mparent7777: Able Danger: Official: Attack on Cole foreseen
By Eric RosenbergHearst Newspapers
WASHINGTON - A senior Republican congressman said Wednesday that the Pentagon's Able Danger intelligence program had detected preparations for the terrorist attack on the USS Cole but that American military leaders failed to act on the warnings.
Citing information provided to him by Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, the former manager of the Able Danger project, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said that two weeks before the Oct. 12, 2000, attack - and then again two days before - the intelligence unit uncovered evidence of a plot against an unnamed U.S. target in Yemen.
"They saw information that led them to unequivocally understand that something was going to happen in the port at Yemen involving an American entity," said Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
"Two days before the attack, they were jumping up and down because they knew something was going to happen ... at the port of Aden," Weldon told a Capitol Hill news conference.
Philpott passed the information up his chain of command at the U.S. Special Operations Command based in Tampa, Fla., Weldon said, adding: "We don't know where the information went to or what they did with it."
At the time of the attack, the USS Cole was operating under the aegis of the U.S. Central Command, which has responsibility for American forces in the Middle East.
Navy Ens. Joe Vermette, a spokesman for Tampa, Fla.-based U.S. Central Command, referred questions about Weldon's allegation to the U.S. Special Operations Command. Telephone calls to that unit's headquarters were not returned.
Suicide terrorists attacked the USS Cole, a 505-foot, $1 billion destroyer and one of the Navy's most modern ships, while it was moored and refueling in Aden harbor.
A small boat loaded with explosives pulled alongside the ship and detonated, tearing a hole in the side of ship, 40 feet wide and 40 feet high. The blast killed 17 sailors and injured 39 others.
The Pentagon's Able Danger program, which operated episodically from 1999 through early 2001 and is now disbanded, used sophisticated computer algorithms to scour both classified and public databases in an effort to uncover links among suspected terrorists.
Weldon has previously claimed that the Able Danger unit identified four of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists more than a year before the strikes - including apparent ring leader Mohamed Atta - but was prevented from sharing information with the Department of Justice by military lawyers.
Philpott, along with other former members of the now-defunct Able Danger program, has been barred by the Pentagon from testifying publicly before Congress about the intelligence unit.
In discussing an investigation into the USS Cole attack, then-Defense Secretary William Cohen said on Jan. 9, 2001, that there had been general intelligence warnings about possible attacks in the region but that the information wasn't specific.