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Cover-up,lies
Incompetence
Advance info;kind
Advance info;time
Anthrax attacks
civil liberties
Pakistan,ISI,drugs
none
Israeli spies
Afghan war prep
Saudis, Bush
Oil,Enron,pipeline

Day of 911

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Bush on 9/11
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 1501-1600 of 1602 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

October 17, 2002 (C)

       The directors of the US's three most famous intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, testify before a Congressional inquiry on 9/11 (CIA Director Tenet testimony, 10/17/02, NSA Director Hayden testimony, 10/17/02). All three say no individual at their agencies has been punished or fired for any of the missteps connected to 9/11. This does not satisfy several on the inquiry, including Senator Carl Levin (D), who says “People have to be held accountable.” [Washington Post 10/18/02]
          

October 17, 2002

       Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club again win a ruling against Vice President Cheney (see July 12, 2002), and a judge demands that Cheney turn over documents relating to his Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). [Reuters 10/17/02] But the Bush Administration continues to fight the release of these documents. A similar lawsuit by the General Accounting Office, the Congressional investigative body, is later dropped (see December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
          

October 18, 2002 (B)

       “The massive mothballed Dabhol power project that bankrupt US energy company Enron Corp. built in western India could be running within a year, with a long-standing dispute over power charges close to being renegotiated, a government official said.” Dabhol is the largest foreign investment project in India's history. Despite reorganizing from a bankruptcy, Enron still holds a controlling 65 percent stake in the plant, while General Electric Co. and Bechtel Corp. hold 10 percent each. The local Indian state electricity board holds the remaining 15 percent (see also November 1993 and June 2001 (J)). [AP, 10/18/02] In 2004, Dabhol is still closed, and negotiations to reopen it continue. [The Economist 5/1/04]
          

October 18, 2002 (C)

       FBI Director Mueller says in a speech, “There is a continuum between those who would express dissent and those who would do a terrorist act. Somewhere along that continuum we have to begin to investigate. If we do not, we are not doing our job. It is difficult for us to find a path between the two extremes.” [San Jose Mercury News, 10/19/02] The comment receives little notice. Isn't legal dissent completely different from terrorism?
          

October 18, 2002

       Saudi Arabia announces that Turki al-Faisal will be its next ambassador to Britain. Turki is a controversial figure because of his long-standing relationship to bin Laden. He has also been named in a lawsuit by 9/11 victims' relatives against Saudi Arabians for their support of al-Qaeda before 9/11 (see August 15, 2002). It is later noted that his ambassador position could give him diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. [New York Times 12/30/02] Turki's predecessor as ambassador was recalled after it was revealed he had written poems praising suicide bombers. [Observer, 3/2/03 (C)] Reports on his new posting suggest that Turki last met bin Laden in the early 1990s before he became a wanted terrorist. [London Times 10/18/02; Guardian 10/19/02] However, these reports fail to mention other contacts with bin Laden (for instance, see July 1998), including a possible secret meeting in July 2001 (see July 4-14, 2001).
          

October 21, 2002

       The General Accounting Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, releases a report asserting that at least 13 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were never interviewed by US consular officials before being granted visas to enter the US. This contradicts previous assurances from the State Department that 12 of the hijackers had been interviewed. It also found that, for 15 hijackers whose applications could be found, none had filled in the documents properly. Records for four other hijackers, including Atta, could not be checked because they were accidentally destroyed (see October 23, 2002). [Washington Post 10/22/02] The State Department maintains that visa procedures were properly followed. In December 2002, Senators Jon Kyl (R) and Pat Roberts (R) state in a report that “if State Department personnel had merely followed the law and not granted nonimmigrant visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers in Saudi Arabia … 9/11 would not have happened.” [AP 12/19/02]
          

October 22, 2002 (B)

       Investigators say they are building a “growing circumstantial evidence case” against anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill. Supposedly, “their secret weapon” is bloodhounds tying “scent extracted from anthrax letters” to Hatfill's apartment. [ABC News, 10/22/02] But the bloodhound story has already been reported and largely discredited (see August 8, 2002).
          

October 22, 2002

       The recent capture of would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh (see September 11, 2002) is threatening the trials of Zacarias Moussaoui in the US and Atta associate Mounir El Motassadeq in Germany. Bin al-Shibh is connected to both, and would normally be an extremely important witness in both cases. But the US does not want bin al-Shibh to testify. Both Moussaoui and Motassadeq have a good chance to win their trials on the argument that they cannot get a fair trial if they cannot call bin al-Shibh as a witness. As a result, there is talk that the US may have to abandon Moussaoui's civilian court trial, and retry him in a military court. It appears a judge has delayed the Moussaoui trial until June 2003 to give the US time to interrogate bin al-Shibh. But the US wants to secretly interrogate him for a couple years, at least. [New York Times, 10/23/02, Washington Post, 10/23/02] Does bin al-Shibh know secrets about 9/11 that would embarrass the US?
          

October 23, 2002

       Visa applications for the 15 Saudi Arabian hijackers are made public, and six separate experts agree: “All of them should have been denied entry [into the US].” Joel Mowbray, who first breaks the story for the conservative National Review, says he is shocked by what he saw: “I really was expecting al-Qaeda to have trained their operatives well, to beat the system. They didn't have to beat the system, the system was rigged in their favor from the get-go.” A former US consular officer says the visas show a pattern of criminal negligence. Some examples: “Abdulaziz Alomari claimed to be a student but didn't name a school; claimed to be married but didn't name a spouse; under nationality and gender, he didn't list anything.” “Khalid Almihdhar … simply listed ‘Hotel’ as his US destination— no name, no city, no state— but no problem getting a visa.” Only one actually gave a US destination, and one stated his destination as “no.” Only Hani Hanjour had a slight delay in acquiring his visa. His first application was flagged because he wrote he wanted to visit for three years when the legal limit is two. When he returned two weeks later, he simply changed the form to read “one year” and was accepted. The experts agree that even allowing for chance, incompetence and human error, the odds were that only a few should have been approved (see October 21, 2002). [New York Post, 10/9/02, ABC News, 10/23/02] Could Michael Springmann, a former visa official at the same US consulate where the 15 hijackers got their visas, be correct that the US is purposely letting terrorists get visas (see September 1987-March 1989)? Click here to see visa applications for Hani Hanjour 1 , 2 and 3 , Waleed Alshehri , Wail Alshehri , and Abdulaziz Alomari , all taken from the National Review. [National Review, 10/9/02]
          

October 25, 2002

       “[German authorities] say they're not getting the cooperation they need from the authorities in the USA, and they're worried that a political dispute between Washington and Berlin is hampering their ability to protect the public… In Hamburg, the police say that breakdown in communications between the US and German governments has also led to a dramatic reduction in the amount of investigative help they're getting from the USA.” The Bush administration has not spoken to the German government since it won reelection four months earlier while openly opposing Bush's planned war on Iraq. Germans say existing prosecutions of 9/11 suspects are now threatened by the information breakdown. [Online Newshour, 10/25/02] The Germans helped capture terrorist Mohamed Haydar Zammar and turned him over to a third country, yet now they're learning very little from his interrogations, even though he has admitted to being involved in a plot to attack a consulate in Germany. A US State Department official denies there is any problem, aside from a few “bumps in the road.” [New York Times 11/4/02]
          

October 27, 2002

       The Observer reports, “America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W. Bush's Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of al-Qaeda's plans. Vidal's highly controversial 7,000 word polemic titled ‘The Enemy Within’ … argues that what he calls a ‘Bush junta’ used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a preexisting agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home. Vidal states, ‘Apparently, ‘conspiracy stuff’ is now shorthand for unspeakable truth’ ”(read a summary here [Observer, 10/27/02 (B)], or Vidal's entire essay here [Observer, 10/27/02], and an interview here [Salon, 4/24/02]).
          

October 28, 2002 (B)

       The Washington Post reports, “A significant number of scientists and biological warfare experts are expressing skepticism about the FBI's view that a single disgruntled American scientist prepared the spores and mailed the deadly anthrax letters that killed five people last year.” More than a dozen experts suggest investigators should “reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice.” These experts suggest that making the type of anthrax used could take a team of experts and millions of dollars. The article focuses on the possibility that Iraq could be to blame. [Washington Post, 10/28/02] Why would Iraq have targeted Democratic Senators Leahy and Daschle? Why is the possibility of a team of anthrax attackers from within the US continually brushed aside?
          

October 28, 2002

      
Camp X-Ray prisoners. They wear sensory deprivation masks.
Four prisoners are freed from Guantanamo Bay, the first of the 600 or so prisoners there to be released (see January 11, 2002 and April 30, 2002 (B)). The four, mostly elderly Afghan men, are released because they were determined not to be involved in al-Qaeda and posed no security threat. [BBC, 10/29/02] 19 more are released in March 2003. [BBC 3/24/03] The prisoners are supposedly being kept there to be interrogated about what they know of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But it is reported that virtually none of the prisoners in Guantanamo have any useful information. One US official says, “[Guantanamo] is a dead end” for fresh intelligence information. According to the Washington Post, “Officials realize many of them had little intelligence value to begin with….” [Washington Post 10/29/02] US officials privately concede that “perhaps as many as 100 other captives” are innocent of any connections to al-Qaeda or the Taliban, but most of these still have not been released. Furthermore, not a single prisoner has been brought before a US military tribunal. Apparently this is to hide “a sorry fact: the US mostly netted Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters of only low to middling importance, bagging few of the real bad guys.” [Time, 10/27/02] At least 59 were deemed to have no intelligence even before being sent to Cuba, but were nonetheless sent there, apparently because of bureaucratic inertia. [Los Angeles Times 12/22/02 (B)]
          

November 2002

       Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef blames Zionists and Jews for the 9/11 attacks. He tells journalists, “Who has benefited from Sept. 11 attacks? I think [the Jews] were the protagonists of such attacks.” Nayef is in charge of the Saudi investigation into the attacks, and some US congresspeople respond to the comments by questioning how strongly Saudi Arabia is investigating the involvement of the 15 Saudi 9/11 hijackers. [AP 12/5/02]
          

November 1, 2002

       Some of the 9/11 victims' relatives hold a rally at the US Capitol to protest what they fear are plans by the Bush administration to delay or block their lawsuit against prominent Saudi individuals for an alleged role in financing al-Qaeda (see August 15, 2002). [Washington Post 11/1/02] US officials say they have not decided whether to submit a motion seeking to block or restrict the lawsuit, but they are concerned about the “diplomatic sensitivities” of the suit. Saudis have withdrawn hundreds of billions of dollars from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002). The Guardian previously reported that “some plaintiffs in the case say the Bush administration is pressuring them to pull out of the lawsuit in order to avoid damaging US-Saudi relations, threatening them with the prospect of being denied any money from the government's own compensation scheme if they continue to pursue it. Bereaved relatives who apply to the federal compensation scheme must, in any case, sign away their rights to sue the government, air carriers in the US, and other domestic bodies—a condition that has prompted some of them to call the government compensation ‘hush money.’ The fund is expected, in the end, to pay out $4 billion. They remain, however, free to sue those they accuse of being directly responsible for the attacks, such as Osama bin Laden, and—so they thought—the alleged financers of terrorism.” [Guardian 9/20/02]
          

November 3, 2002

      
Qaed Senyan al-Harethi.
A CIA-operated Predator drone fires a missile that destroys a carload of suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen. The target of the attack is Qaed Senyan al-Harethi, a top al-Qaeda operative, but five others are also killed, including American citizen Kamal Derwish. [Washington Post, 11/4/02, AP, 12/3/02 (B), AP, 12/3/02 (C)] US officials say the CIA has the legal authority to target and kill American citizens it believes are working for al-Qaeda (see July 22, 2002). [AP, 12/3/02 (B), AP, 12/3/02 (C)] Bush administration officials say Derwish was the ringleader of a terrorist cell in Lackawanna, New York. [Washington Post, 11/9/02] The CIA also has a “high-value target list” of about two dozen terrorist leaders it is authorized to assassinate, including bin Laden. [New York Times 12/15/02] Many international lawyers and some foreign governments question the legality of the assassination. [Guardian, 11/6/02] Noting that in its battle against al-Qaeda, the US has effectively deemed the entire planet a combat zone, Scott Silliman, director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security says: “Could you put a Hellfire missile into a car in Washington, DC? … The answer is yes, you could.” But National Security Adviser Rice says, “No constitutional questions are raised here.” [AP, 12/3/02 (B), AP, 12/3/02 (C), Chicago Tribune, 11/24/02] A former high-level intelligence officer complains that Rumsfeld wants “to take guys out for political effect.” Al-Harethi's was being tracked for weeks through his cell phone. [New Yorker, 12/16/02] The attack happens one day before mid-term elections in the US. Was the timing of this assassination done for its political effect?
          

