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Predictions
Pre-war planning
Prague Connection
Al Zarqawi allegation
Spying on the UN
Motives
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Alleged WMDs
Alleged al-Qaeda ties
The decision to invade
Politicization of intelligence
Aluminum tubes allegation
Weapons inspections
Africa-uranium allegation
Office of Special Plans
Pre-9/11 plans for war

Quotes from senior US officials

Iraq ties to terrorist allegations
Nuclear weapons allegations
Imminent threat allegations
Chemical and biological weapons allegations
WMD allegations
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Complete timeline of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Showing 101-200 of 558 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

2002-2003

       Noted experts, analysts and commentators, as well as current and former US and foreign government officials, say that control over Iraq's oil would benefit the United States. A pro-American government in Iraq would provide the US with stable access to its northern and southern oil fields, provide US oil companies with favorable access to oil production sharing agreements and other oil industry-related contracts, allow the US to undermine OPEC's influence in the oil market, and ensure that Iraq's oil is traded in US dollars.
 Additional Info 
          

2002-early 2003

       Vice President Dick Cheney, sometimes accompanied by his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, visits the offices of US intelligence analysts working at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia “approximately 10” times. He drills them on their intelligence work on Iraq. Some analysts later complain that Cheney's visits made them feel pressured to provide the administration with conclusions that supported the case for war. Other analysts will say they did not feel pressured. [Washington Post, 6/5/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 6/5/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 242] Newt Gingrich also makes visits to CIA headquarters in Langley. [Guardian, 7/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich  Additional Info 
          

Mid-January 2002

       By this time, more than 300 different inspections have been conducted in Iraq by the UN weapons inspection teams, which report no instances of Iraqi attempts to impede their access to the alleged weapons sites. [Associated Press, 1/18/03; Baltimore Sun, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03] The London Independent quotes one diplomat, who says, “Realistically, it is not going to be easy to see in the next two months that we will be able to say that Iraq is not cooperating.” [Independent 1/8/03] Inspectors also say that there are no signs that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction. An Associated Press report cites several specific cases of alleged weapons sites that the inspection teams—after repeated visits—have determined are not involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction. “UN arms monitors have inspected 13 sites identified by US and British intelligence agencies as major ‘facilities of concern,’ and reported no signs of revived weapons building.” [Associated Press, 1/18/03; Baltimore Sun, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03] And International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Weapons Inspector Mohamed ElBaradei tells reporters: “I think it's difficult for Iraq to hide a complete nuclear-weapons program. They might be hiding some computer studies or R. and D. on one single centrifuge. These are not enough to make weapons” (see January 11, 2003). [Time, 1/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei
          

Mid 2002-2003

       The US and British repeatedly assert that Iraq has sought to obtain uranium from an African country. In most cases the African country is not named, though it later becomes evident that the country in question is Niger.
 Additional Info 
          

January 2002

       Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz orders the CIA to conduct an investigation of Hans Blix, chairman of the new UN weapons inspection team (UNMOVIC) that will go to Iraq if Saddam Hussein agrees to re-admit the weapons inspectors. Wolfowitz feels that past investigations of Saddam's declared nuclear power plants under the authority of Hans Blix were not sufficiently aggressive. The CIA reports back in late January that Blix conducted his past investigations “fully within the parameters he could operate” as chief of the agency. There are two opposing accounts of how Wolfowitz responds to the report's conclusion. According to an anonymous former State Department official, Wolfowitz “hit the ceiling” upon learning the results because it did not provide a pretext for undermining Blix and UNMOVIC. However an administration official disputes this, claiming that he “did not angrily respond.” [The Washington Post 4/15/02; Guardian 4/23/02; Independent 5/10/02 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Unnamed former State Department official] The Washington Post notes, “[T]he request for a CIA investigation underscored the degree of concern by Wolfowitz and his civilian colleagues in the Pentagon that new inspections—or protracted negotiations over them—could torpedo their plans for military action to remove Hussein from power” and ultimately lead to the suspension of sanctions. [The Washington Post 4/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Hans Blix
          

Early 2002

       DIA reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney takes over the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Chris Carney
          

Early 2002

       Unnamed US intelligence officials tell the New York Times that the CIA has no evidence that Saddam Hussein's government has participated in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade. The agency also believes that Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. [New York Times, 2/6/02 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

Mid-January 2002

       After more than two months and more than 350 inspections, the UN teams have failed to find the arsenal of banned weapons the US and Britain claim Iraq has. Nor are there any signs of programs to build such weapons. The London Observer reports that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors are convinced Iraq does not have a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. “IAEA officials and intelligence sources admit it is extremely unlikely that Iraq has nuclear weapons squirreled away,” The Observer reports, explaining that “... the IAEA [had] revealed that analysis of samples taken by UN nuclear inspectors in Iraq ... showed no evidence of prohibited nuclear activity.” [Observer, 1/26/03; The Washington Post, 12/27/03; Los Angeles Times, 1/26/03]
          

(2002)

       Vice President Dick Cheney asks that his daily intelligence briefer from the CIA be replaced. An unnamed former CIA official later explains to Vanity Fair magazine: “One briefer annoyed Cheney and he asked that she be replaced. He asked for a new briefer. That sent a chill through the whole process. It sent out the message to the analysts, ‘Be careful with some of this stuff. Be careful what you say.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 242-44 Sources: Unnamed former CIA official]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney
          

2002-2004

       Critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy say that its plans for war are motivated by reasons other than those being cited by the White House.
 Additional Info 
          

2002-2003

       The Bush administration develops plans for post-war Iraq. But the process is plagued with infighting between a small, highly secretive group of planners in the Pentagon and experts at the CIA and State Department who are involved with the “Future of Iraq Project” (see April 2002-March 2003). The two opposing groups disagree on a wide range of topics, but it is the Pentagon group which exerts the strongest influence on the White House's plans (see Fall 2002) for administering post-Saddam Iraq. One State Department official complains to The Washington Post in October 2002 “that the Pentagon is seeking to dominate every aspect of Iraq's postwar reconstruction.” The group of Pentagon planners includes several noted neoconservatives who work in, or in association with, the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see September 2002) and the Near East/South Asia bureau. The planners have close ties to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), two think tanks with a shared vision of reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East in favor of US and Israeli interests. The Pentagon planning group “had a visionary strategy that it hoped would transform Iraq into an ally of Israel, remove a potential threat to the Persian Gulf oil trade and encircle Iran with US friends and allies,” Knight Ridder Newspapers will later observe. The group's objectives put it at odds with planners at the CIA and State Department whose approach and objectives are much more prudent. The Pentagon unit works independently of the CIA and State Department and pays little attention to the work of those two agencies. Critics complain that the group is working in virtual secrecy and evading the scrutiny and oversight of others involved in the post-war planning process by confining their inter-agency communications to discussions with their neoconservative colleagues working in other parts of the government. The Pentagon planners even have a direct line to the office of Dick Cheney where their fellow neoconservative, Lewis Libby, is working. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; Washington Post, 4/2/03; Associated Press, 11/12/02] In the fall of 2002, the various groups involved in planning for post-war Iraq send their recommendations to the White House's Executive Steering Committee, which reviews their work and then passes on its own recommendations to the cabinet heads (see Fall 2002). According to a July 2003 report by Knight Ridder Newspapers, the ultimate responsibility for deciding the administration's post-war transition plans lay with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
The Office of Special Plans -

The civilian planners at the Pentagon believe that the UN should exert no influence over the structure, make-up, or policy of the interim Iraqi post-Saddam government. They seek to limit the UN's role to humanitarian and reconstruction projects, and possibly security. The State Department, however, believes that the US will not be able to do it alone and that UN participation in post-Saddam Iraq will be essential. [Observer, 4/6/03; Los Angeles Times, 4/2/03]

