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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 (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

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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(10:24 a.m.): All International Flights into US Ordered Diverted by FAA

       Jane Garvey, head of the FAA, orders the diversion of all international flights with US destinations. Most flights are diverted to Canada. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01; Time, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Jane Garvey
          

After 10:28 a.m.: Fire Fighters Trying to Extinguish Fires in WTC 7

       According to Captain Michael Currid, the sergeant at arms for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, some time after the collapse of the North Tower, he sees four or five fire companies trying to extinguish fires in Building 7 of the WTC. Someone from the city�s Office of Emergency Management tells him that WTC 7 is in serious danger of collapse. Currid says, “The consensus was that it was basically a lost cause and we should not lose anyone else trying to save it.” Along with some others, he goes inside WTC 7 and yells up the stairwells to the fire fighters, “Drop everything and get out!” [September 11: An Oral History, by Dean E. Murphy, 8/02, pp. 175-176] Although Currid doesn�t say exactly at what time this occurs, it is later reported that at 12:10 to 12:15 p.m. fire fighters find individuals inside the building and lead them out. [NIST Progress Report, 6/04, p. L-18] So presumably it is some time after this when they call the fire fighters to evacuate. However, contradicting this account, one report later claims, “Given the limited water supply and the first strategic priority, which was to search for survivors in the rubble, FDNY did not fight the fires [in WTC 7].” [Fire Engineering, 9/02] And a 2002 government report says, “the firefighters made the decision fairly early on not to attempt to fight the fires, due in part to the damage to WTC 7 from the collapsing towers.” [FEMA study, 5/1/02, p. 5-21] Building 7 eventually collapses late in the afternoon of 9/11 (see (5:20 p.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Office of Emergency Management, World Trade Center, Michael Currid
          

10:28 a.m.: WTC North Tower Collapses

      
The North Tower collapses in a matter of seconds.
The World Trade Center's North Tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier. [Seismic Study, 2002; New York Times, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01] The death toll could have been much worse—an estimated 15,000 people made it out of the WTC to safety after 8:46 a.m. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

(Before 10:30 a.m.): Myers Finally Enters NMCC; Prior Whereabouts Disputed

       Acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers enters the NMCC, though exactly when this happens remains unclear. According to his own statements, he was on Capitol Hill, in the offices of Senator Max Cleland (D) from the time just prior to the first WTC attack until around the time the Pentagon was hit (see (After 8:48 a.m.)). However, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims Myers takes part in a video conference for much of the morning. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who enters the NMCC around 10:30 a.m., claims that as he entered, Myers “had just returned from Capitol Hill.” [Defense Department, 3/23/04 Sources: Richard A. Clarke, Donald Rumsfeld] In Myers' testimony before the 9/11 Commission, he fails to mention where he was or what he was doing from the time of the Pentagon crash until about 10:30 a.m., except to say, “I went back to my duty station. And we—what we started doing at that time was to say, ‘OK, we've had these attacks. Obviously they're hostile acts. Not sure at that point who perpetrated them.’ ” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] These discrepancies in Myers' whereabouts remain unresolved.
People and organizations involved: National Military Command Center, Richard B. Myers
          

(10:30 a.m.): Missing Rumsfeld Finally Enters NMCC

       Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, missing for at least 30 minutes, finally enters the NMCC, where the military's response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; CNN, 9/4/02] Rumsfeld later claims that he only started to gain a situational awareness of what was happening after arriving at the NMCC. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Rumsfeld was in his office only 200 feet away from the NMCC until the Pentagon crash at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m.). His activities during this period are unclear. He went outside to the Flight 77 crash site and then stayed somewhere else in the Pentagon until his arrival at the NMCC. Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, “For 30 minutes we couldn't find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC News, 9/11/02] Winfield himself apparently only shows up at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. as well.
People and organizations involved: National Military Command Center, Montague Winfield, Donald Rumsfeld
          

(10:30 a.m.): Medevac Helicopter Provides Scare for Bunkered Cheney, Others

       Vice President Cheney and others in the White House bunker are given a report of another airplane heading toward Washington. Cheney's Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, later states, “We learn that a plane is five miles out and has dropped below 500 feet and can't be found; it's missing.” Believing they only have a minute or two before the plane crashes into Washington, Cheney orders fighters to engage the plane, saying, “Take it out.” However, reports that this is another hijacking are mistaken. It is learned later that day that a Medevac helicopter five miles away was mistaken for a hijacked plane. [Newsweek, 12/31/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

10:31 a.m.: NEADS Does Not Pass Along NORAD Shootdown Order

       According to the 9/11 Commission, NORAD Commander Major General Larry Arnold instructs his staff to broadcast the following message over a NORAD chat log: “10:31 Vice President [Cheney] has cleared us to intercept tracks of interest and shoot them down (see 10:14 a.m.) if they do not respond, per CONR CC [General Arnold].” NEADS first learns of the shootdown order from this message. However, NEADS does not pass the order to the fighter pilots in New York City and Washington. NEADS leaders later say they do not pass it on because they are unsure how the pilots should proceed with this guidance. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The pilots flying over New York City claim they are never given a formal shootdown order that day.
People and organizations involved: Larry Arnold, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

10:31 a.m.: Military and Law Enforcement Flights Resume

       The FAA allows “military and law enforcement flights to resume (and some flights that the FAA can't reveal that were already airborne).” All civilian, military, and law enforcement flights were ordered at 9:26 a.m. to land as soon as reasonably possible. [Time, 9/14/01] Civilian flights remain banned until September 13. Note that the C-130 cargo plane that witnessed the Flight 77 crash (see 9.36 a.m.) and which came upon the Flight 93 crash site (see 10:08 a.m.) right after it had crashed was apparently not subject to the grounding order issued about an hour earlier.
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

10:32 a.m.: Air Force One Threatened? Some Doubt Entire Story

       Vice President Cheney reportedly calls President Bush and tells him of a threat to Air Force One and that it will take 40-90 minutes to get a protective fighter escort in place. Many doubt the existence of this threat. For instance, Representative Martin Meehan (D) says, “I don't buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That's just PR, that's just spin.” [Washington Times, 10/8/02] A later account calls the threat “completely untrue,” and says Cheney probably made the story up. A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the president should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Martin Meehan, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

(10:35 a.m.): Bush Heads for Louisiana on Air Force One

       Air Force One turns toward a new destination of Barksdale Air Force Base, near Shreveport, Louisiana, in response to a decision that Bush should not go directly to Washington. [Washington Post, 1/27/02; CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(Before 10:36 a.m.): Andrews Fighters Ordered to Shoot Down Threatening Planes Over Washington

      
David Wherley.
A Secret Service agent again contacts Andrews Air Force Base and commands, “Get in the air now!” It's not clear if this is treated as an official scramble order, or how quickly fighters respond to it. According to fighter pilot Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville, almost simultaneously, a call from someone else in the White House declares the Washington area “a free-fire zone. That meant we were given authority to use force, if the situation required it, in defense of the nation's capital, its property, and people.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] Apparently, this second call is made to General David Wherley, flight commander of the Air National Guard at Andrews, who has made several phone calls this morning, seeking airborne authorization for his fighters. Wherley had contacted the Secret Service after hearing reports that it wanted fighters airborne. One Secret Service agent, using two telephones at once, relays instructions to Wherley from another Secret Service agent in the White House who has been given the instructions from Vice President Cheney. Wherley's fighters are to protect the White House and shoot down any planes that threaten Washington. Wherley gives Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville, lead pilot, the authority to decide whether to execute a shootdown. According to a different account, during this call Wherley is speaking with a woman in the Secret Service's command and control center at the White House. Wherley says, “She was standing next to the vice president (Dick Cheney) and she said, ‘They want you to put a CAP up.’ Basically what they told me, and this is another one of those things that's clear in my mind � ‘We want you to intercept any airplane that attempts to fly closer than 20 miles around any airport around the Washington area. � Attempt to turn them away, do whatever you can to turn them away and if they won't turn away use whatever force is necessary � to keep them from hitting a building downtown.’” President Bush and Vice President Cheney later claim they were not aware that any fighters had scrambled from Andrews at the request of the Secret Service. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp 79] Sasseville and the pilot code-named Lucky will take off at 10:42 a.m. (see (10:42 a.m.))
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Marc Sasseville, David Wherley, Andrews Air Force Base, George W. Bush, Secret Service
          

