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Day of 911

Flight AA 77
Bush on 9/11
Flight AA 11
Flight UA 93
Flight UA 175
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cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 251-336 of 336 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100

June 2002

      
Rajaa Gulum Abbas holding a stinger missile, secretly recorded in a sting operation in August 1999.
The US secretly indicts Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik for attempting to buy $32 million in Stinger missiles and other military weaponry in an undercover arms-dealing investigation. However, a US official states that Abbas is an alleged member of the ISI, and is thought to have ties to Middle East terrorist groups and arms-trafficking operations. He also appears to have foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks (see July 14, 1999). Abdul Malik is said to be Abbas's money man. Abdul Malik is not related to Mohammed Malik, another Pakistani targeted by the undercover operation. The chief US informant in the case, Randy Glass, says that both men also have clear ties to al-Qaeda, and the arms were going to be funneled to al-Qaeda and used against American targets. [Palm Beach Post 3/20/03; South Florida Sun-Sentinel 3/20/03] The indictment is not revealed until March 2003; both men still remain missing and are presumed to be in Pakistan. The US says it is still working on capturing and extraditing Abbas and Malik. [MSNBC, 3/18/03] NBC seems to have no trouble reaching Abbas in Pakistan by telephone. [MSNBC 8/2/02; MSNBC 3/18/03] The indictment “makes no mention of Pakistan, any ties to Afghanistan's former Taliban regime or the ultimate destination of the weapons.” [Palm Beach Post, 3/20/03] In other court cases resulting from this sting, all mentions of Pakistan have been removed (see June 12, 2001).
          

June 3, 2002

       Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy states: “Even in the [Zacarias] Moussaoui case, there's lots of uproar over the fact that the—there was a failure to obtain a warrant to search his computer. Well, the facts now are that warrant was ultimately obtained. The computer was searched and guess what? There was nothing significant on there pertaining to 9/11.” [CNN, 6/3/02] Three days later, The Washington Post reports: “Amid the latest revelations about FBI and CIA lapses prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, congressional investigators say it is now clear that the evidence that lay unexamined in Zacarias Moussaoui's possession was even more valuable than previously believed. A notebook and correspondence of Moussaoui's not only appears to link him to the main hijacking cell in Hamburg, Germany, but also to an al-Qaeda associate in Malaysia whose activities were monitored by the CIA more than a year before the terror attacks on New York and Washington.” [Washington Post, 6/6/02] Slate magazine later gives Kennedy the “Whopper of the Week” award for his comment. [Slate 6/7/02]
          

June 4, 2002 (C)

       Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Butler is suspended from his post at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and is told he could face a court martial for writing a letter to a local newspaper calling President Bush a “joke” and accusing him of allowing the 9/11 attacks to happen. The military prohibits public criticism of superiors. [BBC, 6/5/02, see the letter here: Monterey County Herald, 6/5/02] What is not reported is that he may have had unique knowledge about 9/11: A hijacker named Saeed Alghamdi trained at the Defense Language Institute and Butler was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs there (note that this is not the same person as the Steven Butler who later testifies before the 9/11 Congressional inquiry (see October 9, 2002)) . [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Later in the month the Air Force announces “the matter is resolved”and Butler will not face a court-martial but it is unknown if he faced a lesser punishment. [Knight Ridder, 6/14/02] [FTW]
          

June 4, 2002 (B)

       For the first time, Bush concedes that his intelligence agencies didn't do the best job: “In terms of whether or not the FBI and the CIA were communicating properly, I think it is clear that they weren't.” [London Times, 6/5/02] However, in an address to the nation three days later, President Bush states, “Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of September the 11th.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] Days earlier, Newsweek reports that the FBI have prepared a detailed chart showing how agents could have uncovered the terrorist plot if the CIA been told them what it knew about the hijackers Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner. One FBI official says, “There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together.”[Newsweek, 6/2/02] FBI Director Mueller denies the existence of such a chart. Attorney General Ashcroft also says it is unlikely better intelligence could have stopped the attacks. [Washington Post 6/3/02]
          

