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Profile: Bush administration

 
  

Positions that Bush administration has held:



 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, July 7, 2003

   “There is other reporting to suggest that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa. However, the information is not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that attempts were in fact made.” [New York Times, 7/7/03]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

Bush administration actively participated in the following events:

 
  

September 1999: US Report Predicts Spectacular Attack on Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       A report prepared for US intelligence titled the “Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism” is completed. It states, “Al-Qaeda's expected retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way.” The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the president and US intelligence on emerging threats. [Associated Press, 4/18/02] The Bush administration later claims to have never heard of this report until May 2002, despite the fact that it had been publicly posted on the Internet since 1999, and “widely shared within the government” according to the New York Times. [New York Times, 5/18/02; CNN, 5/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
          

March 2000: Clinton Attempt to Fight Terrorism Financing Defeated by Republican      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Clinton administration begins a push to fight terrorism financing by introducing a tough anti-money laundering bill. The bill faces tough opposition, mostly from Republicans and lobbyists who enjoy the anonymity of offshore banking, which would be affected by the legislation. Despite passing the House Banking Committee by a vote of 31 to 1 in July 2000, Senator Phil Gramm (R) refuses to let the bill come up for a vote in his Senate Banking Committee. [Time, 10/15/01] Other efforts begun at this time to fight terrorism financing are later stymied by the new Bush administration in February 2001.
People and organizations involved: Clinton administration, Bush administration, Phil Gramm
          

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

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

December 2000: CIA Develops Plan to Increase Support to Massoud, Strike bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center develops a plan to strike at bin Laden in Afghanistan called the “Blue Sky Memo.” It recommends increased support to anti-Taliban groups and especially a major effort to back Ahmed Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance, to tie down al-Qaeda personnel before they leave Afghanistan. No action is taken in the last few weeks of the Clinton administration; the CIA presses the ideas unsuccessfully early in the new Bush administration. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] The National Security Council counterterrorism staff also prepares a strategy paper, incorporating ideas from the Blue Sky Memo. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: National Security Council, Ahmed Shah Massoud, al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Clinton administration
          

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

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

2001-2005: Levee Work in Southeast Louisiana Chronically Underfunded      Hurricane Katrina

       Between 2001 and 2005, the US Army Corps of Engineers requests $496 million to strengthen the 300-mile levee system protecting the low-elevation greater New Orleans area from the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. The Bush administration responds to these requests by proposing a $166 million budget. Congress approves a $250 million budget. [Reuters, 9/1/2005; Los Angeles Times, 9/4/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Army Corps of Engineers
          

Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of State John Bolton and others in the US State Department's arms-control bureau grow increasingly irritated with Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Bustani is attempting to convince Saddam Hussein to sign the chemical weapons convention with hopes of eventually sending chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. But the Bush administration is opposed to these efforts, insisting that Iraq's alleged arsenal of chemical weapons is an issue that needs to be addressed by the UN Security Council, not the OPCW. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005 Sources: A unnamed State Department official who served as a deputy under Bolton, Jose M. Bustani] At some point, someone in the Bush administration suggests removing Bustani. Bolton reportedly “leap[s] on it enthusiastically” and subsequently becomes “very much in charge of the whole campaign” to oust him. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005 Sources: Avis Bohlen] Bustani will later tell the Guardian that he believes the Bush administration does not want Iraq to become a member of the OPCW because it might interfere with the administration's plan to secure a UN resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq. [Guardian, 4/16/2002] Bustani's view is supported by others. Retired Swiss diplomat Heinrich Reimann tells the Associated Press in 2005: “Many believed the US delegation didn't want meddling from outside in the Iraq business—that could be the case.” Similarly, former Bustani aide Bob Rigg, a New Zealander, says in no uncertain terms: “Why did they not want OPCW involved in Iraq? They felt they couldn't rely on OPCW to come up with the findings the US wanted.” A different perpective is offered by Ralph Earle, a veteran US arms negotiator who was part of Bolton's arms-control bureau. According to Earle, his group was unhappy with what they considered Bustani's mismanagement. Bustani “had a big ego,” Earle claims in an interview with the Associated Press. “He did things on his own,” and did not consider the interests of other countries like the US. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Bush administration, Jose M. Bustani
          

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 27, 2001: Al-Qaeda's Role in USS Cole Bombing Triggers No Immediate Response      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Washington Post reports that the US has confirmed the link between al-Qaeda and the October 2000 USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000). [Washington Post, 1/27/01] This conclusion is stated without hedge in a February 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] In the wake of that bombing, Bush stated on the campaign trail, “I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action. ... There must be a consequence.” [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz later complains that by the time the new administration is in place, the Cole bombing was “stale.” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld concurs, stating that too much time had passed to respond. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)] The new Bush administration fails to resume the covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships on six-hour alert near Afghanistan's borders that had begun under President Clinton. The standby force gave Clinton the option of an immediate strike against targets in Afghanistan harboring al-Qaeda's top leadership. This failure makes a possible assassination of bin Laden much more difficult. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Bush administration, Paul Wolfowitz
          

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 2001: FEMA Institutes New Program to Replace Discontinued Project Impact      Hurricane Katrina

       After Congress approves the Bush administration's proposal to terminate Project Impact (see October 14, 1997-2001), FEMA institutes a new program under which pre-disaster mitigation (PDMs) grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Critics, such as the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), say that under the competitive based program, lower income communities will not be able to effectively compete with higher income areas. [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Project Impact, Bush administration
          

February 27, 2001: White House Proposes Drastic Cuts for Federal Disaster Mitigation Programs      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2002 budget includes a dramatic cut in federal funding for hazard mitigation grants, reducing the federal-state cost-sharing formula from 75/25 to 50/50. Mitigation grants allow localities to prepare for anticipated disasters by building levees and floodwalls, moving homes out of flood plains, and/or strengthening structures at risk from floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters. The Bush administration asserts that by making states pay more, they will spend the funds more wisely. “Shouldering a larger share of the costs will help to ensure that states select truly cost effective projects, an incentive that is missing if most of the funding is provided by FEMA,” the budget proposal reads. The proposed budget also eliminates FEMA's Project Impact, the popular $25 million model mitigation program implemented during the Clinton administration in 1997 (see October 14, 1997-2001). Bush officials say the project, which has been launched in 250 cities and towns, “has not proven effective.” Additionally, the Bush administration proposes to eliminate $12 million from the National Flood Insurance Program budget by $12 million by denying coverage for thousands of “repetitive loss” properties in flood plains. [Washington Post, 5/8/2001; White House, 2/27/2001, pp 81] A repetitive loss property is one that has suffered flood damage two or more times over a 10-year period and for which repair costs exceed more than 25 percent of its market value. [FEMA, 10/22/2004] White House spokesman Scott Stanzel explains that proposed cuts to these and other federal emergency management programs are part of “an ongoing effort to shift control and responsibility to the states and give them more flexibility.” [Washington Post, 5/8/2001] Jack Harrald, director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University, says in an interview with the Washington Post that Bush administration officials “clearly are disassociating themselves from programs closely identified with the previous administration. Whether a broader philosophical process is going on is not entirely clear yet, but I suspect it is.” [Washington Post, 5/8/2001] Congress will reject the administration's proposal to reduce the 75/50 cost-sharing formula, but agree to end Project Impact. [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Stanzel, Jack Harrald, Project Impact, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bush administration
          

Late February 2001: Enron Influences Cheney's Energy Task Force to Help Troubled Dabhol Plant      Complete 911 Timeline

       Vice President Cheney is holding a series of secret energy task force meetings to determine the Bush administration's future energy policy. Starting at this time, Enron leader Ken Lay and other Enron officials take part in a least half a dozen of these secret meetings. After one such meeting, Cheney's energy task force changes a draft energy proposal to include a provision boosting oil and natural gas production in India. The amendment is so narrow that it apparently is targeted to only help Enron's troubled Dabhol power plant in India. [Washington Post, 1/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Kenneth Lay, Enron, Bush administration
          

March 27, 2001      Bush's environmental record, US International Relations

       EPA administrator Christie Todd Whitman tells reporters that the Bush administration has “no interest in implementing” the Kyoto Protocol. [CNN, 3/29/2001; CBS News, 3/28/2001; Environmental News Network (EIN), 3/28/2001; Associated Press, 3/28/2001; BBC, 3/28/2001] The treaty would require 39 industrialized nations to cut emissions of six greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride—to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012. The US would be required to reduce its emissions by about 7 percent. The protocol will not go into effect until it has been ratified by countries that were responsible for at least 55 percent of the world's carbon emissions in 1990. [BBC, 3/29/2001; BBC, 9/29/2001] The United States is the world's largest polluter and therefore its refusal to support the treaty represents a significant setback. In 1990, the US was responsible for 36.1% of greenhouse emissions. [BBC, 6/4/2004] The Bush administration complains that the treaty would harm US economic interests and that it unfairly puts too much of the burden on industrialized nations while not seeking to limit pollution from developing nations. [BBC, 3/29/2001]
People and organizations involved: Christine Todd Whitman, Bush administration
          

April 17-26, 2001: Joint Chiefs of Staff Holds Exercise for Continuity of Government if US is Attacked; Proposal to Simulate Airliner Crash into Pentagon Rejected      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Joint Chiefs of Staff holds a large, worldwide exercise called Positive Force, which focuses on the Defense Department's ability to conduct large-scale military operations and coordinate these operations. [CJCSI, 8/14/00] The 2001 Positive Force exercise is a “continuity of operations exercise,” meaning it deals with government contingency plans to keep working in the event of an attack on the US. [Guardian, 4/15/04] Over a dozen government agencies, including NORAD, are invited to participate. The exercise prepares them for various scenarios, including non-combatant evacuation operations, cyber attacks, rail disruption, and power outages. [Provider Update, 10/01; GlobalSecurity [.org], 6/09/02] Apparently, one of the scenarios that was considered for this exercise involved “a terrorist group hijack[ing] a commercial airliner and fly[ing] it into the Pentagon.” But the proposed scenario, thought up by a group of Special Operations personnel trained to think like terrorists, was rejected. Joint Staff action officers and White House officials said the additional scenario is either “too unrealistic” or too disconnected to the original intent of the exercise. [Guardian, 4/15/04; Boston Herald, 4/14/04; New York Times, 4/14/04; Washington Post, 4/14/04 (G); Air Force Times, 4/13/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Department of Defense, Pentagon
          

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

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

May 2001: Cheney's Energy Plan Foresees Government Helping US Companies Expand Into New Markets      Complete 911 Timeline

       Vice President Cheney's national energy plan is released to the public. It calls for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land and easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants. [Associated Press, 12/9/02] There are several interesting points, little noticed at the time. It suggests that the US cannot depend exclusively on traditional sources of supply to provide the growing amount of oil that it needs. It will also have to obtain substantial supplies from new sources, such as the Caspian states, Russia, and Africa. It also notes that the US cannot rely on market forces alone to gain access to these added supplies, but will also require a significant effort on the part of government officials to overcome foreign resistance to the outward reach of American energy companies. [Japan Today, 4/30/02] The plan was largely decided through Cheney's secretive Energy Task Force. Both before and after this, Cheney and other Task Force officials meet with Enron executives (including one meeting a month and a half before Enron declares bankruptcy in December 2001). Two separate lawsuits are later filed to reveal details of how the government's energy policy was formed and whether Enron or other players may have influenced it, but as of mid-2005 the Bush administration has successfully resisted all efforts to release these documents. [Associated Press, 12/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Enron, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Bush administration
          

June 2001      Bush's environmental record

       The National Research Council issues a report on global climate change that was commissioned by the White House. The opening paragraph of the document reads: “Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century. Secondary effects are suggested by computer model simulations and basic physical reasoning. These include increases in rainfall rates and increased susceptibility of semi-arid regions to drought. The impacts of these changes will be critically dependent on the magnitude of the warming and the rate with which it occurs.” [Boston Globe, 6/20/2003; CBS News, 6/19/2003 Sources: Climate Change Science: An analysis of some key questions]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, National Research Council (NRC)
          

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
          

Late Summer 2001: Jordan Warns US That Aircraft Will Be Used in Major Attack Inside the US      Complete 911 Timeline

       Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code named “The Big Wedding,” is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. “When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations.” The Christian Science Monitor calls the story “confidently authenticated” even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02; Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/02]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein
          

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 21, 2001: US Official Threatens Possible Military Action Against Taliban by October if Pipeline Is Not Pursued      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Niaz Naik.
Three former American officials, Tom Simons (former US Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Deputy Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs), and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia) meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. [Salon, 8/16/02] This is the third of a series of back-channel conferences called “brainstorming on Afghanistan.” Taliban representatives sat in on previous meetings, but boycotted this one due to worsening tensions. However, the Pakistani ISI relays information from the meeting to the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/22/01] At the meeting, Coldren passes on a message from Bush officials. He later says, “I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action.” [Guardian, 9/26/01] Accounts vary, but former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik later says he is told by senior American officials at the meeting that military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan is planned to “take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” The goal is to kill or capture both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, topple the Taliban regime, and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place. Uzbekistan and Russia would also participate. Naik also says, “It was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.” [BBC, 9/18/01] One specific threat made at this meeting is that the Taliban can choose between “carpets of bombs” —an invasion—or “carpets of gold” — the pipeline. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 43] Naik contends that Tom Simons made the “carpets” statement. Simons claims, “It's possible that a mischievous American participant, after several drinks, may have thought it smart to evoke gold carpets and carpet bombs. Even Americans can't resist the temptation to be mischievous.” Naik and the other American participants deny that the pipeline was an issue at the meeting. [Salon, 8/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Tom Simons, Bush administration, Taliban, Niaz Naik, Osama bin Laden, Russia, Karl Inderfurth, Lee Coldren, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Uzbekistan, Mullah Omar
          

August 2001: Bush Administration Rejects Plan to Capture Al-Zawahiri      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The US receives intelligence that bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is receiving medical treatment at a clinic in San'a, Yemen. However, the Bush administration rejects a plan to capture him, as officials are not 100 percent sure the patient is al-Zawahiri. Officials later regret the missed opportunity. [ABC News, 2/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bush administration
          

After August 6, 2001: ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’ Memo Is Not Acted Upon      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Bush being briefed at his ranch on August 6, 2001.
The 9/11 Commission will later state that after the now famous “bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” memo is given to President Bush on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001), “We have found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the president and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al-Qaeda attack in the United States.” [Newsweek, 4/28/05] 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey will later state to CNN,“[B]y the way, there's a credible case that the president's own negligence prior to 9/11 at least in part contributed to the disaster in the first place. ... [I]n the summer of 2001, the government ignored repeated warnings by the CIA, ignored, and didn't do anything to harden our border security, didn't do anything to harden airport country, didn't do anything to engage local law enforcement, didn't do anything to round up INS and consular offices and say we have to shut this down, and didn't warn the American people. The famous presidential daily briefing on August 6, we say in the report that the briefing officers believed that there was a considerable sense of urgency and it was current. So there was a case to be made that wasn't made. ... The president says, if I had only known that 19 Islamic men would come into the United States of America and on the morning of 11 September hijack four American aircraft, fly two into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one into an unknown Pennsylvania that crashed in Shanksville, I would have moved heaven and earth. That's what he said. Mr. President, you don't need to know that. This is an Islamic Jihadist movement that has been organized since the early 1990s, declared war on the United States twice, in '96 and '98. You knew they were in the United States. You were warned by the CIA. You knew in July they were inside the United States. You were told again by briefing officers in August that it was a dire threat. And what did you do? Nothing, so far as we could see on the 9/11 Commission.” [CNN, 11/8/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, World Trade Center, Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, 9/11 Commission, Bob Kerrey, al-Qaeda
          

August 7, 2001: Version of Bush's al-Qaeda Briefing Is Incomplete, Poorly Distributed      Complete 911 Timeline

       One day after Bush receives a Presidential Daily Briefing entitled, “bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” a version of the same material is given to other top government officials. However, this Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) does not contain the most important information from Bush's briefing. It does not mention that there are 70 FBI investigations into possible al-Qaeda activity, does not mention a May 2001 threat of US-based explosives attacks, and does not mention FBI concerns about recent surveillance of buildings in New York City. Typically, this type of memo “goes to scores of Cabinet-agency officials from the assistant secretary level up and does not include raw intelligence or sensitive information about ongoing law enforcement matters,” according to the Associated Press. Some members of Congress later express concern that policy makers were given an incomplete view of the terrorist threat. [Associated Press, 4/13/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George W. Bush
          

September 10, 2001: Ashcroft Opposes Counterterrorism Funding      Complete 911 Timeline

       Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau's counterterrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs—but none of them relate to counterterrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities—none of them relate to counterterrorism. [New York Times, 6/1/02; Guardian, 5/21/02] He further proposes cutting a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment like radios and preparedness training from $109 million to $44 million. Yet Ashcroft stopped flying public airplanes in July due to an as yet undisclosed terrorist threat, and in a July speech he proclaimed, “Our No. 1 priority is the prevention of terrorist attacks.” [New York Times, 2/28/02]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Bush administration
          

Before September 11, 2001: US Government Knows of Taliban, Saudi, and Pakistan Connections, but Does Nothing      Complete 911 Timeline

       In June 2004, future 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey will say that before 9/11, “There's no question the Taliban was getting money from the Saudis ... and there's no question they got much more than that from the Pakistani government. Their motive is a secondary issue for us.” He claims this finding is based almost entirely on information known to the US government before 9/11. “All we're doing is looking at classified documents from our own government, not from some magical source. So we knew what was going on, but we did nothing.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/20/04] However, the 9/11 Commission will leave such material out of its final report and in fact make the claim in its last staff statement, “There is no convincing evidence that any government financially supported al-Qaeda before 9/11.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Pakistan, Saudi Binladin Group, 9/11 Commission, Taliban, Bush administration
          