November 5, 2002

      
David Shayler.
David Shayler, a member of the British intelligence agency MI5, is convicted of divulging British intelligence secrets. Shayler claims that British intelligence paid an al-Qaeda agent to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (see August 1996). Under strict secrecy laws, the British press is not allowed to report Shayler's claims. The press is not even allowed to report that the government won a gag order on the press. [The Age, 10/10/02] Shayler is not allowed to argue that he acted in the public interest, and the veracity of his claims is not challenged in court. [Guardian, 11/6/02 (B)] Shayler is sentenced to six months in prison, but only serves seven weeks then is released on parole. [BBC 12/23/02]
          

November 5, 2002 (B)

       The New York Times reports that the official Pentagon study assessing the structural effect of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon was completed in July 2002 but has not been released, and may never be released. The report “was specifically intended to consider Pentagon security in the light of new terrorist threats… Some, confused over what could be considered sensitive in the report, have expressed outrage that the lessons it may hold for other buildings could be squandered.” Engineers outside the investigation say the implications are considerable, since the design of the Pentagon is much more similar to other major buildings elsewhere than the design of the WTC. If the report were released, it is likely building codes would be changed and many lives saved in the long term. [New York Times 11/5/02]
          

November 6 and 22, 2002

       The US tightens immigration restrictions for 18 countries. All males over age 16 coming to the US from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates or Yemen must register with the US government and be photographed and fingerprinted at their local INS office. [Washington Post 11/7/02; AP 11/23/02] Two countries are not included: Pakistan (the home country of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and many other al-Qaeda terrorists) and Saudi Arabia (the home country of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers). These two countries are added to the list on December 13, 2002, after criticism that they were not included. [New York Times 12/19/02]
          

November 9, 2002

      
The logo for Poindexter's new department worries some. An eye from a Masonic pyramid appears to cast a beam over the world, with Muslim regions highlighted. [
The New York Times exposes the existence of John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness data collection program, begun in early 2002 (see Mid-January 2002 and March 2002 (B)). [] Conservative columnist William Safire writes, “If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend—all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’ To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you— passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance— and you have the supersnoop's dream: a ‘Total Information Awareness’ about every US citizen.” [New York Times, 11/14/02] Poindexter says it will take years to realize his vision, but his office has already begun providing some technology to government agencies. [Washington Post, 11/12/02] The existence of this program, and the fact that Poindexter is running it, causes concern for many on both the left and right. [USA Today, 1/16/03] It is regularly called Orwellian, conjuring visions of 1984's Big Brother, and even supporters admit it sounds Orwellian. [Newsweek, 11/15/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/17/02 (B), Guardian, 11/23/02, Newsday, 12/1/02, New Yorker, 12/9/02, BBC, 12/12/02, Dallas Morning News, 12/16/02, Baltimore Sun, 1/5/03] The New York Times suggests, “Congress should shut down the program pending a thorough investigation.” [New York Times, 11/18/02] Experts question not only its civil liberties implications, but also if it is even feasible. If it does work, would its database be swapped with errors that could not be removed? (See such problems in a much smaller database in March 2002.) [San Jose Mercury News 12/26/02] However, many newspapers fail to report on the program at all, and ABC is the only network to report the story on prime time television. [ABC News 11/25/02 (B); ABC News 11/16/02] Despite so many objections, the program is included in the Homeland Security bill (see November 25, 2002), and only later somewhat curbed by Congress (see January 23, 2003).
          

November 11, 2002

       It is revealed that while the government didn't ban box cutters, the airlines' own rules did. It had been widely reported the hijackers used box cutters because they were legal. It now appears pepper spray was also banned, and like box cutters, should have been confiscated. There is evidence the hijackers used pepper spray as well (see July 18, 2002). It has been reported that nine of the hijackers were given special security screenings on 9/11, and six of those had their bags checked for weapons (see March 2, 2002 (B)). How did the hijackers get their weapons on board the airplanes?
          

November 12, 2002

       A new audio tape purportedly made by bin Laden, in which he praises recent terrorist attacks in Bali, Kuwait, Yemen and Moscow, is broadcast by Al Jazeera. [BBC 11/13/02; BBC 11/18/02] US officials believe the voice is “almost certainly” bin Laden, but the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland, one of the world's leading voice-recognition institutes, is 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC 11/18/02; BBC 11/29/02; Toronto Star 12/16/02] Two weeks later, a British newspaper publishes the complete text of a “letter to the American people,” purportedly written by bin Laden. [Observer, 11/25/02] However, “diplomats were skeptical about the authenticity of the document… ” [Guardian 10/15/02]
          

November 15, 2002

       Congress approves legislation creating an 9/11 Commission—the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States—to “examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks” and “make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks.” President Bush signs it into law November 27, 2002. [US Department of State, 11/28/02] Bush originally opposed an 9/11 Commission, but he changes his mind over the summer after political pressure (see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). The Democrats concede several important aspects of the commission (such as subpoena approval) after the White House threatens to create a commission by executive order, over which it would have more control. Bush will appoint the Commission chairman (see November 27, 2002) and he sets a strict time frame (18 months) for the investigation. [CNN, 11/15/02] The commission will only have a $3 million budget. Senator Jon Corzine (D) and others have wondered how the commission can accomplish much with such a small budget. [AP 1/20/03]
          

November 17, 2002

       A Toronto Star editorial entitled “Pursue the Truth About Sept. 11” strongly criticizes the government and media regarding 9/11: “Getting the truth about 9/11 has seemed impossible. The evasions, the obfuscations, the contradictions and, let's not put too fine a point on it, the lies have been overwhelming. … The questions are endless. But most are not being asked—still—by most of the media most of the time. … There are many people, and more by the minute, persuaded that, if the Bushies didn't cause 9/11, they did nothing to stop it.” The article also mentions the Complete 9/11 Timeline website, calling it one of several “carefully considered, well crafted and very compelling” websites to look at for more information about 9/11. [Toronto Star 11/17/02]
          

November 20, 2002

       The US claims that captured would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh says Zacarias Moussaoui met 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Afghanistan during the winter of 2000-01 and Mohammed gave him names of US contacts. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] Bin al-Shibh and Mohammed agreed Moussaoui should be nothing more than a backup figure in the 9/11 plot because he could not keep a secret and was too volatile and untrustworthy. Supposedly, bin al-Shibh wired Moussaoui money intended for other terrorist activities, not 9/11. [USA Today, 11/20/02] The Washington Post has suggested this may cause Moussaoui to not want to call bin al-Shibh as a witness in his trial, but it appears Moussaoui still wants him as a witness. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] There have been suggestions that the US may move Moussaoui's case from a civilian court to a military tribunal, which would prevent bin al-Shibh from testifying, but the issue remains undecided (see October 22, 2002). [USA Today 11/20/02]
          

November 22, 2002

       Newsweek reports that hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan (see August 1994, April 1998, and December 4, 1999), based on information leaked from the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry the month before (see October 9, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02, Washington Post, 11/23/02, New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi is in Saudi Arabia by this time (see September 21-28, 2001); Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia just five days earlier (see August 22, 2002). Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any terrorist connections. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Newsweek reports that while the money trail “could be perfectly innocent … it is nonetheless intriguing—and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9/11 … ” [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Some Saudi newspapers which usually reflect government thinking claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. [MSNBC 11/25/02] Senior government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This causes a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks (see December 11, 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/23/02] A number of senators, including Richard Shelby (R), John McCain (R), Mitch O'Connell (R), Joe Lieberman (D), Bob Graham (D), Joe Biden (D), and Charles Schumer (D), express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding terrorists. [New York Times, 11/25/02, Reuters, 11/24/02] Lieberman says, “I think it's time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11—you're either with us or you're with the terrorists.” [ABC News, 11/25/02] FBI officials strongly deny any deliberate connection between these two and the Saudi government or the hijackers [Time, 11/24/03], but later even more connections between them and both entities are revealed. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

November 24, 2002 (B)

       The Washington Post reports that the US is using an obscure statute to detain and investigate terrorism suspects without having to charge them with a crime. At least 44 people, some of them US citizens, have been held as “material witnesses.” Some have been held for months, and some have been held in maximum-security conditions. Most in fact have never testified, even though that is supposedly why they were held. [Washington Post 11/24/02 (B)]
          

November 24, 2002

       The Los Angeles Times reports that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is creating new agencies to make “information warfare” a central element of any US war. For instance, Rumsfeld created a new position of deputy undersecretary for “special plans” —a euphemism for deception operations. “Increasingly, the administration's new policy—along with the steps senior commanders are taking to implement it—blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other. And, while the policy ostensibly targets foreign enemies, its most likely victim will be the American electorate” (see also February 20, 2002 and October 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Authorities have arrested and jailed at least 44 people as potential grand jury witnesses in the 14 months of the nationwide terrorism investigation, but nearly half have never been called to testify before a grand jury, according to defense lawyers and others involved in the cases.
          

November 25, 2002

      
The new Homeland Security department has a logo of an eye peeking through a keyhole
President Bush signs legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is promoted to Secretary of Homeland Security (see September 20, 2001). The Department will consolidate nearly 170,000 workers from 22 agencies, including the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the federal security guards in airports, and the Customs Service. [New York Times, 11/26/02 (C), Los Angeles Times, 11/26/02] However, the FBI and CIA, the two most prominent anti-terrorism agencies, will not be part of Homeland Security. [New York Times, 11/20/02] The department wants to be active by March 1, 2003, but “it's going to take years to integrate all these different entities into an efficient and effective organization.” [New York Times 11/20/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/26/02] Some 9/11 victims' relatives are angry over sections inserted into the legislation at the last minute. Airport screening companies will be protected from lawsuits filed by family members of 9/11 victims. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says, “We were down there lobbying last week and trying to make the case that this will hurt us, but they did it anyway. It's just a slap in the face to the victims.” [New York Times 11/26/02] The bill also allows the controversial Total Information Awareness program to move forward with its funding. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20/02 (B)] It also gives a Freedom of Information Act exemption for information submitted by private industry to government agencies. Such information given will be automatically classified, protecting the private sector from public scrutiny and lawsuits. Robert Leger, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, says, “This bill sacrifices, in the name of homeland security, the long-standing American principle of open government.” [San Francisco Chronicle 11/19/02]
          

November 27, 2002

      
George Mitchell
President Bush names Henry Kissinger as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Congressional Democrats appoint George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader and peace envoy to Northern Ireland and the Middle East, as Vice Chairman. Their replacements and the other eight members of the commission are chosen by mid-December (see and December 16, 2002 (B)). Kissinger served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor for Presidents Nixon and Ford. [New York Times, 11/29/02] Kissinger's ability to remain independent is met with skepticism (for instance, see Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/3/02, Washington Post, 12/17/02, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/13/02, CNN, 11/30/02, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/29/02]. He has a very controversial past—for instance, “Documents recently released by the CIA, strengthen previously-held suspicions that Kissinger was actively involved in the establishment of Operation Condor, a covert plan involving six Latin American countries including Chile, to assassinate thousands of political opponents.” He is also famous for an “obsession with secrecy.” [BBC, 4/26/02] Its even difficult for Kissinger to travel outside the US. Investigative judges in Spain, France, Chile and Argentina seek to question him in several legal actions related to his possible involvement in war crimes particularly in Latin America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile and East Timor. [BBC 4/18/02; Village Voice 8/15-21/01; Chicago Tribune 12/1/02] “Indeed, it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed.” [New York Times, 11/29/02] The Chicago Tribune notes that “the president who appointed him originally opposed this whole undertaking”(see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). Kissinger is “known more for keeping secrets from the American people than for telling the truth” and asking him “to deliver a critique that may ruin friends and associates is asking a great deal.” [Chicago Tribune, 12/5/02] Both he and Mitchell resign a short time later rather than reveal the clients they work with (see and December 13, 2002).
          

