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Profile: Condoleezza Rice

 
  

Positions that Condoleezza Rice has held:

  • US National Security Advisor (2001-2005)
  • US Secretary of State (2005-)


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, July 2001

   “Saddam does not control the northern part of the country. We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]

Associated Events

Quote, July 2002

   “A decision has been made [about attacking Iraq]. Don't waste your breath.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]

Associated Events

Quote, September 8, 2002

   “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance—into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to—high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device. The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” [CNN Late Night with Wolf Blitzer, 9/8/02, US Government Info, 9/8/2002, Telegraph, 9/9/2002, Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, CNN, 9/8/2002]

Associated Events

Quote, September 15, 2002

   “[Saddam Hussein]clearly has links to terrorism ... —Links to terrorism [that] would include al-Qaeda....” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, Islam OnLine, 9/15/2002, CNN, 9/26/2002, Fox News, 9/15/2002]

Associated Events

Quote, November 10, 2002

   “We have to have a zero-tolerance view of the Iraqi regime this time. The next material breach by Saddam Hussein has got to have serious consequences. I think it's pretty clear what that may mean.” [Chicago Tribune, 11/11/02]

Associated Events

Quote, January 23, 2003

   Iraq failed “to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad” in its December 2002 declaration to the UN. [US Department of State, 1/23/03]

Quote, February 5, 2003

   “There is no question in my mind about the al-Qaeda connection. It is a connection that has unfolded, that we're learning more about as we are able to take the testimony of detainees, people who were high up in the al-Qaeda organization. And what emerges is a picture of a Saddam Hussein who became impressed with what al-Qaeda did after it bombed our embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania, began to give them assistance in chemical and biological weapons, something that they were having trouble achieving on their own, that harbored a terrorist network under this man Zarqawi, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was told that Zarqawi was there.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, CNN, 2/15/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, February 16, 2003

   “Well, we are, of course, continually learning more about these links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and there is evidence that Secretary Powell did not have the time to talk about. But the core of the story is there in what Secretary Powell talked about. This poisons network with at least two dozen of its operatives operating in Baghdad, a man who is spreading poisons now throughout Europe and into Russia, a man who got medical care in Baghdad despite the fact that the Iraqis were asked to turn him over, training in biological and chemical weapons.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, Fox News, 2/16/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, March 9, 2003

   “Now the al-Qaida is an organization that's quite disbursed and—and quite widespread in its effects, but it clearly has had links to the Iraqis, not to mention Iraqi links to all kinds of other terrorists. And what we do not want is the day when Saddam Hussein decides that he's had enough of dealing with sanctions, enough of dealing with, quote, unquote, ‘containment,’ enough of dealing with America, and it's time to end it on his terms, by transferring one of these weapons, just a little vial of something, to a terrorist for blackmail or for worse.” [CBS, 3/9/2003, Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004]

Associated Events

Undefined, April 4, 2003

   “We will leave Iraq completely in the hands of Iraqis as quickly as possible.” [US Department of State, 4/4/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, May 28, 2003

   “We have found, in Iraq, biological weapons laboratories that look precisely like what Secretary Powell described in his February 5 report to the United Nations.” [White House, 5/28/2003, Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, US Department of State, 5/28/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, June 3, 2003

   “But let's remember what we've already found. Secretary Powell on February 5 talked about a mobile, biological weapons capability. That has now been found and this is a weapons laboratory trailers capable of making a lot of agent that—dry agent, dry biological agent that can kill a lot of people. So we are finding these pieces that were described.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004]

Associated Events

Quote, June 8, 2003

   “The president quoted a British paper. We did not know at the time—no one knew at the time, in our circles—maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.” [Washington Post, 6/13/03, Knight Ridder, 6/13/03]

Associated Events

Quote, July 11, 2003

   “[I]f the CIA, the director of central intelligence, had said, ‘Take this out of the speech,’ it would have been gone, without question. What we've said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn't have put this in the president's speech - but that's knowing what we know now.... If there were doubts about the underlying intelligence, those doubts were not communicated to the president, to the vice president or to me.” [New York Times, 7/12/2003, White House, 7/11/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, July 26, 2003

   “The intelligence community did not know at that time or at levels that got to us that this, that there was serious questions about this report [October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate].” [ABC This Week, 6/8/2003, World Net Daily, 7/29/2003, The Washington Post, 7/26/2003, Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004]

Associated Events

Quote, July 30, 2003

   “[Saddam Hussein] had ...an active procurement network to procure items, many of which, by the way, were on the prohibited list of the nuclear suppliers group. There's a reason that they were on the prohibited list of the nuclear supplies group: Magnets, balancing machines, yes, aluminum tubes, about which the consensus view was that they were suitable for use in centrifuges to spin material for nuclear weapons.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 7/30/2003, White House, 7/30/2003, Iraq Watch, 7/30/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, July 31, 2003

   “Going into the war against Iraq, we had very strong intelligence. I've been in this business for 20 years. And some of the strongest intelligence cases that I've seen, key judgments by our intelligence community that Saddam Hussein ... had biological and chemical weapons ....” [Acronym Institute, 7/31/2003, Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, White House, 7/31/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, September 7, 2003

   “[W]e know that there was training of al-Qaeda in chemical and perhaps biological warfare. We know that the Zarqawi was network out of there, this poisons network that was trying to spread poisons throughout.... And there was an Ansar al-Islam, which appears also to try to be operating in Iraq. So yes, the al-Qaeda link was there.” [Fox News, 9/7/2003, Global Views, 9/26/2003, Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004]

Associated Events

Quote, September 28, 2003

   “Saddam Hussein—no one has said that there is evidence that Saddam Hussein directed or controlled 9/11, but let's be very clear, he had ties to al-Qaeda, he had al-Qaeda operatives who had operated out of Baghdad.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004, NBC, 9/28/2003]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

Related Entities:


 

Condoleezza Rice actively participated in the following events:

 
  

April 2000: LIWA and Able Danger Face Trouble After LIWA Connects Prominent US Figures to Chinese Military      Complete 911 Timeline

       A 1999 study by the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) to look into possible Chinese front companies in the US seeking technology for the Chinese military created controversy and was ordered destroyed in November 1999 (see Mid-1999-November 1999). However, apparently Rep. Curt Weldon (R) protests, and the issue finally comes to a head during this month. One result of this controversy will be what Maj. Erik Kleinsmith will later call “severely restricted” support for Able Danger, including a temporary end to LIWA support (see April 2000) In an April 14, 2000 memorandum from the legal counsel in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Capt. Michael Lohr writes that the concern over the LIWA data mining study raises privacy concerns: “Preliminary review of subject methodology raised the possibility that LIWA ‘data mining’ would potentially access both foreign intelligence (FI) information and domestic information relating to US citizens (i.e. law enforcement, tax, customs, immigration, etc... ... I recognize that an argument can be made that LIWA is not ‘collecting’ in the strict sense (i.e. they are accessing public areas of the Internet and non-FI federal government databases of already lawfully collected information). This effort would, however, have the potential to pull together into a single database a wealth of privacy-protected US citizen information in a more sweeping and exhaustive manner than was previously contemplated.” Additionally, the content of the study is another reason why it caused what Weldon calls a “wave of controversy.” The study had connected future National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent US citizens to business transactions with Chinese military officials.(see Mid-1999-November 1999). [Washington Times, 10/9/05; Washington Times, 9/22/05; New York Post, 8/27/05; Curt Weldon Press Conference, 9/17/05; Erik Kleinsmith Statement, 9/21/05] One article on the subject will comment, “Sources familiar with Able Danger say the project was shut down because it could have led to the exposure of a separate secret data mining project focusing on US citizens allegedly transferring super-sensitive US technology illegally to the Chinese government.” [WTOP, 9/1/05] A massive destruction of data from Able Danger and LIWA's data mining efforts will follow, one month later (see May-June 2000).
People and organizations involved: Michael Lohr, Curt Weldon, Condoleezza Rice, William Perry, Land Information Warfare Activity, Able Danger
          

December 2000: Incoming Bush Administration Briefed on Terrorism Threat; Apparently Ignores Recommendations      Complete 911 Timeline

       CIA Director Tenet and other top CIA officials brief President-elect Bush, Vice President-elect Cheney, future National Security Adviser Rice, and other incoming national security officials on al-Qaeda and covert action programs in Afghanistan. Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt recalls conveying that bin Laden is one of the gravest threats to the country. Bush asks whether killing bin Laden would end the problem. Pavitt says he answers that killing bin Laden would have an impact but not stop the threat. The CIA recommends the most important action to combat al-Qaeda is to arm the Predator drone and use it over Afghanistan. [Reuters, 3/24/04 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] However, while the drone is soon armed, Bush never gives the order to use it in Afghanistan until after 9/11 (see September 4, 2001).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, James Pavitt, al-Qaeda, George Tenet
          

End of 2001-early 2002      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld authorizes the creation of a “special-access program,” or SAP, with “blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate ‘high value’ targets in the Bush administration's war on terror.” [The New Yorker, 5/15/2004; The Guardian, 9/13/2004] The operation, known as “Copper Green,” is approved by Condoleezza Rice and known to President Bush. [The New Yorker, 5/15/2004 Sources: Unnamed former US intelligence official] A SAP is an ultra secret project, the contents of which are known by very few officials. “We're not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness,” a former senior intelligence official tells investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. [The Guardian, 9/13/2004; The New Yorker, 5/15/2004] The SAP is brought up occasionally within the National Security Council (NSC), chaired by the president and members of which are Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Powell. The former intelligence official tells Hersh, “There was a periodic briefing to the National Security Council giving updates on results, but not on the methods.” He also says he believes NSC members know about the process by which these results are acquired. Motive for the SAP comes from an initial freeze in the results obtained by US agents from their hunt for al-Qaeda. Friendly foreign intelligence services on the other hand, from countries in the Middle East and South-East Asia, which employ more aggressive tactics on prisoners, are giving up much better information by the end of 2001. By authorizing the SAP, Rumsfeld, according to Hersh, desires to adopt these tactics and thus increase intelligence results. “Rumsfeld's goal was to get a capability in place to take on a high-value target—a stand-up group to hit quickly,” the former intelligence official tells Hersh. The program's operatives were recruited from among Delta Force, Navy Seals, and CIA's paramilitary experts. They are given, according to Hersh, “blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate high-value targets.” They are permitted to carry out “instant interrogations—using force if necessary—at secret CIA detention centers scattered around the world.” Information obtained through the program is sent to the Pentagon in real-time. The former intelligence official tells Hersh: “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’ ” [The Guardian, 9/13/2004] The operation, according to Seymour Hersh, “encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation.” [The New Yorker, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Richard B. Myers, George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Colin Powell
          

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 20-September 10, 2001: Bush Briefed on al-Qaeda over 40 Times      Complete 911 Timeline

       National Security Adviser Rice later testifies to the 9/11 Commission that in the first eight months of Bush's presidency before 9/11, “the president receive[s] at these [Presidential Daily Briefings] more than 40 briefing items on al-Qaeda, and 13 of those [are] in response to questions he or his top advisers posed.” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)] The content of the warnings in these briefings are unknown. However, CIA Director George Tenet claims that none of the warnings specifically indicates terrorists plan to fly hijacked commercial aircraft into buildings in the US. [New York Times, 4/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, al-Qaeda, George Tenet
          

