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David Guyatt
03-19-2009, 09:56 AM
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=867


We bring to the attention of our readers this important analysis of Dr. Daniele Ganser of the Zurich Polytechnic published by the International Relations and Security Network (ISN). Dr Ganser's study is based on official US documents and reports. It identifies the role of 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and 3 other hijackers in a secret Pentagon operation. It largely refutes the official US government narrative as presented by the 9/11 Commission.


Four years after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, the revelation of a top secret Pentagon operation adds a new twist to a story about which we still know very little.

For the past four years, we have been told by the administration of George Bush and by the official 9/11 Commission report of Chairman Thomas Kean and Executive Director Philip Zelikow that Egyptian extremist Mohammed Atta was the key player in the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Atta, according to the Kean report, was the “tactical leader of the 9/11 plot”. He was the pilot who on that dreadful morning flew the first plane, American Airlines 11, into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. It was Atta’s face, on television and in newspapers across the world, that became the symbol of Islamic terrorism. And it was Atta’s name - not the names of any of the 18 other hijackers allegedly lead by Atta on that day - that was cited by international security researchers. Atta was, as the Kean report stresses, “the tactical commander of the operation in the United States”. According to both the Bush administration and the official 9/11 Commission report, he was working on the orders of Osama Bin Laden who, from remote Afghanistan, controlled the entire operation.

Now, almost exactly four years after 9/11, the facts appear to have been turned upside down. We now learn that Atta was also connected to a top secret operation of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the US. According to Army reserve Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Shaffer, a top secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger had identified Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks.

Able Danger was an 18-month highly classified operation tasked, according to Shaffer, with “developing targeting information for al-Qaida on a global scale”, and used data-mining techniques to look for “patterns, associations, and linkages”. He said he himself had first encountered the names of the four hijackers in mid-2000.

Schaffer himself was fully aware of the delicacy of his revelations. As such, he chose to first speak to US lawmaker and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (Republican, Illinois) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (Republican, Michigan). Schaffer said the two had assured him that exposing the secret “was the right thing to do”. “I was given assurances we would not suffer any adverse consequences for bringing this to the attention of the public,” he said.

The conversations with Hastert and Hoekstra took place before Schaffer anonymously leaked the information to the media on 8 August in the offices of Republican Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, the vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees who also supported the exposure of this secret.

Schaffer’s decision to expose Operation Able Danger has given rise to some difficult questions, not the least of which concerns the role of Atta in the top secret operation. It also raises the question of whether anyone in the Pentagon knew in advance what Atta was planning on 9/11.

For now, though, the questions are likely to go unanswered, as the Pentagon claims there is no evidence to support allegations that it had had military intelligence on a 9/11 bomber a year before the attack. The Pentagon has acknowledged the existence of Operation Able Danger, but denies claims that it had identified Atta and three others as early as 1999.

When the “official” facts are turned upside down, we need to go back to the sources and ask: What do we really know about 9/11? Our most important source, Atta himself, is dead. So for now, there is only Schaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, who worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington at the time of the 9/11 attacks and had insights into the Pentagon’s top secret operation. According to Schaffer, when he informed the FBI and urged them to arrest Atta, the Pentagon’s lawyers intervened and protected Atta for reasons that remain unclear.

The official 9/11 Commission report, which according to its own declaration aimed “to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11” in its 567-page report, fails to mention Operation Able Danger or any other US-based SOCOM operations. On the contrary, in its recommendations as to how the US could be better protected from “terrorists” in the future, the Kean report on page 415 suggests that SOCOM be given larger powers to carry out covert action operations, previously a domain controlled by the CIA.

The Kean commission also recommended better oversight in order “to combat the secrecy and complexity”. Yet, at the same time, we learn from Schaffer that the Kean commission did not provide the full story on 9/11, and specifically on Able Danger. Schaffer, according to his own testimony, had personally informed Zelikow about Able Danger. Yet Zelikow covered up this piece of the puzzle and, to Schaffer’s frustration and disbelief, decided not to include this data on the pretext that it was “not historically relevant”.

If it is true that Zelikow declined to include the information on Able Danger in the Kean report, and if it is true, as Zelikow wrote, that Atta was the “tactical leader of the 9/11 plot”, and if it is furthermore true, as Schaffer publicly explained, that SOCOM protected Atta prior to his deadly attack on the US, which claimed 3,000 lives, then the account as provided by the official 9/11 report is discredited, and we are faced with a sea of lies and cover-ups.

