Weldon Can't Prove His Claims - His Book Is Faulty Too
Every time I try and believe something a Republican says, I seem to regret it. Last week, against the cautioning from some of you that Curt Weldon was a publicity-seeking crank, I gave credence to stories in Judy Miller’s New York Times that Weldon had presented evidence that the Pentagon’s Operation Able Danger had identified Mohammed Atta and three Al Qaeda associates in this country more than a year before 9/11, and yet according to information Weldon received none of this information was forwarded to the FBI or CIA. Worse yet, according to Weldon, the information about Atta was briefed to staff of the 9/11 Commission by Able Danger operatives, and yet the commission staffers had not passed this information on to the 9/11 Commissioners.
Sure enough, Time magazine reports today that when they pressed Weldon on the matter, his own book doesn’t stand up to scrutiny now.
In a particularly dramatic scene in Weldon’s book, Countdown to Terror, the Pennsylvania Republican described personally handing to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, just after Sept. 11, an Able Danger chart produced in 1999 identifying Atta. But Weldon told TIME he’s no longer certain Atta’s name was on that original document. The congressman says he handed Hadley his only copy. Still, last week he referred reporters to a recently reconstructed version of the chart in his office where, among dozens of names and photos of terrorists from around the world, there was a color mug shot of Mohammad Atta, circled in black marker.
Pentagon officials are playing down any controversy. They say they can find nothing produced by the Able Danger program, which involved fewer than half a dozen intelligence analysts, mentioning Atta’s name.
Yeah, sure this could be just another cover up operation by the Pentagon, but if Weldon now is backing away from his claims in his own book and from just last week, then I and the New York Times swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. The difference is that I won’t make that mistake again, whereas the Times continues to.
Update: Read Kevin Drum's two good posts today where he deconstructs the Weldon stupidity.