Now the members of the defunct 9/11 Commission that they were actually briefed by a military officer about Mohammed Atta. However, the reasons for not including the information in the report are interesting.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 - The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday.And it appears that this officer is a different one than the one mentioned in the previous articles.
The officials said that the information had not been included in the report because aspects of the officer's account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about that Qaeda member, Mohammed Atta, the plot's leader.
The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission's staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.Now, why would the commission want to ignore information that would change the narrative of events leading up to September 11, 2001?
The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.
Mr. Weldon has accused the commission of ignoring information that would have forced a rewriting of the history of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has asserted that the Able Danger unit, whose work relied on computer-driven data-mining techniques, sought to call their superiors' attention to Mr. Atta and three other future hijackers in the summer of 2000. Their work, he says, had identified the men as likely members of a Qaeda cell already in the United States.
[Al] Felzenberg [9/11 Commission chief spokesman] said the commission's staff remained convinced that the information provided by the military officer in the July 2004 briefing was inaccurate in a significant way.So they brushed him off.
"He wasn't brushed off," Mr. Felzenberg said of the officer. "I'm not aware of anybody being brushed off. The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing" from the commission's investigation.
Mr. Felzenberg said staff investigators had become wary of the officer because he argued that Able Danger had identified Mr. Atta, an Egyptian, as having been in the United States in late 1999 or early 2000. The investigators knew this was impossible, Mr. Felzenberg said, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000. [SNIP]Pass the buck, back and forth, blah, blah, yadda. I’m sick of it.
"Mohammed Atta was identified as being tied to Al Qaeda and a Brooklyn cell more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, and that should have warranted further investigation by the commission."
"Furthermore," Mr. Caso said, "if Mohammed Atta was identified by the Able Danger project, why didn't the Department of Defense provide that information to the F.B.I.?"
Whatever time they arrived in this country, Atta and company were here planning to do evil. How much evil, no one could begin to imagine, not even those who suspected their purpose.
Face it. No one was able to tell the future; like the rest of us, they could only gamble on it.
The 9/11 Commission’s purpose was to find and detail the failures and deficiencies that may have contributed to the attacks. It appears that one of those deficiencies is the tendency to discount real, valid information--both in 2000 and in 2004—and that tendency seems to not be a partisan one, nor confined to military and intelligence agencies.
The agencies fell short and the commission fell short. Fine. The intelligence agencies are already being re-organized and the commission is disbanded and, possibly, discredited. What matters now is how well we will be protected in the future.
Are the agencies working in concert now to help decrease the likelihood of another attack? I pray so.
The question remains, however: what was in Clinton Administration National Security Adviser Sandy Berger's socks? (There is no way I'm asking what was in his pants, because everybody's a comedian!) He isn't off the hook.