The Pentagon group wants to install Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), as leader of post-Saddam Iraq. [American Prospect, 5/1/03; Knight Ridder, 7/12/03 Sources: Richard Perle]
The group thinks that the Iraqis will welcome Chalabi, who claims he has a secret network inside and outside the Ba'ath government which will quickly fill in the power vacuum to restore order to the country. Chalabi is a notorious figure who is considered untrustworthy by the State Department and CIA and who has a history of financial misdealings. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] But the Pentagon is said to be enamored with Chalabi “because he [advocates] normal diplomatic relations with Israel” which they believe will “‘ [take] off the board’ one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security.” Another geopolitical benefit to installing Chalabi is that he can help the US contain “the influence of Iran's radical Islamic leaders in the region, because he would ... [provide] bases in Iraq for US troops,” which would “complete Iran's encirclement by American military forces around the Persian Gulf and US friends in Russia and Central Asia.” [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, with close ties to the Pentagon's planning group, tells Robert Dreyfuss of American Prospect Magazine that the State Department's perception of Chalabi is wrong. “The [Defense Department] is running post-Saddam Iraq,” said Pletka, almost shouting. “The people at the State Department don't know what they are talking about! Who the hell are they? ... the simple fact is, the president is comfortable with people who are comfortable with the INC.” [American Prospect, 5/1/03]
The Pentagon's planning unit believes that the Iraqis will welcome US troops as liberators and that any militant resistance will be short-lived. They do not develop a contingency plan for persistent civil unrest. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
However the State Department's “Future of Iraq” planning project is more prudent, noting that Iraqis will likely be weary of US designs on their country. [New York Times, 10/19/03]
The Pentagon planners believe that Iraq's oil reserves—estimated to contain some 112 billion barrels of oil—should be used to help fund the reconstruction of Iraq. They also advocate a plan that would give the US more control over Iraq's oil. “[The Pentagon] hawks have long argued that US control of Iraq's oil would help deliver a second objective,” reports the Observer. “That is the destruction of OPEC, the oil producers' cartel, which they argue is ‘evil’—that is, incompatible with American interests.” The State Department, however, believes such aggressive policies will surely infuriate Iraqis and give credence to suspicions that the invasion is motivated by oil interests. One critic of the plan says “that only a puppet Iraqi government would acquiesce to US supervision of the oil fields and that one so slavish to US interests risks becoming untenable with Iraqis.” [Observer, 11/3/02; Insight, 12/28/02]

People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, American Enterprise Institute, Danielle Pletka, Project for the New American Century  Additional Info 
          

2002-2003

       In explaining the Bush administration's policy on Iraq, top US officials waver between “disarmament” and “regime change.”
 Additional Info 
          

Early January 2002

       Harold Rhode, a specialist on Islam who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi, moves into the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, “an in-house Pentagon think tank” run by Andrew Marshall. Rhode, along with Douglas Feith, whose appointment to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is not approved until July, imposes a new anti-Iraq and anti-Arab orientation on the department. The two men purge the department of career Defense officials whose worldviews are not considered sufficiently compatible with the neoconservative perspective. An intelligence analyst will tell reporter Robert Dreyfuss that Rhode appeared to be “pulling people out of nooks and crannies of the Defense Intelligence Agency and other places to replace us with.” The source adds: “They wanted nothing to do with the professional staff. And they wanted us the fuck out of there.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Andrew Marshall
          

Mid-January 2002

       Referring to the weapons inspectors upcoming January 27 report (see January 27, 2003), Colin Powell says in an interview with Saturday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, “We believe that at the end of the month it will be convincingly proven that Iraq is not cooperating.” [BBC, 1/18/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

January 16, 2002

       CIA Director George Tenet informs Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a meeting in Sharm el Sheikh that the Bush administration has already decided to attack Iraq and asks Mubarak not to publicly express Egypt's opposition to the planned invasion. The Egyptian president warns that such an attack could destabilize the entire Middle East. [Ha'aretz, 2/17/02 Sources: Unnamed source interviewed by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal]
People and organizations involved: Hosni Mubarak, Letter from CIA Director George Tenet to Bob Graham
          

February 2002

       Vice President Dick Cheney prepares for a March trip to the Middle East. According to public statements by the Bush administration, Cheney will be conferring with Arab leaders on US Iraq policy. However, a senior Bush administration official tells the Philadelphia Inquirer: “He's not going to beg for support. He's going to inform them that the President's decision has been made and will be carried out, and if they want some input into how and when it's carried out, now's the time for them to speak up.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/13/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

February 2002

       A Bush administration official tells the Philadelphia Inquirer: “This is not an argument about whether to get rid of Saddam Hussein. That debate is over. This is ... how you do it.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/13/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official]
          

February 6, 2002

       George Tenet tells the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “Our major near-term concern is the possibility that Saddam might gain access to fissile material, . . . [and] with substantial foreign assistance, [Iraq] could flight-test a longer-range ballistic missile within the next five years.” [Chicago Tribune 2/7/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

February 6, 2002

       The New York Times reports, “[S]enior American intelligence officials have concluded that the meeting between Mr. Atta and the Iraqi officer, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, did take place. But they say they do not believe that the meeting provides enough evidence to tie Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks.” A month and a half earlier, the same newspaper had reported that sources in the Czech Republic thought that it had been a different “Mohammed Atta” who had met al-Ani (see December 17, 2001). [CNN, 11/09/01; New York Times, 12/16/01 Sources: Unnamed Senior US intelligence officials]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohammed Atta
          

February 11, 2002

       Former CIA Director James Woolsey telephones Deputy Asistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells to arrange a meeting between Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts and Mohammad Harith, an Iraqi defector being supplied by the Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] After the phone call, Wells issues an “executive referral,” requesting that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) introduce Harith to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). [Reuters, 2/18/04; Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] Later in the day, two DIA officers meet with Ahmed Chalabi to arrange an interview with Harith. In an email to Knight Ridder Newspapers, Wells will later recall, “I discussed the issue of an individual with information on Iraq weapons of mass destruction with intelligence community members. They said they would follow up. I never met with any member of the INC.” [Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC), James Woolsey, Mohammad Harith, Linton Wells
          

February 12, 2002

       Colin Powell tells the Senate Budget Committee: “With respect to Iraq, it's long been, for several years now, a policy of the United States' government that regime change would be in the best interest of the region, the best interest of the Iraqi people. And we're looking at a variety of options that would bring that about.” [CNN, 2/13/2002]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

Between February 12, 2002 and March 31, 2002

       After several meetings with Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002)—an Iraqi defector provided by the Iraqi National Congress—a Defense Intelligence Agency debriefer determines that the defector's information on Iraq's presumed arsenal of banned weapons seems “accurate, but much of it [apears] embellished.” Defense Intelligence Agency analysts also determine that the defected Iraqi has been “coached by [the] Iraqi National Congress.” Harith claimed that he was a major in an Iraqi intelligence unit charged with concealing illicit weapons and that Iraq has developed mobile biological weapons labs. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC), Mohammad Harith
          

February 15, 2002

       Bush signs an intelligence finding, directing the CIA to conduct operations within Iraq as part of an ultimate plan to overthrow Saddam's government. The CIA warns Bush that staging a coup to depose the leader would be impossible. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/2004 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

Late February 2002

       An unnamed UN official tells The Washington Post that Iraq's level of cooperation is improving. “[F]or example,” the Iraqis have been “frantically digging in an area where it claims biological weapons were destroyed,” the UN official explains. [The Washington Post, 3/1/03 Sources: Unnamed UN official]
          

Late February 2002

       The CIA sends Joseph C. Wilson, a retired US diplomat, to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from that country. The trip is paid for by the CIA. But the identity of the party who requests the mission is later disputed. While Wilson will claim the trip was requested directly by Dick Cheney's office, other sources will say that the CIA had decided that a delegation to Niger was needed in order to investigate questions raised by one of Dick Cheney's aides. [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; New York Times, 7/6/03; New York Times, 5/6/03; Independent, 6/29/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officials, Joseph C. Wilson] In Niger, Wilson makes “it abundantly clear to everyone” that he is “acting on behalf of the United States government.” He meets with US Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick who informs Wilson that she has already concluded that the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq are unfounded. She tells Wilson “she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington.” After spending eight days chatting with current government officials, former government officials, and people associated with the country's uranium business, Wilson concludes the rumors are false. He calls the allegations “bogus and unrealistic.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; Independent, 6/29/03; New York Times, 7/6/03; CBS News, 7/11/03; Novak, 7/14/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick  Additional Info 
          

Late February 2002

       Four-Star Marine General Carlton W. Fulford Jr., deputy commander of the US European Command, travels to Niger to investigate the security of that country's uranium and to remind Niger's president of the need to keep a close eye on its ore deposits. The trip is separate from, and independent of, retired diplomat Joseph Wilson's mission, which occurs at about the same time. On February 24, Fulford joins US ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, at a meeting with Niger's President Mamadou Tandja. He explains the importance of keeping Niger's ore deposits secure. Fulford's investigation concludes that Niger's uranium is safely in the hands of a French consortium and that there is little risk that the material will end up in the wrong hands. These findings are passed on to General Joseph Ralston who provides them to General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [The Washington Post, 7/15/03; Voce of America, 7/15/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282 Sources: Carlton W. Fulford] The Pentagon will later say that Donald Rumsfeld was not informed about the trip or its conclusions. [Voice of America, 7/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, General Joseph Ralston, Carlton W. Fulford, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick  Additional Info 
          

Late February 2002

       Chief UN Inspector Hans Blix prepares a list of disarmament tasks that Iraq needs to complete in order prove its claim that it has no weapons of mass destruction. According to UN Resolution 1284, the completion of these tasks would make Iraq eligible for the suspension of sanctions. [The Washington Post, 3/01/03]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix
          

