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Public opinion on Iraqi threat
Pre-war planning
Legal justification
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Alleged al-Qaeda ties
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Pre-9/11 plans for war
The decision to invade
Internal opposition
Alleged WMDs

Specific cases and issues

Prague Connection
Africa-uranium allegation
Aluminum tubes allegation
Office of Special Plans
Al Zarqawi allegation
Spying on the UN

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations
WMD allegations
Nuclear weapons allegations
Imminent threat allegations
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations
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Complete timeline of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq


Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Showing 1-100 of 663 events (use filters to narrow search):    next 100

February 15, 1848

       In a letter to his law partner, William H. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln disagrees with Herndon's argument for preemptive war. “Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion ... and you allow him to make war at pleasure. ... The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.” [Sources: Letter from Abraham Lincoln to William H. Herndon, 2/15/1848]
People and organizations involved: Abraham Lincoln


       The first “Zippe-type” gas centrifuge, named after one of its main developers, German scientist Gernot Zippe, is produced. The centrifuge uses duralumin rotors. Centrifuge rotors are thin-walled tubes that spin at high speeds producing enriched uranium 235. Centrifuge rotors are highly sensitive and must be made from specialized high-strength material. [Institute for Science and International Security, 9/23/2002]
People and organizations involved: Gernot Zippe

After the 1950s

       The use of aluminum for rotors in gas centrifuges is discontinued. Other materials, such as maraging steel and carbon fiber, are used instead. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Mid-1980s-late 1990s

       Joe T., an engineer, begins working for the CIA. [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

Early 1980s

       At this time, an engineer named “Joe T.,” is working in the gas centrifuge program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work pertains not to actual centrifuges, but to the platforms upon which the centrifuges are installed. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

(Late 1980s)

       Iraq begins developing “Zippe-type” centrifuges (see 1950s). The centrifuges use rotors made from maraging steel and carbon fiber, which are more advanced than aluminum and allow the rotor to spin at significantly higher speeds. But Iraq has problems building them—even with considerable assistance from German experts. [Institute for Science and International Security, 9/23/2002]


       Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, moves to Europe where he forms al-Tawhid, a terrorist organization whose aim it is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. While in Europe, Al Zarqawi and other members of his group make plans to attack Jews and Israeli targets in Germany. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Independent, 2/6/03 Sources: Shadi Abdallah] In late 1999, Al Zarqawi is allegedly involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan, whose customers are frequently Israeli and American tourists. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Independent, 2/6/03; Guardian, 10/9/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] At some point during this period, Al Zarqawi establishes a terrorist training camp near Herat, Afghanistan, which competes with al-Qaeda for new recruits. According to the Bush administration, the training camp specializes in poisons and explosives. While in Afghanistan, Zarqawi maintains contact with his cells in Europe. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Independent, 2/6/03 Sources: Shadi Abdallah]
People and organizations involved: Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi

January 1990

       Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, CIA Director William acknowledges the West's increasing dependency on Middle East oil. [Cited in Ahmed, 10/2/2001]
People and organizations involved: William H. Webster

Mid-September 1990

       The Pentagon, citing top-secret satellite images, claims that some 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks are gathering on Saudi Arabia?s border in preparation for an attack. But two commercial Soviet satellite images of the border area, taken at the same time, obtained by Florida?s St. Petersburg Times, show only an empty desert. “The bulk of the mighty Iraqi army, said to number more than 500,000 in Kuwait and southern Iraq, couldn't be found,” Newsday reports. [Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [b]; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03; St. Petersburg Times, 1/6/91]

May 1990

       The US National Security Council presents a white paper to President Bush in which it describes Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as the optimum contender “to replace the Warsaw Pact” and on that basis argues for the continuation of Cold War-level military spending. [Pilger, 1991 cited in Davidsson, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

August 2, 1990

       The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 678 authorizing “Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait ... to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.” [Sources: UN Resolution 678]
People and organizations involved: United Nations Security Council

