Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer claims a “highly classified intelligence program, known as Able Danger, had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, and three other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its information.” Shaffer says those efforts were blocked by military lawyers.
It’s uncertain whether any of this actually happened. But the right-wing has used it as an excuse to smear former Deputy Attorney General (and 9/11 Commissioner) Jamie Gorelick. People like Rush Limbaugh and columnist Deborah Orin of the New York Post claim that the information on Atta couldn’t be shared with the FBI because of a 1995 memo written by Gorelick.
As Media Matters notes, this is totally false. Shaffer’s story, if it’s true, involved communications between the Department of Defense and the FBI. Gorelick’s 1995 memo was only about communications between the FBI and the criminal division of the Justice Department. (It also didn’t create a wall between the FBI and the Justice Department but that’s another story.) Whatever problems Shaffer had trying to communicate with the FBI it had absolutely nothing to do with Gorelick.
UPDATE: The post smearing Gorelick which was posted on Instapundit.com was written by a woman named Ann Althouse, who was substitute blogging that week. The email address above reaches Glenn Reynolds, who reguarly posts to the site. Glenn should get the emails too, because he needs to issue a correction to his readers. But some of Glenn’s fans think you should contact Ann directly. If you’d like to do so, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.