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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh Says 9/11 Commission Missed Most Important Post-9/11 Fact By Ignoring Able Danger Findings

The more we know about the 9/11 Commission, the less credible is its work. Clinton administration FBI Director Louis Freeh has an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today that cuts to the heart of the commission's biggest failure - ignoring Able Danger :

"Recent revelations from the military intelligence operation code-named 'Able Danger' have cast light on a missed opportunity that could have potentially prevented 9/11. Specifically, Able Danger concluded in February 2000 that military experts had identified Mohamed Atta by name (and maybe photograph) as an al Qaeda agent operating in the U.S.
"Subsequently, military officers assigned to Able Danger were prevented from sharing this critical information with FBI agents, even though appointments had been made to do so. Why?
"There are other questions that need answers. Was Able Danger intelligence provided to the 9/11 Commission prior to the finalization of its report, and, if so, why was it not explored?

"In sum, what did the 9/11 commissioners and their staff know about Able Danger and when did they know it?
"The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Even the most junior investigator would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists.

"Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it 'was not historically significant.' 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."

I would dissent from Freeh's suggestion about the consequences of the commission's Able Danger failure. If the Able Danger scenario is confirmed, and I have little doubt that it will be, the only possible conclusions are that 9/11 represented one of this nation's most colossal intelligence failures and the inability or unwillingness of the 9/11 Commission to even consider the Able Danger facts is indicative of the Washington Establishment's deeply ingrained refusal to assess honestly its role in the 9/11 disaster.

Otherwise, Freeh presents a highly disturbing assessment that deserves close reading by every one who cares about the outcome of the Global War on Terror.