Originally created 09/23/05

A not-so-able cover-up

The independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington said it found no evidence that intelligence developed by the military's Able Danger data-mining project might have prevented the attacks.

Apparently there was a reason for that. The evidence was covered up, and is still being covered up, by the Pentagon. That is the only conclusion to reach following the bizarre events this week in the Capitol Hill investigation of Able Danger.

First, Erik Kleinsmith, former chief of the U.S. Defense Department's Land Warfare Analysis Department, testified that his superiors told him about a year before 9-11 to destroy Able Danger documents linking four Arab terrorists to al-Qaida; the four subsequently turned out to be lead 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and three of his accomplices.

Second, in a stunningly blatant and inexplicable move - which has the stink of cover-up all over it - Pentagon officials this week blocked five key witnesses from testifying before the congressional hearings, prompting Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to say if he doesn't start getting some answers soon, he'd look into charging the Pentagon with obstruction of justice.

Good for him. We hope he means it. There's simply too much mystery surrounding this burgeoning Able Danger scandal. Why was the intelligence destroyed? Why was the operation aborted?

The primary question, of course, is whether the 9-11 attacks might have been averted if domestic security officials had been told of Able Danger's data. Although Kleinsmith would not answer that question directly, he did say, "I go to bed every night and other members of our team do as well (thinking) that if (Able Danger) had not been shut down that we would have at least been able to prevent something or assist the United States in some way."

Hurricanes and the Iraq war are, understandably, dominating the headlines, but that's no excuse to let the Pentagon get away with sweeping Able Danger under the rug. If stupidity, ignorance or carelessness played a role in the 9-11 disaster, the American people have a right to know about it.


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