November 28, 2002

       Three suicide bombers detonate their explosives outside a resort hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. Terrorists also fire shoulder-launched missiles unsuccessfully at a passenger jet. [New York Times, 11/30/02] The death toll reaches 16. [] Al-Qaeda purportedly claims responsibility a few days later. [CNN 12/2/02]
          

Late 2002

      
Nabil al-Marabh.
Nabil al-Marabh, a Syrian suspected of numerous ties to terrorism (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001) and the 9/11 hijackers (2001 (C), Spring 2001 (B), September 17, 2001 (D)) is serving an eight month prison sentence for illegally entering the US (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002). A Jordanian in prison with al-Marabh at this time later informs against him, claiming that al-Marabh tells him many details of his terrorism ties. The informant, who shows “a highly detailed knowledge of his former cellmate's associations and movements” according to the Globe and Mail, claims that al-Marabh:
  1. admitted he sent money to a former roommate, Raed Hijazi, who is later convicted of trying to blow up a hotel in Jordan (see 1989-May 2000). He further admitted he aided Hijazi's flight from authorities. [AP, 6/3/04]
  2. planned to die a martyr by stealing a gasoline truck, driving it into the Lincoln or Holland tunnels in New York City, turning it sideways, opening its fuel valves and having an al-Qaeda operative shoot a flare to ignite a massive explosion. The plan is foiled when Hijazi is arrested in Jordan in October 2000. [Toronto Sun, 10/16/01, AP, 6/3/04]
  3. had trained on rifles and rocket propelled grenades at militant camps in Afghanistan. [AP, 6/3/04]
  4. boasted about getting drunk with two 9/11 hijackers. [Globe and Mail, 6/4/04]
  5. asked his uncle to hide an important CD from Canadian police. [Globe and Mail, 6/4/04]
  6. claimed he took instructions from a mysterious figure in Chicago known as “al Mosul” which means “boss” in Arabic. [AP, 6/3/04]
  7. acknowledged he distributed as much as $200,000 a month to training camps in Afghanistan in the early 1990's. [AP, 6/3/04]
FBI agents are able to confirm portions of the informant's claims. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago drafts an indictment against al-Marabh on multiple counts of making false statements in his interviews with FBI agents.
But Justice headquarters declines prosecution in the name of protecting intelligence sources. Prosecutors in Detroit also develop evidence against al-Marabh but aren't allowed to charge him for the same reason. [AP, 6/3/04] Al-Marabh is released from US custody and allowed to return to Syria (see January 2004).
          

December 4, 2002 (B)

       A federal judge in New York rules that Jose Padilla, a US citizen who has been accused of being an al-Qaeda “dirty bomber,” has the right to meet with a lawyer (see June 10, 2002). The judge agrees with the government that Padilla can be held indefinitely as an “enemy combatant” even though he is a US citizen. But he says such enemy combatants can meet with a lawyer to contest their status. However, the ruling makes it very difficult to overturn such a status. The government only need show that “some evidence” supports its claims. [Washington Post, 12/5/02, Washington Post, 12/11/02] In Padilla's case, many of the allegations against Padilla given to the judge, such as Padilla taking his orders from al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, have been widely dismissed in the media. [Washington Post, 9/1/02] As one newspaper puts it, Padilla “appears to be little more than a disoriented thug with grandiose ideas.” [] However, the government continues to challenge this ruling, and Padilla still has not had access to a lawyer (see March 11, 2003).
          

December 5, 2002

      
FBI agents raid Ptech offices
Federal agents search the offices of Ptech, Inc., a computer software company in Quincy, Massachusetts, looking for evidence of links to bin Laden. A senior Ptech official confirms that Yassin al-Qadi, one of 12 Saudi businessmen on a secret CIA list suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda, was an investor in the company, beginning in 1994 (see October 1998 and ). [Newsweek 12/6/02; WBZ4 12/9/02] Some of Ptech's customers include the White House, Congress, Army, Navy, Air Force, NATO, FAA, FBI and the IRS. [Boston Globe, 12/7/02] A former FBI counter-terrorism official states, “For someone like [al-Qadi] to be involved in a capacity, in an organization, a company that has access to classified information, that has access to government open or classified computer systems, would be of grave concern.” Yacub Mirza— “a senior official of major radical Islamic organizations that have been linked by the US government to terrorism” —has recently been on Ptech's board of directors. Hussein Ibrahim, the Vice President and Chief Scientist of Ptech, was vice chairman of a now defunct investment group called BMI. An FBI affidavit names BMI as a conduit to launder money from al-Qadi to Hamas terrorists. [WBZ4, 12/9/02] The search into Ptech is part of Operation Green Quest, which has served 114 search warrants in the past 14 months involving suspected terrorist financing. Fifty arrests have been made and $27.4 million seized. [Forbes 12/6/02] Al-Qadi's assets were frozen by the FBI in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001). [Arab News 9/26/02] That same month, a number of Ptech employees told the Boston FBI that Ptech was financially backed by al-Qadi, but the FBI did little more than take their statements. A high level government source claims the FBI did not convey the information to a treasury department investigation of al-Qadi, and none of the government agencies using Ptech software were warned. Indira Singh, a second whistleblower, spoke with the FBI in June 2002 and was “shocked” and “frustrated” when she learned the agency had done nothing. [Boston Globe 12/7/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Beginning in mid-June 2002, WBZ-TV Boston had prepared an lengthy investigative report on Ptech, but withheld it for more than three months after receiving “calls from federal law enforcement agencies, some at the highest levels.” The station claims the government launched its Ptech probe in August 2002, after they “got wind of our investigation” and “asked us to hold the story so they could come out and do their raid and look like they're ahead of the game.” [Boston Globe 12/7/02 (B); WBZ4 12/9/02]
          

December 9, 2002 (B)

       A federal judge rules against the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, in its attempt to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G)). The judge writes, “This case, in which neither a House of Congress nor any congressional committee has issued a subpoena for the disputed information or authorized this suit, is not the setting for such unprecedented judicial action.” [AP, 12/9/02] The GAO later declines to appeal the ruling (see February 7, 2003 (B)). In a similar suit being filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club, the Bush Administration has successfully delayed deadlines forcing these documents to be turned over. That case continues, with another deadline avoided on December 6. [AP 12/6/02]
          

December 9, 2002

       US commanders have rejected as too risky many special operations missions to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. After Army Green Beret A-Teams received good intelligence on the whereabouts of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, commanders turned down the missions as too dangerous. Soldiers traced the timidity to an incident in June 2002 called Operation Full Throttle, which resulted in the death of 34 civilians. [Washington Times 12/9/02]
          

December 11, 2002 (C)

      
Bob Graham.
In discussing the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9/11 (see December 11, 2002 (B)), Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, says he is “surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [9/11] terrorists in the United States…. To me that is an extremely significant issue and most of that information is classified, I think overly-classified. I believe the American people should know the extent of the challenge that we face in terms of foreign government involvement. I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing—although that was part of it—by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down…. It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now. [PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] In March 2003, Newsweek says its sources indicate Graham is speaking about Saudi Arabia, and that leads pointing in this direction have been pursued. Graham also says that the report contains far more miscues than have been publicly revealed. “There's been a cover-up of this,” he says. [Newsweek, 3/1/03 (B)] Could Graham also be referring to evidence showing Pakistan's ISI foreknowledge of 9/11 that was given to his office before 9/11 (see Early August 2001)?
          

December 11, 2002 (D)

       The Justice Department announces that only six of the 765 people detained on immigration charges after 9/11 are still in US custody (see also November 5, 2001 (B) and July 3, 2002). Almost 500 of them were released to their home countries; the remainder are still in the US. 134 others were arrested on criminal charges and 99 were convicted. Another group of more than 300 were taken into custody by state and local law enforcement and so statistics are unknown about them. Additionally, more were arrested on material witness warrants, but the government won't say how many. The Washington Post has determined there are at least 44 in this category (see November 24, 2002 (B)). [Washington Post, 12/12/02] The names of all those secretly arrested still have not been released (see August 2, 2002 (C)). None in any of the categories have been charged with any terrorist acts.
          

December 11, 2002 (B)

       The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry concludes its seven month investigation of the performance of government agencies before the 9/11 attacks. A report hundred of page long has been written, but only nine pages of findings and 15 pages of recommendations are released at this time, and those have blacked out sections. [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] After months of wrangling over what has to be classified (see January-July 2003), the final report is released in July 2003 (see July 24, 2003). In the findings released at this time, the Inquiry accuses the Bush administration of refusing to declassify information about possible Saudi Arabian financial links to US-based terrorists, criticizes the FBI for not adapting into a domestic intelligence bureau after the attacks and says the CIA lacked an effective system for holding its officials accountable for their actions. Asked if 9/11 could have been prevented, Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, gives “a conditional yes.” Graham says the Bush administration has given Americans an “incomplete and distorted picture” of the foreign assistance the hijackers may have received. [ABC, 12/10/02] Graham further says, “There are many more findings to be disclosed” that Americans would find “more than interesting,” and he and others express frustration that information that should be released is being kept classified by the Bush administration. [St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Many of these findings remain classified after the Inquiry's final report is released (see July 28, 2003 and August 1-3, 2003). Sen. Richard Shelby (R), the vice chairman, singles out six people as having “failed in significant ways to ensure that this country was as prepared as it could have been”: CIA Director Tenet; Tenet's predecessor, John Deutch; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; NSA Director Michael Hayden; Hayden's predecessor, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan; and former Deputy Director Barbara McNamara. [Washington Post, 12/11/02; Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Committee Recommendations, 12/11/02] Shelby says that Tenet should resign. “There have been more failures on his watch as far as massive intelligence failures than any CIA director in history. Yet he's still there. It's inexplicable to me.” [Reuters, 12/10/02, PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] “A list of 19 recommendations consists largely of recycled proposals and tepid calls for further study of thorny issues members themselves could not resolve.” [Los Angeles Times 12/12/02]
          

December 12-17, 2002

       At least 15 FBI investigators conduct a six-day search of Gambrill State Park (outside Frederick, Maryland) and Frederick Municipal Forest in connection with the anthrax investigation. Frederick Municipal Forest is located about four miles northwest of USAMRIID, the Army's principal biodefense lab. In addition to a ground search and excavation of some areas, teams of divers search small lakes and ponds in the park. The search is based on information that former USAMRIID government scientist Steven Hatfill may have disposed of laboratory equipment in one of the ponds near his former Maryland home (see February 1999, September 1999 (B), August 1, 2002, and August 8, 2002). [ABC, 12/12/02, CNN, 12/13/02, Washington Post, 12/13/02, Baltimore Sun, 12/13/02] The FBI search turns up nothing. [ABC News, 1/9/03] Afterwards, Hatfill alleges that a virtual caravan of unmarked vans and cars are keeping him under constant surveillance, following him on errands and to restaurants and driving past his house with a video camera pointed out the window. He also believes that his telephone is wiretapped. [UPI 11/23/02]
          

