Able Danger Blog


Fox News exposes DOD coverup on Able Danger



Fox News, as part of an ongoing investigation, exclusively obtained a clean copy of the report and spoke to several principal witnesses, including an intelligence and data collector who asked that she not be named.

The witness told Fox News she was interviewed twice by a Defense Department investigator. She said she told the investigator that it was highly likely a department database included the picture of Atta, whom she knew under an alias, Mohammed el-Sayed.

"When it came to the picture, (the investigator) he was fairly hostile," the witness told Fox News. She said it seemed the investigator just didn't want to hear it. "Meaning that he'd ask the same question over and over again, and, you know, you get to the point you go, well, you know... it's the same question, it's the same answer."

The IG report didn't accurately reflect her statements to investigators, she said, adding that she doesn't think the investigator simply misunderstood her.

Here is a partial transcript of the Fox segment:

00:09:25 FOX: As a highly skilled civilian, Mary gathered open source intelligence for more than 15 years.

00:09:30 FOX: She worked for military and defense contractors.

00:09:37 FOX: She plugged into Osama bin Laden's London banking operations in the early 1990s.

00:09:41 MARY: Everything was done in English.

00:09:42 MARY: He started off with faxes but it very quickly had turned to e-mails.

00:09:49 MARY: Because it was less expensive.

00:09:53 MARY: I was on the email list, one of his very first ones, under an assumed name.

00:09:55 FOX: Who did they think you were?

00:09:57 MARY: They thought I was an Islamic male.

00:09:58 FOX: They asked you to run his bank accounts.

00:10:00 MARY: Yes.

00:10:01 FOX: Fundraising in the US.

00:10:01 MARY: That's correct.

00:10:03 MARY: This is an e-mail in '99 or early 2000.

00:10:07 MARY: They asked me to be the treasurer for bin Laden in the United States.

00:10:12 FOX: Mary prepared her reports carefully drawing attention to any names, pictures, and e-mails that she thought were important.

00:10:20 FOX: One name jumped out.

00:10:21 MARY: Mohamed El-Sayed. I believe he's the person that everybody keeps calling Mohamed Atta.

00:10:27 MARY: Because they have multiple names. He looked like one of the pictures we had.

00:10:33 MARY: I thought it may have been him but he was thinner.

00:10:36 FOX: Mary didn't know exactly where her material went and who used it.

00:10:38 FOX: But some of the data wound up in Able Danger, a military intelligence data mining project that was shut down in 2000 and its data destroyed.



PLAYBOY’S JANUARY ISSUE FEATURES EXCLUSIVE INSIGHTS FROM ANTHONY SHAFFER REGARDING THE PENTAGON’S EFFORTS TO SUPRESS HIS BOOK OPERATION DARK HEART

Peter Lance Interviews the Lieutenant Colonel and Uncovers Information the Pentagon Has Tried to Cover Up

Former military intelligence officer Anthony Shaffer’s memoir, Operation Dark Heart, has been making headlines since its release in September 2010. In an effort to suppress supposedly classified information in the book, the Department of Defense spent more than $47,000 to destroy the first edition of the book and then demanded more than 250 redactions be made prior to printing the second edition. What information was the Pentagon trying to suppress? Shaffer sat down with Playboy Contributor Peter Lance to discuss the censored excerpts and explain why he is filing a First Amendment lawsuit that would allow the original version to be republished.

Lance’s article, which includes heretofore unseen excerpts from the book’s first printing and exclusive new insights from Shaffer, appears in Playboy’s January issue (on newsstands Friday, December 17 and available online at www.playboy.com/shaffer). Shaffer explains the Department of Defense was specifically interested in covering up the following information in Operation Dark Heart:

Specifics regarding Operation Dark Heart, which could have led to the capture of Al Qaeda’s number two leader, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. Dark Heart, Shaffer’s plan to penetrate the so-called “al Qaeda hotel” in Wana, Pakistan was shot down by Coalition Lieutenant General David Barno. However, Shaffer’s intel proved on target when the Pakistani Army engaged Taliban forces in Wana months later and surrounded Osama bin Laden's deputy. Shaffer explains, “It never came out in the book, because they made me lose it, but if Operation Dark Heart hadn’t been stopped, we might have broken the back of Al Qaeda…my guess is that the DIA forced the cuts [from my book] to minimize this incredibly bad call on a mission that might have led to the capture of Al Qaeda’s number two.”