January 21, 2001: Bush Administration Takes Over; Many Have Oil Industry Connections      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The Chevron oil tanker named after National Security Advisor Rice.
George W. Bush is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Bill Clinton. The only Cabinet-level figure to remain permanently in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long-time friend of George H. W. Bush. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney, and National Security Adviser Rice. Rice had been on Chevron's Board of Directors since 1991, and even had a Chevron oil tanker named after her. [Salon, 11/19/01] It is later revealed that Cheney is still being paid up to $1 million a year in “deferred payments” from Halliburton, the oil company he headed. [Guardian, 3/12/03] Enron's ties also reach deep into the administration. [Washington Post, 1/18/02]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Louis J. Freeh, George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Enron, George Tenet
          

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
          

(January 30, 2001): First National Security Council Meeting Focuses on Iraq and Israel, Not Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush White House holds its first National Security Council meeting. The focus is on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [Bamford, 2004, pp 261 Sources: Paul O'Neill]
Israeli-Palestinian conflict - “We're going to correct the imbalances of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict,” Bush reportedly tells his national security team. “We're going to tilt it back toward Israel.” His view is that the Israeli government, currently headed by Ariel Sharon, should be left alone to deal as it sees fit with the Palestinians. “I'm not going to go by past reputations when it comes to Sharon. I'm going to take him at face value. We'll work on a relationship based on how things go.” Justifying his position, he recalls a recent trip he took to Israel with the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We flew over the Palestinian camps. Looked real bad down there. ... I don't see much we can do over there at this point.” Powell, surprised by Bush's intended policy towards the 50-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, objects. According to Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neil, Powell “stresse[s] that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and the Israeli army.” When Powell warns the president that the “consequences of that [policy] could be dire, especially for the Palestinians,” Bush shrugs. “Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things,” he suggests. [Bamford, 2004, pp 265-266]
Iraq - The meeting then moves on to the subject of Iraq. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice begins noting “that Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region.” She turns the meeting over to CIA director George Tenet who summarizes current intelligence on Iraq. He mentions a factory that “might” be producing “either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture.” The evidence he provides is a picture of the factory with some truck activity, a water tower, and railroad tracks going into a building. He admits that there is “no confirming intelligence.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 267] US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill, later recalls: “From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go ... From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed.” O'Neill will say officials never questioned the logic behind this policy. No one ever asked, “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” Instead, the issue that needed to be resolved was how this could be accomplished. “It was all about finding a way to do it,” O'Neill will explain. “That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’ ” [CBS News, 1/10/04; New York Times, 1/12/04; Guardian, 1/12/04; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pg 234 Sources: Paul O'Neill] Another official who attends the meeting will later say that the tone of the meeting implied a policy much more aggressive than that of the previous administration. “The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces,” the official will tell ABC News. “That went beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force.” [ABC News, 1/13/04 Sources: Unnamed senior official of the Bush administration] The council does more than just discuss Iraq. It makes a decision to allow the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an Iraqi opposition group, to use $4 million to fund efforts inside Iraq to compile information relating to Baghdad's war crimes, military operations, and other internal developments. The money had been authorized by Congress in late 2004. The US has not directly funded Iraqi opposition activities inside Iraq itself since 1996. [Guardian, 2/3/2005] After Paul O'Neill first provides his account of this meeting in 2004, the White House will attempt to downplay its significance. “... The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear,” Bush will tell reporters during a visit to Mexico In January 2004. “Like the previous administration, we were for regime change. ... And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, and so we were fashioning policy along those lines.” [New York Times, 1/12/04]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Colin Powell, Richard B. Myers, Paul O'Neill, Iraqi National Congress, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 31, 2001: Bipartisan Commission Issues Final Report on Terrorism, but Conclusions Are Ignored      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Gary Hart (left) and Warren Rudman (right) testify before a Senate committee in 2002.
The final report of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R) is issued. The bipartisan report was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Hart and Rudman personally brief National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Powell on their findings. The report has 50 recommendations on how to combat terrorism in the US, but all of them are ignored by the Bush administration. According to Senator Hart, Congress begins to take the commission's suggestions seriously in March and April, and legislation is introduced to implement some of the recommendations. Then, “Frankly, the White House shut it down... The president said ‘Please wait, We're going to turn this over to the vice president’ ... and so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day.” The White House announces in May that it will have Vice President Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism despite the fact that this commission had just studied the issue for 2 1/2 years. Interestingly, both this commission and the Bush administration were already assuming a new cabinet level National Homeland Security Agency would be enacted eventually, even as the public remained unaware of the term and the concept. [Salon, 9/12/01; Salon, 4/2/04] Hart is incredulous that neither he nor any of the other members of this commission are ever asked to testify before the 9/11 Commission. [Salon, 4/6/04]
People and organizations involved: Newt Gingrich, US Congress, Donald Rumsfeld, 9/11 Commission, Warren Rudman, Colin Powell, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Bush administration, Gary Hart, Commission on National Security/21st Century, Condoleezza Rice
          

February 1, 2001: Rumsfeld Envisions Post-Saddam Iraq      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush White House holds its second National Security Council meeting. Like the first meeting (see (January 30, 2001)), the issue of regime change in Iraq is a central topic. [CBS News, 1/10/04; New York Times, 1/12/04] Officials discuss a memo titled “Plan for post-Saddam Iraq,” which talks about troop requirements, establishing war crimes tribunals, and divvying up Iraq's oil wealth. [Sources: Paul O'Neill] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argues that by removing Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration would “demonstrate what US policy is all about.” It would also help transform the Middle East, he claims. According to Paul O'Neill, Rumsfeld talks at the meeting “in general terms about post-Saddam Iraq, dealing with the Kurds in the north, the oil fields, the reconstruction of the country's economy, and the ‘freeing of the Iraqi people.’ ” [New York Times, 1/12/04 Sources: Paul O'Neill] Other people, in addition to O'Neill, Bush, and Rumsfeld, who are likely in attendance include Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers. [Sources: National Security Presidential Directives—NSPD-1, 2/13/01]]
People and organizations involved: Paul O'Neill, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Richard B. Myers, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld
          

May-July 2001: NSA Picks Up Word of ‘Imminent Terrorist Attacks’      Complete 911 Timeline

       Over a two-month period, the NSA reports that “at least 33 communications indicating a possible, imminent terrorist attack.” None of these reports provide any specific information on where, when, or how an attack might occur. These reports are widely disseminated to other intelligence agencies. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; MSNBC, 9/18/02] National Security Adviser Rice later reads what she calls “chatter that was picked up in [2001s] spring and summer. ‘Unbelievable news coming in weeks,’ said one. ‘A big event ... there will be a very, very, very, very big uproar.’ ‘There will be attacks in the near future.’ ” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)] The NSA director later claims that all of the warnings were red herrings. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Condoleezza Rice
          

June 2001: Clarke Asks for Different Job as White House Fails to Share His Urgency      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks for a transfer to start a new national program on cyber security. His request is granted, and he is to change jobs in early October 2001. He makes the change despite the 9/11 attacks. He claims that he tells National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy Steve Hadley, “Perhaps I have become too close to the terrorism issue. I have worked it for ten years and to me it seems like a very important issue, but maybe I'm becoming like Captain Ahab with bin Laden as the White Whale. Maybe you need someone less obsessive about it.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 25-26; White House, 10/9/01] He later claims, “My view was that this administration, while it listened to me, either didn't believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem. And I thought, if the administration doesn't believe its national coordinator for counterterrorism when he says there's an urgent problem, and if it's unprepared to act as though there's an urgent problem, then probably I should get another job.” [New York Times, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke
          

June 27-July 16, 2001: Counterterrorism Plan Delayed with More Deputies Meetings      Complete 911 Timeline

       The first Bush administration deputy-secretary-level meeting on terrorism in late April is followed by three more deputy meetings. Each meeting focuses on one issue: one meeting is about al-Qaeda, one about the Pakistani situation, and one on Indo-Pakistani relations. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke's plan to roll back al-Qaeda, which has been discussed at these meetings, is worked on some more, and is finally approved by National Security Adviser Rice and the deputies on August 13. It now can move to the Cabinet-level before finally reaching President Bush. The Cabinet-level meeting is scheduled for later in August, but too many participants are on vacation, so the meeting takes place in early September. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04; Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, al-Qaeda, Bush administration, George W. Bush
          

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
          

July 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says, “Saddam does not control the northern part of the country. We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

July 3, 2001: Rare Discussion Takes Place Between National Security Advisers on Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline

       This is one of only two dates that Bush's national security leadership discusses terrorism. (The other discussion occurs on September 4.) Apparently, the topic is only mentioned in passing and is not the focus of the meeting. This group, made up of the national security adviser, CIA director, defense secretary, secretary of state, Joint Chiefs of staff chairman and others, met around 100 times before 9/11 to discuss a variety of topics, but apparently rarely terrorism. The White House “aggressively defended the level of attention [to terrorism], given only scattered hints of al-Qaeda activity.” This lack of discussion stands in sharp contrast to the Clinton administration and public comments by the Bush administration. [Time, 8/4/02] Bush said in February 2001, “I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil.” A few weeks earlier, Tenet told Congress, “The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving.” [Associated Press, 6/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, US Congress, Bush administration, Clinton administration, al-Qaeda
          

July 5, 2001: Genoa Planes as Weapons Threat Helps Inspire Bush to Ask For Famous August 2001 Briefing      Complete 911 Timeline

       In 2002, Newsweek will report, “The White House acknowledged for the first time, [President] Bush was privately beginning to worry about the stream of terror warnings he was hearing that summer, most of them aimed at US targets abroad. On July 5, five days before the Phoenix memo (see July 10, 2001), Bush directed [Condoleezza] Rice to figure out what was going on domestically.” [Newsweek, 5/27/02] In 2004, President Bush will explain why he requested this. “[T]he reason I did is because there had been a lot of threat intelligence from overseas. And part of it had to do with the Genoa [Italy] G8 conference that I was going to attend.” [New York Times, 4/13/04 (D)] Though he doesn't mention it, the chief security concern at the late July 2001 conference he mentions is intelligence that al-Qaeda plans to fly an airplane into the conference. This threat is so widely reported before the conference (with some reports before July 5 (see June 13, 2001) (see Mid-July 2001)) that the attack is called off. For instance, in late June, Time magazine mentioned a German intelligence report of a bin Laden plot “to fly remote-controlled model aircraft packed with Semtex into the conference hall and blow the leaders of the industrialized world to smithereens.” (see June 20, 2001) Bush's request will result in the later-famous August 6, 2001 briefing entitled, “bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” (see August 6, 2001) [New York Times, 4/13/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

July 6, 2001: Clarke Tells Rice to Prepare for 3 to 5 Simultaneous Attacks; No Apparent Response      Complete 911 Timeline

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke sends National Security Advisor Rice an e-mail message “outlining a number of steps agreed on” at the Counterterrorism and Security Group meeting the day before, “including efforts to examine the threat of weapons of mass destruction and possible attacks in Latin America. One senior administration official [says] Mr. Clarke [writes] that several agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon, [have] been directed to develop what the official [says are] ‘detailed response plans in the event of three to five simultaneous attacks.’ ” However, no response or follow-up action has been pointed out. [New York Times, 4/4/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Condoleezza Rice
          

Mid-July 2001: Tenet Warns Rice About Major Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       CIA Director Tenet has a special meeting with National Security Adviser Rice and her aides about al-Qaeda. Says one official at the meeting, “[Tenet] briefed [Rice] that there was going to be a major attack.” Another at the meeting says Tenet displays a huge wall chart showing dozens of threats. Tenet does not rule out a domestic attack but says an overseas attack is more likely. [Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, al-Qaeda, George Tenet
          

