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Before 9/11

Warning Signs (228)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (27)
Insider Trading (36)
Counterterrorism Before 9/11 (181)
Able Danger (39)
Military Exercises (38)
Hunt for bin Laden (73)
Pipeline Politics (54)

Al-Qaeda Members

Al-Qaeda in Germany (42)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar (74)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (48)
Marwan Alshehhi (21)
Mohamed Atta (37)
Ziad Jarrah (9)
Hani Hanjour (15)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (33)
Zacarias Moussaoui (40)
Nabil al-Marabh (10)

Geopolitics and 9/11

Pakistani ISI (126)
Randy Glass (7)
Sibel Edmonds (6)
Saeed Sheikh (3)
Mahmood Ahmed (3)
Drugs (21)
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family (110)
Bin Laden Family (33)
Israel (33)
Iraq (49)
US Dominance (34)

Day of 9/11

All day of 9/11 events (401)
Flight AA 11 (62)
Flight UA 175 (49)
Flight AA 77 (70)
Flight UA 93 (105)
George Bush (66)
Dick Cheney (24)
Donald Rumsfeld (24)
Richard Clarke

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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Complete 911 Timeline: Richard Clarke's actions on 9/11

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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

      
Secretary of State Colin Powell leaves his Lima, Peru hotel after hearing the news.
Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, top US leaders are scattered across the country and overseas:
President Bush is in Sarasota, Florida. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Secretary of State Powell is in Lima, Peru. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is flying across the Atlantic on the way to Europe. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Attorney General Ashcroft is flying to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh is at a conference in Montana. [ABC News, 9/14/02 (B)]
Others are in Washington:
Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice are at their offices in the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is at his office in the Pentagon, meeting with a delegation from Capitol Hill. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

CIA Director Tenet is at breakfast with his old friend and mentor, former senator David Boren (D), at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks from the White House. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

FBI Director Mueller is in his office at FBI Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is at his office at the Department of Transportation. [Senate Commerce Committee, 9/20/01]

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference in the Ronald Reagan Building three blocks from the White House. [Clarke, 2004, pp 1]

People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Henry H. Shelton, Robert S. Mueller III, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Joeseph M. Allbaugh, Richard A. Clarke, Norman Mineta, Donald Rumsfeld, David Boren, Colin Powell, George Tenet, George W. Bush
          

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

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

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

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

(9:10 a.m.): Rice and Cheney Apparently Go to White House Bunker; Other Accounts Have Cheney Moving Locations Later

       According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and others, Vice President Cheney goes from his White House office to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a bunker in the East Wing of the White House, at about this time. National Security Adviser Rice, after initiating a video conference with Richard Clarke in the West Wing, goes to the PEOC to be with Cheney. There is no video link between response centers in the East and West Wings, but a secure telephone line is used instead. [Clarke, 2004, pp 3-4; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; ABC News, 9/14/02 (B); New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] One eyewitness account, David Bohrer, a White House photographer, says Cheney leaves for the PEOC just after 9:00 a.m. [ABC News, 9/14/02 (B)] However, there is a second account claiming that Cheney doesn't leave until sometime after 9:30 a.m. In this account, Secret Service agents burst into Cheney's White House office. They carry him under his arms—nearly lifting him off the ground—and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel toward an underground bunker. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B); New York Times, 10/16/01; Washington Post, 1/27/02; BBC, 9/1/02; Newsweek, 12/31/01] At about the same time, National Security Adviser Rice is told to go to the bunker as well. [ABC News, 9/11/02] In addition to the eyewitness accounts of Clarke and Bohrer, ABC News claims that Cheney is in the bunker when he is told Flight 77 is 50 miles away from Washington at 9:27 a.m., suggesting that accounts of Cheney entering the bunker after 9:27 a.m. are likely incorrect.
People and organizations involved: David Bohrer, Secret Service, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

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

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

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

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

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

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

9:28 a.m.: Myers Updates Clarke Videoconference on Fighter Response

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, directing a video conference with top officials, asks Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers, “I assume NORAD has scrambled fighters and AWACS. How many? Where?” Myers replies, “Not a pretty picture, Dick. We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise, but ... Otis has launched two birds toward New York. Langley is trying to get two up now [toward Washington]. The AWACS are at Tinker and not on alert.” Vigilant Warrior may be a mistaken reference to the on-going war game Vigilant Guardian. Otis Air National Guard Base is in Massachusetts, 188 miles east of New York City; Langley is in Virginia, 129 miles south of Washington; Tinker Air Force Base is in Oklahoma. Clarke asks, “Okay, how long to CAP [combat air patrol] over D.C.?” Myers replies, “Fast as we can. Fifteen minutes?” Note that according to Clarke, Myers is surrounded by generals and colonels as he says this (which contradicts Myers' own accounts of where he is and what he's doing). [Clarke, 2004, pp 5] The first fighters don't reach Washington until 30 minutes or more later.
People and organizations involved: Vigilant Warrior, Otis Air National Guard Base, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard A. Clarke, Richard B. Myers, Vigilant Guardian
          

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

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

(Between 9:37-9:45 a.m.): Clarke Orders Combat Air Patrols over All Major Cities; Order Apparently Not Passed On

       At an indeterminate time after Flight 77 hits the Pentagon, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is given a note by the head of the Secret Service. The note reads, “Radar shows aircraft headed this way. I'm going to empty out the [White House].” The Secret Service knows this because they have equipment that can see what the FAA's radar is seeing around Washington. However, the note is too late: Flight 77 has already crashed. At almost the same time, another aide says to Clarke, “A plane just hit the Pentagon.” He replies, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn't get hit. No emotion in here. We are going to stay focused.” He orders an aide, “Find out where the fighter planes are. I want Combat Air Patrol over every major city in this country. Now!” [Clarke, 2004, pp 7-8; Australian, 3/27/04] NORAD does give this nationwide order around 9:49 a.m. (see 9:49 a.m.), but bases had been calling into NORAD and asking for permission to send up fighters since the second WTC crash. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Other cities generally remain unprotected until after 11:00 a.m. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] The Secret Service order to evacuate the White House takes place at 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.))
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, Richard A. Clarke, Donald Rumsfeld
          

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9:59 a.m.: White House Finally Requests Continuity of Government Plans, Air Force One Escort, and Fighters for Washington

       The 9/11 Commission Reports, “An Air Force Lieutenant Colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC] conference and state[s] that he had just talked to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The White House request[s]: (1) the implementation of Continuity of Government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) the establishment of a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, D.C.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave the Continuity of Government orders a few minutes before from inside the White House (see (Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.)). This is consistent with Bush's claim that he doesn't make any major decisions about the 9/11 attacks until shortly before 10:00 a.m.
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center
          

(9:59 a.m.): Clarke Told Some Hijackers Have al-Qaeda Connections

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told in private by Dale Watson, counterterrorism chief at the FBI, “We got the passenger manifests from the airlines. We recognize some names, Dick. They're al-Qaeda.” Clarke replies, “How the f_ck did they get on board then?” He is told, “Hey, don't shoot the messenger, friend. CIA forgot to tell us about them.” As they are talking about this, they see the first WTC tower collapse on television. [Clarke, 2004, pp 13-14] Some hijacker names, including Mohamed Atta's, were identified on a reservations computer over an hour earlier.
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Dale Watson
          

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

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

(After 10:06 a.m.): Clarke Told of Flight 93 Crash

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told by an aide, “United 93 is down, crashed outside of Pittsburgh. It's odd. Appears not to have hit anything much on the ground.” The timing of this event is unclear. [Clarke, 2004, pp 14-15]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke
          

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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