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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
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 (22)

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: Iraq

 
  

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1999: US Ready to Fight For Oil, Especially in Persian Gulf and Caspian Regions

       A top level US policy document explicitly confirms the US military's readiness to fight a war for oil. The report, Strategic Assessment 1999, prepared for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense, states, “energy and resource issues will continue to shape international security,” and if an oil “problem” arises, “US forces might be used to ensure adequate supplies.” Oil conflicts over production facilities and transport routes, particularly in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions, are specifically envisaged. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/20/03]
People and organizations involved: United States
          

(January 30, 2001): First National Security Council Meeting Focuses on Iraq and Israel, Not Terrorism

       The Bush White House holds its first National Security Council meeting. The focus is on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [Bamford, 2004, pp 261 Sources: Paul O'Neill]
Israeli-Palestinian conflict - “We're going to correct the imbalances of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict,” Bush reportedly tells his national security team. “We're going to tilt it back toward Israel.” His view is that the Israeli government, currently headed by Ariel Sharon, should be left alone to deal as it sees fit with the Palestinians. “I'm not going to go by past reputations when it comes to Sharon. I'm going to take him at face value. We'll work on a relationship based on how things go.” Justifying his position, he recalls a recent trip he took to Israel with the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We flew over the Palestinian camps. Looked real bad down there. ... I don't see much we can do over there at this point.” Powell, surprised by Bush's intended policy towards the 50-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, objects. According to Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neil, Powell “stresse[s] that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and the Israeli army.” When Powell warns the president that the “consequences of that [policy] could be dire, especially for the Palestinians,” Bush shrugs. “Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things,” he suggests. [Bamford, 2004, pp 265-266]

Iraq - The meeting then moves on to the subject of Iraq. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice begins noting “that Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region.” She turns the meeting over to CIA director George Tenet who summarizes current intelligence on Iraq. He mentions a factory that “might” be producing “either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture.” The evidence he provides is a picture of the factory with some truck activity, a water tower, and railroad tracks going into a building. He admits that there is “no confirming intelligence.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 267]
US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill, later recalls: “From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go ... From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed.” O'Neill will say officials never questioned the logic behind this policy. No one ever asked, “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” Instead, the issue that needed to be resolved was how this could be accomplished. “It was all about finding a way to do it,” O'Neill will explain. “That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’ ” [CBS News, 1/10/04; New York Times, 1/12/04; Guardian, 1/12/04; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pg 234 Sources: Paul O'Neill] Another official who attends the meeting will later say that the tone of the meeting implied a policy much more aggressive than that of the previous administration. “The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces,” the official will tell ABC News. “That went beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force.” [ABC News, 1/13/04 Sources: Unnamed senior official of the Bush administration] The council does more than just discuss Iraq. It makes a decision to allow the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an Iraqi opposition group, to use $4 million to fund efforts inside Iraq to compile information relating to Baghdad's war crimes, military operations, and other internal developments. The money had been authorized by Congress in late 2004. The US has not directly funded Iraqi opposition activities inside Iraq itself since 1996. [Guardian, 2/3/2005] After Paul O'Neill first provides his account of this meeting in 2004, the White House will attempt to downplay its significance. “... The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear,” Bush will tell reporters during a visit to Mexico In January 2004. “Like the previous administration, we were for regime change. ... And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, and so we were fashioning policy along those lines.” [New York Times, 1/12/04]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Colin Powell, Richard B. Myers, Paul O'Neill, Iraqi National Congress, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld
          

February 1, 2001: Rumsfeld Envisions Post-Saddam Iraq

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

March 2001: Cheney's Energy Task Force Eyes Iraq's Oil Reserves

       Cheney's Energy Task Force authors a variety of documents relating to the oil industries of Iraq, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. [New York Times, 1/12/04; CBS News, 1/10/04; Judicial Watch, 7/17/03]
Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts - This document, dated March 5, 2001, includes a table listing 30 countries which have interests in Iraq's oil industry. The document also includes the names of companies that have interests, the oil fields with which those interests are associated, as well as the statuses of those interests. [Sources: Iraq Oil Foreign Suitors, page 2, Iraq Oil Foreign Suitors, page 1]

Map of Iraq's oil fields - The map includes markings for “supergiant” oil fields of 5 billion barrels or more, other oilfields, fields “earmarked for production sharing,” oil pipelines, operational refineries, and tanker terminals. [Sources: Iraq Oil Map]

Other documents - Other documents include oil field maps and project tables for both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [Sources: UAE Oil Map, Saudia Arabia Oil Map, UAE Oil Project Table, Saudi Arabia Oil Project Table]