(10:38 a.m.): Fighters Training in North Carolina Relaunch from Andrews

       The 9/11 Commission claims that the first fighters from Andrews Air Force Base scramble at this time and are flying patrol over Washington by 10:45 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The three F-16s flying on a training mission in North Carolina, 200 miles away have finally been recalled to their home base at Andrews. As soon as lead pilot Major Billy Hutchison lands and checks in via radio, he is told to take off again immediately. His fighter apparently has no weapons whatsoever. The two other fighters only have training rounds for their guns, and very little fuel. “Hutchison was probably airborne shortly after the alert F-16s from Langley arrive over Washington, although [the] pilots admit their timeline-recall ‘is fuzzy.’ ” The officer who sent Hutchison off “told him to ‘do exactly what ATC asks you to do.’ Primarily, he was to go ID [identify] that unknown [aircraft] that everybody was so excited about [Flight 93]. He blasted off and flew a standard departure route, which took him over the Pentagon.” Flight 93 crashed half an hour before this; it is unclear how the Andrews base could still not know it crashed by this time. The pilots later say that, had all else failed, they would have rammed into Flight 93, had they reached it in time. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Billy Hutchison, Andrews Air Force Base
          

10:39 a.m.: Cheney Brings Rumsfeld Up to Date, But Errs on Pilot Knowledge About Shootdown Order

       Vice President Cheney tries to bring Defense Secretary Rumsfeld up to date over the NMCC's conference call, as Rumsfeld has just arrived there minutes before. Cheney explains that he has given authorization for hijacked planes to be shot down and that this has been told to the fighter pilots. Rumsfeld asks, “So we've got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?” Cheney replies, “That is correct. And it's my understanding they've already taken a couple of aircraft out.” Then Rumsfeld says, “We can't confirm that. We're told that one aircraft is down but we do not have a pilot report that they did it.” Cheney is incorrect that this command has reached the pilots. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Mayer, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

After 10:42 a.m.: Langley and Andrews Pilots Hear Warning Over Radio

       After taking off from Andrews Air Force Base, Lt. Col. Marc Sasseville and Captain Heather Penney Garcia are flying at low altitudes over Washington, DC. The three fighters launched from Langley Air Force Base at 9:30 a.m. are flying above them at around 20,000 feet. The Langley pilots are communicating with controllers at NEADS, while the Andrews pilots are communicating with civilian controllers at the FAA. However, both sets of pilots hear a message over a shared channel: “Attention all aircraft monitoring Andrews tower frequency. Andrews and Class Bravo airspace is closed. No general aviation aircraft are permitted to enter Class Bravo airspace. Any infractions will be shot down.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 82]
People and organizations involved: Northeast Air Defense Sector, Federal Aviation Administration, Heather Penney Garcia, Marc Sasseville
          

(10:42 a.m.): Status of Three Planes Unknown; False Rumors Persist of More Terrorist Activity

       Around this time (roughly), the FAA tells the White House that it still cannot account for three planes in addition to the four that have crashed. It takes the FAA another hour and a half to account for these three aircraft. [Time, 9/14/01] Vice President Cheney later says, “That's what we started working off of, that list of six, and we could account for two of them in New York. The third one we didn't know what had happened to. It turned out it had hit the Pentagon, but the first reports on the Pentagon attack suggested a helicopter and then later a private jet.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/17/01] Amongst false rumors during the day are reports of a bomb aboard a United Airlines jet that just landed in Rockford, Illinois. “Another plane disappears from radar and might have crashed in Kentucky. The reports are so serious that [FAA head Jane] Garvey notifies the White House that there has been another crash. Only later does she learn the reports are erroneous.” [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey
          

(10:42 a.m.): Andrews Fighters Finally Take Off, but Without Missiles

      
Marc Sasseville getting ready to take off on the morning of 9/11.
Two F-16s take off from Andrews Air Force Base lightly armed with nothing more than “hot” guns and non-explosive training rounds. Lead pilot Lieutenant Colonel Marc Sasseville flies one; the other pilot is only known by the codename Lucky. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] These fighters had been at another base that morning, waiting to be armed with AIM-9 missiles, a process that takes about an hour. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Since they took off without the missiles, presumably they could have taken off unarmed much earlier. (The first call for them to scramble came not long after 9:00 a.m.). Two more F-16s, armed with AIM-9 missiles, take off twenty-seven minutes later, at 11:09 a.m. These are apparently piloted by Major Dan Caine and Captain Brandon Rasmussen. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B); Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] F-16s from Richmond, Virginia, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, arrive over Washington a short time later. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] The Andrews fighters are apparently the only fighters in the US scrambled before 11:00 with official shootdown authorization, but the first Andrews fighters into the air have no missiles. It is unclear if the Andrews fighters relaunching a few minutes earlier had shootdown orders, but they had no weapons either. It appears the Andrews fighters launching at 11:09 a.m. are the first fighters in the US with both shootdown orders and missiles to use.
People and organizations involved: Marc Sasseville, Dan Caine, Andrews Air Force Base, Brandon Rasmussen
          

10:53 a.m.: Election Postponed

       New York's primary elections, already in progress, are postponed. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

(10:55 a.m.): Air Force One Takes Evasive Action from False Alarm

      
Colonel Mark Tillman in the cockpit of Air Force One.
Colonel Mark Tillman, pilot of Air Force One, is told there is a threat to President Bush's plane. Tillman has an armed guard placed at his cockpit door while the Secret Service double-checks the identity of everyone on board. Air traffic controllers warn that a suspect airliner is dead ahead, according to Tillman: “Coming out of Sarasota there was one call that said there was an airliner off our nose that they did not have contact with.” Tillman takes evasive action, pulling his plane high above normal traffic. [CBS News, 9/11/02 (B)] Reporters on board notice the rise in elevation. [Dallas Morning News, 8/28/02; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] The report is apparently a false alarm.
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, Mark Tillman
          

(Between 10:55-11:41 a.m.): Fighter Escort Finally Reaches Air Force One? Reports Conflict

      
President Bush (center, bending) and others look out the windows of Air Force One as their fighter escort arrives.
No fighters escort President Bush's Air Force One until around this time, but accounts conflict. At 10:32 a.m., Vice President Cheney said it would take until about 11:10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to get a fighter escort to Air Force One. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] However, according to one account, around 10:00 a.m., Air Force One “is joined by an escort of F-16 fighters from a base near Jacksonville, Florida.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] Another report states, “At 10:41 [am.] ... Air Force One headed toward Jacksonville to meet jets scrambled to give the presidential jet its own air cover.” [New York Times, 9/16/01 (B)] But apparently, when Air Force One takes evasive action around 10:55 a.m., there is still no fighter escort. NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold later says, “We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall [near Tallahassee and not near Jacksonville, Florida] and then from Ellington in Houston, Texas,” but he does not say when this occurs. [Code One Magazine, 1/02 Sources: Larry Arnold] In yet another account, two F16s eventually arrive, piloted by Shane Brotherton and Randy Roberts, from Ellington, not from any Florida base. [CBS News, 9/11/02] The St. Petersburg Times, after interviewing people on Air Force One, estimate the first fighters, from Texas, arrive between 11:00 and 11:20. [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04] By 11:30 a.m., there are six fighters protecting Air Force One. [Sarasota Magazine, 9/19/01] The BBC, however, reports that the Ellington, Texas, fighters are scrambled at 11:30 a.m., and quotes ABC reporter Ann Compton, inside Air Force One, saying fighters appear out the windows at 11:41 a.m. [BBC, 9/1/02] Given that two of the seven bases said to have fighters on alert on 9/11 are in Florida (Homestead Air Station, 185 miles from Sarasota; and Tyndall Air Station, 235 miles from Sarasota), why a fighter escort does not reach Air Force One earlier remains unclear. Philip Melanson, author of a book on the Secret Service, comments, “I can't imagine by what glitch the protection was not provided to Air Force One as soon as it took off. I would have thought there'd be something in place whereby one phone call from the head of the security would get the fighters in the air immediately.” [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Randy Roberts, Ann Compton, Shane Brotherton, Secret Service, George W. Bush
          