June 10, 2002

      
Jose Padilla.
Attorney General Ashcroft announces the arrest of Abdullah al-Mujahir, a.k.a. Jose Padilla. He claims that Padilla was part of an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a US city, and supposedly Padilla was scouting bomb targets when arrested. Padilla, a US citizen, is being held as an “enemy combatant,” allowing him to be held indefinitely. [Guardian 6/11/02, PBS Newshour, 6/11/02] But almost immediately, doubts grow about this story. The London Times says that it is “beyond dispute” that the timing of the announcement of his arrest was “politically inspired.” Padilla was actually arrested a month earlier, on May 8. [London Times 6/13/02] It is widely believed that Ashcroft made the arrest announcement “only to divert attention from Intelligence Committee inquiries into the FBI and CIA handling of 9/11.” [Village Voice 6/12/02; Independent 6/12/02; BBC 6/13/02; Washington Post 6/13/03] Bush soon privately chastises Ashcroft for overstating claims about Padilla. [Guardian, 8/15/02] The government attorneys apparently could not get an indictment out of a New York grand jury and, rather than let him go, made Padilla an enemy combatant. [Village Voice, 6/12/02] It later comes out that the FBI found no evidence that he was preparing a dirty bomb attack and little evidence to suggest that he had any support from al-Qaeda, or any ties to al-Qaeda cells in the US. Yet the Justice Department maintains that its view of Padilla “remains unchanged,” and that he is a “serious and continuing threat.” [Guardian, 8/15/02] Because Padilla is a US citizen, he cannot be tried in a military court. So apparently he will simply be held indefinitely. It is pointed out that any American could be declared an enemy combatant and never tried or have that status questioned. [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/11/02, Washington Post, 6/11/02] The Washington Post says, “If that's the case, nobody's constitutional rights are safe.” [Washington Post, 6/11/02] Despite the evidence that Padilla's case is grossly overstated, the government won't even allow him access to a lawyer (see December 4, 2002 (B) and March 11, 2003).
          

June 16, 2002

       In September 2002, articles appear in the Pakistani and Indian press suggesting that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is actually captured on this day. Supposedly he has been sent to the US, though the US and Pakistan deny the story and say Mohammed has not been captured at all. [Daily Times, 9/9/02, Times of India, 9/9/02, Economic Times, 9/10/02] It is originally reported that Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda interviews 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 9/11 associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh at a secret location in Karachi, Pakistan in either June or August.(see April, June or August 2002). It is later widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003). He may also have been captured or killed in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002).
          

June 18, 2002

       FBI Director Mueller testifies before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry; his testimony is made public in September 2002. [AP, 9/26/02] He claims that with the possible exception of Zacarias Moussaoui, “To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot and we have found nothing they did while in the United States that triggered a specific response about them.” [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The Congressional 9/11 inquiry will later conclude near the end of 2002 that some hijackers had contact inside the US with individuals known to the FBI, and the hijackers “were not as isolated during their time in the United States as has been previously suggested.”[Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] Mueller also claims, “There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about.” [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] This statement overlooks some facts, such as the FAA's investigation into Hani Hanjour (see January-February 2001), Atta's strange visit to the Department of Agriculture (see Late April-Mid-May 2000), or what should have been an FAA investigation into Atta (see December 26, 2000).
          

June 22, 2002

       Internal FBI documents show that Thomas Kelley, in charge of matters relating to the FBI in the joint congressional intelligence 9/11 inquiry, blocked an inquiry into the FBI's role in Waco. For instance, an internal FBI memo from December 2000 states that Kelley “continued to thwart and obstruct” the Waco investigation to the point that a special counsel was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. [Washington Post, 6/22/02] This follows the resignation of the inquiry head a month previously (see May 1, 2002).
          

June 26, 2002 (B)

       US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy claims that the proposed bill for a new Homeland Security department would put this department “above the law.” He reveals that, amongst other disturbing provisions, “The Freedom of Information Act would not apply. The conflicts of interest and accountability rules for agency advisers would not apply.” A provision in the bill will exempt employees in the new department from whistleblower protection, the very law that has helped expose intelligence-gathering missteps before 9/11. [Reuters 6/26/02]
          

July 11, 2002

       It is reported that the FBI believes there are approximately 5,000 al-Qaeda agents inside the US. In early 2003, FBI Director Mueller reduces the estimate to “several hundred.” The New York Times then says that even suggesting over 100 is probably an exaggeration made for political reasons. [New York Times 2/16/03]
          

July 12, 2002

       A federal judge denies a motion to dismiss a lawsuit trying to force the release of documents relating to Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed the suit a year earlier. The judge rejects as “mischief”arguments that inquiry into the Energy Task Force would impinge on the president's constitutional powers. The judge further says the Bush Administration's “stunning” arguments “fly in the face of precedent” and are a “problematic and unprecedented assertion … of Executive Power.” He also accuses the Bush Administration of making purposefully misleading arguments in its case. [AP, 7/12/02] In March, the Bush Administration was forced to release thousands of documents after what the judge called ten months of stalling. [New York Times, 3/6/02] But a majority of documents were not released, and of the ones that were, most were completely blanked out. [AP, 3/25/02] The government continues to fight the release of these documents (see October 17, 2002, December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
          