February 28, 2002

       During a British cabinet meeting, Home Secretary David Blunkett initiates a discussion about Iraq. During the discussion, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook mentions that most of the Arab world considers Ariel Sharon, rather than Saddam Hussein, to be the largest threat to peace in the Middle East. Describing the subsequent reaction to his comments, Cook later writes in his diary: “Somewhat to my surprise this line provides a round of ‘hear, hearing’ from colleagues, which is the nearest I heard to mutiny in the cabinet.” [Sunday Times, 10/5/03; Guardian, 10/6/03; Independent, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] During the meeting, Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, says “We are in danger of being seen as close to President Bush, but without any influence over President Bush.” [Independent, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook, David Blunkett, Patricia Hewitt
          

March 2002

       Iraqi defector Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002) appears on CBS's “60 Minutes” and claims that while working as an Iraqi intelligence operative he had purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks for the purpose of converting them into biological weapons laboratories. His identity is not revealed during the program. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mohammad Harith
          

Early March 2002

       According to a former White House official interviewed by Seymour Hersh during the fall of 2003, Bush makes the decision to invade Iraq at this time and begins diverting resources away from the “war on terrorism” to the planned invasion of Iraq. “The Bush administration took many intelligence operations that had been aimed at al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected them to the Persian Gulf. Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.” [The New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed Former White House official]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush  Additional Info 
          

March 7, 2002

       According to British Foreign Minister Robin, Home Secretary David Blunkett asks where Britain had obtained the “legal authority” to invade Iraq. [Independent, 10/6/03; Guardian, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: David Blunkett
          

March 9, 2002

       The CIA sends a 1 1/2-page cable to the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, with news that a CIA source (Joseph Wilson) sent to Niger has failed to find any evidence to back claims that Iraq sought uranium from that country. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; BBC, 7/8/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; BBC, 7/8/03 Sources: senior CIA official] Bush administration officials will later say in June 2003 that the cable left out important details of the trip. They will say it did not include the name of the diplomat who had gone to Niger or his conclusions. And consequently, The Washington Post will report in June 2003, “It was not considered unusual or very important and not passed on to Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, or other senior White House officials.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03 Sources: senior administration official] But the CIA source who made the journey, Joseph Wilson, will find this explanation hard to believe. “Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission,” he will later explain. “The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.” [New York Times, 7/6/03 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson
          

March 19, 2002

       Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet says: “There is no doubt that there have been (Iraqi) contacts and linkages to the al-Qaeda organization. As to where we are on September 11, the jury is still out. As I said carefully in my statement, it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship whether Iranian or Iraqi and we'll see where the evidence takes us.... There is nothing new in the last several months that changes our analysis in any way.... There's no doubt there have been contacts or linkages to the al-Qaeda organization.... I want you to think about al-Qaeda as a front company that mixes and matches its capabilities.... The distinction between Sunni and Shia that have traditionally divided terrorists groups are not distinctions we should make any more, because there are common interests against the United States and its allies in this region, and they will seek capabilities wherever they can get it.... Their ties may be limited by divergent ideologies, but the two sides' mutual antipathies toward the United States and the Saudi royal family suggests that tactical cooperation between them is possible.” [PBS, 3/19/02; Agence France Press, 3/20/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

Late March 2002

       Philip Gordon of the Brooking Institution tells the Associated Press, “Removing Saddam will be opening a Pandora's box, and there might not be any easy way to close it back up.” [Associated Press, 3/31/02]
People and organizations involved: Philip Gordon
          

Late March 2002

       After Dick Cheney's 10-day trip across the Middle East, during which he was told by several Middle East leaders that their respective governments would not support an invasion of Iraq, an official tells the Telegraph of London: “I don't think it will change the administration's thinking. We are quite determined on this account.” [Telegraph, 3/24/02]
          

April 2002-March 2003

       The US State Department begins the “Future of Iraq” project aimed at developing plans for post-Saddam Iraq. The project eventually evolves into the collaborative effort of some seventeen working groups involving more than 200 exiled Iraqi opposition figures and professionals including jurists, academics, engineers, scientists and technical experts. These groups meet on numerous occasions over the next eight to ten months, preparing plans to address a wide range of issues. The seventeen working groups include: Public Health and Humanitarian Needs; Water, Agriculture and the Environment; Public Finance and Accounts; Transitional Justice; Economy and Infrastructure; Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, and Migration Policy; Foreign and National Security Policy; Defense Institutions and Policy; Civil Society Capacity-Building; Public and Media Outreach; Economic and Infrastructure; Local Government; Anti-Corruption Measures; Oil and Energy; Education; Free Media; and Democratic Principles. [US State Department, 4/23/03; US News, 11/25/03; New York Times, 10/19/03; Washington Times, 6/5/02; United States Mission to the European Union, 10/4/02; United States Mission to the European Union, 10/11/02; Assyrian International News Agency, 10/31/02; US Department of State, 10/11/02; Washington File, 12/16/02; Washington File, 12/16/02; US Department of State, 12/19/02; Washington File, 1/23/02; Free Press, 2/10/03; Washington File, 2/12/03; US Department of State, 2/3/03]
Problems and setbacks - The project suffers from a serious lack of interest and funds. In July, the Guardian reports, “Deep in the bowels of the US State Department, not far from the cafeteria, there is a small office identified only by a handwritten sign on the door reading: ‘The Future of Iraq Project.’ .... [T]he understaffed and underfunded Future of Iraq Project has been spending more effort struggling with other government departments than plotting Saddam's downfall.” [Guardian 7/10/02]

Achievements - The $5 million project ultimately produces 13 volumes of reports consisting of some 2,000 pages of what is described as varying quality. The New York Times will later report: “A review of the work shows a wide range of quality and industriousness.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]
The newspaper cites several examples:
“... the transitional justice working group, made up of Iraqi judges, law professors and legal experts, ... met four times and drafted more than 600 pages of proposed reforms in the Iraqi criminal code, civil code, nationality laws and military procedure.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]

“The group studying defense policy and institutions expected problems if the Iraqi Army was disbanded quickly.... The working group recommended that jobs be found for demobilized troops to avoid having them turn against allied forces ...” [New York Times, 10/19/03]

“The democratic principles working group wrestled with myriad complicated issues from reinvigorating a dormant political system to forming special tribunals for trying war criminals to laying out principles of a new Iraqi bill of rights.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]

“The transparency and anticorruption working group warned that ‘actions regarding anticorruption must start immediately; it cannot wait until the legal, legislative and executive systems are reformed.’” [New York Times, 10/19/03]

“The economy and infrastructure working group warned of the deep investments needed to repair Iraq's water, electrical and sewage systems.” [New York Times, 10/19/03]

“The free media working group noted the potential to use Iraq's television and radio capabilities to promote the goals of a post-Hussein Iraq ....” [New York Times, 10/19/03]

Impact of the project's work - After the US and British invasion of Iraq, Knight Ridder will report, “Virtually none of the ‘Future of Iraq’ project's work was used.” [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
It was “ignored by Pentagon officials,” the New York Times will also observe. [New York Times, 10/19/03] Iraq expert and former CIA analyst Judith Yaphe, who is one of the American experts involved in the “Future of Iraq” project, will tell American Prospect magazine in May 2003: “[The Office of the Secretary of Defense] has no interest in what I do.” She will also complain about how the Defense Department prevented the State Department from getting involved in the post-war administration of Iraq. “They've brought in their own stable of people from AEI [American Enterprise Institute], and the people at the State Department who worked with the Iraqi exiles are being kept from Garner,” she will explain. [American Prospect, 5/1/03] One of those people is Tom Warrick, the “Future of Iraq” project director. When retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the first US administrator in Iraq, requests that Warrick join his staff, Pentagon civilians veto the appointment. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; New York Times, 10/19/03] Other sources will also say that the Pentagon purposefully ignored the work of the “Future of Iraq” project. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who retires from the Pentagon's Near East/South Asia bureau on July 1, will tell Knight Ridder Newspapers that she and her colleagues were instructed by Pentagon officials in the Office of Special Plans to ignore the State Department's concerns and views. “We almost disemboweled State,” Kwiatkowski will recall. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] After the fall of Saddam Hussein, critics will say that several of the post-war problems encountered could have been avoided had the Pentagon considered the warnings and recommendations of the “Future of Iraq” project. [New York Times, 10/19/03; American Prospect, 5/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Tom Warrick, Jay Garner, Karen Kwiatkowski, Judith Yaphe
          

