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Profile: Richard A. Clarke

 
  

Positions that Richard A. Clarke has held:

  • White House counterterrorism advisor


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, September 12, 2001

   “There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.” [Clarke, Richard. Against All Enemies. Free Press, 2004., Associated Press, 3/20/04, Reuters, 3/19/04]

Associated Events

Quote, 2004

   “The crisis was manufactured, and Bush political adviser Karl Rove was telling Republicans to ‘run on the war.’” [Washington Post, 3/22/2004]

Associated Events

Quote, March 2004

   “The White House carefully manipulated public opinion, never quite lied, but gave the very strong impression that Iraq did it. They did know better. We told them. The CIA told them. The FBI told them. They did know better. And the tragedy here is that Americans went to their death in Iraq thinking that they were avenging Sept. 11, when Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11. I think for a commander in chief and a vice president to allow that to happen is unconscionable.” [New York Times, 3/23/04]

Associated Events

Undefined, March 22, 2004

   “Donald Rumsfeld said, when we talked about bombing the al Qaeda infrastructure in Afghanistan, he said there were no good targets in Afghanistan. Let's bomb Iraq. And we said, but Iraq had nothing to do with this. And that didn't seem to make much difference.” [ABC News, 3/22/2004]

Associated Events

Undefined, March 23, 2004

   “I think [the United Kingdom and other countries] were certainly misled [by the Bush administration] on the charge of Iraqi involvement in 9/11.” [BBC, 3/23/2004]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

Richard A. Clarke actively participated in the following events:

 
  

Early 1980: Osama bin Laden, with Saudi Backing, Supports Afghan Rebels      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Osama bin Laden's father, Mohammed Awad bin Laden, was extremely powerful and influential in Saudi Arabia.
Osama bin Laden begins providing financial, organizational, and engineering aid for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, with the advice and support of the Saudi royal family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] Some, including Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, believe he was handpicked for the job by Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's Secret Service. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02; New Yorker, 11/5/01] The Pakistani ISI want a Saudi prince as a public demonstration of the commitment of the Saudi royal family and as a way to ensure royal funds for the anti-Soviet forces. The agency fails to get royalty, but bin Laden, with his family's influential ties, is good enough for the ISI. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] (Clarke will argue later that the Saudis and other Muslim governments used the Afghan war in an attempt to get rid of their own misfits and troublemakers.) This multinational force later coalesces into al-Qaeda. [Clarke, 2004, pp 52]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, al-Qaeda
          

February 15, 1989: Soviet Forces Withdraw from Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       Soviet forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but Afghan communists retain control of Kabul, the capital, until April 1992. [Washington Post, 7/19/92] Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism official during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the counterterrorism “tsar” by 9/11, later claims that the huge amount of US aid provided to Afghanistan drops off drastically as soon as the Soviets withdraw, abandoning the country to civil war and chaos. The new powers in Afghanistan are tribal chiefs, the Pakistani ISI, and the Arab war veterans coalescing into al-Qaeda. [Clarke, 2004, pp 52-53]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, al-Qaeda
          

April 19, 1995: Oklahoma City Bombing; Possible Middle East Connection      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is bombed. US citizen Timothy McVeigh is convicted of the bombing, but some maintain there is a Middle Eastern connection. For instance, Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, says the possibility is intriguing and he has been unable to disprove it. [Clarke, 2004, pp 127] The bombing leads to a surge in concern about terrorism. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act becomes law as a result of such concern. However, many anti-terrorism provisions Clinton seeks are not approved by the Republican-controlled Congress. Many politicians agree with the National Rifle Association that proposed restrictions on bomb-making would infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms. [Clarke, 2004, pp 98-99]
People and organizations involved: Timothy McVeigh, Richard A. Clarke, US Congress
          

March 1996: US, Sudan Squabble over bin Laden's Fate      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is currently based in that country. According to some accounts, Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's defense minister engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. Some accounts claim that Sudan offers bin Laden to the US, but the US decides not to take him because they do not have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime [Washington Post, 10/3/01; Village Voice, 10/31/01] Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for both Clinton and George W. Bush, calls this story a “fable” invented by the Sudanese and Americans friendly to Sudan. He points out that bin Laden “was an ideological blood brother, family friend, and benefactor” to Sudanese leader Hassan al-Turabi, so any offers to hand him over may have been disingenuous. [Clarke, 2004, pp 142-43] (CIA Director Tenet later denies that Sudan made any “direct offers to hand over bin Laden.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] ) The US reportedly asks Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to accept bin Laden into custody, but is refused by all three governments. [Coll, 2004, pp 323] The 9/11 Commission later claims it finds no evidence that Sudan offers bin Laden directly to the US, but it does find evidence that Saudi Arabia is discussed as an option. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] US officials insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: “We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01; Washington Post, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet, Hassan al-Turabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, United States
          

July 6-August 11, 1996: Atlanta Rules Established to Protect Against Attacks Using Planes as Flying Weapons      Complete 911 Timeline

       US officials identify crop dusters and suicide flights as potential weapons that could threaten the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take steps to prevent any air attacks. They ban planes from getting too close to Olympic events. During the games, they deploy Black Hawk helicopters and US Customs Service jets to intercept suspicious aircraft over the Olympic venues. Agents monitor crop-duster flights within hundreds of miles of downtown Atlanta. They place armed fighter jets on standby at local air bases. Flights to Atlanta get special passenger screening. Law enforcement agents also fan out to regional airports throughout northern Georgia “to make sure nobody hijacked a small aircraft and tried to attack one of the venues,” says Woody Johnson, the FBI agent in charge. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke uses this same security blanket approach to other major events, referring to the approach as “Atlanta Rules.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 108-09; Wall Street Journal, 4/1/04; Chicago Tribune, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richard A. Clarke, Woody Johnson
          

1998: Training Exercise Held at the White House, Based Around Militants Using a Plane as a Weapon      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke chairs a tabletop exercise at the White House, involving a scenario where anti-American militants fill a Learjet with explosives, and then fly it on a suicide mission toward a target in Washington, DC. Officials from the Pentagon, Secret Service, and FAA attend, and are asked how they would stop such a threat. Pentagon officials say they could launch fighters from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, but would need authorization from the president to shoot the plane down, and currently there is no system to do this. The 9/11 Commission later states: “There was no clear resolution of the problem at the exercise.” [Slate, 7/22/04; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 345 & 457-458]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, Secret Service, Richard A. Clarke, Langley Air Force Base
          

May 22, 1998: Clinton Creates Counterterrorism Post, Selects Richard Clarke      Complete 911 Timeline

       President Clinton creates the new post of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He names Richard Clarke for the job, and Clarke soon becomes known as the counterterrorism “tsar.” [Washington Post, 4/20/00] This is outlined in a new presidential directive on counterterrorism that also outlines goals of fighting terrorism and attempts to strengthen interagency coordination of counterterrorism efforts. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

August 27, 1998: Delenda Plan to Combat al-Qaeda Is Prepared      Complete 911 Timeline

       Following the cruise missile attack on al-Qaeda targets on August 20 (see August 20, 1998), immediate plans are made for follow up attacks to make sure bin Laden is killed. However, on this day, Defense Secretary William Cohen is advised that available targets are not promising. Some question the use of expensive missiles to hit very primitive training camps, and there is the concern that if bin Laden is not killed, his stature will only grow further. As discussions continue, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke prepares a plan he calls “Delenda,” which means “to destroy” in Latin. His idea is to have regular, small strikes in Afghanistan whenever the intelligence warrants it. The plan is rejected. Counterterrorism officials in the Defense Secretary's office independently create a similar plan, but it too is rejected. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)] The Delenda Plan also calls for diplomacy against the Taliban, covert action focused in Afghanistan, and financial measures to freeze bin Laden-related funds. These aspects are not formally adopted, but they guide future efforts. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: Military Industrial Corporation, William S. Cohen, Richard A. Clarke, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
          

