Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 17 2005 5:10 PM

Clear and Present Danger

Bloggers are talking about the latest twist in the Able Danger saga. A contrarian Nature article about military bases and endangered species is a hot topic, as is the computer worm that struck CNN and other media outlets yesterday.

Clear and present Danger: A member of a task force that supported the Able Danger intelligence-gathering operation that purportedly identified Mohammed Atta as a terror suspect in 2000 has come forward. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer says he was thwarted in his attempts to meet with the FBI. He has talked to CNN and the New York Times, among others.

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is the online managing editor of the Weekly Standard and a former Slate senior editor.

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Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters writes, "Clearly this leaves very little wiggle room now. We have two sources, one public and one anonymous, that both say they told Commission on two occasions about identifying Mohammed Atta as a potential AQ terrorist in the US long before 9/11. Either they lied then, are lying now, or the Commission and their staff have lied. Shaffer's determination to go public and essentially end his career in intelligence ops to tell this story at least strongly indicates a high degree of credibility on his part."

Shaffer's assertion that lawyers prevented him from sharing intel with the FBI has bloggers questioning the role of Jamie Gorelick, who as deputy attorney general authored a 1995 memo on the "wall" between intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement agencies, on the 9/11 commission. Bummer Dietz, a political moderate at Scylla & Charybdis,  criticizes Gorelick for not resigning from the commission despite obvious conflicts. "The arsonist wearing a Fire Department investigator's badge?" But Slate's Mickey Kaus sticks up for Gorelick. "[I]t seems deceptive to target only Gorelick, and extremely foolish to assume that all the screw-ups the 9/11 Commission may have made are attributable to some insidious desire to protect her (as opposed to, say, protecting John Kerry, or Bill Clinton, or the Pentagon, or George H.W. Bush, or the Commission's already-written story line …)," he writes.

For the always-thoughtful Kevin Drum, the Washington Monthly's Political Animal, questions remain about the quality of the intel. "Was it rock solid, but lawyers wouldn't let them share it with the FBI? Or was it vague and iffy material, and higher-ups didn't want it to blow up in their face if it turned out to be wrong? There's a big difference between the two."

Read more about Able Danger. Conservative Boxer Watch live-blogged an informative radio interview with Shaffer here.

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Wildlife having a blast:Arts & Letters Daily points readers to this intriguing Nature article claiming that military bases can be even better for wildlife than national parks. In Germany, two U.S military bases making up less than 1 percent of the state of Bavaria contain 22 percent of the state's endangered species.

"I'm not ready to run a tank through some nice primary forest, but I will note that in Central America, cleaning out all the unexploded ordnance in some former military lands is too expensive, so these valuable areas are left to nature. Land mines for wildlife: an interesting and effective concept!" writes an anonymous urban field ecologist at Bootstrap Analysis.

At Ecoblog, student Verligte offers a firsthand account to support this theory: "Having trekked through military land (shh!) in Singapore, I'm inclined to agree - the land is used on marches and for military exercises, but otherwise completely undisturbed, whereas national parks...well, how do you have a city of four million people using a tiny tract of national park and not have some pressure on the environment?"

And the conservative Daniel James Devine feigns skepticism at GlobeLens. "As you cannot fail to know, this is completely opposite of what ecologists have been telling us for years. What ecologists have been telling us is that man and his destructive technology has been wiping out every dab of life in their path. Why this sudden fawning over military bases? … As our academic friends are going to say, This is highly irregular."

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Read more about the Nature article.

Worm food: The Zotob computer worm circulating recently took its toll on media outlets such as CNN, ABC News, and the New York Times.

Many bloggers are picking on the hobbled news organizations. "There seems to be no better way for something to make the news than for it to affect the companies that bring us the news," writesAvery J. Parker, a Web developer. Holly Martins, contributor to D.C gossip site Wonkette quotes a Washington Post article saying that "The cable channel showed pictures of an infected CNN computer constantly rebooting" and then snarks, "Oops, sorry, no: That's just the edgy new promo footage for The Situation Room." Meanwhile the News Blog picks on the companies for still running Windows 2000.

Political science professor Steven Taylor at PoliBlog calls it "Yet Another Commercial for Macs/Linux," which have traditionally been immune to worms. Hmmm … maybe that explains this pants-wetting, stroller-crushing stampede for old iBooks.

Read more about the Zotob worm.