The Darkened Hour

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An Interview With Erik Kleinsmith (Able Danger)

May 22, 2021

In 1996, a classified military planning effort led by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)  constructed a covert meta-data collection operation code named, Able Danger. They employed the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activities Division as the data-miners needed to collect 'open source' information to track terrorist cells inside the United States. Erik Kleinsmith, Army Major and the Chief of Intelligence of the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), was selected to take part of this highly classified unit. The data mining software would be provided by Raytheon Company and Orion Scientific, which helped execute the sophisticated data mining software packages. By 2000, the LIWA team managed to collect 2.5 terabytes of information showing 2 of 3 terrorist cells inside the United States, that included, one cell operated by Omar Abdel Rahman (Landmarks Plot) and Mohammed Atta (9/11 Planes Operation).

However, Kleinsmith was ordered by United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) lawyers to destroy all the data the LIWA had amassed, which identified 20 suspects, some, who were involved with the terrorist attack on the USS Cole and in the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. He would later give testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005, regarding the covert Able Danger program and what the unit were able to uncover. In today's episode, Major Erik Kleinsmith talks with us about how he became part of the unit, what it entailed, and how SOCOM lawyers and the Department of Defense obstructed members of LIWA from sharing their intelligence with anyone outside of the US Army by ordering them to destroy it all completely.

Intelligence Operations: Understanding Data, Tools, People, and Processes (First Edition):

Able Danger And Intelligence Sharing: