Rep. Weldon Pentagon Report a 'Whitewash'
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., called a Pentagon report he had requested about pre-9/11 intelligence on al-Qaida operations in the United States "emphatically wrong" and a "whitewash," aimed at discrediting him as he faces the toughest re-election campaign of his career.
The report was leaked to the press on Wednesday, but Weldon was not briefed on its contents until Thursday afternoon, despite his instrumental role in requesting the investigation.
"What really upset me was they actually released information to the media before they even met with me or anyone else," Weldon told NewsMax on Thursday.
The report, conducted by the Pentagon Inspector General, investigated claims brought to Weldon's office by active duty military officers and other Defense Department officials about information they had developed on al-Qaida cells in the United States more than one year before the Sept. 11 attacks on America.
The data-mining operation was designated Able Danger, and the operation was run out of the U.S. Special Operations Command at Fort Belvoir, not far from the Pentagon. It was part of an experimental program to collect intelligence on terrorist networks and on illicit Chinese high-technology procurement efforts from open source material.
And that is why the program became such a threat, Weldon believes. "The database included information on Chinese procurement in the United States and the Clinton people didn't want this coming out, because there were a ton of Clinton names in there."
The Inspector General report confirmed information brought to Weldon by intelligence officials involved in the program that they had been ordered to destroy more than 2.5 terabytes of information in April/May 2000.
It also confirmed that the data was destroyed primarily because of the collection program on Chinese procurement activities in the United States, not because of al-Qaida.
That effort, which the report said "had parallels to the Able Danger mission," was known as the Joint Counterintelligence Assessment Group (JCAG).
The JCAG data runs were ordered in February 1999 by Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. John Hamre, the report stated, in reaction to "an active espionage operation by a hostile intelligence force."
Weldon said the Chinese procurement information included the names of former Defense Secretary William Perry and Condoleezza Rice, "because of their association with Stanford University, where the bulk of these students were acquiring this information."
The Pentagon report stated that the Able Danger data was destroyed along with the Chinese procurement information because of "concerns regarding the retention of data on United States persons that was collected" as part of the JCAG demonstration.