People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

April 2001: Wolfowitz Claims that Iraq is Involved in Terrorism

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

April 8, 2001: Czech Intelligence Informant Claims Atta Met Iraqi Agent in Prague

       An informant for the BIS, the Czech intelligence agency, reportedly sees Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani meeting in a restaurant outside Prague with an Arab man in his 20s. This draws concern from the intelligence community because the informant suggests the person is “a visiting ‘student’ from Hamburg—and ... potentially dangerous.” [Slate, 11/19/03 Sources: Jan Kavan] The young man is never positively identified or seen again. Fearing that al-Ani may have been attempting to recruit the young man for a mission to blow-up Radio Free Europe headquarters, the diplomat is told to leave the country on April 18. [UPI, 10/21/02; Slate, 11/19/03; New York Times, 10/27/01 Sources: Unnamed US officials, Jan Kavan] Information about the incident is passed on to US intelligence. After the 9/11 attacks and after it is reported on the news that Atta had likely visited Prague, the BIS informant will say the young man at the restaurant was Atta. (see September 14, 2001) This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which will hold that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. [Slate, 11/19/03; New York Times, 10/27/01; UPI, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed BIS informant, Unnamed US officials] The theory will be widely discounted by October 2002. [New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed BIS informant, Unnamed US officials]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim
          

April 12, 2001: Report on Energy Security Argues US Needs to Review Policy on Iraq

       A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations, titled “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century,” is completed and submitted to Vice President Dick Cheney. The report was drafted by the James A.Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Edward L. Morse, an energy industry analyst, chaired the project, and Amy Myers Jaffe was the project's director. The paper urges the US to formulate a comprehensive, integrated strategic energy policy to address the current energy crisis, which it attributes to infrastructural restraints, rapid global economic expansion, and the presence of obstacles to foreign investment in the oil-rich Middle East. The report says the world's supply of oil is not a factor in the crisis. “The reasons for the energy challenge have nothing to do with the global hydrocarbon resource base. ... The world will not run short of hydrocarbons in the foreseeable future,” the paper insists. One of the report's recommendations is to “[r]eview policies toward Iraq” with the ultimate goal of “eas[ing] Iraqi oil-field investment restrictions.” Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein remains a “destabilizing influence ... to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East.” It also notes, “Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets.” Therefore, the report says, the “United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments.” [Sunday Herald, 10/05/02; Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02 Sources: Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century]
People and organizations involved: James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University, Amy Myers Jaffe, Edward L. Morse, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, James Baker, Council on Foreign Relations  Additional Info 
          

Mid-September 2001: Neoconservatives Look to Tie Iraq to 9/11

       At the behest of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former CIA director James Woolsey and a team of Justice and Defense Department officials fly to London on a US government plane to look for evidence tying Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It is the second such mission undertaken by Woolsey this year. He reportedly made an earlier trip in February. Woolsey is looking for evidence to support the theory (see Late July or early August 2001) that Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 WTC bombing, was actually an Iraqi agent who had assumed the identity of a Pakistani student named Abdul Basit. On at least one of the trips, Woolsey visits the Swansea Institute, where Basit studied, to see if Basit's fingerprints match those of Yousef, who is now serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison. Matching fingerprints would discredit the theory. According to Knight Ridder, “Several of those with knowledge of the trips said they failed to produce any new evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks.” [Daily Telegraph, 10/26/01; Observer 10/14/01; Knight Ridder, 10/11/01] Woolsey's activities in South Wales attract the attention of British authorities who are “intrigued” that a former CIA chief is “asking these questions.” [Knight Ridder, 10/11/01] The trip, sponsored by the Pentagon, is not approved by Secretary of State Colin Powell or CIA director George Tenet. [The Village Voice, 11/21/01; Knight Ridder, 10/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, George Tenet, Ramzi Yousef, James Woolsey, Abdul Basit, Paul Wolfowitz, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden
          

August 6, 2001: Perle's Concern About Iraq, North Korea, and Iran Before 9/11 Becomes Axis of Evil Afterward

       Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board and foreign policy adviser to Bush, is asked about new challenges now that the Cold War is over. He cites three: “We're concerned about Saddam Hussein, We're concerned about the North Koreans, about some future Iranian government that may have the weapon they're now trying so hard to acquire...” [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 8/6/01] Note that these three nations are the same three named in Bush's famous January 2002 “axis of evil” speech. [CNN, 1/29/02]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Iran, Richard Perle, North Korea
          

After September 11, 2001: Propaganda Campaign to Tie 9/11 to Iraq Is Said to Begin

