Saturday, August 27, 2005
Two US military intelligence officer, Navy Captain Scott Phillpott and Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and a civilian technician, J.D. Smith now say that a secret military intelligence unit codenamed Able Danger had identified Mohammed Atta and three of his 9-11 hijacking associates in early 2000. Phillpott and Smith also said that the unit had a photograph of Atta.
According to these witnesses, Able Danger had found Atta via "data mining." Smith says "I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City," Smith said.
Smith, although himself only worked on open source material, said "the data was gathered from a variety of sources, including about 30 or 40 individuals. He said they all had strong Middle Eastern connections and were paid for their information. Smith said Able Danger's photo of Atta was obtained from overseas." It is possible Atta could have been located by only the cross-referencing of non-classified data. Here is how.
First, Able Danger could come up with a list of Arabs who might have secretly visited al-Qaeda camps across the Afganistan border of Pakistan. To do this, it would obtained from airline manifests the names of Arab males who flew to Pakistan in 1999 and the names of Arab males who applied for a U.S. visa with a newly issued passport. It could then cross-reference both lists against the passport issuance dates. Presumably, the Arabs on that list seeking to hide trips to al-Qaeda facilities in Pakistan and Afghanistan from US authorities would have gotten new passports after the trip to Pakistan to hide the Pakistan stamps on their old passports. On the short list of Arabs who had been to Pakisatan then obtained new passports would be the names of Atta and al-Shehhi.
Next, since it emerged out of the 1998 investigation of al-Qaeda attacks in Africa that Osama Bin Laden planned to train pilots for crop dusting and other agriculture tasks, Able Danger would cross-reference its short list with applicants to US flight schools. Here Atta's name would come up 31 times, as he applied to 31 flight schools.
Then, Able Danger could check the address both men used on their visa application, 54 Marienstrasse in Hamburg, and this could match the address given by other al-Qaeda suspects. (The 911 Commission had no opportunity to examine Atta and al-Shehhi’s visa applications-- or even determine when they applied-- because in 2001 the files were destroyed "according to routine document handling practices" by the Department of State.)
If just this level of data mining could yield the name and photograph of Atta, the question arises: Did other US intelligence services, such as CIA, with similar data mining techniques (as well as links with informants and foreign intelligence services) have similar results?
Stay tuned. The answer to the mystery of Able Danger will have to await the scheduled hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
At the time in June 2002, little attention was paid to General Yuri Baluyevsky's incredible assertion that Iran already had nuclear weapons. The Russian Deputy Chief of Staff stated at a press conference in Moscow, "Iran does have nuclear weapons. These are non-strategic nuclear weapons." Russia had an interest in Iran's nuclear progress. It was then building 6 six nuclear reactors for Iran-- four at Bushehr and two at Akhvaz-- as well as a uranium-conversion plant, and providing assistance for its ballistic missile program. This provided General Baluyevsky a vantage point to assess 6 pieces of the Iran jigsaw not available to the United States.
1) Whether or not the Russian-engineered uranium-conversion plant could be used for uranium enrichment.
2) Since Iranian centrifuges made indigenously in Iran — not imported gear — showed traces of on enriched uranium with a purity level of 36 percent U-235 that matched the atomic signatures of the 36% uranium used in Russian submarines, was Russia the source of this 36% enriched uranium for Iran.
3) If so, could the Russian 36% U-235 could be raised by Iranians to weapon-grade U-235 with either centrifuges or the laser isotope separating system and had Iran acquired such technology from Russia .
4) Since Polonium 210-- an isotope used by Russian scientists (in combination with beryllium) to ensure the chain reaction leading to a nuclear explosion begins at the right time-- was detected in Iran, was Russia the source of Iran's Polonium 210.
5) A defecting Iranian nuclear scientist had claimed in 1998 that Iran had attempted to use Russian criminal intermediaries to buy four tactical nuclear weapons and enriched uranium from Kazakhstan. Was there any basis to this claim.
6) Has Iran managed to weaponize the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile with a warhead?
Of course, General Baluyevsky may have conjured up the picture of Iran's tactical nukes out of thin air. If not, did he based his assessment on the answer to some or all of these questions.