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Did DoD lawyers blow the chance to nab Atta? (September 2000)
Government Security News ^ | Aug 9,2005 | Jacob Goodwin

Posted on 08/10/2005 8:16:09 AM PDT by l123tate

In September 2000, one year before the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11, a U.S. Army military intelligence program, known as “Able Danger,” identified a terrorist cell based in Brooklyn, NY, one of whose members was 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta, and recommended to their military superiors that the FBI be called in to “take out that cell,” according to Rep. Curt Weldon, a longtime Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who is currently vice chairman of both the House Homeland Security and House Armed Services Committees.

The recommendation to bring down that New York City cell -- in which two other Al Qaeda terrorists were also active -- was not pursued during the weeks leading up to the 2000 presidential election, said Weldon. That’s because Mohammed Atta possessed a “green card” at the time and Defense Department lawyers did not want to recommend that the FBI go after someone holding a green card, Weldon told his House colleagues last June 27 during a little-noticed speech, known as a “special order,” which he delivered on the House floor.

Details of the origins and efforts of Able Danger were corroborated in a telephone interview by GSN with a former defense intelligence officer who said he worked closely with that program. That intelligence officer, who spoke to GSN while sitting in Rep. Weldon’s Capitol Hill office, requested anonymity for fear that his current efforts to help re-start a similar intelligence-gathering operation might be hampered if his identity becomes known.

The intelligence officer recalled carrying documents to the offices of Able Danger, which was being run by the Special Operations Command, headquartered in Tampa, FL. The documents included a photo of Mohammed Atta supplied by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and described Atta’s relationship with Osama bin Laden. The officer was very disappointed when lawyers working for Special Ops decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen. Thus, the information Able Danger had amassed about the only terrorist cell they had located inside the United States could not be shared with the FBI, the lawyers concluded.

“We were directed to take those 3M yellow stickers and place them over the faces of Atta and the other terrorists and pretend they didn’t exist,” the intelligence officer told GSN.

DoD lawyers may also have been reluctant to suggest a bold action by FBI agents after the bureau’s disastrous 1993 strike against the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco, TX, said Weldon and the intelligence officer.

“So now, Mr. Speaker,” Weldon said on the House floor last June, “for the first time I can tell our colleagues that one of our agencies not only identified the New York cell of Mohammed Atta and two of the terrorists, but actually made a recommendation to bring the FBI in to take out that cell.”

Weldon has developed a reputation for making bold pronouncements and, occasionally, ruffling the feathers of some of his colleagues. His recent non-fiction book, “Countdown to Terror,” which draws on information from an Iranian expatriate source Weldon has dubbed “Ali,” has drawn criticism from the CIA, others in the intelligence community and some congressional colleagues.

A longtime champion of firefighters and first responders, Weldon has a particular interest in this subject because he has been openly and actively pushing since 1999 for the establishment of an integrated government-wide center that could consolidate, analyze and act upon intelligence gathered by dozens of U.S. agencies, armed services and departments.

Weldon’s proposal was based on the innovative intelligence gathering capabilities he had witnessed at the U.S. Army’s Information Dominance Center, based at Fort Belvoir, VA, (which was formerly known as the Land Information Warfare Assessment Center.) This Army center had employed data mining, profiling and data collaboration techniques before several other intelligence agencies, and was using such cutting edge software tools as Starlight (developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Spires.

For years, the CIA resisted the congressman’s recommendation, Weldon told GSN in a telephone interview on August 1, claiming that his plan to integrate dozens of discrete and classified intelligence streams was both unworkable and unnecessary. Weldon had dubbed his proposed organization the National Operations and Analysis Hub, nicknamed NOAH, because the center was intended “to protect our nation from the flood of threats,” he explained.

Sixteen months after 9/11, such a “data fusion center,” named the Terrorism Threat Integration Center (TTIC) was indeed established by the Bush Administration.

At the urging of the 9/11 Commission, the TTIC has since been restructured and renamed the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC).

Weldon is pleased that steps have been taken to unify the nation’s intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities, now headed by a newly established Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Negroponte, but Weldon remains concerned that the “stovepipe” mentalities that plagued the intelligence community in the past continue to inhibit true information sharing between intelligence agencies.

He is also extremely frustrated by the fact that so little official attention seems to have been paid to the intelligence failure related to the Mohammed Atta cell in Brooklyn. Weldon contends that few in the Bush Administration seem interested in investigating that missed opportunity.

“If we had had that [military intelligence] system in 1999 and 2000, which the military had already developed as a prototype, and if we had followed the lead of the military entity that identified the Al Qaeda cell of Mohammed Atta, then perhaps, Mr. Speaker, 9/11 would never have occurred,” Weldon said during his special order remarks.

