Congressional Record: November 8, 2005 (House)
Page H10012-H10013                     

                         STONEWALLING CONGRESS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Fortenberry). Under a previous order of 
the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Weldon) is recognized 
for 5 minutes.
  Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me thank 
my friend and colleague for allowing me to take this 5-minute special 
order before his 1 hour. I will be brief, but I rise for an issue of 
severe concern to me, Mr. Speaker.
  As someone who has spent 19 years working on defense and security 
issues in this Congress and currently serves as the vice chairman of 
the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, I have to report 
to my colleagues continuing efforts to try to find out what happened 
before 9/11 and, unfortunately, have to report that we are being 
stonewalled. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I cannot use any other term but the 
appearance of a cover-up.
  Just a few moments ago, I questioned one of the cochairs of the 9/11 
Commission, Lee Hamilton, why the Commission has not yet responded to a 
letter that I sent to them on August 10 of this year, which I will 
enter into the Record at this point.

                                                  August 10, 2005.
     Hon. Thomas H. Kean, Chairman,
     Hon. Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chairman,
     9/11 Public Discourse Project, One DuPont Circle, NW., 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Kean and Vice Chairman Hamilton: I am 
     contacting you to discuss an important issue that concerns 
     the terrible events of September 11, 2001, and our country's 
     efforts to ensure that such a calamity is never again allowed 
     to occur. Your bipartisan work on The National Commission on 
     Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States shed light on much 
     that was unclear in the minds of the American people 
     regarding what happened that fateful day, however there 
     appears to be more to the story than the public has been 
     told. I bring this before you because of my respect for you 
     both, and for the 9-11 Commission's service to America.
       Almost seven years ago, the National Defense Authorization 
     Act for Fiscal Year 1999 established the Advisory Panel to 
     Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving 
     Weapons of Mass Destruction, otherwise known as the Gilmore 
     Commission. The Gilmore Commission reached many of the same 
     conclusions as your panel, and in December of 2000 called for 
     the creation of a ``National Office for Combating 
     Terrorism.'' I mention this because prior to 9/11, Congress 
     was aware of many of the institutional obstacles to 
     preventing a terrorist attack, and was actively attempting to 
     address them. I know this because I authored the language 
     establishing the Gilmore Commission.
       In the 1990's, as chairman of the congressional 
     subcommittee that oversaw research and development for the 
     Department of Defense, I paid special attention to the 
     activities of the Army's Land Information Warfare Activity 
     (LIWA) at Ft. Belvoir. During that time, I led a bipartisan 
     delegation of Members of Congress to Vienna, Austria to meet 
     with members of the Russian parliament, or Duma. Before 
     leaving, I received a brief from the CIA on a Serbian 
     individual that would be attending the meeting. The CIA 
     provided me with a single paragraph of information. On the 
     other hand, representatives of LIWA gave me five pages of far 
     more in-depth analysis. This was cause for concern, but my 
     debriefing with the CIA and FBI following the trip was cause 
     for outright alarm: neither had ever heard of LIWA or the 
     data mining capability it possessed.
       As a result of experiences such as these, I introduced 
     language into three successive Defense Authorization bills 
     calling for the creation of an intelligence fusion center 
     which I called NOAH, or National Operations and Analysis Hub. 
     The NOAH concept is certainly familiar now, and is one of 
     several recommendations made by your commission that has a 
     basis in earlier acts of Congress. Despite my repeated 
     efforts to establish NOAH, the CIA insisted that it would not 
     be practical. Fortunately, this bureaucratic intransigence 
     was overcome when Congress and President Bush acted in 2003 
     to create the Terrorism Threat Integration Center (now the 
     National Counterterrorism Center). Unfortunately, it took the 
     deaths of 3,000 people to bring us to the point where we 
     could make this happen. Now, I am confident that under the 
     able leadership of John Negroponte, the days of toleration 
     for intelligence agencies that refuse to share information 
     with each other are behind us.
       The 9-11 Commission produced a book-length account of its 
     findings, that the American people might educate themselves 
     on the challenges facing our national effort to resist and 
     defeat terrorism. Though under different circumstances, I 
     eventually decided to do the same. I recently published a 
     book critical of our intelligence agencies because even after 
     9/11, they were not getting the message. After failing to win 
     the bureaucratic battle inside the Beltway, I decided to take 
     my case to the American people.
       In recent years, a reliable source that I refer to as 
     ``Ali'' began providing me with detailed inside information 
     on Iran's role in supporting terror and undermining the 
     United States' global effort to eradicate it. I have 
     forwarded literally hundreds of pages of information from Ali 
     to the CIA, FBI, and DIA, as well as the appropriate 
     congressional oversight committees. The response from our 
     intelligence agencies has been

[[Page H10013]]