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
          

September 11, 2001-January 2002: Saeed Sheikh Lives Openly in Pakistan      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, partying in Pakistan after 9/11.
After probably completing last-minute financial transactions with some 9/11 hijackers, Saeed Sheikh flies to Pakistan. [Knight Ridder, 10/7/01] He meets with bin Laden in Afghanistan a few days later. [Guardian, 7/16/02; Washington Post, 2/18/02; Times of London, 2/25/02] The US government claims Saeed fights for the Taliban in Afghanistan in September and October 2001. [CNN, 3/14/02] Some reports indicate that after the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saeed acts as a go-between with bin Laden and the ISI seeking to hide bin Laden. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He also helps produce a video of a bin Laden interview. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Sometime in October 2001 [Guardian, 7/16/02] , Saeed moves back to his home in Lahore, Pakistan, and lives there openly. He is frequently seen at local parties hosted by government leaders. In January 2002, he hosts a party to celebrate the birth of his newborn baby. [USA Today, 2/25/02; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He stays in his well-known Lahore house with his new wife and baby until January 19, 2002—four days before reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped. [BBC, 7/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Saeed Sheikh, Bush administration, Daniel Pearl, Taliban, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden
          

September 12, 2001: US Denies Any Hints of bin Laden Plot to Attack in US      Complete 911 Timeline

       The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is that it had no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US “There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad,” says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators would have been searching through “mountains of information.” However, “the vast electronic ‘take’ on bin Laden, said officials who requested anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark, and Washington.” [Miami Herald, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Bush administration
          

September 13, 2001: White House Announces bin Laden-9/11 Connection      Complete 911 Timeline

       The White House announces that there is “overwhelming evidence” that bin Laden is behind the attacks. [MSNBC, 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Osama bin Laden
          

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

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

September 16, 2001: Taliban Said to Agree to All US Demands in a Secret Meeting      Complete 911 Timeline

       A secret meeting takes place between Taliban and US government representatives in the city of Quetta, Pakistan. Afghan-American businessman Kabir Mohabbat serves as a middleman. US officials deny the meeting takes place, but later in the month Mohabbat explains that the US demands the Taliban hand over bin Laden, extradite foreign members of al-Qaeda who are wanted in their home countries, and shut down bin Laden's bases and camps. Mohabbat claims that the Taliban agrees to meet all the demands. However, some days later he is told the US position has changed and the Taliban must surrender or be killed. Later in the month, the Taliban again agrees to hand over bin Laden unconditionally, but the US replies that “the train had moved.” [Counterpunch, 11/1/04; CBS, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Kabir Mohabbat, Taliban, Bush administration
          

September 18, 2001, September 22, 2001, September 23, 2001      911 Environmental Impact

       At the White House's request, NASA's de Havilland Twin Otter prop plane, equipped with the AVIRIS unit (see September 12, 2001) , conducts additional flights over Manhattan (see 12:00 p.m. September 16, 2001-2:00 a.m. September 17, 2001), collecting data on the chemical composition of the dust and debris that was distributed throughout the city when the World Trade Center's twin towers collapsed. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

September 21, 2001: US Denies Plans for Afghanistan Regime Change      Complete 911 Timeline

       A secret report to NATO allies says the US privately wants to hear allied views on “post-Taliban Afghanistan after the liberation of the country.” However, the US is publicly claiming it has no intentions to overthrow the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/21/01] For instance, four days later, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that military actions there are “designed to replace one regime with another.” [State Department, 12/26/01]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Bush administration, Taliban
          

October 10, 2001: US Television Networks Doing Too Much of the Government's Bidding      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Bush administration asks the major US television networks to refrain from showing unedited video messages taped by Osama bin Laden. They agree. A Newsweek article is critical of the decision, pointing out that “all but one [of these networks] are controlled by major conglomerates that have important pending business with the government.” The article openly questions if the media is “doing too much of the government's bidding” in reporting on 9/11. Says one expert, “I'm not saying that everything is a horrible paranoid fantasy, but my sense is there's an implicit quid pro quo here. The industry seems to be saying to the administration, ‘We're patriotic, We're supporting the war, we lost all of this advertising, now free us from [business] constraints.’ ” [Newsweek, 10/13/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Bush administration
          

October 16, 2001: Some Flight Control Transcripts Released, but Sections Are Missing      Complete 911 Timeline

       The government releases flight control transcripts of three of the four hijacked planes [New York Times, 10/16/01 (C); New York Times, 10/16/01 (D); New York Times, 10/16/01 (B)] ) . Strangely, Flight 93 is left out. Yet even the three released transcripts are incomplete (for instance, Flight 77's ends at least 20 minutes before it crashes), and certain events that are part of the official story do not show up on these transcripts.
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

November 19, 2001-December 7, 2001      US Military, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, US International Relations

       The Fifth Review Conference for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention convenes in Geneva, Switzerland. The primary objective of the conference is to complete the negotiation of an enforcement and verification protocol. Member-states, known as the “Ad Hoc Group,” had previously attempted to do this during a forum in July, but the efforts had been blocked by the US (see July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001). The proposed change to the Convention would, among other things (see July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001), require mandatory inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made—including sites located in the United States. For six years, the US has opposed this proposal. At the very end of the Review Conference, the Bush admininistration proposes to eliminate the Ad Hoc Group and terminate the protocol negotiations completely. The proposal is rejected by other members, but the action effectively blocks consensus on the conference's Final Declaration. To prevent the outright failure of the Review Conference, the chairman suspends negotiations until November 2002. [Common Dreams, 8/5/02; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/03; Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

Early December 2001: Bush Officials Again Look for Saudi Cooperation      Complete 911 Timeline

       Bush administration officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to obtain Saudi government cooperation in the 9/11 investigation. The Saudis have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald runs a series of articles on the Saudis, citing an expert who says, “If there weren't all these other arrangements—arms deals and oil deals and consultancies—I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation.” Another expert states that “it's good old fashioned ‘I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.’ You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis. ... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil.” These deals are worth an incredible amount of money; one Washington Post reporter claims that prior to 1993, US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone. [PBS Frontline, 2/16/93; Boston Herald, 12/11/01 (B); Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, Bush administration
          

December 13, 2001: US Releases Bin Laden Video; Authenticity Questioned      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The man in the picture on the left is supposed to bel bin Laden in October 2001. The picture on the right is undisputendly bin Laden in December 1998. Their noses are noticably different. Could the man on the left be one of bin Laden's doubles?
The US releases a video of bin Laden that seems to confirm his role in the 9/11 attack. [Guardian, 12/13/01] However, a number of strange facts about this video soon emerge. For example, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic television channel Al Jazeera. This video was supposedly recorded without his knowledge, found in a house in Afghanistan, and then passed to the CIA by an unknown person or group. Experts point out that it would be possible to fake such a video. So many people doubt the video's authenticity that Bush soon makes a statement, saying it was “preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored. Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man.” Some observers point out that bin Laden is wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous films, he had worn no jewelry apart from a watch. [Guardian, 12/15/01] The German television show “Monitor” conducts an independent translation that questions the translation given by the US military. According to Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Hamburg, “This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can't use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places.” [Monitor, 12/20/01] There are reports that bin Laden had from four to ten look-alike doubles at the time. [Times of London, 11/19/01; Agence France-Presse, 10/7/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, Gernot Rotter
          

December 24, 2001: Taliban Free, Living in Luxury      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Guardian reports that many in Afghanistan intelligence say former top Taliban officials are living openly in villas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At least four top leaders who had been caught have been simply released. One intelligence source claims to know the exact location of many, and says they could be rounded up within hours. A former Taliban minister now working with the Northern Alliance also claims: “Some are living in luxury in fine houses, they are not hiding in holes. They could be in jail by tonight if the political will existed.” The US claims it is working hard to find and catch these leaders. [Guardian, 12/24/01]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Taliban
          

Early 2002      Bush's environmental record

       Michele Merkel, a staff attorney in the EPA's enforcement division whose specialty is in the area of factory farming, resigns because of the administration's reluctance to enforce federal regulatory laws and because she believes the livestock industry has too much influence on EPA oversight of factory farms. [Grist Magazine, 5/24/2004; Los Angeles Times, 6/3/2002; Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004] “Once the Bush team came in, I was not allowed to pursue any further air lawsuits against CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding operations],” she tells Muckraker. “We got political cover to continue what was underway, but I was told that new efforts were off-limits. It wasn't just coming from my EPA superiors, it was coming from the White House.” [Grist Magazine, 5/24/2004] “Ultimately what drove me out of the agency was the anti-enforcement philosophy of the current administration,” Merkel tells the Los Angeles Times. [Los Angeles Times, 6/3/2002]
People and organizations involved: Michele Merkel, Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency
          

January 14, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       EPA staffers meet with the agency's top pollution regulator, Jeffrey Holmstead, in his fifth-floor conference room to discuss a February 2004 deadline for creating a rule governing formaldehyde emissions at wood products plants. Holmstead, a lawyer, formerly worked at Latham & Watkins representing one of the nation's largest plywood producers. Also present at the meeting is William Wehrum, the EPA air office's general counsel, who had also represented timber interests as a partner of the same law firm. They meet with Timothy Hunt, a lobbyist for the American Forest & Paper Association who is an old acquaintance of Holmstead, and with Claudia M. O'Brien, the association's lawyer. O'Brien had previously been a law partner of Holmstead's and Wehrum's at Latham & Watkins. During the meeting she proposes to exempt “low-risk” plywood, particleboard and other plants from strict emission controls, arguing that such facilities are often located in isolated areas where their emissions pose a relatively small risk to public health. She also contends that the expense of adding new controls to the plants, which the industry complains could cost as much as $1 billion, would make them vulnerable to foreign competition. Holmstead likes the idea and decides that the agency should push the proposal, despite opinions from EPA career attorneys that the exemption would violate the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments (see March 2003). [Los Angeles Times, 5/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, William Wehrum, Environmental Protection Agency, Jeffrey Holmstead, Claudia M. O'Brien, Timothy Hunt
          

February 4, 2002: White House Proposes 10 Percent Cut for Army Corps Budget      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration proposes to reduce the US Army Corps of Engineers' fiscal year 2003 budget by 10 percent, from $4.6 to $4.175 billion. (The Corps requested more than $6 billion.) [Clarion Ledger, 3/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Army Corps of Engineers
          

February 20, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Senior administration officials say the White House intends to create a permanent office of global diplomacy in order to spread a positive image of the United States around the world and combat anti-Americanism, which the administration believes has been caused by the world's failure to understand America. “A lot of the world does not like America, and it's going to take years to change their hearts and minds,” an unnamed senior official tells the New York Times. The office will coordinate the public statements of the State, Defense, and the other departments to ensure that foreign governments, media organizations, and opinion-makers understand US policies. The Times reports that according to one official, “global diplomacy as envisioned in the new office will inject patriotism into the punishing 24-hour, seven-day news cycle.” Reports broadcasted by the office would include information about both US foreign and domestic policies and would utilize the State Department's huge communications network of American embassies and media offices. The earlier White House effort to create a more positive image of the United States was handled by the Coalition Information Center, a joint effort between the US and UK that was led by the president's senior advisor, Karen P. Hughes. [New York Times, 2/02/02] The office will be formally created in July and given the name “The Office of Global Communications” (see July 30, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Office of Global Communications, Bush administration
          

February 28, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       John Bolton and other US officials fly to Europe and meet with Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). They demand that Bustani quietly resign from his position. Bustani refuses. He later explains to the New York Times, “They said they did not like my management style, but they said they were not prepared to elaborate.” [Associated Press, 6/5/2005; Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, Bush administration, John R. Bolton
          

Spring 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush administration shifts its attention from Afghanistan and al-Qaeda to Iraq. White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke later recalls: “They took one thing that people on the outside find hard to believe or appreciate. Management time. We're a huge government, and we have hundreds of thousands of people involved in national security. Therefore you would think we could walk and chew gum at the same time. I've never found that to be true. ... It just is not credible that the principals and the deputies paid as much attention to Afghanistan or the war against al-Qaeda as they should have.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004] Laurence Pope, an ambassador to Chad, similarly recalls in 2004 that the change in focus that spring had a particularly damaging effect on operations in Afghanistan. “There was a moment of six months or so when we could have put much more pressure on the tribal areas [to get al-Qaeda], and on Pakistan, and done a better job of reconstruction in Afghanistan. In reality, the Beltway can only do one thing at a time, and because of the attention to Iraq, what should have happened in Afghanistan didn't.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004] US Intelligence agencies are also affected by the shift in priorities. The CIA's limited supply of Arabic-speakers and Middle East specialists are redeployed to help meet the increasing demand for intelligence on Iraq. Michael Scheuer, a career CIA officer who was head of the agency's anti-bin Laden team from the late 1990s until his retirement in 2004, says, “With a finite number of people who have any kind of pertinent experience there [was] unquestionably a sucking away of resources from Afghanistan and al-Qaeda to Iraq, just because it was a much bigger effort.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004]
People and organizations involved: Michael Scheuer, Laurence Pope, Richard A. Clarke, Bush administration
          

March 6, 2002: Army Corps Official Reportedly Forced Out for Criticizing Bush Administration's Proposed Flood Control Project Budget Cuts      Hurricane Katrina

       Mike Parker, assistant secretary of the Army, resigns shortly after testifying against the Bush administration's proposed cuts to the Army Corps of Engineer's fiscal year 2003 budget, including flood control projects in southeastern Louisiana (see February 27, 2002). According to White House officials, Parker has been forced out by the Bush administration, “as a clear sign that the president will not tolerate open defiance by his appointees.” As an unnamed Bush administration official interviewed by the Washington Post, makes clear, “Either you're on the president's team or you're not.” [Washington Post, 3/7/2002, pp A01; Clarion Ledger, 3/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: Mike Parker, Bush administration
          

March 17, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       British Ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer attends lunch with Paul Wolfowitz and other Bush administration officials in Washington and assures them that the British would support the use of military force against Iraq. Meyer informs Sir David Manning, Tony Blair's foreign policy adviser, in a memo the following day: “On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe. The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam. I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs [Security Council Resolutions] and the critical importance of the MEPP [Middle East Peace Process] as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; BBC, 4/29/05; Guardian, 4/21/05 Sources: Memo from Christopher Meyer to David Manning, 3/18/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Christopher Meyer, Paul Wolfowitz, David Manning
          

April 1, 2002: Afghan Opium Crackdown Fails      Complete 911 Timeline

      
An Afghani farmer stands in his opium poppy fields.
“American officials have quietly abandoned their hopes to reduce Afghanistan's opium production substantially this year and are now bracing for a harvest large enough to inundate the world's heroin and opium markets with cheap drugs.” They want to see the new Afghan government make at least a token effort to destroy some opium, but it appears that the new government is not doing even that. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai had announced a total ban on opium cultivation, processing, and trafficking, but it appears to be a total sham. The new harvest is so large that it could be “enough opium to stockpile for two or two and a half more years.” [New York Times, 4/1/02] Starting this month, Karzai's government offers farmers $500 for every acre of poppies they destroy, but farmers can earn as much as $6,400 per acre for the crop. The program is eventually cancelled when it runs out of money to pay farmers. [Associated Press, 3/27/03]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Hamid Karzai
          

April 17, 2002: Failure to Capture bin Laden in Afghan War Is Gravest Error      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Washington Post reports that, “The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit US ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al-Qaeda,” allowing bin Laden to escape. The newspaper claims that while the administration has failed to acknowledge the mistake publicly, “inside the government there is little controversy on the subject.” [Washington Post, 4/17/02] The next day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denies this, and states he did not know at the time of the assault, “nor do I know today of any evidence that he was in Tora Bora at the time or that he left Tora Bora at the time or even where he is today.” [USA Today, 4/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Donald Rumsfeld
          

April 21-22, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Jose Bustani is removed from his position as director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons during an unusual special session that had been called by the US. Bolton and others in the State Department's arms-control bureau have been pressuring Bustani to resign since February (see March 2002; February 28, 2002; January 2002). They are upset about the OPCW chief's efforts to involve the organization in the evolving dispute between the US and Iraq over the latter's alleged arsenal of illicit weapons ; Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001). Only 113 nations of the organization's 145 members are represented at the meeting. Of those, 15 are not eligible to vote because of outstanding membership fees. [New York Times, 7/26/2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Some of the delegates, according to the Guardian, may have been paid by the US to attend. And one of the member-states, Micronesia, gave permission to the US to vote on their behalf. [Guardian, 4/23/2002] Before the vote, Bustani denounces the Bush administration's allegations and tells the delegates that they must decide whether genuine multilateralism “will be replaced by unilateralism in a multilateral disguise.” [Sources: Statement by Jose Bustani, 4/21/2002] But the US delegation, intent on seeing that Bustani is removed, threatens to withhold US dues—22 percent of the organization's $60 million annual budget—if Bustani remains in office. A US refusal to pay its dues would likely force the organization to close. [BBC, 4/22/2002; New York Times, 7/26/2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Bustani told a reporter the week before, “The Europeans are so afraid that the US will abandon the convention that they are prepared to sacrifice my post to keep it on board.” [Guardian, 4/16/2002] Only forty-eight members—less than one-third of the total membership—vote in favor of removing Bustani. But the no-confidence vote is nonetheless successful because 43 of the delegates abstain. Only seven votes are cast in opposition. [US Department of State (Vote Tally), 2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Jose M. Bustani
          