According to Weldon, staff members of the 9/11 Commission were briefed on the capabilities of the Able Danger intelligence unit within the Special Operations Command, which had been set up by General Pete Schoomaker, who headed Special Ops at the time, on the orders of General Hugh Shelton, then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Staffers at the 9/11 Commission staffers were also told about the specific recommendation to break up the Mohammed Atta cell. However, those commission staff members apparently did not choose to brief the commission’s members on these sensitive matters.

Weldon said he was told specifically by commission members, Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana; and John Lehman, a former secretary of the Navy; that they had never been briefed on the Able Danger unit within Special Ops or on the unit’s evidence of a terrorist cell in Brooklyn.

“I personally talked with [Philip] Zelikow [executive director of the 9/11 Commission] about this,” recalled the intelligence officer. “For whatever bizarre reasons, he didn’t pass on the information.”

The State Department, where Zelikow now works as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he was traveling and unavailable for comment.

“Why did the 9/11 Commission not investigate this entire situation?” asked Weldon on June 27. “Why did the 9/11 Commission not ask the question about the military’s recommendation against the Mohammed Atta cell?”

Weldon is also disappointed with himself for not pushing harder against the intelligence bureaucracy that he saw as resisting his proposal to set up a more integrated intelligence-gathering operation. But he saves some of his greatest ire for the lawyers within the Department of Defense -- he is not sure if they were working within the Special Operations Command or higher up the organizational chart, within the Office of the Secretary of Defense -- for their unwillingness to allow Able Danger to send to the FBI its evidence and its recommendation for immediate action.

“Obviously, if we had taken out that cell, 9/11 would not have occurred and, certainly, taking out those three principal players in that cell would have severely crippled, if not totally stopped, the operation that killed 3,000 people in America,” said Weldon.

Shining a spotlight on this intelligence gaffe has not been easy. Russ Caso, Weldon’s chief of staff, explained to GSN the steps his boss has taken to shed light on the situation.

Weldon spoke with Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, about conversations he has had with several members of the Able Danger intelligence unit. Weldon has urged Hoekstra to investigate the reasons why Able Danger’s revelations were not shared with the FBI. Hoekstra looked into the matter at the Pentagon, but after several days of fruitless inquiries, was unable to find anyone at the Defense Department who seemed to know anything about Able Danger or would acknowledge the intelligence unit had ever existed, explained Caso in a telephone interview with GSN.

Unwilling to let the matter drop, Weldon arranged for a face-to-face meeting in late July between Hoekstra, himself and the former intelligence officer who had worked with Able Danger, and who outlined his former unit’s evidence and recommendations for Hoekstra.

“Congressman Weldon has met with several people who were working on Able Danger to identify where Al Qaeda was set up around the world,” said Caso. “They made the suggestion that this information be passed to the FBI, and lawyers within the Defense Department -- whether within Special Ops or within OSD, we don’t know -- and the lawyers said, ‘No’.”

A report about some of these events appeared last June 19 in The Times Herald newspaper, of Norristown, PA, which is located in the Philadelphia suburbs that Rep. Weldon represents in Congress.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 911commission; 911coverup; 911hijackers; abledanger; alqaeda; atta; gorelick; jamiegorelick; weldon; x42
In September 2000

Clinton was President in September 2000.

1 posted on 08/10/2005 8:16:10 AM PDT by l123tate
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To: l123tate

Clinton, Gorelick and PC are what caused 9-11.


2 posted on 08/10/2005 8:17:40 AM PDT by RushCrush (The mediocre always throw stones at the brilliant.)
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To: l123tate

Duplicate:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1460271/posts


3 posted on 08/10/2005 8:18:20 AM PDT by Boundless
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To: l123tate

Somehow Gorelick and her legal "Wall" between agencies had to have played a role in this. Again, Clinton chickens coming home to roost, like Serbian explosives in trains.


4 posted on 08/10/2005 8:19:02 AM PDT by JeeperFreeper
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To: l123tate

The intelligence officer recalled carrying documents to the offices of Able Danger, which was being run by the Special Operations Command, headquartered in Tampa, FL. The documents included a photo of Mohammed Atta supplied by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and described Atta’s relationship with Osama bin Laden. The officer was very disappointed when lawyers working for Special Ops decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen. Thus, the information Able Danger had amassed about the only terrorist cell they had located inside the United States could not be shared with the FBI, the lawyers concluded.