December 12, 2002

       The vast majority of the more than 900 people the federal government acknowledges detaining after the 9/11 attacks have been deported, released or convicted of minor crimes unrelated to terrorism, according to government documents (see October 20, 2001). An undisclosed number—most likely in the dozens—are or were held as material witnesses. The Justice Department reports that only six of the 765 people arrested for immigration violations are still held by the INS. An additional 134 people were charged with criminal offenses, with 99 found guilty through pleas or trials. [Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/02] MSNBC reports that of the “more than 800 people” rounded up since 9/11, “only 10 have been linked in any way to the hijackings” and “probably will turn out to be innocent.” [Newsweek 10/29/02]
          

December 13, 2002

      
Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, Kissinger's resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC 12/13/02; Seattle Times 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see October 21, 1995, and August 9, 1998). [Washington Post 10/5/98; Salon 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its “long-standing” relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission “has lost time” and “is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet.” [Washington Post 12/14/02]
          

December 14, 2002

      
Maulana Masood Azhar.
A Pakistani court ruling frees Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, from prison. [] Two weeks later, he is freed from house arrest. He was held for exactly one year without charge, the maximum allowed in Pakistan. [AP, 12/29/02] He was arrested shortly after an attack on the Indian Parliament that was blamed on his terrorist group (see December 13, 2001 (C)). In 1999 he and Saeed Sheikh were rescued by al-Qaeda from an Indian prison (see December 24-31, 1999), and he has ties to al-Qaeda and possibly the 9/11 attacks (see January 5, 2002). Pakistan frees several other top terrorist leaders in the same month. It is believed they are doing this so these terrorists can fight in a secret proxy war with India over Kashmir. US officials have remained silent about the release of Azhar and others Pakistani terrorist leaders. [] The US froze the funds of Jaish-e-Mohammad in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), but the group simply changed its name to al-Furqan, and the US has not frozen the funds of the “new” group. [Financial Times 2/8/03; Washington Post 2/8/03]
          

December 16, 2002 (B)

      
Richard Ben-Veniste
The ten members of the new 9/11 Commission (see November 15, 2002) are appointed by this date, and are: Republicans Thomas Kean (Chairman), Slade Gorton, James Thompson, Fred Fielding, and John Lehman, and Democrats Lee Hamilton (Vice Chairman), Max Cleland, Tim Roemer, Richard Ben-Veniste, and Jamie Gorelick. [New York Times, 12/17/02, Washington Post, 12/15/02, AP, 12/16/02, Chicago Tribune, 12/12/02] Senators Richard Shelby (R) and John McCain (R) had a say in the choice of one of the Republican positions. They and many 9/11 victims' relatives wanted former Senator Warren Rudman (R), who cowrote an acclaimed report about terrorism before 9/11 (see January 31, 2001). But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott blocks Rudman's appointment and chooses John Lehman instead. [St. Petersburg Times 12/12/02; AP 12/13/02; Reuters 12/16/02] It slowly emerges over the next several months that at least six of the ten commissioners have ties to the airline industry. [CBS, 3/5/03] Every commissioner has at least one potential conflict of interest.
  • Republican commissioners:
    • For Chairman Thomas Kean's conflicts of interests, see .
    • Fred Fielding also works for a law firm lobbying for Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. [AP, 2/14/03, CBS, 3/5/03]
    • Slade Gorton has close ties to Boeing, which built all the planes destroyed on 9/11, and his law firm represents several major airlines, including Delta Airlines. [AP, 12/12/02, CBS, 3/5/03]
    • John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, has large investments in Ball Corp., which has many US military contracts. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
    • James Thompson, former Illinois governor, is the head of a law firm that lobbies for American Airlines, and he has previously represented United Airlines. [AP, 1/31/03, CBS, 3/5/03]
  • Democratic commissioners:
    • Richard Ben-Veniste represents Boeing and United Airlines. [CBS, 3/5/03] His law firm also represents Deutsche Bank, which have many connections to 9/11. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)] Ben-Veniste also has other curious connections, according to a 2001 book on CIA ties to drug running written by Daniel Hopsicker, which has an entire chapter called “Who is Richard Ben-Veniste?” Lawyer Ben-Veniste, Hopsicker says, “has made a career of defending political crooks, specializing in cases that involve drugs and politics.” Ben-Veniste has been referred to in print as a “Mob lawyer,” and was a long-time lawyer for Barry Seal, one of the most famous drug dealers in US history who also is alleged to have had CIA connections. [Barry and the Boys, Daniel Hopsicker, 9/01, pp. 325-330, ]
    • Max Cleland, former US senator, has received $300,000 from the airline industry. [CBS, 3/5/03]
    • James Gorelick is a director of United Technologies, one of the Pentagon's biggest defense contractors and a supplier of engines to airline manufacturers. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
    • Lee Hamilton sits on many advisory boards, including those to the CIA, the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the US Army. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
    • Tim Roemer represents Boeing and Lockheed Martin. [CBS, 3/5/03]

          

December 18, 2002 (B)

       Four brothers in Texas—Ghassan Elashi, Bayan Elashi, Hazim Elashi and Basman Elashi—are arrested on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist, illegal export and making false statements. [AP, 12/18/02 (B), Washington Post, 12/19/02] Ghassan Elashi is the vice president of InfoCom Corporation, which was raided on September 5, 2001 by 80 members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force (see September 5-8, 2001). [Guardian, 9/10/01] He is also chairman of Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which had its assets frozen by the FBI in December 2001 (see ). [New York Times, 12/20/02] The 33-count indictment names a fifth brother, Ihsan Elashi, who is already in custody, as well as Mousa Abu Marzook, whom the US deported in 1997, and his wife Nadia Elashi (both believed to be in the Middle East). [BBC, 12/18/01] On December 20, a judge rules Bayan and Hazim Elashi should remain in federal detention, but frees Basman Elashi on $15,000 bail. [New York Times, 12/20/02] Ghassan Elashi is released without bond, but will wear an electronic monitor. [AP 12/23/02]
          

December 19, 2002

       European security chiefs still regard Britain as a safe haven for al-Qaeda units. Since September 11 Britain has had only three minor prosecutions for terrorist offenses, all for being members of groups that are banned in the country. A senior French security source says that Britain's record since the attacks is abysmal. [London Times, 12/19/02] Reportedly, hundreds of British recruits trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The French are furious for Britain's lax treatment of terrorism suspects, including key al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada (see Early December 2001 (C)). [Observer 2/24/02]
          

December 27, 2002

      
Leaders sign the pipeline agreement
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan sign an agreement for the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, a US$3.2 billion project that has been delayed for many years. [AP, 12/26/02, BBC, 12/27/02] A study by the Asian Development Bank stated that the pipeline would move natural gas from Turkmenistan's huge Dauletabad-Donmez fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar. The pipeline was originally launched in 1996 (see August 13, 1996), but was abandoned when a consortium led by Unocal withdrew over fears of being seen as supporting the Taliban and because the US launched missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1998 (see December 5, 1998). The Afghan, Pakistani and Turkmen leaders relaunched the project in May 2002 (see May 30, 2002 (B)). Unocal has denied it is interested in returning to Afghanistan. Skeptics say the project would require an indefinite foreign military presence in Afghanistan. [AP 12/26/02; BBC 5/30/02]
          

January-July 2003

       The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry is originally expected to release its complete and final report in January 2003, but the panel spends seven months negotiating with the Bush Administration about what material could be made public, and the final report is not released until July 2003 (see July 24, 2003). [Washington Post, 7/27/03] The Administration originally wanted two thirds of the report to remain classified. [AP, 5/31/03] Former Senator Max Cleland, (D), member of the 9/11 9/11 Commission, later claims, “The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaeda) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers … What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends. The reason this report was delayed for so long—deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created—is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over … before (it) came out. Had this report come out in January [2003] like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration.” [UPI 7/25/03]
          

January 10, 2003

       FBI Director Mueller personally awards Marion (Spike) Bowman with a presidential citation and cash bonus of approximately 25 percent of his salary. [Salon 3/3/03 (B)] Bowman, head of the FBI's National Security Law Unit and the person who refused to seek a special warrant for a search of Zacarias Moussaoui's belongings before the 9/11 attacks (see August 23-27, 2001 and August 28, 2001 (D)) is among nine recipients of bureau awards for “exceptional performance.” The award comes shortly after a 9/11 Congressional inquiry report saying Bowman's unit gave Minneapolis FBI agents “inexcusably confused and inaccurate information” that was “patently false.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/22/02] Bowman's unit also blocked an urgent request by FBI agents to begin searching for Khalid Almihdhar after his name was put on a watch list (see August 28, 2001). In early 2000, the FBI acknowledged serious blunders in surveillance Bowman's unit conducted during sensitive terrorism and espionage investigations, including agents who illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission, and recorded the wrong phone conversations. [AP, 1/10/03] As Senator Charles Grassely (R) and others have pointed out, not only has no one in government been fired or punished for 9/11, but several others have been promoted:
  1. Pasquale D'Amuro, the FBI's counter-terrorism chief in New York City before 9/11, is promoted to the bureau's top counterterrorism post. [Time, 12/30/02]
  2. FBI Supervisory special agent Michael Maltbie, who removed information from the Minnesota FBI's application to get the search warrant for Moussaoui, is promoted to field supervisor. [Salon, 3/3/03 (B)]
  3. David Frasca, head of the FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit, is “still at headquarters,” Grassley notes. [Salon, 3/3/03 (B)] Frasca received the Phoenix memo warning al-Qaeda terrorists could use flight schools inside the US (see July 10, 2001), and then a few weeks later he received the request for Moussaoui's search warrant. “The Phoenix memo was buried; the Moussaoui warrant request was denied.” [Time, 5/27/02] Even after 9/11 he continued to “threw up roadblocks” in the Moussaoui case. [New York Times, 5/27/02]
  4. President Bush later names Barbara Bodine the director of Central Iraq shortly after the US conquest of Iraq. Many in government are upset about the appointment because of her blocking of the USS Cole investigation, which some say could have uncovered the 9/11 plot (see October 12, 2000). She failed to admit she was wrong or apologize. [Washington Times, 4/10/03] However, she is fired after about a month, apparently for doing a poor job.
  5. An FBI official who tolerates penetration of the translation department by Turkish spies and encourages slow translations just after 9/11 is promoted (see March 22, 2002). [CBS, 10/25/02]
  6. The CIA has promoted two unnamed top leaders of its unit responsible for tracking al-Qaeda in 2000, when the agency mistakenly failed to put the two suspected terrorists on the watch list. “The leaders were promoted even though some people in the intelligence community and in Congress say the counterterrorism unit they ran bore some responsibility for waiting until August 2001 to put the suspect pair on the interagency watch list.” CIA Director Tenet has failed to fulfill a promise given to Congress in late 2002 that he would name the CIA officials responsible for 9/11 failures. [New York Times, 5/15/03]

          

January 12, 2003

       As the Bush Administration talks of war with Iraq, a nationwide Knight-Ridder poll shows that 50% of respondents say that one or more of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. Only 17% say none came from Iraq. No government or major newspaper has ever suggested that even one of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. Additionally, “Nearly 1 in 4 respondents thinks the Bush administration has publicly released evidence tying Iraq to the planning and funding of the Sept. 11 attacks, and more than 1 in 3 respondents didn't know or refused to answer. No such evidence has been released.” [Knight-Ridder 1/12/03]
          

January 12, 2003 (B)

       It is reported that 22 cities representing 3.5 million residents have passed resolutions criticizing the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts (see October 26, 2001) . Another 70 cities have such resolutions in the works. [AP, 1/12/03] Many of the resolutions provide some legal justification for local authorities to resist cooperating in the federal war on terrorism when they deem civil liberties and Constitutional rights are being compromised. [New York Times 12/23/02]
          

January 13, 2003

       The Guardian reports on the state of journalism in the US: “The worldwide turmoil caused by President Bush's policies goes not exactly unreported, but entirely de-emphasized. Guardian writers are inundated by e-mails from Americans asking plaintively why their own papers never print what is in these columns… If there is a Watergate scandal lurking in [the Bush] administration, it is unlikely to be [Washington Post journalist Bob] Woodward or his colleagues who will tell us about it. If it emerges, it will probably come out on the web. That is a devastating indictment of the state of American newspapers.” [Guardian 1/13/03]
          

January 15, 2003

       Famous spy novelist John le Carré, in an essay entitled, “The United States of America Has Gone Mad,” says “The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded.” He also comments, “How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history.” [London Times 1/15/03]
          

January 18, 2003

       Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warns of an “impending danger” that Pakistan will become a target of war for “Western forces” after the Iraq crisis. “We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle.” [Press Trust of India, 1/19/03, Financial Times, 2/8/03] Pointing to “a number of recent ‘background briefings’ and ‘leaks’ ” from the US government, “Pakistani officials fear the Bush administration is planning to change its tune dramatically once the war against Iraq is out of the way.” [Financial Times 2/8/03] Despite evidence that the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, ordered money given to the hijackers (see October 7, 2001), so far only one partisan newspaper has suggested Pakistan was involved in 9/11. [WorldNetDaily, 1/3/02] But could Musharraf be worried about evidence suggesting involvement of the ISI in the 9/11 attacks?
          

