There are lies, damn lies and statistics
I never believed LIHOP - the theory that The Bushies knew 9/11was coming and Let It Happen on Purpose... Because of that me and Sherlock Google bump heads here all the time.
But I gotta admit that lately he and others have amassed an impressive amount of evidence that the SOCOM and the Pro Bush Pentagon big wigs did indeed know about Able Danger and did NOT tell Clinton or investigate it themselves on the 8 months of Clinton-free friendly government they had before 9/11. On the contrary, the links dug out by them show pretty convincingly that evidence was destroyed and the task force disbanded. And that the same behavior continued after 9/11 even DURING the 9/11 task force.
Why go to all this trouble after 9/11 if they could have pinned it on Clinton like Curt Weldom attempted ? And why hide it so much nowadays, that Bush can literally get away with the murder of more than 1,000 in New Orleans ? Can there be an alternative explanation that doesn't include LIHOP ?
Gentleman, I present you Jack Abramoff, the missing link on Able Danger
I suspect there is another - worse - reason for the cover up: The link of Saudi money, terrorism financial cover ups and GOP fundraising...
How's that again ?
Well, first a disclaimer, this is just a theory. Not what the scientific community calls a Theory - observable documented and independently verifiable correlation of cause and effect - but the kind of theory behind Intelligent Design, or LIHOP: a mere connecting of dots, some with true correlation and some correlated by mere coincidence, and some crammed in the puzzle by brute force, the thread linking them all provided by a leap of faith. And as such, I ask you to hold on tight for a little bit, while I unravel the thread. Also keep this definition of Theory vs. theory handy, it will be important later on when discussing the pitfalls of Data Mining.
First the data points, apparently not connected:
Able Danger: missing link
In my previous diaries about Able Danger, I have pointed out the reason I believed Able Danger was dismissed: False positives. Any data mining process yields thousands of them and Able danger is no exception. There are reports of a list of thousands of potential terrorists and there are several reports of a final list with only 60 potential terrorists. In data mining this trick can only be done when you have information regarding some of the positives that allows you to drop a lot of them, i.e., when finding a needle in a haystack you know the needle is made of metal, that allows you to fine tune your search just for metal - using a magnet, for instance. That information regarding some of the positives that paired down the list of 20,000 to a list of 60 is the missing link on the Able Danger's story to date.. If you want to delve into the technical details, scroll down to the bottom, where I discuss data mining and it's algorithms in a little more detail and give links to all the gory math that goes behind it.
Able Danger: How did Able Danger zero in on Atta ?
That's the $50 million question. (For that matter, how did it take less than 24 hours for the FBI to zero in on Atta on 9/11 ? See They moved pretty fast for guys in black Florsheims). As I mentioned before, there is no way data mining could have identified just 60, including Mohamed Atta. Not unless the Able Danger people were tipped off about Atta from a piece of information that has yet to be revealed. A piece of info about Atta's terror connections that the FBI, the INS and the CIA obviously didn't have And THAT must be what the Pentagon is hiding so fiercely that it cancelled GOP's own investigation in the matter (4)
Able Danger: How FBI's Data Mining zero in on Atta AFTER 9/11
From several press reports of the time we learn it was using FINANCIAL information, i.e. credit cards, funds transferred, correspondence address for financial accounts...
It was recently reported that a few days after the September 11 attacks, FBI agents visited one of the largest providers of consumer data. They did so to see if the 9/11 terrorists were in the database and quickly found five of them. One of the terrorists had been in the country for less than two years, had 30 credit cards and a quarter million dollars' debt with a payment schedule of $9,800 per month. Mohammed Atta, the ringleader, had also been here less than two years and had 12 addresses under the names Mohammed Atta, Mohammed J. Atta, J. Atta and others..(8)
The article mentioned above (8), by a data mining expert, also confirms that only prior notion of Atta would made that kind of data mining possible:
Surely, their report speculated, with patterns like this, we can use the databases we presently have to ferret out terrorists in our midst. Unfortunately, the answer is, "It depends." .. There are limitations in using these so-called patterns of the agents' observations.. More than likely, the FBI started their search with database queries using the suspected terrorists' names and likely variants. They found the terrorists' records and then noticed the number of credit cards, addresses and the amount of debt. However, they probably would not have known in advance to look for these attributes. Furthermore, the terrorists' records probably didn't show that they had been in the country for only two years; that is knowledge the FBI brought to the search.
We also don't know how easily the observations generalize to other terrorists or how many non-terrorists have these same attributes. Combing the database for people who have a number of credit cards, big debts or multiple addresses would undoubtedly yield both criminals (most of whom aren't terrorists) and perfectly innocent folks. The large number of addresses for Atta may be an even more difficult screening criterion to use, considering that we don't know the names of unknown terrorists, let alone their aliases. It would be nearly impossible to conduct an aggregation across the hundreds of millions of individuals in this database to calculate the number of addresses, especially because all a terrorist would have to do to defeat such a search is use different aliases... we don't have enough known terrorists or a consistent set of behaviors to use data mining to build predictive models. .