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 6, 2001: Bush Briefing Titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
President Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on August 6, 2001. Advisors wait with classified briefings.
President Bush receives a classified intelligence briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo provided to him is titled “bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” The entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. [Newsweek, 5/27/02; New York Times, 5/15/02] Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing.” [New York Times, 5/25/02] The existence of this memo is kept secret, until it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of controversy. While National Security Adviser Rice claims the memo is only one and a half pages long; other accounts state it is 11 1/2 pages instead of the usual two or three. [Newsweek, 5/27/02; New York Times, 5/15/02; Die Zeit, 10/1/02] She disingenuously asserts that, “It was an analytic report that talked about [bin Laden]'s methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998. ... I want to reiterate, it was not a warning. There was no specific time, place, or method mentioned.” [White House, 5/16/02] A page and a half of the contents are released on April 10, 2004, after Rice testifies before the 9/11 Commission. [Washington Post, 4/10/04] Rice testifies that the memo is mostly historic regarding bin Laden's previous activities, and she says it contains no specific information that would have prevented an attack. The memo, as released, states as follows:
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."
After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -REDACTED-service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told -REDACTED- service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that in ---, Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaida encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his own US attack.
Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.
Although bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.
Al Qaeda members -- including some who are US citizens -- have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a -REDACTED- service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other US-held extremists.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the US that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives. [9/11 Commission, 7/22/2004] The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry calls it “a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials” presented in early August 2001. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles International Airport, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Ahmed Ressam, 9/11 Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Abu Zubaida, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, World Trade Center
          

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
          

September 6, 2001: Senator Hart Sees No Sense of Urgency from Rice on Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline

       Former Senator Gary Hart (D), one of the two co-chairs of a comprehensive, bipartisan report on terrorism released in January 2001, meets with National Security Adviser Rice to see if the Bush administration is implementing the report's recommendations. He later claims to give her a grave warning. He recalls to tone of her response: “She didn't seem to feel a terrible sense of urgency. Her response was simply ‘I'll talk to the vice president about it.’ ... Even at this late date, nothing was being done inside the White House.” [Salon, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, Gary Hart
          

September 10, 2001: Deputies Still Putting Final Touches on Three-Year Plan to Stop al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       Another deputies meeting further considers policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, and makes further revisions to the National Security Presidential Directive regarding al-Qaeda. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] By the end of the meeting, a formal, three-phase strategy is agreed upon. An envoy is to go to Afghanistan and give the Taliban another chance to expel bin Laden. If this fails, more pressure will be put on the Taliban, including more support for the Northern Alliance and other groups. If the Taliban still refuse to change, the US will try to overthrow the Taliban through more direct action. The time-frame for this strategy is about three years. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] CIA Director Tenet is formally tasked to draw up new authorities for the covert action program envisioned, and request funding to implement it. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] The directive is then to be sent to National Security Adviser Rice for approval. President Bush is apparently aware of the directive and prepared to sign it (though he hasn't attended any of the meetings about it), but he does not sign it until October. [MSNBC, 5/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02; Washington Post, 4/1/04]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Northern Alliance
          

(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
          

(9:00 a.m.): Rice Informs Bush Flight 11 Has Accidentally Hit the WTC, but Knows Nothing Else      Complete 911 Timeline

       National Security Adviser Rice later claims she is in her White House office when she hears about the first WTC crash just before 9:00 a.m. She recalls, “I thought to myself, what an odd accident.” She reportedly speaks to President Bush around 9:00 a.m. on the telephone, and tells him that a twin-engine plane has struck the WTC tower. She says, “That's all we know right now, Mr. President.” [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Rice later claims, “He said, what a terrible, it sounds like a terrible accident. Keep me informed.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] Despite her title of National Security Adviser, she is apparently unaware that NORAD has scrambled planes after learning of two hijackings in progress at least 15 minutes ago. She goes ahead with her usual national security staff meeting. [Newsweek, 12/31/01] Author James Bamford comments, “Neither Rice nor Bush was aware that the United States had gone to ‘battle stations’ alert and had scrambled fighter jets into the air to intercept and possibly take hostile action against multiple hijacked airliners, something that was then known by hundreds of others within NORAD, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Pentagon.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 17] Congressman Dan Miller, who is waiting in a receiving line to meet Bush, says he waits a few minutes for the call to end. Bush appears unbothered when he greets Miller after the call. Miller recalls, “It was nothing different from the normal, brief greeting with the president.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Dan Miller, James Bamford
          

(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 9:16-9:29 a.m.): Bush Works on Speech with Staff; Makes No Decisions      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Bush in a holding room before giving his speech. Communications director Dan Bartlett points to the TV, and the clock reads 9:25.
President Bush works with his staff to prepare a speech he will deliver at 9:29 a.m. (see 9:29 a.m.) He intermittently watches the television coverage in the room. [Albuquerque Tribune, 9/10/02] He also speaks on the phone to advisers, first calling National Security Adviser Rice, then Vice President Cheney, then New York Governor George Pataki. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Bush often turns to look at a television screen. He declares, “We're at war.” [BBC, 9/1/02] Bush later claims he makes no major decisions about the crisis until after boarding Air Force One at 9:55 a.m. (see (9:56 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, George E. Pataki, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

(9:27 a.m.): Cheney Given Updates on Unidentified Flight 77 Heading Toward Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice, in their bunker below the White House, are told by an aide that an airplane is headed toward Washington from 50 miles away. The plane is Flight 77. FAA deputy Monty Belger says, “Well We're watching this target on the radar, but the transponder's been turned off. So we have no identification.” They are given further notices when the plane is 30 miles away, then ten miles away, until it disappears from radar (time unknown, but the plane is said to be traveling about 500 mph and was 30 miles away at 9:30 a.m., so 50 miles would be about three minutes before that). [ABC News, 9/11/02] Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta gives virtually the same account before the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03] However, the 9/11 Commission later claims the plane heading toward Washington is only discovered at 9:32 a.m. (see 9:32 a.m.). [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Norman Mineta, Monty Belger, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

(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
          

(9:35 a.m.): Treasury Department Evacuates; Pentagon and Other Washington Department Do Not      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Treasury Department is evacuated a few minutes before Flight 77 crashes. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] Yet, CNN notes that “after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned the military's air defense command that a hijacked airliner appeared to be headed toward Washington, the federal government failed to make any move to evacuate the White House, Capitol, State Department, or the Pentagon.” [CNN, 9/16/01] A Pentagon representative says, “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.” Even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his top aides in the Pentagon remain unaware of any danger up to the moment of impact. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Senators and congresspeople are in the Capitol building, which is not evacuated until 9:48 a.m. (see 9:48 a.m.) Only Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, and possibly a few others are evacuated to safety a few minutes after 9:03 a.m. (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). Yet, supposedly, since at least the Flight 11 crash, “military officials in a Command Center [the National Military Command Center] on the east side of the [Pentagon] [are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/01] The White House is evacuated at 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.))
People and organizations involved: US Department of the Treasury, 9/11 Commission Report, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, US Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center, US Department of State
          

(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
          

(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
          

(Between 10:00-10:15 a.m.): Bush and Cheney Said to Confer on Shootdown Orders, 9/11 Commission Doubts Their Account      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to a 9/11 Commission staff report, Vice President Cheney is told that a combat air patrol has been established over Washington. Cheney then calls President Bush to discuss the rules of engagement for the pilots. Bush authorizes the shootdown of hijacked aircraft at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] According to a Washington Post article, which places the call after 9:55 a.m., “Cheney recommended that Bush authorize the military to shoot down any such civilian airliners—as momentous a decision as the president was asked to make in those first hours.” Bush then talks to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to clarify the procedure, and Rumsfeld passes word down the chain of command. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Cheney and Bush recall having this phone call, and National Security Adviser Rice recalls overhearing it. However, as the commission notes, “Among the sources that reflect other important events that morning there is no documentary evidence for this call, although the relevant sources are incomplete. Others nearby who were taking notes, such as the vice president's chief of staff, [I. Lewis ‘Scooter’] Libby, who sat next to him, and [Lynne] Cheney, did not note a call between the president and vice president immediately after the vice president entered the conference room.” The commission also apparently concludes that no evidence exists to support the claim that Bush and Rumsfeld talked about such procedures at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Commission Chairman Thomas Kean says, “The phone logs don't exist, because they evidently got so fouled up in communications that the phone logs have nothing. So that's the evidence we have.” Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says of the shootdown order, “Well, I'm not sure it was carried out.” [New York Daily News, 6/18/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (C)] Newsweek reports that it “has learned that some on the commission staff were, in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president's account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report. According to one knowledgeable source, some staffers ‘flat out didn't believe the call ever took place.’ ” According to a 9/11 Commission staffer, the report “was watered down” after vigorous lobbying from the White House. [Newsweek, 6/20/04] An account by Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek (who was overseeing NORAD's Colorado headquarters, where he claims to hear Bush give a shootdown order), as well as the order to empty the skies of aircraft, appears to be discredited. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01]
People and organizations involved: Lee Hamilton, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, 9/11 Commission, George W. Bush, Mike Jellinek
          

September 11, 2001: Planned Rice Speech on Threats Contains No Mention of al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       National Security Adviser Rice is scheduled to deliver a speech claiming to address “the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday.” The speech is never given due to the 9/11 attacks earlier in the day, but the text is later leaked to the media. The Washington Post calls the speech “telling Insight into the administration's thinking” because it promotes missile defense and contains no mention of al-Qaeda, bin Laden, or Islamic extremist groups. The only mention of terrorism is in the context of the danger of rogue nations such as Iraq. In fact, there are almost no public mentions of bin Laden or al-Qaeda by Bush or other top Bush administration officials before 9/11, and the focus instead is on missile defense. [Washington Post, 4/1/04 (D); Washington Post, 4/1/04]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

(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
          

(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 15, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       George W. Bush, CIA Director George Tenet, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Paul Wolfowitz, and perhaps other officials as well, meet at Camp David to discuss war plans in Afghanistan. The meeting reportedly begins at 9:30 AM with a prayer. [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 232; Washington Post, 1/31/02] There is discussion on a paper submitted by the Defense Department depicting Iraq, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda as priority targets. Paul Wolfowitz pushes for regime change in Iraq, claiming that there is a 10 to 50 percent chance that Iraq was involved in the attacks. [Washington Post, 7/23/04; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 232; Woodward, 2002, pp 83] Wolfowitz will later recall in an interview with Vanity Fair: “On the surface of the debate it at least appeared to be about not whether but when. There seemed to be a kind of agreement that yes it should be, but the disagreement was whether it should be in the immediate response or whether you should concentrate simply on Afghanistan first. To the extent it was a debate about tactics and timing, the president clearly came down on the side of Afghanistan first. To the extent it was a debate about strategy and what the larger goal was, it is at least clear with 20/20 hindsight that the president came down on the side of the larger goal.” [Defense Department, /29/2005]
People and organizations involved: Paul O'Neill, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Robert S. Mueller III, Paul Wolfowitz, George Tenet, George W. Bush  Additional Info 
          