May 6, 2002      US International Relations

       The Bush administration effectively withdraws the US signature from the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a letter to Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton writes: “This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary's status lists relating to this treaty.” [New York Times, 5/7/2002; United Nations, n.d. Sources: Letter from US to UN, 5/6/2002] The Bush administration defends its action, contending that the treaty infringes on US sovereignty because under its provisions an international prosecutor answerable to no one could initiate politically motivated or frivolous suits against US troops, military officers or officials. [BBC, 7/13/2002; New York Times, 5/7/2002] Bolton's letter is also intended to relieve the United States of its obligations under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. That agreement prohibits the signatories of international treaties from taking steps to undermine the treaties they sign, even if they have not ratified them. [New York Times, 5/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Bush administration, Kofi Annan
          

May 8, 2002-May 10, 2002      US International Relations

       In New York, the first UN Children's Summit adopts an action plan to improve children's lives in the coming decade. One of the Summit's most notable achievements is a plan to reduce the mortality rates of infants and children under five, and of mothers after childbirth, by at least one third by 2010. Certain issues are hotly debated during the Summit. For example, the US sides with the Vatican, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Iraq in arguing for language promoting sexual abstinence before marriage and traditional family values and against the inclusion of any statement in the Summit's final declaration sanctioning abortion. The US wants the final document to include a footnote that specifically excludes abortion from a passage stating that children have a right to “reproductive health services.” As a compromise, the final agreement drops any reference to “services.” Also, at the insistence of the Bush administration, the final document excludes the United States from a requirement prohibiting the death penalty or life imprisonment for those under the age of 18. The US also successfully argues for the removal of a resolution condemning Israel for violence against Palestinian children and the deprivation of their human rights. [BBC, 5/11/2002; BBC, 5/8/2002; Nation, 1/16/2002; Associated Press, 5/11/2002] The Bush administration also opposes referring to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child as a global “standard” for children's rights. [Associated Press, 5/11/2002] The 1989 Convention established a child's right to good quality education, protection from abuse and healthcare, outlawed child labor and child trafficking, and prohibited nations from enlisting children under the age of 15 in their armed services. [BBC, 9/18/1999; BBC, 11/8/1999; UNICEF, n.d. Sources: Convention on the Rights of the Child] It was signed by the US, but neither the Clinton nor Bush administration has submitted the convention to Congress for ratification. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history. The only other country that hasn't ratified it is Somalia, which is unable to because it has no recognized government. [BBC, 11/8/1999; UNICEF, n.d.; BBC, 9/18/1999; Associated Press, 5/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Congress
          

May 15, 2002: Bush's August 6, 2001, Warning Is Leaked to Public      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The New York Post has a banner headline on May 16, 2002.
The Bush administration is embarrassed when the CBS Evening News reveals that President Bush had been warned about al-Qaeda domestic attacks in August 2001 (see August 6, 2001). Bush had repeatedly said that he had “no warning” of any kind. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer states unequivocally that while Bush had been warned of possible hijackings, “[t]he president did not—not—receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers.” [New York Times, 5/15/02; Washington Post, 5/16/02] “Until the attack took place, I think it's fair to say that no one envisioned that as a possibility.” [MSNBC, 9/18/02] Fleischer claims the August memo was titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike the US,” but the real title is soon found to end with “ ... Strike in US” [Washington Post, 5/18/02 (B)] The Guardian will state a few days later, “the memo left little doubt that the hijacked airliners were intended for use as missiles and that intended targets were to be inside the US” It further states that, “now, as the columnist Joe Conason points out in the current edition of the New York Observer, ‘conspiracy’ begins to take over from ‘incompetence’ as a likely explanation for the failure to heed—and then inform the public about—warnings that might have averted the worst disaster in the nation's history.” [Guardian, 5/19/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Bush administration, Joe Conason, Ari Fleischer, al-Qaeda
          

June 2002      US International Relations

       The Bush administration submits a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council that would grant indefinite immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998) to all UN peacekeeping military personnel who are from nations that do not accept the court's jurisdiction. The proposal appeals to Article 16 of the Rome Statute which stipulates that the UN Security Council can grant deferrals on a temporary, case-by-case basis for nationals accused of war crimes who are from countries not party to the treaty. The US recommends that this provision for conditional immunity be universally pre-applied to all cases involving US military personnel engaged in UN peacekeeping. Immunity would be granted for a period of 12 months—but automatically and unconditionally renewed every year. As such, US troops would effectively be exempt from the jurisdiction of the ICC since it would take a UN Security Council resolution to end the automatic renewals and since the US holds veto power in the council. [New York Times, 7/11/2002; Boston Globe, 5/23/2002; Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; Independent, 7/4/2002] The US proposal is backed by threats that the US will withdraw its troops from international peacekeeping missions, starting with Bosnia (see June 30, 2002), and block funds to those missions as well. [Boston Globe, 5/23/2002; Agence France Presse, 7/10/2002]
People and organizations involved: Kofi Annan, John R. Bolton, Bush administration
          

June 30, 2002      US International Relations

       The Bush administration vetoes a UN Security Council Resolution that would have extended the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the next six months. The Council however agrees to extend the mission's mandate for 72 hours, during which time it hopes members will be able to resolve a dispute with the US. [BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]; Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]] The Bush administration vetoed the resolution because UN Security Council members did not accept a proposal (see June 2002) that would grant indefinite immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998) (which opens on this day) to all UN peacekeeping military personnel who are from nations that do not accept the court's jurisdiction. Explaining Washington's veto, US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte explains, “With our global responsibilities, we are and will remain a special target, and cannot have our decisions second-guessed by a court whose jurisdiction we do not recognize.” [BBC, 7/1/2002 [b]; Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]] If a compromise cannot be reached, UN peacekeeping forces will have to leave Bosnia. A failure to renew the UN mandated mission in Bosnia could also affect Nato's 19,000-strong Stabilization Force in Bosnia, or S-For, which includes 3,100 Americans. “Although S-For does not legally require a Security Council mandate, some of the 19 countries contributing to it have indicated they will withdraw their troops without one,” the BBC reports. [BBC, 7/1/2002 [a]]
People and organizations involved: John Negroponte, Bush administration
          

July 3, 2002      US International Relations

       The UN Security Council extends the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia while its members continue to debate over a US proposal to grant all UN peacekeeping military personnel from countries not party to the Rome Statute (see July 17, 1998) immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998). The Bush administration has made it clear that it will not support the UN mandated mission in Bosnia if the Security Council does not accept its proposal . [Agence France Presse, 7/9/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

July 12, 2002      US International Relations

       After much debate, the UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1422 under pressure from the United States. The resolution delays, for a period of twelve months, the prosecution and investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of any UN peacekeeping personnel accused of war crimes. After one year, the delay can be extended with the passage of another resolution. The privilege applies only to personnel from states that are not party to the Rome Statute. [New York Times, 7/13/2002 Sources: UN Resolution 1422] The US had previously demanded a permanent exemption (see June 2002), which was strongly opposed by the other members. The US proposed Resolution 1422 as a compromise and threatened to block future resolutions extending UN peacekeeping missions, beginning with ones in Bosnia and the Croatian peninsula of Prevlaka, if the Security Council did not adopt it. [New York Times, 7/12/2002; New York Times, 7/11/2002; New York Times, 7/13/2002] Immediately after adopting Resolution 1422, the council extends the mandates for the two UN peacekeeping missions. [New York Times, 7/13/2002] Afterwards, John Negroponte states: “Should the ICC eventually seek to detain any American, the United States would regard this as illegitimate—and it would have serious consequences. No nation should underestimate our commitment to protect our citizens.” [New York Times, 7/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Negroponte, Bush administration  Additional Info 
          

August 2002-July 1, 2003      US International Relations

       More than 50 countries sign “Article 98” agreements with the US under threat of losing US military aid. Article 98 agreements, so called because the US claims they have a legal basis in Article 98 of the Rome Statute (see July 17, 1998), are bilateral immunity agreements (BIA) that prohibit both parties from extraditing the other's current or former government officials, military and other personnel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) . With the exception of a few close allies, countries that are party to the ICC (see July 17, 1998) and have not signed the agreements will become ineligible for US military aid when on July 1, 2003 (see July 1, 2003) Section 2007 of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (see August 2, 2002) goes into effect. The Bush administration hopes that the “Article 98” agreements will protect US troops and officials from being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for any alleged war crimes committed in a country that is party to the court. Critics say the BIAs are inexcusable attempts to gain impunity from war crimes. Some countries sign the agreement despite popular opposition and ask the Bush administration not to make the agreements public. [Coalition for the International Criminal Court, 9/2003; CNS News, 8/5/2002; New York Times, 8/7/2002; New York Times, 8/10/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

August 11, 2002: Bush's Advisers Advocate Attacking Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Other Countries      Complete 911 Timeline

       A Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush's advisers advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma, shocking many. One senior British official tells the magazine: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” [Newsweek, 8/11/02; Newsweek, 8/11/02 (B)] In February 2003, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton says in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran, and North Korea afterward. This is not reported in the US media. [Ha'aretz, 2/17/03]
People and organizations involved: North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Burma, Iran, Bush administration, Egypt
          

September 19, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The White House delivers a draft of a strongly worded resolution to Congress authorizing the president to use “all appropriate means” against Iraq. The 20-paragraph draft includes provisions that would allow Bush to ignore the UN and “use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce” the UN's Security Council resolutions, “defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region.” According to the Associated Press, “Three senior White House aides familiar with the draft said it would give Bush maximum flexibility to confront the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, including an explicit OK to use military force.” Although numerous congresspersons complain that the proposed wording of the resolution would provide Bush with a blank check to use military force anywhere in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, several senators—Democrats and Republicans alike—say that an amended version of the resolution would likely pass. [Associated Press, 9/19/02b; Independent, 9/19/02; Times, 9/19/02 Sources: Proposed Resolution to give Bush authority to use military force against Iraq]
The draft lists several allegations against Iraq, depicting the country as an imminent threat against the US and its citizens. It states that Iraq continues to “possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations, thereby continuing to threaten the national security interests of the United States and international peace and security.” It also claims that Iraq “continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,” including members of al-Qaeda. [Sources: Proposed Resolution to give Bush authority to use military force against Iraq]
The proposed resolution asserts that the use of military force against Iraq would constitute self-defense. It reads, “Whereas the United States has the inherent right, as acknowledged in the United Nations Charter, to use force in order to defend itself.” [Sources: Proposed Resolution to give Bush authority to use military force against Iraq]
The draft calls on Congress to authorize the president to use military force against Iraq. “The President is authorized to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolutions referenced above, defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region.” [Sources: Proposed Resolution to give Bush authority to use military force against Iraq]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Bush administration  Additional Info 
          

September 20, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, US International Relations

       The White House submits its “National Security Strategy” to Congress. The 33-page document makes it clear that the ultimate objective of its national security policy is to “dissuade future military competition.” The US must therefore “build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge,” it says. “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” The use of military force will not be reserved solely for defense. There may be situations where the US should take preemptive action, it asserts. “To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.” [London Times, 9/21/02] The NSS also states, “We will take the actions necessary to ensure that our efforts to meet our global security commitments and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept.” [Sources: National Security Strategy of the United States of America]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Bush administration
          

October 2002      Bush's environmental record

       Newfields International, an environmental consulting firm, completes a study comparing several different content-analysis techniques used by government agencies and private contractors. The study, commissioned by Yosemite National Park, finds that the Forest Service's Content Analysis Team (CAT) is using the most cost-effective, high-quality system available, explaining that the team has a “track record (that) is not equaled by any other organized process.” CAT is in charge of reviewing comment letters from the public and producing summary reports for policy decision-makers. Two months later the Bush administration will announce that the program will be reviewed for possible outsourcing to private contractors (see December 2002). [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), US Forest Service (USFS), Bush administration, Newfields International, Yosemite National Park
          

October 25, 2002: German-US Breakdown in Communications Hampers Anti-Terrorism Measures      Complete 911 Timeline

       PBS Newshour reports, “[German authorities] say they're not getting the cooperation they need from the authorities in the [US], and they're worried that a political dispute between Washington and Berlin is hampering their ability to protect the public... In Hamburg, the police say that breakdown in communications between the US and German governments has also led to a dramatic reduction in the amount of investigative help they're getting from the [US]” The Bush administration has not spoken to the German government since it won re-election four months earlier while openly opposing Bush's planned war on Iraq. Germans say existing prosecutions of 9/11 suspects are now threatened by the information breakdown. [Online Newshour, 10/25/02] The Germans helped capture suspected al-Qaeda operative Mohamed Heidar Zammar and turned him over to a third country, yet now they're learning very little from his interrogations, even though he has admitted to being involved in a plot to attack a consulate in Germany. A US State Department official denies there is any problem, aside from a few “bumps in the road.” [New York Times, 11/4/02] June 2004, German prosecutor Matthias Krauss, who investigated the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell, will be scheduled to testify before the 9/11 Commission about both pre-9/11 communication problems between German and US intelligence officials and the US government�s cooperation with foreign governments prosecuting suspected terrorists in the post-9/11 period. However, he will unexpectedly cancel at the last minute. [Associated Press, 6/15/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Matthias Krauss, Bush administration, Germany, al-Qaeda
          

November 12, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The National Park Service (NPS) announces a plan to reverse a Clinton-era ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The NPS proposal would limit the number of snowmobiles permitted in the parks per day to 1,100 by December 2003. However, beginning with the 2004-2005 winter season, there would be no restrictions on the number of snowmobiles permitted in the parks. [Contra Costa Times, 11/10/2002; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; The Washington Post, 11/12/2002] The proposal is made despite the National Park Service having received some 360,000 emails and letters on the issue, eighty percent of which were in support of the ban. [Contra Costa Times, 11/10/2002] Lifting the ban on snowmobiles would have a considerable impact given that according to the EPA's own figures, the emissions from a single snowmobile can equal that of 100 automobiles. [Environmental Protection Agency, 2001; National Park Service, 5/2000; Blue Water Network, 1999] The EPA had recommended in 1999 that snowmobiles be barred from the two parks in order to provide the “best available protection” for air quality, wildlife and the health of people visiting and working in the park. After coming to office, the Bush administration ordered a review of the policy as part of a settlement with snowmobile manufacturers who had challenged the ban. [The Washington Post, 11/12/2002]
People and organizations involved: National Park Service (NPS), Grand Teton National Park, Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Yellowstone National Park
          

November 16, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       William Myers, the Interior Department's solicitor general—and a former lobbyist for ranchers—announces to members of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association (NCA) that the Bush administration intends to limit environmental reviews and make it easier for ranchers to graze livestock on public lands. He also says that the Department of Interior is seeking ways to prevent federal laws like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act from restricting grazing on public lands (see December 5, 2003). [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Associated Press, 11/16/2002] “We should not be using the Endangered Species Act ... as a land management tool. It is not there as a tool for zoning on federal lands,” Myers says. His comments are well received by the NCA. John Falen, a former president of the organization, tells the Associated Press, “Bill's our friend. It's been a long time since we had a friend in the solicitor's office.” [Associated Press, 11/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Nevada Cattlemen's Association (NCA), Bush administration, William G. Myers III, John Falen
          

November 22, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency finalizes a rule that makes four important changes to the New Source Review (NSR) section of the Clean Air Act. Critics say the changes will help polluting industries maintain the status quo.
Plantwide Applicability Limits (PALs) - This change will allow a facility to set a Plantwide Applicability Limit (PAL) based on its average emissions over the previous ten years. A facility will be exempted from the New Source Review process when it upgrades or expands its operations if those changes do not cause the plant's emissions to exceed its PAL. Critics complain that the change does not require plants to reduce their overall emissions when a facility expands or modifies operations.
Pollution Control and Prevention Projects - Facilities will be permitted to undertake certain environmentally beneficial activities without having to apply for NSR permits.
Clean Unit Provision - Plants that voluntarily install “best available pollution controls” will be afforded “clean unit” status and exempted from NSR provisions for a period of 15 years. The change is retroactive to 1990.
Emissions Calculation Test Methodology - Facilities will be permitted to use a more lenient method when determining if a plant upgrade has increased its emissions. With the exception of power plants, facilities will be permitted to select any 24-month period during the previous decade to serve as its baseline for determining pre-modification emission levels. The EPA also announces that it intends to revise the “Routine Maintenance, Repair and Replacement” exemption so that any modifications whose costs do not exceed a certain level would be exempt from the NSR provisions requiring plants to install pollution controls and conduct impact assessments on the ambient air quality when upgrading or replacing equipment. [Clean the Air, n.d.; EarthVision Environmental News, 11/25/2002; Environmental Protection Agency, 11/22/2002; ENSR International, 12/24/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency
          

November 27, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       On the day before Thanksgiving, the Bush administration releases proposed rule changes that would lead to increased logging of federal forests for commercial or recreational activities by giving local forest managers the authority to open up the forests to development without requiring environmental impact assessments and without specific standards to maintain local fish and wildlife populations. Administration officials claim the changes are needed because existing rules—approved by the Clinton administration two months before Bush took office—are unclear, in addition to being costly and difficult to implement. Critics charge the changes are aimed at pleasing the timber industry at the expense of forest ecosystems. The proposed changes would affect roughly 192 million acres of US forests and grasslands. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/27/2002; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; CBS News, 11/27/2002] The proposal closely follows the timber industry's wish list—a “coincidence” according to the Forest Service. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Native Forest, 11/27/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS)  Additional Info 
          