April 25, 2002

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesperson states, “Given what we know about al-Qaeda's interest in the material, we have to have concerns about a possible marriage between those who wish to acquire it and those who have it.” Immediately after the statement is made, Britain's own senior military officials refute the claim saying that there is no credible evidence to support the claim. A senior source tells the Independent of London, “We are not aware of evidence, intelligence or otherwise, that the Iraqi government or its agencies are passing on weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda. Nor have we seen any credible evidence linking the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks.” [Independent, 3/26/02 Sources: Unnamed senior British military source]
          

April 28, 2002

       Newsweek reports that both US and Czech officials no longer believe the alleged April 2001 meeting between Mr. Atta and the Iraqi officer, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, ever took place (see April 8, 2001). The magazine reports that FBI and CIA investigations show no record that Atta visited Prague during that time and instead place the 9/11 plotter in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Florida during that month. [Newsweek, 4/28/01; Washington Post, 5/1/02; BBC, 5/1/02 Sources: Unnamed Czech intelligence officials, Unnamed US Intelligence Officials] But Interior Minister Stanislav Gross maintains that the meeting did take place. A few days after the Newsweek report is published, he says, “Right now I do not have the slightest information that anything is wrong with the details I obtained from BIS counterintelligence. I trust the BIS more than journalists.” [BBC, 5/1/02; Prague Post, 5/8/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Atta, Stanislav Gross, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani  Additional Info 
          

(May 2002-February 2003)

       Karen Kwiatkowski escorts about half a dozen Israelis, including some generals, from the first floor reception area of the Pentagon to Douglas Feith's office. “We just followed them, because they knew exactly where they were going and moving fast,” she later explains. The Israelis are not required to sign in as is required under special regulations put into effect after the Sept. 11 attacks. Kwiatkowski speculates that Feith's office may have waived this requirement for the Israelis so that there would be no record of the meeting. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
          

May 2002

       Defense Intelligence Agency analysts issue a “fabricator notice,” warning the intelligence community that Iraqi defector Mohammad Harith is of questionable reliability and recommending that agencies disregard any intelligence that he has provided. [Newsweek, 2/16/04; New York Times 2/13/04; Reuters, 2/18/04; Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence official] The classified memo is “widely circulated within intelligence agencies, including the DIA and CIA,” Newsweek will later report, citing unnamed intelligence officials. [Newsweek, 2/16/04 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials, Linton Wells] Almost a year later, in a presentation to the UN, Secretary of State Colin Powell will make the claim that Iraq has mobile biological weapons labs (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003), and cite Harith as one of intelligence's four sources. Explaining how the reference to a dubious source made its way into Powell's speech, the State Department will say that the “fabricator notice” had not been properly cross-referenced in intelligence computers. [Newsweek, 2/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC)
          

May 5, 2002

       Appearing on ABC's “This Week,” Colin Powell says, “The United States reserves its option to do whatever it believes might be appropriate to see if there can be a regime change.... US policy is that regardless of what the inspectors do, the people of Iraq and the people of the region would be better off with a different regime in Baghdad.” [US Department of State, 5/5/02; BBC, 12/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

June 2002

       The CIA issues a classified report titled, “Iraq and al-Qaeda: A Murky Relationship,” which reportedly expresses doubts that Iraq is involved in international terrorism. [The Washington Post, 10/20/2002; New York Times, 4/28/2004; Telegraph, 7/11/2004] Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith informs Donald Rumsfeld that the report should be read “for content only—and CIA's interpretation should be ignored.” [Telegraph, 7/11/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith
          

June 26, 2002

       Entifadh Qunbar, a lobbyist for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), sends a memo to the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in which he provides information about a State Department-funded intelligence program, known as the “information-collection program,” run by the INC. Qunbar, who says he is the overall manager of the group, states in the memo that under the program, “defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed,” and “the results are reported through the INC newspaper (Al Mutamar), the Arabic and Western media and to appropriate governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies.” Information is also passed on to William Luti, who will later run the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002), and John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, who Qunbar describes as the “principal point of contact.” [Newsweek, 12/15/03; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo] The memo provides a description of some of the people involved in the group and their activities. It says that the analytical group includes five analysts with a background in Iraq's military, Iraq's intelligence services and human rights. One person, a consultant, monitors the Iraqi government's alleged efforts to develop banned weapons. The five analysts process information and write reports, which are sent to Al Mutamar, the INC's newspaper, as well as the US government and many mainstream news organizations. Qunbar says that the information-collection program issued 30 reports between August 2001 and June 2002, which were sent to Al Mutamar. His memo also indicates the group published 28 private reports in collaboration with the INC's headquarters in London. The memo reveals that between October 2001 and May 2002, information provided by the INC was cited in more than 100 articles published by a variety of English-language news publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, CNN, Fox News, and several others. [New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo]
People and organizations involved: Entifadh Qunbar, Iraqi National Congress (INC), Dick Cheney, Memo
          

June 28, 2002

       The National Review publishes an op-ed piece by Lawrence Kudlow, titled, “Taking back the market . . . by force,” in which he claims, “The shock therapy of decisive war will elevate the stock market by a couple thousand points.” Kudlow is the CEO of Kudlow & Co. [National Review, 6/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Research Unit for Political Economy
          

July 2002

       Condoleezza Rice tells an unnamed Bush administration official who has doubts about invading Iraq: “A decision has been made. Don't waste your breath.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official(s) and/or US intelligence official(s)]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

After Summer 2002

       The CIA shares its doubts about the veracity of the Africa-uranium claim with the White House, National Security Council staffers, members of Congress, other intelligence offices and the British. The agency warns administration officials against using the Africa-uranium claim as evidence that Iraq is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. [The Washington Post, 3/22/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials]
 Additional Info 
          

July 2002-March 19, 2003

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime has or is seeking ties with global Islamic terrorist groups. [Independent, 2/9/03; New York Times, 2/3/03; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; Radio Free Europe, 10/29/02; International Herald Tribune, 11/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/4/02; Baltimore Sun, 9/26/02; Wall Street Journal, 8/15/02; Telegraph, 2/4/03; Washington Post 9/10/02; Sunday Herald, 10/13/02; CBC News, 11/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Benjamin, Igor Ivanov, Tony Blair, Rohan Gunaratna, Vince Cannistraro, Youssef M. Ibrahim, Jean Chretien, MIchael O'Hanlon, Baltasar Garzon, Anna Eshoo, Brent Scowcroft, Jean-Louis Brugui←re, Jack Straw, US Department of State, 4/30/2001, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Vince Cannistraro, Richard Durbin, Michael Chandler  Additional Info 
          

Summer 2002

       Claire Short, the British secretary for international development who later resigns in protest of the impending invasion of Iraq, will say in June 2003 that three senior British Intelligence officials told her before the war that Bush and Blair's decision to attack Iraq had been made sometime during the summer of 2002 and that it would likely begin in mid-February 2003. “Three extremely senior people in the Whitehall system said to me very clearly and specifically that the target date was mid-February.” Furthermore, Short will learn, the decision by Blair's government to participate in the US invasion of Iraq bypassed proper government procedures and ignored opposition to the war from Britain's intelligence quarters. [Guardian, 6/18/03 Sources: Claire Short]
People and organizations involved: Claire Short
          

Summer 2002

       Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz secretly meets with Francis Brooke, the Iraqi National Congress' lobbyist, and Khidir Hamza, the former chief of Iraq's nuclear program. Wolfowitz asks Hamza if he thinks the aluminum tubes (see July 2001) could be used in centrifuges. Hamza—who has never built a centrifuge and who is considered an unreliable source by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (see July 30, 2002) —looks at the tubes' specifications and concludes that the tubes are adaptable. Wolfowitz disseminates Hamza's assessment to several of his neoconservative colleagues who have posts in the administration. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 281]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Khidir Hamza, Francis Brooke
          