August 2, 1990

       The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 660 condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and demanding that Iraq “withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its forces to the positions in which they were located on 1 August 1990.” [Sources: UN Resolution 660]
People and organizations involved: United Nations Security Council

Late 1990

       An unconfirmed report of Iraqi soldiers entering a Kuwaiti hospital and removing newborns from their incubators is distributed widely. The rumor, which later turns out to be false, is seized upon by senior executives of the PR firm Hill and Knowlton, which has a $10 million contract from the Kuwaiti royal family to win support for a US-led intervention against Iraq. The PR firm, which has very close ties to the Bush administration, helps a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only as “Nayirah,” prepare to speak before a congressional caucus. In her testimony, she describes in detail how she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers storm the hospital where she was an intern and steal the incubators, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.” President Bush refers to the incident numerous times as he lobbies Congress to authorize the use of military force against Iraq. But it is later discovered that Nayirah is actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and that she was never an intern at the Kuwait hospital. The story was a complete fabrication. [Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [a]; Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [b]; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03]
People and organizations involved: Hill and Knowlton, George Herbert Walker Bush


       After the First Gulf War, the British Defense Ministry's Defense Intelligence Staff creates a secret intelligence office known as Operation Rockingham. The purpose of the top secret cell is to collect intelligence that can be used by the US and British to support the case for maintaining UN sanctions on Iraq. After the September 11 attacks, Rockingham helps build Britain's case for the need to use military force against Iraq. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03b; Guardian, 11/21/03; BBC, 11/21/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03; Guardian, 11/29/03 Sources: Scott Ritter, Unnamed British intelligence officials] Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter, who has first-hand knowledge of the operation, will later tell reporters that the members of the cell were backed by officials “from the very highest levels,” including military and intelligence officers, as well as civilian officials from the ministry of defense. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03b Sources: Scott Ritter] Sources equate Rockingham to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see August 18, 2003), which is also later accused of producing misleading assessments on Iraq based on the selective use of intelligence. [Guardian, 11/21/03; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a Sources: Scott Ritter] The operation is similar to Operation Mass Appeal (see 1991-2003), another British intelligence disinformation program.
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 


       The British MI6 establishes Operation Mass Appeal, a British intelligence mission “designed to exaggerate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction” in order to shape public opinion. [BBC, 11/21/03] The operation plants stories in the US, British, and foreign media from the 1990s through 2003. Intelligence used by Mass Appeal is said to be “single source data of dubious quality.” After the First Gulf War, the operation seeks to justify the UN sanctions policy. But after the September 11 attacks, its objective is to secure public support for an invasion of Iraq. The mission is similar to Operation Rockingham (see 1991-2003), another British intelligence disinformation program. [BBC, 11/21/03; New Yorker, 3/31/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03 Sources: Former Clinton Administration official, Scott Ritter] Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter says in late in 2003 (see November 21, 2003) that he supplied Mass Appeal with intelligence while serving as UN chief weapons inspector from the summer of 1997 until August 1998 and that he met with British agents involved in the operation several times in both New York and London. [BBC, 11/21/03 Sources: Scott Ritter]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 


       Under the supervision of UNSCOM weapons inspectors, Iraq destroys more than 38,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, 690 tons of chemical warfare agents, over 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals, more than 400 pieces of production equipment, 48 missiles, 6 missile launchers, and 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological agents. [Foreign Policy in Focus, 8/02; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; Congressional Research Service Reports, 4/98 Sources: UNSCOM report, S/1998/332, April 16, 1998] After cross-referencing weapons-making materials found in Iraq with sales records from other countries, UNSCOM inspectors conclude that at least 90% of Iraq's weapons have been destroyed or dismantled. Chief UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter believes that a good portion of the remaining 10% was destroyed during the First Gulf War, thus leaving only a small fraction unaccounted for. [Pitt, 7/24/02; Newsday, 7/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter

March 8, 1992

       The Defense Planning Guidance document, a “blueprint for the department's spending priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” is leaked to the New York Times. [New York Times, 3/8/92; Newsday, 3/16/03] The paper causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been “scrubbed” to replace candid language with euphemisms. [New York Times, 3/10/92; New York Times, 3/11/92; The Observer, 4/7/02] The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and to maintain that role it “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” [New York Times, 3/8/92; New York Times, 3/8/92 [B]] As the Observer summarizes it, “America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington.” [The Observer, 4/7/02] The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but under Bush Jr. become Deputy Defense Secretary and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, respectively. [Newsday, 3/16/03] The document conspicuously avoids mention of collective security arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US “should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted.” [New York Times, 3/8/92] It also calls for “punishing” or “threatening punishment” against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended pre-emptively include “access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and] threats to US citizens from terrorism.” [Harper's, 10/02] Senator Lincoln Chafee (R), later says, “It is my opinion that [Bush Jr.'s] plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first Bush administration with that 1992 report.” [Newsday, 3/16/03] In response to the controversy, in May 1992 the US releases an updated version of the document that stresses the US will work with the United Nations and its allies (see also January 1993). [The Washington Post, 5/24/92; Harper's, 10/02]
People and organizations involved: Lincoln Chafee, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz

August 22, 1995

       Hussein Kamel, Iraq's former minister of military industry—who was Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and who had overseen Saddam's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile weapons programs for almost a decade—is interviewed shortly after defecting by UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus, Professor Maurizio Zifferero, deputy director of the Internal Atomic Energy Agency,and Nikita Smidovick of UNSCOM. During the interview, Kamel says that Iraq had destroyed all of its banned weapons after the First Gulf War. “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed,” he tells his interviewers. With regard to Anthrax, which Kamel says had been the “main focus” of Iraq's biological program, Kamel says, “nothing remained.” Regarding the nerve gas, VX, Kamel says, “they put it in bombs during last days of the Iran-Iraq war. They were not used and the program was terminated.” When asked if the program had been reconstituted, Kamel replies, “We changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine ... We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons.” On the issue of prohibited missiles, Kamel states: “[N]ot a single missile left but they had blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed.” Kamel also says that inspections worked in Iraq. “You have important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq,” he reveals. [Sources: UNSCOM Interview with Hussein Kamel, August 22, 1995] But this information is not made public. Newsweek reports in March 2003 that according to its sources, “Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the UN inspectors ... for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more.” [Newsweek, 3/3/03; Scotsman, 2/24/03] Kamel also says that Khidhir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994 and who will be a source for claims regarding Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is “a professional liar.” “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions,” he tells his interviewers. “He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.” [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] At around the same time, Kamel is also interviewed by the CIA and Britain's MI6. According to sources interviewed by Newsweek, Kamel provides them with the same information. [Newsweek, 3/3/03; Scotsman, 2/24/03 Sources: Unnamed sources] But after this is revealed on February 24, 2003 by Newsweek's John Barry, the CIA issues a strong denial. “It is incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue,” CIA spokesman Bill Harlow will say. [Reuters, 2/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Nikita Smidovick, Maurizio Zifferero, Rolf Ekeus, John Barry, Hussein Kamel, Bill Harlow

July 8, 1996

       The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper titled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/6/03; Guardian, 9/3/02; Washington Times, 10/7/03] The paper advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ....” The document advocates the removal of Saddam Hussein and the weakening of Syria. [Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96; Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 3/19/2003; Guardian, 9/3/02 Sources: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm] Other suggestions for Israel include abandoning the Oslo Accords, developing a foreign policy based on a traditional balance of power strategy, reserving its right to invade the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a strategy of “self-defense,” abandoning any notion of “land for peace,” reestablishing a policy of preemptive strikes, forging closer ties to the US while taking steps towards self-reliance, and seeking an alternative to Yasser Arafat as leader of the PLO. [Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96; Guardian, 9/3/02 Sources: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm] Some of the paper's authors will later be appointed to influential government and quasi-government positions during the administration of George W. Bush. The lead writer, Richard Perle, will serve on the Defense Policy Board (for the first year and a half he will serve as chairman). Douglas Feith will serve as undersecretary of defense for policy. He will oversee the activities of several controversial offices including the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001) and the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002). David Wurmser will help run the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001) through August 2002 and then will be transferred to the State Department to serve as a senior advisor to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John R. Bolton (see September 2002).
People and organizations involved: Jeffrey T. Bergner, Richard Armitage, Richard V. Allen, Douglas Feith, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Meyrav Wurmser, Jonathan Torop, Binyamin Netanyahu, Robert Loewenberg, James Colbert, David Wurmser, Charles Fairbanks, Jr.