December 2002      Bush's environmental record

       Forest Service officials inform employees working for the agency's Content Analysis Team (CAT) that their jobs are being reviewed for possible outsourcing to the private sector. The employees are assured that the review would make them “a shining example for the rest of the agency of how successful federal employees can be.” Months later, CAT will undergo “direct conversion” instead, and all but the team's top managers will lose their jobs to private sector outsourcing (see March 2003). [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Content Analysis Team (CAT)
          

December 11, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman James L. Connaughton meet with President Bush to discuss the implementation of the administration's “Healthy Forest Initiative.” After the meeting, they announce proposed changes that would expedite the approval of “fuels treatment” projects (forest thinning) by weakening the review process and restricting public input. [US Department of Agriculture, 12/11/2002; Associated Press, 12/11/2002; US Department of Interior, 12/11/2002] Critics say the changes would make it easier for the timber industry to cut the larger, more fire resistant trees, making the forests more vulnerable to wildfires. They also charge that the proposed rules would allow logging interests to override local concerns. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 12/11/2002] Mike Francis, a forest specialist with the Wilderness Society, commenting on the proposed rule changes, tells the Associated Press, “Those are nothing more than administration's typical desires to cut the public out of forest decisions. This administration doesn't like what the public wants to do with their forests.” [Associated Press, 12/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Bush administration, James L. Connaughton, Gale A. Norton, Ann M. Veneman  Additional Info 
          

December 13, 2002: Kissinger Resigns from New 9/11 Commission      Complete 911 Timeline

       Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 Commission. [Associated Press, 12/13/02; Associated Press, 12/13/02] Two days earlier, the Bush administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [Seattle Times, 12/14/02; MSNBC, 12/13/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see September-October 1995). [Salon, 12/3/02; Washington Post, 10/5/98] Kissinger claims he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its “long-standing” relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission “has lost time” and “is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet.” [Washington Post, 12/14/02]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Kissinger, Bush administration, Congressional Research Service, 9/11 Commission
          

December 15, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency announces the final rule on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). [Sources: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) final rule] One of its provisions allows factory farms to dump unlimited amounts of raw animal waste on the land. The resulting runoff will pollute waterways, killing fish and spreading disease. The rule also limits corporate liability for environmental damage and allows factory farms to devise their own permit conditions. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 12/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration  Additional Info 
          

December 18, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tells the EPA to use the discounted value of 63 percent for health impacts on senior citizens in calculating cost-benefit analyses when conducting assessments for new air pollution restrictions on polluting industries. [Knight Ridder, 12/19/2002; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Office of Management and Budget, Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency
          

December 19, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration's Office of Management and Budget sends a report to Congress announcing that it will conduct a review of more than 300 regulations—including ones pertaining to the environment and public health—which it has slated for overhaul, reform, or elimination. The review will draw on more than 1700 recommendations from private industry and think tanks. Many of the recommendations would weaken food safety standards, energy conservation standards, and natural resources. Sixty-five of the regulations targeted for overhaul are under the jurisdiction of the EPA. [Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, 12/20/2002; Natural Resources Defense Council, 12/19/2002; League of Conservation Voters, n.d. Sources: Rewriting the rules, Senate Office of Governmental Affairs, 10/24/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Congress, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget
          

December 21, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency withdraws a Clinton era rule that imposes total pollution limits for all water bodies and requires federal oversight on the clean-up of nearly 300,000 miles of rivers and 5 million acres of lakes. The move will make it easier for states to remove waterways from the clean-up list and more difficult for other waterways to be added. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Environmental Defense, 1/13/2003; Natural Resources Defense Council, 1/2003, pgs 17-18]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration
          

December 23, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration quietly announces plans to create a federal rule giving state governors increased control over the national forests in their states by allowing them to apply to the federal government for exemptions from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule on a case-by-case basis. The Roadless Rule, introduced by Clinton in January 2001, banned the construction of roads in 58. 5 million acres, or nearly one-third, of the nation's forests. The federal rule proposal will not be formally announced until July 13, 2004 (see July 12, 2004) [Wilderness Society, n.d.; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Sierra Club, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

December 27, 2002      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration outlines a seven-point plan “clarifying” federal guidelines on preventing wetlands loss. This reinterpretation of existing rules weakens protections for wetlands by focusing on the ecological quality of new wetlands that replace destroyed wetlands in developed areas instead of requiring acre-for-acre replacement. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Associated Press, 12/27/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

Early 2003: Bush Administration's Budget for Army Corps Projects in New Orleans Includes Major Cut for Hurricane Levee Project      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2004 budget includes $297 million for civil works projects in the US Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans district. (Congress will later allocate an additional $40 million.) [New Orleans CityBusiness, 2/16/2004] Only $3 million of this amount is slated for New Orleans' East Bank Hurricane Levee project. According to Al Naomi, the US Army Corps of Engineers' project manager, $11 million is needed. (Congress ultimately approves $5.5 million.) [Times-Picayune, 6/8/2004] As a result of the project's reduced budget, work on the levee system wil halt for the first time in 37 years in June 2004 (see (June 2004)).
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Army Corps of Engineers, Al Naomi
          

January 10, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson writes to the State of Montana and withdraws a December 2002 environmental impact assessment conducted by National Park Service scientists which had concluded that the emissions from a proposed 780-megawatt coal-fired Roundup Power Plant would negatively affect visibility and air quality at Yellowstone National Park, located 112 miles away from the plant's proposed site. Manson, a former Sacramento judge, claims that “weather events” had skewed the results of the study. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 10/31/2003; PEER, 3/16/2003; National Parks Conservation Association, 3/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 4/2004, pg 28]
People and organizations involved: Craig Manson, Bush administration  Additional Info 
          

January 27, 2003: 9/11 Commission Starts Off with Little Funding      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission, officially titled the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, holds its first meeting in Washington. The commission has $3 million and only a year and a half to explore the causes of the attacks. By comparison, a 1996 federal commission to study legalized gambling was given two years and $5 million. [Associated Press, 1/27/03] Two months later the Bush administration grudgingly increases the funding to $12 million total (see March 26, 2003). Philip Zelikow, the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and formerly in the National Security Council during George H. W. Bush's administration, is also appointed executive director of the commission. [Associated Press, 1/27/03] Zelikow cowrote a book with National Security Adviser Rice. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/03] A few days later, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says, “The focus of the commission will be on the future. We want to make recommendations that will make the American people more secure. ... We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility.” [UPI, 2/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Philip Zelikow, Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission
          

January 28, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       A White House report to Congress titled “A report on matters relevant to the authorization for use of military force against Iraq,” complains that Iraq did not report in its December 2002 declaration (see December 7, 2002) to the UN that it had attempted “to acquire uranium and the means to enrich it.” [The Washington Post, 8/8/03; US President, 1/28/03 Sources: A report on matters relevant to the authorization for use of military force against Iraq]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Bush administration
          

February 4, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The President presents his fiscal 2004 budget proposal. In it are billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to energy companies and several anti-environment provisions including cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, natural resources spending, renewable energy programs, and clean water programs including a $492 million, or 37 percent, cut from a revolving fund used by states to upgrade sewage and septic systems and storm-water run-off projects. [Natural Resources Defense Council, 2/5/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d. Sources: Environmental Spending Under the Bush FY 2003 Budget [Table]]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration, George W. Bush
          

February 7, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration seeks exemptions from the Montreal Protocol on behalf of 54 US companies and trade groups. The international agreement seeks to phase-out the pesticide methyl bromide—a clear, odorless fumigant that is a major ozone depletor and known carcinogen—by 2005. [New York Times, 2/7/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 2/7/2003; Panna, 2/7/2003] The administration's request cites a loophole in the protocol which allows countries to seek exemptions for “critical uses,” as long as they do not represent more than 30 percent of their baseline production level. But the Bush administration's request amounts to 39 percent. [Panna, 2/7/2003; Natural Resources Defense Council, 2/7/2003; New York Times, 2/7/2004] The businesses applying for the exemptions, primarily farmers and food producers, would be permitted to use up to 21.9 million pounds of methyl bromide for the year 2005 (see (February 28, 2004)). [New York Times, 3/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

February 20, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The National Park Service (NPS) releases its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which favors an option to reverse the November 2000 decision to ban all snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks by the 2003-2004 winter season (see November 12, 2002). The new EIS—done at a cost of $2.4 million to taxpayers—results from the settlement of a lawsuit that had been filed by the state of Wyoming and the snowmobile industry to reverse the November 2000 ban. The study concludes that the “preferred option” would be to phase in a requirement that all snowmobiles used in the park be four-stroke sleds and that all operators be required to either hire a guide, pass a guide's course or accompany someone who has passed it. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Yellowstone National Park, 2/20/2003; Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 2/21/2003] Former NPS leaders condemn the report's recommendation, insisting that the 2000 plan—backed by earlier scientific studies which had determined a strict ban would be the best policy to protect air quality, sound emissions, wildlife and human health, and safety—remains the most popular with the public. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Caspar Star Tribune, 2/21/2003; Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 2/21/2003] Critics have warned that reversing the ban would generate significantly more air pollution in the park—twice the carbon monoxide and six times the nitrogen oxide as the November 2000 ban. [Caspar Star Tribune, 2/21/2003 Sources: Testimony Of Hope Sieck Representing The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, March 13, 2002] The decision to halt the phase-out is well-received by industry leaders. “We are grateful that the Bush administration has given this issue a closer look,” Clark Collins, executive director of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, tells the Boseman's Daily Chronicle. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 2/21/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, National Park Service (NPS)
          

March 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Forest Service officials inform employees of the agency's Content Analysis Team (CAT) that the work they are doing will be outsourced to the private sector. The management team will remain, but the content analysis work will be farmed out to contract consultants. This decision is made despite the department's reputation for remarkable efficiency. In October 2002, a study commissioned by Yosemite National Park had praised CAT saying it had a “track record ... [un]equaled by any other organized process.” (see October 2002). A study three months later will conclude that outsourcing will actually cost the agency more (see June 2004). [High Country News, 4/26/2004; Missoulian, 11/15/2003; Associated Press, 11/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Forest Service (USFS), Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration
          

March 10, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency grants the oil and gas industry a two-year reprieve from regulations aimed at reducing contaminated water run-off from construction sites. The Clinton-era EPA phase II stormwater pollution rule “A” —scheduled to go into effect on this day—requires that companies obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for construction sites between 1 and 5 acres. But the EPA has decided that the Clinton administration had underestimated the rule's impact on the oil and gas industry. In addition to granting the two-year reprieve, the agency says it will also consider giving the industry a permanent exemption. [Associated Press, 3/10/2003; Business and Legal Reports, 3/14/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Yellowstone National Park, Bush administration, Grand Teton National Park  Additional Info 
          

March 17, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       UN Secretary General Kofi Annan orders all UN weapons inspectors, peacekeepers, and humanitarian aid workers to withdraw from Iraq. [Washington Files, 3/17/2003] UN inspectors have been in Iraq since November 18 (see November 18, 2002). During their four months of work in Iraq, they inspected hundreds of sites (some of them more than once) and found no evidence of ongoing WMD programs. Their work was reportedly obstructed, not by the Iraqis, but by the US which refused to provide inspectors with the intelligence they needed to identify sites for inspection (see February 12, 2003; December 5, 2002; December 6, 2002; December 20, 2002; January 11, 2003). Of the 105 sites identified by US intelligence as likely housing illicit weapons, 21 were deliberately withheld from inspectors. [Bamford, 2004, pp 344]
People and organizations involved: Kofi Annan, Bush administration
          

March 25, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The National Park Service decides to reverse the Clinton administration's decision to prohibit snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The decision ignores earlier scientific analysis concluding that a snowmobile ban is the preferred policy to protect air quality, sound emissions, wildlife, human health and safety (see February 20, 2003). [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; USA Today, 4/24/2003]
People and organizations involved: Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Bush administration, National Park Service (NPS)
          

March 26, 2003: Bush Turns Down Increased Budget for 9/11 Commission      Complete 911 Timeline

       Time reports that the 9/11 Commission has requested an additional $11 million to add to the $3 million for the commission, and the Bush administration has turned down the request. The request will not be added to a supplemental spending bill. A Republican member of the commission says the decision will make it “look like they have something to hide.” Another commissioner notes that the recent commission on the Columbia shuttle crash will have a $50 million budget. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims' families, says the decision “suggests to me that they see this as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail. they've never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon.” The administration has suggested it may grant the money later, but any delay will further slow down the commission's work. Already, commission members are complaining that scant progress has been made in the four months since the commission started, and they are operating under a deadline. [Time, 3/26/03] Three days later, it is reported that the Bush administration has agreed to extra funding, but only $9 million, not $11 million. The commission agrees to the reduced amount. [Washington Post, 3/29/03] The New York Times criticizes such penny-pinching, saying, “Reasonable people might wonder if the White House, having failed in its initial attempt to have Henry Kissinger steer the investigation, may be resorting to budgetary starvation as a tactic to hobble any politically fearless inquiry.” [New York Times, 3/31/03]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, 9/11 Commission, Stephen Push
          

April 1, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raises the fuel economy standard to a 22.2-mpg fleet average—an increase of only 1.5 miles per gallon—to take effect over the next three years. [US Department of Transportation, 4/1/2003] But loopholes in the regulations will result in a mere overall net increase of .3 miles per gallon. Though the administration cites the new standard as evidence of its commitment to improving air quality, critics note the negligible effect the increase will have and say that it represents only what the automobile industry was intending to do anyway. The auto industry has long complained that increasing fuel economy standards is too expensive and would negatively affect vehicle safety—assertions disputed by the National Academies of Science. [Union of Concerned Scientists, n.d.; San Francisco Chronicle, 4/1/2003; Alliance to Save Energy, 4/1/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Bush administration
          

April 11, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Department of Interior informs Congress that it has decided to settle a lawsuit filed years ago by the state of Utah over the Bureau of Land Management's policy of rejecting drilling and mining projects in areas under review for wilderness protection. The decision withdraws protected status for 3 million acres of land in Utah. Without designation as a Wilderness Area, portions of the Red Rock Canyons in southern Utah could be open to logging, oil and gas drilling, mineral extraction, road-building and other development. A federal appeals court had previously ruled against the state on all but one count and consequently the lawsuit's status had been moribund since 1998. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; USA Today, 4/11/2003] But in March, Utah made an amendment to its complaint, thus reopening the case and providing the Bush administration with an opportunity to make a “settlement.” Environmental groups say the settlement is the outcome of a deal made between Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Utah Governor Mike Leavitt behind closed-doors. [USA Today, 4/11/2003; Salt Lake City Tribune, 4/20/2003; The Wilderness Society, 4/28/2004; Salt Lake City Tribune, 6/18/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Salt Lake City Tribune, 5/6/2003] In addition to the settlement, the Bush administration stops congressional reviews of Western lands for wilderness protection, capping wilderness designation at 22.8 million acres nationwide. [USA Today, 4/11/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Interior, Gale A. Norton, Bush administration, Mike Leavitt, US Congress
          

April 14, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM ) streamlines its permitting requirements for oil and gas drilling on public lands undermining the integrity of the environmental impact review and public input process. The changes were initiated by BLM Director Kathleen Clarke who instructed the agency's staff to use new methods for reviewing applications, such as grouping applications together in bundles and performing environmental impact assessments for entire oil or gas fields instead of for individual wells. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d.; Bureau of Land Management, 4/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Kathleen Clarke, Bureau of Land Management
          

April 15, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces that it plans to ease environmental protections for wildlife habitat in the Alaskan Western Arctic Reserve. The Bush administration is looking into opening the Western Arctic Reserve for oil and gas drilling, specifically a 600,000 acre area around and including the state's largest arctic lake, Teshekpuk Lake. [Reuters, 4/15/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Petroleum News, Vol. 8, No. 16, 4/20/2003; Bureau of Land Management-Alaska, 4/15/2004] Peter Ditton, BLM's associate state director for Alaska, stresses that the area is important for oil resources and also as a development base. A ConocoPhillips (Alaska)-Anadarko Petroleum partnership has its sights on the area which includes the “Barrow Arch East Plays,” estimated to have some 2 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. [Petroleum News, Vol. 8, No. 16, 4/20/2003] Oil and gas drilling would threaten the habitat of musk oxen, spotted seals, arctic peregrine falcons and beluga whales, among other species. [Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Kathleen Clarke, Peter Ditton, Bureau of Land Management
          

May 5, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency privately meets with factory farmers to negotiate a “safe harbor” agreement. According to one draft of the deal—which bears a remarkable resemblance to a proposal made by industry lawyers (see June 11, 2003) —livestock farms would enroll in a two-year monitoring program during which time they would be exempt from federal air pollution laws and receive amnesty for their past violations as well. In exchange, the farms would pay up to $3,500 to help pay for the program. During the amnesty period, farms below a certain size would be automatically exempted from the laws. After two years, the EPA would use the collected data to establish permanent air emissions standards (see June 11, 2003). [New York Times, 5/6/2003; Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.] But the proposal does not require that farms submit to enforcement or adopt any technologies after the program is finished. Critics of the proposed deal note also that the number of farms participating in the monitoring program would represent less than 1 percent of the total number of US factory farms. [New York Times, 5/6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration
          