Early December 1999: US Takes Action to Stop al-Qaeda Millennium Bombing Plot      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA learns from the Jordanian government about an al-Qaeda millennium bombing plot. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told of this, and he implements a plan to neutralize the threat. [Clarke, 2004, pp 205, 211] The plan, approved by President Clinton, focuses on harassing and disrupting al-Qaeda members throughout the world. The FBI is put on heightened alert, counterterrorism teams are dispatched overseas, a formal ultimatum is given to the Taliban to keep al-Qaeda under control, and friendly intelligence agencies are asked to help. There are Cabinet-level meetings nearly every day dealing with terrorism [Associated Press, 6/28/02; Washington Post, 4/20/00] All US embassies, military bases, police departments, and other agencies are given a warning to be on the lookout for signs of an al-Qaeda millennium attack. One alert border agent responds by arresting terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), which leads to the unraveling of several bombing plots (see December 14-31, 1999). No terror attacks occur. However, Clarke claims the FBI generally remains unhelpful. For example, around this time the FBI says there are no websites in the US soliciting volunteers for training in Afghanistan or money for terrorist front groups. Clarke has a private citizen check to see if this is true, and within days, he is given a long list of such websites. The FBI and Justice Department apparently fail to do anything with the information. [Newsweek, 3/31/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Central Intelligence Agency, Jordan, Richard A. Clarke, US Department of Justice, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

April 20, 2000: Some Complain Clinton Administration Focusing Too Much on Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Washington Post writes, “With little fanfare, [President Clinton] has begun to articulate a new national security doctrine in which terrorists and other ‘enemies of the nation-state’ are coming to occupy the position once filled by a monolithic communist superpower.” In his January 2000 State of the Union address, President Clinton predicts that terrorists and organized criminals will pose “the major security threat” to the US in coming decades. However, some claim that a “preoccupation with bin Laden has caused errors in judgment.” National Security Adviser Sandy Berger counters that the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks on US soil is “a reality, not a perception. ... We would be irresponsible if we did not take this seriously.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke predicts that the US's new enemies “will come after our weakness, our Achilles heel, which is largely here in the United States.” [Washington Post, 4/20/00]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, Sandy Berger
          

Late Autumn 2000: CIA Support for Massoud Weakens      Complete 911 Timeline

       Covert CIA support for Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance guerrilla leader fighting the Taliban, is minimal and fraying. In the wake of the USS Cole bombing, the CIA develops a plan where the US would increase support for Massoud if he produces strong intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke outlines this CIA proposal to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, but Berger rejects it. Aid to Massoud continues to languish under the new Bush administration, until Clarke's proposal (slightly modified) is tentatively approved a week before 9/11. [Washington Post, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Sandy Berger, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden
          

December 20, 2000: Clarke Plan to Neutralize al-Qaeda Deferred Pending Administration Transition      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke submits a plan to “roll back” al-Qaeda over a period of three to five years until it is ineffectual. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] The main component is a dramatic increase in covert aid to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to first tie down the terrorists and then “eliminate the sanctuary” for bin Laden. Financial support for terrorist activities will be systematically attacked, nations fighting al-Qaeda will be given aid to defeat them, and the US will plan for direct military and covert action in Afghanistan. The plan will cost several hundred million dollars. However, since there are only a few weeks left before the Bush administration takes over, it is decided to defer the decision until the new administration is in place. One senior Clinton official later says, “We would be handing [the Bush administration] a war when they took office on January 20. That wasn't going to happen.” However, the plan is rejected by the Bush administration and no action is taken (see January 25, 2001). According to one senior Bush administration official, the proposal amounts to “everything we've done since 9/11.” [Time, 8/4/02] Russia's President Vladimir Putin later claims he tried to egg on the previous Clinton administration— without success—to act militarily against the whole Taliban regime: “Washington's reaction at the time really amazed me. They shrugged their shoulders and said matter-of-factly: ‘We can't do anything because the Taliban does not want to turn him over.’ ” [Guardian, 9/22/01]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, Bush administration, Clinton administration, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Vladimir Putin, Osama bin Laden
          

Early January 2001: Al-Qaeda Threat Highlighted for Powell      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke briefs Secretary of State Powell about the al-Qaeda threat. He urges decisive and quick action against al-Qaeda. Powell meets with the CSG (Counterterrorism and Security Group) containing senior counterterrorism officials from many agencies. He sees that all members of the group agree al-Qaeda is an important threat. For instance, Deputy Defense Secretary Brian Sheridan says to Powell, “Make al-Qaeda your number one priority.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 227-30]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Brian Sheridan, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Colin Powell, Richard A. Clarke
          

January 3, 2001: Clarke Briefs Rice on al-Qaeda Threat; Keeps Job but Loses Power      Complete 911 Timeline

       Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for the Clinton administration, briefs National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy, Steve Hadley, about al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Outgoing National Security Adviser Sandy Berger makes an unusual appearance at the start of the meeting, saying to Rice, “I'm coming to this briefing to underscore how important I think this subject is.” He claims that he tells Rice during the transition between administrations, “I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.” Clarke presents his plan to “roll back” al-Qaeda that he had given to the outgoing Clinton administration a couple of weeks earlier. [Time, 8/4/02] He gets the impression that Rice has never heard the term al-Qaeda before. [Guardian, 3/25/04; Clarke, 2004, pp 227-30]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, Bush administration, Stephen Hadley, Sandy Berger, al-Qaeda
          

January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001: Armed Predator Drone Is Readied, but Unused      Complete 911 Timeline

      
A Predator drone.
Even before President Bush's official inauguration, Clinton holdover counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke pushes National Security Adviser Rice and other incoming Bush officials to resume Predator drone flights over Afghanistan (originally carried out in September and October 2000) in an attempt to find and assassinate bin Laden. [CBS News, 6/25/03; Washington Post, 1/20/02] On January 10, Rice is shown a video clip of bin Laden filmed by a Predator drone the year before. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Clarke learns of an Air Force plan to arm the Predator. The original plan calls for three years of testing, but Clarke pushes so hard that the armed Predator is ready in three months. [New Yorker, 7/28/03] A Hellfire missile is successfully test fired from a Predator on February 16, 2001. [CBS News, 6/25/03] In early June, a duplicate of the brick house where bin Laden is believed to be living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, is built in Nevada, and destroyed by a Predator missile. The test shows that the missile fired from miles away would have killed anyone in the building, and one participant calls this the long sought after “holy grail” that could kill bin Laden within minutes of finding him. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Clarke repeatedly advocates using the Predator, armed or unarmed. However, bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and the Air Force over who would pay for it and take responsibility delays its use. Clarke later says, “Every time we were ready to use it, the CIA would change its mind.” [New Yorker, 7/28/03] Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley decide to delay reconnaissance flights until the armed version is ready. In July 2001, Hadley directs the military to have armed Predators ready to deploy no later than September 1. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] The issue comes to a head in early September, but even then, a decision to use the Predator is delayed [New Yorker, 7/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush
          

