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Curt Weldon, America's Foremost Alarmist

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Curt Weldon, Able Danger leaker: Is he well-intentioned and credulous, or just another irresponsible attention whore? I think it's a little of both, given his more prescient predictions; I also think a US congressman shouldn't be going off half-cocked after every harebrained theory he hears.

He now says that he's not sure the chart had a picture of Atta, as he has sometimes maintained, and that he has been relying on the memory of an intelligence analyst who helped produce it.

Meanwhile, other key players in the story, including Hadley, contradict Weldon, saying they never saw Atta's picture. Moreover, several government investigations have failed to find any documentation so far that the program had identified hijackers before the attacks, and Weldon has begun to allow that there are parts of his story that may not be proven.

Yet even as his story triggers more and more questions, Weldon is making explosive new allegations. He says a high-level source has told him that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden has died in Iran, where he has been in hiding.

He also maintains that the Bush administration suppressed information about the Able Danger program out of concern it might be embarrassed by disclosures that it failed to follow up leads that might have helped avert the plot.

"Am I going to take on something that is a challenge? Absolutely," Weldon said in a lengthy interview last week. "I'm not here to kiss people's butts. I'm here to do what's right. And if sometimes that means I have to push someone, well what are we here for?"

Weldon's allegations are the latest in a long skein of alarming scenarios that the Delaware County congressman has unspooled as he has sought to draw attention to what he seems to fervently believe are the nation's military and intelligence vulnerabilities.

On occasion, Weldon has turned out to be well ahead of the curve, as he was in the mid-1980s when he contended that the Soviet Union was violating an antiballistic-missile treaty by deploying a radar system that could be used as part of a defense to shoot down enemy rockets. And he appeared prescient with a prediction that the Russians would threaten to cut off access to their vast energy supplies as a way of pressuring neighboring states to toe their strategic political and policy lines.

He made the prediction in 2004, nearly two years before the explosions in January that disrupted gas supplies to Georgia, sabotage for which the Russians were prime suspects.

But often Weldon's nightmare scenarios seem little more than daydreams.

That was the case last year when he said a source told him that the Iranian government had set in motion a plot to crash hijacked planes into the Seabrook reactor in New Hampshire. The CIA quickly debunked the story, saying Weldon's source was unreliable.

It was also the case in the mid-1990s when Weldon, working off information he obtained from a former Russian general, said the United States was potentially under threat from suitcase-size nuclear weapons that had been pilfered from the Soviet military. No proof has ever been found of the claim.

But Weldon's allegations regarding Able Danger have been particularly explosive. They are fuel to conspiracy theorists who believe that the 9/11 commission and the government suppressed information about the plot.

Posted by evariste on Mar 18, 2006 12:00 pm

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