May 13, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service revises a Clinton-era judgment which had concluded that the proposed construction and operation of two mines in the Cabinet Mountains of Montana would likely have an adverse impact on the local population of grizzly bears. In January 2002, twelve months after the Bush administration came into office, the mining companies filed a lawsuit protesting this judgment. The US Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to reconsider the case reasoning that it needed to “make sure that it [had been] based on the best available science.” Some time after the decision was made to reconsider the case, one of the mining companies abandoned its permit. The Fish and Wildlife Service, in its new judgment, concludes that the operation of one mine would not threaten the area's grizzly bears. [Fish and Wild Service, 5/13/2003; Earth Justice, 1/29/2002; Missoulian, 5/14/2003] The proposed Rock Creek Mine, a copper and silver mine, would be the first large-scale mining operation to take place in a wilderness area. It would remove up to 10,000 tons of materials each day for up to 35 years. Critics argue that traffic brought by the mine and its accompanying roads would harm the local populations of grizzlies and bull trout and contaminate the surrounding watershed. [Clark Fork Coalition website; Missoulian, 5/14/2003; Fish and Wild Service, 5/13/2003; The Washington Post, 5/18/2003] The company that would operate the mine, Sterling Corporation, and its executives have a poor business and environmental record. [Mattera and Khan, 1/2003; Clark Fork Coalition website]
People and organizations involved: Sterling Corporation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bush administration
          

May 14, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration sends Congress a $247-billion, six-year spending proposal which would undermine environmental protections, discourage the development of mass transit systems and threaten historical sites, recreation areas, and wildlife refuges by shifting regulatory authority to the state and local level and undermining public oversight. The proposal, called the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003,” would cut the federal/local funding ratio for new rail projects from 80/20 to 50/50, thus requiring local governments to pay for a larger portion of such transit systems. The bill allocates four times as much funds for roads than for mass transit. [Associated Builders and Contractors, 5/16/2003; Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d.; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Congress
          

May 21, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The House of Representatives passes the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 by a vote of 256 to 170 as part of the Bush administration's “Healthy Forests Initiative.” (see November 27, 2002) (see December 11, 2002). [Department of Interior, 5/30/2003] The legislation, introduced by Rep. Scott McInnis, relaxes requirements for the removal of small underbrush and trees on 20 million acres of forestland vulnerable to wildfires. The bill, dubbed the “ ‘Healthy Stealthy’ Act” by critics, removes important environmental safeguards and reduces public participation and judicial review, [Reuters, 5/22/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.] facilitating the timber industry's access to 192 million acres. The measure also increases the industry's subsidies by $125 million. [Alternet, 5/19/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Scott McInnis
          

(June 2003)      Treatment of US troops

       The White House complains that certain pay-and-benefits incentives for US soldiers that Congress added to the 2004 defense budget are wasteful and unnecessary—including a proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to the families of soldiers who are killed in action. [The Army Times, 6/30/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Bush administration
          

June 5, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       A White House aide tells Congress that the administration overestimated the expected reduction in mercury emissions that would result from the implementation of its “Clear Skies” plan. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/6/2003] The EPA is under court orders to finalize a mercury reduction plan, which would update the Clean Air Act, by December 15, 2003. The current version of the Clean Air Act has no provisions covering mercury, a byproduct of coal-burning power plants. [New York Times, 7/14/2003] The administration's “Clear Skies” plan had predicted that if sulfur and nitrogen compound emissions were reduced by 70 percent in 2010 as the plan proposes, there would be a concomitant reduction in mercury pollution from coal power plants to about 26 tons a year nationally. But a revised estimate put the expected reduction between 2 and 14 tons. Since Congress' current draft of the Clean Air Act had set a reduction target of 22 tons by 2010 based on the plan's previous figures, energy industry lobbyists and some pro-industry senators are now arguing that the mercury reduction goal should likewise be set to a smaller amount. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Congress
          

June 9, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Mark Rey, who heads the US Forest Service, announces that the administration still intends to propose a rule giving state governors increased control over the national forests in their states by allowing them to apply to the federal government for exemptions from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule on a case-by-case basis (see December 23, 2002). Though the Roadless Rule would technically remain on the books, the changes would make it easier for commercial interests to obtain exemptions since industry often has considerable influence in state governments. Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist, reasons: “We have an obligation to protect them. At the same time, we have always welcomed the cooperative participation of state governments that have the broadest possible support.” The announcement comes as a surprise because only a few days earlier Rey said that a temporary rule allowing some exceptions to the Roadless Rule would not be renewed. The proposed rule will be formally announced more than a year later on July 13, 2004 (see July 12, 2004). [US Department of Agricultural, n.d.; Native Forest Network, n.d.; Associated Press, 6/9/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Mail Tribune, 6/11/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mark E. Rey, Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS)
          

June 11, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       John Thorne of Capitolink and Richard E. Schwartz, an environmental law attorney, write a memo on behalf of the industrial livestock farm industry to David A. Nielsen and Sally Shaver of the EPA with an “outline for a possible livestock and poultry monitoring and safe harbor agreement.” Under the proposed agreement, the EPA would provide industrial livestock farms with amnesty from federal air quality and toxic waste clean-up laws in exchange for the industry helping to fund an EPA program to monitor air pollution at the farms [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Crowell and Moring, 5/22/2004; Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004 Sources: Memo: outline for a possible livestock and poultry monitoring and safe harbor agreement ] EPA officials and industry leaders will meet and discuss the proposed agreement on May 5 (see May 5, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, David A. Nielsen, Sally Shaver, Bush administration, Richard E. Schwartz, John Thorne
          

June 12, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       President Bush sends Congress the Biennial Report on the Administration of the Coastal Zone Management Act, [White House, 6/12/2003] which proposes new rules that would undermine coastal states' control over their coastlines by reducing public and state government participation in decisions affecting the coast and its resources. The changes would pave the way for new offshore oil and gas development. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Environmental Defense Center, 8/21/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, George W. Bush, Bush administration
          

June 23, 2003: EPA Report Concludes Environment is Better Protected than 30 Years Ago; Section on Global Warming Removed by White House      Hurricane Katrina, Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration releases its “Draft Report on the Environment,” which concludes that by many measures US air is cleaner, drinking water purer and public lands better protected than they had been thirty years ago. The document, commissioned in 2001 by the agency's administrator, Christie Whitman, is comprised of five sections: “Cleaner Air,” “Purer Water,” “Better Protected Land,” “Human Health,” and “Ecological conditions.” But it is later learned that many of its conclusions rest on questionable data. Moreover, the report leaves out essential information on global climate change and pollution sources. [New York Times, 6/19/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d. Sources: 2003 Draft Report on the Environment] In its “Purer Water” section, the report claims that “94 percent of the [US] population served by community water systems [was] served by systems that met all health-based standards.” But on August 6, The Washington Post will reveal that on June 18 (see June 18, 2003), an internal inquiry had been launched over concerns that the source data was flawed. “Internal agency documents ... show that EPA audits for at least five years have suggested that the percentage of the population with safe drinking water is much lower—79 percent to 84 percent in 2002—putting an additional 30 million Americans at potential risk,” the newspaper will report. [The Washington Post, 8/6/2003] Another troubling feature of the report is that a section on global climate change was removed from the report prior to publication because EPA officials were unhappy with changes that had been demanded by the White House. Some time during the spring, administration officials had asked the agency to delete references to a 2001 report (see June 2001) concluding that human activities contribute to global warming and information from a 1999 study indicating that global temperatures had risen significantly over the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. “In its place, administration officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion,” the New York Times reports. Irritated with the White House's influence on the report, EPA staffers wrote in an April 29 confidential memo that it “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change.” Unable to reach a compromise with the White House, the EPA elected to drop the entire section. [Associated Press, 6/20/2003; CBS News, 6/19/2003; New York Times, 6/19/2003] In place of a thorough discussion of the issue, the report only says: “The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes, and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future. Because of these complexities and the potentially profound consequences of climate change and variability, climate change has become a capstone scientific and societal issue for this generation and the next, and perhaps even beyond.” [Boston Globe, 6/20/2003; The Guardian, 6/20/2003] The EPA's report also left out information on the potentially adverse effects that pesticides and industrial chemicals have on humans and wildlife. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; New York Times, 6/19/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency
          

Early July 2003      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy—still awaiting a response from the US government to his urgent appeal (see November 13, 2001) relating to Bush's November 13, 2001 military order (see November 13, 2001) —says: “The Bush administration has not been very responsive to criticisms, and they have become a little intolerant to criticisms about themselves, but they are very free to criticize other governments when they violate human rights norms.” [BBC Radio 4, 7/13/2003 cited in Amnesty International, 8/19/2003]
People and organizations involved: Charles Anteby, Amnesty International, Bush administration
          

July 2, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Interior Secretary Gale Norton presents President George Bush with a report detailing the achievements of the National Park Service. The report calls attention to the $2.9 billion that the Bush administration says it has set aside for the park's maintenance backlog. [National Park Service, 7/2/2003] But the figure is misleading because it actually refers the park's entire maintenance budget. Only $370 million of that amount represents funds allocated to the maintenance backlog. Moreover, as the National Parks Conservation Association notes, “the president's budget is [actually] contributing to the backlog by ignoring the annual needs of the national parks, which continue to operate with only two-thirds of the needed funding.” [Salt Lake City Tribune, 8/16/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Salt Lake City Tribune, 7/09/2003; CNN, 8/15/2003] According to the General Accounting Office, the Park Service needs upwards of $6.8 billion to complete the deferred maintenance and repairs. Critics of the administration's record also note that the administration's lax enforcement of clean air policies and its plan to replace some parks' staff with private contractors are serious threats to the national park system. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Salt Lake City Tribune, 8/16/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, George W. Bush, National Park Service (NPS), Gale A. Norton
          

July 7, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The White House releases the following statement in reference to a claim made in Bush's State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Africa: “There is other reporting to suggest that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa. However, the information is not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that attempts were in fact made.” [New York Times, 7/7/03]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

July 8, 2003: 9/11 Commission Denounces Lack of Cooperation      Complete 911 Timeline

       A status report released by the 9/11 Commission shows that various government agencies are not cooperating fully with the investigation. Neither the CIA nor the Justice Department have provided all requested documents. Lack of cooperation on the part of the Department of Defense “[is] becoming particularly serious,” and the commission has received no responses whatsoever to requests related to national air defenses. The FBI, State Department, and Transportation Department receive generally positive reviews. [Associated Press, 7/9/03] Commissioner Tim Roemer complains, “We're not getting the kind of cooperation that we should be. We need a steady stream of information coming to us ... Instead, We're getting a trickle.” [Guardian, 7/10/03] Chairman Thomas Kean is also troubled by the Bush administration's insistence on having a Justice Department official present during interviews with federal officials. [Associated Press, 7/9/03] The 9/11 Commission is eventually forced to subpoena documents from the Defense Department and FAA (see October-November 2003).
People and organizations involved: US Department of Transportation, Bush administration, Thomas Kean, US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tim Roemer, US Department of Defense, US Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Commission
          

July 17, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The EPA announces that its budget of $277 million will allow it to begin clean-up work at only 10 of the 20 newly proposed Superfund sites. The agency selected the 10 sites based on their potential for economic redevelopment and their risk to human health. The reason for the funding shortfall is related to the lapsing of a polluter fee in 1995, which shifted the burden of clean-ups away from corporate polluters to taxpayers. The Bush administration has made no effort to push Congress to reinstate the “polluter pays” fee. [EPA, 7/17/2003; Associated Press, 7/17/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, US Congress, Bush administration
          

(Between August 2003 and Early 2004)      Bush's environmental record

       The Forest Service outsources the work of 47 agency employees of the Content Analysis Team (CAT) to private consulting companies, despite an August 2002 independent study praising the team for its efficiency (see October 2002) and a June 2003 internal analysis concluding that outsourcing would increase the Forest Service's costs (see June 2004). [High Country News, 4/26/2004; Missoulian, 11/15/2003; Associated Press, 11/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration
          

August 14, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency quietly lifts a 25-year-old restriction on the sale of PCB contaminated land. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are linked to cancer and neurological problems. The rollback, based on an EPA reinterpretation of an existing law, is announced in an internal memo written by EPA general counsel Robert Fabricant. Fabricant claims in the memo that the old interpretation represented “an unnecessary barrier to economic redevelopment.” Because the change is considered a “new interpretation” of existing law, the administration has no legal obligation to make a public announcement. Critics, including some EPA staffers, note that the longstanding ban served as an incentive for landowners to notify the EPA of the contamination and clean up their property. As a result, about 100 sites a year were submitted to the agency for review. They also warn that the new policy will make it hard to track sales of polluted sites and to ensure that buyers properly assess the land prior to development. [USA Today, 9/1/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; New York Times, 9/3/2003 Sources: EPA memo, Interpretive Statement on Change in Ownership of Real Property Contaminated with PCBs, August 14, 2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration, Robert E. Fabricant
          

August 18, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service proposes a “new interpretation” of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which would facilitate the importation of endangered species to the United States and permit hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import them. [Defenders of Wildlife, n.d.; The Washington Post, 10/11/2003] The current interpretation of Section 10 of the ESA sanctions the importing of an endangered animal only under the condition that its relocation to the US would improve its chances for survival, such as captive breeding programs and similar projects aimed at preserving the species. But the Bush administration's proposed change would allow the pet industry, circuses, and even hunters to capture and import endangered species. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Defenders of Wildlife, n.d.; Defenders of Wildlife, 10/17/2003] The Bush administration claims that its proposed policy—which would help satisfy the huge US demand for live animals, skins, parts and trophies—would be “sustainable” because it would require developing countries that export the endangered animals to use the resulting revenue to fund conservation efforts. [The Washington Post, 10/11/2003] The proposed reinterpretation is condemned by environmental and wildlife advocacy groups, newspaper editorial boards, and members of Congress from both parties. Supporters of the change include the zoo, circus, and trophy hunting industries. [The Washington Post, 10/11/2003; Defenders of Wildlife, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service
          

August 27, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The EPA revises the “New Source Review” (NSR) provision of the Clean Air Act. Previously, the NSR required industrial facilities to install modern pollution controls when they made upgrades to their facilities. However, the provision's revised definition of “routine maintenance” will exempt some 17,000 older power plants, oil refineries and factories from being required to install pollution controls when they replace equipment, provided that the cost does not exceed 20 percent of the replacement cost of what the EPA broadly defines as the entire “process unit.” This restriction basically allows industries to replace entire plants one-fifth at a time with no concomitant responsibility to controlling its emissions. This applies even to circumstances where the upgrades increase pollution. It is estimated that the revised rule could save billions of dollars for utilities, oil companies and others. Industry has spent the last two years heavily lobbying the White House for this rollback. [Reuters, 8/28/2003; Associated Press, 8/28/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.] New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer promises to sue the administration, telling reporters, “This flagrantly illegal rule will ensure that ... Americans will breathe dirtier air, contract more respiratory disease, and suffer more environmental degradation caused by air pollution.” [Reuters, 8/28/2003]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration, Eliot Spitzer
          

October 8, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Interior Secretary Gale Norton signs a legal opinion by Deputy Solicitor Roderick Walston reversing the interpretation of the agency's previous solicitor-general, John Leshy, who had ruled in 1996 that the 1872 Mining Law limits each 20-acre mining claim on federal land to a single five-acre waste site. As a result of Norton's decision, mining companies will be permitted to dump unlimited amounts of toxic waste on public lands, threatening surrounding waterways, wildlife, and the health of local human populations. The Bush administration and the mining industry have argued that the Clinton-era opinion caused a significant reduction in US minerals exploration, mine development and mining jobs since 1997. “It created an atmosphere of uncertainty and when you are making investments of hundreds of millions of dollars, uncertainty is not something you want to face,” explains Assistant Interior Secretary Rebecca Watson. “We anticipate we will now see more development and exploration for mining.” The decision was praised by the mining industry. “This is good news,” Russ Fields, executive director of the Nevada Mining Association. “The old opinion did create a lot of uncertainty for our industry.” [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Associated Press, 10/10/2003]
People and organizations involved: John Leshy, Roderick Walston, Gale A. Norton, Bush administration
          

October 17, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency announces that it will not regulate dioxins in land-applied sewage sludge, which is considered to be the second largest source for dioxin exposure. [The Washington Post, 10/18/2003; Associated Press, 10/18/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 10/17/2003] The decision goes against a December 1999 proposed rule calling on the EPA to regulate the application of sludge, which is used for fertilizer on farms, forests, parks, and golf courses. [The Washington Post, 10/18/2003; Associated Press, 10/18/2003] The EPA says that regulation is not necessary because dioxins from sewage sludge do not pose significant health or environmental risks. But according to a National Research Council report completed the year before, the agency had been using outdated methods to assess the risks of sewer sludge. [Associated Press, 10/18/2003] According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, dioxins are “among the most toxic substances on Earth” and are responsible for causing cancer and diabetes, as well as nervous system and hormonal problems. The NRDC says that the decision violates the Clean Water Act, which charges the agency with restricting the level of toxic pollutants that harm human health or the environment. [Natural Resources Defense Council, 10/17/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Ivan L. Frederick II, Environmental Protection Agency
          

November 4, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Environmental Protection Agency officials announce during an internal meeting of EPA enforcement officials in Seattle and during a conference call the following day that current cases involving violations of the Clean Air Act will be judged according to the agency's new interpretation of the New Source Review (see August 27, 2003) —to go into effect in December (see December 2003) —instead of the old, more stringent rules that were in use at the time the violations occurred. [Democratic Policy Committee, 2/6/2004; New York Times, 11/6/2003; Los Angeles Times, 11/6/2003] The backroom decision contradicts what EPA air official Jeff Holmstead told a Senate committee in 2002. “It is certainly our intent to make these (rules) prospective only,” he claimed at the time. [USA Today, 11/6/2003] According to lawyers at the EPA, the agency's decision will likely result in the EPA dismissing investigations into 50 coal-burning power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act. According to the lawyers, the changes—based on recommendations from Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force—could save the industry up to $20 billion. However in its official statement on November 5, the EPA says that no formal decision has been made to dismiss all the investigations, claiming that it would review each “on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it will be pursued or set aside.” [New York Times, 11/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Jeffrey Holmstead, Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency
          

