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August 22, 2005

Able Danger Officer Shaffer Didn't Name Atta (?)

At least according to his latest telling of his story.

Maguire says this constitutes a "change of story" for Shaffer -- which is sloppy of him. He calls it a change of story because Rep. Curt Weldon claimed that Shaffer had named Mohammad Atta to the 9/11 Commission. Obviously, there's a contradiction between Weldon's story (second-hand, of course) and Shaffer's, but no contradiction I see between Shaffer's claims.

There's room here for mistatements and confusion -- Schaffer may have named Atta to his Pentagon superiors, but not specifically to 9/11 Commission staffers. And a vague or misunderstood question could result in mistatement or misinterpretation.

Bear in mind, there are at least two scandals here-- one, why didn't the Pentagon forward this information to the FBI?, and two, why didn't the 9/11 Commission see fit to investigate this or even mention it in its final report?

They're similar scandals, both about bureaucratic incompetence and negligence and CYA-ing, and it's easy to take a question about one as a question about another, especially in casual conversation.

Captain Ed says this is a misunderstanding-- Shaffer was saying he didn't name the other terrorists discovered in Atta's cell, but he did name Atta himself, Atta being the only name he remembered.

The transcript suggests this is quite plausible, but of course we'll need Shaffer himself to clarify precisely what he meant and what he told the 9/11 staffers.

More... From Captain Ed again. It seems that other members of the Able Danger team are talking to the press-- meaning that we're not just relying on one man's (or two men's) say-so.

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posted by Ace at 04:24 PM

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