Summer 2002-2003

       Current and former top US military brass dispute White House claims that Iraq poses an immediate threat to the US and that it must be dealt with militarily. In late July 2002, The Washington Post reports that “top generals and admirals in the military establishment, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” believe that Saddam Hussein's regime “poses no immediate threat and that the United States should continue its policy of containment rather than invade Iraq to force a change of leadership in Baghdad.” The report says that the military officials' positions are based “in part on intelligence assessments of the state of Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and his missile delivery capabilities.” The newspaper says that there are several reasons why these dissident officers disagree with their civilian bosses. They worry that if Saddam Hussein is removed, Iraq could “split up, ... potentially leading to chaos and the creation of new anti-American regimes and terrorist sanctuaries in the region.” It is also possible, they say, that an invasion of Iraq could provoke Saddam Hussein into using whatever weapons of mass destruction he may have. And even if the invasion is successful, the aftermath could see “mass instability, requiring tens of thousands of US troops to maintain peace, prop up a post-Saddam government, and prevent the fragmentation of Iraq,” the military brass warns. Their position is that the US should continue its policy of containment, specifically sanctions and the enforcement of the US- and British- imposed “no-fly” zones. [The Washington Post, 7/28/02] Responding to the dissenting opinions of these military officials, Richard Perle, current chairman of the Defense Policy Board, says that the decision of whether or not to attack Iraq is “a political judgment that these guys aren't competent to make.” [The Washington Post, 7/28/02] A few days later, The Washington Post publishes another story along similar lines, reporting, “Much of the senior uniformed military, with the notable exception of some top Air Force and Marine generals, opposes going to war anytime soon, a stance that is provoking frustration among civilian officials in the Pentagon and in the White House.” Notably the division has created “an unusual alliance between the State Department and the uniformed side of the Pentagon, elements of the government that more often seem to oppose each other in foreign policy debates.” [The Washington Post, 8/1/02 Sources: Unnamed senior military officials] The extent of the generals' disagreement is quite significant, reports the Post, which quotes one proponent of invading Iraq expressing his/her concern that the brass' opinion could ultimately dissuade Bush from taking military action. “You can't force things onto people who don't want to do it, and the three- and four-star Army generals don't want to do it. I think this will go back and forth, and back and forth, until it's time for Bush to run for reelection,” the source says. [The Washington Post, 8/1/02 Sources: Unnamed US official] During the next several months, several former military officials speak out against the Bush administration's military plans, including Wesley Clark, Joseph P. Hoar, John M. Shalikashvili, Tony McPeak, Gen James L Jones, Norman Schwarzkopf, Anthony Zinni, Henry H. Shelton and Thomas G. McInerney. In mid-January 2003, Time magazine reports that according to its sources, “as many as 1 in 3 senior officers questions the wisdom of a preemptive war with Iraq.” They complain that “the US military is already stretched across the globe, the war against Osama bin Laden is unfinished, and ... a long postwar occupation looks inevitable.” [Time, 1/19/03]
People and organizations involved: James L Jones, Norman Schwarzkopf, John M. Shalikashvili, Anthony Zinni, Henry H. Shelton, Thomas G. McInerney, Joseph Hoar, Tony McPeak, Richard Perle, Kim Holmes, Wesley Clark  Additional Info 
          

Summer 2002

       Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, says that “informants within the Iraqi intelligence community,” have revealed “that Hussein's VX stockpile is far larger than the 3.9 tons Iraq reported—something UNSCOM inspectors have long suspected,” reports The Washington Post. “Chalabi also says that the VX had been converted into a dry salt for long-term storage and was positioned in various sites across Iraq for use in the event of a foreign attack. UNSCOM officials said the account seemed credible, given what was learned about Iraq's VX program in the final months of weapons inspections.” [Washington Post, 7/31/2002]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC), Ahmed Chalabi
          

July 2002

       Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on centrifuges, reviews the tube controversy and concludes that it is very unlikely that the tubes were imported to be used for centrifuges. He says the aluminum tubes are too thick to be used as rotors. He sends a report of his analysis to US authorities. He later tells The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” He also adds that other centrifuge experts whom he knows share his assessment of the tubes. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sources: Houston G. Wood III]
People and organizations involved: Houston G. Wood III
          

Late July 2002

       A Congressional panel investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11 concludes that there is no evidence that Mohammad Atta—under any of his known aliases—visited Prague in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). [Boston Globe, 8/3/03]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohammed Atta  Additional Info 
          

July 30, 2002

       Richard Butler, a former UN inspector from Australia, tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I have seen no evidence of Iraq providing weapons of mass destruction to non-Iraqi terrorist groups.” [Associated Press, 8/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard Butler
          

July 30, 2002

       Khidir Hamza, “who played a leading role in Iraq's nuclear weapon program before defecting in 1994,” tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that according to German intelligence, Iraq has “more than 10 tons of uranium and one ton of slightly enriched uranium ... in its possession” which would be “enough to generate the needed bomb-grade uranium for three nuclear weapons by 2005.” He says that Iraq is “using corporations in India and other countries to import the needed equipment for its program and channel it through countries like Malaysia for shipment to Iraq.” He also claims that Iraq is “gearing up to extend the range of its missiles to easily reach Israel.” The testimony is widely reported in the media. [CNN, 8/1/02; Guardian, 8/1/02; Telegraph, 8/1/02] Hamza, however, is considered by many to be an unreliable source. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security where Hamza worked as an analyst from 1997 to 1999, says that after Hamza defected “he went off the edge” and “started saying irresponsible things.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] And General Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law who was in charge of the dictator's former weapons program but who defected in 1995, told UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors at the time of his defection, as well as US and British intelligence, that Khidhir Hamza was not a reliable source (see August 22, 1995). [New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: UNSCOM Interview with Hussein Kamel, August 22, 1995] The IAEA will say in 2004 that before the US invasion of Iraq, it had warned journalists reporting on Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program that Hamza was not a credible source. “Hamza had no credibility at all. Journalists who called us and asked for an assessment of these people—we'd certainly tell them” [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04 Sources: Unnamed IAEA staff member]
People and organizations involved: Khidir Hamza, David Albright, Hussein Kamel
          

July 31, 2002

       Joseph P. Hoar, a retired Marine Corps general who commanded American forces in the Persian Gulf after the 1991 war, warns the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the proposed invasion is both “risky” and possibly unnecessary. [New York Times, 8/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Joseph Hoar
          

August 2002

       Retired Army General Henry H. Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells The Washington Post, “If we get drawn into something in Iraq, then our focus will go very heavily there, and it will be hard to sustain the momentum in the war on terrorism. That's the biggest danger that I see.” [The Washington Post, 9/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Henry H. Shelton
          

August 2002

       General James L. Jones, the four-star commander of the Marine Corps who will be taking over as NATO's supreme allied commander, tells The Washington Times that toppling Iraq's government and defeating its army will be much more difficult than it was to remove the Taliban. “Afghanistan was Afghanistan; Iraq is Iraq,” he explains. “It would be foolish, if you were ever committed to going into Iraq, to think that the principles that were successful in Afghanistan would necessarily be successful in Iraq. In my opinion, they would not.” The general suggests that a large force will be needed to successfully invade the country. [Telegraph, 8/23/02]
People and organizations involved: James L Jones
          

August 1, 2002

       A panel of experts on Iraq warns the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that administering Iraq after the toppling of Saddam's government will be expensive and difficult. The panel says that “there are no obvious successors to Saddam Hussein and that the Bush administration should be prepared to help install and protect a pro-American government if it decides to topple him—a proposition, they added, that would be long and expensive,” the New York Times reports. “Nearly all the experts argued that setting up a stable, pro-Western government in Baghdad would require a huge infusion of aid and a long-term commitment of American troops to maintain peace.” [New York Times, 8/2/02] Phebe Marr, a professor from the National Defense University who has written prolifically on Iraq, tells the panel, “If the US is going to take the responsibility for removing the current leadership, it should assume that it cannot get the results it wants on the cheap.” Scott Feil, a retired Army colonel who studies postwar reconstruction programs, says that 75,000 troops will be needed in Iraq to stabilize the country after Saddam is removed from power. He estimates that such a deployment will cost in excess of $16 billion per year. After the first 12 months, the colonel says that the force could be reduced in number, possibly to as low as 5,000, though this military presence would have to be maintained for at least another five years. In contrast, Caspar W. Weinberger, the secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan argues that the United States will not need to undertake a major effort in rebuilding Iraq. [New York Times, 8/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Scott Feil, Caspar Weinberger, Phebe Marr
          

Early August 2002

       Several Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, meet with the FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism, Pat D'Amuro, to discuss the latest intelligence concerning the alleged April 2001 (see April 8, 2001) meeting between 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. Wolfowitz pressures the two agencies' analysts to confirm that the Prague meeting had in fact happened. The FBI concedes that the occurrence of the meeting, though not proven, was at least possible. [Time, 9/2/02 Sources: Unnamed CIA and FBI officials]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Atta, Paul Wolfowitz, Pat D'Amuro, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
          

August 2002

       Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith give two presentations on Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda to the CIA at the agency's Langley headquarters. CIA analysts are not impressed, having seen much of the information before and having already determined that it was not credible. Some of the information will nevertheless be included in speeches by Bush and in testimony by Tenet to Congress. The information is also put into a classified memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Feith, which is later leaked to The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Chris Carney, Douglas Feith
          