     underwhelming, to put it mildly. Worse, I have documented 
     occasions where the CIA has outright lied to me. While the 
     mid-level bureaucrats at Langley may not be interested in 
     what I have to say, their new boss is. Porter Goss has all of 
     the information I have gathered, and I know he is ready to do 
     what it takes to challenge the circle-the-wagons culture of 
     the CIA. And Pete Hoekstra, the chairman of the House 
     Intelligence Committee, is energized as well. Director Goss 
     and Chairman Hoekstra are both outstanding leaders that know 
     each other well from their work together in the House of 
     Representatives, and I will continue to strongly support 
     their efforts at reform.
       All of this background leads to the reason I am writing to 
     you today. Yesterday the national news media began in-depth 
     coverage of a story that is not new. In fact, I have been 
     talking about it for some time. From 1998 to 2001, Army 
     Intelligence and Special Operations Command spearheaded an 
     effort called Able Danger that was intended to map out al 
     Qaeda. According to individuals that were part of the 
     project, Able Danger identified Mohammed Atta as a terrorist 
     threat before 9/11. Team members believed that the Atta cell 
     in Brooklyn should be subject to closer scrutiny, but 
     somewhere along the food chain of Administration bureaucrats 
     and lawyers, a decision was made in late 2000 against passing 
     the information to the FBI. These details are understandably 
     of great interest to the American people, thus the recent 
     media frenzy. However I have spoken on this topic for some 
     time, in the House Armed Services and Homeland Security 
     Committees, on the floor of the House on June 27, 2005, and 
     at various speaking engagements.
       The impetus for this letter is my extreme disappointment in 
     the recent, and false, claim of the 9-11 Commission staff 
     that the Commission was never given access to any information 
     on Able Danger. The 9-11 Commission staff received not one 
     but two briefings on Able Danger from former team members, 
     yet did not pursue the matter. Furthermore, commissioners 
     never returned calls from a defense intelligence official 
     that had made contact with them to discuss this issue as a 
     follow on to a previous meeting.
       In retrospect, it appears that my own suggestions to the 
     Commission might have directed investigators in the direction 
     of Able Danger, had they been heeded. I personally reached 
     out to members of the Commission several times with 
     information on the need for a national collaborative 
     capability, of which Able Danger was a prototype. In the 
     context of those discussions, I referenced LIWA and the work 
     it had been doing prior to 9/11. My chief of staff physically 
     handed a package containing this information to one of the 
     commissioners at your Commission's appearance on April 13, 
     2004 in the Hart Senate Office Building. I have spoken with 
     Governor Kean by phone on this subject, and my office 
     delivered a package with this information to the 9-11 
     Commission staff via courier. When the Commission briefed 
     Congress with their findings on July 22, 2004, I asked the 
     very first question in exasperation: ``Why didn't you let 
     Members of Congress who were involved in these issues testify 
     before, or meet with, the Commission?''
       The 9-11 Commission took a very high-profile role in 
     critiquing intelligence agencies that refused to listen to 
     outside information. The commissioners very publicly 
     expressed their disapproval of agencies and departments that 
     would not entertain ideas that did not originate in-house. 
     Therefore it is no small irony that the Commission would in 
     the end prove to be guilty of the very same offense when 
     information of potentially critical importance was brought to 
     its attention. The Commission's refusal to investigate Able 
     Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent 
     efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming 
     others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings 
     shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst 
     tendencies in the federal government that the Commission 
     worked to expose.
       Questions remain to be answered. The first: What lawyers in 
     the Department of Defense made the decision in late 2000 not 
     to pass the information from Able Danger to the FBI? And 
     second: Why did the 9-11 Commission staff not find it 
     necessary to pass this information to the Commissioners, and 
     why did the 9-11 Commission staff not request full 
     documentation of Able Danger from the team member that 
     volunteered the information?
       Answering these questions is the work of the commissioners 
     now, and fear of tarnishing the Commission's legacy cannot be 
     allowed to override the truth. The American people are 
     counting on you not to ``go native'' by succumbing to the 
     very temptations your Commission was assembled to indict. In 
     the meantime, I have shared all that I know on this topic 
     with the congressional committee chairmen that have oversight 
     over the Department of Defense, the CIA, the FBI, and the 
     rest of our intelligence gathering and analyzing agencies. 
     You can rest assured that Congress will share your interest 
     in how it is that this critical information is only now 
     seeing the light of day.
                                                      Curt Weldon,
                                               Member of Congress.

  This letter asks significant questions about a Top Secret 
intelligence unit in the military that identified Mohammed Atta and 
three associates in a Brooklyn cell 1 year before 9/11.
  Mr. Speaker, these individuals are still in the military, and they 
have offered to testify publicly, but this administration is gagging 
them. This administration is not allowing these military officers to 
speak, and in fact, the Defense Intelligence Agency is in the midst of 
destroying the career of a 23-year Bronze Star recipient, a lieutenant 
colonel in the Army, for doing one thing, for telling the truth.
  Mr. Speaker, there are bureaucrats in this administration, in the 
previous administration who do not want the story of Able Danger to 
come forward. Even though this secret intelligence unit was ordered by 
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, carried out by Special 
Forces Command, and we now know had information 2 days before the 
attack on the Cole that could have prevented 17 sailors from losing 
their lives; and in January of 2000, identified Mohammed Atta and, in 
September of 2000, tried to transfer that information to the FBI on 
three occasions.
  In fact, Mr. Speaker, the 9/11 Commission did not mention Able Danger 
at all. When they were asked about it by the New York Times in August 
of this year, they said, Well, it was historically insignificant.
  Mr. Speaker, Louis Freeh, the FBI Director during the time of 9/11, 
was interviewed on national news by Tim Russert on ``Meet the Press'' 2 
weeks ago, and when he was asked about his role in the information on 
9/11, he said, Well, you know, if we would have had the information 
from the Able Danger team, and I quote, ``that is the kind of tactical 
intelligence that would have made a difference in stopping the 
hijacking.'' Louis Freeh says it could have stopped the hijacking, and 
the 9/11 Commission now says it is historically insignificant.
  Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong in the Beltway. Tomorrow, at 
12:30 in the House gallery, I will unveil additional new information on 
Able Danger. I will unveil an enhanced set of investigations because, 
Mr. Speaker, in the end, the families of the 3,000 victims, the 
families of the 17 sailors, the people in this country deserve to know 
the truth.
  What happened before 9/11? Why is information being held in secret? 
Why are military officers being gagged? Why can the truth not be told?
  Mr. Speaker, we must in this body demand the truth publicly.