July 15, 2002

      
Saeed Sheikh surrounded by police.
Saeed Sheikh and three codefendants are judged guilty for the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 31, 2002). Saeed, the supposed mastermind of the murder, is sentenced to death by hanging, and the others are given 25-year terms. Saeed threatens the judge with retribution. As if to confirm that his death covers up unpleasant truths, in the stories of his sentencing every major US media story fails to report Saeed's connections to 9/11 or even to the ISI. [AP 7/15/02; AP 7/15/02 (B); CBS 7/15/02; CNN 7/15/02; Los Angeles Times 7/15/02; MSNBC 7/15/02; New York Times 7/15/02; Reuters 7/15/02; USA Today 7/15/02; Wall Street Journal 7/15/02; Washington Post 7/15/02] In contrast, the British media connects Saeed to the ISI ([Guardian, 7/16/02, Guardian, 7/16/02 (B), Daily Mail, 7/16/02]), al-Qaeda ([Independent, 7/16/02]), the 9/11 attacks ([Scotsman, 7/16/02]), or some combination of the three ([London Times, 7/16/02, Daily Mail, 7/16/02, Telegraph, 7/16/02]) (with one exception: [BBC, 7/16/02, BBC, 7/16/02 (B)]). The US and British governments both approve of the verdict. [Wall Street Journal 7/15/02; BBC 7/15/02] In the US, only the Washington Post questions the justice of the verdict. [Washington Post 7/15/02; Washington Post 7/16/02] By contrast, all British newspapers question the verdict, and subsequently raise additional questions about it (see July 16-21, 2002). Saeed has appealed the decision but a second trial has yet to begin. [AP 8/18/02]
          

July 18, 2002

       New revelations about two phone calls made from Flight 11 emerge. Two stewardesses had lengthy telephone calls to their airline company before the plane crashed into the WTC. There's no mention of box cutters being used, but instead the hijackers “went into the cockpit with a bomb with yellow wires attached” and then “sprayed something in the first-class cabin to keep people out of the front of the plane.” Three people were also stabbed. Even this may not be the full or accurate story since the government won't release recordings of these conversations. [ABC News, 7/18/02] Note that a detailed article about Madeline Sweeney's call appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in September 20, 2001, without any mention of a bomb or chemical spray. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] Is the story changing or are new details emerging? How could the hijackers get through security with so many weapons?
          

July 23, 2002

       The New York City government decides that the audio and written records of the Fire Department's actions on 9/11 should never be released to the general public. The New York Times has been trying to get copies of the materials, which include firsthand accounts given to Fire Department officials by scores of firefighters and chiefs. The city claims the firefighters were told their accounts would be kept confidential, but senior fire officials say they were never told that their remarks would be kept confidential. [New York Times 7/23/02]
          

Late July 2002

       US Special Forces apprehend Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani, a top general and one of the six most-wanted Taliban, in Kandahar. He is flown to a detention center north of Kabul for interrogation, but is released a few weeks later and escapes to Pakistan. Contradicting the statements of many soldiers in Kandahar, the Defense Intelligence Agency says it “has no knowledge that Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani was ever in US custody in Afghanistan. Given Osmani's high profile and our interest in detaining him, misidentification by experienced personnel is unlikely.” [Washington Times 12/18/02] The incident is one of many examples of the US failing to capture top al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan (see Early November 2001, November 14-November 25, 2001, November 16, 2001 (B), November 28, 2001, and Early December 2001).
          

August 2, 2002 (B)

       The Washington Post reveals that FBI agents have questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about 9/11-related information leaks. They have asked them to submit to lie detector tests but most have refused. Congresspeople express “grave concern” for this historically unprecedented move. A law professor states, “Now the FBI can open dossiers on every member and staffer and develop full information on them. It creates a great chilling effect on those who would be critical of the FBI.” [Washington Post, 8/2/02] Senator John McCain suggests that “the constitutional separation of powers is being violated in spirit if not in the letter. ‘What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on people who are investigating the same organization. The administration bitterly complains about some leaks out of a committee, but meanwhile leaks abound about secret war plans for fighting a war against Saddam Hussein. What's that about? There's a bit of a contradiction here, if not a double standard.’ ” [Washington Post, 8/3/02] Later the search for the source of the leak intensifies to unprecedented levels as the FBI asks 17 senators to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters. [Washington Post, 8/24/02] Most, if not all, turn over the records, even as some complain that the request breaches the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. One senator says the FBI is “trying to put a damper on our activities and I think they will be successful.” [AP, 8/29/02] In January 2004 it is reported that the probe is now focusing on Republican Senator Richard Shelby. There has been no further word or indictments since. [Washington Post 1/22/04 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36876-2004Jan21.html]
          

August 4, 2002

       A “lost tape” of radio messages from firefighters inside the WTC on 9/11 is made public. Supposedly, “city fire officials simply delayed listening” to this tape until after the official report on the fire department's response to the attacks was published, and they still refuse to allow any officials to discuss the contents. The tape reveals that two firefighters were able to reach the crash site on the 78th floor of the South Tower. While there, “Chief Palmer could see only two pockets of fire, and called for a pair of engine companies to fight them.” [New York Times, 8/4/02, Guardian, 8/5/02] Though the New York Times doesn't mention it, these small, containable fires contradict the official explanation that the tower collapsed because of a raging inferno that melted the steel support columns holding up the building.
          