June 3, 1997

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank formed in the spring of 1997, issues its statement of principles. PNAC states that its aims are “to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests,” to achieve “a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad,” “to increase defense spending significantly,” to challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values,” and to “accept America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.” [Sources: Statement of Principles, 6/3/97] The statement is significant because it is signed by a group who will become “a rollcall of today's Bush inner circle.” [Guardian, 2/26/03] ABC's Ted Koppel will later say PNAC's ideas have “been called a secret blueprint for US global domination” (see January 26, 1998) (see also September 2000, August 21, 2001 (B)). [ABC News, 3/5/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Rosen, Peter Rodman, Henry S. Rowen, Vin Weber, Midge Decter, George Weigel, Norman Podhoretz, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Elliott Abrams, Steve Forbes, Donald Rumsfeld, William J. Bennett, Dick Cheney, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Lewis Libby, Dan Quayle, Jeb Bush, Donald Kagan, Fred C. Ikle, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula J. Dobriansky, Hasam Amin, Frank Gaffney

November 12, 1997

       David Wurmser, director of the Middle East program at the American Enterprise Institute, writes an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the US government should support Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress [INC] and work to foment “an Iraqi insurgency to depose the butcher of Baghdad.” Wurmser writes: “Washington has no choice now but to abandon the coup option and resurrect the INC. An insurgency may be able to defeat Saddam's weak and demoralized conventional army. But one thing is clear: There is no cost-free way to depose Saddam. He is more resolute, wily and brutal than we. His strength lies in his weapons of terror; that is why he is so attached to them.... Organizing an insurgency to liberate Iraq under the INC may provoke Saddam to use these weapons on the way down. Better that, though, than current policy, which will lead him to use them on his way back up.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/12/97]
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser, Ahmed Chalabi


       Expert committees report that Iraq has failed to adequately account for 500 mustard-gas shells, 25 “special warheads,” 150 aerial bombs, 2 scud missiles, 520 kilograms of yeast extract growth medium specifically for anthrax, 15,000 122 mm artillery shells, 25,000 rockets and several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX. [Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; BBC, 9/11/2002; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 6/2002; Newsmax, 9/4/02]
25 Special Warheads - Iraq failed to account for 25 “special warheads” . Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter will tell the Christian Science Monitor in mid-2002, “Even if he hid some warheads, they would have degenerated by now.” [Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02]

Scud Missiles - Iraq has accounted for or destroyed 817 of its 819 Scud missiles. [Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; Foreign Policy in Focus, 8/02 Sources: Kofi Annan]
It is later suggested by experts, such as former UN inspector Scott Ritter and Charles Duelfer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that Iraq could possibly salvage and manufacture enough components to build up a store of between five and 25 missiles. [BBC, 9/11/2002] But as the San Francisco Chronicle later notes, citing unspecified weapons experts, “there is no evidence that these have been tested or that Iraq has any functional launchers.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]
8,5000 liters of anthrax - Iraq maintains that these remaining stores of Anthrax were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991, however they offer no evidence of this. [Scotsman, 2/24/03]
Scott Ritter, a former Marine intelligence officer and chief weapons inspector, will later say that evidence indicates that Iraq's liquid bulk anthrax has not been produced by Iraq since 1991. Furthermore, he adds, the factory where Iraq had produced the pathogen was destroyed in 1996. He says that any anthrax produced before then is no longer a threat to anyone because after three years liquid bulk anthrax becomes “useless sludge.” [Reuters, 2/8/02]
Several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX - UNSCOM is unable to account for several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX.
Iraq maintains that these remaining stocks were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. [Scotsman, 2/24/03] In March 2003, UNMOVIC, the successor to UNSCOM, will report “that Iraq's production method created nerve agent that lasted only six to eight weeks.” [Independent, 6/1/03] Critics believe that most of these stocks were destroyed during the First Gulf War. Scott Ritter, a former chief weapons inspector, speaking at the Suffolk Law School building in downtown Boston, will say on July of 2002: “The research and development factory is destroyed [a Gulf War bomb destroyed the production facility on January 23, 1991]. The product of that factory is destroyed. The weapons they loaded up have been destroyed. More importantly, the equipment procured from Europe that was going to be used for their large-scale VX nerve agent factory was identified by the special commission—still packed in its crates in 1997—and destroyed. Is there a VX nerve agent factory in Iraq today? Not on your life.” [Pitt, 7/24/02]
 Additional Info 