Abramoff: Abramoff's ties to Saudi money and possibly terror money (Al Qaeda, Hamas)
A terrorist leader on trial, Sami Al-Arian, visited White House 2 months before 9/11 (5) Guess who got Al-Arian into the WH ? Grover Norquist and Jack Abramoff. More on Al Arian:
Al Arian is a Palestinian-American computer engineer and university professor (USF) who was arrested in 2005 for his involvement in the funding of terrorists. Richard A. Clarke said the following about Al Arian in his 2003 testimony to the Senate Banking: From his home and office in Tampa Florida, Sami al-Arian, the indicted North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, allegedly coordinated the movement of fund(s) from the government of Iran to suicide bombers in West Bank and Gaza.... (5)
Al-Arian [was] invited to a White House briefing given by Bush aide Karl Rove in June 2001 -- against the advice of the Secret Service -- [and was] honored with a front-row seat (5). But this isn't the only tie to terrorism that Abramoff has. In fact the ties are so numerous it makes you dizzy. I got dizzy just listing a dozen of them in my diary mentioned above (5). But this tie of Abramoff to terror money deserves highlighting, as it will be relevant later on:
THE BRAD BLOG: "Atta's Big Gamble. Plus: Jack Abramoff's Link To A Mysterious Saudi -- And Perhaps To Al Qaeda"
The Mysteries of 9/11 Run Deep
...As Kate Camborat the TPM Cafe notes, Abramoff did PR work for a Saudi billionaire named Saleh Abdullah Kamel, chairman of the General Council for Islamic Banks. [Saleh] Kamel sure needed a good PR person. According to a number of published accounts.. he has another good buddy -- a fellow named Osama Bin Laden... Kamel is also the chairman of Dallah al Baraka Group (DBG), which is suspected of having ties to al Qaeda and other extremist groups, and he was also the co-founder and large shareholder of Al Shamal Bank in Sudan, Osama bin Laden's bank of choice from 1983 onward. He was listed as being one of the seven "main individual sponsors of terrorism" in this report by French researcher Jean-Charles Brisard submitted to the UN Security Council in December 2002. (You might remember that Omar al-Bayoumi, who befriended and provided money to two of the 9/11 hijackers, was once an assistant to the Director of Finance for Dallah Avco, a DBG company that works with the Saudi aviation authority. And the WSJ has reported that the United States believes the Dallah al-Baraka Bank, another DBG company, was also used by al-Qaeda.)
Kamel's name also appeared in the "Golden Chain," a roster seized by Bosnian authorities in Sarajevo in March 2002 listing Saudi donors to bin Laden and his associates; and he was named as a defendant in two Sept. 11th related lawsuits.. One of Kamel's companies, Dallah Avco, made extensive payments (according to a Los Angeles Ties story) to al-Bayoumi, the Saudi who paid rent for the 9/11 hijackers lodging in San Diego
Abramoff: Is he a Republican bag man and chief money launderer of a GOP slush fund ?
This just in from Daily Kos: Josh Marshall Broke the Abramoff Scandal Code..(6):
On paper, Jack Abramoff was a lobbyist. And he made a great deal of money for himself. But if you think of Jack Abramoff as just a crooked lobbyist most of the facts coming out about what he did don't make a great deal of sense. He was a key player in a very big political machine and he was managing a slush fund.
Look at the pattern: Notice how all Abramoff's clients seemed to get 'bilked' out of large sums of money that ended up going to other conservative foundations, consulting firms, Ralph Reed, lobby shops, Grover Norquist, astroturf organizers, politicians, etc.? All of them part of Washington's Republican infrastructure?
Then the theory
Abramoff the GOP bagman siphons money from Saudi elite to GOP
This one is pretty much a safe bet:
- We suspect he is GOP bag man
- We know he is a lobbyist on behalf of Saleh Kamel a very rich billionaire with ties to terror funding...
- We know he is a promoter of Saudi pets to the GOP high command. Including very questionable ones such as Islamic Jihad's Sami Al-Arian and Kamel's buddy Alamoudi of known Al Qaeda ties and also a guest at prestigious GOP events
- We know Abramoff is knee deep with casino owners
- we know casinos in Miami were frequently used to bring in petro-dollars into US(7)
Abramoff knew of Mohamed Atta because he brought Saudi money into US ?