August 9, 2002

       New details emerge about anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill's experiences in Africa. After leaving the US Army in late 1978, he studied at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Zimbabwe, graduating in 1983. That was just a few years after the world's largest outbreak of human anthrax in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. Between 1978 and 1980, nearly 200 people died and more than 10,000 cases were recorded. “Researchers characterize the outbreak as suspicious and some believe it may have been the result of deliberate action by white Rhodesian security forces in the waning days of what was a long and brutal war with black liberation fighters.” [Voice of America News 8/9/02; New York Times 7/2/02] Hatfill claimed on a resume that he was in the US Special Forces at the time, the US claims he dropped out of training. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] However, it is later reported that information in these stories of his past always trace back to “an outfit called the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO).” The JDO is a “radical, breakaway faction of Meir Kahane's already-quite-radical Jewish Defense League (JDL) by a man named Mordechai Levy” —a man who was recently sent to prison after firing an automatic rifle from his roof and wounding a bystander. The Weekly Standard claims that all such evidence is nothing but “transparent innuendo” written by JDO member A. J. Weberman, who was briefly famous for obsessively studying the garbage of musician Bob Dylan, and who was recently successfully sued for libel. The Standard also points out that the anthrax outbreak took place before Hatfill arrived in Zimbabwe, and by the time he started studying and working in that country, the white racist regime had already been replaced by a black one. [Weekly Standard 9/16/02]
          

August 9, 2002 (C)

       FBI agent Robert Wright is a whistleblower who claims the FBI shut down a criminal investigation into the operation of terror-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City, years before the 9/11 attacks (see October 1998, June 9, 2001 and May 30, 2002). It is reported that Wright submitted a formal complaint to the Inspector General's Office of the Justice Department, which probes agency wrongdoing and mistakes. Amazingly, he was turned away, and told to take his cause to Congress. The Inspector General's Office claims they do “not have the resources to conduct an investigation of this anticipated size and scope.” Yet they've conducted similar investigations in the past, including a full-blown investigation into the FBI's alleged mishandling of evidence in the probe of Timothy McVeigh, the convicted Oklahoma City bomber. [L.A. Weekly 8/9/02]
          

August 9, 2002 (B)

       The government announces it will play cockpit voice recordings of an executive jet near the Flight 93 crash to the jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. The contents of this previously unknown recording will remain classified to the public. [AP, 8/9/02] This revelation is strange in several ways. First, it seems impossible that the jet was near the crash at all (see September 14, 2001 (C)). Second, the jet company, Executive Jet, is owned by Warren Buffett, who held a very curious event at a military base on the morning of 9/11 (see September 11, 2001). [Reuters 3/27/01]
          

August 11, 2002

       A shocking Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush's advisors advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma! One senior British official says: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Later in the year, Bush's influential advisor Richard Perle states, “No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq … this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” [New Statesman, 12/16/02] In February 2003, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton says in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterward. This is not reported in the US media. [Ha'aretz 2/17/03]
          

August 11, 2002 (C)

       ABC TV reports, “the FBI concedes [Steven Hatfill] could not himself make anthrax, does not have what they call ‘the bench skills’ to make it.” [ABC, 8/11/02] The New York Times has reported of Hatfill (without naming him): “His anthrax vaccinations are up to date, he unquestionably had the ability to make first-rate anthrax… ” [New York Times 5/24/02] Yet there are other claims Hatfill has not had anthrax vaccinations for several years. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] It also later emerges that Hatfill has alibis for the times the anthrax letters were mailed. A former FBI agent says, “Most investigations don't prosper when they are public, and that's what bothers me about this case. It tells me they have either reached a dead end or their case has a great big hole in it and they are trying to put pressure on this person.” [Hartford Courant 9/7/02]
          

August 12, 2002

       A group of FAA flight controllers hold a press conference to talk about the 9/11 events for the first time. However, virtually no new information is disclosed. As the Boston Globe put it, “questions about detailed communications from the hijacked planes was avoided, with FAA officials saying that information remains under investigation.” [Boston Globe 8/13/02]
          

August 13, 2002

       The Independent carries a story entitled, “Unanswered Questions: The Mystery of Flight 93,” a rare critique of the official version of events around that plane's crash. Most of the information is a summation of what was reported before. However, there is one interesting new theory. Theorizing why witnesses didn't see smoke from the faltering plane, the article points out to the 1996 research of Harvard academic Elaine Scarry, “showing that the Air Force and the Pentagon have conducted extensive research on ‘electronic warfare applications’ with the possible capacity intentionally to disrupt the mechanisms of an aeroplane in such a way as to provoke, for example, an uncontrollable dive. Scarry also reports that US Customs aircraft are already equipped with such weaponry; as are some C-130 Air Force transport planes. The FBI has stated that, apart from the enigmatic Falcon business jet, there was a C-130 military cargo plane within 25 miles of the passenger jet when it crashed. According to the Scarry findings, in 1995 the Air Force installed ‘electronic suites’ in at least 28 of its C-130s—capable, among other things, of emitting lethal jamming signals.” [Independent 8/13/02]
          

August 15, 2002 (C)

       Rena Golden, the executive vice-president and general manager of CNN International, claims that the press has censored itself over 9/11 and the Afghanistan war. “Anyone who claims the US media didn't censor itself is kidding you. It wasn't a matter of government pressure but a reluctance to criticize anything in a war that was obviously supported by the vast majority of the people. And this isn't just a CNN issue—every journalist who was in any way involved in 9/11 is partly responsible.” [Press Gazette, 8/15/02] These comments echo criticisms by Dan Rather (see May 17, 2002).
          

