Senator Biden concludes his remarks, submitting for the record questions which apparently were for the witnesses who had been prohibited by the Bush Administration from testifying before Congress, and thanking Senator Spector and Congressman Weldon:
I hope we can get to the bottom of this, Mr. Chairman. I would like to be able to submit some questions in writing. When I say submit the questions, I was going to ask the witnesses so they are on the record as to where I am confused and what I want spoken to, anyway.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your courtesy in allowing me, A, to go first and to go over by almost 4 minutes the time allotted, and I thank the Chairman of the House for being here.
Representative Weldon. Thank you.
Chairman Specter. Senator Biden, your questions will be made a part of the record and directed to the witnesses to give you responses.
Congressman Weldon, you commented about threats and character assassination. What did you mean as to the threats?
Representative Weldon. Well, Mr. Chairman, at least two of the five people that were going to appear today were threatened with removal of their security clearances if they continue to talk about this. This is--
Finding something important to a person and holding that something hostage was a favorite technique of Clinton Administration. Either you play ball with Bill, or your life is ruined.
However, the Bush-43 Administration definitely seems to be more professional, and more cold-blooded about it: in this case, a person's career and very livelihood, via a security clearance, is what is at stake, should that person take seriously an oath to uphold, protect and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Chairman Specter. Are you at liberty to identify who those people are?
Representative Weldon. I will to you. I would rather do it privately, since the Defense Department has chosen not to allow anyone to testify, but I will provide that information to the Committee, at least on two of them.
And one of them, and I will state this publicly because it happened just on the eve of this hearing, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer had his security clearance officially removed the day before this hearing was scheduled to be held, not yesterday, but actually it would have been Monday night. He was notified. His lawyer will come next and will tell you that his security clearance was officially removed. There is no doubt in my mind that that was caused by his cooperation in--
Did the Bush neocon team see how effectively Clinton abused executive power, and decide that it was expedient to do likewise?
Chairman Specter. How about the character assassination?
Representative Weldon. Oh, there has been character assassination left and right. We had Larry DeRita, the spokesman for the Pentagon, question the memories of these military people when they came out, and I called Larry DeRita on the phone. I said, how can you question an Annapolis graduate who was the commander of one of our Naval destroyers who risked his entire career after 23 years--
Chairman Specter. You are talking about Captain Philpott?
Representative Weldon. I am talking about Captain Philpott--to tell this story because the 9/11 Commission characterized his work as historically insignificant. How can you challenge his memory? Why don't you challenge the memories of the other people who said this didn't occur? I mean, that, to me, was outrageous.
There are a number of other examples. I can provide a whole list of those, a litany of those character assassinations and attempts to intimidate for the Committee.
It is a common trick these days: science that supports one's political agenda is good science, but science that refutes it is bad science. The situation is similar with human memories.
Chairman Specter. Would you specify again why you concluded that the information was not classified, based upon what DOD told you?
Representative Weldon. At a private briefing that we had for members of the Armed Services Committee 2 weeks ago, there were probably six members in the room, three Republican, three Democrats, and all of our staff, the Legal Counsel for the Pentagon, when asked, what about the certification for the destruction of this data--
Chairman Specter. Mr. Haynes?
Representative Weldon. I don't know the name. I will get it for you. I don't recall the name right now, but he was Legal Counsel. He said, "Well, there is no certificate needed if the information is not classified or not used in compartmentalized work." Well, you can't claim that the information is not classified on one hand and then come in today when all they are going to talk about is open source information--
Chairman Specter. The representation was made to you that this did not involved classified information?
Representative Weldon. Yes. It was made to the Armed Services Committee members.
Chairman Specter. And is there a transcript of that record?
Representative Weldon. No, there is not. It was an informal briefing. Most of what the Pentagon did was informal. There were no minutes kept. There were no witnesses put under oath. There were no subpoenas issued. It was not an investigation, and that point was raised by members of the Armed Services Committee. It was not an investigation.
The information was unclassified, yet it was ordered to be destroyed, and the customer who owned the information was not informed about the destruction until after the fact (see farther below).
Chairman Specter. Since Captain Philpott has been precluded from testifying--ordered not to testify. I would have prefered to hear him, but in his absence, did you discuss this matter with him--
Representative Weldon. Yes.
Chairman Specter. [continuing]. Or question him in detail?
Representative Weldon. I questioned Captain Philpott. He was the one who felt--was so incensed about what happened that he risked his entire Naval career and came out with a New York Times interview that I arranged and he said to the reporter with me there listening and witnessing that he would risk his entire career and life on the fact that in January and February of 2000, he identified absolutely Mohammed Atta as a part of the Brooklyn cell.
A US Navy officer "would risk his entire career and life on the fact that in January and February of 2000, he identified absolutely Mohammed Atta as a part of the Brooklyn cell" -- over a year and a half before 9/11! And now he was being "ordered not to testify" by the Bush Administration.
Chairman Specter. And with respect to Dr. Eileen Preisser, she, too, has been ordered not to testify. Have you discussed this matter in detail with her?
Representative Weldon. I have discussed it with all the individuals. She, too, said there were materials that were produced that identified Mohammed Atta by name and with a facial recognition that the 9/11 Commission said couldn't have happened because there were no government I.D. documents, but as you will hear--or you won't hear, because J.D. won't be allowed to testify--but what he would have said is they purchased the photograph of Mohammed Atta from a contractor in California. Now, we came very close to identifying that contractor and we are still working on it. We know people who knew the woman--
Chairman Specter. And who said that?
Representative Weldon. One of the 9/11 Commissioners, I think it was Tim Roemer, said publicly that there is no way they could have had a photograph of Mohammed Atta because there were no government records at the time that the Able Danger reported, but they didn't get it from government records. They got the photograph of Mohammed Atta by purchasing it from a source in California, and the witness that was not allowed to testify today who is sitting behind me would have stated that he was aware of that effort and how they got that photograph.
This is quality: "the witness that was not allowed to testify today who is sitting behind me would have stated that he was aware of that effort and how they got that photograph" of one of the 9/11 hijackers a year and a half before 9/11!
Chairman Specter. What information do you have as to the allegation on the destruction of records?
Representative Weldon. You are going to hear testimony today from another former Federal employee who again is risking his career. He is a private contractor today. But he was ordered to destroy--
This is the Bush-43 ethic: testify to Congress, and you risk your career.
I would have expected this from the Kremlin, but never from the White House.
Chairman Specter. And his name is?
Representative Weldon. His name is Kleinsmith, Erik Kleinsmith. He is on your witness list. And he will testify that he was ordered to destroy all Able Danger material, 2.5 terabytes, and he will name the person who ordered him to destroy that data. And he was further told that if he didn't do it, he would lose his job and quite possibly might go to jail.
He will also testify, and you can ask him this question, but it is my understanding he will testify that when he met with General Lambert, who was the SOCOM official who was the customer for this data, he had never been consulted prior to the destruction of this data and when he found out, he was livid. For the life of me, I don't understand how someone extraneous from that chain of command could order destruction of data and not even inform the customer of that data, the general at SOCOM, General Lambert.
They had 2.5 terabytes of unclassified, publicly available data about Al Qaeda -- "equal to one-fourth of all the entire written collection that the Library of Congress maintains" (see Part 3) -- and "someone extraneous from that chain of command could order destruction of data and not even inform the customer of that data".
What are they hiding?