Intelligence on Able Danger, the controversial data-mining operation which might have uncovered the 9/11 plot months before U.S. officials had previously acknowledged. Commenced in 1999, Able Danger helped Shaffer and his team “identify lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, in addition to Marwan al-Shehhi, who flew UA 175 into the south tower of the Trade Center, and two of the muscle hijackers aboard AA 77, which hit the Pentagon.” But, in April 2000 the Department of Defense destroyed the open-source data, claiming it might violate Executive Order 12333, which was designed to prevent the Pentagon from indefinitely storing files on American citizens. Though Shaffer later shared this intelligence with the 9/11 Commission, it was omitted from their 604-page 9/11 report.

Indications that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, actively supported the Taliban. Shaffer feared the CIA would leak information regarding Operation Dark Heart to the ISI, and, as he explains, “once the Paks knew, the Taliban would find out.” Shaffer speculated that his intelligence regarding Wana had been shared with the Pakistanis, who then “let [al-Zawahiri] escape…probably deliberately” during the Battle of Wana.

Click here to watch Tony's interview on C-SPAN BookTV

Click here to order Operation Dark Heart today

From the publisher of Operation Dark Heart:

An exciting, eye-witness account of fighting terrorism in Afghanistan using the military’s most cutting-edge espionage tactics

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer had been part of espionage operations for years before he went into the field to help fight the war in Afghanistan. He led the charge in blocking the Taliban’s resurgence. But the policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew just across the border in Pakistan. This wasn’t the first time he saw bureaucracy stand in the way of national security. He had participated in Able Danger, the aborted intelligence operation that identified many of the future 9/11 terrorists but failed to pursue them. His attempt to reveal it to the 9/11 Commission would not sit well with the top brass and would eventually cost him his job.

For readers of Jawbreaker and Kill Bin Laden, Operation Dark Heart reveals what really went on, and what went wrong, in the Afghanistan war. Filled with stories of espionage and intrigue in the combat zone, Shaffer shows the spy’s side of the story

About the Author Anthony Shaffer

LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER is a Bronze Star Medal recipient who is a CIA-trained senior intelligence operations officer and reserve Army lieutenant colonel with more than twenty-two years of experience in the intelligence community. Currently, he is a fellow and special lecturer at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, D.C.


Here is an excerpt from Amazon.com:

Page 17

At DIA, in 1999 and 2000, I was director of Task Force Stratus Ivy. One of my elements was the first undercover cyber unit, where we put officers undercover posing as hackers on the Internet.

During my command of Task Force Stratus Ivy, we were looking to penetrate al Qaeda command and control nodes in Kabul. We knew they contained significant information on individuals being trained in the terrorism camps - and, more importantly, their potential targets. My unit's mission, within the context of a much larger operation known as Able Danger, was to try to find a way to access the computers and pull the data off without their knowledge. We were making progress - and had a pathway in - when things were shut down; a decision that was terribly flawed in retrospect.

We also penetrated the North Korean clandestine weapons and technology acquisition network, using a cover company where I was (in alias) the chief executive. In another operation, we penetrated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian intelligence service.

Nevertheless, we faced constant resistance from the risk-averse DIA bureaucracy.


While you are waiting for the Pentagon to stop buying up all the copies, here is some more about Able Danger from Peter Lance:

Several chapters on Able Danger from his book "Triple Cross" are now available online.

It sounds like Fox News might be working on an in-depth story, too. Exclusive: Pentagon Attempts to Block Book on Afghan War:

Specifically, the DIA wanted references to a meeting between Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, the book's author, and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, removed. In that meeting, which took place in Afghanistan, Shaffer alleges the commission was told about "Able Danger" and the identification of Atta before the attacks. No mention of this was made in the final 9/11 report.

Shaffer, who was undercover at the time, said there was "stunned silence" at the meeting after he told the executive director of the commission and others that Atta was identified as early as 2000 by "Able Danger."

