Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Able Danger: Betcha The ConBlogs Ignore This Development

You know the whole "Able Danger" thing the rapidly-withering right-wing part of the blogosphere's been trying to flog to the US media? Wingies with credibility problems hollering "Clinton ordered Atta's name concealed!", yada yada yada? Well, guess what? -- "Able Danger" data was being destroyed in 2003 (yes, folks, that's during the BUSH Administration), even after the 9/11 Commission had asked for it to be preserved. -- BushCo is doing its damndest to keep Arlen Specter from holding semi-honest hearings on "Able Danger". Cue a week's worth of silence in the right-wing blogosphere as they try to figure out a way to spin it so that Clinton can somehow take the blame for things Bush's people did.

There are four plausible reasons why the AD material might have been shredded:
1. It exposed Administration (either Clinton or Bush) culpability in 9/11
2. It exposed Administration (mostly Bush, but possibly Clinton) negligence
3. The methods used were so wildly illegal that senior people didn't want them known
4. It was baloney to begin with.

At this point, it's a judgment call. As PW knows, I have not dismissed this story outright, though I have many serious reservations.

Most troubling is contradictions in the story as told by Philpott and Schaffer vs. the 911 Commission. Some of this may be the foibles of memory or perhaps even mischievious phrasing of questions or quotations by the New York Times and others. But my understanding is that Schaffer has substantially overstated things and mixed hearsay with personal knowledge. Philpott... that's less clear. He's also said a lot less, from what I can see. At any rate, Levey's quotation on Kos of the Aug. 8th NYT article isn't right, since Schaffer's statements have been modified subsequently.

I question Levey's characterization in other ways. Destruction of documents under-- if not subpoena, then official request-- is very serious, of course, but not necessarily a sign of a coverup. The AD files contained "information" about USS Cole. Was this newspaper clippings, or NSA intercepts as Levey too-hastily concludes?

I confess that my feelings about this case are largely based on the personalities: Weldon the Moonie. The (Moonie) UPI. The imprecise Schaffer.

This is not to give a blanket defense of the 9/11 Commission. Some excellent criticisms of their work have been laid out, but I think they got most of it right.

People expect too much of commissions. There were something like 8 or 10 investigations-- unfettered investigations-- of Pearl Harbor. Sixty years later, people are still arguing that FDR planned it all. With 9/11, since the investigations were deeply flawed, people are entitled to believe or disbelieve whatever they like. However, I think that Bob Graham's investigation, combined with the 911 Commission report, give us 80% of what we need to know. If I can get the time and energy, I will produce a synopsis.
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