September 20, 2001: Bush to Blair: After Afghanistan, ‘We Must Come Back to Iraq’       Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. During dinner that night, also attended by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and British ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair tells Bush that he wants to concentrate on ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush replies, “I agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.” Blair says nothing to disagree. [Observer, 4/4/04; BBC, 4/3/03; Independent, 4/4/04; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 238 Sources: Christopher Meyer]
People and organizations involved: Christopher Meyer, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Tony Blair
          

November 13, 2001      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       President Bush issues a 3-page executive order authorizing the creation of military commissions to try non-citizens alleged to be involved in international terrorism. The president will decide which defendants will be tried by military commissions. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will appoint each panel and set its rules and procedures, including the level of proof needed for a conviction. A two-thirds vote is needed to convict a defendant and impose a sentence, including life imprisonment or death. Only the president or the secretary of defense has the authority to overturn a decision. There is no provision for an appeal to US civil courts, foreign courts, or international tribunals. Nor does the order specify how many judges are to preside on a tribunal or what qualifications they must have. [New York Times, 10/24/2004; US Department of Defense, 11/13/2001; Washington Post, 11/14/2001, pp A01] The order also adopts a rule of evidence stemming from the 1942 Supreme Court case of United States v. Quirin that says evidence shall be admitted “as would ... have probative value to a reasonable person.” This rule, according to Judge Evan J. Wallach, “was repeatedly used [in World War II and in the post-war tribunals] to admit evidence of a quality or obtained in a manner which would make it inadmissible under the rules of evidence in both courts of the United States or courts martial conducted by the armed forces of the United States.” [9/29/2004] Evidence derived from torture, for example, could theoretically be admitted. It should be noted that the order is unprecedented among presidential directives in that it takes away some individuals' most basic rights, while claiming to have the power of law, with the US Congress not having been so much as consulted. During the next few years, lawyers will battle over the exact proceedings of the trials before military commissions, with many of the military lawyers arguing for more rights for the defendants and with Haynes, and the Justice and White House lawyers, Gonzales, Addington, and Flanigan, taking a more restrictive line. [New York Times, 10/24/2004] Both Rice and Powell were left outside of the circle during the drafting of this directive (see November 6, 2001) (see November 9, 2001). Rice is reportedly angry about not be informed. [New York Times, 10/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, David S. Addington, Timothy E. Flanigan, Alberto R. Gonzales, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, William J. Haynes  Additional Info 
          

November 21, 2001: Bush Wants Iraq Invasion Plan      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld speak in private. Bush asks the Defense Secretary what kind of plan the Pentagon has for invading Iraq. “What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq? What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret,” Bush says. When Rumsfeld says its current plan is outdated, Bush instructs him to devise a new one. “Let's get started on this,” Bush says. “And get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to.” Bush requests that discussion about Iraq remain low-key. “I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq,” Bush later explains to journalist Bob Woodward. Bush does not share the details of his conversation with Condoleezza Rice, only telling her that Rumsfeld will be working on Iraq. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Associated Press, 4/16/04; Woodward, 2004 cited in New York Times, 4/17/04; Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post, 1/18/04; CBS News, 4/18/04 Sources: George Bush and other top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] When General Tommy Franks—who already has his hands full with the operation in Afghanistan—learns that the administration is considering plans to invade Iraq, he utters “a string of obscenities.” [Woodward, 2004 cited in Associated Press, 4/16/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] General Franks will meet with Bush and brief him on the plan's progress on December 28 (see December 28, 2001).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Thomas Franks, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice
          

December 2001      US confrontation with Iran

       The Bush administration sends two Defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to meet with Iranians in Rome in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism. The offer had been back-channeled by the Iranians to the White House through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader and a central person in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted another Iran-Contra figure, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen passed the information on to his friends in the Defense Department who then relayed the offer to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley expressed no reservations about the proposed meeting and informed George J. Tenet, the director of the CIA, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. According to officials interviewed by the New York Times, the United States Embassy in Rome was not notified of the planned meeting as required by standard interagency procedures. Neither the US embassy nor CIA station chief in Rome learn of the three-day meeting, apparently attended by both Ghorbanifar and Ledeen, until after it happens. When they do catch wind of the meeting, they notify CIA and State Department headquarters in Washington which complain to the administration about how the meetings had been arranged. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/2003]
People and organizations involved: Larry Franklin, George Tenet, Stephen Hadley, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Harold Rhode, Condoleezza Rice
          

2002-2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush administration develops plans for post-war Iraq. But the process is plagued with infighting between a small, highly secretive group of planners in the Pentagon and experts at the CIA and State Department who are involved with the “Future of Iraq Project” (see April 2002-March 2003). The two opposing groups disagree on a wide range of topics, but it is the Pentagon group which exerts the strongest influence on the White House's plans (see Fall 2002) for administering post-Saddam Iraq. One State Department official complains to The Washington Post in October 2002 “that the Pentagon is seeking to dominate every aspect of Iraq's postwar reconstruction.” The group of Pentagon planners includes several noted neoconservatives who work in, or in association with, the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see September 2002) and the Near East/South Asia bureau. The planners have close ties to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), two think tanks with a shared vision of reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East in favor of US and Israeli interests. The Pentagon planning group “had a visionary strategy that it hoped would transform Iraq into an ally of Israel, remove a potential threat to the Persian Gulf oil trade and encircle Iran with US friends and allies,” Knight Ridder Newspapers will later observe. The group's objectives put it at odds with planners at the CIA and State Department whose approach and objectives are much more prudent. The Pentagon unit works independently of the CIA and State Department and pays little attention to the work of those two agencies. Critics complain that the group is working in virtual secrecy and evading the scrutiny and oversight of others involved in the post-war planning process by confining their inter-agency communications to discussions with their neoconservative colleagues working in other parts of the government. The Pentagon planners even have a direct line to the office of Dick Cheney where their fellow neoconservative, Lewis Libby, is working. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; Washington Post, 4/2/03; Associated Press, 11/12/02] In the fall of 2002, the various groups involved in planning for post-war Iraq send their recommendations to the White House's Executive Steering Committee, which reviews their work and then passes on its own recommendations to the cabinet heads (see Fall 2002). According to a July 2003 report by Knight Ridder Newspapers, the ultimate responsibility for deciding the administration's post-war transition plans lay with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
The Office of Special Plans -
The civilian planners at the Pentagon believe that the UN should exert no influence over the structure, make-up, or policy of the interim Iraqi post-Saddam government. They seek to limit the UN's role to humanitarian and reconstruction projects, and possibly security. The State Department, however, believes that the US will not be able to do it alone and that UN participation in post-Saddam Iraq will be essential. [Observer, 4/6/03; Los Angeles Times, 4/2/03]
The Pentagon group wants to install Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), as leader of post-Saddam Iraq. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; American Prospect, 5/1/03 Sources: Richard Perle] The group thinks that the Iraqis will welcome Chalabi, who claims he has a secret network inside and outside the Ba'ath government which will quickly fill in the power vacuum to restore order to the country. Chalabi is a notorious figure who is considered untrustworthy by the State Department and CIA and who has a history of financial misdealings. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] But the Pentagon is said to be enamored with Chalabi “because he [advocates] normal diplomatic relations with Israel” which they believe will “‘ [take] off the board’ one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security.” Another geopolitical benefit to installing Chalabi is that he can help the US contain “the influence of Iran's radical Islamic leaders in the region, because he would ... [provide] bases in Iraq for US troops,” which would “complete Iran's encirclement by American military forces around the Persian Gulf and US friends in Russia and Central Asia.” [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, with close ties to the Pentagon's planning group, tells Robert Dreyfuss of American Prospect Magazine that the State Department's perception of Chalabi is wrong. “The [Defense Department] is running post-Saddam Iraq,” said Pletka, almost shouting. “The people at the State Department don't know what they are talking about! Who the hell are they? ... the simple fact is, the president is comfortable with people who are comfortable with the INC.” [American Prospect, 5/1/03]
The Pentagon's planning unit believes that the Iraqis will welcome US troops as liberators and that any militant resistance will be short-lived. They do not develop a contingency plan for persistent civil unrest. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] However the State Department's “Future of Iraq” planning project is more prudent, noting that Iraqis will likely be weary of US designs on their country. [New York Times, 10/19/03]
The Pentagon planners believe that Iraq's oil reserves—estimated to contain some 112 billion barrels of oil—should be used to help fund the reconstruction of Iraq. They also advocate a plan that would give the US more control over Iraq's oil. “[The Pentagon] hawks have long argued that US control of Iraq's oil would help deliver a second objective,” reports the Observer. “That is the destruction of OPEC, the oil producers' cartel, which they argue is ‘evil’—that is, incompatible with American interests.” The State Department, however, believes such aggressive policies will surely infuriate Iraqis and give credence to suspicions that the invasion is motivated by oil interests. One critic of the plan says “that only a puppet Iraqi government would acquiesce to US supervision of the oil fields and that one so slavish to US interests risks becoming untenable with Iraqis.” [Insight, 12/28/02; Observer, 11/3/02]
People and organizations involved: American Enterprise Institute, Project for the New American Century, Ahmed Chalabi, Donald Rumsfeld, Danielle Pletka, Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

(March 2002)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a meeting at the White House attended by Condoleezza Rice and a group of Republican and Democratic senators, President Bush, who is not scheduled to be at the meeting, shows up. At some point, the discussion drifts to Iraq and the president says, “F__k Saddam. We're taking him out.” [Time, 5/5/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice
          

March 14, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Sir David Manning, the British prime minister's foreign policy adviser, meets with President George Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice. In a summary of the meeting written for Tony Blair, Manning says: “We spent a long time at dinner on Iraq. It is clear that Bush is grateful for your support and has registered that you are getting flak. I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a parliament, and a public opinion that was very different than anything in the States. And you would not budge on your insistence that, if we pursued regime change, it must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an option.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05; Guardian, 4/21/05 Sources: Memo from David Manning to Tony Blair, 3/14/2002] Manning reports that the “big questions” have not been thoroughly considered by the US president. Bush, he notes, “has yet to find the answers ... [about] how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified” and how to deal with “what happens on the morning after.” [Washington Post, 6/12/2005 Sources: Memo from David Manning to Tony Blair, 3/14/2002] With regard to the problem of international opinion, Manning says he suggested to Rice that “[r]enewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument” in convincing others to support an invasion. [Guardian, 4/21/05; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, David Manning
          

April 25, 2002: Saudi Prince Said to Meet Suspected Hijacker Associate While Visiting Bush      Complete 911 Timeline

       Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, reports his passport stolen to Houston police. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] This confirms that Basnan is in Houston on the same day that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Saudi US Ambassador Prince Bandar meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, and National Security Adviser Rice at Bush's ranch in nearby Crawford, Texas. [US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, 4/25/02] Abdullah's entourage passes through Houston that week en route to Bush's ranch. While in Texas, it is believed that Basnan “met with a high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters and is known to bring suitcases full of cash into the United States.” [Guardian, 11/25/02; Newsweek, 11/24/02] The still-classified section of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry is said to discuss the possibility of Basnan meeting this figure at this time. [Associated Press, 8/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Colin Powell, Bandar bin Sultan, Osama Basnan, Saud al-Faisal, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

May 16, 2002: Nobody Predicted 9/11-Style Attacks, Says Rice      Complete 911 Timeline