       Soon after September 11, a concerted effort begins to pin the blame for the attacks on Saddam Hussein. Retired General Wesley Clark will later say on NBC's “Meet the Press” in June 2003 and in a letter published by the New York Times that “immediately after 9/11” there was a “concerted effort ... to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein” and use the attacks as an excuse to go after the Iraqi dictator. When asked by NBC's Tim Russert, who was behind the concerted effort, Clark will respond: “Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over.” Clark also says, “I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, ‘You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.’ I said, ‘But—I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?’ And I never got any evidence.” He says the phone call came from a Middle Eastern think tank outside of the country. [New York Times, 7/18/03; MSNBC, 6/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Wesley Clark
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001: Feith Sets Up the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Middle East specialist Harold Rhode recruit David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq, having expressed his views in a 1997 op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal (see November 12, 1997) and having participated in the drafting of a 1996 policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (see July 8, 1996). Wurmser works at Feith's office, where he and F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. Neither Wurmser nor Maloof are intelligence professionals. The four- to five- person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. [New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Washington Times, 1/14/02] The Pentagon unit's activities cause tension within the traditional intelligence community. Critics claim that its members manipulate and distort intelligence, “cherry-picking” bits of information that fit their preconceived conclusions. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency,” a defense official will tell the New York Times. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned.” [New York Times, 10/24/02 Sources: Unnamed defense official] Defending the project, Paul Wolfowitz will tell the New York Times that the team's purpose is to circumvent the problem “in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will.” He insists that the special Pentagon unit is “not making independent intelligence assessments.” [New York Times, 10/24/02] One of the cell's projects includes sorting through existing intelligence to create a map of relationships demonstrating links between militant Islamic groups and state powers. This chart of links, which they name the “matrix,” leads the intelligence unit to conclude that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other groups with conflicting ideologies and objectives are allowing these differences to fall to the wayside as they discover their shared hatred of the US. The group's research also leads them to believe that al-Qaeda has a presence in such places as Latin American. For weeks, the unit will attempt to uncover evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, a theory advocated by both Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Washington Times, 1/14/02] The group is later accused of stovepiping intelligence directly to the White House. Former DIA chief of Mideast operations, Pat Lang, later tells the Washington Times: “That unit had meetings with senior White House officials without the CIA or the Senate being aware of them. That is not legal. There has to be oversight.” According to Lang and another US intelligence official, the two men go to the White House several times to brief officials, bypassing CIA analysts whose analyses they disagreed with. They allegedly brief White House staffers Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Richard Cheney, according to congressional staffers. [Washington Times, 7/29/2004] According to unnamed Pentagon and US intelligence officials, the group is also accused of providing sensitive CIA and Pentagon intercepts to the US-funded Iraqi National Congress, which then passed them on to the government of Iran. [Washington Times, 7/29/2004] David Wurmser will later be relocated to the State Department where he will be the senior advisor to Undersecretary Of State for Arms Control John Bolton.(see September 2002). [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Harold Rhode, Richard Perle, F. Michael Maloof, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz
          

September 11, 2001: The 9/11 Attack: 3,000 Die in New York City and Washington, D.C.

      
The September 11, 2001 attacks. From left to right: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash.
The 9/11 attack: Four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.
People and organizations involved: United Airlines, al-Qaeda, American Airlines, Pentagon, World Trade Center
          

(2:40 p.m.): Rumsfeld Wants to Blame Iraq

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is provided information from the CIA indicating that three of the hijackers were suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Notes composed by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on 9/11 are leaked nearly a year later. According to the notes, information shows, “One guy is [an] associate of [USS] Cole bomber.” (This is a probable reference to Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi.) Rumsfeld has also been given information indicating an al-Qaeda operative had advanced details of the 9/11 attack. According to the aide's notes, Rumsfeld wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden]. Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 285; CBS News, 9/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, National Military Command Center, al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar  Additional Info 
          

September 12, 2001: Bush Meeting Raises Iraq Attack Possibility

       White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke meets with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rumsfeld suggests that the US should bomb Iraq in retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq,” Clarke will later recall in his book, Against All Enemies. “... We all said, ‘But no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan,’ and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’ ” [Clarke, 2004; Associated Press, 3/20/04; Reuters, 3/19/04; Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard A. Clarke] Powell agrees with Clarke that the immediate focus should be al-Qaeda. However, Powell also says, “Public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible.” Clarke complains to him, “Having been attacked by al-Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.” President Bush notes the goal should be replacing the Iraqi government, not just bombing it, but the military warns an invasion would need a large force and many months to assemble. [Clarke, 2004] Rumsfeld's view is said to be closely aligned with that of his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who believes Saddam, not Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, should be the principal target of the “war on terrorism.” [Woodward, 2002, pp 49] Commenting on his feelings after the meeting, Clarke will later write: “At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al-Qaeda. I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.” [New York Times, 3/28/04; Associated Press, 3/22/04; Washington Post, 3/22/04] “They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12.” [Associated Press, 3/20/04; Reuters, 3/19/04; Clarke, 2004. Sources: Richard A. Clarke]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz  Additional Info 
          