       The National Security Council (NSC) completes a review of Iraq and terrorism. In an interview with journalist Robert Dreyfuss four years later, Daniel Benjamin, then-director of counterterrorism at the NSC, summarizes the report's conclusions: “[W]e went through every piece of intelligence we could find to see if there was a link [between] al-Qaeda and Iraq, says Benjamin. We came to the conclusion that our intelligence agencies had it right: There was no noteworthy relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq. I know that for a fact. No other issue has been as closely scrutinized as this one.” [The American Prospect, 12/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Benjamin


       Radio Free Europe, headquartered in Prague, begins transmitting anti-Saddam programs into Iraq. Late in the year, Iraqi diplomat Jabir Salim defects and tells Czech officials that before leaving Iraq he had been given $150,000 in cash to finance a plot to blow up Radio Free Europe's headquarters. This information is apparently passed on to Washington and US officials warn Tom Dine, program director of Radio Free Europe, about the plot. In response, Radio Free Europe begins 24-hour video surveillance of the building. [Newsweek, 4/28/01; Washington Post, 5/1/2002; Slate, 11/19/2003; Independent, 10/26/01 Sources: Unnamed sources, Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim, Tom Dine

January 26, 1998

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03 Sources: January 26, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long-term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Richard Perle, William Schneider Jr., Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Jeffrey T. Bergner, William Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, Peter Rodman, Paula J. Dobriansky, John R. Bolton, Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William J. Bennett, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, Robert B. Zoellick

February 19, 1998

       The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month. [Committee For Peace and Security, 2/19/98; CNN, 2/20/98 Sources: February 19, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton]
People and organizations involved: William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Donald Rumsfeld, Dov Zakheim, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Robert A. Pastor, Martin Peretz, Roger Robinson, Peter Rodman, Robert C. McFarlane, Jarvis Lynch, Frederick L. Lewis, Bernard Lewis, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Fred C. Ikle, Sven F. Kraemer, David Wurmser, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Frank Gaffney, Frank Carlucci, Max Singer, Richard Armitage, Richard V. Allen, Stephen Solarz, John R. Bolton, Gary Schmitt, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Jeffrey Gedmin, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Caspar Weinberger, Peter Rosenblatt, Leon Wienseltier, Richard Burt

July 1998

       UNSCOM weapons inspector Richard Butler states, “If Iraqi disarmament were a five-lap race, we would be three quarters of the way around the fifth and final lap.” [Boston Globe, 3/22/99]
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook

Late December 1998

       According to US intelligence sources, Farouk Hijazi, the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, visits Afghanistan in late 1998 after US cruise missiles are fired on al Qaeda training camps following the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Hijazi, who is also a longtime intelligence officer, meets Osama bin Laden in Kandahar and extends an offer from Baghdad to provide refuge for him and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Bin Laden reportedly rejects the offer because he doesn't want his organization dominated by Saddam Hussein. After the 9/11 attacks, proponents of invading Iraq will claim the visit makes Hijazi a key link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Hijazi will be captured by US troops in late April 2003 after the US/British invasion of Iraq begins. When interrogated by US authorities, he will deny any Iraq-al-Qaeda ties. [Guardian, 2/16/99; Associated Press, 9/27/01; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; Associated Press, 4/25/03; USA Today, 7/13/03]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Mullah Mohammed Omar, Farouk Hijaz


       Joe T. begins working in the Winpac unit of the CIA, which analyzes intelligence related to dual-use technology and export controls. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03; New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.