August 18, 2002

       The Washington Post blasts the FBI's treatment of Steven Hatfill. “Each slipshod case whittles away our collective liberties, our self-respect, our confidence in the legal system.” The article also blasts the media's coverage: “Wittingly or unwittingly, reporters and government investigators may collude, creating the appearance of a posse mentality that discredits them both.” [Washington Post 8/18/02]
          

August 25, 2002

       Former CIA agent Bob Baer says the US collects virtually no intelligence about Saudi Arabia nor are they given any intelligence collected by the Saudis. He says this is because there are implicit orders from the White House, “Do not collect information on Saudi Arabia because we're going to risk annoying the royal family.” In the same show, despite being on a US terrorist list since October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), Saudi millionaire Yassin al-Qadi says, “I'm living my life here in Saudi Arabia without any problem”because he is being protected by the Saudi government. Al-Qadi admits to giving bin Laden money for his “humanitarian” work, but says this is different from bin Laden's terrorist work. Presented with this information, the US Treasury Department only says that the US “is pleased with and appreciates the actions taken by the Saudis” in the war on terror. The Saudi government still has not given US intelligence permission to talk to any family members of the hijackers, even though some US journalists have had limited contact with a few. [MSNBC 8/25/02]
          

August 28, 2002

       The judge presiding over the Moussaoui trail is puzzled why the FBI claims it couldn't find an e-mail account used by Moussaoui: “We do not understand why an immediate and thorough investigation into the defendant's e-mail and computer activities did not lead investigators to the … account, if it existed,” the judge says. She adds, “A more detailed explanation from the United States is warranted.” Moussaoui was carrying a Kinko's receipt when he was arrested in August 2001, and was known to have used Kinko's computers for e-mail. His Hotmail account was erased by Hotmail because it wasn't used for 90 days—the judge doesn't understand why that didn't give the FBI plenty of time to find his e-mails after 9/11. [AP, 8/28/02] Could it be that the FBI did find the account, but didn't like what it saw, and so claimed ignorance?
          

August 30, 2002

       The official story about fighter response on 9/11 significantly changes. Previously it was explained that fighters over Washington left to track Flight 93. But in a book released in this month, the pilots said they were given no such order. This new account states that after the Pentagon explosion, “two F-16's that happened to be on a training mission near Detroit” were sent to intercept Flight 93. But supposedly, they didn't have any weapons since they were on a training mission. US Air Force Col. Robert Marr, commander of the Northeast Air Defense Sector, in Rome, New York, says, “we're going to put them as close to that airplane as we could, in view of the cockpit and convince that guy in that airplane that he needs to land,” and if that fails, ram the fighters into the plane. [ABC News, 8/30/02] Supposedly, the question of ramming turned out to be moot, because these fighters were still about 40 miles away when the plane crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] If the story is true, it suggests an incredible level of incompetence. Minutes after the second WTC crash at 9:03, military base commanders from all over the US were calling NORAD and volunteering to scramble planes. For instance, the commander at Syracuse, New York said he could get a plane in the air armed with cannon in ten minutes. Yet none of these planes were put in the air until after the last hijacked plane had crashed over an hour later. [Aviation Week and Space Technology 6/3/02] The idea that the US sent planes after Flight 93 with no weapons is absurd and contradicts previous accounts. For instance, Cheney has explained how he and Bush agreed to sent fighters to shoot down Flight 93, and repeatedly confirmed that order. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Were Bush and Cheney given the wrong information or is someone rewriting this story?
          