August 2002

       US satellite photos reportedly show increased activity near the Taji factory in Iraq, which US intelligence suspects may be involved in the production of anthrax. The facility is located 10 miles outside of Baghdad. [World Tribune, 8/14/02] But on August 20, a week after news of the satellite photos are reported, the Iraqi government allows 15 journalists, mostly Iraqis representing foreign presses, to tour the alleged weapons site. Reporters who tour the facility find “piles of 110-pound sacks of sugar and rice and boxes of milk covered the floor. Writing on the sacks [indicates] ... they were imported under the oil-for-food program that allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil provided the proceeds go for food, medicine and other supplies,” [Associated Press, 8/20/02] including powdered milk imported from Yemen, Vietnam, Tunisia and Indonesia and sacks of sugar imported from Egypt and India. [Saleh, 8/20/02] Iraq's trade minister, Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, explains that the trucks captured by the satellite photos had been distributing foodstuffs from al-Taji to warehouses in the various provinces of Iraq. He states: “They [Americans] are checking every movement in Iraq, but a satellite cannot tell real information. This is rubbish information, actually rubbish information to convert baby milk and baby food and sugar to weapons of mass destruction.... We started to move food from this warehouse to supply stores in provinces early this month, and more specifically on August 4 as we started to distribute food rations every two months.... We have transported 2,500 tons of powdered milk in 187 trucks and not 60 trucks as the Americans said and we will continue (to do so).... If they enlarge the satellite photographs they can compare boxes of the baby milk moved from this site as they were not covered and boxes here.” [Saleh, 8/20/02] An enlargement of the pictures would have revealed the words, “Al-moudhish,” written on the packages—the brand name of the milk that had been imported from Oman. [Associated Press, 8/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Mehdi Saleh
          

(August 2002)

       Pentagon officials working in the Office of Special Plans visit George Tenet at CIA headquarters under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith to voice their objections to the final draft of a CIA assessment on Iraq's supposed links to terrorism. The officials disputed the report's conclusion that intelligence suggesting an alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (see 1999) was not credible. As a result of Pentagon officials' objections, the CIA's assessment is postponed until September 18. Tenet will later say he “didn't think much of” the briefing. [Telegraph, 7/11/2004; Newsweek, 7/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

August 2002

       The Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also know as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project, which had been formed shortly after the September 11 attacks (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), is disbanded. [Reuters, 2/19/04]
          

(Early August 2002)

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush discuss over the phone their intention to topple Saddam Hussein's government. An unnamed White House official who later reads the transcripts of the 15-minute phone call, will explain to Vanity Fair that it was clear from their conversation that the decision to invade Iraq had already been made. The magazine reports in April 2004: “Before the call, the official says, he had the impression that the probability of invasion was high, but still below 100 percent, Afterward, he says, ‘it was a done deal.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 284 Sources: Unnamed White House official]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

August 4, 2002

       Appearing on CBS's “Face the Nation,” Brent Scowcroft warns that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could destabilize the Middle East and undermine efforts to defeat global terrorist groups. Scowcroft says: “It's a matter of setting your priorities. There's no question that Saddam is a problem. He has already launched two wars and spent all the resources he can working on his military. But the President has announced that terrorism is our number one focus. Saddam is a problem, but he's not a problem because of terrorism. I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a cauldron and destroy the War on Terror.” [Times, 8/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Brent Scowcroft  Additional Info 
          

(8:00 p.m.) August 5, 2002

       After dinner at the White House, Colin Powell speaks privately with George Bush and convinces him that international backing would be crucial for an invasion of Iraq and the inevitable occupation that would follow. Powell cites polls which indicate that a majority of Americans favor seeking a UN resolution. Bush reluctantly agrees. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 284]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Colin Powell
          

August 7, 2002

       Speaking to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, Cheney states, “Many of us, I think, are skeptical that simply returning the inspectors will solve the problem. A debate with [Mr Hussein] over inspectors simply, I think, would be an effort by him to obfuscate, delay and avoid having to live up to the accords that he signed up to at the end of the Gulf war.” [New York Times, 8/7/02; Observer, 8/11/02] In the speech, he also tells his audience that Saddam “sits on top of 10 per cent of the world's oil reserves. He has enormous wealth being generated by that,” adding, “And left to his own devices, it's the judgment of many of us that in the not too distant future he will acquire nuclear weapons.” [New York Times, 8/7/02; Observer, 8/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney
          

August 12, 2002

       Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger writes an op-ed piece which is published in the paper edition of The Washington Post. In it, Kissinger argues against a unilateral preemptive strike against Iraq without first creating a new international security framework that allows for nations to conduct preemptive strikes only under specific limited conditions. Otherwise, Kissinger argues, such an action would set a dangerous precedent that other nations might attempt to use in justifying their own policies. [New York Times, 8/16/02; Times of London, 8/13/02; Fox News, 8/16/02; Independent, 8/17/02]
People and organizations involved: John Larson  Additional Info 
          

August 13, 2002

       Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joins Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his advisors for a meeting. Describing the meeting, the New York Times reports three days later that they “have decided that they should focus international discussion on how Iraq would be governed after Mr. Hussein—not only in an effort to assure a democracy but as a way to outflank administration hawks and slow the rush to war, which many in the department oppose.” [New York Times, 8/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Kissinger, Colin Powell
          

August 15, 2002

       The Washington Post syndicated columnist Charles Krauthhammer, speaking on “Inside Washington” in a discussion with fellow Post columnist Charlie King and Post military reporter Thomas Ricks, argues in favor of the Bush administration's policy on Iraq. At one point, moderator Gordan Petersons asks what the US should do after deposing Saddam. Krauthhammer responds: “We don't speak about exit strategies; this is not Bosnia, or Haiti, or the Balkans. This is very important, everybody understands it, we are not going to run away. We are going to get there, and we are going to stay. We are going to try to make a reasonably civil society, reasonably pro-American, a good influence on the neighbors, and disarmed. That's a large undertaking, and I think we are absolutely [unintelligible] everybody who is supporting the war or the invasion is in favor of staying and doing the job.” When Thomas Ricks notes that Krauthhammer's proposal would involve nine of the US Army's ten active-duty divisions, he counters, “That assumption is entirely unwarranted. I think we will be accepted as liberators, as we were in Afghanistan.” He also shoots down a comment from Peterson referring to the cost of invading Iraq. “If we win the war, we are in control of Iraq, it is the single largest source of oil in the world, it's got huge reserves, which have been suppressed because of Iraq's actions, and Saddam's. We will have a bonanza, a financial one, at the other end, if the war is successful,” Krauthhammer explains. [WUSATV, 8/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Charles Krauthhammer
          

August 15, 2002

       In an interview broadcast by BBC Radio 4's Today Program, Condoleezza Rice says: “This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us. There is a very powerful moral case for regime change. We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing.... Clearly, if Saddam Hussein is left in power doing the things that he is doing now, this is a threat that will emerge, and emerge in a very big way.... The case for regime change is very strong. This is a regime that we know has twice tried and come closer than we thought at the time to acquiring nuclear weapons. He has used chemical weapons against his own people and against his neighbors, he has invaded his neighbors, he has killed thousands of his own people. He shoots at our planes, our airplanes, in the no-fly zones where we are trying to enforce UN security resolutions.... History is littered with cases of inaction that led to very grave consequences for the world. We just have to look back and ask how many dictators who ended up being a tremendous global threat and killing thousands and, indeed, millions of people, should we have stopped in their tracks.” [Reuters, 8/15/2002; Telegraph, 8/16/2002; Times, 8/16/2002; Guardian, 8/15/02] Interestingly, Rice does not say Iraq has chemical, biological or nuclear arms. Instead, she speaks of the danger Saddam would pose, “if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.” [USA Today, 8/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

August 15, 2002

       Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan official with close ties to senior Bush aides, “It'll be a piece of cake to get public support. The American people will be 90 percent for it. Almost nobody in Congress will object, and the allies will pipe down.” [The Washington Post, 8/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Kenneth Adelman
          

August 15, 2002

       Brent Scowcroft is the source of major embarrassment for the administration when he authors an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing against the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He says that the toppling of Saddam's regime would destabilize the Middle East and thus “turn the whole region into a cauldron and destroy the War on Terror.” Noting that “there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks,” he calls on Bush to abandon his designs on Saddam Hussein and instead refocus his foreign policy on the war on terrorism. [Wall Street Journal] It is suggested that Scowcroft's criticisms probably reflect the feelings of the President's father. The Los Angeles Times reports: “Several former officials close to Scowcroft said they doubted he would have gone public with that posture without clearing the move first with the senior Bush, heightening questions about the latter's view on confronting Iraq. The former president has not commented publicly, which has only fed speculation.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Brent Scowcroft, George Herbert Walker Bush  Additional Info 
          

August 15, 2002

       USA Today reports: “US intelligence cannot say conclusively that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, an information gap that is complicating White House efforts to build support for an attack on Saddam's Iraqi regime. The CIA has advised top administration officials to assume that Iraq has some weapons of mass destruction. But the agency has not given President Bush a ‘smoking gun,’ according to US intelligence and administration officials. The most recent unclassified CIA report on the subject goes no further than saying it is ‘likely’ that Iraq has used the four years since United Nations inspectors left the country to rebuild chemical and biological weapons programs.” [USA Today, 8/15/02 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence and administration officials]
          