January 25, 2001: Clarke Presents Plan to Roll Back al-Qaeda, but Response Is Delayed      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Richard Clarke.
Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke submits a proposal to National Security Adviser Rice and “urgently” asks for a Cabinet-level meeting on the al-Qaeda threat. [Clarke, 2004, pp 230-31] He forwards his December 2000 strategy paper and a copy of his 1998 “Delenda Plan” (see August 27, 1998). He lays out a proposed agenda for urgent action:
Approve covert assistance to Ahmed Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
Significantly increase funding for CIA counterterrorism activity. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
Respond to the USS Cole bombing with an attack on al-Qaeda. (The link between al-Qaeda and that bombing had been assumed for months and is confirmed in the media two days later.) According to the Washington Post, “Clarke argue[s] that the camps [are] can't-miss targets, and they [matter]. The facilities [amount] to conveyor belts for al-Qaeda's human capital, with raw recruits arriving and trained fighters departing either for front lines against the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel coalition, or against American interests somewhere else. The US government had whole libraries of images filmed over Tarnak Qila and its sister camp, Garmabat Ghar, 19 miles farther west. Why watch al-Qaeda train several thousand men a year and then chase them around the world when they left?” No retaliation is taken on these camps until after 9/11. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
Go forward with new Predator drone reconnaissance missions in the spring and use an armed version when it is ready. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
Step up the fight against terrorist fundraising. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
Be aware that al-Qaeda sleeper cells in the US are not just a potential threat, but are a “major threat in being.” Additionally, more attacks have almost certainly been set in motion. [Washington Post, 1/20/02; PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] Rice's response to Clarke's proposal is that the Cabinet will not address the issue until it has been “framed” at the deputy secretary level. However, this initial deputy meeting is not given high priority and it does not take place until April 2001. [Clarke, 2004, pp 230-31] Henry Shelton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman until 9/11, says, “The squeaky wheel was Dick Clarke, but he wasn't at the top of their priority list, so the lights went out for a few months. Dick did a pretty good job because he's abrasive as hell, but given the [bureaucratic] level he was at” there was no progress. [Benjamin and Simon, 2002, pp 335-36; Los Angeles Times, 3/30/04] Some counterterrorism officials think the new administration responds slowly simply because Clarke's proposal originally came from the Clinton administration. [Time, 8/4/02] For instance, Thomas Maertenson, on the National Security Council in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, says, “They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration. So anything [that administration] did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it.” [New York Times, 3/24/04; Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 3/25/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, Northern Alliance, al-Qaeda, Thomas Maertenson, Central Intelligence Agency, Henry H. Shelton, Clinton administration, Bush administration, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

Early February 2001: Clarke Urges Cheney to Take Action Against al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke briefs Vice President Cheney about the al-Qaeda threat. He urges decisive and quick action against al-Qaeda. Cheney soon visits CIA headquarters for more information about al-Qaeda. However, at later high-level meetings Cheney fails to bring up al-Qaeda as a priority issue. [Clarke, 2004, pp 227-30; Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

March 7, 2001: Plan to Fight al-Qaeda Considered, but with Little Urgency      Complete 911 Timeline

       Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley chairs an informal meeting of some counterparts from other agencies to discuss al-Qaeda. They begin a broad review of the government's approach to al-Qaeda and Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, the approach is “two-pronged and included a crisis warning effort to deal with immediate threats and longer-range planning by senior officials to put into place a comprehensive strategy to eradicate al-Qaeda.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke again pushes for immediate decisions on assisting Ahmed Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Hadley suggests dealing with this as part of the broad review. Clarke supports a larger program, but he warns that delay risks the Alliance's defeat. Clarke also advocates using the armed Predator drone. However, despite an increasing number of alarming warnings following this meeting, there is little follow-up. “By June, a draft of a presidential directive authorizing an ambitious covert action plan is circulating through the upper echelons of the administration, but there seem[s] little urgency about putting the plan into effect.” [New York Times, 4/4/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04; New York Times, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Northern Alliance, al-Qaeda
          

April 2001: Wolfowitz Claims that Iraq is Involved in Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a National Security Council deputy principals meeting, Paul Wolfowitz is challenged by White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke after asserting that Iraq is involved in terrorism. Recalling the meeting, Clarke tells The Guardian in a March 2004 interview: “April was an initial discussion of terrorism policy writ large and at that meeting I said we had to talk about al-Qaeda. And because it was terrorism policy writ large [Paul] Wolfowitz said we have to talk about Iraqi terrorism and I said that's interesting because there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States. There hasn't been any for 8 years. And he said something derisive about how I shouldn't believe the CIA and FBI, that they've been wrong. And I said if you know more than I know tell me what it is, because I've been doing this for 8 years and I don't know about any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. When I said let's start talking about bin Laden, he said bin Laden couldn't possibly have attacked the World Trade Center in '93. One little terrorist group like that couldn't possibly have staged that operation. It must have been Iraq.” [The Guardian, 3/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Paul Wolfowitz
          

April 30, 2001: Wolfowitz in Deputy Secretary Meeting: Who Cares About [bin Laden]?      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Bush administration finally has its first Deputy Secretary-level meeting on terrorism. [Time, 8/4/02] According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, he advocates that the Northern Alliance needs to be supported in the war against the Taliban, and the Predator drone flights need to resume over Afghanistan so bin Laden can be targeted. [Clarke, 2004, pp 231] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the focus on al-Qaeda is wrong. He states, “I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden,” and “Who cares about a little terrorist in Afghanistan?” Wolfowitz insists the focus should be Iraqi-sponsored terrorism instead. He claims the 1993 attack on the WTC must have been done with help from Iraq, and rejects the CIA's assertion that there has been no Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. (A spokesperson for Wolfowitz later calls Clarke's account a “fabrication.”) [Newsweek, 3/22/04; Clarke, 2004, pp 30, 231] Wolfowitz repeats these sentiments immediately after 9/11 and tries to argue that the US should attack Iraq. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage agrees with Clarke that al-Qaeda is an important threat. Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, chairing the meeting, brokers a compromise between Wolfowitz and the others. The group agrees to hold additional meetings focusing on al-Qaeda first (in June and July), but then later look at other terrorism, including any Iraqi terrorism. [Clarke, 2004, pp 30, 231-32] Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin also attend the hour-long meeting. [Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: John E. McLaughlin, Taliban, Paul Wolfowitz, al-Qaeda, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Stephen Hadley, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, Promis, Bush administration, Richard Armitage
          

Summer 2001: FBI Tells Local Law Enforcement There Is No Credible Threat of Terrorism In the US      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI shares information on terrorist threats with state and local law enforcement entities through National Law Enforcement Threat System (NLETS) reports. However, at this time, the heightened state of alert for an attack in the US is not reflected at all in these NLETS reports. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry notes, “In a May 2001 NLETS report, for example, the FBI assessed the risk of terrorism as ‘low,’ and, in a July 2, 2001 NLETS report, stated that the FBI had no information indicating a credible threat of terrorist attack in the United States, although the possibility of such an attack could not be discounted.” Further reports focus only on the potential of attacks against US interests overseas. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] On July 5 and 6, 2001, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke specifically warns FBI officials that al-Qaeda is planning “something spectacular,” and says, “They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do.” Yet apparently the FBI doesn't pass any of Clarke's warnings or sense of urgent emergency to the state and local emergency responders (see July 5, 2001) (see July 6, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Richard A. Clarke, National Law Enforcement Threat System
          

June 28, 2001: Tenet Warns of Imminent al-Qaeda Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary for National Security Adviser Rice: “It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.” A highly classified analysis at this time adds, “Most of the al-Qaeda network is anticipating an attack. Al-Qaeda's overt publicity has also raised expectations among its rank and file, and its donors.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02] Apparently, the same analysis also adds, “Based on a review of all source reporting over the last five months, we believe that [bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] This warning is shared with “senior Bush administration officials” in early July. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] Apparently, these warnings are largely based on a warning given by al-Qaeda leaders to a reporter a few days earlier. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke also later asserts that Tenet tells him around this time, “It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 235]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice
          

Late June 2001: FAA Disregards Recommended Antiterrorist Measures      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gives a direct warning to the FAA to increase security measures in light of an impending terrorist attack. The FAA refuses to take such measures. [New Yorker, 1/14/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Richard A. Clarke
          

July 5, 2001: Clarke Warns of Something Really Spectacular; FAA and FBI Respond Poorly      Complete 911 Timeline

