WASHINGTON - A Pentagon report rejects the idea that
intelligence gathered by a secret military unit could have been used to stop the
Sept. 11 hijackings.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., speaks
during a Capitol Hill news conference in this 2005 file photo to discuss
information regarding the 9/11 Commission, and information about a
classified military unit known as 'Able Danger.'
The Pentagon inspector general's office said Thursday that a review of
records from the unit, known as Able Danger, found no evidence it had identified
ringleader Mohamed Atta or any other terrorist who participated in the 2001
The report was ordered following the assertion last year that the unit had
identified four of the 19 hijackers in 2000. That claim was made by a former
intelligence officer who worked on Able Danger, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and by
Rep. Curt Weldon (news, bio, voting record), vice chairman of the House Armed
Services and Homeland Security committees.
Weldon, R-Pa., has said the unit used data-mining to link Atta and three
other hijackers to al-Qaida more than a year before the attacks. The 71-page
report, blacked out in parts, rejected Weldon's claim that the unit wanted
information given to the FBI but that Pentagon lawyers would not allow it.
Weldon questioned the "motives and the content" of the report and rejected
its conclusions. "Acting in a sickening bureaucratic manner, the DOD IG
cherry-picked testimony from witnesses in an effort to minimize the historical
importance of the Able Danger effort," Weldon said in a statement.
"The report trashes the reputations of military officers who had the courage
to step forward and put their necks on the line to describe important work they
were doing to track al-Qaida prior to 9/11," Weldon said. He said the
investigation did little to answer the questions it was supposed to examine.
The report acknowledged that one Able Danger member alleged he was prohibited
from providing a chart to the FBI in 2000 by a senior Special Operations
commander. But, the report said, "the senior official did not recall the
incident and we are persuaded that the chart would have been of minimal value to
The Pentagon had said some employees recall seeing an intelligence chart
identifying Atta as a terrorist before the attacks. The report said those
accounts "varied significantly" and witnesses were inconsistent at times in
Several lawmakers had asked the Pentagon to investigate whether Defense
Department officials mismanaged Able Danger and retaliated against Shaffer. He
was a leading proponent of the program who later had his security clearance
The report said Shaffer was not retaliated against because of his
involvement. But the inspector general did find "procedural oversights" in the
handling of his office contents and his performance evaluations.
A message left with Shaffer's lawyer was not returned immediately on
Last year, the bipartisan commission that investigated the attacks dispensed
with the issue by calling it "not historically significant."
Thomas Kean, the commission's co-chairman, said he hoped the report would put
an end to discussion about Able Danger. "After this I don't know where it can
go," Kean said.