Agam's Gecko
Thursday, February 23, 2006

ery often, in following an issue through the blogosphere, one will come across totally unexpected gems -- something like panning for gold flakes out of a stream bed, and finding a cut sapphire in the pan. How did that get there? I will share that gem in its entirety for readers here, although its origin is unknown and its very creation seems to have rested on a single letter typo.

I'd been looking for evidence of any mass media follow-up after last week's Able Danger hearings in Washington. Once again I remind all that the first stop for developments in this issue continues to be the Able Danger Blog. And thus I learned that Tony Shaffer's legal counsel, Mark Zaid, had participated in a conference call with about half a dozen of the main bloggers who have been covering the story. The various particpants had written accounts of the discussion, one of which was by AJ Strata (who has written quite a bit on the subject since it broke last August). A reader's comment at that link had apparently been inspired by the discovery, in Tony Shaffer's posted testimony (pdf link), that one of the people who had created this "new form of intelligence collection" and helped identify Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists more than a year prior to the attacks, had been a retired Indian policeman named James D. Smith.

But as Mike wrote on the Able Danger blog yesterday, Tony Shaffer had simply mis-typed "Indiana." Had he not done so, the following comment would likely not have appeared on AJ Strata's article either. I think it really deserves wider distribution, so here is my humble contribution to that end. The author left no contact info, but if he or she happens to find it here, I extend a deep wai to you for putting this together. Get in touch through the email address on this page, if you're so inclined.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Professor Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado at Boulder opposed the U.N. sanctions on Iraq that were intended to curb Saddam's weapons programs. Churchill also celebrated the 9-11 terrorists in his infamous article "Some People Push Back."

Churchill even told a reporter that he read all the obituaries of the people who died in the World Trade Center on 9-11 and satisfied himself that they were overwelmingly "Little Eichmanns."

Because of Churchill's assumption of Indian identity, some people may think American Indians are supporting Middle Eastern terrorists. In fact, Mohawk Indians have historically been employed building New York's skyscrapers, not blowing them up! I read in an Indian publication that on 9-11, an Indian construction team was working on one of the towers and even rescued people:

"Mohawk ironworkers helped build the World Trade Center and other monuments of the New York City skyline, and one crew was actually at work in the flight path of the plane that struck the second tower. St. Regis Mohawk Chief James Ransom noted that they joined rescue teams at great personal risk." [ Indian Country Today: [2005/02/03] Churchill controversial on two fronts ]

Congress is holding hearings about a Pentagon program called Able Danger. This program used something called data mining to track Al Qaeda.

According to Congressional testimony on Wednesday, February 15, 2006, one of the Able Danger heroes may be an Indian policeman named J.D. Smith. I will try to find out more details about this and post updates on this thread.

The testimony just said that Mr. Smith was a retired Indian police officer who used traditional law enforcement investigative techniques plus data mining.

According to Congressional testimony, Smith developed a new form of intelligence collection that identified M. Atta and other terrorists a year or more before the 9-11 attacks. [ Anthony Shaffer's testimony - Page 15 (pdf link) ]

The faux Indian Ward Churchill will only be remembered for talking through his hat, but real American Indians will always be remembered for their contributions to signals intelligence during both world wars. They were famous as code talkers who spoke languages that the enemy could not understand.

"At Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, declared, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." Connor had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. Those six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error.

The Japanese, who were skilled code breakers, remained baffled by the Navajo language. The Japanese chief of intelligence, Lieutenant General Seizo Arisue, said that while they were able to decipher the codes used by the US Army and Army Air Corps, they never cracked the code used by the Marines. The Navajo code talkers even stymied a Navajo soldier taken prisoner at Bataan. (About 20 Navajos served in the US Army in the Philippines.) The Navajo soldier, forced to listen to the jumbled words of talker transmissions, said to a code talker after the war, "I never figured out what you guys who got me into all that trouble were saying."

In 1942, there were about 50,000 Navajo tribe members. As of 1945, about 540 Navajos served as Marines. From 375 to 420 of those trained as code talkers; the rest served in other capacities." [ Code Talkers - An Indian Technique ]

One of the Navajo code talkers, Albert Smith, was only 15 years old. "Late in his life, Albert Smith explained, the code word for America was, "Our Mother." Our Mother stood for freedom, our religion, our ways of life, and that's why we went in." [ President Bush: Honoring the Navajo Code Talkers ]

Here is a recent interview with Albert Smith:

"I was enlisted in 1943, in April. I had to fib about my age, 'cause my brother and I, we wanted to go into the war together... we wanted to stay together... He was seventeen, so he move his age up two years and I move mine from 15 to 17. [ America's Native Heroes: The Lives and Times of the Najavo Code Talkers ]

Another code-talker was Samuel Jesse Smith:
"My purpose for joining the Marine Corps was to get even with the Japanese for December 7, Pearl Harbor attack." [ America's Native Heroes: The Lives and Times of the Najavo Code Talkers ]

Ward Churchill attended a September 23, 2005 conference about Able Danger even though he celebrated 9-11 as a victory for America's historical "victims." The organizers of the September "conspiracy theory" conference even suggested that President Bush had warnings about 9-11 because of Able Danger but allowed the attack to happen so that Bush cronies could make war profits. [ March of the Conspiracy Theorists ]

Churchill's views about 9-11 are not characteristic of American Indians. Here is how the Navajo Code Talkers Association responded to the 9-11 attack:
NCTA Proclamation In Response to Sept 11, 2001 Attack --

In response to the terrorist attack on America, September 11, 2001, the Navajo Code Talker Association, at their NCTA meeting Thursday, Sept. 27, 2001, a proclamation was read and approved:

[ LAPAHIE.com 3.2 \ Navajo Code Talkers' Association ]

HELPFUL LINKS: Here is the testimony of Mr. Smith:
[ James D. Smith testimony ](pdf link)

Here is a general article about the contributions of American Indians to the American military:
[ AFIS: Native American Main ]

Here is the link to the famous Navajo Code Talker's Dictionary, which was once classified:
[ AFIS: Navajo Code Talkers' Dictionary ]

Left by Snapple on February 21st, 2006
Back to the Able Danger story itself, one of the greatest questions is the one that asks why the mass media is so disinterested. I can understand why current government officials, and especially those of the previous Clinton administration, wish the issue would just disappear. Commissioners and investigative staff on the vaunted Sept. 11 Commission are probably praying for that even harder. But unless the information gatekeepers in those smoke-filled antique media backrooms are trying to cover for somebody, what could possibly account for this singular lack of attention (apart from Lou Dobbs on CNN and a few radio shows)? While David Gregory and his pals can jump up and down for almost two weeks over not being the first informed of Cheney's misdirected birdshot, they haven't uttered a peep about the evident failure to share information which could have saved 3,000 American lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and the 17 sailors who were killed on the USS Cole in 2000. Government secrecy, whistleblowers, bureaucratic incompetence, strong indications of a cover-up by the 9/11 Commission on behalf of one of its members -- this story has all that and more. The legacy media's disinterest remains one of the most puzzling factors.

If this all does eventually get aired out properly, which I'm really beginning to doubt, it may turn out that the China connection is the source of the reticence. The experimental data mining techniques were not only used to track terrorist cells, but had been directed toward revealing secret Chinese military and commercial activities in the US. It looks very much as though certain connections had been discovered in this field, and that these discoveries prompted the abrupt closure of the program, and the hasty destruction of massive quantities of data which produced them.

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