January 22, 2003

       One year after reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder (see January 23, 2002 and January 31, 2002), the investigation is mired in controversy. “Mysteries still abound. … Suspects disappear or are found dead. Crucial dates are confused. Confessions are offered and then recanted. … Nobody who physically carried out the killing has been convicted. None of the four men sentenced is even believed to have ever been at the shed where Pearl was held” and killed. The government arrested three suspects in May 2002 but hasn't charged them and still won't admit to holding them, because acknowledging their testimony would ruin the case against Saeed Sheikh. [AP, 8/18/02, AP, 1/22/03] Two of the three claim that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed cut Pearl's throat with a knife. [MSNBC 9/17/02; Time 1/26/03]
          

January 22, 2003 (B)

       CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt says he is convinced all the intelligence the CIA had on Sept. 11, 2001, could not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. “It was not as some have suggested, a simple matter of connecting the dots,” he claims. [Reuters 1/23/03]
          

January 22, 2003 (C)

       The FBI conducts a very public search of a Miami, Florida, house belonging to Mohammed Almasri and his Saudi family. Having lived in Miami since July 2000, on September 9, 2001 they said they were returning to Saudi Arabia, hurriedly put their luggage in a van, and sped away, according to neighbors. A son named Turki Almasri was enrolled at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, where hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also studied. [Washington Post, 1/23/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03] Neighbors repeatedly called the FBI after 9/11 to report their suspicions, but the FBI only began to search the house in October 2002. The house had remained abandoned, but not sold, since they left just before 9/11. [Washington Post, 1/23/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/22/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/22/03] The FBI returned for more thorough searches in January 2003, with some agents dressed in white biohazard suits. [Washington Post 1/23/03] US Representative Robert Wexler (D), later says, “This scenario is screaming out one question: Where was the FBI for 15 months?” The FBI determines there is no terrorism connection, and apologizes to the family. [UPI, 1/24/03] An editorial notes the “ineptitude” of the FBI in not reaching family members over the telephone, as reporters were easily able to do. [Palm Beach Post 2/1/03]
          

January 23, 2003

       Congress imposes some limitations on the notorious Total Information Awareness program (see March 2002 (B)and November 9, 2002). Research and development of the program would have to halt within 90 days of enactment of the bill unless the Defense Department submits a detailed report about the program. The research can also continue if Bush certifies that the report cannot be provided. Congress also okays use of the program internationally, but it cannot be used inside the US unless Congress passes new legislation specifically authorizing such use. [New York Times, 1/24/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/19/03] However, a bill to completely stop the program has yet to pass. [San Jose Mercury News, 1/17/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/19/03] Several days earlier, Senator Charles Grassley (R) alleged that the Justice Department and FBI are more extensively exploring the use of the Total Information Awareness program than they have previously acknowledged. [AP, 1/21/03, Washington Post, 1/22/03] Contracts worth tens of millions of dollars have been signed with private companies to develop pieces of the program. [AP, 2/12/03] Salon also reports that the program “has now advanced to the point where it's much more than a mere ‘research project.’ ” [Salon 1/29/03]
          

January 24, 2003

      
Rudi Dekkers in the hospital shortly after his crash.
Rudi Dekkers, owner of the flight school where hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi trained, is nearly killed in a helicopter accident. While piloting a helicopter, his engine dies, and the helicopter plunges into a river. But remarkably a nearby helicopter sees and rescues him. [AP, 1/24/03, NBC2, 1/25/03, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 1/25/03] There may be no foul play in the accident, but it is eerily reminiscent of an crash six months earlier that nearly killed Arne Kruithof, the flight school owner where Ziad Jarrah trained (see June 26, 2002). Reporter Daniel Hopsicker has for months been reporting on Dekkers' strange ties to the CIA (see ). Interestingly, Dekkers was on his way to a meeting to sell his flight school, Huffman Aviation, which he sells to a competitor the next day. [Venice Gondolier, 1/25/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/28/03] Just the week before, the state attorney's office filed criminal fraud charges against Dekkers. He is accused of a third-degree felony security interest fraud against business partner Wally Hilliard. [Venice Gondolier, 1/18/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/22/03] Hilliard has agreed to drop the charges because of the flight school sale, but the state hasn't dropped them. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune 1/28/03]
          

January 27, 2003

      
Philip Zelikow.
The 9/11 9/11 Commission, officially titled the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, holds its first meeting in Washington. The commission has $3 million and only until May 2004 to explore the causes of the attacks. By comparison, a 1996 federal commission to study legalized gambling was given two years and $5 million. [AP, 1/27/03] The Bush Administration later grudgingly increases the funding to $12 million total (see March 26, 2003). Philip Zelikow, currently the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and formerly in the National Security Council during the first Bush administration, is also appointed executive director of the commission. He is expected to resign to focus full time on the commission. [AP, 1/27/03] Zelikow cowrote a book with National Security Advisor Rice. [9/11 Commission 3/03] A few days later, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says, “The focus of the commission will be on the future. We want to make recommendations that will make the American people more secure…. We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility.” [UPI 2/6/03]
          

January 30, 2003

      
Stephen Push.
Stephen Push, a 9/11 victim's relative, is putting 45,000 pages from the recent German trial of Mounir El Motassadeq onto computer disks for the 9/11 9/11 Commission. He is one of about 20 victims' relatives who joined that case as co-plaintiffs and got access to evidence that otherwise would be classified. [AP, 2/28/03] Push has quit his job to devote all his time and $100,000 of his own money investigating 9/11. Originally a Bush supporter, he now says, “Clearly the official government line [on 9/11] is a lie.” [Newsday 1/30/03]
          

February-March 20, 2003

      
Actress, comedienne and antiwar activist Janeane Garofalo attempts to bring up PNAC on CNN, the only time it has been mentioned on that network.
With war against Iraq imminent, numerous media outlets finally begin reporting on the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank and its role in influencing Iraq policy and US foreign policy generally. PNAC's plans for global domination had been noted before 9/11 (see for instance, [Washington Post, 8/21/01]), and PNAC's 2000 report recommending the conquest of Iraq even if Saddam Hussein is not in power was first reported on in September 2002 (see September 2000 and [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02]), but there were few follow-up mentions until February (exceptions: [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/29/02, Bangor Daily News, 10/18/02, New Statesman, 12/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]. Many of these articles use PNAC to suggest that global and regional domination is the real reason for the Iraq war. Coverage increases as war gets nearer, but many media outlets still have not done any reporting on this, and some of the reporting that has been done is not prominently placed (for instance, a New York Times article on the topic is buried in the Arts section! See [New York Times, 3/11/03]). One Newsweek editorial notes that “not until the last few days” before war have many reasons against the war been brought up. It calls this “too little, too late” to make an impact. [Newsweek, 3/18/03] (Articles that discuss PNAC: [Philadelphia Daily News, 1/27/03, New York Times, 2/1/03, PBS Frontline, 2/20/03, Observer, 2/23/03, Bergen Record, 2/23/03, Guardian, 2/26/03, Mother Jones, 3/03, BBC, 3/2/03, Observer, 3/2/03 (B), Der Spiegel, 3/4/03, , Salon, 3/5/03, Independent, 3/8/03, Toronto Star, 3/9/03, ABC, 3/10/03, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/10/03, CNN, 3/10/03, Guardian 3/11/03, New York Times, 3/11/03, American Prospect, 3/12/03, Chicago Tribune, 3/12/03, Globe and Mail, 3/14/03, Japan Times, 3/14/03, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/15/03, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/15/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/16/03, Observer, 3/16/03, Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, Toronto Star, 3/16/03, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 3/17/03, Globe and Mail, 3/19/03, Asia Times, 3/20/03, The Age, 3/20/03])
          

February 7, 2003

      
Charles Lewis.
Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity reveals the leaked text of a new anti-terrorism bill. Called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, it becomes popularly known as the Patriot Act II. The text of the bill is dated January 9, 2003. [NOW with Bill Moyers 2/7/03; Center for Public Integrity 2/7/03; Patriot Act II text] Before it was leaked, the bill was being prepared in complete secrecy from the public and Congress. Only House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Vice President Cheney were sent copies on January 10. [San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03] A week earlier, Attorney General Ashcroft said the Justice Department was not working on any bill of this type, and when the text was released, they said it was just a rough draft. But the text “has all the appearance of a document that has been worked over and over.” [ABC News, 3/12/03, Village Voice, 2/28/03] Some, including a number of congresspeople, speculate that the government is waiting until a new terrorist act or war fever before formally introducing this bill. [NOW with Bill Moyers 2/7/03; AP 2/10/03 (B); UPI 3/10/03; Village Voice 3/26/03] Here are some of its provisions:
  1. The attorney general is given the power to deport any foreign national, even people who are legal permanent residents. No crime need be asserted, no proof offered, and the deportation can occur in complete secrecy. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03]
  2. It would authorize secret arrests in terrorism investigations, which would overturn a court order requiring the release of names of their detainees. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03] Not even an attorney or family need be informed until the person is formally charged, if that ever happens. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
  3. The citizenship of any US citizen can be revoked, if they are members of or have supported any group the attorney general designates as terrorist. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03] A person who gives money to a charity that only later turns out to have some terrorist connection could then lose his or her citizenship. [CNN, 3/6/03]
  4. “Whole sections … are devoted to removing judicial oversight.” Federal agents investigating terrorism could have access to credit reports, without judicial permission. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03]
  5. Federal investigators can conduct wiretaps without a court order for 15 days whenever Congress authorizes force or in response to an attack on the United States. [UPI, 3/10/03]
  6. It creates a DNA database of anyone the Justice Department determines to be a “suspect,” without court order. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/03]
  7. It would be a crime for someone subpoenaed in connection with an investigation being carried out under the Patriot Act to alert Congress to any possible abuses committed by federal agents. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
  8. Businesses and their personnel who provide information to anti-terrorism investigators are granted immunity even if the information is fraudulent. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
  9. The government would be allowed to carry out electronic searches of virtually all information available about an individual without having to show probable cause and without informing the individual that the investigation was being carried out. Critics say this provision “would fundamentally change American society” because everyone would be under suspicion at all times. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
  10. Federal agents would be immune from prosecution when they engage in illegal surveillance acts. [UPI, 3/10/03]
  11. Restrictions are eased on the use of secret evidence in the prosecution of terror cases. [UPI, 3/10/03]
  12. Existing judicial consent decrees preventing local police departments from spying on civil rights groups and other organizations are canceled. [Salon, 3/24/03]
Initially the story generates little press coverage, but there is a slow stream of stories over the next weeks, all expressing criticism. Of all the major newspapers, only the Washington Post puts the story on the front page, and no television network has the story in prime time. [AP, 2/8/03, CBS, 2/8/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/8/03, New York Times, 2/8/03, Washington Post, 2/8/03 (B), AP, 2/10/03 (B), San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/13/03, St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03, Denver Post, 2/20/03, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/20/03, San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/03, Baltimore Sun, 2/21/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/21/03, Village Voice, 2/28/03, Houston Chronicle, 3/1/03, UPI, 3/10/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3/19/03, Salon, 3/24/03, Village Voice, 3/26/03, CNN, 3/6/03, ABC News, 3/12/03, Tampa Tribune, 4/6/03] Representative Jerrold Nadler (D) says the bill amounts to “little more than the institution of a police state.” [San Francisco Chronicle 2/11/03]