“We were directed to take those 3M yellow stickers and place them over the faces of Atta and the other terrorists and pretend they didn’t exist,” the intelligence officer told GSN.

5 posted on 08/10/2005 8:19:07 AM PDT by l123tate
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To: l123tate

And they left out one other fact. DoD could not talk to FBI on this because of "the wall." That is, if I understand correctly what they insulated with it.


6 posted on 08/10/2005 8:19:12 AM PDT by Ingtar (Understanding is a three-edged sword : your side, my side, and the truth in between ." -- Kosh)
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To: l123tate

Two thing need to be discussed in the media.

1. "the Wall" erected by Jamie Gorelick to protect the Dems and clinton from being investigated over their Chi-com funding.

2. Why wasn't this investigated by the 9/11 commission (on which Gorelick served) ?


7 posted on 08/10/2005 8:19:46 AM PDT by Wil H
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To: l123tate

Able Danger, the 9/11 Commission & the Strange (But Now Explainable) Actions of Sandy Berger

By Sean Osborne, Senior Analyst & Military Affairs Expert

& Douglas J. Hagmann,Director

10 August 2005: Hey America… do you remember the strange actions of President Clinton’s national security adviser Sandy Berger during the 9/11 Commission investigation when he removed highly classified terrorism documents that should have been turned over to that independent commission? Did you ever wonder what Berger was attempting to hide and even more importantly, why? Did you also wonder why, even though he committed a felony, he received nothing more than a slap on the wrist while various political and intelligence officials played down his actions, wanting them to disappear as quickly as possible? It appears that we just might have discovered the answers to these and other troubling questions: Able Danger.

Able Danger is the code name of a secret team of U.S. Army military intelligence operatives created in 1999 under a directive signed by General Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to assemble information about al Qaeda networks around the world. In mid-2000, the Able Danger team discovered the existence of the key 9/11 terror cell of Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawar al-Hamzi inside the U.S. and recommended to their military superiors that the FBI be called in to “take out that cell,” according to Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania House member and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. That information was presented in the summer of 2000 in the form of a chart complete with photographs of the terrorists to the Pentagon's Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Our intelligence was dead-on accurate, but was not acted upon a full year before the 9/11 attacks.

In fact, Representative Weldon said Able Danger members had recommended that the information they uncovered be shared with the FBI, but the idea was rejected and they “were directed to take those 3M yellow stickers and place them over the faces of Atta and the other terrorists and pretend they didn’t exist.”

Despite the findings of Able Danger, absolutely no action was pursued to take out the cell during the weeks leading up to the 2000 presidential election, said Weldon. The reason? Mohammed Atta possessed a “green card” at the time. Under the rules of the Clinton Justice Department, lawyers working for Special Operations decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen. They did not want to recommend that the FBI go after someone holding a green card, Weldon told his House colleagues on June 27, 2005 during a speech, known as a “special order,” which he delivered on the House floor. Defense Department lawyers were also said to be reluctant to suggest a bold action by FBI agents after the bureau’s disastrous 1993 strike against the Branch Davidian religious cult in Waco, Texas.


Read Curt Weldon’s June 27, 2005 Testimony
This week, Representative Weldon and a former defense intelligence official said they had spoken with three Able Danger team members, all still working in the government, including two in the military, and that they were consistent in asserting that Mohammed Atta's affiliation with a Qaeda terrorism cell in the United States was known within the Defense Department by mid-2000 but was not acted upon. Further and after the fact, the 9-11 Commission was reportedly never told about Able Danger or its findings.

Enter Sandy Berger – During the 9/11 Commission

While the investigation by the 9/11 Commission was in progress, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, who served as Clinton's national security adviser for all of President's Clinton’s second term, was caught removing documents from the national Archives – the very same documents that should have been turned over to the independent commission probing the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Berger ultimately admitted to intentionally taking and destroying various classified documents relating to terrorism collected under the Clinton administration. Berger and his lawyer said on July 19, 2004 that he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also “inadvertently” took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio. Those documents reportedly included an assessment of America's terror vulnerabilities at airports, something very relevant to Able Danger’s findings and key to the 9/11 attacks. What Sandy Berger did was a felony, yet was allowed a generous plea agreement of a fine and a three-year suspension of his security clearance.

Under the prism of Able Danger, we are now able to make sense out of the previously curious actions of Sandy Berger.

Able Danger & the Saga of the 9/11 Commission; Warren Commission Redux

According to Weldon, staff members of the 9/11 Commission were briefed on the findings of the Able Danger intelligence unit within the Special Operations Command and about the specific recommendation to break up the Mohammed Atta cell, yet those members reportedly decided not to brief the commission’s members on those matters. Why not?