September 12, 2001: Bush to Clarke: ‘Look into Iraq’

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

September 14, 2001: Congress to Bush: Use All Necessary Military Force

       The US Congress adopts a joint resolution that determines that “the president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” Congress also states that the “grave acts of violence” committed on the US “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to [its] national security and foreign policy.” [Sources: US Congress, Authorization for Use of Military Force. S. J. RES. 23, September 14, 2001]
          

September 14, 2001: Atta-Iraq Spy Meeting Story Begins with Dubious Tip

       The CIA intelligence liaison in Prague is told by the Czech intelligence agency (BIS) that one of its informants in the local Prague Arab community believes the Hamburg “student” he had seen meeting with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani on April 8, 2001 in a restaurant outside of Prague was 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta. (see April 8, 2001) Czech intelligence treats the claim skeptically because it comes only after Atta's picture has been broadcast on television and after the Czech press reported that records showed Atta had traveled to Prague. FBI agents go to the Czech Republic and are given full access to Czech intelligence material. This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which holds that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. The theory will be widely debated but generally discounted by the end of 2004. [Slate, 11/19/03; New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
          

September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002: Bush Shifts Public Focus from bin Laden to Iraq

       On September 15, 2001, President Bush says of bin Laden: “If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01 (B)] Two days later, he says, “I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’ ” [ABC News, 9/17/01] On December 28, 2001, even as the US was declaring victory in Afghanistan, Bush says, “Our objective is more than bin Laden.” [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)] Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” and fails to mention bin Laden at all. On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: “We're going to find him.” [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Yet, only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, “He's a person who's now been marginalized. ... I just don't spend that much time on him. ... I truly am not that concerned about him.” Instead, Bush is “deeply concerned about Iraq.” [White House, 3/13/02] The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers states on April 6, “The goal has never been to get bin Laden.” [Department of Defense, 4/6/02] In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden's name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden's death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, later points out: “There appears to be a real disconnect” between the US military's conquest of Afghanistan and “the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden.” [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard B. Myers, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein
          

September 17, 2001: Bush Signs Afghanistan War Plan, But Also Includes Order to Prepare for Iraq

       President Bush signs a 2 1/2-page “top secret” document that outlines the administration's plan to invade Afghanistan and topple its government. According to administration officials interviewed by the Washington Post, the document also instructs the Pentagon to begin planning for an invasion of Iraq. [Washington Post, 1/12/03; The Mirror, 9/22/03; Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004 Sources: senior administration officials] The document further orders the military to be ready to occupy Iraq's oil fields if the country acts against US interests. [Washington Post, 7/23/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

On and around September 18, 2001: Wolfowitz and Feith Argue that Iraq Should be Target in War on Terrorism

       Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith argue in three memos why Iraq should be included as a target in the war on terrorism. One memo, “Were We Asleep?,” is dated September 18, and suggests links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 1/12/03; The Mirror, 9/22/03 Sources: senior administration officials]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith
          

September 19, 2001-Present: Claims of an Atta-Iraqi Spy Meeting Are Repeatedly Asserted and Denied

       Media coverage relating to an alleged meeting between hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi spy named Ahmed al-Ani took place in Prague, Czech Republic, has changed repeatedly over time:
September 19, 2001: It is first reported that an April 8, 2001, meeting took place; Atta is named later. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01; CNN, 10/11/01]

October 20, 2001: The story is denied. [New York Times, 10/20/01]

October 27, 2001: The story is confirmed. [New York Times, 10/27/01]

October 27, 2001: It is claimed Atta met with Iraqi agents four times in Prague, plus in Germany, Spain, and Italy. [Times of London, 10/27/01]

November 12, 2001: Conservative columnist William Safire calls the meeting an “undisputed fact.” [New York Times, 11/12/01]

December 9, 2001: Vice President Cheney asserts that the existence of the meeting is “pretty well confirmed.” [Washington Post, 12/9/01]

December 16, 2001: The identities of both al-Ani and Atta, alleged to have been at the meetings, are disputed. [New York Times, 12/16/01]

January 12, 2002: It is claimed at least two meetings took place, including one a year earlier. [Daily Telegraph, 1/12/02]

February 6, 2002: It is reported that the meeting probably took place, but was not connected to the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 2/6/02]

March 15, 2002: Evidence that the meeting took place is considered between “slim” and “none.” [Washington Post, 3/15/02]