          

February 7, 2003 (B)

       The General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, declines to appeal a case attempting to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G) and December 9, 2002 (B)). This ends a potentially historic showdown between the congressional watchdog agency and the executive branch. [Los Angeles Times 2/8/03 (B)] It is widely believed that the suit is dropped because of pressure from the Republican Party—the suit was filed when the Democrats controlled the Senate, and this decision comes shortly after the Republicans gained control of the Senate. [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)] The head of the GAO denies the lawsuit is dropped because of Republican threats to cut his office's budget, but US Comptroller General David Walker, who led the case, says there was one such “thinly veiled threat” last year by a lawmaker he wouldn't identify. [Reuters, 2/25/03] Another account has Senator Ted Stevens (R) and a number of other congresspeople making the threat to Walker. [Hill 2/19/03] The GAO has previously indicated that accepting defeat in this case would cripple its ability to oversee the executive branch. [Washington Post 2/8/03 (C)] A similar suit filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club is still moving forward (see July 12, 2002 and October 17, 2002). [Washington Post 2/8/03 (C)]
          

February 18, 2003

      
Mounir El Motassadeq.
Mounir El Motassadeq, an alleged member of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg al-Qaeda cell, is convicted in Germany of accessory to murder in the 9/11 attacks (see also September 3-5, 2001). He is given the maximum sentence of 15 years. [AP, 2/19/03] Motassadeq, admitted varying degrees of contact with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Said Bahaji, Ziad Jarrah and Zakariya Essabar, admitted he had been given power of attorney over Alshehhi's bank account, and admitted attending an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan from May to August 2000, but he claimed he had nothing to do with 9/11 (see also August 1998and Mid-June 1999). [New York Times, 10/24/02] The conviction is the first related to 9/11, but, as the Independent puts it, “there are doubts whether there will ever be a second.” This is because intelligence agencies have been reluctant to turn over evidence, or give access to requested witnesses. In Motassadeq's case, his lawyers unsuccessfully tried several times to obtain testimony by two of his friends, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and Mohammed Haydar Zammar—a lack of evidence that could be grounds for an appeal. German intelligence also failed to turn over evidence on those two men, again, making an appeal likely. [Independent 2/20/03]
          

February 25, 2003

       The Chicago Tribune reveals that there appear to be many more members of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg cell than previously realized. While many members of the cell died in the attacks or fled Germany just prior to them (see September 3-5, 2001), up to a dozen suspected of belonging to the Hamburg cell stayed behind, apparently hoping to avoid government scrutiny. Many of their names have not yet been revealed. In some cases, investigators still don't know the names. For instance, phone records show that someone using the alias Karl Herweg was in close communication with the Hamburg cell and Zacarias Moussaoui, but Herweg's real identity is not known. [Chicago Tribune 2/25/03]
          

February 26, 2003

       Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistleblower who was proclaimed Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2002, sends another public letter to FBI Director Mueller (see also August 28, 2001 (D) and May 21, 2002). She believes the FBI is not prepared for new terrorist attacks likely to result from the upcoming Iraq war. She also says counter-terrorism cases are being mishandled. She claims the FBI and the Justice Department have not questioned captured al-Qaeda suspects Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid about their al-Qaeda contacts, choosing instead to focus entirely on prosecution. She writes, “Lack of follow-through with regard to Moussaoui and Reid gives a hollow ring to our ‘top priority’ —i.e. preventing another terrorist attack. Moussaoui almost certainly would know of other al-Qaeda contacts, possibly in the US, and would also be able to alert us to the motive behind his and Mohammed Atta's interest in crop-dusting.” Moussaoui's lawyer also says the government has not attempted to talk to Moussaoui since 9/11. [New York Times 3/5/03 (C); New York Times 3/6/03 (B)]
          

Late February 2003

       Medical examiners match human remains to the DNA of two of the hijackers that flew on Flights 11 and/or 175 into the WTC. The names of the two hijackers are not released. The FBI gave the examiners DNA profiles of all ten hijackers on those flights a few weeks earlier. Genetic profiles of five hijackers from Flight 77 and the four from Flight 83 that did not match any of the passengers' profiles have been given to the FBI, but the FBI has not given any DNA profiles with which to match them. [CNN 2/27/03]
          

March 1, 2003

      
The US claims this is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed just after being captured.
9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is reportedly arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. [AP, 3/1/03] He is reported arrested in a late-night joint Pakistani and FBI raid that also captures Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, said to be the main money man behind the 9/11 attacks. [MSNBC 3/3/03] However, there are serious doubts that Mohammed or Al-Hawsawi (who might not even exist) were at the house when it was raided. Mohammed has previously been reported arrested or killed (see June 16, 2002 and September 11, 2002and also this essay, Is There More to the Capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Than Meets the Eye?, for a detailed analysis of his capture).
          

March 10, 2003

       The ISI shows what they claim is a video of Mohammed's capture (see March 1, 2003). But the video only adds to doubts about that capture, as it is openly questioned to be a forgery by the reporters who see it. [ABC, 3/11/03, Reuters, 3/11/03, PakNews, 3/11/03, Daily Times, 3/13/03] A Fox News reporter even says, “Foreign journalists looking at it laughed and said this is baloney, this is a reconstruction.” [Fox News 3/10/03]
          

March 11, 2003

      
Wanted poster for John Doe #2, left, and Jose Padilla, right.
A judge reaffirms the right of Jose Padilla, a US citizen being held as an “enemy combatant,” to meet with a lawyer (see June 10, 2002 and December 4, 2002 (B)). The same judge ruled that he could meet with a lawyer in December 2002, but the government continues to challenge the ruling and continues to block his access to a lawyer. [AP, 3/11/03] Later in the month, the government tells the judge it is planning to ignore his order and will appeal the case. [AP, 3/26/03] Why is the US fighting so hard to keep Padilla in total isolation despite evidence that the “dirty bomb” plot he is accused of is almost totally fictitious? While it may be completely coincidental, the Village Voice has noticed that Padilla is a “dead ringer” for the never found “John Doe #2” of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and other evidence could tie him to it. [Village Voice 6/13/02; Village Voice 3/27/02]
          

March 14, 2003

       The Afghani government warns that unless the international community hands over the aid it promised, Afghanistan will slip back into its role as the world's premier heroin producer. The country's Foreign Minister warns Afghanistan could become a “narco-mafia state.” [BBC, 3/17/03] A United Nations study later in the month notes that Afghanistan is once again the world's number one heroin producer, producing 3,750 tons in 2002. Farmers are growing more opium poppies than ever throughout the country, including areas previously free of the crop. [AP 3/27/03]
          

March 20, 2003

      
A building in Baghdad is bombed.
The US, Britain, Australia, and Poland send in troops to conquer Iraq. [AP 3/19/03] Bush sends a letter to Congress giving two reasons for the war. The first is that he has determined that further diplomacy will not protect the US. The second is that the US is “continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” [White House, 3/18/03] This mimics language from a bill passed by Congress in October 2002 giving Bush the power to declare war against Iraq if a link with the 9/11 attacks is shown. [White House 10/2/02] Yet on January 31, 2003, when a reporter asked both Bush and British Prime Minister Blair, “Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?” Bush replied, “I can't make that claim.” Blair then replied, “That answers your question.”[White House, 1/31/03] A New York Times/CBS poll from earlier in the month indicates that 45 percent of Americans believe Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was “personally involved” in the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 3/11/03 (B)] The Christian Science Monitor notes, “Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding al-Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression….” For instance, Bush claims Hussein has supported “al-Qaeda-type organizations,” and “al-Qaeda types.” [New York Times 3/9/03]
          

March 26, 2003 (B)

       Bush signs an executive order delaying the public release of millions of government documents, citing the need to more thoroughly review them first. The government faced a April 17 deadline for declassifying millions of documents 25 years or older. [Reuters, 3/26/03] The order also treats all material sent to American officials from foreign governments, no matter how routine, as subject to classification. It expands the ability of the CIA to shield documents from declassification. And for the first time, it gives the vice president the power to classify information. The New York Times says, “Offering that power to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has shown indifference to the public's right to know what is going on inside the executive branch, seems a particularly worrying development.” [New York Times 3/28/03]
          

March 26, 2003

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

March 27, 2003

       It is reported that “most members” of the 9/11 9/11 Commission still have not received security clearances. [Washington Post, 3/27/03] For instance, Slade Gorton, picked in December 2002, is a former senator with a long background in intelligence issues. Fellow commissioner Lee Hamilton says, “It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance. It's a matter we are concerned about.” The commission is said to be at a “standstill” because of the security clearance issue, and cannot even read the classified findings of the previous 9/11 Congressional inquiry. [Seattle Times, 3/12/03] Already Hamilton has said that, “We will be short of time. It will be very difficult” to meet the deadline of May 2004, when the commission must complete its investigation. [UPI 2/6/03] Are the security clearances being delayed to thwart the commission?
          

March 28, 2003

       The Los Angeles Times reports that, ironically, the man in charge of security for the nation where the US headquarters of the Iraq war is based in a supporter of al-Qaeda. Sheik Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani is the Interior Minister in Qatar, where US Central Command and thousands of US troops are stationed. In 1996, al-Thani was Religious Minister and he apparently let 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed live on his farm (see January-May 1996). Mohammed was tipped off that the US was after him. Some US officials believe al-Thani was the one who helped Mohammed escape, just as he assisted other al-Qaeda leaders on other occasions. Former counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke says al-Thani “had great sympathy for Osama bin Laden, great sympathy for terrorist groups, was using his personal money and ministry money to transfer to al-Qaeda front groups that were allegedly charities.” However, the Us has not attempted to apprehend al-Thani or take any other action about him. [Los Angeles Times 3/28/03]
          

March 28, 2003

       An article highlights conflicts of interest amongst the commissioners on the 9/11 9/11 Commission. It had been previously reported that many of the commissioners had ties to the airline industry (see December 16, 2002 (B)), but a number have other ties. “At least three of the 10 commissioners serve as directors of international financial or consulting firms, five work for law firms that represent airlines and three have ties to the US military or defense contractors, according to personal financial disclosures they were required to submit.” Bryan Doyle, project manager for the watchdog group Aviation Integrity Project says, “It is simply a failure on the part of the people making the selections to consider the talented pool of non-conflicted individuals.” Commission chairman Thomas Kean says that members are expected to steer clear of discussions that might present even the appearance of a conflict. [AP, 3/28/03] It remains to see what will happen in practice.
          

