“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
” – St. Matthew 10:26
Recent revelations about covert “Able Danger” operations are forcing certain people to deal with subjects that they had thought swept under the rug. Despite apparent attempts to conceal the fact, the 9/11 Commission has had to admit it was informed that government agents knew of Mohammed Atta’s affiliation with al-Qaeda two years before 9/11, that Clinton-era policies prevented intelligence officials from sharing that information with the FBI, that the amended time frame would allow Mohammed Atta to have made contacts with Iraqi intelligence, and – most damningly – that it kept all this out of its final report.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-PA, has done praiseworthy work in drawing attention to the recently released “Able Danger” report. Former CIA operative and terrorism expert Wayne Simmons has described the “Able Danger” operation as “one of our best covert operations” run by the intelligence community. The operation, he continues, was expert at “using open source intelligence,” including data mining techniques, “to locate and identify Islamic terrorists,” specifically al-Qaeda operatives in the United States. This operation identified 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and three of his fellow hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell located in New York City (and codenamed “Brooklyn”) in 1999. We can only surmise that a gold mine of information lies yet unrevealed.
Weldon noted with exasperation that this information had been delivered to the 9/11 Commission in at least two separate briefings, possibly three, proving the incredible ineptitude of the commission. Weldon says staffers of the 9/11 Commission did not share – and Commissioners did not request – information about these “Able Danger” reports. This would have been indispensable to uncovering how 9/11 happened and what could be done to prevent a repeat performance, allegedly the commision's task..
Faced with these revelations, commissioners first claimed Rep. Weldon was not telling the truth, that the 9/11 Commission had never been presented with this vital information. Early last week, commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said, “The name ‘Atta’ or a terrorist cell would have gone to the top of the radar screen if it had been mentioned.” Former Congressman and commissioner Lee Hamilton, D-IN, echoed Felzenberg, saying last Monday: “The September 11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell. Had we learned of it obviously it would’ve been a major focus of our investigation.” The New York Times notes that just a few days later, “Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.” Hamilton, too, quickly “readjusted” his initial comments to admit that, indeed, the commissioners heard of Atta after all. Felzenberg acknowledged the commission had been briefed on this information but rejected the testimony of a uniformed officer on the grounds that his evidence did not match their preconceived timeline; it indicates Atta was active from February-April 2000, whereas the commission believed Atta entered the United States for the first time that June.
There are several factors – none flattering to the Commission – that might explain this appalling lapse. John Podhoretz neatly summaries them: “So was the [9/11 Commission] staff a) protecting the Atta timeline or b) Jamie Gorelick or c) the Clinton administration or d) itself, because it got hold of the information relatively late and the staff was lazy?”
The really upsetting issue is contained in Podhoretz's first note. It requires a deeper reading because understanding it fully opens the entire mindset of the hard Left toward terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Podheretz notes that the Commission was “protecting” its interpretation of Mohammad Atta's international and domestic U.S. travels. Key in this “interpretation” in the minds of Clinton supporters and Bush haters of all stripes is the necessity to deny all ties between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al-Qaeda. After all, in the endless cacophony of criticism against the Iraq War, the two steady drumbeats have been the failure to find WMDs, and the assertion that there were no links between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the September 11 attacks. Until now the Left has issued a series of deliberate misinterpretations of a series of reports – including that of the 9/11 Commission, and WMD reports by David Kay and Charles Dueffler. However the unimpeachable “Able Danger” report was at first denied by 9/11 spokesman Al Felzenberg, then was reluctantly confirmed to be correct. Felzenberg said that “the information that [the “Able Danger” briefing officer] provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing.” (Emphasis added.)
And here we get to the crux of the matter. The movements of Atta prior to the terrorist attack as detailed by “Able Danger,” if acknowledged, would support statements by the Czech Republic that link Atta, and hence the al-Qaeda attack on America, irrefutably to Saddam's covert intelligence operatives. This is something that surfaced shortly after 9/11. A former Czech deputy foreign minister, later ambassador to the UN, gave statements that he personally expelled a high raking Iraqi embassy official in Prague for being a covert foreign intelligence agent after the latter was discovered to have met with Mohammed Atta in the international lounge at the Prague airport in August 2001. There the Iraqi transferred a large amount of cash to Atta, sufficient to fund the completion of the September 11 attack. Despite cruel pressure from mainstream media, the hard Left, the U.S. State Department, and the CIA, the Czechs insisted that their report was correct. Former Congressman John LeBoutellier was furious at the Bush administration for bowing to CIA pressure to discount the Czech report because it verified a vital deadly connection within the covert terrorist community. Now it appears as if the Czechs – and those who supported their account – were right.
