Able Danger WP Series
September 29, 2005 4:32 AM   Subscribe

The Secret History of Able Danger The WP may have have the goods on Able Danger. The Pentagon and Intel officials are mum on the data mining project because it could have been illegal.
posted by raaka (16 comments total)
It has been very obvious that Curt Weldon had no idea what he was talking about.

I've been saying from the beginning that whatever data mining was going on, it could very well have been illegal. I need a job at the WaPo. It would explain the reticence on the part of the Pentagon to be forthright with what, if any, data was gathered.

That said, the evidence in this article to indicate that anything illegal was going in is pretty thin.
posted by teece at 5:25 AM on September 29, 2005

Also discussed here.
posted by ericb at 5:42 AM on September 29, 2005

Of course it was illegal. The Pentagon cannot amass files of information on US citizens. That's the FBI's job.

'But what if so-called 'illegal' information could be used to stop another terrorist attack?' becomes 'what if so-called 'illegal' information could be -withheld- in order to start a war?'

This is one of those breaches of the slippery slope that people keep saying that the government could-but-won't-do-because-that-would-be-illegal.

The fact is, there are no slippery slopes anymore.
If we give the government any opportunity to abuse it's power, it will be abused further than anyone could have invisioned.
posted by Balisong at 5:44 AM on September 29, 2005

[repeats Balisong's point word-for-word]
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:49 AM on September 29, 2005

It does seem as though Able Danger knew about Mohamad Atta before 9/11... what I'm wondering is if it's true that Atta and two other 9/11 terrorists trained in U.S. military bases:

Knight Ridder news service provided more specific details of the findings. Mohamed Atta had attended International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama; Abdulaziz Alomari had attended Aerospace Medical School at Brooks Air Force base in Texas; and Saeed Alghamdi had been to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.”

More here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:16 AM on September 29, 2005

I can't believe I had to click the link to figure out who you meant by WP. "Wikipedia? Wordpress?" I need to spend a week or two offline, I think.
posted by Plutor at 6:19 AM on September 29, 2005

The 'illegal' information was destroyed, not used. So although Balisong's point is potentially correct, it does not seem to be the case in this pre-9/11 situation.
Post 9/11, I'm sure its different now, but also keep in mind that the working government is us. By that I mean there is no cabal, it is ordinary people that live ordinary lives.
Politicians and political appointees on the other hand .... yeah, you got to watch them like a hawk. What I find interesting is that the government employees are the ones that do more to keep the politicians in line than the actual citizenry.
My philosophy has become that a diversified government workforce with high ethics is just as important as a professional, ethical press and informed citizenry to the health of a democracy.
posted by forforf at 6:36 AM on September 29, 2005

I agree, no U.S. government agency can do anything wrong. After all they're made up of Americans, a we are all perfect.
posted by davy at 7:10 AM on September 29, 2005

"a we are all perfect."

Except for the uncaught typos. Mistakes don't count.
posted by davy at 7:11 AM on September 29, 2005

Davy, it would have made your point even better if you hadn't corrected it. :)
posted by Malor at 7:38 AM on September 29, 2005

Read Crossing the Rubicon
posted by stenseng at 11:19 AM on September 29, 2005

Very insightful forforf!
posted by JHarris at 11:21 AM on September 29, 2005

The memory hole seems to be working pretty well at Metafilter, too.

Let's step back to a week ago, when Dick Cheney himself put the hammer down on the Pentagon officers who were scheduled to testify about Able Danger, and specifically about the huge file on Mohamed Atta being destroyed and the whole program swept under the rug in the Spring of 2001, by the Bush Administration.

Yes, there is a conspiracy here. And Dick Cheney made sure the details of this conspiracy will remain hidden, for now. This isn't "theory," it's fact.
posted by kenlayne at 11:24 AM on September 29, 2005

I just don't understand the fear of our government anymore, why just yesterday I walked into the offices of my local FBI, Homeland Security and IRS and gave them copies of my house keys, car keys, bank account information, social security numbers and whatever information I could think of but as I was handing it all over each person I spoke to smiled and said 'Oh, that's not necessary, we already have this. We can come into your home and invade your privacy whenever we feel like it. Move along, nothing to see here'. As they snickered behind my back as I left. . .
posted by mk1gti at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2005

Conspiracy? Nah, must be just a coincidence.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:51 PM on September 29, 2005

The thread is pretty much dead, but I still feel compelled to respond (and apologize that my real life sometimes results in my drive-by commenting).
I'm not making any extraordinary claims about the government. Its no better or worse than say a PTA, theater group, Home Owners Association, whatever ... its a group of ordinary people. If you feel comfortable giving your HOA reps, keys to your house, then by all means feel free to give them to the government. There are rules and procedures to protect ordinary citizens from abuse, and the government employees know it. Furthermore, its a huge organization, and nothing can be done with only a few people knowing about it. Unless its a insanely classified, and huh, wouldn't you know it ... even then word gets out .
posted by forforf at 8:31 PM on September 30, 2005

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