November 12, 2003: 9/11 Commission and White House Agree to Terms of Access      Complete 911 Timeline

       Senators of both parties have been accusing the White House of stonewalling the 9/11 Commission by blocking its demands for documents despite threats of a subpoena. [Associated Press, 10/27/03] On this day, the White House and the 9/11 Commission strike a deal. The main issue is access to the presidential daily briefings given to President Bush. Under the deal, only some of the ten commissioners will be allowed to examine classified intelligence documents, and their notes will be subject to White House review. Some 9/11 victims' relatives complain that the agreement gives the White House too much power. The Family Steering Committee complains, “All ten commissioners should have full, unfettered, and unrestricted access to all evidence.” It urges the public release of “the full, official, and final written agreement.” [Associated Press, 11/13/03] Commissioner Max Cleland is unsatisfied with the deal and resigns a short time later (see December 9, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, George W. Bush, 9/11 Commission
          

November 18, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service accepts the blame for a government policy that resulted in the largest fish kill in history. The US Fish and Wildlife Service admits that its decision (see April 2002) to authorize a water diversion in the Upper Klamath Basin for the benefit of commercial agriculture, trapped migrating Chinook, Coho salmon, and other species in stagnant water, killing some 33,000 fish (see September 2002). [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19/2003 Sources: Klamath River Fish Die-off, September 2002: Causative Factors of Mortality]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service
          

November 21, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The Bureau of Land Management grants Questar Exploration and Development Corporation a special exemption to drill four gas wells on Wyoming's Pinedale Mesa throughout the winter season for the second year in a row. The company will drill the wells from a single pad using directional drilling technology instead of from multiple pads which would require the use of more space and the construction of more roads. Normally companies are barred from drilling between November 15 and April 30 in order to protect the region's wildlife population. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Associated Press, 11/24/2003; Los Angeles Times, 3/1/2004] For at least 6,000 years, the area has served as a crucial winter range and migration corridor between the Wind River and Wyoming mountain ranges for more than 100,000 mule deer, pronghorn antelope, moose, elk, and bighorn sheep. Biologists fear that winter drilling in the region could disrupt this annual migration, causing significant losses to the wildlife population. For example, the corridor is critical to the survival of a herd of pronghorn antelope because it receives a lesser amount of snow than the surrounding areas. Pronghorn antelope cannot survive in the deep snow because it makes it impossible for them to evade their predators. [Los Angeles Times, 3/1/2004; National Geographic, 3/28/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Bureau of Land Management, Questar Exploration and Development
          

November 26, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       EPA officials complete a draft proposal outlining plans to revise the conclusion of a court-ordered December 2000 EPA study which had determined that mercury emissions “pose significant hazards to public health and must be reduced.” As a result of the 2000 study, the agency had been ordered to propose a “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) standard for all coal-burning power plants by December 15, 2003. [EPA, 12/14/2000; The Washington Post, 12/3/2003; Associated Press, 12/2/2003 Sources: Mercury White Paper] But instead of complying with this mandate, the EPA's current draft proposal on the regulation of mercury emissions attempts to modify the December 2000 conclusion claiming that it had been based on a misreading of the Clean Air Act. Citing a different provision in the Clean Air Act, the draft proposal recommends a flexible regulatory approach that is more acceptable to industry. It suggests a market-based mandatory “cap and trade” program permitting utility companies to purchase emissions “credits” from cleaner-operating utilities to meet an industry-wide standard. It is estimated that their plan would reduce mercury emissions to 34 tons a year by 2010, or about 30 percent below current levels. But this is a much higher cap than the 26-ton limit initially specified in the White House's “Clear Skies” initiative (see June 5, 2003). The White House claims that by 2018 their “cap and trade” plan would result in a mercury emissions reduction of 70 percent, which is significantly less than the 90 percent reduction that would otherwise be achieved within 3 or 4 years, if the EPA were to keep to the original December 2000 ruling. [The Washington Post, 12/3/2003; Associated Press, 12/2/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration
          

December 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Bruce Buckheit, the director of the EPA's air enforcement office, is ordered to shut down ongoing New Source Review investigations—which he later says were strong cases—at several dozen coal burning power plants. In an April 2004 interview with MSNBC, he will recall: “I had to tell the regional engineers and lawyers, stop. Put your documents in the box, so that hopefully we can get back to it someday.” [MSNBC, 4/20/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Bruce Buckheit
          

December 3, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       President Bush signs into law the “Healthy Forest Restoration Act,” (see May 21, 2003) aimed at reducing environmental and judicial review of forest-thinning fire-prevention programs in national forests. The law—modeled on President Bush's “Healthy Forest Initiative” —almost doubles the federal budget for forest-thinning projects to $760 million. [CNN, 12/4/2003; White House, 12/3/2003; Los Angeles Times, 12/4/2003] The bill axes a requirement that any proposed US Forest Service (USFS) program that may adversely affect endangered plants or animals be reviewed by the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Under the new law, reviews will instead be performed by USFS biologists or other land-management agencies. Marty Hayden, legislative director for Earthjustice, says the measure removes important checks and balances. “The conflict of interest is that the agency whose top job is to do the logging will make this decision, rather than the agency whose top job is to protect threatened or endangered species,” he explains. [Los Angeles Times, 12/4/2003] Critics of the bill argue that it will make it easier for timber companies to log large fire-resistant trees in remote parts of the forest and ignore the needs of at-risk communities who need help clearing flammable brush from the immediate areas surrounding their homes and property. Sean Cosgrove, a forest expert with the Sierra Club, tells CNN: “The timber industry fought real hard for this bill for a reason and it's not because they want to remove brush and chaparral. Through and through this thing is about increasing commercial logging with less environmental oversight.” Overall, critics say, the law reduces environmental review, limits citizen appeals, pressures judges to quickly handle legal challenges to logging plans, and facilitates access for logging companies to America's 20 million acres of federal forests. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 12/3/2003; Associated Press, 12/3/2003; CNN, 12/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, US Forest Service (USFS), Bush administration
          

December 5, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       Interior Secretary Gale Norton announces in a speech to a convention of livestock owners in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing new rules that would reverse rangeland management reforms implemented in 1995 aimed at deterring practices that cause overgrazing of public lands. According to Norton, the new proposal—which supporters say will act as a bulwark against suburban sprawl— “recognizes that ranching is crucial not only to the economies of Western rural communities, but also to the history, social fabric and cultural identity of these communities.” [Bureau of Land Management, 12/5/2004; Denver Post, 12/10/2004; Associated Press, 12/4/2004] The proposal recommends giving the BLM two years, instead of one, to recommend changes after identifying occurrences of damaging grazing practices and another five years to implement those recommendations. But the agency would retain emergency authority to immediately suspend grazing privileges “if imminent likelihood of significant resource damage exists.” The proposal would also require the BLM to base all decisions on multiple years of monitoring data, even if the grazing damage is obvious and even though this would put a considerable strain on the agency, which oversees more than 18,000 grazing permits covering over 160 million acres nationwide. Other provisions in the proposal would make it more difficult to revoke the grazing permits of ranchers who violate the law; reduce public involvement in reviewing and commenting on decisions about grazing on public lands; and give ranchers partial ownership of any fences, water tanks, new water rights or other improvements to public rangelands. [Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d.; Associated Press 1/3/2004; Denver Post, 12/10/2004; Associated Press, 12/4/2004] The livestock industry applauds the new proposal but environmentalists warn that the recommendations would threaten wildlife, degrade water quality and quantity and damage archeological, historic and Native American sites. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d.] The Natural Resources Defense Council, commenting on the recommended changes, says that it believes the proposal will result in increased overgrazing and other unsustainable grazing practices. [Associated Press, 12/4/2004] The BLM will later draft an environmental impact study predicting short-term damage to grazing lands and wildlife (see January 2, 2004).
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Bureau of Land Management, Gale A. Norton
          

December 11, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The National Park Service issues a final rule announcing that the number of snowmobiles permitted in Yellowstone Park will be restricted to 950 per day when parks open for the winter season on December 17. Eighty percent of the sleds must be commercially guided and meet “best available technology” (BAT) requirements. The remaining twenty percent will not have to be BAT. For the 2004-2005 winter, regulations on the maximum daily number of snowmobiles will remain the same, except that all snowmobiles will be required to meet BAT standards. Similar rules will be imposed on the use of snowmobiles in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway. [National Park Service, 12/11/2003] The decision is made in spite of the fact that independent federal studies had previously determined that reversing the Clinton-era phase-out would result in a significant increase of carbon monoxide pollution and nitrogen oxide emissions. [Greater Yellowstone Coalition, n.d.; Caspar Star Tribune, 2/21/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, National Park Service (NPS), Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park
          

December 23, 2003      Bush's environmental record

       The US Forest Service quietly announces its decision to allow the construction of roads on 3 percent of the 9.3 million acres in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, opening up the once protected forest to possible logging and mining. [Associated Press, 12/23/2003; Seattle Post Intelligencer, 12/24/2003; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.] “It allows us to maintain a stable supply of raw materials, in the form of logs, for our small, community-centered mills scattered throughout the 32 communities of southeast Alaska,” explains Dennis Neill, public affairs officer for the National Forest Service. “It's a viable forest with vast stretches of functional ecosystem that's going to stay that way. We're very dedicated to keeping this forest as a functional ecosystem.” [Seattle Post Intelligencer, 12/24/2003] The decision was made by the Forest Service in consultation with Agriculture Department officials and the White House Office of Management and Budget after Alaska's governor sought an exemption from the Clinton-era Roadless Rule claiming that it violates the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the Wilderness Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act. [Associated Press, 12/23/2003] The decision ignores some 2 million public comments in favor of upholding the Roadless Rule in Tongass. Critics warn that building roads will harm salmon runs by silting up streams and blocking access to spawning grounds. Additionally it will give hunters increased access to wolves, bears and other animals in remote parts of the forest. And though the Forest Service says that logging will be confined to no more than 3 percent of the Tongass, environmental groups say that since the parcels to be logged are so spread out, the access roads could ultimately disturb four times that figure. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Seattle Post Intelligencer, 12/24/2003]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Department of Agriculture, Office of Management and Budget, US Forest Service (USFS)
          

January 2, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Bureau of Land Management issues a draft environmental impact study on its plan for managing livestock grazing on 160 million acres of public lands (see December 5, 2003). The study reports that wildlife and grazing lands could suffer short-term damage as a result of the plan's provision that would extend the time allowed for the BLM to recommend and implement changes when the agency identifies an occurrence of harmful grazing practices. The impact assessment also predicts that the new rules would do little to repair damaged streamside vegetation or protect endangered plants and animals. [Denver Post, 12/10/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Land Management, Bush administration
          

January 7, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency says in a report to Congress that for the second year in a row, “limited funding prevented EPA from beginning construction at all sites or providing additional funds needed to address sites in a manner believed necessary by regional officials, and caused projects to be segmented into phases and/or scaled back to accommodate available funding.” The report explains that for 2003 (see July 17, 2003), the funding shortfall amounted to $174.9 million. As a result, clean-up work at 11 superfund sites was put off and work at 29 other locations was slowed down. [Government Executive, 1/8/2004; Associated Press, 1/9/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d. Sources: Congressional Request on Funding Needs for Non-Federal Superfund Sites, EPA, January 7, 2004] The 11 sites where work was postponed include Jennison-Wright Corp. in Granite City, Ill.; Continental Steel Corp. in Kokomo, Ind.; Marion Pressure Treating in Marion, La.; Atlas Tack Corp. in Fairhaven, Mass.; and Mohawk Tannery in Nashua, N.H. In 2003, the EPA completed 40 clean-ups, compared to 42 in FY 2002, and 47 in 2001. Under the Clinton administration, an average of 76 clean-ups had been completed each year. [Associated Press, 1/9/2004] The report was requested in July by US Senator Barbara Boxer, House Energy and Commerce ranking member John Dingell, Rep. Hilda Solis, and Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member James Jeffords. [Associated Press, 1/9/2004; Government Executive, 1/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Barbara Boxer, Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration, John Dingell, James Jeffords, Hilda Solis, US Congress
          

January 14, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       According to a memo authored by Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth, an “Intermountain Region Director's Round Table Discussion” takes place on this date to consider plans to eliminate outside agency reviews of US Forest Service activities that are unrelated to what Bosworth has described as the “four threats” —fire risk, invasive species, un-managed recreation and loss of open space. The measure would end the practices of (1) consulting the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA-Fisheries on the effects of land management activities on inland aquatic species; (2) conducting environmental analyses of herbicide applications that are ostensibly done to control invasive plants; and (3) allowing state agencies to review US Forest Service activities that may affect historical and cultural artifacts as required by the Historic Preservation Act. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; PEER, 3/18/2004 Sources: US Forest Service Internal Memo, Balancing Our Approach, January 14, 2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Dale Bosworth, US Forest Service (USFS)
          

January 21, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       Interior Secretary Gale Norton says her department intends to increase the number of permits granted each year for gas drilling on public lands in Wyoming's Powder River Basin from 1,000 to 3,000 and “streamline” the permit review process. The decision is a response to complaints by energy companies that the review process for drilling permits on federal property is three times as long as that for drilling on private and state-owned lands. Critics warn that the quicker permit approval process will come at the expense of thorough environmental impact assessments. Drilling for gas wells in the northeastern Wyoming basin requires pumping groundwater to release the natural gas trapped in coal seams. This often causes the wells of local residents to run dry. [Salt Lake Tribune, 1/22/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Gale A. Norton, Bush administration, US Department of Interior
          

January 22, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       Jack Blackwell, the US Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Regional Forester, announces an amendment to the 2001 Nevada Forest Plan which manages 11 national forests in California. According to the Forest Service, the amendment will “reduce the acres burned by severe wildfires by more than 30 percent” and “double the acres of large old growth trees [and ] ... spotted owl nesting habitat” over the next fifty years. The plan is portrayed as a response to an emergency situation. “Large, old trees, wildlife habitat, homes and local communities will be increasingly destroyed unless the plan is improved,” Blackwell says. According to the agency, an average of 4.5 owl sites a year have been destroyed by wildfires in the area over the last four years. [US Forest Service, 1/22/2004; Environment News Service, 2/26/2004; Chico News and Review, 1/29/2004 Sources: Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment]
The amendment will triple the amount of timber that can be harvested generating about 330 million board-feet of green timber annually during the first ten years.
The amendment will reduce the percentage of funds designated for timber thinning near communities from 75 to 25 percent. The majority of timber removal will be done in remote, uninhabited forests.
The revised plan will cost $50 million per year. However, the Forest Service only has $30 million allocated for the plan. The agency intends to raise the additional $20 million through commercial timber sales. Companies that remove more than a certain amount of brush and saplings will also be permitted to remove a number of larger trees.
The amendment will increase the maximum trunk width of trees that may be removed from 20 inches to 30 inches. It is later discovered that justification for the amendment was based on politicized data and exaggerated claims. For example, an important statement that put the risk of forest fires in perspective written by veteran wildlife biologist Michael Gertsch was left out of the final version. According to Gertsch, his section was excluded because “the conclusion ... was that fire appears to be more of a maintenance mechanism than a destructive force for owl habitat.” When Gertsch refused to back down from his analysis, he was removed from the project (see January 22, 2004). Describing the final version of the amendment, he says, “Snippets were taken from science, but they didn't listen to the science community.” [Associated Press, 8/6/2004] The Associated Press will later investigate some of the amendment's claims and in August publish a report revealing that “at least seven of 18 sites listed by the agency as owl habitat destroyed by wildfires are green, flourishing and occupied by the rare birds of prey” (see August 6, 2004).
People and organizations involved: Michael Gertsch, Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS)
          

January 23, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announces that the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) will provide an estimated $1 billion in subsidies to promote deep drilling for natural gas in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Companies that drill wells deeper than 15,000 feet will be exempt from having to pay royalties on the first 15 billion cubic feet of gas produced. For wells deeper than 18,000 feet, royalties will be waived on the first 25 billion cubic feet. The royalty waiver will be discontinued if natural gas prices exceed $9.34 per thousand cubic feet. Without the subsidy, it would be too costly for companies to drill such wells. Norton claims that the program will save consumers money and create an estimated 26,000 new jobs. [Associated Press, 1/23/2003; Petroleum News, 2/1/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Department of Interior, Gale A. Norton
          

February 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Department of Energy (DOE) says it will not request $350 million that the agency is supposed to use for the disposal of more than 85 million gallons of “high-level” radioactive waste unless Congress and state governments agree to downgrade the classification for some of the waste to “low-level” so that it can be disposed of using a less costly method that it estimates will save $29 billion. The DOE claims that some of the waste has a low enough level of radioactivity that the waste can simply be covered with concrete and left in place. But in July 2003, a federal judge in Idaho ruled that the Energy Department's plan was illegal and that the agency was bound to the nuclear waste law, which states that liquid nuclear fuel reprocessing waste is “high-level” and needs to be buried in a permanent geological storage facility. The waste, left over from Cold War armament projects, includes 53 million gallons at the DOE's Hanford site near Richland, Washington; 34 million gallons at its Savannah River site near Aiken, South Carolina; and 900,000 gallons at its INEEL facility in Idaho. Additionally, there are 600,000 gallons of waste from a short-lived civilian reprocessing program near West Valley, New York. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Associated Press, 4/8/2004; Associated Press, 2/26/2004; New York Times, 5/30/2004] A lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Geoffrey Fettus, warns that the Energy Department's plan would in effect create “nuclear cesspools” at the weapons plants and the Savannah River plant would become the most polluted nuclear site on the planet. [New York Times, 5/30/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy, US Congress, Bush administration
          