March 18, 2002: William Safire again strongly asserts that the meeting took place. [New York Times, 3/18/02]

April 28-May 2, 2002: The meeting is largely discredited. For example, the Washington Post quotes FBI Director Mueller stating that, “We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts,” yet no evidence that Atta left the country was found. According to the Post, “[a]fter months of investigation, the Czechs [say] they [are] no longer certain that Atta was the person who met al-Ani, saying ‘he may be different from Atta.’ ” [Washington Post, 5/1/02]
Newsweek cites a US official who contends that, “Neither we nor the Czechs nor anybody else has any information [Atta] was coming or going [to Prague] at that time.” [Washington Post, 5/1/02; New York Times, 5/2/02; Newsweek, 4/28/02]
May 8, 2002: Some Czech officials continue to affirm the meeting took place. [Prague Post, 5/8/02]

May 9, 2002: William Safire refuses to give up the story, claiming a “protect-Saddam cabal” in the high levels of the US government is burying the story. [New York Times, 5/9/02]

July 15, 2002: The head of Czech foreign intelligence states that reports of the meeting are unproved and implausible. [Prague Post, 7/15/02]

August 2, 2002: With a war against Iraq growing more likely, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer suggests the meeting did happen, “despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/2/02]

August 19, 2002: Newsweek states: “The sole evidence for the alleged meeting is the uncorroborated claim of a Czech informant.” According to Newsweek, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is nonetheless pushing the FBI to have the meeting accepted as fact. [Newsweek, 8/19/02]

September 10, 2002: The Bush administration is no longer actively asserting that the meeting took place. [Washington Post, 9/10/02]

September 17, 2002: Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld “accept reports from Czech diplomats” that the meeting took place. [USA Today, 9/17/02]

September 23, 2002: Newsweek reports that the CIA is resisting Pentagon demands to obtain pictures of the alleged meeting from Iraqi exiles. One official says, “We do not shy away from evidence. But we also don't make it up.” [Newsweek, 9/23/02]

October 20, 2002: Czech officials, including President Vaclav Havel, emphatically deny that the meeting ever took place. It now appears Atta was not even in the Czech Republic during the month the meeting was supposed to have taken place. President Havel told Bush “quietly some time earlier this year” that the meeting did not happen. [New York Times, 10/21/02; UPI, 10/20/02]

December 8, 2002: Bush adviser Richard Perle continues to push the story, stating, “To the best of my knowledge that meeting took place.” [CBS News, 12/8/02]

July 9, 2003: Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmed al-Ani is captured by US forces in Iraq. [Washington Post, 7/9/03]

July 10, 2003: In a story confirming al-Ani's capture, ABC News cites US and British intelligence officials who have seen surveillance photos of al-Ani's meetings in Prague, and who say that there is a man who looks somewhat like Atta, but is not Atta. [ABC News, 7/10/03]

September 14, 2003: Vice President Cheney repeats the claims that Atta met with al-Ani in Prague on NBC's “Meet the Press.” [Washington Post, 9/15/03]

December 13, 2003: It is reported that al-Ani told interrogators he did not meet Atta in Prague. [Washington Post, 9/29/03; Reuters, 12/13/03]

June 16, 2004: The 9/11 Commission concludes that the meeting never happened. They claim cell phone records and other records show Atta never left Florida during the time in question. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]

July 17, 2004: Vice President Cheney says no one has “been able to confirm” the Atta meeting in Prague or to “to knock it down.” [CNN, 6/18/04]

People and organizations involved: Richard Perle, Vaclav Havel, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Ari Fleischer, 9/11 Commission, Paul Wolfowitz, Mohamed Atta, Robert S. Mueller III
          

September 19, 2001-September 20, 2001: Defense Policy Board Meets and Discusses Iraq