       Iraqi diplomat and suspected intelligence officer Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani arrives in Prague to replace his predecessor, Jabir Salim, who had defected (see 1998). Fearing that Al-Ani had a similar mission to that of Salim, Czech intelligence closely monitors al-Ani's activities. Sometime in 1999, al-Ani is reportedly videotaped loitering around and photographing the Radio Free Europe building. Al-Ani is sometimes seen with a thinner, taller man wearing a Shell Oil jacket who is never identified. The pictures are passed onto the Czech intelligence agency [BIS]. [Newsweek, 4/28/01; Washington Post, 5/1/2002; Slate, 11/19/2003 Sources: Unnamed sources, Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani

February 1999

       Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican, sets off on a trip to several African countries, including Niger, where he meets with the country's president. [Independent, 8/10/03a; New Yorker, 10/20/03; Sunday Herald, 7/13/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie, Charles O. Cecil] Zahawie's visit is reported in the local newspaper as well as by a French news agency. The US and British governments are also aware of the trip but show no concern. At this time, Niger is “actively seeking economic assistance from the United States.” No one suggests that the trip's motives have anything to do with acquiring uranium. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Charles O. Cecil, Wissam al-Zahawie] Soon after the September 11 attacks, the Italian intelligence service, SISMI, will provide the US with information it has about the trip and will suggest that the motive behind the visit was to discuss the future purchase of uranium oxide, also known as “yellowcake” (see Fall 2001). [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence sources, Wissam al-Zahawie]
People and organizations involved: Wissam al-Zahawie

(After February 1999)

       Rocco Martino, an Italian security consultant, provides French officials with documents suggesting that Iraq intends to expand its “trade” with Niger. Martino was formerly a member of Italy's foreign intelligence service (SISMI). The French assume the trade being discussed would be in uranium, Niger's main export. At French intelligence's request, Martino continues supplying them with documents. [Sunday Times, 8/1/2004; Financial Times, 8/2/2004]
People and organizations involved: Rocco Martino

March 1999

       A special panel of the UN Security Council reports that “the declared facilities of Iraq's biological weapons program have been destroyed and rendered harmless.” [Daily Mirror, 4/5/02; Guardian, 5/15/02]

December 17, 1999

       With the passing of UN Resolution 1284, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is created to assist in the disarming of Iraq. The new body replaces the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). UNMOVIC is deliberately designed to prevent infiltration by spies of the UN Security Council member states, specifically the US and Britain. This had been a problem with its predecessor, UNSCOM. The UN diminishes the role of Americans in the new commission by abolishing the powerful office of deputy chairman, which had always been held by an American, and by appointing non-Americans to important positions. In the new inspections body, “The highest-ranking American in the agency now has a relatively lowly job, in charge of the training division.” A Chinese official holds the senior “activity evaluation” position and a Russian official is in charge of “liaising with foreign governments and companies.” Another reform is that the inspectors will use commercial satellite companies, instead of US spy satellites, to monitor Iraq's activities. [The Times, 9/18/02]

Early 2000

       Rocco Martino, an Italian security consultant and information peddler, is approached by a former colleague at SISMI, Italy's foreign intelligence agency, who tips him off to a former SISMI source working at the Nigerien Embassy in Rome who can provide Martino with information in exchange for a monthly retainer fee. Martino pursues the lead, and agrees to pay her 500 euros/month. The source, however, remains on SISMI's payroll providing the agency with a way to distribute information to the public while concealing its role. Most of the documents he will receive from the lady will be related to immigration into Italy and Islamist activities in North and Central Africa. [Talking Points Memo, 8/1/2004]
People and organizations involved: SISMI, Rocco Martino


