Cyber-sleuths working for a Pentagon intelligence unit that reportedly identified some of the 9/11 hijackers before the attack were fired by military officials, after they mistakenly pinpointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other prominent Americans as potential security risks, The Post has learned.There is more.
The private contractors working for the counter-terrorism unit Able Danger lost their jobs in May 2000. The firings following a series of analyses that Pentagon lawyers feared were dangerously close to violating laws banning the military from spying on Americans, sources said.
The Pentagon canceled its contract with the private firm shortly after the analysts — who were working on identifying al Qaeda operatives — produced a particularly controversial chart on proliferation of sensitive technology to China, the sources said.
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the veteran Army officer who was the Defense Intelligence Agency liaison to Able Danger, told The Post China "had something to do" with the decision to restructure Able Danger.
Sources said the private contractors, using sophisticated computer software that sifts through massive amounts of raw data to establish patterns, came up with a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the U.S.
The program wrongly tagged Rice, who at the time was an adviser to then-candidate George W. Bush, and former Defense Secretary William Perry by linking their associations at Stanford, along with their contacts with Chinese leaders, sources said.
The program also spat out scores of names of other former government officials with legitimate ties to China, as well as prominent American businessmen. There was no suggestion that Rice or any of the others had done anything wrong.