Four years after 9/11, we are presented with facts that are diametrically opposed to the official narrative. While the biggest questions remain unanswered and there is a possibility that they will never be answered, the media would do well by the public to be diligent enough to keep the issue alive and not allow it to be swept under the rug in the face of confusion and complexity.


Dr. Daniele Ganser specializes in secret warfare and is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies. The opinions contained in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of the International Relations and Security Network (ISN).

David Guyatt
03-19-2009, 10:01 AM
More on the background of Able Danger HERE (http://64.70.236.57/08172005.html)


Able Danger Intel Exposed
"Protected" Heroin Trafficking


August 17,2005-Venice, FL.
by Daniel Hopsicker


Mohamed Atta was protected from official scrutiny as part of an officially-protected cocaine and heroin trafficking network with ties to top political figures, including Republican officials Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, and it was this fact—and not the “terrible lapses” of “weak on terror” Clinton Administration officials cited by Republican Congressman Curt Weldon—which shielded him from beingapprehended before the 9.11 attack.

Weldon alleges that Pentagon lawyers rejected the military intelligence unit’s recommendation to apprehend Atta because he was in the country legally, and therefore information on him could not be shared with law enforcement.

But the “terrible lapses” cited by Weldon do not stem from the nonsensical assertion that Atta had a green card (he did not) which rendered him immune from military investigation but were the result of an officially-protected heroin trafficking operation being conducted on planes like those of Wally Hilliard, whose Lear jet flew "milk runs" down and back to Venezuela every week for 39 weeks in a row before finally running afoul of local DEA agents not been clued-in on the 'joke.'

Moreover the secret military intelligence operation which identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers as a threat a year before the 9.11 attack, called Able Danger, was by no means the first military intelligence investigation into the activities of the Hamburg cadre.

Watching the river (of heroin) flow

As far back as 1991, military investigators had been detailed to Hamburg Germany, tracking what one military investigator who was there told us were “Al Qaeda heroin flows” from Afghanistan to the West.

A two-year investigation in Venice, Fl. into the flight school attended by Atta and his bodyguard Marwan Al-Shehhi and which provided them with their “cover” while in the U.S. unearthed the amazing fact that during the same month the two men began flying lessons at Huffman Aviation, July of 2000, the flight school’s owner’s Lear jet was seized on the runway of Orlando Executive Airport by Federal Agents who found 43-pounds of heroin onboard.

43 pounds of heroin is known in the drug trade as “heavy weight.”

In a story in the August 2, 2000 Orlando Sentinel authorities called the bust “the biggest drug seizure in central Florida history.”

“It confirms the sad fact that a massive amount of heroin is coming through Central Florida,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Brent Eaton told the paper. “It’s very disturbing to the DEA that more and more high quality heroin is coming from Colombia and at a cheaper price.”

The DEA was “very disturbed” enough to look more closely at Wally Hilliard’s jet charter operation. The result was their firm opposition to returning the Lear to Hilliard, even though no one from Hilliard’s company, Plane 1 Leasing, had been charged with any crime.

DO JEB AND KATHERINE SHARE 'A FEELING FOR THE LITTLE GUY?'
And even while his companies were being used to train terrorists to fly and smuggling heroin into the U.S., prominent Florida politicians Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris publicly endorsed Hilliard’s operation.

Governor Jeb Bush honored Hilliard's operation (called at various times Florida Air, Sunrise Airlines and Discover Air) with a personal visit, posing for photos with the "Discover Air family."

Katherine Harris' endorsement of Hilliard’s operation was splashed across the pages of her beloved hometown Sarasota Herald Tribune. "As one of Florida's top politicians, Katherine Harris doesn't have much time to do a lot of personal traveling," the paper reported.

"But twice in the past month or so, the secretary of state... has taken the 75-minute plane ride from her current home in Tallahassee to her old stomping grounds in Sarasota. Her choice of airline? Florida Air, a start-up commuter airline based here, grasping to be an air-taxi for the entire state."

The Herald Tribune quoted Harris spokesman Ben McKay saying, “She appreciates the convenience that Florida Air offers.”

Ms. Harris' reputation as a stickler for the letter of the law from the contested 2000 Presidential election was apparently put ‘on hold’ on Wally Hilliard’s behalf: While she was "appreciating their convenience," the operation was flying passengers without holding an air carrier certificate.

The juxtaposition of the discovery of a huge cache of heroin on a Lear jet belonging to Wallace J. Hilliard, 70, of Naples, Fl, Huffman Aviation’s owner, at the exact same time terrorist and Osama bin Laden associate Mohamed Atta arrived to attend his flight school from Afghanistan, a country producing well more than half of the world’s heroin, would normally have had U.S. Attorneys looking up the sentencing guidelines appropriate to major RICO narcotics trafficking cases, and getting ready to throw the book at him.