Ok this is the huge leap of faith I'm doing to connect the Abramoff thread to Able Danger: Getting back to Cannonfire's Joseph Cannon post at Bradblog (7) we see:
- how Atta allegedly has ties to a casino owner that disappeared on 9/11, named Makram Chams
- how that casino owner had ties to petro-dollars being laundered
- we know the FBI doing data mining on Atta AFTER 9/11 found out that Atta and other hijackers had several credit cards and moved huge amounts of money (8),
- how the Pentagon and the WH have the bad habit of trying to suppress pre 9/11 information on Atta's activities
- how allegedly law enforcement was told to take it's hands of Atta several times before 9/11
- how Atta is tied to Al Qaeda money
- how Saudi money and possibly Al Qaeda money is tied to Saleh Kamel and to Abramoff
Abramoff or his friends at GOP told top brass to stop Able Danger before 9/11
Taking the leap of faith further: IF Atta was part of a money laundering scheme to get petro-dollars in US and IF Saleh Kamel and his dubious friends were part of it, then someone in the GOP side had to know of Atta's role in bringing in the cash. That someone must have been Abramoff or belong to his network. And that someone would have information to tie Atta to Saudi money and huge sums getting into and out of US, allegedly the way Able Danger was able to zero in on Atta (At least we know the FBI doing data mining on Atta AFTER 9/11 found out that he and other hijackers had several credit cards and moved huge amounts of money (8), )
How does Data Mining work: Theory vs. theory
Data mining is nothing more than trying to connect several dots with a common thread that differentiates them from the rest. Precisely what I described as a "theory", a mere connecting of dots, some with true correlation and some correlated by mere coincidence, except that the thread that links data mining dots is based on math rather than a leap of faith and hopefully there are no false results crammed in by an overzealous mathematician.
But just because we use math instead of faith it doesn't mean it is more accurate. False causal relationships between data points happen all the time in math. Remember the saying ? There are lies, damn lies and statistics. For instance, it is possible to find a perfectly mathematically precise inverse correlation between the number of pirates and Global Warming as a snarky physicist Bobby Henderson, bane of the Kansas Board of Education and faithful prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster found out (3)
A scientist trying to build a Theory with capital T would dismiss this kind of spurious statistical correlation by using several mathematical and scientific protocols aimed at eliminating coincidence and researcher bias from the sample of dots to be connected such as randomized double blind trials where not even the researcher knows which patients "fit" his pet theory, independent verification by unbiased colleagues, etc... But data mining algorithms have no such luxury so they come up with a huge number of false positives. (And biased self deluded prophets claiming to be "scientists" also have no such luxury, often by their own choice, but that's another diary!)
False Positives: The scourge of Data mining
Paring down a list of positives is the "art" of Data Mining, only the most advanced algorithms can do it (2), But this approach has one major drawback: A lot of the positives dropped out of the list are true positives. On the needle in the haystack example, if you concentrated on metal needles you would be missing some matches, i.e. you wouldn't find ALL possible needles in that haystack because this approach would ignore crochet needles made of plastic, but you would definitely find all the metal needles a lot faster. In the case of Able Danger that wouldn't be a problem: instead of finding ALL terrorists in a list of 20,000 you are left with finding SOME terrorists in a list of 60. As 60 is better than nothing this result is acceptable and a lot more workable than being forced to investigate 20,000.
..Suppose we had a collection of algorithms that has a false positive rate of only 0.1 percent - extraordinarily good for a problem of this complexity. That would mean 220,000 false positives! There are not enough investigators to investigate every false positive.. Even if we concentrated only on non-citizens, we would still have more than 20,000 false positives to be vetted (1).
Why I don't believe LIHOP
Not that it doesn't make sense. It is just to horrific and painful to contemplate the possibility that we have in the White House people capable of letting a man made volcanic eruption shower New Yorkers with the ashes of 2,900 of their comrades. I just can't do it. To do so would fill me with so much worry and despair that I decided, consciously, to look the other way. I tell you this particular tidbit because I believe this is the reason so many Americans refuse to see any wrongs on Bush: It is just too painful and worrisome to face the possibility.
Cross posted at Booman Tribune
Update [2005-10-1 17:45:25 by lawnorder]: And we have confirmation of the hands off on money laundering
Letter to Thomas Kean from Sibel Edmonds
.. To this date the public has not been told of intentional blocking of intelligence, and has not been told that certain information, despite its direct links, impacts and ties to terrorist related activities, is not given to or shared with Counterterrorism units, their investigations, and countering terrorism related activities. This was the case prior to 9/11, and remains in effect after 9/11. If Counterintelligence receives information that contains money laundering, illegal arms sale, and illegal drug activities, directly linked to terrorist activities; and if that information involves certain nations, certain semi-legit organizations, and ties to certain lucrative or political relations in this country, then, that information is not shared with Counterterrorism, regardless of the possible severe consequences. In certain cases, frustrated FBI agents cited `direct pressure by the State Department,' and in other cases `sensitive diplomatic relations' is cited. The Department of Justice Inspector General received detailed and specific information and evidence regarding this issue (Please refer to DOJ-IG report Re: Sibel Edmonds and FBI Translation, provided to you prior to the completion of your report)...
After almost three years the American people still do not know that thousands of lives can be jeopardized under the unspoken policy of `protecting certain foreign business relations.' The victims family members still do not realize that information and answers they have sought relentlessly for over two years has been blocked due to the unspoken decisions made and disguised under `safeguarding certain diplomatic relations.'