       US intelligence learns from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) that Iraq has made arrangements to purchase tubes, made of 7075-T6 aluminum, from China through Garry Cordukes, the director of the Australian company International Aluminum Supply. The company is associated with Kam Kiu Propriety Limited, a subsidiary of the Chinese company that will manufacture the aluminum tubes. Concerned that the tubes may be related to Iraqi efforts to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, an Australian intelligence agent contacts Cordukes to obtain a sample of the tubes for examination. A CIA agent, Joe T., is said to have played a significant part in this discovery. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.


       During the 2000 presidential campaign, the Republican Party calls for “a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein.” Similarly, the Democratic Party's platform supports using “America's military might against Iraq when and where it is necessary.” [Project for the New American Century, 7/6/00; Strategic Affairs. 11/1/00; NewsMax, 2/3/01; Republican National Committee, 2000 Platform; Democratic National Committee, 2000 Platform, pg 46 Sources: Republican National Committee, Democratic National Committee]
People and organizations involved: Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee


       Former CIA director James Woolsey serves as a corporate officer for the Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation which manages the Iraqi National Congress' US funding. Also during this time, Woolsey and his former law firm, Shea and Gardner, provide the INC and Iraqi exiles with pro bono work. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress (INC), Shea and Gardner, James Woolsey

September 2000

       The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century writes a “blueprint” for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ” (see also June 3, 1997). The document, titled, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was written for future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” The plan shows that the Bush team intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The report calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02 Sources: Rebuilding America's Defenses] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post, 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Robert Killebrew, Dov Zakheim, Robert Kagan, Fred Kagan, Donald Kagan, William Kristol, David Fautua, Dan Goure, Mark Lagon, Barry Watts, Michael Vickers, Mackubin Owens, Abram Shulsky, Gary Schmitt, David Epstein, Phil Meilinger, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Martinage, James Lasswell, Lewis Libby, Thomas Donnelly, Devon Gaffney Cross, Eliot A. Cohen, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, Roger Barnett, Alvin Bernstein, Stephen Cambone, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Rosen  Additional Info 


       Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian Muslim militant later alleged by the Bush administration to have ties to Osama bin Laden, is arrested in Jordan sometime in 2001 for his involvement in a late 1999 plot to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan, whose customers are frequently Israeli and American tourists. Some time after his arrest, he is released. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Guardian, 10/9/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] At some point he is convicted for his role in the plot and sentenced to death by a Jordanian court in absentia. [Independent, 2/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi

(Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001

       Almost immediately after Joe T.'s theory is circulated through US intelligence and science circles, a team of centrifuge physicists at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other similar institutions review the case. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation; New York Times, 10/3/2004] The team includes Dr. Jon A. Kreykes, head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group; Dr. Duane F. Starr, an expert on nuclear proliferation threats; and Dr. Edward Von Halle, a retired Oak Ridge nuclear expert. They are advised by Dr. Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on centrifuges, and Dr. Gernot Zippe, one of the German scientists who developed an early uranium centrifuge in the 1950s (see 1950s). On August 17, the team publishes a classified Technical Intelligence Note which details why they believe the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were not intended for use in a gas centrifuge. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
The tubes sought by Iraq are very different from tubes Iraq used previously in its centrifuge prototypes before the first Gulf War. The intercepted aluminum tubes are significantly longer and narrower. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; New York Times, 10/3/2004]

Aluminum has not been used in gas centrifuges since the 1950s (see After the 1950s). Furthermore, Iraq is known to have had the blueprints for a more efficient centrifuge, which used maraging steel and carbon fiber, not aluminum (see (Late 1980s)). [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
“Aluminum was a huge step backwards,” Dr. Houston Wood will later explain to the New York Times. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
There are no known centrifuge machines “deployed in a production environment” that use tubes with such a small diameter. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]