September 11, 2001: FBI Agents Obtain Warrant for Moussaoui Too Late

       Zacarias Moussaoui reportedly cheers as he watches the 9/11 attack on television inside a prison, where he is being held on immigration charges. [BBC, 12/12/01] Within an hour of the attacks, the Minnesota FBI uses a memo written to FBI headquarters shortly after Moussaoui's arrest to ask permission from a judge for the search warrant they have been desperately seeking. Even after the attacks, FBI headquarters is still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the similarities between the actual attack and the fears expressed by the local FBI agents before 9/11 as a mere coincidence. [Time, 5/21/02] However, a federal judge approves the warrant that afternoon. [New Yorker, 9/30/02] Minnesota FBI Agent Coleen Rowley notes that this very memo was previously deemed insufficient by FBI headquarters to get a search warrant, and the fact that they are immediately granted one when finally allowed to ask shows “the missing piece of probable cause was only the [FBI headquarters'] failure to appreciate that such an event could occur.” [Time, 5/21/02] The search uncovers information suggesting Moussaoui may have been planning an attack using crop dusters, but it does not reveal any direct connection to the 9/11 hijackers. However, investigators find some German telephone numbers and the name “Ahad Sabet.” The numbers allow them to determine the name is an alias for Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Mohamed Atta's former roommate, and they find he wired Moussaoui money. They also find a document connecting Moussaoui with the Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, a lead that could have led to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. [MSNBC, 12/11/01; New Yorker, 9/30/02] Rowley later suggests that if they had received the search warrant sooner, “There is at least some chance that ... may have limited the September 11th attacks and resulting loss of life.” [Time, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Mohamed Atta, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Yazid Sufaat, Khalid Almihdhar, FBI Minnesota field office, FBI Headquarters, Nawaf Alhazmi, Coleen Rowley
          

(11:00 a.m.): Skyscrapers, Tourist Attractions Closed

       More skyscrapers and tourist attractions are evacuated, including Walt Disney World, Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Seattle's Space Needle, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. [Times Union, 9/11/01]
          

(11:00 a.m.): Customs Claims to Determine the Names of All 19 Hijackers

       Robert Bonner, the head of Customs and Border Protection, later testifies, “We ran passenger manifests through the system used by Customs—two were hits on our watch list of August 2001.” (This is presumably a reference to hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, watch-listed on August 23, 2001.) “And by looking at the Arab names and their seat locations, ticket purchases and other passenger information, it didn't take a lot to do a rudimentary link analysis. Customs officers were able to ID 19 probable hijackers within 45 minutes. I saw the sheet by 11 a.m. And that analysis did indeed correctly identify the terrorists.” [New York Observer, 2/11/04] However, Bonner appears to be at least somewhat incorrect: for two days after the attacks (see September 13, 2001), the FBI believes there are only 18 hijackers, and the original list contains some erroneous Arab-sounding names on the flight manifests, such as Adnan Bukhari and Ameer Bukhari. [CNN, 9/13/01 (D)] Some hijacker names, including Mohamed Atta's, were identified on a reservations computer around 8:30 a.m. (see (Before 8:26 a.m.)), and Richard Clarke was told some of the names were al-Qaeda around 10:00 a.m. (see (9:59 a.m.))
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Robert Bonner, Khalid Almihdhar, Adnan Bukhari, Ameer Bukhari
          

(11:00 a.m.): All Flights over US Soil Complying with Controllers

       The FAA Command Center is told that all the flights over the United States are accounted for and pilots are complying with controllers. There are 923 planes still in the air over the US. Every commercial flight in US airspace—about a quarter of the planes still in the air—is within 40 miles of its destination. Others are still over the oceans, and many are heading toward Canada. [USA Today, 8/13/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

11:08 a.m.: Korean Air Flight Mistakenly Believed Hijacked

       A message sent from Korean Air Flight 85 is misinterpreted to indicate a possible hijacking. At 1:24 p.m., the pilots accidentally issue a hijacking alert as the plane nears Alaska on its way to Anchorage. Two fighters tail the plane, and notify it that it will be shot down unless it avoids populated areas. Strategic sites are evacuated across Alaska. The plane eventually lands safely in Whitehorse, Canada, at 2:54 p.m. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (B)]
          

(11:30 a.m.): Congressmen Meet with Bush

       Two congressmen, Dan Miller (R) and Adam Putnam (R), are on Air Force One. they've been receiving periodic updates on the crisis from President Bush's adviser Karl Rove. At this time, they're summoned forward to meet with the president. Bush points out the fighter escort, F-16s from a base in Texas, has now arrived. He says that a threat had been received from someone who knew the plane's code name. However, there are doubts that any such threat ever occurred (see 10:32 a.m.). [St. Petersburg Times, 7/4/04]
People and organizations involved: Dan Miller, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Adam Putnam
          

11:30 a.m.: Television Speculation al-Qaeda Is Responsible

       General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of NATO, says on television, “This is clearly a coordinated effort. It hasn't been announced that it's over. ... Only one group has this kind of ability and that is Osama bin Laden's.” [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Wesley Clark
          

(12:00 Noon): Senator Hatch Repeats Intelligence Community's Conclusion That Osama Bin Laden Is Responsible

       Senator Orrin Hatch (R), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, says he has just been “briefed by the highest levels of the FBI and of the intelligence community.” He says, “they've come to the conclusion that this looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden, and that he may be the one behind this.” [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Orrin Hatch, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

11:45 a.m.: Air Force One Lands at Louisiana Air Force Base

      
Air Force One at Barksdale Air Force Base.
Air Force One lands at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. “The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that—as there was no agreement as to what the president's movements should be—it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air.” [CBS News, 9/11/02; New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); Salon, 9/12/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Barksdale Air Force Base, George W. Bush
          

(12:00 Noon): Bush Provided Tight Security in Louisiana

      
Bush escorted into Barksdale Air Force Base.
President Bush arrives at the Barksdale Air Force Base headquarters in a Humvee escorted by armed outriders. Reporters and others are not allowed to say where they are. Bush remains in this location for approximately one hour, recording a brief message and talking on the phone. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Barksdale Air Force Base
          

September 11, 2001: All-Republican Shadow Government Formed

       It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US “shadow government” is formed. Initially deployed “on the fly,” executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle. When its existence is revealed, some controversy arises because the shadow government includes no Democrats. In fact, top congressional Democrats are unaware of it until journalists break the story months later. [CBS News, 3/2/02; Washington Post, 3/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Reagan administration
          

September 11, 2001: Television News Footage of Gleeful Palestinians Shown Out of Context

       Television news coverage on 9/11 repeatedly shows images of Palestinians rejoicing over the 9/11 attack. According to Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies at New York University who investigated the issue, the footage was filmed during the funeral of nine people killed the day before by Israeli authorities. He said, “To show it without explaining the background, and to show it over and over again is to make propaganda for the war machine and is irresponsible.” [Agence France-Presse, 9/18/01; Australian, 9/27/01]
People and organizations involved: Mark Crispin Miller
          

