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Autogenerated text from PDF _interview.html (Government Security News) 

Inside Able Danger -The Secret Birth, Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death U.S. Military Intelligence Program Jacob Goodwin wide-ranging exclusive interview with GSN
August 23, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the military intelligence operative who collaborated with Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) draw worldwide attention the Able Danger intelligence unit, described Able Danger's origins, explained how tracked terrorists they visited individual mosques around the world, discussed the CIA's refusal cooperate with the program, acknowledged the supporting technical role played the Raytheon Company, and described Able Danger's ultimate demise. 
Pete Schoomaker, then the commander the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), based Tampa, FL. Shaffer described how was personally recruited the newlycreated unit General Schoomaker. 
After briefing the CIA's representative stationed SOCOM headquarters, and explaining that Able Danger would not competing with the CIA's own separate mission fmd and kill Osama bin Laden, Shaffer was surprised the CIA rep's stem resistance sharing any information, said Shaffer. clearly understand the difference," the CIA rep told him, according Shaffer. clearly understand. We're going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, doesn't matter. The bottom line is, CIA will never give you the best infonnation from 'Alex Base' anywhere else. CIA will never provide that you because you were successful your effort target Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, will not support this." 
Shaffer told GSN that one key Able Danger's success identifying suspected terrorists was its willingness buy information from brokers that identified visits individuals specific mosques located around the. world. crunching data about such visits during six-month period, Able Danger's data miners were able spot illuminating patterns and identify potential relationships among alleged terrori, Shaffer explained. 
Much this data crunching was facilitated private contractors, including Raytheon Company, Waltham, MA, and Orion Scientific (now part SRA International. Inc., based Fairfax, VA) which helped execute the sophisticated data mining software packages, said Shaffer. When queried GSN, Raytheon spokesperson would neither 

confirm nor deny the company's involvement with Able Danger. detailed recounting face-to-face confrontation with then commanding officer, Major General Rod Isler, now retired, Shaffer described how the then deputy director operations the Defense Intelligence Agency essentially pulled the plug his 
involvement with Able Danger. When contacted GSN, General Isler said did not recall ever having had such conversation with Shaffer. 
Shaffer also told GSN that the ultimate goal that and his Able Danger colleagues are pursuing the re-establishment similar data mining capability, newly-formed program the military calling Able Providence. Such effort would require less than $50 million launched, said Shaffer, and the military has enlisted the support Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), who has taken keen interest the history Able Danger. 
++++t++ ++H+++++++++++tt++++
Tell about the beginning Able Danger. Youre Tampa, Florida ... 

I'm down reserve tour reserve U.S. Anny major, doing active duty requirement for annual training. During this training, was asked brief [General Pete] Schoomaker, the four-star commander Special Operations Command full time job. 14, regarding "STRATUS IVY;' the special mission unit that was 
runningJ_ . ---........... - -----c --.... . -........................   -............. ... - --   - . 

During this brlefmg -I'd given full mission rundown what was doing-General Schoomaker stopped the middle the briefing and said, know about one ofthe programs you work," and named me. It's still classified. said, "Yeah, work that," and says, need you special project that we're working on." looked over the Special Technical Operations Office Chief,.who was the briefing, and said, "Read him into Able Danger." that was when was first made aware that something was being done, and General Schoomaker turned and said, want you part the team doing this." 
When was this? 

September '99. 

The Able Danger program itself was ongoing already? 
(b) {3)

No, was just being tasked. was still being fonnulated. 
They were just getting together because apparently one the issues they were negotiating with General [Hugh] Shelton [the chainnan the Joint Chiefs Staff] was what the scope and parameters would for this program. This was groundbreaking. This was entrepreneurial concept. They were looking for partnerships based what made the best sense, rather than what nonnal military doctrine. [General Shelton] wanted have "out-of-the-box" thinkers. said, "Look, you guys are off doing some really new concept things." can't get into lot them because they're classified, but because this real out-of-the-box stuff were doing, wanted part this team. 
Who came with the idea originally set Able Danger? 
I'd have defer that question either General Schoomaker General Shelton. I 
honestly don't know that answer, but know that between the two them, the tasking 
was SOCOM, Special Operations Command, the supported CinC [military short
hand for Commander Chief unified 