       The Defense Policy Board (DPB) meets in secrecy in Rumsfeld's Pentagon conference room on September 19 and 20 for nineteen hours to discuss the option of taking military action against Iraq. [New York Times, 10/12/01] They also discuss how they might overcome some of the diplomatic and political pressures that would likely attempt to impede a policy of regime change in Iraq. [New York Times, 10/12/01] Among those attending the meeting are the 18 members of the Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Bernard Lewis, Ahmed Chalabi, and Chalabi's aide Francis Brooke. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 236; New York Times, 10/12/01] Secretary of State Colin Powell and other State Department officials in charge of US policy toward Iraq are not invited and are not informed of the meeting. A source will later tell the New York Times that Powell was irritated about not being briefed on the meeting. [New York Times, 10/12/01] During the seminar, two of Richard Perle's invited guests, Princeton professor Bernard Lewis and Ahmed Chalabi, the president of the Iraqi National Congress, are given the opportunity to speak. Lewis says that the US must encourage democratic reformers in the Middle East, “such as my friend here, Ahmed Chalabi.” Chalabi argues that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists and asserts that Saddam's regime has weapons of mass destruction. [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 232] He also asserts “there'd be no resistance, no guerrilla warfare from the Baathists, and [it would be] a quick matter of establishing a government.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Attendees write a letter to President Bush calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism,” the letter reads. The letter is published in the Washington Times on September 20 (see September 20, 2001) in the name of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a conservative think tank that believes the US needs to shoulder the responsibility for maintaining “peace” and “security” in the world by strengthening its global hegemony. [Project for a New American Century, 9/20/01; Manila Times, 7/19/03] Bush reportedly rejects the letter's proposal, as both Cheney and Powell agree that there is no evidence implicating Saddam Hussein in the attacks. [New York Times, 10/12/01 Sources: Unnamed senior administration officials and defense experts]
People and organizations involved: Henry A. Kissinger, James Woolsey, Adm. David E. Jeremiah, Ahmed Chalabi, Bernard Lewis, James R. Schlesinger, Dan Quayle, Harold Brown, Newt Gingrich, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Francis Brooke
          

September 20, 2001: Bush to Blair: After Afghanistan, ‘We Must Come Back to Iraq’

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

September 20, 2001: PNAC Think Tank Pushes for Iraq War

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter addressed to President Bush, insisting that the war on terrorism include as one of its objectives the removal of Saddam Hussein from power— “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack.” “Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.” PNAC also says the US should demand that Iran and Syria cease all support of Hezbollah, and if they fail to do so, the US should “retaliate” against those two countries as well. Israel is praised in the letter as “America's staunchest ally against international terrorism.” [Project for the New American Century, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Project for the New American Century
          

October 8, 2001: Ex-CIA Director's Meeting With Taliban Leader Is Called Off

       Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, as part of his attempt to gather evidence that could tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, contacts the Taliban. He works with Mansour Ijaz, a US businessman of Pakistani origin, who is a lobbyist for Pakistan in the US, an occasional Fox News commentator, and has extensive political ties in the US. Woolsey is also vice-chairman of the board of Ijaz's company. Woolsey and Ijaz work with Khalid Khawaja, a friend of bin Laden and ex-ISI operative. The three plus an unnamed US journalist arrange to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on October 8. The Taliban agree to tell Woolsey about a meeting between Iraqi and al-Qaeda officials that took place in 1997, and possibly other similar information. Apparently in return they hope to avert the US invasion of Afghanistan. However, the US bombing begins on October 7, and the meeting is called off. [Dawn, 02/15/02; Financial Times, 3/6/03] At least part of this team will later play another behind-the-scenes role. After being given a tip that Mansour Ijaz is connected to leading militant Muslims in Pakistan, reporter Daniel Pearl will connect with Khalid Khawaja, who in turn connects him with militant Muslims who kidnap and eventually kill him. A leading Pakistani newspaper claims that at one point Newsweek is about to accuse Khawaja of involvement in the plot to kidnap Pearl, but Ijaz vouches for Khawaja and convinces Newsweek to pull back their accusations. [Dawn, 02/15/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey, Khalid Khawaja, Mansour Ijaz, Taliban, Mullah Omar, al-Qaeda, Iraq, Daniel Pearl
          

October 19, 2001: US Ground Attacks Begin in Afghanistan

       US Special Forces begin ground attacks in Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 11/01] However, during the Afghanistan war, US ground soldiers are mainly employed as observers, liaisons, and spotters for air power to assist the Northern Alliance—not as direct combatants. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)] White House Counterterrorism Coordinator Richard Clarke will suggest in 2004 that the Bush administration did not commit more ground forces to Afghanistan because it wanted to have enough troops available to stage a large offensive against Iraq. “I can't prove this, but I believe they didn't want to put in a lot of regular infantry because they wanted to hold it in reserve,” Richard Clarke explains. “And the issue is the infantry. A rational military planner who was told to stabilize Afghanistan after the Taliban was gone, and who was not told that we might soon be doing Iraq, would probably have put in three times the number of infantry, plus all the logistics support ‘tail.’ He would have put in more civil-affairs units, too. Based on everything I heard at the time, I believe I can make a good guess that the plan for Afghanistan was affected by a predisposition to go into Iraq. The result of that is that they didn't have enough people to go in and stabilize the country, nor enough people to make sure these guys didn't get out.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004]
People and organizations involved: United States, Northern Alliance, Bush administration, Taliban, Richard A. Clarke
          