September 11-13, 2001: Hijackers Leave a Clear Trail of Evidence

      
A white Mitsubishi is towed from Logan Airport, Boston, on September 12. Inside is an Arabic-language flight manual.
Investigators find a remarkable number of possessions left behind by the hijackers:
Two of Mohamed Atta's bags are found on 9/11. They contain a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to “air tours” of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta's passport, his will, his international driver's license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, “education related documentation” and a note (see September 28, 2001) to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01; Boston Globe, 9/18/01; Associated Press, 10/5/01; Independent, 9/29/01]

Marwan Alshehhi's rental car is discovered at Boston's Logan Airport containing an Arabic language flight manual, a pass giving access to restricted areas at the airport, documents containing a name on the passenger list of one of the flights, and the names of other suspects. The name of the flight school where Atta and Alshehhi studied, Huffman Aviation, is also found in the car. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]

A car registered to Nawaf Alhazmi is found at Washington's Dulles Airport on September 12. Inside is a copy of Atta's letter to the other hijackers, a cashier's check made out to a flight school in Phoenix, four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jet, a box cutter-type knife, maps of Washington and New York, and a page with notes and phone numbers. [Cox News Service, 10/21/01; Die Zeit, 10/1/02; Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01]

A rental car is found in an airport parking lot in Portland, Maine. Investigators are able to collect fingerprints and hair samples for DNA analysis. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01]

A Boston hotel room contains airplane and train schedules. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01]

FBI agents carry out numerous garbage bags of evidence from a Florida apartment where Saeed Alghamdi lived. [CNN, 9/17/01 (B)]

Two days before 9/11, a hotel owner in Deerfield Beach, Florida, finds a box cutter left in a hotel room used by Marwan Alshehhi and two unidentified men. The owner checks the nearby trash and finds a duffel bag containing Boeing 757 manuals, three illustrated martial arts books, an 8-inch stack of East Coast flight maps, a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes, an English-German dictionary, an airplane fuel tester, and a protractor. The FBI seizes all the items when they are notified on September 12 (except the binder of notes, which the owner apparently threw away). [Miami Herald, 9/16/01; Associated Press, 9/16/01 (B)]

In an apartment rented by Ziad Jarrah and Ahmed Alhaznawi, the FBI finds a notebook, videotape, and photocopies of their passports. [Miami Herald, 9/15/01]

In a bar the night before 9/11, after making predictions of a attack on America the next day, the hijackers leave a business card and a copy of the Koran at the bar. The FBI also recovers the credit card receipts from when they paid for their drinks and lap dances. [Associated Press, 9/14/01]

A September 13 security sweep of Boston airport's parking garage uncovers items left behind by the hijackers: a box cutter, a pamphlet written in Arabic, and a credit card. [Washington Post, 9/16/01]

A few hours after the attacks, suicide notes that some of the hijackers wrote to their parents are found in New York. Credit card receipts showing that some of the hijackers paid for flight training in the US are also found. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]

A FedEx bill is found in a trash can at the Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, where Atta stayed the night before 9/11. The bill leads to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, allowing investigators to determine much of the funding for 9/11. [Newsweek, 11/11/01; Times of London, 12/1/01]
The hijackers past whereabouts can even be tracked by their pizza purchases. An expert points out: “Most people pay cash for pizza. These [hijackers] paid with a credit card. That was an odd thing.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/3/02] “In the end, they left a curiously obvious trail—from martial arts manuals, maps, a Koran, Internet and credit card fingerprints. Maybe they were sloppy, maybe they did not care, maybe it was a gesture of contempt of a culture they considered weak and corrupt.” [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] Note The New Yorker's quote of a former high-level intelligence official: “Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase.” [New Yorker, 10/1/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Washington Dulles International Airport, Huffman Aviation, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Saeed Alghamdi
          

September 11, 2001: Germans Learn of 30 People Traveling for 9/11 Plot

       A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the operatives refer to “the 30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams of as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected operatives received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks required a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Yet there is no evidence that any accomplices in the US shortly before 9/11 have since been arrested or charged.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Germany, al-Qaeda
          

September 11, 2001: Suspected Militants Found with Calling Cards

       An unnamed, young, Middle Eastern man flying from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, is arrested after his plane is diverted to Toronto, Canada. He is apparently found to be carrying a flight jacket, Palestinian Authority travel documents, and a picture of himself in a flight crew uniform in front of a fake backdrop of the WTC. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B); Toronto Sun, 9/15/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01 (B)] Apparently, the man, who identifies himself as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Gaza, Palestine, was supposed to have arrived in the US a few days before but was delayed for unknown reasons. [CBS News, 9/14/01 (B)] A second man was arrested a few days earlier while trying to enter Canada carrying a similar photo. He also possessed maps and directions to the WTC. Both men are soon handed over to the US. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B)] A similar picture of suspected Egyptian al-Qaeda operative Mohammad Zeki Majoub, arrested in Canada in June 2000, in front of a fake WTC backdrop was found in the luggage of one of the US hijackers. [Toronto Sun, 9/15/01; Associated Press, 3/1/01] Canadian officials “believe the photos could be calling cards used by the terrorists to identify those involved in plotting the attacks.” [Toronto Sun, 9/15/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Mohammad Zeki Majoub
          

September 11, 2001: Weapons Found on Additional Planes: Inside Jobs?

       Later in the day, weapons are found planted on board three other US airplanes. A US official says of the hijackings: “These look like inside jobs.” Time magazine reports, “Sources tell Time that US officials are investigating whether the hijackers had accomplices deep inside the airports' ‘secure’ areas.” [Time, 9/22/01] Penetrating airport security does not appear to have been that difficult: Argenbright, the company in charge of security at all the airports used by the 9/11 hijackers, had virtually no security check on any of their employees, and even hired criminals and illegal immigrants. Security appears to have particularly abysmal at Boston's Logan Airport, even after 9/11. [Boston Globe, 10/1/01; CNN, 10/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Logan Airport, Argenbright
          

September 11, 2001: Bin Laden Brother Attends Carlyle Group Conference

       The Carlyle Group is a company closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family. Those ties are well illustrated by the fact that on this day the Carlyle Group is hosting a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother to bin Laden. [Observer, 6/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Carlyle Group, Bin Laden Family, Shafig bin Laden
          

September 11, 2001: Former Israeli Prime Minister: 9/11 Very Good for Israeli-US Relations

       Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when asked what the 9/11 attacks means for relations between the US and Israel, replies, “It's very good.” Then he edits himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” [New York Times, 9/12/01 (C)] A week later, the Village Voice states, “From national networks to small-town newspapers, the view that America's terrible taste of terrorism will finally do away with even modest calls for the restraint of Israel's military attacks on Palestinian towns has become an instant, unshakable axiom. ... Now, support for Israel in America is officially absolute, and Palestinians are cast once again as players in a global terrorist conspiracy.” [Village Voice, 9/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Benjamin Netanyahu, United States, Israel, Palestinians
          

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

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

12:05 p.m.: Rumsfeld Finds Evidence of al-Qaeda Role Not Good Enough

       CIA Director Tenet tells Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about an intercepted phone call from earlier in the day at 9:53 a.m. An al-Qaeda operative talked of a fourth target just before Flight 93 crashed. Rumsfeld wrote notes to himself at the time. According to CBS, “Rumsfeld felt it was ‘vague,’ that it ‘might not mean something,’ and that there was ‘no good basis for hanging hat.’ In other words, the evidence was not clear-cut enough to justify military action against bin Laden.” [CBS News, 9/4/02] More evidence suggesting an al-Qaeda link comes several hours later.
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, al-Qaeda, Donald Rumsfeld
          

12:15 p.m.: Border Crossings Security Tightened

       It is announced that US borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

12:16 p.m.: US Airspace Cleared of All Civilian Aircraft

       US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] At 12:30 p.m., the FAA reports about 50 (non-civilian) planes still flying in US airspace, but none are reporting problems. [CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Canada
          