      
National Security Advisor Rice tries to explain what Bush knew and when.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice states, “I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile,” adding that “even in retrospect” there was “nothing” to suggest that. [White House, 5/16/02] Contradicting Rice's claims, former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon acknowledges that such a scenario has long been taken seriously by US intelligence: “If you ask anybody could terrorists convert a plane into a missile? [N]obody would have ruled that out.” Rice also states, “The overwhelming bulk of the evidence was that this was an attack that was likely to take place overseas.” [MSNBC, 5/17/02] Slate awards Rice the “Whopper of the Week” when the title of Bush's August 6 briefing is revealed: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” [Slate, 5/23/02] Rice later concedes that “somebody did imagine it” but says she did not know about such intelligence until well after this conference. [Associated Press, 9/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, World Trade Center, John Gannon, Condoleezza Rice
          

(Early Summer 2002)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice learns that Department of Energy scientists disagree (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) with the CIA's assessment (see July 2001-2003) that a shipment of aluminum tubes intercepted on their way to Iraq (see July 2001) were to be used in a uranium enrichment program. According to the New York Times, “Months before, her staff had been told that these experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were probably intended for small artillery rockets.” [New York Times, 10/3/04 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration officials]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

First week of July 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Richard Haass, the director of the policy-planning staff at the State Department, meets with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. “I raised this issue about were we really sure that we wanted to put Iraq front and center at this point, given the war on terrorism and other issues,” he later recalls in an interview with the New Yorker. “And she said, essentially, that that decision's been made, don't waste your breath.” [New Yorker, 3/31/2003; The Mirror, 9/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Richard Haass
          

August 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. forms the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, which aims to “educate the public” about the alleged threat from Iraq. A senior official involved with the group later describes it as “an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities.” Members of the group include Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Nicholas E. Calio, and policy advisers led by Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, and I. Lewis Libby. They meet weekly in the White House Situation Room. A “strategic communications” task force under the WHIG is charged with planning speeches and writing white papers. [Washington Post, 8/10/2003] According to an intelligence source interviewed by the New York Daily News in October 2005, the group, on “a number of occasions,” will attempt “to push the envelope on things,”—“The [CIA] would say, ‘We just don't have the intelligence to substantiate that.’” [New York Daily News, 10/19/2005] An important part of the WHIG strategy is to feed their messages to friendly reporters such as New York Times reporter Judith Miller. James Bamford, in his book A Pretext for War, writes: “First OSP [Office of Special Plans] supplies false or exaggerated intelligence; then members of the WHIG leak it to friendly reporters, complete with prepackaged vivid imagery; finally, when the story breaks, senior officials point to it as proof and parrot the unnamed quotes they or their colleagues previously supplied.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 325]
People and organizations involved: Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, Andrew Card, White House Iraq Group, Stephen Hadley, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Mel Sembler
          

August 15, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In an interview broadcast by BBC Radio 4's Today Program, Condoleezza Rice says: “This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us. There is a very powerful moral case for regime change. We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing.... Clearly, if Saddam Hussein is left in power doing the things that he is doing now, this is a threat that will emerge, and emerge in a very big way.... The case for regime change is very strong. This is a regime that we know has twice tried and come closer than we thought at the time to acquiring nuclear weapons. He has used chemical weapons against his own people and against his neighbors, he has invaded his neighbors, he has killed thousands of his own people. He shoots at our planes, our airplanes, in the no-fly zones where we are trying to enforce UN security resolutions.... History is littered with cases of inaction that led to very grave consequences for the world. We just have to look back and ask how many dictators who ended up being a tremendous global threat and killing thousands and, indeed, millions of people, should we have stopped in their tracks.” [Telegraph, 8/16/02; Times, 8/16/02; Guardian, 8/15/02; Reuters, 8/15/02] Interestingly, Rice does not say Iraq has chemical, biological or nuclear arms. Instead, she speaks of the danger Saddam would pose, “if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.” [USA Today, 8/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

August 27, 2002: Close Relationship Between Saudi ambassador and Bush Raise Questions      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Prince Bandar and President Bush meet at Bush's ranch in August.
Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, meets privately for more than an hour with President Bush and National Security Adviser Rice in Crawford, Texas. [Daily Telegraph, 8/28/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer characterizes it as a warm meeting of old friends. Bandar, his wife (Princess Haifa), and seven of their eight children stay for lunch. [Fox News, 8/27/02] Prince Bandar, a long-time friend of the Bush family, donated $1 million to the George W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. [Bush Library; Boston Herald, 12/11/01 (B)] This relationship later becomes news when it is learned that Princess Haifa gave between $51,000 and $73,000 to two Saudi families in California who may have financed two of the 9/11 hijackers (see December 4, 1999). [New York Times, 11/23/02; MSNBC, 11/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Dean Eckmann, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Bandar bin Sultan
          

September/October 2002      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       A CIA analyst visits Guantanamo and returns convinced that war crimes are being committed there. According to a former White House official, the analyst concludes that “if we captured some people who weren't terrorists when we got them, they are now.” The CIA agent estimates at least more than half of the prisoners at Guantanamo do not belong there. [The Guardian, 9/13/2004] John A. Gordon, Deputy National Security Adviser for combating terrorism, a former deputy director of the CIA and a retired four-star general, reads the highly critical report on Guantanamo by the CIA analyst in the early autumn of 2002. The analyst's account of US activities at Guantanamo, he says, is “totally out of character with the American value system.” He says he also believes “that if the actions at Guantanamo ever became public, it'd be damaging to the president.” He is convinced the report is important material. “We got it up to Condi [Condoleezza Rice],” he recalls. Gordon is most concerned about whether many of the prisoners at Guantanamo are not in fact innocent. “It was about how many more people are being held there that shouldn't be,” a former White House official tells Seymour Hersh. “Have we really got the right people?” The briefing for Rice does not center on the treatment of the prisoners, but on questions of practicality: “Are we getting any intelligence? What is the process for sorting these people?” The concerns are serious enough for Rice to call a meeting at the White House with Gordon and Rumsfeld. Rice allegedly says, “Let's get the story right.” Rumsfeld seems to be agreeing and looks willing to deal with the problem. However, according to the disappointed White House official, “The Pentagon went into a full-court stall.” He says, “I was naive enough to believe that when a cabinet member says he's going to take action, he will.” [The Guardian, 9/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, John A. Gordon
          

(12:00 p.m.) September 8, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Condoleezza Rice appears on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer to discuss the alleged threat posed to the US by Saddam Hussein. She insists that Iraq is intent on developing a nuclear weapon. “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance—into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to—high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device. The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” [New York Times, 7/20/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; CNN Late Night with Wolf Blitzer, 9/8/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, White House Iraq Group
          

September 9, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Nicolo Pollari, chief of SISMI, Italy's military intelligence service, meets briefly with US National Security Council officials. [Il Fogglio, 10/28/2005] Present at the meeting are National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice; her deputy, Stephen Hadley; and other US and Italian officials. [AGI online, 10/29/2005; American Prospect, 10/25/2005; Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2005; La Repubblica, 10/25/2005; La Repubblica, 10/26/2005 Sources: Unnamed high-ranking Italian SISMI source, Unnamed Bush administration official] This meeting is not reported until 2005, when Italy's La Repubblica reports that a meeting—arranged through a backchannel by Gianni Castellaneta, the Italian prime minister's diplomatic advisor—took place between Pollari and Hadley on this date. The report is refuted by Italy which insists it was actually a short meeting between Pollari and Rice. Hadley, Italy says, was present but not really part of the meeting. [AGI online, 10/29/2005] The Bush administration also insists the meeting was of little importance. Frederick Jones, a National Security Council spokesman, describes the meeting as a courtesy call of 15 minutes or less. He also says, “No one present at that meeting has any recollection of yellowcake [Uranium oxide] being discussed or documents being provided.” [New York Times, 10/28/2005] It is not clear from the reporting, however, if the meeting acknowledged by Italy and Washington, is in fact the same meeting reported by La Repubblica.
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Nicolo Pollari, Gianni Castellaneta
          

September 10, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet give a classified briefing to some members of Congress. After the briefing, several Democrats say they are unconvinced that Saddam Hussein poses an imminent threat to the US. Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi from California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, tells The Washington Post, “I did not hear anything today that was different about [Saddam Hussein's] capabilities,” save a few “embellishments.” Democratic Senator Richard J. Durbin from Illinois tells the newspaper: “It would be a severe mistake for us to vote on Iraq with as little information as we have. This would be a rash and hasty decision” adding that he has heard “no groundbreaking news” on Iraq's capabilities. Democrat Robert Menendez, a representative from New Jersey, says he also didn't hear any new evidence. “What was described as new is not new. It was not compelling enough,” he says. “Did I see a clear and present danger to the United States? No.” And an unnamed House Republican leader also seems to believe the case Tenet and Rice presented is weak. He says, “Daschle will want to delay this and he can make a credible case for delay.” [The Washington Post, 9/10/02; CNN, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard Durbin, Robert Menendez, Nancy Pelosi, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice
          

September 15, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In response to Tony Snow's probing on Fox News Sunday as to whether or not President Bush was convinced there were links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, the National Security Advisor is circumspect until she's pressed. “ He clearly has links to terrorism ... —Links to terrorism [that] would include al-Qaeda....” [CNN, 9/26/02; Islam OnLine, 9/15/02; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; Fox News, 9/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

September 16, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri meets with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Arab League Secretary-General Amir Moussa and gives them a letter expressing Baghdad's willingness to readmit the UN weapons inspectors without conditions. The offer is made after Saddam Hussein convened an emergency meeting in Baghdad with his cabinet and the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). [Associated Press, 9/16/02a; Independent, 9/17/02; New York Times, 9/17/02 Sources: Iraq's September 16, 2002 letter accepting the unconditional return of weapons inspectors] Iraq's letter is effectively an agreement to December 1999 UN Security Council Resolution 1284. [New York Times, 9/18/02] Kofi Annan tells reporters after the meeting, “I can confirm to you that I have received a letter from the Iraqi authorities conveying its decision to allow the return of the inspectors without conditions to continue their work and has also agreed that they are ready to start immediate discussions on the practical arrangements for the return of the inspectors to resume their work.” Annan credits the Arab League, which he says “played a key role” in influencing Saddam Hussein's decision to accept the inspectors, and suggests that Bush's speech also played a critical part in influencing Baghdad's decision. [UN, 9/16/02] UNMOVIC Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix also meets with Iraqi officials and it is reportedly agreed that weapons inspectors will return to Iraq on October 19. UNMOVIC spokesman Ewen Buchanan tells the BBC, “We are ready to discuss practical measures, such as helicopters, hotels, the installation of monitoring equipment and so on, which need to be put in place.” [BBC, 9/17/02] The Bush administration immediately rejects the offer, calling it “a tactical step by Iraq in hopes of avoiding strong UN Security Council action,” in a statement released by the deputy press secretary. [White House, 9/16/2002; Associated Press, 9/16/02] And Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, tells reporters: “We've made it very clear that we are not in the business of negotiating with Saddam Hussein. We are working with the UN Security Council to determine the most effective way to reach our goal.” He then claims Iraq's offer is a tactic to give “false hope to the international community that [President Saddam] means business this time,” adding, “Unfortunately, his more than decade of experience shows you can put very little into his words or deeds.” Two days later Bush will tell reporters that Saddam's offer is “his latest ploy, his latest attempt not to be held accountable for defying the United Nations,” adding: “He's not going to fool anybody. We've seen him before. . . . We'll remind the world that, by defying resolutions, he's become more and more of a threat to world peace. [The world] must rise up and deal with this threat, and that's what we expect the Security Council to do.” [Agence France Presse, 9/19/02; Independent, 9/17/02] Later that night, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice reportedly hold a conference call with Kofi Annan and accuse him of taking matters into his own hands. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 285] Britain supports the US position and calls for a UN resolution backed with the threat of force. [BBC, 9/17/03] Other nations react differently to the offer. For example, Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, says: “It's important that, through our joint efforts, we have managed to put aside the threat of a war scenario around Iraq and return the process to a political channel ... It is essential in the coming days to resolve the issue of the inspectors' return. For this, no new [Security Council] resolutions are needed.” [BBC, 9/17/03; Independent, 9/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hans Blix, Saddam Hussein, Amir Moussa, Scott McClellan, Kofi Annan, Naji Sabri, Dan Bartlett  Additional Info 
          