command]. This was the first time ever that Special Operations Command was the supported CinC, which means that they were the prime CinC. They were the lead CinC something. This was the first time the Special Operations Command wasn't supporting someone else. 
And what did you take the mission was defined that day? 
Simply, target Qaeda globally. All Qaeda. It's mission, functions and 
capabilities, that call  one directed national command leadership -the U.S. 
could something attack them, [To develop] offensive capability once 
define what Qaeda is, can find way stop them, counter them overseas. 
Did you take that the first time that mission was defined and given some unit were there already intelligence operations that were trying' pull this Qaeda 
information together. 
SHAFFER: was made aware of, that point time --my lawyer always tells reference this for background -that there has already been infonnation the press regarding the fact 
that the CIA had
nding kill Bin Laden. fmding conduct assassination him. was aware that the time. 
So, one the issues was did not want compete --or seen competing --with 

the CIA what their mission was, what they were already assigned do. Within the first days Able Danger, the operations officer that you now know [Navy] Captain Scott Philpott, asked talk the director central intelligence rep the [Special Operations] Command, the DCI rep who represented [CIA Director] George Tenet there the command. task was explain the rep that we're not competing with him and explain him Able Danger. 

Isn't there difference between the CIA having the mission ofkilling Osama Bin Laden, and Able Danger having the mission finding where the Qaeda terrorist cells are located? would seem two very different missions. 
Yes, two very different missions. Distinctly different the fact that they were going after the "head" and were going after the "body." Because even ifyoti get the head, the body still going there. Our argument was that matter you get him [Osama bin Laden], great. But someone else probably going take his place. Therefore, you're focusing the head, we'll focus the rest. 
What did the CIA representative say when you explained that Able Danger was not competing yvith him? 
SHAFFER: told me, clearly understand the difference. clearly understand. We're going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, doesn't matter. The bottomline is, CIA will never give you the best information from 'Alex Base' anywhere else. CIA will never provide that you because ifyou were successful your effort target Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, will not support this." [Alex Base was the CIA's covert action element which was conducting the Osama bin Laden finding.] believe was being friend. believe was sincerely telling this because was the truth. said, short General Schoomaker calling George Tenet directly, the best information would never released. knowledge, and other colleagues' knowledge, there was information ever released because CIA chose not participate Able Danger. 

What reaction did you bring back your guys Able Danger after that conversation? 
SHAEFER: was frankly shocked, but figured the best thing could country was after Qaeda, because was developing, looming threat. We'd already been attacked twice with the [U.S.] embassy bombings [in Kenya and Tanzania August 1998]. There was record Qaeda doing things. were concerned and, again, the two principal generals, Schoomaker and Shelton, were concerned that this was developing threat that 


Danger methodology protect U.S. person issues. briefed [General Shelton] that other operation the spring 2001 timeframe, before 9/1 So, from knowledge, believe remembered Able Danger that point time because the reference this other operation  Howe:ver, don't know how far above him laterally, shared information regarding Able Danger. don't know about the civilian leadership. 
The highest level the civilian side that I'm directly knowledgeable was that the 
assistant secretary defense for special operations and low intensity conflict was aware 
because briefed him this. [Editor's Note: Brian Sheridan held that assistant received briefing from [in 2000] STRATUS IVY, unit, and gave him infonnation what were doing for Able Danger. His comment was, "You need get those guys and push them harder." That was the way told get SOCOM get them push harder get this going. 
This was before Able Danger had any success had identified any results. 
Absolutely, yes. 
Tell about the nuts and bolts the program. 
Essentially, the beginning the program didn't know where start. had never been done before. define global target this magnitude, which changes and adapts, was daunting. Therefore, the first stop was the Joint Warfare Analysis Center Dahlgren [VA]. There was conference there the November /Decembertimeframe 1999, which went nowhere. Those guys did not understand the scope trying neuralnetting, human factor relationships and looking linkages. They just didn't have the capability the time. Therefore, was kind bust. 
However, knew from personal experience dealing with the Army, that LIW the Land Information Warfare Activity, was developing this cutting edge data mining analytical capability which had used for other operations. So, recommended Captain [Scott] Philpott, "You need see person that has chosen remain anonymous] down LIW and talk about what [that person] doing." [Capt. Philpott] goes down and gets his brief and says, "This it. This exactly what we're looking for," because they were not only using advanced data mining technology, they were also looking data that one else was looking [James] J.D Smith former contractor Able 
Danger] talked about some this The New York Times [on August 22, 2005]. talked about the fact that they were going information brokers the Internet who were getting information about the mosque system from overseas locations. Nobody else found that reliable. That's why nobody was looking it. The problem was that nobody was looking regarding the right type ofvetting. J.D. Smith and company were using these advanced [software] tools ferret out patterns within that information. 
You're talking about lists where mosques were located geographically. 
No, individuals who were going between mosques. Who were they? Who were the contacts? Looking dovvn the individual level. 