"Dr. Philip Zelikow approached me in the corner of the room. 'What you said today is very important. I need you to get in touch with me as soon as you return from your deployment here in Afghanistan'," Shaffer said.

Once back in the U.S., Shaffer says he contacted the commission. Without explanation, the commission was no longer interested. An inspector general report by the Department of Defense concluded there was no evidence to support the claims of Shaffer and others. But Fox News has obtained an unredacted copy of the IG report containing the names of witnesses, who backed up Shaffer's story when contacted for comment.


Sean Naylor at the Army Times has a good comparison of the redacted and unredacted versions here.

Last but definitely not least, FAS.org has released an unredacted version of the IG Report on Able Danger, although it looks like 20 pages regarding retaliation against LTC Shaffer are missing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The OSINT Group's ‘Black Swan’ Program

From Business Wire:

The OSINT Group, a boutique research firm specializing in open source intelligence (“OSINT”) for the defense industry, and whose roster includes operatives formerly connected to a classified military intelligence program known as “Able Danger,” is now using its unique expertise to offer a competitive information advantage to sophisticated accredited investors.

The “Black Swan” Program is an unclassified intelligence initiative designed for multi-national corporations and financial institutions seeking to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace by using data mining and link analysis techniques of open sources of information. The program’s name is inspired by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s 2007 book, The Black Swan, in which “Black Swan Events” are defined as rare, hard to predict, and high-impact incidents of large magnitude such as 9/11 and the current global financial crisis.

“The same methods and applications utilized by the U.S. Intelligence Community can be applied to investment risk analysis and research support in the corporate sector,” says Michael Bagley, founder and president of The OSINT Group. “Our team’s use of sophisticated software technology greatly enhances research operations and solidifies investment risk analysis, while ensuring that any information is accessed legally.”

Operation “Able Danger” was a controversial Pentagon program in place from 1999-2001 that used open source intelligence methods, data mining techniques and link analysis to identify several names of the 9/11 hijackers prior to the attacks in New York and Washington. The “Able Danger” Program became infamous, gaining national attention in the media and on Capitol Hill during congressional hearings in 2005 and 2006.

Friday, November 13, 2009

KSM will be tried in New York

From the AP:

WASHINGTON – Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be brought to trial in a civilian federal courthouse in New York, blocks from site of the devastating 2001 terror attacks. Prosecutors expect to seek the death penalty.

At a news conference Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder also announced that five other suspects, including a major suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, will be tried before a military commission.

Holder said the defendants should be tried where their crimes occurred. The New York courthouse is hard by the site where the World Trade Centers were brought down by two hijacked jetliners. Nearly 3,000 people died there and in another hijacked jet that hit the Pentagon and a fourth hijacked plane crashed in western Pennsylvania.

Holder called the events of Sept. 11 "the deadliest terrorist attacks our nation has ever seen" and said that in the years since, "our nation has had no higher priority than bringing those who planned and plotted the attacks to justice."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fort Hood killer linked to September 11 terrorists

From the Telegraph:

Hasan, the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas, attended the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. His mother's funeral was held there in May that year.

The preacher at the time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organisations.

Hasan's eyes "lit up" when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki's teachings, according to a fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday's horrific shooting spree.

As investigators look at Hasan's motives and mindset, his attendance at the mosque could be an important piece of the jigsaw. Al-Awlaki moved to Dar al-Hijrah as imam in January, 2001, from the west coast, and three months later the September 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour began attending his services. A third hijacker attended his services in California.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

LTC Anthony Shaffer endorses NYC CAN

UPDATE: The judge rejected their argument and tossed out the ballot initiative. The only ballot initiative that New York City has ever allowed on the ballot was the one that approved an amendment authorizing Bloomberg to run for a third term. At least we know the mayor's really priorities now. Bloomberg: 1 American People: 0

Here is the press release:

28 September 2009
Springfield, VA

I endorse the NYC CAN campaign and support the need for a new, independent, investigation of the events and failures that lead up to the 9/11 attacks.

The original 9/11 Commission inquiry became an exercise in bureaucratic ass-covering and obfuscation of accountability.