February 2, 2004: Bush Administration 2005 Budget Proposal Falls Short of Army Corps' Expectations      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2005 budget sets aside $325 million for civil works projects in the US Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans district—slightly less than the $337 million approved by Congress the year before. According to Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps' programs management branch, the Corps will need $425 million for 2005. “We have a backlog of contracts, and it's just been for the past few years that ... we haven't been funded at our full capability,” Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps' programs management branch, tells New Orleans CItyBusiness. Of the $325 million proposed in the Bush budget, the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) would receive $30 million, far short of the $42 million the Corps says it needs, and $4 million less than fiscal year 2004's actual budget. According to Stan Green, SELA project manager, the $30 million would probably allow the Corps to continue its current work on 12 projects in Jefferson and Orleans parishes. But if it were fully funded, he says, it could award contracts for an additional 14 projects. [New Orleans CityBusiness, 2/16/2004] (Congress ultimately approves $36.5 million for SELA. [Los Angeles Times, 9/4/2005] ) The administration's proposed budget includes only $3.9 million for the New Orleans' East Bank Hurricane Levee Project, a mere fraction of the $27.1 million requested by the Corps. According to Al Naomi, who manages this project, the budgeted allotment would not even cover the $4.5 million required for unpaid fiscal year 2004 work. (The sum ultimately approved by Congress for the east bank project is $5.7 million.) [Washington Post, 9/8/2005, pp A01; New Orleans CityBusiness, 2/16/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005; Times-Picayune, 6/8/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] Additionally, the president's budget rejects a draft plan, submitted in October 2003 (see October 2003) by the Army Corp of Engineers, to begin a $14 billion dollar project to restore Louisiana's coastal wetlands. Instead, the president directs the Corps to refocus its ongoing restoration study to produce a single, prioritized list of projects that can be completed in 10 years. Additionally, the corps is directed to include in its study several other larger restoration projects that are not part of the Louisiana Coastal Area study, and determine whether the mouth of the Mississippi can be altered to let sediment create new areas of wetlands to its east and west quickly, while still allowing shipping to reach port facilities in New Orleans and elsewhere along the river. Eight million dollars is allocated to the effort, only a fraction of the $50 million that was requested by Louisiana's Governor (see 2002). In the budget's narrative, the White House acknowledges for the first time that Louisiana's disappearing wetlands are partly the result of the US Army Corps of Engineers' channeling of the Mississippi River for shipping and the construction of flood-control levees along the river to protect New Orleans. It also says that canals built by the oil and gas industry, natural subsidence, and rising sea levels are contributing factors to Louisiana's net loss of coastal wetlands. [Associated Press, 2/3/2004; Times-Picayune, 2/3/2004; Louisiana Coastal Area Study, 4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Al Naomi, Bush administration, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration Study, Marcia Demma, Stan Green, US Army Corps of Engineers
          

February 9, 2004: Full 9/11 Commission Allowed To View PDB Summaries      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission gets greater access to classified intelligence briefings under a new agreement with the White House. The 10-member panel had been barred from reviewing notes concerning the presidential daily briefings taken by three of its own commissioners and the commission's director in December 2003. The new agreement allows all commission members the opportunity to read White House-edited versions of the summaries. The White House had faced criticisms for allowing only some commissioners to see the notes. Still, only three commissioners are allowed to see the original, unclassified documents. [Associated Press, 2/10/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency
          

February 12, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctions off oil and gas leases for 14 parcels of federal land located near Dinosaur Monument in Colorado and Utah. The leases—totaling some 5,000 acres—include areas that were previously identified by the agency as having wilderness quality but which lost their protected status as part of a settlement between the state of Utah and the BLM (see April 11, 2003). A number of the leases—some selling for as little as $5 per acre—are purchased by contributors to President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Salt Lake Tribune, 2/14/2004; The Washington Post, 3/1/2004] According to the Environmental Working Group, the area includes seven Mexican spotted owl habitats, 12 golden eagle habitats and four peregrine falcon habitats. [The Washington Post, 3/1/2004; Environmental Working Group, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Kathleen Clarke
          

February 13, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency announces that it will allow North Dakota to adopt a new method for estimating air pollution. [Los Angeles Times, 2/14/2004; The Washington Post, 5/19/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.] The decision was made during a meeting between EPA administrator Michael Leavitt and North Dakota Governor John Hoeven the previous weekend. [The Washington Post, 5/19/2004] According to the agency's own specialists in air quality monitoring, the new method will grossly underestimate pollution levels, potentially allowing North Dakota to relieve itself of the stigma of being the only state whose federal preserves—Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge—are in violation of the Clean Air Act. [Environmental Protection Agency, 2/13/2004; USA Today, 9/15/2002; The Washington Post, 5/19/2004] The lower pollution levels could in turn result in the lifting of local development restrictions, allowing power companies to proceed with plans to build new coal-fired power plants in the area. “That sets the stage for new investments in our energy industry and real progress in our rural communities,” Hoeven explains. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Los Angeles Times, 2/14/2004; The Washington Post, 5/19/2004; Platts, 2/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: John Hoeven, Mike Leavitt, Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration
          

February 16, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt signs a final rule permitting power plants to continue using the “once-through” method to cool their turbines. The practice—condemned by critics as the most environmentally-damaging method of cooling available—relies upon water continually drawn from lakes, rivers and reservoirs for the power plants' cooling systems. [Environmental Protection Agency, 2/16/2004; Environmental News Network, 2/18/2004; Associated Press, 1/9/2004; Riverkeeper, 2/17/2004; Democratic Policy Committee, n.d.; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.] Every year, some 200 million pounds of aquatic organisms are killed when they are trapped in the intake screens or forced through the water intake structures of these power plants. The new rule requires large power plants to reduce the number of fish and shellfish drawn into the cooling systems by 80 to 95 percent. [Environmental Protection Agency, 2/16/2004] However, the rule also provides large power plants with several “compliance alternatives,” such as using existing technologies, implementing additional fish protection technologies, restocking fish populations and creating wildlife habitat. [Environmental Protection Agency, 2/16/2004; Democratic Policy Committee, n.d.] Leavitt's decision to sanction the continued use of the “once-through” method goes against the advice of his own staff which recommended requiring power plants to upgrade to closed-cycle cooling systems which use 95 percent less water and which pose far less of a risk to aquatic ecosystems. But the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which works under the White House's Office of Management and Budget, reportedly opposed requiring plants to switch to the newer more expensive closed-cycle system. [Riverkeeper, 2/17/2004; Environmental News Network, 2/18/2004] The new rule applies to 550 power plants that withdraw 222 billion gallons of water daily from American waterways. [Environmental Protection Agency, 2/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration, Mike Leavitt  Additional Info 
          

February 20, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The US Forest Service announces that it has modified its procedures for conducting environmental analyses on grazing allotments in national forests and grasslands. The agency is required to conduct these assessments for each of its 8,700 livestock grazing allotments under Section 504 of the 1995 Rescissions Act to provide a basis for determining whether or not changes need to be made to each of the allotment's grazing policies. The agency says that the procedures, outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), needed to be changed because NEPA “lacked specificity and clarification in describing the process.” The Forest Service also claims that the changes were necessary in order to expedite the assessment process as the agency currently has a backlog of 4,200 allotments. The new plan involves increasing the duration of the permits and limiting the number of alternatives considered. Critics argue that the changes circumvent NEPA requirements by reducing public input and weakening environmental review. [Greenwire, 2/10/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; US Forest Service, 2/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS)
          

(February 28, 2004)      Bush's environmental record

       The Bush administration files a request with the United Nations for additional exemptions from the Montreal Protocol's phase-out of the pesticide methyl bromide. In February 2003, the US applied for exemptions for 54 businesses, primarily farmers and food producers, to use some 21.9 million pounds of methyl bromide for the year 2005 (see February 7, 2003). The new request would add 1.1 million pounds to this figure, to be used by producers of cut flowers, processed meats and tobacco seedlings. Though the signatories of the treaty are permitted exemptions for “critical uses” —as long as the requested exemptions do not represent more than 30 percent of a country's baseline production level—the US requests both exceed the allowable limit and twice the sum of requests from all other countries. “[T]he exemptions sought by the United States for 2005 and 2006 would cause a surge in American use of methyl bromide after steady declines,” notes the New York Times. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; New York Times, 3/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

Spring 2004: Conditions In Afghanistan Deteriorate      Complete 911 Timeline

       It is reported that conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated significantly in nearly every respect. According to Lakhdar Brahima, UN special envoy to Afghanistan, the situation “is reminiscent to what was witnessed after the establishment of the mujahedeen government in 1992.” Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a member of the Wahhabi sect of Islam who opposed the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, along with several other warlords accused of atrocities in the mid-1990s, have returned to power and are effectively ruling the country. Several hold key positions within the government. They “continue to maintain their own private armies and ... are reaping vast amounts of money from Afghanistan's illegal opium trade...” The US, while claming to support Afghan President Karzai, is relying on these warlords to “help” hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda factions, although the success rate is abysmal, and much of the intelligence provided by the warlords is faulty. The Taliban has begun to regroup, and now essentially controls much of the southern and eastern regions of the country. [Foreign Affairs, May/June 2004]
People and organizations involved: Lakhdar Brahima, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hamid Karzai, Bush administration
          

March 3, 2004: US Secrecy Leads to Overturning of Motassadeq Conviction      Complete 911 Timeline

       A German appeals court overturns the conviction of Mounir El Motassadeq after finding that German and US authorities withheld evidence. He had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for involvement in the 9/11 plot. According to the court, a key suspect in US custody, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, had not been allowed to testify. European commentators blame US secrecy, complaining that “the German justice system [is] suffering ‘from the weaknesses of the way America is dealing with 9/11,’ and ‘absolute secrecy leads absolutely certainly to flawed trials.’ ” [Agence France-Presse, 3/5/04] The court orders a new trial scheduled to begin later in the year. [Associated Press, 3/4/04] The release of Motassadeq (and the acquittal of Mzoudi earlier in the year) means that there is not a single person who has ever been successfully prosecuted for the events of 9/11.
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Mounir El Motassadeq, Germany
          

March 16, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency grants Environmental Disposal Systems (EDS) an exemption from federal restrictions on land disposal of hazardous waste for two commercial Class 1 injection wells in Romulus, Michigan. It is estimated that each year, the wells will inject roughly 100 million gallons of liquid industrial waste—including chemicals like methanol, acetone and ammonia —into sponge-like rock located thousands of feet below the earth's surface. EPA officials claim that “the waste will stay confined to a layer of rock deep underground and will not threaten human health or the environment.” Local residents and state officials strongly oppose the plan, against which they have been fighting for more than a decade. [Environmental Protection Agency, 3/17/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Detroit Free Press, 3/17/2004; Capitol Reports, 3/19/2004; Ecology Center, 12/1999]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Disposal Systems, Environmental Protection Agency
          

March 23, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Oregon and California State Offices of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest Regional Offices of the Forest Service jointly announce two changes to the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan that will reduce federal wildlife protections and lead to increased logging on public lands in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. The first change drops the “survey and manage” rule, which requires forest managers to search forests for about 300 rare plants and animals not yet listed under the Endangered Species Act prior to the logging of old-growth forests. The Forest Service says that the process is time-consuming and expensive, thus making it difficult for timber companies to meet the maximum, allowable, annual timber harvest level of 800 million board feet a year that is permitted under the Northwest Forest Plan. The US Forest Service estimates that this change will allow the timber industry to log an additional 70 million board feet a year. The second change concerns the plan's Aquatic Conservation Strategy (ACS), which was created to restore and maintain the ecological health of watersheds and aquatic ecosystems in order to ensure that logging and roadbuilding does not damage salmon bearing watersheds. Instead of requiring that individual logging projects meet all ACS requirements, forest managers will only have to see that the standards are met at the “fifth-field watershed scale,” which usually represents an area of about 20,000 to 100,000 acres. [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Los Angeles Times, 3/25/2004; Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service, 3/23/2004; Oregonian, 3/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management, Bush administration
          

March 24-26, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       Signatories to the Montreal Protocol meet in Montreal to negotiate the awarding of “critical use” exemptions for the pesticide methyl bromide (see February 7, 2003) (see (February 28, 2004)). On the last day, an agreement is reached granting 12 industrialized countries exemptions which will allow them to use 13,438 metric tons of methyl bromide for the year 2005. The countries are Australia (145 metric tons), Belgium (47), Canada (56), France (407), Greece (186), Italy (2,133), Japan (284), the Netherlands, Portugal (50), Spain (1,059), the United Kingdom (129) and the United States (8,942). The total tonnage of methyl bromide that will be used by the United States is approximately twice that of all the others. [Environment News Service, 3/29/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

April 2, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Environmental Protection Agency posts a notice in the Federal Register announcing that it will continue studying the 51 drinking water contaminants included in its 1998 Contaminant Candidate List. [Sources: Federal Register, Vol 69., No. 64] But the announcement seems to suggest that the EPA is continuing to ignore recommendations embodied in three National Research Council reports—Setting Priorities for Drinking Water Contaminants (1999), Identifying Future Drinking Water Contaminants (1999), and Classifying Drinking Water Contaminants for Regulatory Consideration (2001)—which suggested, among other things, that the agency use the latest gene-mapping technology to screen for a more comprehensive list of contaminants, including waterborne pathogens, chemical agents, disinfection byproducts, radioactive substances and biological compounds. The Natural Resources Defense Council and other health and environmental groups have urged the agency to follow the Council's recommendations in order to protect the public against the numerous contaminants that have been shown to be detrimental to human health but which are not currently regulated. [National Research Council, 5/2001; Natural Resources Defense Council, n.d.; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, National Research Council (NRC), Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Protection Agency
          

April 5, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service releases an economic analysis on bull trout recovery titled, “Draft Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat Designation for the Bull Trout.” The study—written by Bioeconomics Inc. of Missoula, Montana—had been commissioned by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to serve as the basis for cost-benefit analysis. Once approved, Interior Secretary Gale Norton will use the data from the report to determine whether the costs of bull trout recovery outweigh the benefits. The report estimates that protecting bull trout and its habitat in the Columbia and Klamath river basins would cost between $230 and $300 million over the next ten years. But missing from the published version of the report is a 55-page section demonstrating $215 million in quantifiable economic benefits. The section had concluded that a healthy bull trout fishery would result in increased revenue from fishing fees, reduced drinking water costs and increased water for irrigation farmers. It also included discussion of other benefits not easily quantified in monetary terms. For example, it discussed the positive effects recovery would have on other trout species, in-stream flows and water quality in lakes and streams. Additionally, the missing section noted that there was a “number of published studies have demonstrated that the public holds values for endangered and threatened fish species separate and distinct from any expected direct use of the species.” According to Diane Katzenberger, an information officer in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Denver office, the decision to discard the section was made in Washington. “It did not come out of Denver or Portland,” she explains. But Katzenberger nonetheless defends the decision claiming that it is difficult to assign “a dollar value to a biological benefit.” She further explains that while it is possible to estimate the costs of consultation and of road upgrades and culvert replacements, “We don't know the dollar value of biological benefits. And no matter what, it would be a comparison of apples to oranges.” [League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Ravalli Republic, 4/16/2004; The Missoulian, 4/15/2004; The Washington Post, 4/17/2004] Chris Nolin, chief of the division of conservation and classification at the Fish and Wildlife Service, dismissed criticisms that the decision to delete the section was based on politics. “OMB uses very strict methodology” he says, adding that the OMB has “told us repeatedly in the past to remove this kind of analysis” from public reports. But as The Washington Post notes: “The federal government, however, often publicizes analyses of the benefits of Bush administration proposals for environmental clean-up. The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, found $113 billion in benefits over 10 years from provisions of the administration's 2003 Clear Skies Act.” [The Washington Post, 4/17/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Office of Management and Budget, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Chris Nolin, Bush administration, Diane Katzenberger, Environmental Protection Agency
          

April 6, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Pentagon submits a request to Congress asking it to pass legislation exempting the military's 525 live-fire ranges from key provisions of the 1970 Clean Air Act, 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. For example, it wants exemptions to toxic waste laws requiring the military to clean up pollution from munitions used on training ranges. The Pentagon claims that the exemptions will improve the US military's combat readiness. [American Forces Press Services, 4/6/2004; Associated Press, 4/7/2004; CBS News, 4/20/2004; Government Executive, 4/6/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Bush administration
          

April 8, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that the Pacific fisher, a rare relative of weasels, otters and minks, is at risk of extinction and warrants federal protection, but says that the agency lacks the funds needed to adequately protect the species. The Fish and Wildlife Service says it will make the animal a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Pacific fisher's status will be reviewed annually until it is either added to the list or until the species' population recovers to a level that no longer warrants federal protection. Critics complain that not only is the federal government failing in its obligation to protect endangered species, but it is pursuing policies that damage its habitat, such as the Bush administration's forest preservation policies that encourage increased logging (see December 3, 2003). [Associated Press, 4/9/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bush administration
          