September 5, 2002 (B)

      
Senator Richard Shelby
Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, expresses doubts that the committee's investigation into 9/11 will be able to accomplish anything, and he supports an independent investigation. “Time is not on our side,” he says, since the investigation has a built-in deadline at the end of 2002. “You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece.” He adds that there is explosive information that has not been publicly released. “I think there are some more bombs out there … I know that.” [New York Times 9/10/02 (B)]
          

September 11, 2002 (C)

       On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times writes, “One year later, the public knows less about the circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about the Titanic, which sank in the middle of an ocean in the dead of night.” John F. Timoney, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia, says: “You can hardly point to a cataclysmic event in our history, whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, the Pearl Harbor attack, the Kennedy assassination, when a blue-ribbon panel did not set out to establish the facts and, where appropriate, suggest reforms. That has not happened here.” The Times specifically points to a failure by New York City Mayor Bloomberg to conduct a real investigation into the WTC attack response. Bloomberg stated in August 2002, “Every single major event is different from all others. The training of how you would respond to the last incident is not really important.” [New York Times, 9/11/02 (B)] The Chicago Tribune made similar comments a week earlier, pointing out that despite the “largest investigation in history,” “Americans know little more today about the Sept. 11 conspiracy, or the conspirators, than they did within a few weeks of the attacks.” [Chicago Tribune 9/5/02]
          

September 11, 2002

      
Apparently this is Ramzi bin al-Shibh being taken into custody.
Would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh is arrested after a huge gunfight in Karachi, Pakistan, involving thousands of police. [Observer, 9/15/02] He is considered “a high-ranking operative for al-Qaeda and one of the few people still alive who know the inside details of the 9/11 plot.” [New York Times, 9/13/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed called bin al-Shibh “the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday [9/11] operation” in an interview aired days before (see September 8-11, 2002). Captured with him are approximately nine associates, as well as numerous computers, phones and other evidence. [Time 9/15/02; New York Times 9/13/02] There are conflicting claims that Mohammed is killed in the raid [, Asia Times, 10/30/02, Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03, Asia Times, 3/6/03], shot while escaping [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03], someone who looks like him is killed, leading to initial misidentification [Time, 1/20/03], someone matching his general appearance is captured [AP, 9/16/02], or that he narrowly escapes capture and his young children are captured. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] It is widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003).
          

September 11, 2002 (B)

       On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the story of what Bush did on that day is significantly rewritten. In actual fact, when Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Bush about the second plane crash into the WTC, Bush continued to sit in a Florida elementary school classroom and hear a story about goats for about an additional 10 minutes, as video footage shows (see the Day of 9/11 for more). But one year later, Card claims that after he told Bush about the second WTC crash, “it was only a matter of seconds” before Bush “excused himself very politely to the teacher and to the students, and he left the Florida classroom.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11/02] In a different account, Card says, “Not that many seconds later the president excused himself from the classroom.”[MSNBC, 9/9/02] An interview with the classroom teacher claims that Bush left the class even before the second WTC crash: “The president bolted right out of here and told me: ‘Take over.’ ” When the second WTC crash occurred, she claims her students are watching TV in a nearby media room. [New York Post 9/12/02]
          

September 18, 2002

      
Senate Intelligence Committee staff director Eleanor Hill.
The Congressional joint committee 9/11 inquiry hold its first public hearing. The committee was formed in February 2002 but suffered months of delays. The day's testimonies focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs (see the committee's complete 30-page report here: [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]). However, the Washington Post reports, “lawmakers from both parties … [protest] the Bush administration's lack of cooperation in the congressional inquiry into Sept. 11 intelligence failures and [threaten] to renew efforts to establish an 9/11 Commission.” Eleanor Hill, the joint committee's staff director, testifies that “According to [CIA Director Tenet], the president's knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified.” She adds that “the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security.” [Washington Post, 9/19/02] Furthermore, the committee believes that “a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks” and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet “has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American public's interest in this particular area.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A few days later, The New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/02] An FBI spokesman says the FBI had offered “full cooperation” to the committee. A CIA official denies that the report is damning: “The committee acknowledges the hard work done by intelligence community, the successes it achieved… ” [MSNBC, 9/18/02] The complete open hearing transcripts: [Congressional Inquiry 9/18/02; 9/19/02; 9/19/02 (B); 9/24/02; 9/26/02; 10/1/02; 10/3/02; 10/8/02; 10/17/02]
          

September 18, 2002 (B)

       Two relatives of 9/11 victims testify before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died at the WTC, asks how the FBI was so quickly able to assemble information on the hijackers (see August 13, 2002 (B)). She cites a The New York Times article stating that agents descended on flight schools within hours of the attacks. “How did the FBI know where to go a few hours after the attacks?” she asks. “Were any of the hijackers already under surveillance?” [MSNBC 9/18/02] She adds, “Our intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and responsibilities leading up to and on September 11th. But their negligence does not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of NY, the FAA, the INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the Air Force, and the airlines also failed our nation that morning.”[Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Stephen Push states, “If the intelligence community had been doing its job, my wife, Lisa Raines, would be alive today.” He cites the government's failure to place Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on a terrorist watch list until long after they were photographed meeting with alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. [MSNBC 9/18/02]
          

September 20, 2002 (B)

       In an editorial for the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, David Welch, the US Ambassador to Egypt, denounces the publishing of “incredible conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11] without the slightest bit of evidence to back them up” in both state and opposition press. “Leading Egyptian newspapers and magazines in the past two weeks alone have published columns by senior columnists who suggested governments or groups other than al-Qaeda were responsible.” Welch urges editors to exercise better judgment. The next day, a group of journalists and intellectuals criticize the editorial, calling it “an American call for imposing restrictions on press freedom”(see February 28, 2002). [Cairo Times 9/26/02]
          