       At the request of National Security Adviser Rice and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke leads a meeting of the Counterterrorism and Security Group, attended by officials from a dozen federal agencies. They discuss intelligence regarding terrorism threats and potential attacks on US installations overseas. Two attendees recall Clarke stating that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon.” One who attended the meeting later calls the evidence that “something spectacular” is being planned by al-Qaeda “very gripping.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02; Time, 8/4/02] Clarke directs every counterterrorist office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises, and place domestic rapid-response teams on much shorter alert. By early August, all of these emergency measures are no longer in effect. [CNN, 3/02; Washington Post, 5/17/02] The FAA issues general and routine threat advisories that don't reflect the level of urgent emergency expressed by Clarke, Tenet, and others (see January-August 2001). FAA Administrator Jane Garvey later claims she was unaware of a heightened threat level, but in 2005 it will be revealed that about half of the FAA's daily briefings in this time period referred to bin Laden or al-Qaeda (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). [New York Times, 4/18/04] Clarke says rhetorically that he wants to know if a sparrow has fallen from a tree. A senior FBI official attends the meeting and promises a redoubling of efforts. However, just five days later, when FBI agent Ken Williams sends off his memo speculating that al-Qaeda may be training operatives as pilots in the US, the FBI fails to share this information with any other agency. [Washington Post, 5/17/02; Clarke, 2004, pp 236-37] The FBI also fails to tell Clarke about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 15, 2001), or what they know about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see August 23, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Ken Williams, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Condoleezza Rice, Andrew Card, George Tenet
          

July 6, 2001: Clarke Briefs Senior Security Officials on al-Qaeda Threat      Complete 911 Timeline

       One day after heading a meeting on al-Qaeda with the Counterterrorism and Security Group, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke heads a similar meeting at the White House with senior security officials at the FAA, Immigration, Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs, and other agencies. The CIA and FBI give briefings on the growing al-Qaeda threat. The CIA says al-Qaeda members “believe the upcoming attack will be ‘spectacular,’ qualitatively different from anything they have done to date.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] Then Clarke says, “You've just heard that CIA thinks al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us. So do I. You heard CIA say it would probably be in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Maybe. But maybe it will be here. Just because there is no evidence that says that it will be here, does not mean it will be overseas. They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do. Cancel summer vacations, schedule overtime, have your terrorist reaction teams on alert to move fast. Tell me, tell each other, about anything unusual.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 236] Despite this and other warnings to the FBI, the FBI continues to inform state and local agencies that the chances of a terrorist attack is low (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, Counterterrorism and Security Group, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, US Coast Guard, Richard A. Clarke, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Customs Service
          

July 27, 2001: Rice Briefed on Terrorist Threats, Advised to Keep Ready      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke reports to National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy Steve Hadley that the spike in intelligence indicating a near-term attack appears to have ceased, but he urges them to keep readiness high. Intelligence indicates that an attack has been postponed for a few months. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] In early August, CIA Director Tenet also reports that intelligence suggests that whatever terrorist activity might have been originally planned has been delayed. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Richard A. Clarke
          

August 4, 2001: Nothing New in Bush Letter to Pakistani President      Complete 911 Timeline

       President Bush sends a letter to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, warning him about supporting the Taliban. However, the tone is similar to past requests dating to the Clinton administration. There had been some discussion that US policy toward Pakistan should change. For instance, at the end of June, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke “urged that the United States [should] think about what it would do after the next attack, and then take that position with Pakistan now, before the attack.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage later acknowledges that a new approach to Pakistan is not yet implemented by 9/11. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 Sources: Richard Armitage]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Pervez Musharraf, Clinton administration, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush
          

September 2001      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       In the weeks following 9/11, government lawyers begin to formulate a legal response to the newly perceived threat of terrorism. Four related issues are at hand: forceful prevention, detention, prosecution, and interrogation. What degree of force can the government employ to prevent acts of terrorism or apprehend suspected terrorists? How and where can it best detain terrorists if captured? How can it best bring them to trial? And how can it best obtain information from them on terrorist organizations and plots? These questions are handled in a new atmosphere that is more tolerant towards flexible interpretations of the law. Bradford Berenson, an associate White House counsel at this time, later recalls: “Legally, the watchword became ‘forward-leaning’ by which everybody meant: ‘We want to be aggressive. We want to take risks.’ ” [New York Times, 10/24/2004] This attitude is seemingly in line with the president's thinking. Richard C. Clarke, the White House chief of counter-terrorism, will later recall President George W. Bush saying, “I don't care what the international lawyers say. We are going to kick some ass” (see (9:00 p.m.)). [Clarke, 2004, pp 23-24] At the center of legal reconstruction work are Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, his deputy Timothy E. Flanigan, and David S. Addington, legal counsel to Vice President Cheney. [New York Times, 12/19/2004] They will find a helpful hand in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), most notably its head, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee [Los Angeles Times, 6/10/2004] and his deputies John C. Yoo [New York Times, 8/15/2004] and Patrick F. Philbin. Most of the top government lawyers dwell in fairly conservative circles, with many being a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal fraternity. Some have clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whose ruling effectively lead to the presidency being awarded to George W. Bush after the 2000 presidential election. [New York Times, 10/24/2004] Others worked for Judge Lawrence H. Silberman, who set up secret contacts with the Iranian government under President Reagan leading to the Iran-Contra scandal, and who advised on pursuing allegations of sexual misconduct by President Clinton. [Inter Press Service, 2/06/2004]
People and organizations involved: Patrick F. Philbin, John C. Yoo, Alberto R. Gonzales, Joan Claybrook, Bradford Berenson, Alan M. Dershowitz, Richard A. Clarke, Rena Steinzor, Jay S. Bybee
          

September 4, 2001: Clarke Memo: Imagine Hundreds of Dead Due to Government Inaction      Complete 911 Timeline

       Hours before the only significant Bush administration Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism before 9/11, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke writes a critical memo to National Security Adviser Rice. He criticizes the Defense Department for reluctance to use force against al-Qaeda and the CIA for impeding the deployment of unmanned Predator drones to hunt for bin Laden. According to the Washington Post, the memo urges “officials to imagine a day when hundreds of Americans lay dead from a terrorist attack and ask themselves what more they could have done.” [Washington Post, 3/25/04 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); Washington Post, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Defense, al-Qaeda, Bush administration
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       According to White House counterterrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, asks during a meeting, “Why we are [sic] beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden?” Clarke responds with an explaination that only al-Qaeda “poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” Wolfowitz then claims that Iraq poses “at least as much” a danger. According to Clarke, FBI and CIA representatives who are present at the meeting agree that there is no evidence to support Wolfowitz's assertion. [Washington Post, 3/22/04 Sources: Richard A. Clarke]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Paul Wolfowitz
          

(Between 8:27-8:30 a.m.): Ong Gives Flight 11 Details; Seating Accounts Differ      Complete 911 Timeline

       Craig Marquis, listening to information coming from flight attendant Betty Ong on Flight 11, calls American Airlines' system operations control center in Fort Worth. He says, “She said two flight attendants had been stabbed, one was on oxygen. A passenger had his throat slashed and looked dead and they had gotten into the cockpit.” He relays that Ong said the four hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. She said the wounded passenger was in seat 10B. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Note that this conflicts with the seats flight attendant Amy Sweeney gives for the hijackers at about the same time (see (Before 8:26 a.m.)): 9D, 9G, and 10B. By 8:27 a.m., this information is passed to Gerard Arpey, the effective head of American Airlines that morning. By 9:59 a.m., counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and other top officials receive the information. [Clarke, 2004, pp 13-14]
People and organizations involved: Betty Ong, Craig Marquis, Gerard Arpey, Richard A. Clarke, American Airlines
          

(8:30 a.m.): Some US Leaders Are Scattered; Others in D.C.      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves his Lima, Peru hotel after hearing the news.
Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, top US leaders are scattered across the country and overseas:
President Bush is in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC News, 9/14/02 (B)] Others are in Washington:
Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice are at their offices in the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
CIA Director Tenet is at breakfast with his old friend and mentor, former senator David Boren (D), at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks from the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
FBI Director Mueller is in his office at FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is at his office at the Department of Transportation. [Senate Commerce Committee, 9/20/01]
Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference in the Ronald Reagan Building three blocks from the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Henry H. Shelton, Robert S. Mueller III, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Joeseph M. Allbaugh, Richard A. Clarke, Norman Mineta, Donald Rumsfeld, David Boren, Colin Powell, George Tenet, George W. Bush
          