This Atta-Iraqi meeting did not track well with some of the 9/11 Commission's pre-ordained agenda and had to be firmly discounted. They were able to accomplish this through a lame credit card receipt that could have been signed by any of Atta's cell. But a report with the weight of the Department of Defense and highly credible intelligence operatives behind it would expose the flimsy nature of the evidence that Atta was in the States. Hence, as Flzenberg said, with unflappable arrogance, “if we missed anything we will say so, but we doubt that we did.”
The possible motives of protecting Commissioner Jamie Gorelick and her former employer, President Bill Clinton, are also closely related. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft testified at the 9/11 Commission’s grandstanding hearings that one of its own commissioners, former high-ranking Clinton Justice Department appointee Jamie S. Gorelick, had been the prime architect of one of the problems for which the commissioners regularly denounced the Bush administration: the wall between intelligence agencies. Her infamous 1995 “wall” memo produced much of the harmful lack of intelligence coordination that the Commission then used to criticize the Bush administration. As FrontPage Magazine’s Jean Pearce wrote last May, the intelligence wall Deputy Attorney General Gorelick put in place smothered ongoing investigations into Chinese contributions to Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns. Specifically the Department of Defense and the CIA were prohibited from exchanging relevant information with the FBI.
Not all were happy at the time with Gorelick's action. Gutsy New York City-based U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White was appalled by the Gorelick directive, sending two of her own memoranda back to Janet Reno and Gorelick protesting, “The most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible so that wherever permissible, the right and left hands are communicating.” Her recommendations were ignored. According to the New York Post, White was so incensed by their actions that she wrote a second, scathing memorandum warning that the “wall” hindered law enforcement efforts to combat terrorism. “It will cost lives,” she reportedly warned. This second memo is still kept secret.
Her prophecy proved accurate; in 2000, members of the Department of Defense knew of an al-Qaeda operative in the United States, but the DoD – hands tied by Gorelick’s policy – declined to alert the FBI, a step that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. At this time, al-Qaeda had already, either directly or through its affiliates, killed American soldiers in Somalia, detonated the Khobar Towers, and bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In the summer of 2000, they attacked the U.S.S. Cole.
This inaction seemed to fall into line with the Clinton administration’s general disregard for terrorism. Although the discredited former National Security Council staffer Richard Clarke presented President Clinton as an anti-terrorism warrior, former intelligence officer Ralph Peters tells a much different story. “Admitting that [terrorist] threats were real.threatened to destroy the belief system the Clintonites had carried into office,” Peters detailed. In regards to the entire terrorist network, methodology, and ideology, the Clintons were “a textbook case of denial.” It was bad enough, as the “Able Danger” reports indicate, that the Clintons were willfully ignorant of the threat but their criminal negligence was compounded by a sleazy attempt to pass the buck on the Bush administration. Bill Clinton never made any serious retaliation for any of these provocations, nor the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, emboldening these terrorists, assuring through his “intelligence wall” that 9/11 terrorists could not be properly identified and apprehended, and passing the blame for the inevitable outcome of his policies to the nascent Bush administration.
If there was, in fact, covert direction from the top of the Commission to key members of its staff to cloak any link between Saddam and the September 11 attacks, to obfuscate evidence tying the Iraqi regime to al-Qaeda and Mohammed Atta, and to paint the most positive possible picture of the Clintons as implacable terror-warriors, then “Able Danger” had to be ignored and covered up. It fits the pattern of revisionist historical interpretations that seems to be the only authentic legacy from the Clinton years. Further, in Washington staffers tell their bosses what the latter want to hear. They are not rewarded for initiative. As Peters says, when told to think outside the box by a superior, a subordinate knows his job is to “come back with fresh reasons why the in-house position was right all along.”
By acknowledging the Iraq/al-Qaeda ties, not only to terrorism in general but to the September 11 attack, the war becomes completely justifiable as exactly what the Bush administration claimed it was: a defensive, if preemptive, war to protect the United States from a regime with cordial ties to anti-American terrorists. This outcome is so repugnant to the hard Left that it will justify even the most extraordinary suppression of evidence or promulgation of an outright lie in order to achieve its ends.
This is a critically important story that demands public attention. It will not be seriously investigated by many reporters, because the mainstream (read: leftist) media is not interested in exposing how its favorite president in decades enabled terrorists to pull off the worse act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.