Did they say, for example, "Here's Abdul and he's showing mosque Pakistan and, and behold, he's showing another mosque the Sudan week later"? 
Because apparently there are records who goes where regarding.visits mosques. That was the data that LIW was buying off the Internet from information brokers. You'd need talk [James] Smith find out more about that. came forward 
publicly, but has not publicly admitted that was the guy using this type information that ma9.e the link between [Mohammed] Atta and [Sheik Omar Abdel] Rahman, the first World Trade Center bomber. That's how the link was established, 
through [Smith's] research the Internet. 

Hypothetically, what would you imagine Smith came with that would have led him that conclusion? Might have said, for example, "Hey look this. Based this information we're buying off the Internet, I'm seeing that for three-week period, every time that Atta --whoever --shows mosque, Rahman shows the same mosque, six times row." that what you're driving at? 

SHAFFER: was six-month data run. Six months oflooking the data. Whatever saw the way linkages. [Smith] explains saying there were eight data points that they pulled out the identity each the bombers that conducted the first World Trade Center attack '93. Those eight data points were used look relationships with these other [suspected terrorists] they were finding through these information runs. was that data set which was bounced off constantly for six months through these patterns. Some 
this was already ongoing, the way, before SOCOM showed ask for LIW A's support because LIWA had other classified projects that they were already working on. Some those are still classified. But, that's why this all came quickly after SOCOM showed ask LIW the question. They were already the middle looking some these issues. 
GSN: presume this was some the work that was taking place using the Spire software? 

Yes, Spire, Parentage, Starlight ... understand pretty interesting visualization software that basically talces these data 
points and runs them against hundreds thousands files, finds correlations and then 
depicts them visually. 

Right. Then, it's your job analyst data miner pull out and investigate that 
linkage verify refute it, depending other available information. 

Was there moment when somebody said, "C'mon over and look this," and actually showed some sort graph chart linkage, and said, i'This makes think that these two guys are connected." Was there that kind of"Ah ha!" moment? 
No. This was simply chart showing ilp with potentialities clusters information. That's what showed. took copy 
ofthose clusters information, copy chart produced Smith and company which showed, early the process, the Atta guy and other terrorists. was this sheet that hand-carried personally from LIW down 
Now, did know was important? No. I'm operator. I'm not analyst. So, when took down from LIW and gave Captain Philpott, opened and said, "Oh God, this what need. This exactly what need do." 
So, even when [Capt. Philpott] saw it, didn't realize the importance those names. was just like, "This the path. are now path able define the target." The first step any good operation finding the target. 
That essentially means that saw that the methodology could used, and here was example the methodology showing some specific people that had high probability being related, being connected, each other ... 
... through Qaeda. 
Was saying effect "This great methodology," was saying, "We got our 
bad guys"? 

SHAFFER: was saying little bit ofboth. Primarily, this great methodology. the way, this chart was used brief General Shelton and General Schoemaker. Again, nobody was focusing the exact data points. They were recognizing great methodology that needed pursue and use. that was the primary focus. 