(After 8:48 a.m.): Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Still Oblivious? Accounts Are Contradictory      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and acting Chairman on 9/11.
Air Force General Richard Myers, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees reports of the first WTC crash on television. Myers is acting Chairman of the US military during the 9/11 crisis because Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Henry Shelton is flying in a plane across the Atlantic. [ABC News, 9/11/02] Myers sees the television in an outer office of Senator Max Cleland (D), but he says, “They thought it was a small plane or something like that,” so he goes ahead and meets with Cleland. He says, “Nobody informed us” about the second WTC crash, and he remains oblivious to the emergency until the meeting with Cleland ends, and as the Pentagon explosion takes place at 9:37 a.m. Then Myers speaks to General Ralph Eberhart. [Armed Forces Press Service, 10/23/01] Yet, in testimony on September 13, 2001, he states, “after the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft.” [General Myers' confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] NORAD claims the first fighters are scrambled even before the first WTC hit. [NORAD, 9/18/01] In his 2004 testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Myers' account changes again. He says that he gets a call from Eberhart, and then “shortly thereafter that the Pentagon was hit as we were on our way back to the Pentagon.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] Myers' claim that he is out of the loop contradicts not only his previous account but also counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke's account of what Myers does that day. According to Clarke's recollection, Myers takes part in a video conference from about 9:10 a.m. until after 10:00 a.m. (see (9:10 a.m.)). If Myers is not involved in this conference, then his whereabouts and actions remain unknown until he arrives at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. (see (Before 10:30 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, Henry H. Shelton, Richard B. Myers, Richard A. Clarke, Ralph Eberhart, Max Cleland
          

(9:00 a.m.): Clarke Alerted to Crisis, Immediately Activates CSG      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference three blocks from the White House when a telephone call alerts him to the crisis. He runs to his car. He responds, “Activate the CSG on secure video. I'll be there in less than five.” The CSG is the Counterterrorism and Security Group, comprising the leaders of the government's counterterrorism and security agencies. Clarke hurriedly drives to the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Counterterrorism and Security Group
          

(After 9:03 a.m.): Rice Learns of Second Attack; Goes to Basement Bunker      Complete 911 Timeline

       National Security Adviser Rice has just started her daily national security staff meeting at 9:00 a.m. Shortly after 9:03 a.m., an aide hands her a note saying a second plane has hit the WTC. Rice later claims that she thinks, “This is a terrorist attack,” and then leaves the meeting, quickly walking to the White House Situation Room. [Newsweek, 12/31/01] However, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Rice leaves the meeting for Vice President Cheney's office. Clarke meets her there a few minutes later and only then does she go down to the basement bunker. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1-2]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Richard A. Clarke
          

(9:05 a.m.): Clarke, Cheney, and Rice Talk, Clarke's Recommendation to Evacuate White House Is Ignored      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is driving up to a gate outside the White House when an aide calls and tells him, “The other tower was just hit.” He responds, “Well, now we know who we're dealing with. I want the highest level person in Washington from each agency on-screen now, especially the FAA.” He has already ordered this aide to set up a secure video conference, about five minutes earlier. A few minutes later, he finds Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice in Vice President Cheney's White House office. Cheney tells Clarke, “It's an al-Qaeda attack and they like simultaneous attacks. This may not be over.” Rice asks Clarke for recommendations, and he says, “We're putting together a secure teleconference to manage the crisis.” He also recommends evacuating the White House (However, evacuation does not begin until 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.)), after a critical 40 minutes has passed). Rice notes the Secret Service wants them to go to the bomb shelter below the White House, and as Clarke leaves the other two, he sees Rice and Cheney gathering papers and preparing to evacuate. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1-2; Australian, 3/27/04]
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, Condoleezza Rice, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(9:10 a.m.): Clarke Directs Crisis Response through Video Conference with Top Officials; 9/11 Commission and Others Barely Mention the Conference      Complete 911 Timeline

       Around this time, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke reaches the Secure Video Conferencing Center next to the Situation Room in the West Wing of the White House. From there, he directs the response to the 9/11 attacks and stays in contact with other top officials through video links. On video are Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, CIA Director Tenet, FBI Director Mueller, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson (filling in for the traveling Attorney General Ashcroft), Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (filling in for the traveling Secretary of State Powell), and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers (filling in for the traveling Chairman Henry Shelton). National Security Adviser Rice is with Clarke, but she lets Clarke run the crisis response, deferring to his longer experience on terrorism matters. Clarke is also told by an aide, “We're on the line with NORAD, on an air threat conference call.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 2-4; Australian, 3/27/04] The 9/11 Commission says of this conference in a staff report: “The White House Situation Room initiated a video teleconference, chaired by Richard Clarke. While important, it had no immediate effect on the emergency defense efforts.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The 9/11 Commission's Final Report covers the conference in greater depth and suggests begins about 15 minutes later than Clarke claims, at 9:25 a.m.(see 9:25 a.m.). Yet, as the Washington Post puts it, “everyone seems to agree” Clarke is the chief crisis manager on 9/11. [Washington Post, 3/28/04 (B)] Even Clarke's later opponent, National Security Adviser Rice, calls him 9/11's “crisis management guy.” [UPI, 4/10/04] The conference is where the government's emergency defense efforts are concentrated.
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, John Ashcroft, Richard Armitage, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Richard B. Myers, 9/11 Commission, Larry D. Thompson, Robert S. Mueller III, Jane Garvey, Henry H. Shelton, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(Between 9:15-9:25 a.m.): FAA Head Tells Clarke Videoconference That Flight 11 and 175 Were Hijacked      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke begins a crisis response video conference by asking FAA Administrator Jane Garvey what she knows. Garvey replies, “The two aircraft that went in [to the WTC] were American flight 11, a 767, and United 175, also a 767. Hijacked.” She says that she has put a hold on all takeoffs and landings in New York and Washington, then states, “We have reports of eleven aircraft off course or out of communications.” Clarke and Garvey discuss the feasibility of canceling all takeoffs nationally, and grounding all planes in the air. Garvey says it is possible, but will take time. [Clarke, 2004, pp 4-5]
People and organizations involved: Jane Garvey, Richard A. Clarke
          

9:25 a.m.: 9/11 Commission's Conflicting Account of Clarke-Led Video Conference Begins at This Time      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, started a video teleconference from the White House's Secure Video Conferencing Center, next to the Situation Room, at around 9:10 a.m.(see (9:10 a.m.)). However, the 9/11 Commission says that logs indicate this conference beginning 15 minutes later than this. Included in the conference are the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, the departments of State, Justice, and Defense, and the White House shelter. The FAA and CIA join at 9:40 a.m. The 9/11 Commission says, “It is not clear to us that the video teleconference was fully under way before 9:37, when the Pentagon was struck.” Furthermore, it states: “We do not know who from Defense participated, but we know that in the first hour none of the personnel involved in managing the crisis did. And none of the information conveyed in the White House video teleconference, at least in the first hour, was being passed to the NMCC [in the Pentagon].” Clarke's video teleconference is not connected into the area of the NMCC from where the crisis is being managed. Consequently, “the director of the operations team-who was on the phone with NORAD-did not have the benefit of information being shared on the video teleconference.” And, “when the Secretary [of Defense Rumsfeld] and Vice Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers] later participated in the White House video teleconference, they were necessarily absent from the NMCC and unable to provide guidance to the operations team.” Clarke, however, gives a specific recollection of Myers speaking over video at 9:28, which is seemingly at odds with the 9/11 Commission's account (see 9:28 a.m.). One witness later recalls: “[It] was almost like there were parallel decision-making processes going on; one was a voice conference orchestrated by the NMCC ... and then there was the [White House video teleconference]. ... [I]n my mind they were competing venues for command and control and decision-making.” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 36 and 463]
People and organizations involved: US Department of State, US Department of Justice, Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard A. Clarke
          

