CNN - The Lou Dobbs Show
February 17, 2006
DOBBS: Congressman Curt Weldon succeeded in holding congressional
hearings on Able Danger this week. But the Able Danger controversy
certainly will continue. Emmy Award winning investigative journalist
Peter Lance joins me now on the Able Danger situation, controversy,
Peter, are you encouraged by the hearings that you watched?
PETER LANCE, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I'm encouraged by Congressman
Weldon's tenacity, but frankly, I...
LANCE: I think he was he was betrayed by his own committee, frankly. The
fact so much of the hearing was held in closed session, why should
Philip Zelikow, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission have testified in
closed session? Why did they diminish Lt. Colonel Anthony Schaffer, a
decorated member of the Able Danger, calling him Mister Schafer on the
DOBBS: That is, after all, the Armed Services Committee reaching out
there. And the fact is that the testimony that was opened up, about the
Colonel Schaffer, as you say, a distinguished veteran.
DOBBS: What the military has done to try to destroy this man's career
trying to come forward with what the Able Danger project was able to
learn, including information about the USS Cole, that could have saved
the USS Cole and those 17 lives; that could, had it been acted on, that
interest and concern as Yemen in the days leading up to that attack is
remarkable. This much is on the record
LANCE: It is. And that's important. I think another thing that isn't on
the record, though, is the testimony of Dietrich Snell, this is where
the committee let Congressman Weldon down. They never formally requested
that Dietrich Snell show up at the hearing. He was able today to issue a
statement saying, well I talked to the committee people. I'd be happy to
testify if they ask me, but they really didn't ask me to come, formally.
DOBBS: Actually, well, Dietrich -- or Dieter Snell, his nickname, gave
us a statement. Do we have that statement available to put up very
quickly? Because we asked Dieter Snell for a statement, and this is --
I'm told we have it.
There it is. And this is his statement. Saying he had talked with and
given answers to the staff of the Armed Services Committee about Able
Danger. Declined our invitation to be here to discuss Able Danger and
his role in the investigation. You have quite a different view of what
he has done here?
LANCE Yes. Dietrich Snell is a linchpin to help us explain why the Able
Danger information was suppressed both by the FBI and also the 9/11
commission, and yet Dietrich Snell has never been subject to any kind of
adversarial questioning. He testified, he was a staff counsel before the
9/11 commission. He presented staff statement 16, a few softball
questions from the commissioners.
But Dietrich Snell, in my opinion, is connected with at least four
affirmative cover-ups on the road to 9/11 in the Clinton Justice
Department and those cover-ups carried over and linked with the Able
Danger operation. So if he was here tonight, if you'd let me ask a
couple of question, I'd be happy to put these questions forward as to
what Mr. Snell should answer. He's a public servant, he has no executive
privilege, working for Eliot Spitzer, attorney general of the state of
New York. He should come forward in an open forum and answer these
DOBBS: He does not want to do that obviously, or he would. The question
is, why do you think he's been involved in? As you put it, a cover-up?
He's been a prosecutor, investigator in the war on terrorism?
LANCE: Right. A distinguished prosecutor, in fact, in my first book, "A
1,000 Years for Revenge", I was very praiseworthy of him. But, look,
Dietrich Snell, in 1995, the southern district of New York was a party
to a suppression's information from the Philippines that the plot, the
9/11 plot had begun as early as 1994. That was suppressed.
In 1996, he participates in a secret indictment of Khalid Shaikh
Mohammed, no one ever heard of Khalid Shaikh until 1998, at a time, by
then he's already got the plot well underway in Hamburg. Dietrich Snell
-- when I testified before the Commission it was a closed-door hearing,
no stenographer present. He takes my information and basically flushes
it. When the Able Danger people, Scott Philpot, presented his
information about a direct tie between Al Qaeda and the Brooklyn cell
and Yousef and blind Sheikh Rahman, Dietrich Snell flushes that from the
9/11 report. Why?
DOBBS: And go on to draw the connection between
a plot that -- and you make a convincing case that could have affected
even TWA flight 800.
LANCE: 800, absolutely.
DOBBS: And the fact that we do not know the resolution to these
instances. It suggests either extraordinarily, terrible, terrible
investigatory efforts, and results on the part of a number of our
agencies including the FBI, the CIA, the Defense intelligence, as well,
State Department intelligence and security.
But at the end of the day, we've got to get to these -- if we're going
to understand 9/11, we've got get to the answers. Do you believe that
Congressman Weldon and this Congress will pursue this through the
Department of Defense?
LANCE: I totally believe Congressman Weldon wants to and if Senator
Specter -- I think we have to put this back in the Senate now. Arlen
Specter is a courageous lawmaker and I think his committee is now the
one that needs to take this up and Dietrich Snell has to answer the
largest unsolved mass murder in American history, New York homicides,
Lou. And he's in New York state. Why not come forward and tell the
DOBBS: Putting the focus clearly on the principle investigative
elements, that is, the New York office of the FBI, and the Southern
District of New York U.S. attorneys' office.
Peter Lance, thanks for being here.
LANCE: Thank you.
Robert E. Donaldson. All