Did "Able Danger" spy on Sec. Rice?
The headline of this article in The New York Post is very misleading. It's not really correct to say that the military "spied" on Sec. Rice. What likely happened is that a computer program spits out a bunch of correlations and contacts, some of which may or may not turn out to be significant or relevant. Part of that is up the the human analyst who looks at the results of the raw numbers crunched by the computer, which is mindlessly tracking all sorts of criteria. The analyst uses the "false positive" to either refine his computer search or to simply discard some bits of information as irrelevant. There are further implications to this story however.
One possible reason that this led to the immediate termination of the program is that the Clinton administration thought the China connections would lead to some embarrassing revelations involving their own administration's allegedly dubious contacts with China, as well as the politically explosive notion that they were spying on the political opposition.
Further, revealing this sort of information now also serves to discredit "Able Danger" as a whole, and so conveniently aids those in power who want to sweep
all this business under the rug.
Cyber-sleuths working for a Pentagon intelligence unit that reportedly identified some of the 9/11 hijackers before the attack were fired by military officials, after they mistakenly pinpointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other prominent Americans as potential security risks, The Post has learned.
The private contractors working for the counter-terrorism unit Able Danger lost their jobs in May 2000. The firings following a series of analyses that Pentagon lawyers feared were dangerously close to violating laws banning the military from spying on Americans, sources said.
The Pentagon canceled its contract with the private firm shortly after the analysts who were working on identifying al Qaeda operatives produced a particularly controversial chart on proliferation of sensitive technology to China, the sources said.