9:28 a.m.: NORAD Possibly Holding ‘Live-Fly’ Training Exercise      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, around this time the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers tells him via video link: “We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise, but ... Otis [Air National Guard Base] has launched two birds toward New York.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 5] However, no other references have been found to this exercise, “Vigilant Warrior.” Considering that exercise terms are “normally an unclassified nickname,” [CJCSM, 4/23/98] this is perhaps a little odd. Could Richard Clarke have mistakenly been referring to the Vigilant Guardian exercise (see (6:30 a.m.)), which is taking place on 9/11? According to a later news report though, NORAD confirms that “it was running two mock drills on Sept. 11 at various radar sites and Command Centers in the United States and Canada,” one of these being Vigilant Guardian. [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 12/5/03] If this is correct then there must be another NORAD exercise on 9/11. If not “Vigilant Warrior,” a possibility is that the exercise referred to by Richard Clarke is in fact “Amalgam Warrior,” which is a NORAD-sponsored, large-scale, live-fly air defense and air intercept field training exercise. Amalgam Warrior usually involves two or more NORAD regions and is held twice yearly, in the spring for the West Coast and in the autumn for the East Coast. [Airman, 1996; GlobalSecurity [.org], 4/14/02; Committee on Armed Services, 2000; Arkin, 2005, pp 254] Is it possible that in 2001 the East Coast Amalgam Warrior is being held earlier than usual (like Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m.)) and is taking place on 9/11? In support of this possibility is a 1997 Defense Department report that describes the Stratcom exercise Global Guardian, saying it “links with other exercise activities sponsored by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Unified Commands.” The exercises it links with are Crown Vigilance (an Air Combat Command exercise), Apollo Guardian (a US Space Command exercise), and—significantly—the NORAD exercises Vigilant Guardian and Amalgam Warrior. [GlobalSecurity [.org], 10/10/02; Defense Department, 5/97] Since in 2001, Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.)) is occurring the same time as Global Guardian, might Amalgam Warrior be as well? In his book Code Names, William Arkin says that Amalgam Warrior is “sometimes combined with Global Guardian.” [Arkin, 2005, pp 254] Amalgam Warrior tests such activities as tracking, surveillance, air interception, employing rules of engagement, attack assessment, electronic warfare, and counter-cruise-missile operations. A previous Amalgam Warrior in 1996 involved such situations as tracking unknown aircraft that had incorrectly filed their flight plans or wandered off course, in-flight emergencies, terrorist aircraft attacks, and large-scale bomber strike missions. Amalgam Warrior 98-1 was NORAD's largest ever exercise and involved six B-1B bombers being deployed to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to act as an enemy threat by infiltrating the aerial borders of North America. [Arkin, 2005, pp 254; Airman, 1/96; GlobalSecurity [.org], 4/14/02] Another Amalgam Warrior in fall 2000 similarly involved four B-1 bombers acting as enemy forces trying to invade Alaska, with NORAD going from tracking the unknown aircraft to sending up “alert” F-15s in response. [Eielson News Service, 10/27/00; Associated Press, 10/29/00] If either one (or both) of these exercises ending with the name “Warrior” is taking place on 9/11, this could be very significant, because the word “Warrior” indicates that the exercise is a Joint Chiefs of Staff-approved, Commander in Chief, NORAD-sponsored field training exercise. [NORAD, 8/25/89] Real planes would be pretending to be threats to the US and real fighters would be deployed to defend against them.
People and organizations involved: Ellington Air National Guard Base, Vigilant Guardian, Richard B. Myers, Amalgam Warrior, US Department of Defense, Richard A. Clarke, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(9:30 a.m.): Clarke Asks Cheney's Bunker for Air Force One Fighter Escort and Shootdown Authorization; Neither Happen for Some Time      Complete 911 Timeline

       As President Bush begins a speech in Florida, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke orders all US embassies overseas closed and orders all military bases to an alert level named Combat Threatcon. Over the next few minutes, Clarke discusses with aides where Bush should go from Sarasota, Florida. He telephones PEOC, the command bunker containing Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice, and says, “Somebody has to tell the president he can't come right back here [to Washington]. Cheney, Condi, somebody, Secret Service concurs. We do not want them saying where they are going when they take off. Second, when they take off, they should have fighter escort. Three, we need to authorize the Air Force to shoot down any aircraft—including a hijacked passenger flight—that looks like it is threatening to attack and cause large-scale death on the ground. Got it?” [Clarke, 2004, pp 5-7] However, when Bush departs on Air Force One about half an hour later, there are no fighter escorts, and none appear for an hour or so. In addition, if Clarke requests authorization for a shootdown order at this time, it is apparently ignored; neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney give shootdown authorization for at least another 30 minutes (see (Between 10:00-10:15 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Secret Service
          

9:37 a.m.: Rumsfeld Either Being Briefed by CIA or with Clarke Video Conference When Pentagon Is Hit      Complete 911 Timeline

       There are conflicting accounts of what Defense Secretary Rumsfeld does in the 35 minutes between the second WTC crash and the Pentagon crash. In his 9/11 Commission testimony, he covers the time with the phrase “shortly thereafter:” “I was in my office with a CIA briefer and I was told that a second plane had hit the other tower. Shortly thereafter, at 9:38 a.m., the Pentagon shook with an explosion of then unknown origin.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] In the book Bush at War, Bob Woodward writes, “Aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Rumsfeld had been proceeding with his daily intelligence briefing in his office” when the Pentagon gets hit. [Woodward, 2002] However, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Rumsfeld joins a video conference at 9:10 a.m. (see (9:10 a.m.)), shortly after the second WTC hit, and stays with the conference, possibly from his office. After being told the Pentagon has been hit, Clarke says, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn't get hit”. The military response to the 9/11 crisis is being coordinated in the NMCC, apparently located only around 200 feet away, directly below Rumsfeld's office. [Reuters, 9/11/01; Defense Department, 9/15/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center
          

(Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.): Clarke Initiates Continuity of Government Plans; Hears Shoot Down Talk from Cheney Bunker      Complete 911 Timeline

       At some point after the White House is evacuated, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke institutes Continuity of Government plans. Important government personnel, especially those in line to succeed the president, are evacuated to alternate Command Centers. Additionally, Clarke gets a phone call from the PEOC Command Center where Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice are positioned. An aide tells Clarke, “Air Force One is getting ready to take off with some press still on board. [President Bush will] divert to an air base. Fighter escort is authorized. And ... tell the Pentagon they have authority from the president to shoot down hostile aircraft, repeat, they have authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” However, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers wants the rules of engagement clarified before the shootdown order is passed on, so Clarke orders that pilots be given guidelines before receiving shootdown authorization. [Clarke, 2004, pp 8-9] Clarke's account that Cheney is giving shootdown authorization well before 10:00 a.m. matches Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta's account of seeing Cheney giving what he interprets as a shootdown order before the Pentagon crash. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03] However, the 9/11 Commission later asserts that Cheney doesn't make the shootdown decision until about 10:00 a.m. (see (Between 10:00-10:15 a.m.)). [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Richard B. Myers, Condoleezza Rice, US Department of Defense, George W. Bush, Norman Mineta
          

(Between 9:50-10:40 a.m.): Numerous False Reports of Terrorist Acts in Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

      
A television broadcast falsely describes smoke coming from Washington Mall instead of its true source, the Pentagon.
There are numerous false reports of additional terror attacks. Before 10:00 a.m., some hear reports on television of a fire at the State Department. At 10:20 a.m., and apparently again at 10:33 a.m., it is publicly reported this was caused by a car bomb. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01; Broadcasting and Cable, 8/26/02] At 10:23 a.m., the Associated Press reports, “A car bomb explodes outside the State Department, senior law enforcement officials say.” [Broadcasting and Cable, 8/26/02] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke hears these reports at this time and asks Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in the State Department to see if the building he's in has been hit. Armitage goes outside the building, finds out there's no bomb, and calls his colleagues to inform them that the reports are false. Reports of a fire on the Capitol Mall also appear and are quickly found to be false. [ABC News, 9/15/02 (B); Clarke, 2004, pp 8-9] There are numerous other false reports over the next hour, including explosions at the Capitol building and USA Today headquarters. [Broadcasting and Cable, 8/26/02] For instance, CNN reports an explosion on Capitol Hill at 10:12 a.m. CNN then announces this is untrue 12 minutes later. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Richard Armitage, US Department of State, Richard A. Clarke
          