November 21, 2001: Bush Wants Iraq Invasion Plan

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

January 29, 2002: Bush Sees an Axis of Evil

       President Bush's State of the Union speech describes an “axis of evil” consisting of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. When Bush advisor Richard Perle was asked one month before 9/11 about new challenges the US faced, he replied by naming these exact three countries (see August 6, 2001). Bin Laden is not mentioned in the speech. [CNN, 1/29/02] The speech is followed by a new public focus on Iraq and a downplaying of bin Laden.
People and organizations involved: Iraq, North Korea, Iran, George W. Bush
          

February 15, 2002: Bush Directs CIA to Conduct Operations in Iraq

       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 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

February 19, 2002: Gen. Franks: US Is Deploying Resources from Afghanistan to Iraq

       General Tommy Franks allegedly tells Sen. Bob Graham (D) of Florida, who is on a visit to US Central Command: “Senator, we have stopped fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan. We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq.” [Council on Foreign Relations, 3/26/04 Sources: Bob Graham] (In his memoirs, Graham quotes Franks as saying that “military and intelligence personnel are being re-deployed to prepare for an action in Iraq.” [Knight Ridder, 6/18/2004; Graham and Nussbaum, 2004, pp 125] ) Franks denies making the comment. [Knight Ridder, 6/18/2004] The New Yorker magazine also reports on a redeployment of resources to Iraq at this time (see Early March 2002). [New Yorker, 10/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Thomas Franks, Bob Graham
          

Early March 2002: Bush Diverts Resources from War on Terror

       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 
          

September 4, 2002: Iraq Sued for Conspiring with al-Qaeda in 9/11 Attacks

       Over 1,400 relatives of 9/11 attack victims sue Iraq for more than $1 trillion, claiming there is evidence Iraq conspired with al-Qaeda on the 9/11 attacks. [CBS News, 9/5/02] One of the key pieces of evidence cited is an article in a small town Iraqi newspaper written by Naeem Abd Muhalhal on July 21, 2001. He describes bin Laden thinking “seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert, about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House.” He adds that bin Laden is “insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting,” which has been interpreted as a possible reference to the 1993 bombing of the WTC. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently praised this writer on September 1, 2001. The lawsuit is based largely on the idea that “Iraqi officials were aware of plans to attack American landmarks,” yet did not warn their archenemy, the US. [Associated Press, 9/4/02] Former CIA agent and terrorism consultant Robert Baer is hired by the prosecuting legal team to find evidence of a meeting between Mohamed Atta and Iraqi agents on April 8, 2001, but despite the help of the CIA, he is unable find any evidence of such a meeting. [CBS News, 9/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Robert Baer
          

September 25, 2002: Bush Says that bin Laden and Saddam are Indistinguishable

       During a White House meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, George Bush makes the claim that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden work together. “The danger is, is that they work in concert,” he says in response to a question from a Reuters reporter. “The danger is, is that al-Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world.” He continues: “I can't distinguish between the two, because they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil and equally as destructive.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 9/25/2002; Washington Post, 9/26/2002; White House, 9/25/03a] Later in the day, Bush's comments are downplayed by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who says that Bush did not mean Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are working together, but rather that there is the danger that they could work together. He explains, “Clearly, al-Qaeda is operating inside Iraq. In the shadowy world of terrorism, sometimes there is no precise way to have definitive information until it is too late.” [White House, 9/25/03b; Washington Post, 9/26/2002]
          

October 2002: Cannistraro Says CIA Analysts Are Upset About Use of Cooked Intelligence

       Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterintelligence, says, “Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Vincent Cannistraro
          

October 11, 2002: French and British Deny Link Between Iraq and al-Qaeda

       French and British officials deny that there is any link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The British specifically deny any meeting between Mohamed Atta and Iraqi agents in the Czech Republic. They state that Iraq has purposely distanced itself from al-Qaeda, not embraced it. [Financial Times, 10/4/02; Guardian, 10/10/02]
          

October 11, 2002: Pentagon and CIA at Odds Over Alleged Iraq-al-Qaeda Ties

       The Los Angeles Times reports that there is an escalating “war” between the Pentagon and the CIA over tying Iraq to al-Qaeda. [Los Angeles Times, 10/11/02]
          

December 2002: Unnamed Source Comments on Rumsfeld's Influence Over the Defense Intelligence Agency

       A former senior official tells investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, “If it became known that [Rumsfeld] wanted [the Defense Intelligence Agency] to link the government of Tonga to 9/11, within a few months they would come up with sources who'd do it.” [New Yorker, 12/16/02]
          

