Friday, September 30, 2005

Addled Danger

Rep. Curt Weldon continues to do interviews about Able Danger. In this particular interview, he's asked about the role of Commissions to determine facts and circumstances. Let's just say that Rep. Weldon isn't a fan of the Commission system:
T: That brings up another interesting point. Do you believe that actions of the Pentagon and the Bush administration might have a negative impact on future independent commissions? Do you think Americans will look more warily on commissions like the 9-11 Commission?

CW: Yes, this whole process has soured me on the process of commissions. The 9-11 Commission, which I supported with my vote and which I supported verbally, was basically empowered by the Congress and the American people, with 80 full-time staff people and $15 million dollars to fully and completely investigate what happened before 9-11. This whole story indicates they didn't do that.

In addition, the Pentagon, when people asked them for information that's open source, has no right, in my mind, to basically prevent that information or those people from talking. If this were a case where they might jeopardize our national security, I'd be the first to say, "Wait a minute. We'd better think through this." Or I would say, "Let's do the hearings in a closed session." The Pentagon didn't do either. They didn't want a closed session. They just said, "We are stopping these people from testifying." Now, [Sen.] Arlen Specter [R-Pa.] said publicly that he was not happy with this, and as you might have noticed, he didn't adjourn the hearing. He continued the hearing, which leads me to believe we're going to have additional hearings in the Senate.
Weldon goes on to slam the military drawdown during the 1990s that cut the size of the military but then comments on intelligence gathering:
T: Do you believe that there are actually those in Congress that may still be using that law enforcement model to fight terrorism?

CW: Domestically, it is a major law enforcement problem, but because the terrorist cells are largely based overseas, it is in the forefront an intelligence issue to be able to get massive amounts of data and use that to basically pull together trends and patterns of overseas operations and people, not U.S. citizens, but people overseas, that basically result in a terrorist attack or action against our people here at home. We're doing that with the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, which is now called the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC).

My frustration is I first proposed that capability in 1999. In fact, on November 4th, 1999, I had briefing in my office on Iran with the FBI, the CIA, and Defense Department to create what we have today, and the CIA said, "Thank you, Congressman, but we don't need that capability."

So, the biggest challenge I face is dealing with bureaucracies that think they're not answerable to anyone. I'm talking about the CIA; I'm talking about aspects of the Defense Department and the need for members of Congress to be more aggressive in oversight. That's why I wrote the book that I wrote this year.

It's not often that a member of Congress publicly takes on the CIA, but I thought I had no other choice. The agency wasn't being responsive. They had, in my opinion, a terrible track record. Therefore, it was my job to ask the tough questions and shake them up.

It's achieved the result I wanted, and in the end, continuing to play an aggressive role will help us, I think, be able to meet the threats we expect to see in this century.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Shaffer's security clearance was revoked. It had been suspended pending investigations, but the timing is curious given the resumption of hearings on October 5. AJ Strata is not amused. He sees this as a definite smear campaign and points out that other individuals who actually took and destroyed documents didn't get his security clearance revoked (Sandy Berger), while someone who might have stolen Pentagon pens gets theirs revoked. In fact, some of the claimed incidents leading to the revocation occurred more than a decade ago and have nothing to do with security issues whatsoever. Captain Ed noticed this too. It's hard not to notice the curiousness of the charges and their timing.

What is the Pentagon really hiding here? That they had the information about 9/11 and didn't do anything about it and are embarrassed about that inaction? Or is something else going on?

Macsmind, who has been more critical of various aspects of Able Danger than say AJStrata or Captain Ed needed to replace his monitor this morning after doing a spittake on reading the reason for pulling Shaffer's clearance. It stinks. Rotten.

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