saving face than they are about getting the truth out."
I am SHOCKED
Hmmm.......I would like to hear what these Able Danger Officers have to say
Specter: Pentagon may be obstructing committee
Officials ordered witnesses not to testify about secret program
September 21, 2005
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Department of Defense "ordered five key witnesses not to testify" about a secret Pentagon unit that some claim identified several of the 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks, Sentate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said Wednesday.
"That looks to me as it may be obstruction of the committee's activities," Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said at the start of his committee's hearing into the unit code-named Able Danger.
Before Wednesday's hearing, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Pentagon was concerned about discussing a classified program in an open hearing and it had worked with the committee to provide a Department of Defense representative to testify. That representative was the acting assistant to the secretary for intelligence oversight, William Dugan.
Whitman also said the Pentagon is "working very closely with the committees of oversight to provide them with all of the info they need to assess Able Danger." The Judiciary Committee does not have oversight over the Pentagon.
At Wednesday's hearings, attorney Mark Zaid testified that his clients, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and defense contractor James Smith, had been prevented from testifying. Shaffer and Smith contend that Able Danger used data mining techniques to identify four of the September 11 hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, and that at least one chart existed that featured a photograph of Atta.
Shaffer and Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pennsylvania, have previously made these assertions in media reports and other public forums.
Zaid also testified that "at no time did Able Danger identify Mohammed Atta as being physically present in the United States." And, he said, "No information obtained at the time would have led anyone to believe criminal activity had taken place or that any specific terrorist activities were being planned."
Also testifying Wednesday was a former defense intelligence analyst, Erik Kleinsmith, who said he helped support Able Danger in 1999 and 2000. He testified that in April 2000 his work became "severely restricted and ultimately shut down due to intelligence oversight concerns," which led to the destruction of very large amounts of data about Able Danger, including information about Atta and other terrorists.