12:36 p.m.: Bush Records Second Speech; Aired About 30 Minutes Later

      
Bush records a speech at Barksdale Air Force Base.
President Bush records a short speech that is played by the networks at 1:04 p.m. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] In a speech at the Louisiana base, President Bush announces that security measures are being taken and says: “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” [New York Times, 9/12/01; MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01] He also states, “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.” [ABC News, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(12:58 p.m.): Bush Argues with Cheney, Others About Where He Should Go Next

       President Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force Base arguing on the phone with Vice President Cheney and others over where he should go next. “A few minutes before 1 p.m.,” he agrees to fly to Nebraska. As earlier, there are rumors of a “credible terrorist threat” to Air Force One that are said to prevent his return to Washington. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush
          

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

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

September 11-16, 2001: Pakistan Threatened; Promises to Support US

       ISI Director Mahmood, extending his Washington visit because of the 9/11 attacks [Japan Economic Newswire, 9/17/01] , meets with US officials and negotiates Pakistan's cooperation with the US against al-Qaeda. It is rumored that later in the day of 9/11 and again the next day, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Mahmood and offers him the choice: “Help us and breathe in the 21st century along with the international community or be prepared to live in the Stone Age.” [LA Weekly, 11/9/01; Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 9/12/01] Secretary of State Powell presents Mahmood seven demands as an ultimatum and Pakistan supposedly agrees to all seven. [Washington Post, 1/29/02] Mahmood also has meetings with Senator Joseph Biden (D), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Secretary of State Powell, regarding Pakistan's position. [Miami Herald, 9/16/01; New York Times, 9/13/01; Reuters, 9/13/01; Associated Press, 9/13/01] On September 13, the airport in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is shut down for the day. A government official later says the airport had been closed because of threats made against Pakistan's “strategic assets,” but does not elaborate. The next day, Pakistan declares “unstinting” support for the US, and the airport is reopened. It is later suggested that Israel and India threatened to attack Pakistan and take control of its nuclear weapons if Pakistan did not side with the US. [LA Weekly, 11/9/01] It is later reported that Mahmood's presence in Washington was a lucky blessing; one Western diplomat saying it “must have helped in a crisis situation when the US was clearly very, very angry.” [Financial Times, 9/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Pakistan, Joseph Biden, al-Qaeda, Mahmood Ahmed
          

(1:02 p.m.): Giuliani Orders Evacuation of Southern Manhattan

       New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders an evacuation of Manhattan south of Canal Street. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

1:02 p.m.: Rumsfeld Calls for War

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later claims that he says to President Bush on the phone, “This is not a criminal action. This is war.” [Washington Times, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush
          

1:04 p.m.: Military on High Alert Worldwide

       President Bush announces that the US military has been put on high alert worldwide. [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); CNN, 9/12/01] Apparently, this occurs in a televised speech that was actually recorded half an hour earlier.
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

1:27 p.m.: State of Emergency in Washington

       A state of emergency is declared in Washington. [New York Times, 9/12/01; CNN, 9/12/01]
          

(1:30 p.m.): Air Force One Leaves Louisiana; Flies to Nebraska

       President Bush leaves Louisiana on Air Force One, and flies to Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base, where the US Strategic Command is located. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] He travels with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, senior adviser Karl Rove, communications staffers Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer, and Gordon Johndroe, and a small group of reporters. [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: US Strategic Command, Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, Andrew Card, Gordon Johndroe, Dan Bartlett, George W. Bush, Offutt Air Force Base
          

1:44 p.m.: US Military Deployed at Sea, in Skies

       The Pentagon announces that aircraft carriers and guided missile destroyers have been dispatched toward New York and Washington. Around the country, more fighters, airborne radar (AWACs), and refueling planes are scrambling. NORAD is on its highest alert. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense
          

(2:00 p.m.): Fighter Pilot Told Flight 93 Was Shot Down

       F-15 fighter pilot Major Daniel Nash returns to base around this time, after chasing Flight 175 and patrolling the skies over New York City. He says that when he gets out of the plane, “he [is] told that a military F-16 had shot down a fourth airliner in Pennsylvania.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Nash
          

September 11, 2001: FBI Agents Able to Quickly Find Alhazmi and Almihdhar Once 9/11 Attacks Are Over

       On September 11—after the 9/11 attacks are over—the New York FBI office learns that one of the hijackers was Khalid Almihdhar. One of these FBI agents had attempted to get permission to search for Almihdhar in late August, but was not allowed to do so. He wrote an e-mail on August 28 predicting that “someday someone will die ... the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’”(see August 28, 2001). He later testifies that upon seeing Almihdhar's name on one of the passenger flight manifests, he angrily yells “This is the same Almihdhar we've been talking about for three months!” In an attempt to console him, his boss replies, “We did everything by the book.” Now that this upset agent is allowed to conduct a basic Internet search for Almihdhar that he had been denied permission to conduct before 9/11, he finds the hijacker's address “within hours.” [Washington Post, 9/21/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/10/02 (C)] The FBI field office in San Diego also had not been notified before 9/11 that Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi had been put on a no-fly watch list on August 24, 2001 (see September 4, 2001). Bill Gore, the FBI agent running the San Diego office on this day, later makes reference to that fact that Alhazmi's correct phone number and address was listed in the San Diego phone book and says,“How [we] could have found these people when we didn't know we were looking for them? The first place we would have looked is the phone book .... I submit to you we would have found them.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/10/02 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bill Gore
          

(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 
          

2:50 p.m.: Bush Arrives in Nebraska; Enters Strategic Command Center

       Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. (see (1:30 p.m.)), Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. President Bush stays on the plane for about ten minutes before entering the United States Strategic Command bunker at 3:06 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Offutt Air Force Base appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that was “in full swing” at the time the attacks began (see 8:30 a.m.). While there, the president spends time in the underground Command Center from where Global Guardian was earlier being directed, being brought up to date on the attacks and their aftermath. [Washington Times, 10/8/02; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Offutt Air Force Base, George W. Bush
          

(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
          

3:55 p.m.: Bush Said to Be at Undisclosed Location

       White House adviser Karen Hughes briefly speaks to the media and says President Bush is at an undisclosed location, taking part in a video conference. This is possibly the only in-person media appearance by any Bush administration official since the attacks and until a news conference by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at 6:40 p.m. [CNN, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Karen Hughes
          

4:00 p.m.: CNN Blames bin Laden for Attacks

       CNN reports US officials say there are “good indications” that bin Laden is involved in the attacks, based on “new and specific” information developed since the attacks. [CNN, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

(4:00 p.m.): Bush Determined to Return to Washington; Rove Later Misinforms Public About Threat to Bush

       President Bush has just told his advisers that he is returning to Washington as soon as the plane is fueled— “No discussion.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] Yet, Bush adviser Karl Rove later says that at this time President Bush is hesitant to return to Washington because, “they've accounted for all four [hijacked] planes, but they've got another, I think, three or four or five planes still outstanding.” [New Yorker, 9/25/01] However, the FAA points out there are no such reports and that Bush had been quickly informed when domestic US skies were completely cleared at 12:16 p.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Federal Aviation Administration, Karl Rove
          

4:10 p.m.: WTC Building 7 Burning

      
Several small fires burn inside World Trade Center Building 7.
World Trade Center Building 7 is reported to be on fire. [CNN, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

(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
          

(4:30 p.m.): WTC Building 7 Area Is Evacuated

       The area around WTC Building 7 is evacuated at this time. [Kansas City Star, 3/28/04] New York fire department chief officers, who have surveyed the building, have determined it is in danger of collapsing. Several senior firefighters have described this decision-making process. According to fire chief Daniel Nigro, “The biggest decision we had to make was to clear the area and create a collapse zone around the severely damaged [WTC Building 7]. A number of fire officers and companies assessed the damage to the building. The appraisals indicated that the building's integrity was in serious doubt.” [Fire Engineering, 9/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

