WASHINGTON – Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who says the Defense Department is maligning a special unit called “Able Danger” to cover-up warnings of terror attacks, will hold a press conference this morning to provide new details of his findings.
The vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees will hold the press conference at 12:30 p.m. Eastern to discuss the latest findings of his own investigation.
He claims Able Danger provided to Defense officials information about terrorist activity in the Port of Aden prior to the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in October 2000. He will also reveal the discovery of another Able Danger member who confirms the Pentagon is not accounting for data. He also says the Defense Intelligence Agency is trying to smear Able Danger member Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer who broke the silence about the Pentagon’s efforts to track al-Qaida worldwide prior to Sept. 11.
“Able Danger” is described as a secret data-mining operation that allegedly named Mohammad Atta as an al-Qaida operative a year before Sept. 11, 2001. It was a small, highly classified operation reportedly created at the behest of then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton in 1999 to develop a campaign against international terrorism and, in particular, al-Qaida.
According to reports, the Able Danger team had identified Atta, the lead attacker, and three others as probable members of an al-Qaida cell operating in the U.S. by mid-2000. That assertion, however, contradicts earlier government denials U.S. agencies had any prior knowledge of Atta or any others eventually associated with the attacks.
The disclosure of the operation and its alleged findings was first made by Weldon in a special orders speech on the House floor, and in his new book, “Countdown to Terror.”
Weldon also has said the information on the prior identification of Atta was provided to the official “9-11 Commission” investigating the attacks, but commission members Timothy J. Roemer and John F. Lehman have said they never received it. He also says when the hijacker team leader was first identified, Pentagon lawyers prevented the passage of the information to the FBI.
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