September 20, 2002

       In the wake of damaging Congressional 9/11 inquiry revelations, President Bush reverses course (see May 23, 2002) and backs efforts by many lawmakers to form an 9/11 Commission to conduct a broader investigation than the current Congressional inquiry. Newsweek reports that Bush had virtually no choice. “There was a freight train coming down the tracks,” says one White House official. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] But as one of the 9/11 victim's relatives says, “It's carefully crafted to make it look like a general endorsement but it actually says that the commission would look at everything except the intelligence failures.” [CBS, 9/20/02] Rather than look into such failures, Bush wants the commission to focus on areas like border security, visa issues and the “role of Congress” in overseeing intelligence agencies. The White House also refuses to turn over documents showing what Bush knew before 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] Perhaps Bush's true stance on the inquiry can be seen by calls Vice President made to try and stop it earlier in the year (see January 24, 2002).
          

September 24, 2002

       Federal prosecutors say a business card found in the wreckage of Flight 93 provides a link between alleged conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and hijacker Ziad Jarrah. Supposedly a business card belonging to Jarrah has a phone number written on it, and Moussaoui had once called that number. It was not explained what the number is, whose phone number it was, when Moussaoui called it, when the card was found, or how investigators know the card belonged to Jarrah. [MSNBC, 9/24/02, Washington Post, 9/25/02] Interestingly, this find comes just as the case against Moussaoui is facing trouble. For instance, one month earlier, USA Today said investigators had found no link between Moussaoui and the other hijackers. [USA Today, 8/29/02] Prosecutors have been trying to get permission to play the Flight 93 cockpit voice recordings to the jury, but on September 13, the judge said, “the recordings appear to have marginal evidentiary value while posing unfair prejudice to the defendant.” [Washington Post, 9/25/02] Was it just incredible luck to have found this card a year after 9/11, or could someone have created new evidence by writing a phone number on a card?
          

September 25, 2002

       In an interview with CBS, FBI Director Mueller states, “I can tell you there are things I wish we had done differently. That there are things we should have followed up on. But the bottom line is I do not believe that we would have been able to prevent September 11th.” Speaking about the Zacarias Moussaoui case, he says, “That took us several months, to follow that lead, and it also required the full support of the German authorities, and it would have been very, I think impossible to have followed that particular lead in the days between the time in which Moussaoui was detained and September 11th.” [CBS, 9/25/02] This negativism is in sharp contrast to a previous statement he made (see May 21, 2002), as well as the opinion of many rank and file FBI officers, some of whom have made a chart showing how all the hijackers could have been caught if certain leads had been followed. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] Mueller's opinion on the Moussaoui case is contradicted by many, including FBI agents working on that case. [Time, 5/21/02] The media also doesn't agree. For instance the Independent stated information on Moussaoui's computer “might have been enough to expose the Hamburg cell, which investigators believe was the key planning unit for 11 September.” [Independent 12/11/01]
          

September 26, 2002 (B)

       A leaked August 16, 2002 report from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's influential Defense Science Board 2002 is exposed. [UPI, 9/26/02] The board “recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception. Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at ‘stimulating reactions’ among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction—that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to ‘quick-response’ attacks by US forces. Such tactics would hold ‘states/sub-state actors accountable’ and ‘signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk.’ ” [Los Angeles Times 10/27/02; Asia Times 11/5/02] An editorial in the Moscow Times comments: “In other words—and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan—the United States government is planning to use ‘cover and deception’ and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people.” It is further suggested terrorists could be instigated in countries the US wants to gain control over. [Moscow Times, 11/1/02] Could the US already be using this policy, and if so, since when?
          

September 30, 2002

       Seymour Hersh of New Yorker magazine reveals that, despite a weak case against Zacarias Moussaoui, no federal prosecutor has discussed a plea bargain with him since he was indicted in November 2001. Hersh reports that “Moussaoui's lawyers, and some FBI officials, remain bewildered at the government's failure to pursue a plea bargain.” Says a federal public defender, “I've never been in a conspiracy case where the government wasn't interested in knowing if the defendant had any information—to see if there wasn't more to the conspiracy.” Apparently a plea bargain isn't being considered because Attorney General Ashcroft wants nothing less than the death penalty for Moussaoui. One former CIA official claims, “They cast a wide net and [Moussaoui] happened to be a little fish who got caught up in it. They know it now. And nobody will back off.” A legal expert says, “It appears that Moussaoui is not competent to represent himself, because he doesn't seem to understand the fundamentals of the charges against him, but I am starting to feel that the rest of us are crazier … we may let this man talk himself to death to soothe our sense of vulnerability.” [New Yorker 9/30/02]
          