October 1, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The National Intelligence Council, a board of senior analysts who prepare reports on crucial national security issues, completes a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. The purpose of an NIE is to provide policy-makers with an intelligence assessment that includes all available information on a specific issue so that they can make sound policy decisions. The formal document is supposed to be the result of a collaborative effort of the entire intelligence community and is supposed to be untainted by political interests. The decision to produce the assessment on Iraq followed criticisms that the administration had already decided to invade Iraq without having received—or even called for—an assessment from its multi-billion dollar intelligence apparatus on the supposed threat posed by Iraq. Congress wanted the NIE completed prior to voting on a bill authorizing the President to use force against Iraq and was formally requested by Senator Bob Graham. NIEs such as this usually take months to prepare, however this document took a mere three weeks. The person in charge of preparing the document was weapons expert Robert Walpole. According to the Independent of London, Walpole has a track record of tailoring his work to support the preconceived conclusions of his superiors. “In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier,” the newspaper will report. “On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defense system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld ....” [Independent, 11/3/03; New York Times, 10/3/2004]
Summary of NIE Conclusions - After the document is completed, two different versions will be released. An abridged declassified version is posted on the CIA's website for the public, while the classified version is disseminated within the administration and to Congress (see (8:00pm) October 1, 2002). The two versions portray the threat posed by Saddam Hussein very differently. The classified version of the NIE on Iraq provides a far less alarmist view of the threat allegedly posed by Iraq than that which is presented in the public version of the document. According to US intelligence and congressional sources who read the classified document, the intelligence estimate contains “cautionary language about Iraq's connections with al-Qaeda and warnings about the reliability of conflicting reports by Iraqi defectors and captured al-Qaeda members about the ties.” And notably, the second paragraph of the “key judgment” section states that the estimate lacks “specific information” on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Though the document does say that Iraq probably has chemical and biological weapons, it also says that US intelligence analysts believe that Saddam Hussein would only launch an attack against the US if he felt a US invasion was inevitable. The intelligence estimate also concludes that Saddam would only provide terrorists with chemical or biological agents for use against the United States as a last resort in order to “exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.” A senior intelligence official will later tell the Washington Post in June 2003: “There has always been an internal argument within the intelligence community about the connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. The NIE had alternative views.” The NIE also concludes that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. The public version of the report—which is presented to Congress before it votes on a resolution conditionally authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq—contains language that is far less qualified and nuanced than the classified version. [Washington Post, 6/22/03; Agence France Presse, 11/30/03 Sources: Stuart Cohen, US intelligence and congressional sources, INR's alternative view in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]
Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium from Africa - The document makes a reference to the allegation that Iraq has sought to procure uranium from Africa. “A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of ‘pure uranium’ (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement. Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” But the alternative view—endorsed by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)—says that it is doubtful Iraq sought to procure uranium from Africa. “(T)he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious,” it reads. [Washington Post, 7/19/03; US Government, 10/02 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]
Iraqi attempts to obtain aluminum tubes - The document provides a very misleading assessment of the tubes case. For instance, it includes a chart which compares the dimensions of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq with those that would be needed for a “Zippe-type” centrifuge. The comparison makes the two tubes appear similar. However, the chart fails to note that the aluminum tubes are an exact match to those used in Iraq's 81-millimeter rocket. The estimate also claims that the tubes are not suitable for rockets. The assertion ignores the fact that similar tubes are used in rockets from several countries, including the United States. [New York Times, 10/3/2004] In addition to the assessment's misleading statements about the tubes, there are interesting differences between the classified and declassified versions of the NIE with regard to the tubes. The declassified, public version of the NIE states: “Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs. Based on tubes of the size Iraq is trying to acquire, a few tens of thousands of centrifuges would be capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a couple of weapons per year.” However the classified version of the document presents a more nuanced assessment. In the main text of the document, it says that the Energy Department “agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.” At the bottom of the page, in a lengthy footnote by the State Department's INR, the alternative view states that the agency agrees with the DOE's assessment that the tubes are not meant for use in a gas centrifuge. The footnote reads: “In INR's view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the US Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq's nuclear weapon program.” [Washington Post, 7/19/03; US Government, 10/02; USA Today, 7/31/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]
Reconstituted nuclear weapons programs - The intelligence estimate says that “most” of the US' six intelligence agencies believe there is “compelling evidence that Saddam [Hussein] is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program.” The classified version of the document includes the dissenting position of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) which states: “The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons programs, INR is unwilling to ... project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening.” It is later learned that nuclear scientists in the Department of Energy's in-house intelligence office were also opposed to the NIE's conclusion and had wanted to endorse the State's alternative view. However, the person representing the DOE, Thomas Ryder, silenced the views of those within his department and inexplicably voted to support the position that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program (see September 2002). The DOE's vote was seen as critical, since the department's assessment was supposed to represent the views of the government's nuclear experts. [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; US Government, 10/02; Washington Post, 7/19/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]
Chemical and Biological Weapons - The classified version of the estimate uses cautionary language to conclude that Iraq probably does have chemical and biological weapons. It states: “We judge Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives.” But the document also highlights the belief that it is unlikely that Iraq has any intention to use these against the US. “... Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [Chemical/Biological Weapons] against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington with a stronger case for making war.” Iraq would probably only use such weapons against the United States if it “feared an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge.” [Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq] The last two observations are conspicuously absent from the declassified, public version of the estimate, which reads only, “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives, including potentially against the US Homeland.” [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - The NIE claims that Iraq has unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which can be used to deploy biological and chemical weapons. “Baghdad's UAVs—especially if used for delivery of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents—could threaten Iraq's neighbors, US forces in the Persian Gulf, and the United States if brought close to, or into, the US Homeland.” [Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq] But this view is not held unanimously among the various intelligence agencies. Significantly, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center disagrees with this assessment. The Center, which controls most of the American military's UAV fleet, says in a dissenting opinion that there is little evidence that Iraq's drones are related to the country's suspected biological weapons program. Current intelligence suggests that the drones are not capable of carrying much more than a camera and a video recorder. The Air Force believes that Iraq's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are for reconnaissance, like its counterparts in the US. The dissenting opinion reads: “... The Director, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, US Air Force, does not agree that Iraq is developing UAVs primarily intended to be delivery platforms for chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents. The small size of Iraq's new UAV strongly suggests a primary role of reconnaissance, although CBW delivery is an inherent capability.” [Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 8/24/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: US Government officials and scientists] This important statement is not included in the public version of the document. [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq] Bob Boyd, director of the Air Force Intelligence Analysis Agency, will tell reporters in August 2003 that his department thought the allegation in the NIE “was a little odd,” noting that Air Force assessments “all along” had said that reconnaissance, not weapons delivery, was the purpose of Iraq's drones. “Everything we discovered strengthened our conviction that the UAVs were to be used for reconnaissance,” he will explain. “What we were thinking was: Why would you purposefully design a vehicle to be an inefficient delivery means? Wouldn't it make more sense that they were purposefully designing it to be a decent reconnaissance UAV?” [Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: Bob Boyd] The NIE's conclusion is apparently also based on accounts from defectors and exiles as well as information suggesting that Iraq is attempting to obtain “commercially available route-planning software,” containing topographic data of the United States. According to the NIE, this data “could facilitate targeting of US sites.” But Air Force analysts were not convinced by the argument, noting that this sort of information could easily be retrieved from the Internet and other highly accessible sources. “We saw nothing sinister about the inclusion of the US maps in route-planning software,” Boyd will tell reporters. [Washington Post, 9/26/03 Sources: Bob Boyd] Analysts at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency are said to back the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center's position. [Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: US Government officials and scientists]
Aftermath - After the completion of the National Intelligence Estimate, the Bush administration will continue to make allegations concerning Iraq's weapons capabilities and ties to militant Islamic groups, but will include none of the qualifications and nuances that are present in the classified version of the assessment. After excerpts from the classified version of the NIE are published in the press in July of 2003 (see July 11, 2003) and the public learns that the document's conclusions had actually been much less alarmist than the public version, administration officials will claim that neither Bush, Rice, nor other top officials were informed about the alternative views expressed by the DOE, INR, and the Air Force intelligence agency. They will also assert that the dissenting views did not significantly undermine the overall conclusion of the NIE that Iraq was continuing its banned weapons program despite UN resolutions. [New York Times, 7/19/03; Washington Post, 7/27/03; Washington Post, 7/19/03] But this claim is later disputed in an article by The Washington Post, which reports: “One person who has worked with Rice describes as ‘inconceivable’ the claims that she was not more actively involved. Indeed, subsequent to the July 18 briefing, another senior administration official said Rice had been briefed immediately on the NIE—including the doubts about Iraq's nuclear program—and had ‘skimmed’ the document. The official said that within a couple of weeks, Rice ‘read it all.’ ” [Washington Post, 7/27/03 Sources: two unnamed administration officials] The official's account, will in fact be confirmed by Rice herself, who reportedly tells Gwen Ifill at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Dallas on August 7, 2003: “I did read everything that the CIA produced for the president on weapons of mass destruction. I read the National Intelligence Estimate cover to cover a couple of times. I read the reports; I was briefed on the reports. This is—after 20 years, as somebody who has read a lot of intelligence reports—this is one of the strongest cases about weapons of mass destruction that I had ever read..” [Gwenn Ifill, 8/7/2003 cited in Daily Howler, 8/11/2003] Additionally, senior CIA analyst Stuart Cohen, the acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council at this time, who helped write the document, will tell the Agence France Presse, “Any reader would have had to read only as far as the second paragraph of the Key Judgments to know that as we said, ‘we lacked specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD program.’ ” [Agence France Presse, 11/30/03 Sources: Michael Hayden] A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation will determine in July 2004 that “Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting.” [Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Congress, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Bob Graham, Stuart Cohen, Bob Boyd  Additional Info 
          

October 5, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA's Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence [ADDI] sends a four-page memo to Bush administration officials, including Bush's deputy national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, and the chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, expressing doubt over claims that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Niger. On page 3 of the memo, the ADDI advises removing the allegation from the draft of Bush's upcoming speech in Cincinnati. “[R]emove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory.” [The Washington Post, 7/23/03] Despite the warning, draft seven of the speech, completed later in the day, contains the passage: “[T]he regime has been caught attempting to purchase substantial amounts of uranium oxide from sources in Africa.” [Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004] Stephen Hadley will later claim in July 2003 that he did not brief Condoleezza Rice on the memo. [The Washington Post, 7/27/03]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Gerson, Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 6, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA's Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence [ADDI] receives draft seven of Bush's upcoming speech in Cincinnati and sees that the speech writers have failed to remove the passage on Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase uranium from Niger, as the CIA had advised the day before (see October 5, 2002). He informs Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet who personally calls White House officials, including Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, with the CIA's concerns. The ADDI reportedly tells Tenet that the “president should not be a fact witness on this issue” because the agency's analysts consider the reporting “weak” and say it is based solely on one source. The allegation is finally removed from the speech. Later in the day, to press its point even further, the CIA faxes another memo, summarizing its position on the Africa-uranium claim. The memo states: “[M]ore on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa: Three points (1) The evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities. (2) The procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. And (3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this is one of the two issues where we differed with the British.” [The Washington Post, 7/13/03; The Washington Post, 7/23/03 Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004] The memo's recipients include National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley. [The Washington Post, 7/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, Stephen Hadley
          