January 3, 2003-January 6, 2003

       A poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates among 1,204 adults indicates widespread misperception regarding Iraq. The poll finds that almost 25 percent believe the Bush administration has “publicly released evidence tying Iraq to the planning and funding of the September 11 attacks, and more than 1 in 3 respondents didn't know or refused to answer.” [Knight Ridder, 1/12/03] 44 percent of those polled believe that “most” or “some” of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens and only 17 percent know that none of the hijackers were Iraqis. [Editor and Publisher, 3/26/03] The margin of error is estimated to be 3 percent. [Knight Ridder, 1/12/03]
          

January 31, 2003: Bush and Blair Acknowledge No Direct Link Between Saddam and 9/11

       During a joint press conference with President George Bush and British Prime Minister Blair at the White House, the two leaders are asked by a reporter, “One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?” Bush answers succinctly, “I can't make that claim.” [US President, 1/31/03]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

Between March 2003 and June 25, 2003: Top al-Qaeda Prisoners Deny al-Qaeda-Iraq Link

       US officials admit that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaida have said in interrogations that bin Laden vetoed a long term relationship with Saddam because he did not want to be in Hussein's debt. [Newsweek, 6/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaida
          

March 18, 2003: Bush Sends Letter to Congress Justifying Decision to Invade Iraq

       Bush sends a letter to Congress justifying the invasion of Iraq. First, he has determined that further diplomacy will not protect the US. Second, he is “continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” [White House, 3/18/03] This mimics language from a bill passed by Congress in October 2002 (see 1:15 a.m. October 11, 2002), which granted Bush the power to declare war against Iraq if a link with the 9/11 attacks is shown and several other conditions are met. [White House, 10/2/02] But there is no evidence linking Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, a simple fact that even Bush has acknowledged (see January 31, 2003).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, US Congress
          

March 19, 2003: US and Partners Invade Iraq

       The US begins its official invasion of Iraq. The attack begins with an attempted “decapitation attack” aimed at killing Saddam Hussein and other top Iraqi officials that fails. [CNN, 3/20/2003 (B); CNN, 3/20/03] Other countries, known collectively as the “coalition of the willing,” lend various degrees of support to the invasion. The group includes Britain, Australia, Poland, and several second- and third- world countries that had been pressured by the US to support the invasion. [BBC, 3/18/03]
          

August 7, 2003-August 11, 2003: Seventy Percent of Americans Misled by Bush Administration Insinuations of Iraq-9/11 Links

       According to a Washington Post survey, 7 in 10 Americans believe that it is “likely or very likely Saddam Hussein was involved in September 11.” Sixty-two percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents polled suspect there is a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Additionally, eight in 10 Americans believe that it was likely that Saddam had provided assistance to al-Qaeda, and a similar percentage say the believe he developed weapons of mass destruction. [Washington Post, 2/11/02]
          

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

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

December 14, 2003: Dubious Document Links Atta to Saddam Hussein's Government

       Future Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi backs the validity of a document purporting to show that Palestinian militant Abu Nidal trained Mohamed Atta in Baghdad a few months before 9/11. [Daily Telegraph, 12/14/03] Newsweek reports that the document is probably a fabrication, citing both the FBI's detailed Atta timeline and a document expert who, amongst other things, distrusts an unrelated second “item” on the same document, which supports a discredited claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger. [Newsweek, 12/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Ayad Allawi, Mohamed Atta, Abu Nidal
          

June 14, 2004: Cheney Repeats Claims of ties Between Saddam and al-Qaeda

       Vice President Dick Cheney repeats his insistence that Hussein “had long-established ties with al-Qaeda.” [Associated Press, 6/14/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

June 17, 2004: Cheney Refuses to Abandon ‘Praque Connection’ Theory

       During an interview with CNBC's “Capitol Report,” Cheney says reporters who doubt the Prague Connection are “lazy.” He asserts that “[W]e don't know” if Iraq was involved in 9/11, says no one has “been able to confirm,” or “to knock it down” the claims regarding Atta's alleged meeting in Prague. He also says that he “probably” knows information the commission does not. [CNN, 6/18/04] A few days later, the commission says that after asking Cheney for any additional evidence he might have, they stand by their position. Cheney maintains his position as well. [Los Angeles Times, 7/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

Mid-January 2004: Paul O'Neill Says He Never Saw Any Evidence that Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction

       In an interview with Time magazine, former US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill says he never saw or heard of any real evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,” he explains. “There were allegations and assertions by people.... But I've been around a hell of a long time, and I know the difference between evidence and assertions and illusions or allusions and conclusions that one could draw from a set of assumptions. To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else. And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence.” [Time, 1/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Paul O'Neill
          

July 17, 2004: Bush defends claims of relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda

       President Bush forcefully disputes statements by the 9/11 Commission (see Early July 2004) that there was no evidence of collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaeda. “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” Bush says. [Washington Post, 6/18/04; CNN, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          


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