In fact, they did nothing of the sort, which strongly indicates that the Army’s secret military intelligence unit Able Danger’s inability to prod federal authorities to move on Atta and other terrorists known to be in the U.S. encountered the same obstacles, and for the same reason.

In fact, the only effort made at holding financier Wallace J. Hilliard, 70, of Naples, Florida accountable was the weak one of confiscating his plane. When Hilliard sued to get the DEA to return the Lear jet inn forfeiture hearings, attempting to show himself to have been an “innocent owner,” his motion was opposed by the Government and roundly rejected in court.

The U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the plane’s return. Their motion said, “because the property was used or acquired as a result of a violation of the Controlled Substances Act.”

Court documents revealed that Hilliard’s leasing company, Plane 1 Leasing, had been paid in cash for each charter by the two Latin passengers, which aviation experts in South Florida said strains credulity.

“DEA would not return it, they auctioned it off, they told Wally they had ‘reasons,’” said an aviation source in Naples. “It was the first seizure in history for a so-called ‘innocent person’ where they took and kept the plane.”

The court concluded Hilliard’s company knew what was going on. Affidavits later filed by the machine-gun toting DEA agents who had surrounded the Lear jet indicated Hilliard’s company’s involvement went much deeper than anyone was willing to acknowledge publicly.


Red Flags, Red Faces, Red Blood Everywhere

“It was just blatant,” said a manager who worked there at the time. “That same plane flew that same run thirty or forty times, ferrying the same people. And they always paid cash for the rental! The red flags could not have been raised any higher.”

Hilliard lost his Lear jet. America lost (almost) 3000 lives.

And something else as well. The fact that this story was first broken exclusively (and only) by the MadCowMorningNews, and not “papers of record” like the New York Times and Washington Post amply demonstrates the massive 9.11 cover-up led by the FBI which is still in place, a cover-up which has contemptuously mocked the very concept of American democracy, of a “free press,” and of the “people’s right to know.”

Nor were we alone in our discovery of the officially-protected drug trafficking network. FBI whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds, in the months after the attack, bumped into the arms for drugs deals. Edmonds alleged that the US State Department blocked investigations showing links between criminal drug trafficking networks and the terror attacks on 9/11.

"Certain investigations were being quashed, let's say per State Department's request, because it would have affected certain foreign relations [or] affected certain business relations with foreign organizations," she stated.

Even if military intelligence unit Able Danger had been allowed to notify the FBI, the information which fingered Mohamed Atta and others of the hijackers was already well-known to the Bureau.

“FBI Knew Terrorists Were Using Flight Schools” the Washington Post reported on Sept 23, 2001. “Federal authorities have been aware for years that suspected terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden were receiving flight training at schools in the United States and abroad, according to interviews and court testimony.”

Indications of the FBI's "guilty knowledge" were widespread in the aftermath of the attack included the widely-reported fact that the FBI was at Huffman Aviation with search warrants at 2.30 a.m. the night after the attack. An executive of Huffman Aviation told us that FBI agents were on the scene even earlier than that.


"They moved pretty fast for guys in black Florsheims"

"How do you think the FBI got here (Huffman Aviation) so fast after the attack?" asked the executive. "They knew what was going on here. Hell, they were parked in a white van outside my house less than four hours after the buildings collapsed."

"We heard that 16 of the 19 terrorists had been on Interpol's Most Wanted list," this aviation executive continued. "But early on I gleaned that these guys had Government protection. They were let into this country for a specific purpose. It was a business deal."

Amazingly, the smuggling operation being protected continues to this day.

The pilot of Hilliard’s busted Lear, Venezuelan Diego Levine Texar, was not taken into custody. “The pilot was not arrested, according to a DEA spokesman, because of a lack of evidence,” reported the Orlando Sentinel. He has since been identified as also being the chief pilot on Venezuela’s “Air Force One,” which provides a bit of context for last week’s news that the State Department was revoking the visas of three Venezuelan military officers suspected of involvement in drug trafficking.

When we first published the DEA’s official report to the court about the Orlando heroin bust (read it here) on our website and in the appendix to “Welcome to TerrorLand,” we received a very credible death threat... even though the report is a public document available to anyone.

And Rudi Dekkers just told his favorite newspaper, (of course, the Sarasota Herald Tribune) that he was out of work.

Poor man. We guess the trips to Colombia don’t count.