The Corner

Was Able Danger Credible?

This morning, the Associated Press and the New York Times feature a reasonably strong rebuttal by 9/11 Commission co-chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton of the information the Commission received about Able Dange.

Able Danger is the military-intelligence operation that evidently specifically identified the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks, Mohammed Atta, in 2000.

They say the briefing the commission staff received from a Navy officer in July 2004 offered no corroborating evidence to support his contention that the U.S. government had known Atta was an Al Qaeda agent, and was living in Brooklyn, more than a year before the attacks.

According to this report in the New York Times, “They said the commission had concluded that the July 2004 testimony…’was not sufficiently reliable’ to warrant further investigation, in part because the officer could not supply documentary evidence to prove it.”

That sounds like something to take seriously. A single source with no proof should have been taken with a grain of salt, to put it mildly.

The problem is that Rep. Curt Weldon, who exposed this whole matter, claims the 9/11 staff learned about the Able Danger identification of Atta a year earlier than that, during a meeting in Afghanistan. The 9/11 Commission folks deny this happened.

That denial would be significant except that the 9/11 Commission folks at first denied they’d ever received ANY information about Able Danger and then backed down two days later. So it’s not clear why we should accept this denial about the Afghanistan meeting on faith.

Also, Kean and Hamilton say Able Danger “did not turn out to be historically significant,” which is a bizarre thing to say. If this operation managed to surface the name, identity and Al Qaeda role of Mohammed Atta, it was by definition “historically significant.” Dismissing Able Danger in this way makes Kean and Hamilton sound disingenuous at best. Why wouldn’t they want to get to the bottom of this?

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