October 2002

       The State Department's propaganda office, closed in 1996, is reopened. Called the Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team, this office supposedly only aims its propaganda overseas to counter propaganda from other countries (see February 20, 2002 and November 24, 2002). [AP 3/10/03]
          

October 3-11, 2002

       Both French and British investigators and intelligence deny any claim of a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The British specifically deny any meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents in the Czech Republic. They state that Iraq has purposely distanced itself from al-Qaeda, not embraced it. [Financial Times, 10/4/02, Guardian, 10/10/02] Meanwhile, Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterintelligence, says, “Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA.” A source connected to the 9/11 investigation says, “The FBI has been pounded on to make this link.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10/02] The Los Angeles Times also reports an escalating “war” between the Pentagon and the CIA over tying Iraq to al-Qaeda. [Los Angeles Times 10/11/02]
          

October 5, 2002

       The New York Times reports that the FBI is refusing to allow Abdussattar Shaikh, the FBI informant who lived with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see Summer-December 2000), to testify before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. The FBI claims the informer would have nothing interesting to say. The Justice Department also wants to learn more about the informant. [New York Times, 10/5/02] The FBI also tries to prevent Shaikh's handler Steve Butler from testifying, but Butler does end up testifying before a secret session (see October 9, 2002). Shaikh doesn't testify at all. [Washington Post, 10/11/02 (B)] Butler's testimony uncovers many curious facts about Shaikh (see Autumn 2000 (B)).
          

October 8, 2002

      
A year after the US conquest of Afghanistan began, most of the country is in the hands of local warlords. Only the small white area marked Karzai is under control of the nation's president. Click
Many in the US have the impression that the war in Afghanistan is over, and US allied forces conquered the country. However, the US ambassador says, “The war is certainly not over. Military operations are continuing, especially in the eastern part of the country and they will continue until we win.” Most of the country is controlled by warlords, who the US has pacified with weapons and money. [Telegraph 10/8/02]
          

October 9, 2002

       San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler reportedly gives “explosive” testimony to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. Butler, recently retired, has been unable to speak to the media, but he was the handler for Abdussattar Shaikh, an FBI informant who rented a room to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see Summer-December 2000 and Autumn 2000 (B)). Butler claims he might have uncovered the 9/11 plot if the CIA had provided the FBI with more information earlier about Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [New York Times, 10/22/02] He says, “It would have made a huge difference.” He suggests they would have quickly found the two hijackers because they were “very, very close.” “We would have immediately opened … investigations. We would have given them the full court press. We would … have done everything— physical surveillance, technical surveillance, and other assets.” [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/03] Butler discloses that he had been monitoring a flow of Saudi Arabian money that wound up in the hands of two of the 9/11 hijackers, but his supervisors failed to take any action on the warnings. It is not known when Butler started investigating the money flow, or warned his supervisors. [US News and World Report, 11/29/02] Some details of this Saudi money trail will cause headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). The FBI unsuccessfully tried to prevent Butler from testifying (see October 5, 2002). Despite the knowledge about the Saudi money trail involving Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi revealed at this time, Basnan is nonetheless deported to Saudi Arabia the next month, where he disappears (see August 22, 2002), and al-Bayoumi, who had been living in Britain, disappears as well (see ).
          

October 10, 2002

       A tentative congressional deal to create an 9/11 Commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks falls apart hours after the White House objected to the plan (it appears Vice President Cheney called Republican leaders and told them to renege on the agreement [New York Times, 11/2/02]). Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier (see September 20, 2002), but doubters who questioned his sincerity appear to have been proved correct. Hours after top Republican leaders announced at a press conference that an agreement had been reached, House Republican leaders said they wouldn't bring the legislation to the full House for a vote unless the commission proposal was changed. There are worries that if the White House can delay the legislation for a few more days until Congress adjourns, it could stop the creation of a commission for months, if not permanently. [Washington Post 10/11/02; New York Times 10/11/02]
          

October 17, 2002 (B)

       NSA Director Michael Hayden testifies before a Congressional inquiry that the “NSA had no [indications] that al-Qaeda was specifically targeting New York and Washington… or even that it was planning an attack on US soil.” Before 9/11, the “NSA had no knowledge… that any of the attackers were in the United States.” Supposedly, a post-9/11 NSA review found no intercepts of calls involving any of the 19 hijackers. [Reuters 10/17/02; USA Today 10/18/02; NSA Director Hayden testimony 10/17/02] Yet, in the summer of 2001, the NSA intercepted communications between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and hijacker Atta, when he was in charge of operations in the US. What was said between the two has not been revealed (see Summer 2001). The NSA also intercepted multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the US in the days before 9/11. But who was called or what was said has not been revealed (Early September 2001 (B)).
          

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 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 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

       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 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]
          

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 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 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 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).
          

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 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 (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 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]

          

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 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 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 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]
          

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)]
          

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 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

       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 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]
          

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).
          

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 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]
          

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]
          
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