(9:52 a.m.): Lynne Cheney Joins Husband in White House Bunker; Vice President Repeatedly Hangs up Clarke Telephone      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Lynne Cheney.
According to the 9/11 Commission, Lynne Cheney joins her husband, Vice President Cheney, in the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center) bunker below the White House. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] She had been at a downtown office around 9:00 a.m. when she was escorted by the Secret Service to the White House. [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke describes the people in the PEOC as “decidedly more political” than those in his bunker below the other wing of the White House. In addition to Cheney and his wife, most of the day the PEOC contains National Security Adviser Rice, political adviser Mary Matalin, Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, and White House Communications Director Karen Hughes. Clarke is told later in the day by someone else in the PEOC, “I can't hear the crisis conference [led by Clarke] because Mrs. Cheney keeps turning down the volume on you so she can hear CNN ... and the vice president keeps hanging up the open line to you.” Clarke notes that the “right-wing ideologue” Lynne Cheney frequently offers her advice and opinions during the crisis. [Clarke, 2004, pp 18]
People and organizations involved: Karen Hughes, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Lynne Cheney, Secret Service, Mary Matalin, Joshua Bolten, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice
          

(After 9:59 a.m.): Clarke Orders Securing of Buildings, Harbors, and Borders      Complete 911 Timeline

       Some time after the first WTC tower collapse, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke orders all landmark buildings and all federal buildings in the US evacuated. He also orders all harbors and borders closed. [Clarke, 2004, pp 14-15] The Sears Tower in Chicago begins evacuation around 10:02 a.m. Other prominent buildings are slower to evacuate. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Sears Tower, Richard A. Clarke
          

(Between 10:00-10:30 a.m.): Rumsfeld Returns to the Pentagon and Speaks to Bush; Rumsfeld's Whereabouts Murky      Complete 911 Timeline

       Rumsfeld returns from the Pentagon crash site “by shortly before or after 10:00 a.m.” Then he has “one or more calls in my office, one of which was with the president,” according to his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] The commission later concludes that Rumsfeld's call with President Bush has little impact: “No one can recall any content beyond a general request to alert forces.” The possibility of shooting down hijacked planes is not mentioned. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Then Rumsfeld goes to the Executive Support Center before finally entering the NMCC at 10:30 a.m. Acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers repeats all these details. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] The Executive Support Center has secure video facilities [Washington Times, 2/23/04] , so it is possible Rumsfeld joins or rejoins the video conference that counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims Rumsfeld is a part of much of the morning (see (9:10 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center, George W. Bush, Richard B. Myers
          

(After 10:06 a.m.): Clarke Updated on Fighter Situation, Told Flight 93 Still Headed Toward Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told by an aide, “Secret Service reports a hostile aircraft ten minutes out.” Two minutes later, he is given an update: “Hostile aircraft eight minutes out.” In actual fact, when Flight 93 crashes at 10:06 a.m., it's still about 15 minutes away from Washington. Clarke is also told that there are 3,900 aircraft still in the air over the Continental US (which is roughly accurate); four of those aircraft are believed to be piloted by terrorists (which is inaccurate by this time). Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers then reports, “We have three F-16s from Langley over the Pentagon. Andrews is launching fighters from the D.C. Air National Guard. We have fighters aloft from the Michigan Air National Guard, moving east toward a potential hostile over Pennsylvania. Six fighters from Tyndall and Ellington are en route to rendezvous with Air Force One over Florida. They will escort it to Barksdale.” [NORAD, 9/18/01; Clarke, 2004, pp 8-9] However, fighters do not meet up with Air Force One until about an hour later. Franklin Miller, a senior national security official who worked alongside Clarke on 9/11, and another official there, later fail to recall hearing any aide warning that a plane could be only minutes away. [New York Times, 3/30/04 (B)] The time of this incident is not given, but the Michigan fighters are not diverted until after 10:06 a.m. (see (After 10:06 a.m.)). If this takes place after 10:06 a.m., it would parallel similar warnings about Flight 93 after it has already crashed provided to Vice President Cheney elsewhere in the White House.
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, Secret Service, Franklin Miller, Richard A. Clarke
          

10:13 a.m.: Washington Buildings Evacuate      Complete 911 Timeline

       More prominent buildings in Washington begin evacuation. The United Nations building in New York City evacuates first; many federal buildings follow later. [CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke apparently began arranging these evacuations a short time before this. [Clarke, 2004, pp 14-15]
People and organizations involved: United Nations, Richard A. Clarke
          

(3:00 p.m.): Bush Meets with Top Officials via Video Conference Call      Complete 911 Timeline

      
President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left.
President Bush begins a video conference call from a bunker beneath Offutt Air Force Base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [ABC News, 9/11/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I'm coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. CIA Director Tenet states that al-Qaeda is clearly behind the 9/11 attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] The meeting ends at 4:15 P.M. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Richard Armitage, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, Norman Mineta, al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Andrew Card
          

(After 4:15 p.m.): Leaders Determine to Crush Taliban      Complete 911 Timeline

       After President Bush leaves his video conference, other top leaders continue to discuss what steps to take. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks what to do about al-Qaeda, assuming they are behind the attacks. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage states, “Look, we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened, it's their ass. No difference between the Taliban and al-Qaeda now. They both go down.” Regarding Pakistan, the Taliban's patrons, Armitage says, “Tell them to get out of the way. We have to eliminate the sanctuary.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 22-23]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Richard Armitage, Pakistan, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

(9:00 p.m.): Bush Meets with Advisers, Declares War Without Barriers      Complete 911 Timeline

      
President Bush (below television screen) meeting with the National Security Council in a bunker below the White House. In the far row from left to right, are Attorney General Ashcroft, President Bush, Chief of Staff Card, CIA Director Tenet, and counterterrorism "tsar" Ckarke. In the near row, Secretary of State Powell can be seen waving his hand, and National Security Advisor Rice sits to his right.
President Bush meets with his full National Security Council in the PEOC beneath the White House for about 30 minutes. He then meets with a smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisers have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, “Tell the Taliban We're finished with them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02] He goes on to say, “I want you all to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they're gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda.” When Rumsfeld points out that international law only allows force to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush yells, “No. I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 23-24]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, National Security Council, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Taliban, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice
          

September 12, 2001: Bush to Clarke: ‘Look into Iraq’       Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US President George Bush speaks privately with White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke in the White House Situation Room. According to Clarke, Bush tells him to investigate the possibility that Iraq was involved in the attacks. “I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” Bush says. “See if Saddam did this.” When Clarke responds, “But Mr. President, al-Qaeda did this,” Bush replies, “I know, I know, but... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred.” Clarke insists that the CIA, FBI, and White House already concluded that there were no such links. As he exits the room, Bush “testily” says again, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” [Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard A. Clarke] During a “60 Minutes” interview, Clarke will say that Bush's instructions were made in a way that was “very intimidating,” and which hinted that Clarke “should come back with that answer.” “Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.” [CBS News, 3/20/04; New York Times, 3/23/04] Clarke's account is later confirmed by several eyewitnesses. [Guardian, 3/26/2004; BBC, 3/23/2004; CBS News, 3/20/04] After his meeting with Bush, Clarke works with CIA and FBI experts to produce the report requested by the president; but they find no evidence that Iraq had a hand in the attacks. It gets “bounced by the national-security advisor, or deputy,” according to Clarke. “ It got bounced and sent back, saying ‘Wrong answer .... Do it again.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp 238]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Scott McClellan, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley  Additional Info 
          