Tell about the Able Danger intelligence unit itself. Are talking about six guys sitting room crunching data? 
SHAFFER: We're talking about the winter 2000 timefraine. this time, only partnership betweenLIWA (which isn't even formalized yet), DIA (my unit, S1RATUS IVY) an______ .... -SOCOM (the Able Danger. cell). What were doing was working together and --this key -we were doing this entrepreneurial, just out-of-thebox-thinking type thing. 
This like GM, Ford and Isuzu getting together project, and that was the whole idea. weren't trying through the bureaucracy. We. were keeping the bureaucracy kind bay, and focusing only Qaeda and how could define the target. 
Now, personally went and briefed Co1onel [James) Gibbons, the commander 
LIWA Able Danger and asked him enter the partnership with us, based General 
Schoomaker. So, Anny,. LIWA Information Dominance Center (the IDC), became 
partner. STRATUS IVY became partner because briefed leadership. 
immediate leadership was Colonel Jerry York, grandson Sergeant York, and Major 
General Paul Barton, then the director operations for DIA regarding human collection. 
So, got their approval. Now you've got Colonel Gibbons with Army, and General 
Newman above him. You've got Colonel York over and General [Bob] Harding 
above him. So, you've got pretty much" all Anny leadership there. 

That's key the story. You've got SOCOM doing its thing down there [in Florida) and 
yet you had room about this size, the room we're today, full guys who are trying crunch everything together. Captain Philpott and his team were trying crunch 
together. You had guys loan from the intelligence side, you had guys loan from the 
operations side. The bottomline was was being done operation; not 
intelligence operation but planning operation. 

What does the group handle? 

SHAFFER: was operations; was not intelligence. was intel guys supporting operations. And 
that was big distinction either benefit hazard -as developed this capability. 

GSN: what stage does Able Danger begin reach conclusions that are looking interesting? 
SHAFFER: When the information from LIWA arrived Tampa, Scott Philpott and his team started looking critically, trying figure out what this really meant; based other 


classified databases and lawyer review. The lawyers started looking the data well for any legal issues regarding the fact that this information came from "open sources". 
Even before anyone Able Danger made the decision try share its findings with other agencies departments? 
Even while the data still being gathered and analyzed? 
Absolutely, because there were many critical issues regarding this, simply because 
dealt with open sources. When intelligence officer, like me, looks the data, does that 
somehow magically turn into "intelligence"? That was the critical issue. Somehow, 

there this interpretation that even open source information could .be construed intelligence information because its use. IfTony Shaffer, intelligence officer, takes data off the Internet and use for project does that make "intelligence' and subject all the rules that govern the oversight intelligence information? 
Which legal organization within SOCOM raising these questions? 
We're talking about the lawyers. All lawyers DoD report back the DoD General 

information. had problem ever with oversight and answering the hard questions. The concern was, again, this was open source, but are somehow violating some U.S. person's rights the fact :we're bringing [the information] and using for intelligence purposes? the issue open sourcing? 
SHAFFER: the legal set issues regarding Dorhawk Galley, which were compatible the issues were facing for Able Dariger. 

Can you summarize the legal argument barring the use open source information against U.S. citizens quasi-citizens? 

Second issue, comparing that information anything else out there regarding open 
source information. you put information out [on the Internet], you have the reasonabIC 
belie that it's not going protected. That's judgment. you put something 
the Internet, such blog statement, isn't protected, it's open. Does the govennnent 
have the right look that and the use against you they choose? That one 
the fundamental issues, Because although it's not protected, and it's out there, does the 
government have the right something with it? 
What can you look and not look regarding U.S. citizens? That was one the issues were dealing with regarding these open Internet searches, which the lawyers were 
concerned about. 
What kind records would referred the open Internet? 


You're saying that someone the legal side the intelligence community might have said, "We don't even have the right that You can't gatheri:hat information off the Internet, which publicly out there, and use intelligence manner." 
You hit the nub it, absolutely. That's what they were concerned about. 

