Is the Pentagon Engaged in a Witch Hunt for the 'Able Danger' Whistleblower?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The congressman who first broke the Able Danger story now says defense officials are engaged in a witch-hunt against the Army whistleblower who spoke out about the scandal. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer claims that the classified Pentagon project Able Danger identified the ringleaders of the September 11th attacks as linked to Al Qaeda more than a year before the hijackings.

Joining us now, Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Curt Weldon.

Congressman, let me just tell you that, you know, as you probably know, Slade Gorton, who was on the 9/11 Commission, a Republican out of Washington, reiterated that there was the internal Pentagon investigation, which was broad and deep, he said, has found no evidence that Atta was identified by Able Danger.

And that's what he's claiming. That's what the Pentagon has claimed. The differ with what you've been saying. And they continue to stick to their story.

REP. CURT WELDON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No, Alan, that's not correct. Alan, that's not correct. The Pentagon has, in fact, publicly affirmed that five military leaders identified Mohammed Atta prior to 9/11. And they don't discredit any of those five leaders.

They don't attempt to say it's not true. So, no, what Slade Gorton said is not true. The Pentagon has affirmed that five military officers...

COLMES: Well, that's what Slade Gorton is saying. Is Slade Gorton lying?

WELDON: Well, he's not telling — I can tell you what the Pentagon's saying, if that's what you're asking. I mean, I can tell you that one of the — commander in the Navy, 23-year officer Scott Philpott will take over a Destroyer in January. He's an Annapolis grad.

I've met with them all. They've met with the Senator Judiciary Committee under oath. They've all said that they identified Mohammed Atta by face and by name before 9/11. And just this week, we identified another source, a very credible source, separately, who's identified the fact that he was able to identify Mohammed Atta by name also before September the 11th.

In fact, Alan, Philpott has said that, in January of 2000, they identified Atta. And in September of 2000, on three occasions, they tried to transfer that data to the FBI and they were stopped by Pentagon lawyers in the previous administration.

HANNITY: Congressman Weldon, I have a short amount of time. I want to get a lot of information out. Seven people now are on record — this Able Danger group, military intelligence people, some of the highest ranking people — that identified Atta and his co-conspirators, correct?

WELDON: Absolutely.

HANNITY: And there's now retribution being taken against Colonel Shaffer and others?

WELDON: Absolutely.

HANNITY: And you spoke earlier...

WELDON: It's outrageous.

HANNITY: And, in other words, so if the 9/11 Commission's job was to learn from past mistakes to save lives in the future, they failed miserably then?

WELDON: Absolutely. The person who debriefed Scott Philpott was, in fact, the lead staffer for Jamie Gorelick. His name was Dieter Snell (ph). It was Dieter Snell (ph) then who did not brief the 9/11 commissioners. The 9/11 commissioners were never briefed on Able Danger.

HANNITY: Well, just like they ignored the tape of Clinton saying that he was offered Usama bin Laden on a silver platter. Clinton admitted it in his own words.

I want to go to this question. You told me earlier this week that, in fact, not only did they know Atta was here and his co-conspirators here a year before the attack on 9/11, and they begged the Pentagon and people in the administration, of the Clinton administration, to pay attention, but they also warned them about the USS Cole attack. Explain that.

WELDON: That's absolutely correct. Two weeks before the attack on the Cole, they sensed that something was about to happen in Yemen. Two days before the attack on the Cole, and the arrival of the Cole in harbor, they warned that the ship should not enter the harbor. This information needs to be brought to the public. This country needs to have a breath of fresh air. There are going to be some bureaucrats and some political people that will be embarrassed, but we lost 3,000 people here. This cannot be covered up. This is 3,000 times worse than Watergate. The American people need to have answers.

HANNITY: You are saying that we identified Atta and the co- conspirators, and people begged the Pentagon to pay attention, and they did not, that they warned that — these men are on record, testified on oath, seven of them, high-ranking military officials, that they warned about the USS Cole attack and they were ignored again.

So there's a pattern of discovering threats and ignoring them, over and over.

WELDON: Absolutely.

HANNITY: And these guys will testify under oath. Why aren't they on this program tonight?

WELDON: Because they've been gagged by the Pentagon and by Defense Intelligence Agency leaders who will be embarrassed...

HANNITY: Who? Who won't let them speak?

WELDON: ... because they were holdovers.

HANNITY: Who won't let these guys speak and let the public decide?

WELDON: Well, the Defense Intelligence Agency has people held over from the previous administration. They were there when these people brought forward this information. The deputy director of the DIA does not want these people to speak in public.

HANNITY: We want them on this program.

WELDON: It's wrong. It's outrageous. It's un-American.

COLMES: All right, Congressman, coming up next...

WELDON: I want them on your program, too.

COLMES: All right.

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