Early January 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, US-Haiti (1959-2005)

       According to Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice visits George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Bush tells her: “We're not winning. Time is not on our side here. Probably going to have to, we're going to have to go to war.” [Woodward, 2004 cited in The Washington Post, 4/17/04] When the contents of Woodward's book are reported in mid-April 2004, many people interpret Bush's statement as a decision to go to war. But Rice will deny that that was the case. “... I just want it to be understood: That was not a decision to go to war,” she will say. “The decision to go to war is in March. The president is saying in that conversation, I think the chances are that this is not going to work out any other way. We're going to have to go to war.” [Woodward, 2004 cited in Associated Press, 4/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush
          

January 15, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice flies to New York City to meet with Hans Blix. She attempts to discourage him from his plans to revert to the provisions of UN Resolution 1284 after his January 27 report to the UN Security Council—the last update required by UN Resolution 1441. She also attempts to persuade him to press ahead with plans to aggressively interview Iraqi scientists. [Sydney Morning Herald, 1/16/03; New York Times, 1/16/03] At a Council luncheon, US ambassador to the UN John Negroponte attempts to convince delegates of the other member states that the inspections timetable should not be based on the 1999 resolution. But they disagree, seeing no reason to ignore the process outlined in Resolution 1284. A few days later, the London Observer reports, “US officials have made it clear that they will try to foil further reports and say that an accumulation of evidence of military activity in Iraq will be enough for Saddam to be in material breach of the orders to Saddam to disarm.” [Reuters, 1/16/03b; Observer, 1/19/03; New York Times, 1/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, John Negroponte, Hans Blix
          

January 19, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Top Bush administration officials appear to suggest that war can be avoided if Saddam Hussein steps down. Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on ABC's “This Week” says, “I ... personally would recommend that some provision be made so that the senior leadership in that country and their families could be provided haven in some other country, and I think that that would be a fair trade to avoid a war.” He also says that if Saddam goes into exile he might be granted immunity from prosecution for war crimes. Similarly, Colin Powell says on CNN, “I think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off, and this whole situation would be resolved, if Saddam Hussein ... his sons and the top leadership of the regime would leave.” [New York Times, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03b; ABC, 1/19/03; CNN, 1/20/03; CNN, 1/19/03; Agence France Presse, 1/19/03] It is not clear, however, if Rumsfeld and Powell's comments are sincere, or if they are just trying to appear as though they are providing Saddam Hussein with an alternative to military confrontation. Their comments are seemingly contradicted by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice who says on NBC's “Meet the Press” , “I ... think that it is unlikely that this man is going to come down in any other way than to be forced.” [International Herald Tribune, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,75993,00.html; New York Times, 1/20/03b]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell
          

January 23, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The New York Times publishes an op-ed piece written by Condoleezza Rice, titled, “Why we know Iraq is Lying,” in which the National Security Council advisor writes that “Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie,” [New York Times, 1/23/03] citing among other things, its failure “to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad.” [New York Times, 1/23/03] She says that Iraq has reneged on its commitment to disarm itself of its alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Instead of full cooperation and transparency, Iraq has “a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons,” she claims. Iraq is maintaining “institutions whose sole purpose is to thwart the work of the inspectors,” she adds, asserting that the country is not allowing inspectors “immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted access” to the “facilities and people” involved in its alleged weapons program. [New York Times, 1/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

January 31, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Frank Koza, chief of staff in the “Regional Targets” division of the US National Security Agency (NSA), which “spies on countries that are viewed as strategically important for United States interests,” emails a memo to senior NSA officials and the intelligence officials of certain unspecified foreign governments. The memo calls for the surveillance of the New York City homes and offices of UN delegates from countries such as Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan. According to The Observer, the memo suggests that the surveillance operation should include the “interception of ... [their] home and office telephones and the emails....” The memo discusses the need to learn how the member states would vote on future resolutions submitted to the UN Security Council by the US and Britain. It refers to the importance of learning and understanding the “policies,” “negotiating positions,” “alliances” and “dependencies” —the “whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises.” Intelligence resulting from the surveillance would be used for the United States' “QRC,” or Quick Response Capability, “against” the key delegations. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, London Observer reporter Martin Bright, who helps expose the operation, will say that he believes the US motive for extending surveillance to the homes of UN delegates might have been to obtain incriminating personal information— “information which could be used against those delegates.” The spy operation is requested by US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Other Bush administration officials, however, reportedly oppose the operation because of fears that its discovery could result in serious consequences. According to Professor John Quigley of Ohio University, “While the bugging of foreign diplomats at the UN is permissible under the US Foreign Intelligence Services Act, it is a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” US intelligence experts interviewed by The Observer say that an operation like this would have been known to Donald Rumsfeld, CIA director George Tenet and NSA Chief General Michael Hayden. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3/6/03; The Observer, 3/2/03; The Observer, 3/9/03 Sources: January 31, 2003 NSA Memo]
People and organizations involved: Michael Hayden, Condoleezza Rice, Frank Koza, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet  Additional Info 
          

February 1, 2003-February 4, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       On February 1, Secretary of State Colin Powell begins rehearsing for his February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) in which he will argue that Iraq represents a serious and imminent threat to the US. Powell is assisted by members of his staff, including his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. [US News and World Report, 6/9/2003; Bamford, 2004, pp 368-9; Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] Several members of the White House Iraq Group drop in during the pre-speech sessions, including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, and Lewis Libby. George Tenet and his deputy director, John McLaughlin, are also present at times. [Bamford, 2004, pp 369; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Cheney's staff continues to pressure Powell to include several unsubstantiated and dubious allegations. The allegations that are most contested are the ones dealing with Iraq's alleged ties to terrorism. For example, the group insists that Powell “link Iraq directly to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington” and include the widely discredited allegation (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer (see April 8, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230.; US News and World Report, 6/9/2003] But Powell and his staff reject a good portion of the hawks' material. At one point, Powell reportedly says, “I'm not reading this. This is bullsh_t.” [US News and World Report, 6/9/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] An official later recalls: “On a number of occasions, ... [Powell] simply said, ‘I'm not using that, I'm not using that, that is not good enough. That's not something that I can support.’ And on each occasion he was fought by the vice president's office in the person of Scooter Libby, by the National Security Advisor [Condoleezza Rice] herself, by her deputy [Steve Hadley], and sometimes by the intelligence people—George [Tenet] and [Deputy CIA Director] John [McLaughlin].” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370] “[W]e fought tooth and nail with other members of the administration to scrub it and get the crap out,” Larry Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff later tells GQ. [Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] In some instances, material rejected by Powell occasionally reappear in subsequent versions of the speech. “One of the most outrageous ones was the Mohammed Atta meeting in Prague. Steve Hadley on one occasion [put] it back in. We cut it and somehow it got back in. And the secretary said, ‘I thought I cut this?’ And Steve Hadley looked around and said, ‘My fault, Mr. Secretary, I'll put it back in.’ ‘Well, cut it, permanently!’ yelled Powell. It was all cartoon. The specious connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, much of which I subsequently found came probably from the INC and from their sources, defectors and so forth, [regarding the] training in Iraq for terrorists. ... No question in my mind that some of the sources that we were using were probably Israeli intelligence. That was one thing that was rarely revealed to us—if it was a foreign source.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370-1]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Larry Wilkerson, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, John E. McLaughlin, Richard Armitage, White House Iraq Group, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Colin Powell
          

February 5, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       When asked on Larry King Live, CNN, if there is a clear connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, Rice replies:“There is no question in my mind about the al-Qaeda connection. It is a connection that has unfolded, that we're learning more about as we are able to take the testimony of detainees, people who were high up in the al-Qaeda organization. And what emerges is a picture of a Saddam Hussein who became impressed with what al-Qaeda did after it bombed our embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania, began to give them assistance in chemical and biological weapons, something that they were having trouble achieving on their own, that harbored a terrorist network under this man Zarqawi, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was told that Zarqawi was there.” [CNN, 2/15/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

February 16, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Asked for concrete evidence that Hussein has links to al-Qaeda, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice points to the presence of operatives allegedly being hosted in Iraq. “Well, we are, of course, continually learning more about these links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and there is evidence that Secretary Powell did not have the time to talk about. But the core of the story is there in what Secretary Powell talked about. This poisons network with at least two dozen of its operatives operating in Baghdad, a man who is spreading poisons now throughout Europe and into Russia, a man who got medical care in Baghdad despite the fact that the Iraqis were asked to turn him over, training in biological and chemical weapons.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; Fox News, 2/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

March 9, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice goes on to speculate on CBS Face the Nation that Hussein may eventually decide to “enlist” al-Qaeda to attack the United States. “Now the al-Qaida is an organization that's quite disbursed and—and quite widespread in its effects, but it clearly has had links to the Iraqis, not to mention Iraqi links to all kinds of other terrorists. And what we do not want is the day when Saddam Hussein decides that he's had enough of dealing with sanctions, enough of dealing with, quote, unquote, ‘containment,’ enough of dealing with America, and it's time to end it on his terms, by transferring one of these weapons, just a little vial of something, to a terrorist for blackmail or for worse.” [CBS, 3/9/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

April 4, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice tells reporters, “We will leave Iraq completely in the hands of Iraqis as quickly as possible.” [US Department of State, 4/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

(May 2003-May 2004)      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       At “various times throughout this period,” Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld relay the Red Cross' concerns about the Coalition's treatment of prisoners directly to President George Bush. [Baltimore Sun, 5/12/2004 Sources: Unnamed aid to Colin Powell]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, George W. Bush
          

May 28, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In a press briefing prior to the president's trip to Europe and the Middle East, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice suggests the US military has discovered laboratories capable of developing weapons of mass destruction supporting Powell's claim (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003).“We have found, in Iraq, biological weapons laboratories that look precisely like what Secretary Powell described in his February 5 report to the United Nations.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; White House, 5/28/03; US Department of State, 5/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

June 3, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       On CNBC's Capital Report, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asserts having information from “multiple sources” which confirm the existence of weapons-producing units “exactly like” the discovered trailers. “We know that these trailers look exactly like what was described to us by multiple sources as the capabilities for building or for making biological agents. We know that we have from multiple sources who told us that then and sources who have confirmed it now. Now the Iraqis were not stupid about this. They were able to conceal a lot. They've been able to scrub things down. But I think when the whole picture comes out, we will see that this was an active program.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

June 8, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Asked why a claim previously deleted from a presidential speech (see October 6, 2002) at the urging of CIA director, George Tenet, was reinserted for Bush's State of the Union Address (see January 28, 2003), National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice claims to have “other sources” which support her contention that Hussein was determined to obtain “yellow cake” from somewhere in Africa. “At the time that the State of the Union address was prepared, there were also other sources that said that they were, the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake, uranium oxide from Africa.” [ABC News, 6/8/2003, cited in Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 1/8/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