March 31, 2003

      
Mindy Kleinberg.
The 9/11 9/11 Commission has its first public hearing. The Miami Herald reports, “Several survivors of the attack and victims' relatives testified that a number of agencies, from federal to local, are ducking responsibility for a series of breakdowns before and during Sept. 11.” [Miami Herald 3/31/03] The New York Times suggests that the 9/11 Commission would never have been formed if it were not for the pressure of the 9/11 victims' relatives. [New York Times 4/1/03] Some of the relatives strongly disagreed with statements from some commissioners that they would not place blame. For instance, Stephen Push states, “I think this commission should point fingers…. Some of those people [who failed us] are still in responsible positions in government. Perhaps they shouldn't be.” [UPI 3/31/03] The most critical testimony comes from 9/11 relative Mindy Kleinberg, but her testimony is only briefly reported on by a few newspapers. [UPI 3/31/03; Newsday 4/1/03; New York Times 4/1/03; New York Post 4/1/03; New Jersey Star-Ledger 4/1/03] In her testimony, Kleinberg says, “It has been said that the intelligence agencies have to be right 100% of the time and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. This explanation for the devastating attacks of September 11th, simple on its face, is wrong in its value. Because the 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again.” She points out the inside trading based on 9/11 foreknowledge, the failure of fighters to catch the hijacked planes in time, hijackers getting visas in violation of standard procedures, and other events, and asks how the hijackers could have been lucky so many times. [9/11 Commission 3/31/03]
          

April 3, 2003

      
James Woolsey.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey says the US is engaged in a world war, and that it could continue for years: “As we move toward a new Middle East, over the years and, I think, over the decades to come … we will make a lot of people very nervous.” He calls it World War IV (World War III being the Cold War according to neoconservatives like himself), and says it will be fought against the religious rulers of Iran, the “fascists” of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda. He singles out the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying, “We want you nervous.” This echoes the rhetoric of the Project for the New American Century, of which Woolsey is a supporter (see January 26, 1998), and the singling out of Egypt and Saudi Arabia echoes the rhetoric of the Defense Policy Board, of which he is a member. In July 2002, a presentation to that board concluded, “Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize” (see July 10, 2002). [CNN 4/3/03; CNN 4/3/03 (B)]
          

June 22, 2003

      
Click here for a larger version.
La Vanguardia, one of Spain's most prominent newspapers, publishes the first of a series of stories regarding what appears to be a strange large bump or bumps underneath Flight 175 just before it hit the WTC. Earlier in the year, a Spanish university conducted a digital analysis of photos of this plane and concluded the bumps were three dimensional and not shadows or some other trick of the light. Other aviation experts were consulted and also appeared puzzled. The newspaper contacted Boeing, maker of the airplane. Boeing claims to have an explanation, but cannot reveal it “for security reasons.”They have not given this explanation for numerous other 9/11-related inquiries. [La Vanguardia, 6/22/03, La Vanguardia, 7/13/03, La Vanguardia, 9/7/03] La Vanguardia refuses to speculate what the bumps might be. [La Vanguardia, 7/27/03] In September 2003, more footage of the crash is released, and La Vanguardia asserts this new image also shows the “bumps.” [La Vanguardia 9/9/03]
          

July 24, 2003

      
Senator Bob Graham holds the Congressional Inquiry report
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report comes out (see the report here: Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 and Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)). Officially, the report was written by the 37 members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, but in practice, cochairmen Bob Graham (D) and Porter Goss (R) exercised “near total control over the panel, forbidding the inquiry's staff to speak to other lawmakers.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/29/02] Both Republican and Democrats in the panel complained how the two cochairmen withheld information and controlled the process. [Palm Beach Post 9/21/02] The report was finished in December 2002 and some findings were released then (see December 11, 2002 (B)), but the next seven months were spent in negotiation with the Bush Administration over what material had to remain censored (see January-July 2003). The Inquiry had a very limited mandate, focusing solely on the handling of intelligence before 9/11. It also completely ignored or censored out all mentions of intelligence from foreign governments. Thomas Kean, the Chairman of 9/11 9/11 Commission says the Inquiry's mandate covered only “one-seventh or one-eighth” of what his newer investigation will hopefully cover. [Washington Post, 7/27/03] The report blames virtually every government agency for failures:
  1. Newsweek's main conclusion is: “The investigation turned up no damning single piece of evidence that would have led agents directly to the impending attacks. Still, the report makes it chillingly clear that law-enforcement and intelligence agencies might very well have uncovered the plot had it not been for blown signals, sheer bungling—and a general failure to understand the nature of the threat. ” [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
  2. According to the New York Times, the report also concludes, “the FBI and CIA had known for years that al-Qaeda sought to strike inside the United States, but focused their attention on the possibility of attacks overseas.” [New York Times 7/26/03]
  3. CIA Director Tenet was “either unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of Intelligence Community resources necessary to combat the growing threat.” [Washington Post 7/25/03]
  4. US military leaders were “reluctant to use … assets to conduct offensive counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan” or to “support or participate in CIA operations directed against al-Qaeda.” [Washington Post 7/25/03]
  5. “There was no coordinated … strategy to track terrorist funding and close down their financial support networks” and the Treasury Department even showed “reluctance” to do so. [Washington Post 7/25/03]
  6. According to the Washington Post, the NSA took “an overly cautious approach to collecting intelligence in the United States and offered ‘insufficient collaboration’ with the FBI's efforts.” [Washington Post 7/25/03]
Many sections remain censored, especially an entire chapter detailing possible Saudi support for 9/11 (see August 1-3, 2003). The Bush Administration insisted on censoring even information that was already in the public domain. [Newsweek, 5/25/03 (B)] The Inquiry attempted to determine “to what extent the President received threat-specific warnings” but received very little information. The was a focus on learning what was in Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001) but the White House refused to release this information, citing “executive privilege.” [Washington Post, 7/25/03 (B), Newsday, 8/7/03] Pressure builds to release more classified information, but it remains secret except for some media leaks (see July 28, 2003 and August 1-3, 2003). The report also causes pressure to reopen an investigation into Saudi connections to 9/11 and possible associates of the hijackers (see July 24, 2003 (B)), but a halfhearted effort to do so apparently dies in less than a month (see August 2003).
          

July 24, 2003 (B)

       The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report (see July 24, 2003) concludes that at least six hijackers received “substantial assistance” from associates in the US, though its “not known to what extent any of these contacts in the United States were aware of the plot.” These hijackers came into contact with at least 14 people who were investigated by the FBI before 9/11, and four of these investigations were active while the hijackers were present. But in June 2002, FBI Director Mueller testified: “While here, the hijackers effectively operated without suspicion, triggering nothing that would have alerted law enforcement and doing nothing that exposed them to domestic coverage. As far as we know, they contacted no known terrorist sympathizers in the United States.” CIA Director Tenet made similar comments at the same time, and another FBI official stated, “[T]here were no contacts with anybody we were looking at inside the United States.” These comments are clearly untrue, because one FBI document from November 2001 uncovered by the Inquiry concludes that the six lead hijackers “maintained a web of contacts both in the United States and abroad. These associates, ranging in degrees of closeness, include friends and associates from universities and flight schools, former roommates, people they knew through mosques and religious activities, and employment contacts. Other contacts provided legal, logistical, or financial assistance, facilitated US entry and flight school enrollment, or were known from [al-Qaeda]-related activities or training.” The declassified sections of the Congressional Inquiry's final report show the hijackers have contact with:
  1. Mamoun Darkazanli, investigated several times starting in 1991 (see September 20, 1998); the CIA makes repeated efforts to turn him into an informer (see December 1999, and Spring 2000).
  2. Mohammed Haydar Zammar, investigated by Germany since at least 1997 (see March 1997), the Germans periodically inform the CIA what they learn (see January 31, 1999 and Summer 1999).
  3. Osama Basnan, US intelligence is informed of his terror connections several times in early 1990s but fails to investigate (April 1998).
  4. Omar al-Bayoumi, investigated in San Diego from 1998-1999 (see September 1998-July 1999).
  5. Anwar Al Aulaqi, investigated in San Diego from 1999-2000 (see June 1999-March 2000 and March 2001 (D)).
  6. Osama “Sam” Mustafa, owner of a San Diego gas station, and investigated beginning in 1991 (see Autumn 2000)
  7. Ed Salamah, manager of the same gas station, and uncooperative witness in 2000 (see Autumn 2000).
  8. Unnamed friend of Hani Hanjour, FBI tries to investigate in 2001 (see 1997-July 2001).
  9. Unnamed associate of Marwan Alshehhi, investigated beginning in 1999 (see July 1999).
  10. and more: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, who had contact with numbers 3-7 above, “maintained a number of other contacts in the local Islamic community during their time in San Diego, some of whom were also known to the FBI through counterterrorist inquiries and investigations,” but details of these individuals and possible others are still classified. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] None of the above figures have been arrested or even publicly charged of any terrorist crime, although Zammar is in prison in Syria (see October 27, 2001).

          

July 28, 2003

      
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal after meeting Bush over the 9/11 report.
In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report (see July 24, 2003), pressure builds to release most of the still-censored sections of the report, but on this day Bush says he is against the idea. [AP, 7/29/03 (B), New York Times, 7/29/03] Though an obscure rule the Senate could force the release of the material with a majority vote [USA Today, /5/29/03], but apparently the number of votes in favor of this idea falls just short. MSNBC reports, “the decision to keep the passage secret … created widespread suspicion among lawmakers that the administration was trying to shield itself and its Saudi allies from embarrassment. … Three of the four leaders of the joint congressional investigation into the attacks have said they believed that much of the material on foreign financing was safe to publish but that the administration insisted on keeping it secret.” [MSNBC, 7/28/03] Senator Richard Shelby (R), one of the main authors of the report, states that “90, 95 percent of it would not compromise, in my judgment, anything in national security.” Bush ignored a reporter's question on Shelby's assessment. [AP 7/29/03 (B)] Even the Saudi government claims to be in favor of releasing the censored material so it can better respond to Saudi criticism. [MSNBC 7/28/03] All the censored material remains censored; however, some details of the most controversial censored sections are leaked to the media (see August 1-3, 2003).
          

July 31, 2003

       John S. Pistole, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, testifies before a Congressional committee. He states, the 9/11 investigation “has traced the origin of the funding of 9/11 back to financial accounts in Pakistan, where high-ranking and well-known Al Qaeda operatives played a major role in moving the money forward, eventually into the hands of the hijackers located in the U.S.” [Senate Testimony, 7/31/03] Pistole does not reveal any further details, but in India it is noted that this is consistent with previous reports that Saeed Sheikh and ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed were behind the funding of 9/11. [Times of India 8/1/03; Pioneer 8/7/03]
          

August 2003

       In the wake of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report (see July 24, 2003), and “under intense pressure from Congress,” as the Boston Globe puts it, the FBI and CIA reopen an investigation into whether Saudi Arabian officials aided the 9/11 plot. [Boston Globe, 8/3/03] In early August, Saudi Arabia allows the FBI to interview Omar al-Bayoumi. However, the interview takes place in Saudi Arabia, and apparently on his terms, with Saudi government handlers present. [New York Times 8/5/03; AP 8/6/03] Says one anonymous government terrorism consultant, “They are revisiting everybody. The [FBI] did not do a very good job of unraveling the conspiracy behind the hijackers.” [Boston Globe 8/3/03] But by September, the Washington Post reports that the FBI has concluded that the idea al-Bayoumi was a Saudi government agent is “without merit and has largely abandoned further investigation… The bureau's Sept. 11 investigative team, which is still tracking down details of the plot, has reached similar conclusions about other associates named or referred to in the congressional inquiry report.” [Washington Post, 9/10/03] Yet another article claims that by late August, some key people who interacted with al-Bayoumi have yet to be interviewed by the FBI. “Countless intelligence leads that might help solve” the mystery of a Saudi connection to the hijackers “appear to have been underinvestigated or completely overlooked by the FBI, particularly in San Diego.” [San Diego Magazine, 9/03] Not only were they never interviewed when the investigation was supposedly reopened, they were not interviewed in the months after 9/11 either, when the FBI supposedly opened an “intense investigation” of al-Bayoumi, visiting “every place he was known to have gone, and [compiling] 4,000 pages of documents detailing his activities.” [Newsweek 7/28/03]
          

