3 more recall
mastermind on pre-9/11 chart
|September 2, 2005
BY ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON -- Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta as a terrorist a year before the attacks on New York and Washington. But they have been unable to find the chart or other evidence that it existed.
Last month, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Philpott went public with claims that a secret unit code-named Able Danger used data mining -- searching large amounts of data for patterns -- to identify Atta in 2000. Shaffer has said three other Sept. 11 hijackers also were identified.
In recent days, Pentagon officials have said they could not yet verify or disprove the assertions by Shaffer and Philpott. On Thursday, intelligence officials briefed reporters on the outcome of their interviews with people associated with Able Danger and their review of documents.
They said they interviewed at least 80 people and found three, besides Philpott and Shaffer, who said they remember seeing a chart that either mentioned Atta by name as an al-Qaida operative or showed his photo. Four of the five recalled a chart with a pre-9/11 photo of Atta; the other person recalled only a reference to his name.
The intelligence officials said they consider the five people to be credible, but their recollections are still unverified.
''To date, we have not identified the chart,'' said Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst for the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. ''We have identified a similar chart, but it does not contain the photo of Mohamed Atta or a reference to him or a reference to the other [9/11] hijackers.''
Downs and the other officials said they could not rule out that the chart recalled by Shaffer, Philpott and three others had been destroyed under regulations pertaining to intelligence information about people inside the United States. They also did not rule out that the five simply had faulty recollections. AP
See also: Mohammed Atta: Terrorist, Patsy, or Scapegoat?
What Really Happened