September 11, 2001: Five Israelis Arrested for Puzzling Behavior near WTC

      
The white van used by five Israeli agents as they were leaving New York on 9/11.
Five Israelis are arrested around 4:30 pm for “puzzling behavior” related to the WTC attacks: filming the burning WTC from the roof of their company's building near Liberty State Park, New Jersey, then shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. A neighbor spotted them and called the police and the FBI. The police tracked them down in a van with the words “Urban Moving Systems” written on the side. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01; Ha'aretz, 9/17/01] One man was found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another had two passports on him, and a box cutter was found in the van. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Investigators say that “[t]here are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted... It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen.” [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] One of these Israelis later says, “our purpose was to document the event.” [ABC News, 6/21/02] The FBI later concludes at least two are Mossad agents and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [Forward, 3/15/02] They are held on immigration violation charges, but are released 71 days later. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Their names are later identified as Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, and Yaron Shmuel. [Forward, 3/15/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Paul Kurzberg, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Omer Marmari, Yaron Shmuel, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, Oded Ellner
          

(4:33 p.m.): Air Force One Leaves Nebraska; Heads Toward Washington

      
This photo of Bush speaking to Cheney shortly after leaving Offutt is later used for Republican fundraising.
President Bush leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for Washington. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(5:20 p.m.): WTC Building 7 Collapses; Cause Remains Unclear

      
World Trade Center Building 7 collapses down into its footprint.
Building 7 of the WTC complex, a 47-story tower, collapses. No one is killed. [CNN, 9/12/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B); MSNBC, 9/22/01] Many questions will arise over the cause of this collapse in the coming weeks and months. Building 7, which was not hit by an airplane, is the first modern, steel-reinforced high-rise to collapse because of fire. [New York Times, 3/2/02; Stanford Report, 12/3/01; Chicago Tribune, 11/29/01] Some later suggest that the diesel fuel stored in several tanks on the premises may have contributed to the building's collapse. The building contained a 6,000-gallon tank between its first and second floors and another four tanks, holding as much as 36,000 gallons, below ground level. There were also three smaller tanks on higher floors. [FEMA study, 5/1/02; New York Observer, 3/25/02; Chicago Tribune, 11/29/01; New York Times, 3/2/02] However, the cause of the collapse is uncertain. A 2002 government report concludes: “The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence.” [FEMA study, 5/1/02] Some reports indicate that the building may have been deliberately destroyed. Shortly after the collapse, CBS News anchor Dan Rather comments that the collapse is “reminiscent of ... when a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down.” [CBS News, 9/11/01] In a PBS documentary broadcast in 2002, the World Trade Center's leaseholder Larry Silverstein talks about a phone call from the Fire Department commander he had on 9/11. Silverstein recalls saying to the commander about the building: “You know, we've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they made that decision to pull and then we watched the building collapse.” [PBS, 9/10/02] It is unclear what Silverstein meant by the phrase “decision to pull.”
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Dan Rather, Larry Silverstein
          

Before 6:42 p.m.: Unknown Aircraft Racing Toward Air Force One

       As Air Force One is approaching Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, with the president on board, the FAA reports an aircraft racing towards it. Fighters quickly intercept the aircraft, which turns out to be a Lear business jet, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 88]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration
          

(6:54 p.m.): Bush Returns to White House

       President Bush arrives at the White House, after exiting Air Force One at 6:42 p.m. and flying across Washington in a helicopter. [Salon, 9/12/01 (B); ABC News, 9/11/02; Washington Times, 10/8/02; CNN, 9/12/01; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(7:00 p.m.): Powell Returns from Peru

       Secretary of State Powell returns to Washington from Lima, Peru. He is finally able to speak to President Bush for the first time since the 9/11 attacks began when they both arrive at the White House at about the same time. Powell later says of his flight, “And the worst part of it, is that because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn't talk to anybody in Washington.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] The Daily Telegraph later theorizes, “Why so long? In the weeks before September 11, Washington was full of rumors that Powell was out of favor and had been quietly relegated to the sidelines...” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Colin Powell
          

8:30 p.m.: Bush Gives Third Speech to Nation, Declares Bush Doctrine

      
Bush addresses the nation from the White House.
President Bush addresses the nation on live television. [CNN, 9/12/01] In what will later be called the Bush Doctrine, he states, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

(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
          

10:49 p.m.: Ashcroft Claims to Already Understand Hijacking Procedure

       It is reported that Attorney General Ashcroft has told members of Congress that there were three to five hijackers on each plane armed only with knives. [CNN, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft
          

(11:30 p.m.): Bush Sees New Pearl Harbor

       Before going to sleep, President Bush writes in his diary, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it's Osama bin Laden.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush
          

September 12, 2001: Unidentified Plane Causes NEADS Evacuation

       Staff at the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, NY, notice an unidentified, low-flying plane heading slowly and directly toward their building. Yet all civilian aircraft are supposed to be grounded, with only military or emergency aircraft allowed to fly over the US. According to NEADS Commander Robert Marr, “We thought anyone in the air was either a terrorist or a criminal.” Fighters from the Vermont Air National Guard are diverted towards Rome, and Marr orders the evacuation of the NEADS building, with only himself and a small crew remaining inside. Just miles away from them, the plane suddenly changes course and is forced to land nearby by the pursuing fighters. Robert Marr later says he never found out who the culprit was, but he'd heard it was a local pilot with a seaplane. [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp. 133-134]
People and organizations involved: Robert Marr, Northeast Air Defense Sector
          

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

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

September 12, 2001: Planned Terrorism Exercise May Have Sped Up Response to 9/11 Attack

       Before 9/11, New York City was scheduled to have a biological terrorism exercise on this day called Tripod II. As Mayor Rudolph Giuliani later testifies, “hundreds of people ... from FEMA, from the federal government, from the state, from the State Emergency Management Office” come to New York to take part in the exercise. Presumably many have already arrived when the 9/11 attacks occur. Giuliani notes that the equipment for the exercise is already there, so when his emergency bunker (in WTC Building 7) is destroyed in the attacks, he moves his response center to the planned site of the Tripod exercise. [New York Magazine, 10/15/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

September 12, 2001: FEMA Assembles Team to Analyze WTC Collapses

       The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its contractor, Greenhorne and O'Mara, Inc., from Greenbelt, Maryland, begin putting together a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT), to conduct a formal analysis of the World Trade Center collapses, and produce a report of its findings. FEMA routinely deploys such teams following disasters, like floods or hurricanes. The 23-member BPAT team set up at the WTC collapse site is assembled by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and headed by Dr. W. Gene Corley of Construction Technologies Laboratories in Skokie, Illinois. Corley was previously the principal investigator for FEMA's study of the Murrah Building, in Oklahoma City in 1995. [New Yorker, 11/12/01] BPAT team members are based nationwide and have to communicate with each other mostly by phone, as they continue with their regular jobs. While some of them are being paid for their efforts, others are working on the investigation voluntarily. They are told not to speak with reporters, under threat of dismissal from the team, supposedly because of the delicacy of the subject with which they are dealing. The BPAT team receives $600,000 of funding from FEMA, plus approximately $500,000 in ASCE in-kind contributions. [Associated Press, 1/14/02; Committee on Science hearing, 3/6/02; New York Times, 12/25/01] The team will have great difficulty accessing the collapse site and evidence they want to see (see March 6, 2002). The end product of their investigation is the FEMA World Trade Center Building Performance Study, released in May 2002 (see May 1, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Greenhorne and O'Mara, Inc., World Trade Center, W. Gene Corley, American Society of Civil Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

September 12, 2001: Inside Help for Terrorists at Airports?

