The 9/11 Commission told us that, of the 19 alleged hijackers, only Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi were known to the US authorities prior to 9/11. However, in 2005 it was alleged that Able Danger, a classified military intelligence operation, had through the use of data mining techniques managed to identify Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as being part of a "Brooklyn" cell. What's more, the 9/11 Commission had been informed of this, but did not include it in their report.
Responses to the Able Danger story have been varied.
In their book "Without Precedent", 9/11 Commission leaders Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton said the information had been investigated but didn't stand up.
The official military report seemed to back this up, stating that "the evidence did not support assertions that Able Danger identified the September 11, 2001, terrorists nearly a year before the attack".
However, the report was itself attacked by Congressman Curt Weldon, who had championed the Able Danger story for some time, along with many others, and rebuttals soon appeared. Here's one from "sources in the House" published on the Able Danger Blog, which amongst many other things says the Inspector General report "is grossly incompetent, or deliberately dishonest, in its process of discovering and reporting facts and in its analysis".
Webster Tarpley, in his book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, takes this even further, stating that "Able Danger were indeed the terrorist controllers and case officers for Atta and the rest". He supplies no evidence for this, however, and fails to explain why, if this were the case, the issue would be initially be raised by people who were involved in the Able Danger programme.
Most commentators, even in the 9/11 truth movement, are more cautious. These clips from a Global Research article are typical (although the full piece has more to discuss, and we'd recommend you read the whole thing):
Others have significant problems with the Able Danger story. Barrie Zwicker, in Towers of Deception, explains why:
Meanwhile author Peter Lance, in his book Triple Cross, takes a different view again. He believes that Atta was identified by Able Danger, and that the official report is designed to cover that up, however the identification itself doesn't mean the 9/11 Commission timeline about Atta is incorrect.
Who's right? Or is the truth somewhere else entirely? This is too large an issue for a small web site like this one to usefully investigate, and so the best we can do is suggest some reading to help you find out more.
- The Wikipedia page on Able Danger is of variable quality, but it's a quick way to get aquainted with the basic story and so a good place to start.
- A couple of US House committees held a hearing into Able Danger, which will give you more details on the issues.
- The Inspector General's report dismissed the key Able Danger allegations. But even if you don't believe a word of that, it's necessary to read if before checking out the rebuttals.
- The Wiki "SourceWatch" lists a few reasons why you shouldn't uncritically swallow all the Able Danger claims.
- The Able Danger Blog has all the latest news on any related issues. If you do nothing else, skim through the archives looking for stories of interest.
- The History Commons page on Able Danger offers its own possible explanation of various related issues.