The Error-Prone Congressman Who Is Attacking the 9-11 Commission

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Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) caused a stir lately by alleging that a classified military intelligence data mining program codenamed ABLE DANGER had identified September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat as early as summer of 2000 and that the 9/11 Commission had been so informed but had chosen to suppress the information. Was he right?

In an official statement on the matter, former Commission Chair and Vice Chair Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton disputed Weldon's account, and Weldon himself has begun to backtrack, stating that he is no longer certain that a chart he obtained from the military in 2001 actually named Atta.

A copy of the August 12 Kean-Hamilton statement is here:

Rep. Weldon has a history of making inflammatory allegations that later proved to be unfounded.

On June 7, 1999 he stood on the House floor and accused the Clinton Administration of leaking the design of the W87 nuclear warhead to U.S. News and World Report. It was a charge he repeated several times, referring to an artist's rendering of the W87 warhead which appeared in the magazine's July 31, 1995 edition.

"This administration leaked this document to U.S. News & World Report, giving the entire populace of the world... access to the design of the W87 nuclear warhead," he alleged.

"I have been told... that it was [Secretary of Energy] Hazel O'Leary herself who gave U.S. News & World Report the actual diagram of the
W87 nuclear warhead in 1995," he said.

On June 8, 1999 he stated flatly: "Hazel O'Leary leaked the plans, which are in this magazine, for the W87 nuclear warhead."

None of this was true.

No government diagram of the W87 warhead was given to U.S. News.
The artist's rendering of the weapon was a conceptual drawing, not a design. It was explicitly credited by the magazine to the Natural Resources Defense Council. An NRDC analyst confirmed that he had supplied the information to the graphic artist, and that it was based on informed speculation, not classified information.

In accordance with the political tactics used to attack the Clinton-Gore Administration throughout much of the 1990s, Rep.
Weldon never retracted or apologized for his unfounded accusations.

According to an August 10 story in The Hill, Rep. Weldon said House Speaker Dennis Hastert will support his potential bid to become the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2008.

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Walter McElligott - 8/17/2005

Rep. Weldon may be putting his trust in the wrong man, until House Speaker Dennis Hastert's involvement in allegedly accepting funds from Turkish aliens.