June 9, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Responding to the public fury that follows the revelation (see May 6, 2003) of former diplomat Joseph Wilson's 2002 trip to Niger (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002), Condoleezza Rice says during an appearance on “Meet the Press,” “Maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.” [Washington Post, 6/13/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; ABC News, 6/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Joseph C. Wilson  Additional Info 
          

June 25, 2003      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       US Senator Arlen Specter writes to Condoleezza Rice asking for “clarification about numerous stories concerning alleged mistreatment of enemy combatants in US custody” and requesting that she explain how the administration ensures that detainees rendered to other countries are not tortured. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Arlen Specter, Condoleezza Rice
          

July 11, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Despite receiving two separate memos from intelligence agencies that warn of the story's inaccuracy, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice persists in asserting there is underlying truth to the Niger document even though it has proven to be a forgery “And there were other attempts to, to get yellow cake from Africa.” [White House, 7/11/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

(12:10 p.m.) July 21, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       President George Bush and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice Meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Crawford, Texas. [ABC News, 7/21/03; White House, 7/21/2003]
People and organizations involved: Silvio Berlusconi, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush
          

July 26, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Challenged to explain why the president was permitted to say in his 2003 State of the Union address (see January 28, 2003) that Iraq had reportedly attempted to purchase uranium from Africa, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice tries shifting the responsibility to CIA director, George Tenet “My only point is that, in retrospect, knowing that some of the documents underneath may have been—were, indeed, forgeries, and knowing that apparently there were concerns swirling around about this, had we known that at the time, we would not have put it in. ...And had there been even a peep that the agency did not want that sentence in or that George Tenet did not want that sentence in, that the director of Central Intelligence did not want it in, it would have been gone.” [Washington Post, 7/26/03; White House, 7/30/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

July 30, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice offers the discovery of aluminum tubes as proof of Hussein's intentions to develop nuclear weapons on PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer “[H]e had ...an active procurement network to procure items, many of which, by the way, were on the prohibited list of the nuclear suppliers group. There's a reason that they were on the prohibited list of the nuclear supplies group: Magnets, balancing machines, yes, aluminum tubes, about which the consensus view was that they were suitable for use in centrifuges to spin material for nuclear weapons.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; Iraq Watch, 7/30/03; PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 7/30/03; White House, 7/30/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

July 31, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Defending the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice tells ZDF television that there was “very strong intelligence” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction “Going into the war against Iraq, we had very strong intelligence. I've been in this business for 20 years. And some of the strongest intelligence cases that I've seen, key judgments by our intelligence community that Saddam Hussein ... had biological and chemical weapons ....” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; White House, 7/31/03; Acronym Institute, 7/31/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

September 7, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Condoleezza Rice tells Tony Snow there is “absolutely” a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda “[W]e know that there was training of al-Qaeda in chemical and perhaps biological warfare. We know that the Zarqawi was network out of there, this poisons network that was trying to spread poisons throughout.... And there was an Ansar al-Islam, which appears also to try to be operating in Iraq. So yes, the al-Qaeda link was there.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; Global Views, 9/26/03; Fox News, 9/7/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

September 14, 2003-September 17, 2003: Cheney Links Iraq to 9/11; Bush, Rumsfeld, and Rice All Disavow Cheney's Claim      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Vice President Cheney says on NBC's “Meet the Press”, “I think it's not surprising that people make [the] connection” between Iraq and 9/11. He adds, “If We're successful in Iraq . . . then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of The Base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” However, two days later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld states that he hasn't “seen any indication that would lead” him to believe there was an Iraq-9/11 link. [Asssociated Press, 9/16/03] National Security Adviser Rice says the administration has never accused Hussein of directing the 9/11 attacks. [Reuters, 9/16/03] The next day, Bush also disavows the Cheney statement, stating, “We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th . . . [but] there's no question that Saddam Hussein has al-Qaeda ties.” [Associated Press, 9/17/03; Washington Post, 9/18/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

September 28, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Appearing on Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice presumes to link Hussein to Osama bin Laden. “Saddam Hussein—no one has said that there is evidence that Saddam Hussein directed or controlled 9/11, but let's be very clear, he had ties to al-Qaeda, he had al-Qaeda operatives who had operated out of Baghdad.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; NBC, 9/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

January-March 22, 2004: National Security Advisor Rice Privately Regrets Comments, Then Publicly Repeats Them      Complete 911 Timeline

       The New York Times later reports that in private discussions with the 9/11 Commission in January 2002, National Security Advisor “Rice [is] asked about statements she made in 2001 and 2002 [(see May 16, 2002)] that ‘we could not have imagined’ that terrorists would use aircraft as weapons by piloting them into buildings. She [tells] the commission that she regret[s] those comments, because at the time she was not aware of intelligence, developed in the late 1990s, that some terrorists were thinking of using airplanes as guided missiles. She told the commission in the private session that she should have said, ‘I could not have imagined,’ according to one official familiar with the testimony, making it clear that some in the intelligence community knew about those threats but that she did not.” [New York Times, 4/6/04] However, in a March 22, 2004 op-ed for the Washington Post entitled “For the Record,” she essentially repeats her 2002 comments, claiming, “Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack airplanes to try to free US-held terrorists.” [Washington Post, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, 9/11 Commission
          

January 15, 2004      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), meets with Secretary of State Colin Powell and says that the ICRC has “serious concerns about detainees in Iraq,” though according to a senior State Department official, he does not detail them. During his visit, Kellenberger also meets with Condoleezza Rice and, reportedly, with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, though it is unclear what precisely is discussed. White House Spokesman Sean McCormack will later say that “Iraq was not mentioned” during the meeting with Rice. Rather the main topic of discussion was Guantanamo, he says. [The Observer, 5/9/2004; Baltimore Sun, 5/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Jakob Kellenberger, Sean McCormack
          

Late March 2004      Haiti Coup

       US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice demands that Jamaica expel Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the region, claiming that his presence in the Caribbean will increase tension in Haiti. She also threatens Jamaica, saying that if anything happens to US soldiers in Haiti, that Jamaica would be blamed and subjected to the full force of the US. [Democracy Now!, 4/25/2004]
People and organizations involved: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Condoleezza Rice
          

April 8, 2004: Rice Testifies Before the 9/11 Commission      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Condoleezza Rice sworn in before the 9/11 Commission.
National Security Adviser Rice testifies before the 9/11 Commission under oath and with the threat of perjury. The Bush administration originally opposed her appearance, but relented after great public demand. [Independent, 4/3/04] In her statement she repeats her claim that “almost all of the reports [before 9/11] focused on al-Qaeda activities outside the United States. ... The information that was specific enough to be actionable referred to terrorists operation overseas.” Moreover, she stresses that the “kind of analysis about the use of airplanes as weapons actually was never briefed to us.” But she concedes, “In fact there were some reports done in '98 and '99. I think I was—I was certainly not aware of them...” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)] During heated questioning several subjects are discussed:
Why didn't counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke brief President Bush on al-Qaeda before September 11? Clarke says he had wished to do so, but Rice states, “Clarke never asked me to brief the president on counterterrorism.” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)]
What was the content of the briefing President Bush received on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001)? While Rice repeatedly underlines that it was “a historical memo ... not threat reporting,” Commissioners Richard Ben-Veniste and Tim Roemer ask her why then it cannot be declassified. [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)] Two days later the White House finally publishes it, and it is shown to contain more than just historical information.
Did Rice tell Bush of the existence of al-Qaeda cells in the US before August 6, 2001? Rice says that she does not remember whether she “discussed it with the president.” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)]
Were warnings properly passed on? Rice points out, “The FBI issued at least three nationwide warnings to federal, state, and law enforcement agencies, and specifically stated that although the vast majority of the information indicated overseas targets, attacks against the homeland could not be ruled out. The FBI tasked all 56 of its US field offices to increase surveillance of known suspected terrorists and to reach out to known informants who might have information on terrorist activities.” But Commissioner Jamie Gorelick remarks, “We have no record of that. The Washington field office international terrorism people say they never heard about the threat, they never heard about the warnings.” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)] Rice does not apologize to the families of the victims, as Clarke did weeks earlier. The Associated Press comments, “The blizzard of words in Condoleezza Rice's testimony Thursday did not resolve central points about what the government knew, should have known, did and should have done before the September 11 terrorist attacks.” [Associated Press, 4/8/04 (C)] The Washington Post calls “her testimony an ambitious feat of jujitsu: On one hand, she made a case that ‘for more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America's response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient.’ At the same time, she argued that there was nothing in particular the Bush administration itself could have done differently that would have prevented the attacks of September 11, 2001—that there was no absence of vigor in the White House's response to al-Qaeda during its first 233 days in office. The first thesis is undeniably true; the second both contradictory and implausible.” [Washington Post, 4/9/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, 9/11 Commission, Bush administration, Jamie Gorelick, Richard Ben-Veniste, Tim Roemer, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

May 3, 2004      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       Human Rights Watch sends a letter to US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice informing her that the ill treatment and torture of prisoners by the US military in Iraq is not limited to isolated incidents. The organization emphasizes that it is a systemic and widespread problem and urges the US to take immediate action to ensure that imprisonment and interrogation practices comply with international law. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004 Sources: Human Rights letter to National Security Advisor, May 3, 2004]
People and organizations involved: Human Rights Watch, Condoleezza Rice
          

October 3, 2004      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Responding to a New York Times article which described how the CIA and the White House ignored expert opinions that the tubes were not meant for use as rotors in a gas centrifuge, Condoleezza Rice says on ABC's “This Week” program: “As I understand it, people are still debating this. And I'm sure they will continue to debate it.” [The Washington Post, 10/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

March 11, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       The United States and European Union (EU) indicate that they are ready to work together on a diplomatic approach to encourage Iran to give up its nuclear program. Condoleezza Rice says that the US is willing to drop it objections to Iran's application to the WTO and “consider, on a case-by-case basis, the licensing of spare parts of Iranian civilian aircraft.” Europe, on the other hand, which has been under pressure from the Bush administration to harden its policy toward Iran, says it will have “no choice” but to support the issue being brought up at the UN Security Council if Iran does not discontinue its suspected nuclear weapons program. Up until now, the US and EU have been unable to agree on a single approach to dealing with Iran. [New York Times, 3/12/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

March 19, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the US is opposed to the proposed Iran-India-Pakistan gas pipeline because it would strengthen Iran and thus negatively affect the United States economically. “Our views concerning Iran are very well known by this time, and we have communicated our concerns about gas pipeline cooperation,” she says. [Al Jazeera, 3/19/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

September 10, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       During a news conference in Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urges China, Russia, and India to support US threats of imposing sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programs. Iran needs to get a “unified message,” she says. “I think that after the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report a couple of days ago, it is clear that Iran is not living up to its obligations, and so UN Security Council referral seems to be a reasonable option.” [US Department of State, 9/9/2005; BBC, 9/10/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

October 4, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       The State Department announce the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Central Asia the next week will not include a visit to Uzbekistan. The State Department say Rice will visit other Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and also Afghanistan, who are under consideration for observer status into the SCO. The omission of Uzbekistan is indicative of growing hostility between Uzbekistan and the US over Uzbekistan unexpected demand that the US vacate its bases in that country (See July 30, 2005 ). [Voice of America, 10/4/2005]
People and organizations involved: Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Condoleezza Rice
          

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