Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., expects Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to green light public hearings before Congress this week in connection with the military operation “Able Danger,” to disclose more information regarding prior knowledge of Islamist cells in the U.S. before the 9-11 terror attacks.
Weldon says he’s received “preliminary indication” that an agreement has been reached to conduct hearings with open testimony on Capitol Hill.
“This will be a full hearing, and finally the American people will get to hear what the 9-11 commission didn’t pursue, and that is information about what happened before the attacks on Sept. 11,” Weldon said on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” program.
Able Danger is described as a secret data-mining operation that allegedly named Mohamed 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.
Weldon is optimistic the hearings will get to the bottom of some questions left untouched by the commission charged with assessing holes in the nation’s security.
“Why did the 9-11 commission pick 1996 and not go back beyond that?” he asked rhetorically. “There is some very interesting material that needs to be tied in. The ’93 attack on the Trade Center. The blind sheik’s trial. None of that was looked at by the 9-11 commission, and the American people need to ask the question why. We will be asking that question during the Able Danger hearings.”
Dobbs pointed out that former members of the commission have suggested there’s nothing new to be contributed from Able Danger members and “that it’s historically irrelevant.”
“I can tell you I have talked to every Able Danger principal,” responded Weldon. “None of them interviewed except for two, who went in on their own, Tony Shaffer and Scott Philpot, and each of them were rebuked by the commission. Tony Shaffer was told they didn’t want to hear from him. They didn’t want to meet with him. And when Scott Philpot met, they said what do you want us to do now? It’s too late. So they didn’t pursue anything. They didn’t get into the details of Able Danger and all the information.
“This is not about a chart [of terrorists] as they try to spin it. It’s about what did we know and why didn’t act. Why didn’t we transfer information to the FBI? Louis Freeh said if he had that information, the FBI might have been able to stop 9-11.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, former FBI chief Louis Freeh rebuked the 9-11 commission in a Wall Street Journal column last month for ignoring recent revelations by Able Danger, which concluded Atta had been identified as an al-Qaida agent operating in the U.S. prior to the attacks he helped orchestrate.
Freeh asks, “What did the 9-11 commissioners and their staff know about Able Danger and when did they know it?”
The panel concluded the intelligence about Atta “was not historically significant.”
Freeh writes: “This astounding conclusion – in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings – raises serious challenges to the commission’s credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.”
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