I had no intention of joining the ranks of “whistle blowers”. In 2003, when I made my disclosure to the 9/11 commission regarding the existence of a pre 9/11 offensive counter-terrorism operation that had discovered several of the 9/11 terrorists a full year before the 9/11 attacks my intention was to simply tell the truth, and fulfill my oath of office.

Unfortunately, this was a minority view.

Instead of supporting the search for the truth, members of the Bush/Rumsfeld Department of Defense did everything within their power to destroy my 20 year career as a clandestine intelligence operative simply to try to discredit me and my disclosure.

In 2006 I testified before Congress on the pre-9/11 issues regarding the systemic failures I was personally aware of – in both open and closed sessions – and yet nothing was ever done to correct these problems.

The families and victims of the 9/11 attacks are owed a real accounting of why their government failed them. We all deserve answers.

The full accounting has never been made. This accounting is long overdue. I hope the NYC CAN effort will result in a real, detailed, independent investigation that will reveal the full truth – whatever that truth may be.

Tony Shaffer


A ruling is expected tomorrow on the ballot initiative:

September 29, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner has begun consideration of NYC CAN’s motion to reject Referee’s Louis Crespo’s recommendation that the NYC CAN 9/11 petition not be submitted to the voters on November 3. The petition would ask whether or not there should be an independent New York City investigation into 9/11.

Responding to a motion brought by NYC CAN attorney Dennis McMahon, a hearing was held Tuesday September 29 at the New York State Supreme Court, and concluded with the understanding that the Court will likely render a decision on the petition’s legality by Friday, October 2.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Able Danger discussed on C-SPAN this morning

A reader writes:

A friend of mine called me, very early this morning, 28 September, and said that on Washington Journal, "Able Danger" and Anthony Shaffer's name was mentioned. I checked your blog, but didn't see anything....Apparently William Cohen, Frm. Defense Sec. for President Clinton, was the one being interviewed....You might want to check it out...She mentioned that when he was asked if he had heard of "Able Danger", he said he thought he had. Then they ask if he knew Anthony Shaffer, and he said he did not....My friend said that, when the question was asked about Able Danger, Cohen, sounded like he knew more than he was willing to talk about...


UPDATE: Here is the link. Thanks Sue. From the 1 hour 19 minute mark:

CALLER: Sir, I would be hard put to find you feign ignorance to what I'm about to say and ask you. I would like to know what you know and what you could clarify about Able Danger. This was a Top Secret intelligence agency, Army intelligence, that had long ago infiltrated and had information on Al Qaeda. LTC Anthony Shaffer among dozens of other intelligence officers had given sworn testimony to the Senate that they had information on Al Qaeda and the members of Al Qaeda and their plans to attack on 9/11.

HOST: Senator, any awareness of what he's talking about?

COHEN: I'm vaguely aware of the program but I'm not really in possession of the information at this point to respond to him.


Unfortunately the caller jumped the shark over knowledge of plans to attack on 9/11, so they cut him off and didn't take his question seriously.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Four years after Able Danger story broke

From Keith Phucas at the Mercury News:

"There was a cover up and the cover up continues," said Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.

Shaffer, an Army reservist who fought in Afghanistan, was first interviewed about the Army's computer data mining operation, "Able Danger," by The Times Herald for a June 19, 2005, article, "Missed chance on way to 9/11."

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert, was reportedly distressed about the wholesale destruction of the data, repeating these sentiments to Doug Stanton in his new book about the 2001 Afghanistan invasion, "Horse Soldiers." Lambert said he reluctantly went along with the advice of Pentagon attorneys who recommended pulling the plug on the data mining effort....

In Stanton's book, Lambert also confirms Shaffer's claim that he tried to set up meetings with FBI and SOCOM, a claim the Defense Department refuted in 2005 when Shaffer went public with the story....

Though 9/11 Commission member John Lehman criticized the government for a failure of imagination in thwarting the attacks, Shaffer called this conclusion faulty, considering the commission overlooked the "Able Danger" successes.

"We had plenty of imagination," he said. "We had a pre-9/11 offensive capability."