April 19, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The attorneys general of 39 states ask Congress to turn down a Defense Department request for exemptions from environmental laws (see April 6, 2004). Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar argues that there is no evidence that the proposed exemptions would facilitate training or improve military readiness, as the military claims. Salazar notes that existing laws allow the Pentagon to apply for waivers from the laws, adding that if Congress grants the exemptions, it could limit states' ability to conduct investigations and oversee clean-ups of munitions-related contamination on 24 million acres of military lands. [CBS News, 4/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Ken Salazar, US Congress
          

April 28, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       Federal officials confirm that the Bush administration plans to begin using the population statistics of hatchery-bred fish when considering whether stream-bred wild salmon are entitled to protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The new policy rests on five major points: (1) The genetic resources for protecting salmon populations are present in both hatchery-bred and wild fish; (2) Hatchery-bred fish that are “no more than moderately divergent” genetically from wild fish will be included in the same group known as an Evolutionarily Significant Unit, or ESU; (3) Decisions on whether to protect a specific ESU will be based on the entire population; and (4) ESA protection will be based on abundance, productivity, geographic distribution and genetic diversity. [Associated Press, 4/28/2004; The Washington Post, 4/29/2004] This proposal ignores warnings from six of the world's leading experts on salmon ecology who recently argued in the journal Science that hatchery-bred fish are not as fit as those hatched in the wild and should not be relied upon to protect wild salmon populations. [Hatcheries and Endangered Salmon. Science Magazine. 3/26/2004; The Washington Post, 4/29/2004] The scientists had been part of a panel formed at the request of the administration to determine whether or not there are significant differences between hatchery-bred and wild fish. When the panel concluded that hatchery fish are larger and genetically inferior to wild fish and that they should not be counted upon to help wild salmon populations, the scientists were told that their conclusions were inappropriate for official government reports. [Seattle-Post Intelligencer, 4/30/2004; The News Tribune, 5/4/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Sacramento Bee, 5/2/2004; Associated Press, 4/28/2004; The Washington Post, 4/29/2004] One of the panel's scientists, biologist Ransom Myers of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, says of the administration's response to their work, “Any science that contradicted them was not welcome.” Justifying the panel's conclusions, he explains, “[Y]ou can't replace wild salmon with hatchery salmon. It's like saying Chihuahuas and wolves are the same.” Robert Paine, a biologist at the University of Washington, who also served on the panel, notes: “The current political and legal wrangling is a sideshow to the real issues. The science is clear and unambiguous—as they are currently operated, hatcheries and hatchery fish cannot protect wild stocks.” [Sacramento Bee, 5/2/2004] The agricultural, timber and energy industries strongly support the new policy plan, having long complained about the costs of ecosystem-wide modifications that the ESA requires businesses to make to roads, farms and dams to protect the salmon habitats. [The Washington Post, 4/29/2004] Salmon protection policies—described as the most expensive and complex of all the endangered species programs—cost roughly $700 million per year. [Sacramento Bee, 5/2/2004; The News Tribune, 5/4/2004; The Washington Post, 4/29/2004] Two weeks later, on May 14, the administration will back away from its proposal. [Seattle Post Intelligencer, 5/15/2004; The Columbian, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

(May 2004)      Bush's environmental record

       Sylvia Lowrance, the former deputy administrator for enforcement at the EPA, tells the Chicago Tribune that while at the EPA her office had been instructed not to pursue any more pollution cases against farms without the approval of the senior political appointees in the EPA. “That's unprecedented in EPA,” she says. [Chicago Tribune, 5/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Sylvia Lowrance
          

May 28, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The US Army Corps of Engineers relaxes water quality and stream protections for mountaintop removal mining without consulting the Environmental Protection Agency. According to internal agency “guidance” obtained by Inside EPA, the Corps has recommended its staff to approve proposed clean water projects that would allow sewers and constructed ditches—rather than newly created streams, wetlands or water habitat—to qualify as mitigation projects replacing streams buried by mining operations. Commenting on the policy, Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Daniel Rosenberg says, “As if letting coal companies get away with destructive mountaintop removal mining isn't bad enough; the Bush administration says it's a fair trade to replace buried pristine natural streams with sewers and ditches.” [Natural Resources Defense Council, 5/2004; Inside EPA, 5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Environmental Protection Agency, Bush administration, US Army Corps of Engineers
          

June 2004      Bush's environmental record

       The Forest Service conducts an internal analysis which concludes that outsourcing the work of its Content Analysis Team (CAT) (see March 2003) will not save US taxpayers any money. In fact, the study estimates that hiring private consultants would cost approximately $425,000 more than keeping the work in-house. [High Country News, 4/26/2004; Associated Press, 11/14/2003; Missoulian, 11/15/2003] No study is conducted to determine whether outside consultants could do the work better than the Forest Service's experts. [High Country News, 4/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Content Analysis Team (CAT), Bush administration, US Forest Service (USFS)
          

(June 3, 2004)      Bush's environmental record

       A budget document from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research reveals that the Bush administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 would reduce the climate and global change research budget by $9.2 million, eliminating the federal government's $2 million abrupt climate change research program and cutting its paleoclimatology laboratory in half. It would also terminate $1.3 million in funding for postdoctoral programs and end research programs on the health and human aspects of climate change. [Ecological Society of America, 6/14/2004; Natural Resource Defense Council, 6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
          

June 22, 2004      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       To demonstrate that President Bush has never authorized torture against prisoners, the White House declassifies and releases a large number of internal documents, including the February 7, 2002 memo (see February 7, 2002) signed by Bush, and documents, inter alia from Gen. James T. Hill, showing that the US military interrogators were seeking more aggressive interrogation techniques. The disclosures are made, according to Alberto R. Gonzales, because the government “felt that it was harmful to this country, in terms of the notion that perhaps we may be engaging in torture.” [Washington Post, 6/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: Alberto R. Gonzales, James T. Hill, George W. Bush, Bush administration
          

Summer 2004: Bush Administration Outsources Disaster Management Services      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration shifts FEMA funds away from pre-disaster preparation and implements policies to promote outsourcing of relief efforts to private companies. FEMA staff members warn that these policies will slow response times in emergency situations [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bush administration
          

July 2004      US confrontation with Iran

       After a 16-month review by the US State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bush administration says it has found no basis to charge any of the 3,800 Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) fighters held in custody by the US at Camp Ashraf with violations of American law. The decision is made in spite of the group's long history of collusion with Saddam Hussein. MEK fought alongside Iraqi forces against Iran during the 1980s (see December 2003) and helped Saddam's internal security forces brutally put down the 1991 Shia uprisings (see 1991). The organization was also responsible for a number of American deaths during the 1970s (see 1970s) and has been listed on the State Department's list of “foreign terrorist organizations” since 1997 (see 1997). “A member of a terrorist organization is not necessarily a terrorist,” a senior American official explains. “To take action against somebody, you have to demonstrate that they have done something.” [New York Times, 7/27/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 7/29/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Bush administration
          

July 12, 2004      Bush's environmental record

       Agriculture Secretary Ann Venemana announces the proposal of a new federal rule that would overturn the Roadless Rule introduced by Clinton in January 2001. The Roadless Rule banned the construction of roads in 58.5 million acres, or nearly one-third, of the nation's forests. The administration claims that the motivation behind the new rule is to give states a say in the management of their lands. Under the new rule, state governors would presumably help decide whether areas in their own states should be opened to commercial activity like logging or oil and gas drilling. But for the first 18 months the rule is in effect, the US Forest Service would have the final authority on all decisions. After that, local Forest Service plans, which typically would allow road building and logging on the areas currently designated as roadless, would be reinstated. Governors opposed to any of these plans would have to petition the Agriculture Department in a complicated, two-step process. [Juneau Empire State News, 7/13/2004; The Washington Post, 7/13/2004; Salt Lake Tribune, 7/14/2004; San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13/2004 (A); San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13/2004 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Department of Agriculture, Bush administration, Ann Venemana  Additional Info 
          

(September 2004): Bush Administration Orders New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers Office Not To Start Any New Studies      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration orders the New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers district office not to begin any new studies, including one aimed at determining what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. The proposed 2005 fiscal-year budget originally included $300,000 for the study, but in the current version, this amount has been cut out. [Times-Picayune, 6/22/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005; Editor & Publisher, 8/31/2005]
People and organizations involved: US Army Corps of Engineers, Bush administration
          

November-December 2004: Political Purge of CIA Follows Presidential Election      Complete 911 Timeline

       A former CIA officer tells New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that, in mid-2004 the White House begins putting pressure on CIA analysts “to see more support for the Administration's political position.” But after Porter Goss becomes the new CIA Director and the November 2004 election passes, a “political purge” of employees who have written papers that dissent with Bush policies begins. One former official notes that only “true believers” remain. [New Yorker, 1/17/05] An anonymous former CIA official tells Newsday, “The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House. Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats.” [Newsday, 11/14/04] Days after the November 2004 Presidential election, Goss circulates an internal memorandum to all CIA employees, telling them their job is to “support the administration and its policies in our work.” [New York Times, 11/17/04] The memo also contains a caveat that they should “let the facts alone speak to the policymaker.” However, an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calls this mere “lip service,” and says the memo leaves “the impression that in the second Bush administration, the White House will run the CIA. ... Goss has confirmed the worst fears of critics who warned he was too partisan when Bush appointed him...” [Los Angeles Times, 11/21/04] Such new policies inspire more employees to leave. By the time the purge is completed in early 2005, about 20 senior CIA officials will have resigned or retired. Only one member of the leadership team from George Tenet's tenure will remain. [Washington Post, 1/6/05] Newsweek says the “efforts at cleaning house may have only thrown the spy agency into deeper turmoil.” [Newsweek, 2/21/05]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Porter J. Goss
          

December 2004      US Military

       The House approves the intelligence reform bill 336-75 after a two week stand-off instigated by House Speaker Dennis Hastert on behalf of the White House and Pentagon, which publicly professed support for the bill. A compromise was not reached with the Republicans until the intelligence reform bill was altered to reduce the power of the new national intelligence director so that the secretary of defense could maintain his “statutory responsibilities.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/21/2004; New Yorker, 1/24/2005; CNN, 11/24/2004; CNN, 12/8/2004; Washington Post, 1/23/2005] “Rummy's plan was to get a compromise in the bill in which the Pentagon keeps its marbles and the CIA loses theirs,” a former high-level intelligence official tells investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. “Then all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place. He gets authority for covert action that is not attributable, the ability to directly task national-intelligence assets” including US spy satellites. “Rumsfeld will no longer have to refer anything through the government's intelligence wringer,” the former official continues. “The intelligence system was designed to put competing agencies in competition. What's missing will be the dynamic tension that insures everyone's priorities—in the CIA, the DOD, the FBI, and even the Department of Homeland Security—are discussed. The most insidious implication of the new system is that Rumsfeld no longer has to tell people what he's doing so they can ask, ‘�Why are you doing this?’ or ‘�What are your priorities?’ Now he can keep all of the mattress mice out of it.” [New Yorker, 1/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 30, 2004      Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

       The Justice Department issues a 17-page memo which officially replaces the August 2002 memorandum (see August 1, 2002), written by Jay S. Bybee, head of Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), and co-authored by John C. Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general. The controversial memo had asserted that the president's wartime powers superseded international anti-torture laws and treaties. It had also considered legal arguments that US officials and other personnel could use if ever faced with criminal charges. Additionally, the memo put forth a very narrow definition of torture, describing it is as a tactic that produces pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” The new memo, authored by acting chief of the OLC and Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin, is ostensibly meant to deflect criticisms that the Bush administration condones torture. In fact, the very first sentence reads, “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms.” But the White House insists that the new memo does not represent a change in policy because the administration has always respected international laws prohibiting the mistreatment of prisoners. The primary concern of the new memo is to broaden the narrow definition of torture that had been used in the August memo. Levin adopts the definition of torture used in congressional anti-torture laws which says that torture is the infliction of physical suffering “even if it does not involve severe physical pain.” But the pain must still be more than “mild and transitory,” the memo says. Like the original memo, Levin says that torture may include mental suffering. But to be considered so it would not have to last for months or years, as Bybee and Yoo had asserted two years earlier. The most contested conclusions of the August 2002 memo—concerning the president's wartime powers and potential legal defense for US personnel charged with war crimes—are not addressed in the Levin memo. “Consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture,” the memo says. [Associated Press, 12/31/2004 Sources: (Acting Assistant Attorney General), Memorandum for James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney General, 12/30/2004] The memo also attempts to quell concerns that the administration believes national security may be used as justification for tactics that could be considered as torture. The memo states: “[A] defendant's motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question whether he has acted with the requisite specific intent under the statute.” [Sources: (Acting Assistant Attorney General), Memorandum for James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney General, 12/30/2004]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Levin, Bush administration, John C. Yoo, Jay S. Bybee
          

(Early 2005)      US confrontation with Iran

       The US sends teams of US-trained former Iranian exiles, sometimes accompanied by US Special Forces, into southern and eastern Iran to search for underground nuclear installations. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005; Guardian, 2/29/2005; United Press International, 1/26/2005] In the north, Israeli-trained Kurds from northern Iraq, occasionally assisted by US forces, look for signs of nuclear activity as well. [United Press International, 1/26/2005] Both teams are tasked with planting remote detection devices, known as “sniffers,” which can sense radioactive emissions and other indicators of nuclear-enrichment programs while also helping US war planners establish targets. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005; United Press International, 1/26/2005] The former Iranian exiles operating in the south and east are members of Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), a group that has been included in the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997 (see 1997) and included in a government white paper (see September 12, 2002) that criticized Iraq for its support of the group. After the US invaded Iraq, members of MEK were “consolidated, detained, disarmed, and screened for any past terrorist acts” by the US (see July 2004) and designated as “protected persons.” (see July 21, 2004) Initially, the MEK operate from Camp Habib in Basra, but they later launch their incursions from the Baluchi region in Pakistan. [Newsweek, 2/15/2005; United Press International, 1/26/2005] They are assisted by information from Pakistani scientists and technicians who have knowledge of Iran's nuclear program. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] Pakistan apparently agreed to cooperate with the US in exchange for assurances that Pakistan would not have to turn Abdul Qadeer Khan, the so-called “father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb,” to the IAEA or to any other international authorities for questioning. Khan, who is “linked to a vast consortium of nuclear black-market activities,” could potentially be of great assistance to these agencies in their efforts to undermine nuclear weapons proliferation. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] In addition to allowing Pakistan to keep A.Q. Khan, the US looks the other way as Pakistan continues to buy parts for its nuclear-weapons arsenal in the black market, according to a former high-level Pakistani diplomat interviewed by Seymour Hersh [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] The United States' use of MEK is criticized by western diplomats and analysts who agree with many Iranians who consider the group to be traitors because they fought alongside Iraqi troops against Iran in the 1980s. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mujahedeen-e Khalq, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Bush administration
          

February 7, 2005: Bush Budget Includes $20 Million for Louisiana Coastal Restoration and $28 Million for Southeast Louisiana Flood Control      Hurricane Katrina

       The Bush administration's proposed fiscal year 2006 budget includes $20 million to help support research, planning, and design work related to efforts to restore Louisiana's coastal wetlands. The budget would also provide $28 million for southeast Louisiana flood control projects. [White House, 2/7/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

February 10, 2005: Censored Version of Critical 9/11 Report Completed Before Presidential Elections Is Finally Released      Complete 911 Timeline

       A report by the 9/11 Commission on the FAA and 9/11 is publicly released. The fact that the report reveals nearly half of all FAA daily briefings between April and early September 2001 mentioned al-Qaeda, bin Laden, or both causes headlines (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). However, the report was actually completed in August 2004 but was held up by the Bush administration. Some speculate that the publication of the report was delayed until after the November 2004 presidential election to help Bush get reelected. For instance, 9/11 victim's relative Carol Ashley states, “I'm just appalled that this was withheld for five months. That contributes to the idea that the government knew something and didn't act, it contributes to the conspiracy theories out there.” Representative Henry Waxman (D) asks for a hearing on whether the Bush administration played politics with the report's release, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives doesn't allow such a hearing. [Associated Press, 2/11/05] Additionally, the released version of this report is heavily censored in some areas. The 9/11 Commission asserts that the whole report should be released, but the Bush administration is blocking their efforts to release the censored portions. Politicians, 9/11 victims' relatives, open-government advocates, and others call for the release of the entire report, but to no avail. [New York Times, 2/11/05]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration, Bush administration, Henry A. Waxman, 9/11 Commission
          

June 2005: 2006 Budget for New Orleans Flood Control Projects Suffer Drastic Reductions      Hurricane Katrina

       The House of Representatives proposes the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history—$71.2 million, or 21 percent. The Bush administration had earlier proposed a $52.8 million reduction for the New Orleans district's fiscal year 2006 budget. The cut would be the largest single-year spending cut ever incurred by the district. As a result of the expected cut, the local Corps office postpones a study seeking to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane. Additionally, it imposes a hiring freeze and is unable to start any new jobs or award any new contracts. “I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction,” said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. “I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.” One of the hardest hit projects is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA). Its budget is being slashed to $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million. The amount is a sixth of what local officials say they need. Funding for levee repairs and other work on Lake Pontchartrain is scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million (see February 2, 2004) this year to $2.9 million in 2006. “We'll do some design work. We'll design the contracts and get them ready to go if we get the money. But we don't have the money to put the work in the field, and that's the problem,” Naomi says. [New Orleans CityBusiness, 6/6/2005; Chicago Tribune, 9/1/2005; Editor & Publisher, 8/31/2005]
People and organizations involved: Al Naomi, Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, Bush administration
          

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