August 1-3, 2003

       In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's full report (see July 24, 2003), anonymous officials leak some details from a controversial, completely censored 28 page section that focuses on possible Saudi support for 9/11. According to leaks given to the New York Times, the section says that Omar al-Bayoumi and/or Osama Basnan “had at least indirect links with two hijackers were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials.” It also says that Anwar Al Aulaqi “was a central figure in a support network that aided the same two hijackers.” Most connections drawn in the report between the men, Saudi intelligence, and 9/11 is said to be circumstantial. [New York Times 8/2/03] One key section is said to read, On the one hand, it is possible that these kinds of connections could suggest, as indicated in a CIA memorandum, ‘incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists’ … On the other hand, it is also possible that further investigation of these allegations could reveal legitimate, and innocent, explanations for these associations.” Some of the most sensitive information involves what US agencies are doing currently to investigate Saudi business figures and organizations. [AP 8/2/03] According to the New Republic, the section outlines “connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family.” An anonymous official is quoted as saying, “There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities. They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government. … If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to al-Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to al-Qaeda, they would have been in good shape. … If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight.” [New Republic 8/1/03] The section also is critical that the issue of foreign government support remains unresolved. One section reads, “In their testimony, neither CIA or FBI officials were able to address definitely the extent of such support for the hijackers, globally or within the United States, or the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature. This gap in intelligence community coverage is unacceptable.” [Boston Globe 8/3/03]
          

September 6, 2003

      
Michael Meacher.
British government minister Michael Meacher publishes an essay entitled, “The War on Terrorism is Bogus.” Meacher is a long time British Member of Parliament, and served as Environmental Minister for six years until three months before releasing this essay. The Guardian, which publishes the essay, states that Meacher claims, “the war on terrorism is a smokescreen and that the US knew in advance about the September 11 attack on New York but, for strategic reasons, chose not to act on the warnings. He says the US goal is ‘world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies’ and that this Pax Americana ‘provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis.’ Mr Meacher adds that the US has made ‘no serious attempt’ to catch the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden.” [Guardian, 9/6/03] Meacher provides no personal anecdotes based on his years in Tony Blair's cabinet, but he cites numerous mainstream media accounts to support his thesis. He emphasizes the Project for a New American Century 2000 report (see September 2000) as a “blueprint” for a mythical “global war on terrorism,” “propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda—the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies”in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read Meacher's complete essay here: Guardian, 9/6/03 (B). Meacher's stand causes a controversial debate in Britain (see also BBC, 9/6/03, Telegraph, 9/7/03 (B)), but the story is almost completely ignored by the mainstream US media.
          

September 10, 2003

       Slate reports that two years after the 9/11 attacks, neither the Chicago Board Options Exchange nor the Securities and Exchange Commission will make any comment about their investigations into insider trading before 9/11. “Neither has announced any conclusion. The SEC has not filed any complaint alleging illegal activity, nor has the Justice Department announced any investigation or prosecution. … So, unless the SEC decides to file a complaint—unlikely at this late stage—we may never know what they learned about terror trading.” [Slate 9/10/03]
          

September 12, 2003

      
Ellen Mariani.
9/11 victim's relative Ellen Mariani sues the US government for what she claims is their foreknowledge of 9/11 (see ). “I'm 100 percent sure that they knew,” she says. In doing so, she is ineligible for government compensation from what she calls the “shut-up and go-away fund.” She believes she would have received around $500,000. According to a statement by her lawyer, the lawsuit against Bush, Vice President Cheney, the CIA, Defense Department, and other administration members “is based upon prior knowledge of 9/11; knowingly failing to act, prevent or warn of 9/11; and the ongoing obstruction of justice by covering up the truth of 9/11; all in violation of the laws of the United States.” As the Toronto Star has put this, this interesting story has been “buried” by the mainstream media. Coverage has been limited mostly to Philadelphia where the case was filed and New Hampshire where Mariani lives. [AP 12/24/03; Philadelphia Inquirer 9/23/03; Philadelphia Inquirer 12/3/03; Aljazeera 12/9/03; Toronto Star 11/30/03; Village Voice 12/3/03]
          

October 2003

       9/11 9/11 Commission staff director Philip Zelikow and several members of his staff visit Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries on a fact finding mission. While in Pakistan, they interview at least two senior members of the ISI. Whether or not this means they are investigating a possible ISI role in the 9/11 plot is unclear. [UPI 11/5/03]
          

January 2004

       Nabil al-Marabh, a Syrian suspected of numerous ties to terrorism (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001, September 17, 2001 (D), September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002, Late 2002) and the 9/11 hijackers (see 2001 (C), Spring 2001 (B)), is released from US custody and freed to return to Syria. Senator Charles Schumer says, “It's hard to believe that the best way to deal with the FBI's 27th most wanted terrorist is to send him back to a terrorist-sponsoring country,” and claims al-Marabh could have been tried in a military tribunal or a classified criminal trial. [AP 6/3/04]
          

January 11, 2004

      
Paul O'Neill.
Paul O'Neill, Bush's Treasury Secretary from inauguration until early 2003, appears on CBS's 60 Minutes and on the front page of Time Magazine as a new book containing his criticisms of Bush is released. [CBS 1/10/04; CBS 1/11/04; Time 1/10/04] Amongst his many critical charges in the book The Price of Loyalty, perhaps the most controversial is the claim, as CBS puts it, that “The Bush Administration began making plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001—not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks, as has been previously reported.” [CBS 1/10/04] O'Neill's book, written by Ron Suskind, is based not only on O'Neill's account, but also 19,000 government documents, including transcripts of private, high-level National Security Council meetings. [CBS 1/11/04] The Bush administration angrily reacts to O'Neill's charges, admitting they were targeting Iraq from the first days in office, but claiming they were merely considering different options. They open a probe into whether O'Neill was authorized to disclose the documents he released. O'Neill is later cleared. [Washington Post 1/13/04]
          

January 29, 2004

       A Hamburg, Germany newspaper reports that former senior official in the Hamburg state administration named Walter Wellinghausen has taken a “politically explosive” file. “The file is said to contain an exact chronology of the knowledge of the [Hamburg] intelligence agency before September 11, 2001 about the people living in Hamburg who should later become the terrorists.” He claims to have not been charged or even questioned about this matter and the file remains missing. [Hamburger Abendblatt 1/29/04]
          

March 21, 2004

      
Against All Enemies in bookstores.
Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” from 1998 until October 2001, ignites a public debate by accusing Bush of doing a poor job fighting al-Qaeda before 9/11. In a prominent 60 Minutes interview, he says, “I find it outrageous that the President is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11…. I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism.” He adds, “We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al-Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months.” He complains that he was Bush's chief adviser on terrorism, yet he never got to brief Bush on the subject until after 9/11. [CBS, 3/20/04, CBS, 3/21/04, Guardian, 3/23/04, Salon, 3/24/04] The next day, his book Against All Enemies is released and becomes a best seller. [Washington Post 3/22/04]
          

March 21, 2004 (B)

       The 9-11 Family Steering Committee and 9-11 Citizens Watch demand the resignation of Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission. The demand comes shortly after former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke told the New York Times that Zelikow was present when he gave briefings on the threat posed by al-Qaeda to National Security Advisor Rice from December 2000 to January 2001. The Family Steering Committee, a group of 9/11 victims' relatives, writes, “It is clear that [Zelikow] should never have been permitted to be a member of the commission, since it is the mandate of the commission to identify the source of failures. It is now apparent why there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We now can see that trail would lead directly to the staff director himself.” Zelikow has been interviewed by his own commission because of his role during the transition period. But a spokesman for the commission claims that having Zelikow recluse himself from certain topics is enough to avoid any conflicts of interest. [New York Times 3/20/04; UPI 3/23/04]
          

March 24, 2004

       Just a few days after releasing a new book (see March 21, 2004), former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke testifies before the 9/11 commission. His opening statement consists of little more than an apology to the relatives of the 9/11 victims. He says, “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you. For that failure, I would ask…for your understanding and forgiveness.” Under questioning, he praises the Clinton administration, saying, “My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting al-Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration—certainly no higher priority.” But he's very critical of the Bush administration, stating, “By invading Iraq…the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.” He says that under Bush before 9/11, terrorism was “an important issue, but not an urgent issue…. [CIA Director] George Tenet and I tried very hard to create a sense of urgency by seeing to it that intelligence reports on the al-Qaeda threat were frequently given to the president and other high-level officials. But although I continue to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way.” He points out that he made a proposal to fight al-Qaeda in late January 2001 (see January 25, 2001). While the gist of them were implemented after 9/11, he complains, “I didn't really understand why they couldn't have been done in February [2001].” He says that with a more robust intelligence and covert action program, “we might have been able to nip [the plot] in the bud.” [Washington Post 3/24/04; New York Times 3/24/04; 9/11 Commission 3/24/04] It soon emerges that President Bush's top lawyer places a telephone call to at least one of the Republican members of the commission just before Clarke's testimony. Critics call that an unethical interference in the hearings. [Washington Post, 4/1/04 (B)] Democratic Commissioner Bob Kerrey complains, “To call commissioners and coach them on what they ought to say is a terrible mistake.” [New York Daily News 4/2/04]
          

March 24, 2004 (B)

       It is reported that the FBI has closed down their investigation into Saudis Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan. The Associated Press reports, “The FBI concluded at most the two Saudi men occasionally provided information to their kingdom or helped Saudi visitors settle into the United States, but did so in compliance with Muslim custom of being kind to strangers rather than out of some relationship with Saudi intelligence.” [AP 3/24/04 (B)]
          

Late March 2004

       Republicans attack Richard Clarke in the wake of his new book and 9/11 commission testimony, while Democrats defend him. [New York Times 3/25/04] Senator John McCain (R) calls the attacks “the most vigorous offensive I've ever seen from the administration on any issue.” [Washington Post, 3/28/04] Republicans on the 9/11 Commission criticize him while Democrats praise him. The White House violates its long-standing policy by authorizing Fox News to air remarks favorable to Bush that Clarke had made anonymously at an administration briefing in 2002. National Security Advisor Rice says to the media, “There are two very different stories here. These stories can't be reconciled.” However, in what the Washington Post calls a “masterful bit of showmanship” Clarke replies that he emphasized the positives in 2002 because he was asked to, but didn't lie. [Fox News, 3/24/04, Washington Post, 3/25/04, Washington Post, 3/26/04 (B)] Republican Senate leader Frist asks “If [Clarke] lied under oath to the United States Congress” in closed testimony in 2002. [Washington Post, 3/27/04 (B)] However, a review of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. [Washington Post, 4/4/04 (B)] Republican leaders threaten to release his 2002 testimony, and Clarke claims he welcomes the release. The testimony remains classified. [AP, 3/26/04, AP, 3/28/04] Clarke also calls on Rice to release all e-mail communications between them before 9/11; this is not released either. [Guardian, 3/29/04] Vice President Cheney calls Clarke “out of the loop” on terrorism. But Rice says Clarke was very much involved. [New York Times, 3/25/04 (D)] Clarke responds by pointing out that he voted Republican in 2000 and he pledges under oath not to seek a post if Senator John Kerry wins the 2004 Presidential election. [Washington Post, 3/24/04] According to Reuters, a number of political experts conclude, “The White House may have mishandled accusations leveled by their former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke by attacking his credibility, keeping the controversy firmly in the headlines into a second week.” [Reuters 3/29/04]
          

April 13, 2004

       In a press conference, President Bush states, “We knew he [Osama bin Laden] had designs on us, we knew he hated us. But there was nobody in our government, and I don't think [in] the prior government, that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.” [Guardian, 4/15/04] He also says, “Had I any inkling whatsoever that the people were going to fly airplanes into buildings, we would have moved heaven and earth to save the country.” [White House, 4/13/04, New York Times, 4/18/04 (C)] Two days earlier, he says, “Had I known there was going to be an attack on America I would have moved mountains to stop the attack.” [New York Times 4/18/04]
          
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