ABLE DANGER UPDATE….Over at The Corner, Andy McCarthy says: “Fox News reported this morning that the Defense Department is going to deny the central Able Danger allegation that Mohammed Atta (and, presumably, the three other hijackers who have been linked to this controversy) were identified prior to the 9/11 attacks.” If this is true, I sure hope they offer some evidence for this. I’m not sure anyone is willing to just take their word for it.

On a related subject, former 9/11 commissioner Tim Roemer thinks there’s something screwy about the Able Danger timeline. Supposedly, the Able Danger team produced a chart that included Mohamed Atta’s name and picture, but according to Fox News, Roemer wondered “how Able Danger got a photo of Atta in 2000 for its alleged chart of terrorists when he had not yet applied for a U.S. visa.”

The problem here is that the Able Danger timeline is fuzzy. The original GSN article says that Able Danger tried (but failed) to turn over its information to the FBI “during the weeks leading up to the 2000 presidential election.” That means October 2000. But when was the chart actually created? Various media accounts have placed it in both 1999 and 2000, and the original New York Times story placed it in the “summer of 2000.” However, the 9/11 Commission says that it was told that “the relevant material dated from February through April 2000, and that it showed Mohamed Atta to be a member of an al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn.”

Since 9/11, of course, we have retrieved every scrap of information ever known about Mohamed Atta, so we know what information would have been available to the Able Danger data mining operation. And what we know is that Mohamed Atta sent his first email to friends in the U.S. in March 2000 and received his first U.S. visa on May 18, 2000. Moreover, that was the first time he had ever gone by the name “Mohamed Atta.” His full name is “Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta,” and prior to 2000 he went by “Mohamed el-Amir.”

So the precise timeline is pretty crucial here. The chart could conceivably have been put together in the summer of 2000, since a visa picture and other information about Atta was (barely) available by then. Anything earlier seems to be out of the question.

As usual, stay tuned.