       Billie Vincent, a former FAA security director, suggests the hijackers had inside help at the airports. “These people had to have the means to take control of the aircrafts. And that means they had to have weapons in order for those pilots to relinquish control. Think about it, they planned this thing out to the last detail for months. They are not going to take any risks at the front end. They knew they were going to be successful before they started ... It's the only thing that really makes sense to me.” [Miami Herald, 9/12/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Billie Vincent
          

September 12, 2001: Hijacker's Passport Found Near WTC

       The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC News, 9/16/01; Associated Press, 9/16/01; ABC News, 9/12/01 (C)] The Guardian says, “The idea that Mohamed Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism.” [Guardian, 3/19/02] (Note that, as in this Guardian account, the passport is frequently mistakenly referred to as Atta's passport.)
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Satam Al Suqami, Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Trade Center
          

September 12, 2001: Threat to Air Force One? Stories Conflict

       White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that President Bush went to Nebraska because “[t]here was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets.” The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush's political strategist, Karl Rove, confirms, that the Secret Service believed “ ‘Air Force One may be next,’ and there was an ‘inside’ threat which ‘may have broken the secret codes [i.e., showing a knowledge of presidential procedures].’ ” [New York Times, 9/13/01] By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the president, and news stories flatly contradict it. [Washington Post, 9/27/01] A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the president should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] By 2004, a Bush spokesperson says there was no threat, but Cheney continues to maintain that there may have been. Cheney also claims the Secret Service passed him word of the threat, but two Secret Service agents working that day deny their agency played any role in receiving or passing on such a threat. The threat was allegedly based on the use of the word “Angel,” the code word for Air Force One, but Secret Service agents later note that the code word was not an official secret, but a radio shorthand designation that had been made public well before 2001. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Secret Service, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

September 12-October 2001: Steel Debris From WTC Shipped Out of US for Recycling

      
Steel beams from the WTC were already being removed and recycled by September 20, 2001, when this picture was taken.
In the month following 9/11, a significant amount of the steel debris from the WTC collapses is removed from the rubble pile, cut into smaller sections, and either melted at a recycling plant or shipped out of the US. [Committee on Science hearing, 3/6/02] Each of the twin towers contained 78,000 tons of recyclable steel. Much of this is shipped to India, China, and other Asian countries, where it will be melted down and reprocessed into new steel products. Asian companies are able to purchase the steel for just $120 per ton, compared, for example, to a usual average price of $150 per ton in China. Industry officials estimate that selling off the steel and other metals from the WTC for recycling could net a few tens of million dollars. [New York Times, 10/9/01; Reuters, 1/21/02; CorpWatch, 2/6/02; Reuters, 1/22/02; Eastday (.com), 1/24/02] 9/11 victims' families and some engineers are angered at the decision to quickly discard the steel, believing it should be examined to help determine how the towers collapsed. A respected fire fighting trade magazine comments, “We are literally treating the steel removed from the site like garbage, not like crucial fire scene evidence.” [Fire Engineering, 1/02 (B)] Rep. Joseph Crowley (D) will later call the loss of this evidence “borderline criminal.” By March 2002, 150 pieces of steel from the WTC debris will have been identified by engineers for use in future investigations (see March 6, 2002). [FEMA report, p. D-13] A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which commences in August 2002 [Associated Press, 8/21/02; NIST, 8/21/02] , will have 236 pieces of recovered steel available to it. Of these, 229 pieces are from WTC 1 and 2, representing “roughly 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent of the 200,000 tons of structural steel used in the construction of the two towers.” [NIST draft report, 9/05, p. 85] New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg defends the decision to quickly get rid of the WTC steel, saying, “If you want to take a look at the construction methods and the design, that's in this day and age what computers do. Just looking at a piece of metal generally doesn't tell you anything.” Officials in the mayor's office decline to reply to requests by the New York Times regarding who decided to have the steel recycled. [New York Times, 12/25/01; Eastday (.com), 1/24/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

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 13-14, 2001: Flight 93 and Flight 77 Black Boxes Found

       All the “black boxes” for Flights 93 and 77 are found. However, Flight 93's two boxes are deemed severely damaged, and it is not known if the data can be recovered [BBC, 9/15/01; Reuters, 9/13/01 (B)] In December, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes. [CNN, 12/21/01] Flight 93's recording is eventually played in private to victims' relatives, and also to the 9/11 Commission. FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes for Flight 77 provided altitude, speed, headings, and other information, but the voice recorder contained “nothing useful.” [CBS News, 2/23/02]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 13, 2001: Wide Flight 93 Debris Field Spurs Rumors Flight Was Shot Down

       Investigators say they have found debris from the Flight 93 crash far from the main crash site. A second debris field centers around Indian Lake about three miles from the crash scene, where eyewitnesses report seeing falling debris only moments after the crash. More debris is found in New Baltimore, some eight miles away. Later in the day, the investigators say all that debris likely was blown there. [CNN, 9/13/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] Another debris field is found six miles away, and human remains are found miles away. After all of this is discovered, the FBI still “stresses” that “no evidence [has] surfaced” to support the idea that the plane was shot down. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] A half-ton piece of one of the engines is found 2,000 yards away from the main crash site. This was the single heaviest piece recovered from the crash. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01; Independent, 8/13/02] Days later, the FBI says the wide debris field was probably the result of the explosion on impact. The Independent nevertheless later cites the wide debris field as one of many reasons why widespread rumors remain that the plane was shot down. [Independent, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 13, 2001: 18 Hijackers Named, Hanjour Follows One Day Later

       The FBI says there were 18 hijackers, and releases their names. [CNN, 9/13/01 (C)] The next day, it is revealed there is one more hijacker—Hani Hanjour. [CNN, 9/14/01; Associated Press, 9/14/01 (B)] A few days later, it is reported that Hanjour's “name was not on the American Airlines manifest for [Flight 77] because he may not have had a ticket.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 13, 2001: Series of Circumstances Said to Make Hijacked Passenger Cell Phone Calls Possible

       It is reported that the many phone calls made by passengers from the hijacked flights are normally technically impossible to make. A major cell phone carrier spokeswoman claims, “Those were a series of circumstances that made those calls go through, which would not be repeated under normal circumstances.” Supposedly, the calls worked because they were made when the planes were close to the ground and they were kept short. [Wired, 9/13/01] However, many of the cell phone calls were made from high cruising altitudes and lasted ten minutes or more. The New York Times later reports, “According to industry experts, it is possible to use cell phones with varying success during the ascent and descent of commercial airline flights, although the difficulty of maintaining a signal appears to increase as planes gain altitude. Some older phones, which have stronger transmitters and operate on analog networks, can be used at a maximum altitude of ten miles, while phones on newer digital systems can work at altitudes of five to six miles. A typical airline cruising altitude would be 35,000 feet, or about 6.6 miles.” [Slate, 9/14/01] A spokesperson for the AT&T phone company notes that cell phone networks are not designed for calls from high altitudes. She suggests that “it was almost a fluke that the calls reached their destinations.” [Wireless Review, 11/1/01]
          

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

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

September 13, 2001: Saudi Royals Fly to Kentucky in Violation of Domestic Flight Ban

       After a complete air flight ban in the US began during the 9/11 attacks, some commercial flights begin resuming this day. However, all private flights are still banned from flying. Nonetheless, at least one private flight carrying Saudi royalty takes place on this day. And in subsequent days, other flights carry royalty and bin Laden family members. These flights take place even as fighters escort down three other private planes attempting to fly. Most of the Saudi royals and bin Ladens in the US at the time are high school or college students and young professionals. [New York Times, 9/30/01; Vanity Fair, 10/03] The first flight is a Lear Jet that leaves from a private Raytheon hangar in Tampa, Florida, and takes three Saudis to Lexington, Kentucky. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US who is so close to the Bush family that he is nicknamed “Bandar Bush,” pushes for and helps arrange the flights at the request of frightened Saudis. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (D)] For two years, this violation of the air ban is denied by the FAA, FBI, and White House, and decried as an urban legend except for one article detailing them in a Tampa newspaper. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] Finally, in 2003, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke confirms the existence of these flights, and Secretary of State Powell confirms them as well. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; MSNBC, 9/7/03] However, the White House remains silent on the matter. [New York Times, 9/4/03] Officials at the Tampa International Airport finally confirm this first flight in 2004. But whether the flight violated the air ban or not rests on some technicalities that remain unresolved. [Lexington Herald-Leader, 6/10/04] The Saudis are evacuated to Saudi Arabia over the next several days (see September 14-19, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Bin Laden Family, Bandar bin Sultan, Bush administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Colin Powell, Richard A. Clarke
          