August 15, 2002

       Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleberger says on ABC News that unless Mr. Hussein “has his hand on a trigger that is for a weapon of mass destruction, and our intelligence is clear, I don't know why we have to do it now, when all our allies are opposed to it.” [New York Times, 8/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Lawrence Eagleburger
          

August 16, 2002

       After a spate of criticism of his administration's Iraq policy from several prominent Republican former US government officials, President George Bush says from his ranch in Mount Crawford, Texas: “I am aware that some very intelligent people are expressing their opinions about Saddam Hussein and Iraq. I listen very carefully to what they have to say. I'll continue to consult.... I will use all the latest intelligence to make informed decisions about how best to keep the world at peace, how best to defend freedom for the long run.... Listen, it's a healthy debate for people to express their opinion. People should be allowed to express their opinion. But America needs to know, I'll be making up my mind based upon the latest intelligence and how best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies.” But he also adds, “There should be no doubt in anybody's mind that this man is thumbing his nose at the world, that he has gassed his own people, that he is trouble in his neighborhood, that he desires weapons of mass destruction.” [New York Times, 8/17/02; CNN, 8/16/02; Fox News, 8/16/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush  Additional Info 
          

August 18, 2002

       Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded allied forces during the Gulf War, warns against invading Iraq without the support of allies. He explains: “In the Gulf War we had an international force and troops from many nations. We would be lacking if we went it alone at this time.... It is not going to be an easy battle but it would be much more effective if we didn't have to do it alone.” [Times, 8/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Norman Schwarzkopf
          

August 18, 2002

       In a Washington Post op-ed piece, Zbigniew Brzezinski reprimands the Bush administration for its reckless foreign policy, saying that “war is too serious a business and too unpredictable in its dynamic consequences—especially in a highly flammable region—to be undertaken because of a personal peeve, demagogically articulated fears or vague factual assertions.” He adds that “[i]f it is to be war, it should be conducted in a manner that legitimizes US global hegemony and, at the same time, contributes to a more responsible system of international security.” He then makes several recommendations for improving US foreign policy, including a summary of “a wrong way for America to initiate a war.” [The Washington Post, 8/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Zbigniew Brzezinski  Additional Info 
          

August 20, 2002

       During an interview with Fox News, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mocks calls from Washington, Europe and the Arab world demanding that the Bush administration show them evidence to substantiate the hawk's claim that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the US and its allies. “Think of the prelude to World War Two,” the Defense Secretary says. “Think of all the countries that said, well, we don't have enough evidence. I mean, Mein Kampf had been written. Hitler had indicated what he intended to do. Maybe he won't attack us. Maybe he won't do this or that. Well, there were millions of people dead because of the miscalculations. The people who argued for waiting for more evidence have to ask themselves how they are going to feel at that point where another event occurs.” [Fox News, 8/20/03; Telegraph 8/21/02; Guardian 8/22/02] Rumsfeld also says during a news conference that according to “intelligence reports,” Saddam's government is “hosting, supporting or sponsoring” an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. Responding to a question about whether he has any evidence to support the claim that al-Qaeda is operating in Iraq, Rumsfeld states, “There are Al-Qaeda in a number of locations in Iraq.... The suggestion that ... [Iraqi government officials] who are so attentive in denying human rights to their population aren't aware of where these folks [al-Qaeda] are or what they're doing is ludicrous in a vicious, repressive dictatorship.... [I]t's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country.” [New York Times 8/20/02] Shortly after Rumsfeld's remarks, a senior US intelligence official tells The Guardian that there is no evidence to back the defense secretary's claims. “They are not the official guests of the Government,” a second official says, adding that any al-Qaeda in the region are still “on the run.” [Guardian 8/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

August 20, 2002

       Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, citing various “intelligence reports,” claims that the Iraqi government is “hosting, supporting or sponsoring” an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. When asked if he has evidence to support this claim Rumsfeld responds: “There are al-Qaeda in a number of locations in Iraq.... The suggestion that ... [Iraqi government officials] who are so attentive in denying human rights to their population aren't aware of where these folks [al-Qaeda] are or what they're doing is ludicrous in a vicious, repressive dictatorship.” He also says, “It's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country.” [US Department of Defense, 8/20/02; New York Times, 8/20/02] Shortly after the Defense Secretary's allegations, an unnamed intelligence official tells the Guardian, “They are not the official guests of the Government,” adding that any al-Qaeda in the region are still “on the run.” A month later, Knight Ridder reports that according to an anonymous US official, Rumsfeld's charge is based on information from Kurdish opposition groups which are feeding information to the Pentagon. [Guardian, 8/22/02; Knight Ridder, 9/25/02 Sources: Unnamed US official, Unnamed US intelligence official]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

August 21, 2002

       Following a trip to several Middle Eastern countries, which included meetings with several diplomats and foreign dignitaries, US Representative John Larson warns that “the innocent slaughter of Muslims will create, in essence, what Osama bin Laden was unable to do, a united Islamic jihad against us.” [New Britain Herald, 8/22/02]
People and organizations involved: John Larson
          

August 23, 2002

       In a speech to the Economic Club of Florida in Tallahassee, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who recently served as the president's special envoy to the Middle East, argues that there are more pressing issues than Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Specifically, he points to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instability in Afghanistan, the continuing existence of the al-Qaeda network, and the theocracy in Iran. He adds that the proposed war with Iraq would be expensive and would put considerable strain on the military's resources, which already are “stretched too tight all over the world.” Furthermore, notes the general, invading Iraq would further antagonize America's allies in the Middle East. “We need to quit making enemies that we don't need to make enemies out of,” he says. He also notes, “It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way and all the others who have never fired a shot and are hot to go to war see it another way.” [Tampa Tribune, 8/24/02]
People and organizations involved: James L Jones
          

August 25, 2002

       The New York Times publishes an opinion article by James Baker, a former secretary of state and a close friend of the Bush family. In his piece, Baker writes that the US must raise a coalition and secure a broad base of support before attempting to remove Saddam Hussein by force. Although it may be possible to successfully invade the country and depose its regime, he argues, America's image would suffer irreparable damage as a consequence. Therefore, according to Baker, a unilateral preemptive strike in the midst of massive opposition from US allies in Europe and the Middle East would be detrimental to American strategic interests. [New York Times, 8/25/02]
People and organizations involved: James Baker
          

August 26, 2002

       In a speech to the Nashville convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vice President Richard Cheney says Saddam Hussein will “seek domination of the entire Middle East, take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, directly threaten America's friends throughout the region and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail.” He also states unequivocally that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” he says. “There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us ... What he wants is time, and more time to husband his resources to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons program, and to gain possession of nuclear weapons.” Therefore he argues, the answer is not weapons inspections. “Against that background, a person would be right to question any suggestion that we should just get inspectors back into Iraq, and then our worries will be over. Saddam has perfected the game of shoot and retreat, and is very skilled in the art of denial and deception. A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with UN resolutions.” [New York Times, 8/26/02] Cheney's speech marks the first major statement from the White House regarding the Bush administration's Iraq policy following a flood of criticisms from former officials. Significantly, the speech was not cleared by the CIA or the State Department. [Newsweek, 9/9/02 Sources: Unnamed sources interviewed by Newsweek] Furthermore, Cheney's comments dismissing the need for the return of inspectors, were not cleared by President Bush. [Newsweek, 9/9/02 Sources: Andrew Card] Three days after the speech, a State Department source tells CNN that Powell's view clashes with that which was presented in Cheney's speech, explaining that the Secretary of State is opposed to any military action in which the US would “go it alone ... as if it doesn't give a damn” what other nations think. The source also says that Powell and “others in the State Department were ‘blindsided’ by Cheney's ‘time is running out’ speech ... and were just as surprised as everyone else,” CNN reports. [CNN, 8/30/02 Sources: Unnamed source interviewed by CNN]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney, Colin Powell  Additional Info 
          

August 27, 2002

       Speaking to US Marines of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton in California, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says: “Leadership in the right direction finds followers and supporters.... It's less important to have unanimity than it is making the right decision and doing the right thing, even though at the outset it may seem lonesome.” [US Department of Defense, 8/27/03; Associated Press, 8/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

