A member of Congress is calling for an investigation into why the independent commission that probed the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States ignored information that some of the September 11 hijackers had been identified as potential threats more than a year before the attacks.
Republican Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania says a secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger identified well in advance four of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania as potential terrorist threats.
"They said we actually identified in this process Mohammed Atta's cell in 1999 and in September of 2000, on three separate occasions, we made recommendations to bring in the FBI to share with them the data we had on Mohammed Atta's cell. The [government] lawyers told us we could not do that," he said.
Congressman Weldon says he wants a congressional investigation to determine who prevented the information from being shared and why the independent commission probing the attacks did not include the episode in its final report last year.
Congressman Weldon says one of the unidentified military intelligence analysts did talk to staff members of the 9/11 commission just days before the final report was issued.
But a co-chairman of the commission, former Congressman Lee Hamilton, told CBS television that information was not made available to the commission members.
"After all, that name was very familiar to us and if his name had been mentioned it would have set off all kinds of alarm bells and it would become a focus of our investigation," he said.
A group of 9/11 widows has joined the call for an investigation. They said they were disturbed to learn that the commission may not have been informed about the possibility that intelligence analysts had identified a terrorist cell well in advance of the 2001 attacks.