What was the Able Danger program's response that legal argument? 
Well, aren't doing intelligence collection operations, we're doing operational 
planning. Therefore, whatever we're doing should not fall under intelligence guidelines. 


That was sort stretch, wasn't it? Here you have this ultra-secret and important intelligence mission which you claim happening under operational planning, but wasn't that somewhat bogus? 
No, wasn't bogus. was the operational focus. The idea was that were trying use 
this information for purposes not intelligence collection. Obviously, wanted confirm vet information, but wasn't using this plan after some U.S. 
citizen. That was not the purpose. 
The purpose was look linkages. That's what were doing. So, any given byte 
information probably wouldn't even have been looked [individually] didn't 
fit the criteria our search. There was [vast amounts] information. Out all that, 
we're only going look for things that are relevant the target, Qaeda. 

IfI take information off the Internet and put into file, I'm doing that electronically, with the database. That was the issue. You're doing electronically. The argument was, "When you take all this information off the Internet, how you then protect U.S. citizen rights?" The lawyers were looking all the information that was coming in. They had vet everything. They were personally looking and had validation process. 
What would they have pointed and said, "This violation. can't allow you 
That's where the whole issue comes lawyers saying, "You can't look these guys, 
who are suspected being terrorists." All this information coming in. They had this 
vetting process. And then, all this information comes regarding these [suspected 
terrorists] who were here legally, part these data runs. But, the lawyers are now 
saying, "You can't look that. We're going put that the person' category that 

you can't look at." 

There vetting process. They're trying protect U.S citizens' rights. briefed the general counsel this. briefed George Tenet this. The problem was, where you draw that line regarding protection U.S. persons --between U.S. citizens, such yourself, and these other folks who are here legally, but not technically deserving the same protections? That's the kernel the issue.  
Was there group suspected terrorists who had been identified some other way and 

includes some the same data miners, the same technicians, the same analysts. 


And you're fronting for them? 
I'm fronting for them too, yes. 

So, the same time you're being asked set meeting with the FBI regarding Able Danger, you're already talking the FBI about using almost the same data mining resources another FBI program. 
Absolutely correct. That was why was logical for Scott come and ask for 
that support. So, called FBI point contact and said, "Hey, I'd like link the 
special operations guys up. They're doing mission --I can't tell you about it-but I'd 
like make meeting for FBI and your 'Bubbas' meet with them and discuss the 
infonnation they have."  
When was that? 

SHAFFER: best recollection between summer 2000 and fall 2000, somewhere that like. 
Now, did not personally set all the meetings. The one recall personally setting was the last one. That recall was where the colonel charge Able Danger, 
was.supposed meet with officers the FBI the FBI's Washington Field Office 
discuss this issue. personally got the phone number from FBI point contact, called the WFO folks and said "This colonel from SOCOM going come talk you. 
Please receive him." 
Okay. What happened? 
The colonel never showed up. Later, found out from Captain Philpott that the reason the colonel didn't show was because was told not to. 
Why not? 
SHAFFER: learned from Capt. Philpot during next trip down Tampa that the lawyers had 
gotten involved and recommended the chain command that they not pass the 
information. According Captain Philpot- and again you'll have ask him directly went the J3, the operations officer, two-star general Special Operations 
Command, where lawyers and Captain Philpot both briefed and the general came down the side the lawyers. 

The thinking the time this was going was that there was investigation Special 
Operations Command regarding its support the siege the Branch Davidians [which 
had taken place Waco, TX, 1993]. 

The concern, understand from talking Captain Philpott, was that SOCOM 
shares this sensitive [terrorist] information with the FBI, and the FBI takes action with it, 
and something goes wrong, SOCOM will get blamed for the bad outcome. 

Typically, military organization, the legal department acts advisor the 

The legal department doesn't make the decision; the legal' department whispers into the ear the commander who makes the decision either overrule them overrule you. 
Who was the commander the time? General Pete Schoomaker? 
This never got the commander. This got the operations officer level and, recal}, was General [Geoffrey] Lambert, the special operations command. believe was that level where this decision was stopped. 
This below the level General Schoomal