Late August 2002

       Yuval Steinitz, a Likud party member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, suggests that the imposition of a pro-American regime in Baghdad would ease Israel's discomfort with Syria, which it views as a threat. Steinitz says, “After Iraq is taken by US troops and we see a new regime installed as in Afghanistan, and Iraqi bases become American bases, it will be very easy to pressure Syria to stop supporting terrorist organizations like Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, to allow the Lebanese army to dismantle Hizbullah, and maybe to put an end to the Syrian occupation in Lebanon. If this happens we will really see a new Middle East.” [Christian Science Monitor, 8/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Yuval Steinitz
          

Late August 2002

       Gideon Ezra, Israel's deputy interior minister, says, “The more aggressive the attack is, the more it will help Israel against the Palestinians. The understanding would be that what is good to do in Iraq, is also good for here.” He also says that a US invasion of Iraq would “undoubtedly deal a psychological blow” to the Palestinians. [Christian Science Monitor, 8/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Gideon Ezra
          

September 2002

       The CIA completes a highly classified report on “Iraqi Ties to Terrorism,” summarizing claims that Iraq has provided “training in poisons and gases” to members of al-Qaeda. The report warns that evidence for the claim comes from “sources of varying reliability” and has not yet been substanitated. The main source behind this allegation, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who once operated bin Laden's Khalden terrorist camp in Afghanistan and who is being held in custody by the CIA, will later recant the claim (see February 14, 2003). [Newsweek, 7/5/2004; The New York Times, 7/31/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi
          

September 2002

       James Woolsey tells the Washington Post: “It's pretty straightforward. France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them..... If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them.” [The Washington Post, 9/15/02]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey  Additional Info 
          

September 2002

       An unnamed Pentagon official tells USA Today that the hawks' recent assertions regarding Iraq-al Qaeda ties are “exaggeration[s].” [USA Today, 9/26/02 Sources: Unnamed Pentagon official]
          

September 2002

       Retired General Wesley Clark writes a piece in the Washington Monthly, titled, “An Army of One: In the war on terrorism, alliances are not an obstacle to victory. They're the key to it,” in which he argues that it is a “fundamental misjudgment” to continue the war on terrorism in the absence of NATO support. He refers to NATO's war in Kosovo repeatedly in his essay using it as an example of how he thinks a just and effective war should be fought. He also says that cooperation with its European allies is crucial if the Bush administration wants to prevent future terrorist attacks, noting that most of the terrorist planning and preparations for the 9-11 attacks took place in terrorist cells in Europe. [The Washington Monthly, 9/2002]
People and organizations involved: Wesley Clark  Additional Info 
          

September 2002

       A US official with inside knowledge of the interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tells USA Today that the administration's recent assertions that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members are based on uncorroborated information from a single detainee. The source also notes that the detainees may be lying to US authorities to encourage a US invasion of Iraq in order to add support to the al-Qaeda argument “that the United States is the mortal enemy of Muslim countries.” [USA Today, 9/26/02 Sources: Unnamed US official]
          

September 2002

       The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) issues an 80-plus-page classified report titled, “Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study,” concluding that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the claim that Iraq has an ongoing chemical weapons program or that Iraq still has biological weapons capabilities. [US News and World Report, 6/9/03; Bloomberg News, 6/6/03 Sources: Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study] When this is reported in the press in June 2003, Michael Anton, a spokesman with the National Security Council, immediately denies that the report suggested the administration had misrepresented intelligence. “The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe. The entire report is consistent with [sic] the president was saying at the time,” he claims. [Fox News, 6/6/03] But two Pentagon officials confirm to Fox News that according to the report, the Defense Intelligence Agency indeed had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons. [Fox News, 6/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study  Additional Info 
          

September 2002

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, A Pentagon adviser] They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Telegraph, 7/11/2004; CNN, 7/11/2004 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/2004 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are:
The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official]
One defector in particular, code-named “Curve Ball,” provides as much as 98% of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/2004] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Newsweek, 12/15/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Salon, 3/10/2004 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Ellen Tauscher, Unnamed former intelligence official, Greg Thielmann]

The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann]
The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council's top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03 Sources: David Obey, Greg Thielmann, Karen Kwiatkowski, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war]
Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Elliott Abrams, Colin Powell, Stephen Hadley, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, Colonel Bruner, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey, Elizabeth Cheney, Kenneth Adelman, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, Karen Kwiatkowski, Douglas Feith  Additional Info 
          

September 2002

       Senior intelligence officials tell the Washington Post that the CIA has yet to find solid evidence that Saddam Hussein has ties to global terrorism despite substantial efforts including analysis of surveillance photos and communications intercepts. [Washington Post, 9/10/02; Washington Post, 9/26/02 Sources: Unnamed senior intelligence officials]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

September 1, 2002

       In an interview with the BBC, Powell states that he favors the return of UN inspectors as a necessary “first step” in dealing with Iraq. He says: “Iraq has been in violation of these many UN resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. So as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find, send them back in, why are they being kept out.” Regarding the decision of whether or not the use of military action would be required, he says: “The world has to be presented with the information, with the intelligence that is available. A debate is needed within the international community so that everybody can make a judgment about this.” [Independent, 9/2/03] His comments directly contradict statements made by Vice President Dick Cheney in a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on August 7 (see August 7, 2002), and another speech to the Nashville convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26 (see August 26, 2002). Interestingly, it also comes one day after Scott McClellan, the White House deputy press secretary, told reporters, “The view of the administration is united and one in the same. We are singing from the same songbook.” [CNN, 8/30/02] But commentators are concluding otherwise, which spurs another statement from Washington, this one from White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who the next day tells reporters as they accompany him on Air Force One: “There is no difference in position between Cheney, Powell, and President Bush. It's much ado about no difference.” [CNN, 9/03/02]
People and organizations involved: Scott McClellan, Ari Fleischer, Colin Powell
          

Before September 2002

       According to a senior intelligence official interviewed by the Associated Press in June of 2003, the CIA shares with Britain the results of Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger (see Late February 2002), advising British intelligence that claims that Iraq attempted to procure uranium from Niger are unsubstantiated. But another report, by the Guardian in London the following month, contradicts this AP report. It cites a series of letters to the British Foreign Affairs Committee which show that the US had asked Britain not to use the Africa-uranium claim, but did not provide details about Wilson's mission to Niger. [Associated Press, 6/12/03; Observer, 7/13/03] In spite of this warning, Britain publishes a dossier in September which includes the claim.(see September 24, 2002)
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson
          

September 2002

       Representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence agency meet to discuss the draft of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which will be published the following month (see October 1, 2002). Representing the DOE's intelligence service is Thomas Rider, who is temporarily filling in as the office's acting director. Significantly, Rider is a “human resources guy” with no intelligence background. “Rider is not an intelligence guy by any stretch of the imagination,” a DOE source will later explain to World Net Daily. “He [has] ... no intel background whatsoever. He [works] on all the personnel stuff—paperwork for promotions, hiring contractors, stuff like that.” At the meeting, Rider is supposed to represent the position of the DOE's scientists and intelligence officers, who believe that Iraq has not reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. Scientists in the Energy Department as well as officers in the department's intelligence office want to join the INR in its dissenting vote. One official will later explain to World Net Daily, “Senior folks in the office wanted to join INR on the footnote, and even wanted to write it with them, so the footnote would have read, ‘Energy and INR.’ ” [World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US official] Instead Rider will side with the other intelligence agencies who claim that Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. An official later tells World Net Daily that when Rider and his staff were arguing over Iraq's alleged program during a pre-brief, Rider told them to “shut up and sit down.” [World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US official] When the voting takes place, Rider does not sign his department onto the State Department's dissenting opinion. As a result, the final vote is a near unanimous 5-1. “Time comes for the Iraq NIE, and instead of being hard-charging and proactive and pulling everybody together, he just didn't know what to do,” one source later says. “He wasn't a strong advocate. He just didn't have the background. He didn't have the gravitas.” The Department of Energy's position on the issue is considered very important. “Energy's vote on the nuclear allegation was critical, because the department is viewed as the final arbiter of technical disputes regarding nuclear-proliferation issues,” World Net Daily will note. [World Net Daily, 8/12/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US official] While serving in the temporary DOE position, Rider, who is said to be close to Secretary Spencer Abraham, receives bonuses totaling $20,500. Energy insiders will say they cannot remember a previous instance where an intelligence chief had been provided with such a large bonus. “That's a hell of a lot of money for an intelligence director who had no experience or background in intelligence, and who'd only been running the office for nine months,” one official says. “Something's fishy.” [World Net Daily, 8/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Spencer Abraham, Thomas Rider  Additional Info 
          

September 3, 2002

       During a Defense Department news briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says: “We know that they were a lot closer than any of the experts had estimated they would be with respect to [developing] a nuclear weapon. To the extent that they have kept their nuclear scientists together and working on these efforts, one has to assume they've not been playing tiddlywinks.” [Centcom, 9/3/2002; Associated Press 9/3/02; UPI 9/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          
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