Clearer now is the conflict of interest of having Jamie Gorelick, the Assistant Attorney General under Bill Clinton serving on the 9/11 Commission. Ms. Gorelick worked directly for Janet Reno and was directly involved in matters that were under review by the 9/11 Commission.

Remember the reason the findings of Able Danger were not acted upon? In his testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Attorney General John Ashcroft stated the following:


"In 1995, the Justice Department embraced flawed legal reasoning, imposing a series of restrictions on the FBI that went beyond what the law required," he said. "The 1995 Guidelines and the procedures developed around them imposed draconian barriers to communications between the law enforcement and intelligence communities. The wall left intelligence agents afraid to talk with criminal prosecutors or agents. In 1995, the Justice Department designed a system destined to fail."
Continuing his testimony, Ashcroft stated:


"Somebody built this wall.” Ashcroft added: "The basic architecture for the wall . . . was contained in a classified memorandum entitled 'Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that its author is a member of this Commission."
Ashcroft was referring to Jamie Gorelick, who served as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration as well as general counsel at the Department of Defense. Both jobs put her at the very center of the former administration's anti-terrorism efforts. Consequently, her actions, as well as those of her superiors, were the subject of review by the very commission on which she is a member. Most assuredly, that is a huge conflict of interest. In her position at the Justice Department, Gorelick wrote a memo that provides a picture of the role she played setting policy for intelligence gathering and sharing during the Clinton Administration. The memo stemmed from the Justice Department's prosecution of the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Gorelick wrote in 1995:


“During the course of those investigations, significant counterintelligence information has been developed related to the activities and plans of agents of foreign powers operating in this country and overseas, including previously unknown connections between separate terrorist groups." We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations. These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation."
And therein is the framework for the legal conundrum faced by Able Danger, and why Atta and his minions were free to hijack 4 airliners on 9/11.


8 posted on 08/10/2005 8:22:42 AM PDT by conservativecorner (It's a cult of death and submission to fanatics Larry!!)
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To: Wil H

What did Clinton know, and when did he know it?


9 posted on 08/10/2005 8:22:50 AM PDT by Getready ((...Fear not ...))
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To: l123tate

3,000 people needlessly slaughtered because of political correctness. This is the true legacy of the political left in this country.


10 posted on 08/10/2005 8:24:59 AM PDT by RichardW
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To: RichardW

Plus all those babies, of course.


11 posted on 08/10/2005 8:37:52 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: RichardW

If Clinton knew a terrorist group was in the USA in 2000 (and I'm sure he did), knew Usama was behind the 1993 Tower bombings (and probably OKC) and did nothing, Bubba not only missed opportunities and quashed the truth, he enabled the terrorists.


12 posted on 08/10/2005 8:40:09 AM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: Getready
we'll never know. i think that hilary has too much "FBI background" to let herself take the hit, with the others. Sufice to say that Clinton was an unmitigated disaster and that in spite of him and his cronies our country survived.

never forget that libs are the true enemies of the state. That just because they have "good intentions" doesn't make them any less malignant.

13 posted on 08/10/2005 8:40:34 AM PDT by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: RichardW

No, no, it was Islam that was the biggest victim of 9-11. That's the new tack of the Left.

Also, better to kill 3,000 than have one Mohammedan offended.


14 posted on 08/10/2005 8:43:31 AM PDT by Dolphan ("Now how can a Puerto Rican lose a fly ball in the sun?' - Harry Caray)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: midogwood
I am outraged at the lies and coverup here

Keep getting outraged. Nothing will come of this. No one will go to jail for this horrendous breach of national security. Clinton's safe. Gorelick's safe. Take this information and go out into the general public and see what kind of reaction you get. Ho-hum. Yawn. Is it football season yet?

Everyone of those bastards from the Clinton Administration knows they can count on public apathy and the complicity of the MSM to protect their sorry asses from any and all reprisals for their part in allowing the murder of 3000 of our countrymen on U.S. soil by Atta and Co.
16 posted on 08/10/2005 8:56:30 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Islam is war)
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To: Dick Vomer
I was mesmerized by the information that the FBI had on the terrorists within a couple of days of 9-11...particularly Atta. I thought out loud: "How the hell did they get all that so quick??"

I'm guessing that it did get to the FBI where it remained as a "Top Secret: Take No Action" file....because of the upcoming election. I have to believe that Clark knew.

17 posted on 08/10/2005 8:56:38 AM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: l123tate

Clinton's Gorelick is the culprit. That's why the Dems wanted to hide her by putting her on the 9/11 panel.


