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Specter: Pentagon Drops Hearing Objection

September 23, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon has dropped its refusal to permit five people with knowledge of a highly classified intelligence program called ``Able Danger″ to testify about it publicly, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Friday.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the five will testify at an open hearing Oct. 5.

The five have said they recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 leader Mohamed Atta as a terrorist inside the United States one year before the attacks on New York and Washington. But Pentagon officials who have investigated the matter say they have been unable to find the chart or evidence that it ever existed.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on Wednesday, after Specter’s committee held a hearing on the matter, that the Pentagon had offered to provide witnesses for a closed hearing but that the committee insisted it be open.

``Therefore the department declined to participate in an opening hearing on a classified matter,″ Rumsfeld told reporters. ``We have to obey the laws with respect to security classifications.″

Pentagon officials did not immediately respond to a reporter’s request for comment Friday on Specter’s announcement.

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