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Pentagon Blocks Able Danger Testimony

Newsmax | September 21 2005

Pentagon lawyers have ordered five members of the Able Danger intelligence team not to testify at an open Senate in hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning about information they developed on lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta a year before the 9/11 attacks.

"We have been told I cannot testify tomorrow," Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer told ABC Radio host Sean Hannity. "We have been told to stand down."

Lt. Col. Shaffer, who was the Defense Intelligence Agency's liaison officer to Able Danger, said he was preparing his testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon when he was told that the hearing "will be classified, it will be secret."

Hours after Lt. Col. Shaffer revealed that he'd been muzzled, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told the New York Times that open testimony on Able Danger "would not be appropriate."

"We have expressed our security concerns and believe it is simply not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum."
However Shaffer maintained that he intended to discuss only details on the program already made public by Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon, a chief advocate of the intense data mining developed by Able Danger.

Lt. Col. Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, told United Press International that Able Danger team members "were told verbally that they would not be allowed to testify," and that he had requested the decision about his client be put in writing.

Zaid said that the team leader, Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, a civilian analyst named James Smith and other members of the team had all been denied permission to testify.

Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter told the New York Times late Tuesday that he intended to go ahead with the hearing on Wednesday and hoped that it "may produce a change of heart by the Department of Defense in answering some very basic questions."

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