Thursday, August 18, 2005

Officer Says 2 Others Are Source of His Atta Claims


The former intelligence officer who says that a Defense Department program identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks said yesterday that many of his allegations are not based on his memory but on the recollections of others.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, who has been on paid administrative leave from the Defense Intelligence Agency since his security clearance was suspended in March 2004, said in a telephone interview that a Navy officer and a civilian official affiliated with the Able Danger program told him after the attacks that Atta and other hijackers had been included on a chart more than a year earlier.

But because he was not intimately familiar with the names and photographs of suspected terrorists, he did not realize that hijackers were listed until it was alleged to him after the attacks, Shaffer said. All of the charts that could support his claims have disappeared, he said.

"I did see the charts and I did handle the charts, but my understanding of them was like a layman," Shaffer said. "We had identified them as terrorists. . . . But even now I do not remember all the names."

The comments add to the uncertainty surrounding assertions by Shaffer and Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.)....

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