September 14-19, 2001: Bin Laden Family Members, Saudi Royals Quietly Leave US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Khalil bin Laden at the Orlando, Florida, airport, about to be flown out of the country in the days after 9/11.
Following a secret flight inside the US that is in violation of a national private airplane flight ban, members of the bin Laden family and Saudi royalty quietly depart the US. The flights are only publicly acknowledged after all the Saudis have left. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New York Times, 9/30/01] About 140 Saudis, including around 24 members of the bin Laden family, are passengers in these flights. The identities of most of these passengers are not known. However, some of the passengers include:
The son of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan. Sultan is sued in August 2002 for alleged complicity in the 9/11 plot. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] He is alleged to have contributed at least $6 million since 1994 to four charities that finance al-Qaeda. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Khalil bin Laden. He has been investigated by the Brazilian government for possible terrorist connections. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Abdullah bin Laden and Omar bin Laden, cousins of bin Laden. Abdullah was the US director of the Muslim charity World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The governments of India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Bosnia have all accused WAMY of funding terrorism. These two relatives were investigated by the FBI in 1996 (see September 11, 1996) in a case involving espionage, murder, and national security. Their case is reopened on September 19, right after they leave the country. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] Remarkably, four of the 9/11 hijackers briefly live in the town of Falls Church, Virginia, three blocks from the WAMY office headed by Abdullah bin Laden. [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01]
Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen. He is a prominent Saudi official who is in the same hotel as three of the hijackers the night before 9/11. He leaves on one of the first flights to Saudi Arabia before the FBI can properly interview him about this. [Washington Post, 10/2/03] There is a later dispute regarding how thoroughly the Saudis are interviewed before they leave and who approves the flights. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke says he agrees to the flights after the FBI assures him none of those on board has connections to terrorism and that it is “a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House.” [Congressional Testimony, 9/3/03] Clarke says the decision to approve the flights “didn't get any higher than me.” However, the question of who made the request of Clarke is still unknown. [The Hill, 05/18/04] According to Vanity Fair, both the FBI and the State Department “deny playing any role whatsoever in the episode.” However, Dale Watson, the FBI's former head of counterterrorism, says the Saudis on the planes “[are] identified, but they [are] not subject to serious interviews or interrogations” before they leave. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] An FBI spokesperson says the bin Laden relatives are only interviewed by the FBI “at the airport, as they [are] about to leave.” [National Review, 9/11/02] There are claims that some passengers are not interviewed by the FBI at all. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] Abdullah bin Laden, who stays in the US, says that even a month after 9/11, his only contact with the FBI is a brief phone call. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New Yorker, 11/5/01] Numerous experts are surprised that the bin Ladens are not interviewed more extensively before leaving, pointing out that interviewing the relatives of suspects is standard investigative procedure. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; National Review, 9/11/02] MSNBC claims that “members of the Saudi royal family met frequently with bin Laden—both before and after 9/11” [MSNBC, 9/5/03] , and many Saudi royals and bin Laden relatives are being sued for their alleged role in 9/11. The Boston Globe opines that the flights occur “too soon after 9/11 for the FBI even to know what questions to ask, much less to decide conclusively that each Saudi [royal] and bin Laden relative [deserve] an ‘all clear,’ never to be available for questions again.” [Boston Globe, 9/30/03] Senator Charles Schumer (D) says of the secret flights, “This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get. It's almost as if we didn't want to find out what links existed.” [New York Times, 9/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Bin Laden Family, Bush administration, Abdullah bin Laden, Khalil bin Laden, Omar bin Laden, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, Charles Schumer, Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Abdullah bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, US Department of State, Dale Watson
          

March 21, 2004: Counterterrorism Tsar Clarke Goes Public with Complaints Against Bush Response to Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline

       Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” from 1998 until October 2001, ignites a public debate by accusing Bush of doing a poor job fighting al-Qaeda before 9/11. In a prominent 60 Minutes interview, he says, “I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. ... I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism.” He adds, “We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al-Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months.” He complains that he was Bush's chief adviser on terrorism, yet he never got to brief Bush on the subject until after 9/11. [Salon, 3/24/04; Guardian, 3/23/04; CBS News, 3/21/04; CBS News, 3/20/04] The next day, his book Against All Enemies is released and becomes a best seller. [Washington Post, 3/22/04] He testifies before the 9/11 Commission a few days later (see March 24, 2004).
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, al-Qaeda, George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke
          

March 24, 2004: Counterterrorism Tsar Clarke Gives High-Profile Testimony      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Richard Clarke sworn in before the 9/11 Commission.
Just a few days after releasing a new book, former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke testifies before the 9/11 Commission. His opening statement consists of little more than an apology to the relatives of the 9/11 victims. He says, “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you. For that failure, I would ask ... for your understanding and forgiveness.” Under questioning, he praises the Clinton administration, saying, “My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting al-Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration—certainly no higher priority.” But he's very critical of the Bush administration, stating, “By invading Iraq ... the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.” He says that under Bush before 9/11, terrorism was “an important issue, but not an urgent issue. ... [CIA Director] George Tenet and I tried very hard to create a sense of urgency by seeing to it that intelligence reports on the al-Qaeda threat were frequently given to the president and other high-level officials. But although I continue to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way.” He points out that he made proposals to fight al-Qaeda in late January 2001. While the gist of them were implemented after 9/11, he complains, “I didn't really understand why they couldn't have been done in February [2001].” He says that with a more robust intelligence and covert action program, “we might have been able to nip [the plot] in the bud.” [Washington Post, 3/24/04; New York Times, 3/24/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] It soon emerges that President Bush's top lawyer places a telephone call to at least one of the Republican members of the commission just before Clarke's testimony. Critics call that an unethical interference in the hearings. [Washington Post, 4/1/04 (B)] Democratic commissioner Bob Kerrey complains, “To call commissioners and coach them on what they ought to say is a terrible mistake.” [New York Daily News, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Clinton administration, Richard A. Clarke, 9/11 Commission, George Tenet, al-Qaeda, Bob Kerrey
          

Late March 2004: Clarke Attacked by Republicans      Complete 911 Timeline

       Republicans attack Richard Clarke in the wake of his new book and 9/11 Commission testimony (see March 24, 2004), while Democrats defend him. [New York Times, 3/25/04] Senator John McCain (R) calls the attacks “the most vigorous offensive I've ever seen from the administration on any issue.” [Washington Post, 3/28/04] Republicans on the 9/11 Commission criticize him while Democrats praise him. The White House violates a long-standing confidentiality policy by authorizing Fox News to air remarks favorable to Bush that Clarke had made anonymously at an administration briefing in 2002. National Security Adviser Rice says to the media, “There are two very different stories here. These stories can't be reconciled.” However, in what the Washington Post calls a “masterful bit of showmanship,” Clarke replies that he emphasized the positives in 2002 because he was asked to, but did not lie. [Washington Post, 3/25/04; Washington Post, 3/26/04 (B); Fox News, 3/24/04] Republican Senate leader Bill Frist asks “If [Clarke] lied under oath to the United States Congress” in closed testimony in 2002. [Washington Post, 3/27/04 (B)] However, a review of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. [Washington Post, 4/4/04 (B)] Republican leaders threaten to release his 2002 testimony, and Clarke claims he welcomes the release. The testimony remains classified. [Associated Press, 3/28/04; Associated Press, 3/26/04] Clarke also calls on Rice to release all e-mail communications between the two of them before 9/11; this is not released either. [Guardian, 3/29/04] Vice President Cheney calls Clarke “out of the loop” on terrorism. A Slate editorial calls Cheney's comment “laughably absurd. Clarke wasn't just in the loop, he was the loop.” [Slate, 3/23/04] Even Clarke's later political opponent Rice says Clarke was very much involved. [New York Times, 3/25/04 (D)] Clarke responds by pointing out that he voted Republican in 2000 and he pledges under oath not to seek a post if Senator John Kerry wins the 2004 Presidential election. [Washington Post, 3/24/04] According to Reuters, a number of political experts conclude, “The White House may have mishandled accusations leveled by their former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke by attacking his credibility, keeping the controversy firmly in the headlines into a second week.” [Reuters, 3/29/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Bill Frist, Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, John Kerry
          

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