18 posted on 08/10/2005 8:59:32 AM PDT by Cautor
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To: RichardW
Let's not forget TWA Flight 800 which both Steponallofus and Sen Curry would claim was a terroist act after 911. The Xlintoon administration covered up the shoot down of that flight.

Of course, they demonstrated their willingness to kill the Branch Davidians at Waco and kidnap Elian from his relatives in Florida to reunited him with that compassionate dictator Fidel!!!

19 posted on 08/10/2005 9:05:32 AM PDT by Young Werther
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To: RichardW
3,000 people needlessly slaughtered because of political correctness. This is the true legacy of the political left in this country.

No, there is no such thing as "political correctness", and I wish people would not use the term as it plays into the hands of the CENSORS that coined the phrase. It is CENSORSHIP - pure and simple.

But in this instance, it was not cenorship that drove the left to construct the wall, it was CORRUPTION. The wall was constructed to help defeat any investigation of Chinese money coming to the DNC.

So it was clinton and the DNC lining their pockets enabled 9/11 to happen.

20 posted on 08/10/2005 9:32:53 AM PDT by Wil H
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To: Wil H
"Why wasn't this investigated by the 9/11 commission (on which Gorelick served) ?"

I believe you have answered your own question.

Carolyn

21 posted on 08/10/2005 9:41:56 AM PDT by CDHart (The world has become a lunatic asylum and the lunatics are in charge.)
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To: l123tate
Limbaugh just mentioned my FIRST thought as to why the 9/11 commision wasn't told about this "Able Danger" thing...

Sandy Berger's BVD's.

22 posted on 08/10/2005 9:55:02 AM PDT by soundandvision
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To: soundandvision

Now that's an interesting perspective. Berger was sure hot to clean up something in the records.


23 posted on 08/10/2005 10:01:21 AM PDT by Cautor
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To: Cautor

And it wasn't Berger's idea...It had to come right from the top....And that means Bubba......and Clark.


24 posted on 08/10/2005 10:17:34 AM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: l123tate

atta boy bill


25 posted on 08/10/2005 1:15:51 PM PDT by Heuristic Hiker
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To: Sacajaweau

I agree. Berger never had an original thought or idea in his life. We lucked through the Krinton years but don't think we'd make it through another presidency with her royal heinous at the helm with all her side show pals.


26 posted on 08/10/2005 2:24:29 PM PDT by Cautor
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To: l123tate
lawyers working for Special Ops decided that anyone holding a green card had to be granted essentially the same legal protections as any U.S. citizen.

Atta did not have a green card and green card holders don not have the same legal protections as U.S. Citizens. The lawyers for Special Ops should be disbarred!

27 posted on 08/10/2005 6:54:50 PM PDT by Marine Inspector (Customs & Border Protection Officer)
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To: l123tate
Wow. The 'toon rabbit hole goes really deep.

The DUmmie conspiracy theories about W don't even start to compare.
28 posted on 08/10/2005 8:35:35 PM PDT by varyouga
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To: Wil H
I have another question I want answered.

Just why is Gorelick being protected and just who is doing it?

She should be crucified...and how is it she was appointed to the commission in the first place? Her role in erecting the wall between the agencies was well known and documented before the 9/11 commission was formed and it was very clear this was a key factor in the 9/11 event from the very start.

29 posted on 08/11/2005 9:19:18 AM PDT by Les_Miserables
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To: Les_Miserables

Remember that the 9/11 Commission was a construct of the Dems to smear Bush (remember the Sean Hannity Memo intercept that strategised having an inquiry to drag Bush through the mud just before the election?).

So once it was going to happen the Dems needed to have someone in there that could stonewall and bury the clinton malfeasance. Who better than Jamie Gorelick who did exactly that job at Justice. The whole 9/11 Commissiion is another Dem Dirty trick gone bad, along with RatherGate and the Joe Wilson scandal.


30 posted on 08/11/2005 4:00:49 PM PDT by Wil H
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To: Wil H

I understand but why haven't the Republicans taken the wraps off this twit and exposed the whole magilla? Let's put it out on the skillet and cook it over an open fire. The squirming has already started. If we turn up the heat and give them no chance to regroup we may get to the real Bubba (er ..bottom) of this. How about the Homeland Security House Committee opening public hearings? Today.


31 posted on 08/12/2005 3:12:06 PM PDT by Les_Miserables
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To: Les_Miserables
I understand but why haven't the Republicans taken the wraps off this twit and exposed the whole magilla?

Because there is more to this episode than has been described.

32 posted on 08/12/2005 3:39:29 PM PDT by surely_you_jest
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