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: FBI Director Caught in Whopper

      
FBI Director Robert Mueller.
FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as “news, quite obviously,” adding, “If we had understood that to be the case, we would have—perhaps one could have averted this.” It is later discovered that contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had interviewed various flight school staffs about Middle Eastern militants on numerous occasions, from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/23/01; Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Three days later, he says, “There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country.” [Department of Justice transcript, 9/17/01] Slate magazine later contrasts this with numerous other contradictory statements and articles, and awards Mueller the “Whopper of the Week.” [Slate, 5/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III
          

September 14, 2001: Lack of Debate About Poor Fighter Response on 9/11

       The Miami Herald reports, “Forty-five minutes. That's how long American Airlines Flight 77 meandered through the air headed for the White House, its flight plan abandoned, its radar beacon silent... Who was watching in those 45 minutes? ‘That's a question that more and more people are going to ask,’ said one controller in Miami. ‘What the hell went on here? Was anyone doing anything about it? Just as a national defense thing, how are they able to fly around and no one go after them?’ ” [Miami Herald, 9/14/01] In the year after this article and a similar one in the Village Voice [Village Voice, 9/13/01] , there will be only one other US article questioning slow fighter response times, and that article notes the strange lack of articles on the topic. [Slate, 1/16/02] The fighter response issue finally makes news in 9/11 Commission hearings in 2004.
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission
          

September 14, 2001: Revealed: Saudi Students May Attend Florida Flight Schools Without Background Checks

       In interviews with the Boston Globe, flight instructors in Florida say that it was common for students with Saudi affiliations to enter the US with only cursory background checks and sometimes none. Some flight schools, including some of those attended by the hijackers, have exemptions that allow the schools to unilaterally issue paperwork that students can present at US embassies and consulates so they can obtain visas. Saudi Arabia is possibly the only Arab country with such an exemption. [Boston Globe, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia
          

September 14, 2001: Officials Deny Flight 93 Shot Down

       Officials deny that Flight 93 was shot down, but propose the theory that the hijackers had a bomb on board and blew up the plane. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Later in the month, it is reported that the “FBI has determined from the on site investigation that no explosive was involved.” [Associated Press, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richard B. Myers, North American Aerospace Defense Command, National Transportation Safety Board
          

September 14, 2001: Account of Fighter Response Times Changes Significantly

       CBS News announces that “contrary to early reports, US Air Force jets did get into the air on Tuesday while the attacks were under way.” According to this new account, the first fighters got airborne toward New York City at 8:52 a.m. [CBS News, 9/14/01] The day before this announcement, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers in congressional testimony stated that the first fighters got airborne only after the Pentagon was hit at 9:37 a.m. [General Myers' confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] NORAD spokesman Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder also claimed no fighters launched anywhere until after the Pentagon was hit. [Boston Globe, 9/15/01] Four days later, the official NORAD timeline is changed to include this new account. [NORAD, 9/18/01] New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani later testifies before the 9/11 Commission that he found out from the White House at about 9:58 a.m. that the first fighters were not launched toward New York City until twelve minutes earlier—9:46 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04] This would correspond to Myers' and Snyder's accounts that no fighters are scrambled until after the Pentagon is hit. But the 9/11 Commission later agrees with this CBS report and by their account the first fighters launch around 8:52. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani, Richard B. Myers, Mike Snyder, Pentagon, North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/11 Commission Report, Central Intelligence Agency
          

September 14, 2001: Conflicting Accounts About Planes Near Flight 93's Crash

       Officials admit that two planes were near Flight 93 when it crashed, which matches numerous eyewitness accounts. For example, local man Dennis Decker says that immediately after hearing an explosion, “We looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. If you were here to see it, you'd have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down ... If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane.” [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Later the same day, the military says it can “neither confirm nor deny” the nearby planes. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Two days later, they claim there were two planes near, but that they were a military cargo plane and business jet, and neither had anything to do with the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Supposedly, the business jet was requested to fly low over the crash site to help rescuers find the crash site, 25 minutes after all aircraft in the US had been ordered to land. However, the story appears physically impossible since the FBI says this jet was at 37,000 feet and asked to descend to 5,000 feet. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] That would have taken many minutes for that kind of plane, and witnesses report seeing the plane flying very low even before the crash. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Another explanation of a farmer's plane 45 minutes later is put forth, but that also does not fit the time at all. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz states: “We responded awfully quickly, I might say, on Tuesday [9/11], and, in fact, we were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down. But the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to.” [Department of Defense, 9/14/01] The next day, Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, the director of the Air National Guard denies that any plane was scrambled after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] That in turn contradicts what Vice President Cheney will say later. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Dennis Decker, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Paul Weaver
          

September 14, 2001: Gruesome WTC Remains Found, But No Black Boxes

       Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC ruins. Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a flight attendant. [Newsday, 9/15/01] There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of one of the hijackers, and the body of another stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire. [Ananova, 9/13/01; New York Times, 9/15/01 (D)] Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker's body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified. While all of these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, not one of the four black boxes for these two airplanes is ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson says, “It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders.” [CBS News, 2/23/02] The black boxes are considered “nearly indestructible,” are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G's. [ABC News, 9/17/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, National Transportation Safety Board
          

September 14, 2001: Contrary Accounts of Flight 93's Speed Raises Questions

       It is initially reported that Flight 93 is traveling fairly slowly when it crashed. “It slammed into the ground at a speed law enforcement authorities said might have approached 300 mph.” [New York Times, 9/14/01] “Flight 93 slammed into the earth nose-first at over 200 mph, according to estimates by the National Transportation Safety Board and other experts.” [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] However, by 2002 it is being reported that the plane crashed going nearly 600 mph. [Longman, 2002, pp 212] “It could have even broken the sound barrier for a while,” says Hank Krakowski, director of flight operations control at United's system control center on September 11. [New York Times, 3/27/02] The design limits of the plane are 287 mph when flying below 10,000 feet. [Longman, 2002, pp 208]
People and organizations involved: Hank Krakowski, National Transportation Safety Board
          

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

      
Khalil bin Laden at the Orlando, Florida, airport, about to be flown out of the country in the days after 9/11.
Following a secret flight inside the US that is in violation of a national private airplane flight ban, members of the bin Laden family and Saudi royalty quietly depart the US. The flights are only publicly acknowledged after all the Saudis have left. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New York Times, 9/30/01] About 140 Saudis, including around 24 members of the bin Laden family, are passengers in these flights. The identities of most of these passengers are not known. However, some of the passengers include:
The son of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan. Sultan is sued in August 2002 for alleged complicity in the 9/11 plot. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01]
He is alleged to have contributed at least $6 million since 1994 to four charities that finance al-Qaeda. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Khalil bin Laden. He has been investigated by the Brazilian government for possible terrorist connections. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]

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

September 14, 2001: Deutsche Bank Exec Resigns, Prompting Speculations of 9/11 Connection

       Mayo Shattuck III resigns, effective immediately, as head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutsche Bank. No reason is given. Some speculate later that this could have to do with the role of Deutsche Bank in the pre-9/11 purchases of put options on the stock of companies most affected by 9/11. Deutsche Bank is also one of the four banks most used by the bin Laden family. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01; New York Times, 9/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Mayo Shattuck III, Deutsche Bank
          

September 14, 2001: Head of Shadowy Company Flees US

       Dominick Suter, owner of the company Urban Moving Systems, flees the country to Israel. The FBI later tells ABC News, “Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.” Suter has been tied to the five Israeli agents caught filming the WTC attack. The FBI had questioned Suter around September 12, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. However, when the FBI returns a few days later, he is gone. [ABC News, 6/21/02; New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, 12/13/01; Forward, 3/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Dominick Suter, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          
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