The tubes' walls, measuring 3.3 millimeters, are three times too thick for “favorable use” in a “Zippe-type” centrifuge, which requires tubes with a thickness of no more than 1.1 millimeter. [New York Times, 10/3/2004; Washington Post, 8/10/03]

The tubes are anodized, which is “not consistent” with a uranium centrifuge because the anodized coating can react with uranium gas. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
Houston G. Wood later tells The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03] Though the scientists' report concludes that “rocket production is the much more likely end use for these tubes,” [New York Times, 10/3/2004] Joe T. sticks with his theory. His position is backed by CIA director George Tenet. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]
People and organizations involved: Duane F. Starr, Jon A. Kreykes, Houston G. Wood III, Gernot Zippe, George Tenet, Joe T., Edward Von Halle


       The US intelligence community—most notably the intelligence gatherers working in the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith (see September 2002) —bases several of its intelligence assessments concerning Iraq on information offered by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and by Iraqi defectors provided by the INC, despite warnings from the State Department and some CIA analysts that the lobbying group cannot be trusted. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Greg Thielmann] Some of the INC's intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to terrorists are reportedly funneled directly to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney by Francis Brooke, the DC lobbyist for the group. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Francis Brooke, Memo] Brooke will later acknowedge that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney, Dick Cheney, Francis Brooke  Additional Info 

Early 2001

       Shortly after Bush is inaugurated into office, Greg Thielmann, an analyst for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), is appointed to serve as the intelligence liaison to John Bolton. But Thielmann's intelligence briefings do not support Bolton's assumptions about Iraq, and Thielmann is soon barred from attending the meetings. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Greg Thielmann  Additional Info 

January 2, 2001

       The Italian police discover that the Niger Embassy in Rome has been ransacked. It appears that the people involved in the break-in searched through the embassy's documents and files. [Newsweek, 7/28/03] In 2003, Italian investigators will suspect that this incident is related to a collection of forged documents obtained by an Italian journalist in October 2002 which play a significant role in US allegations that Saddam Hussein attempted to obtain uranium oxide from Niger between 1999 and 2001 (see Early October 2002). [Newsweek, 7/28/03]

January 10, 2001

       During a National Press Club Newsmakers luncheon, outgoing Defense Secretary William Cohen says: “Well, Saddam Hussein's forces are in a state where he cannot pose a threat to his neighbors at this point. We have been successful, through the sanctions regime, to really shut off most of the revenue that will be going to build his—rebuild his military.” [US Department of Defense, 1/10/01; Jordan Times, 2002]
People and organizations involved: William Cohen

January 29, 2001

       Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini, who heads the Islamic Center of America in Detroit, one of the nation's largest mosques, meets with President Bush in the White House about the administration's policy towards Iraq. The president says he supports a policy aimed at removing Saddam Hussein from power, though he does not discuss by what means. “No method was discussed at all,” al-Qazwini will tell the New York Times two years later. “It was a general desire for regime change.” He will also tell the newspaper that he had spoken with Bush about removing Saddam Hussein a total of six or seven times, both before and after the 2000 elections. [New York Times, 1/12/04 Sources: Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini

(January 30, 2001)

       The Bush White House holds its first National Security Council meeting. The lead discussion of the meeting centers on the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill, recalling the meeting, will tell CBS News two years later: “From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go ... From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed.” O'Neill will say officials never questioned the logic behind this policy. No one ever asked, “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” Instead, the issue that needed to be resolved was how this could be accomplished. “It was all about finding a way to do it,” O'Neill will explain. “That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’ ” [CBS News, 1/10/04; New York Times, 1/12/04; Guardian, 1/12/04; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234 Sources: Paul O?Neill] After information of this meeting is revealed by Paul O'Neill, the White House will attempt to downplay its significance. “... The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear,” Bush will tell reporters during a visit to Mexico In January 2004. “Like the previous administration, we were for regime change. ... And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, and so we were fashioning policy along those lines.” [New York Times, 1/12/04] But another official, who is also present at the meeting, will later say that the tone of the meeting implies a policy much more aggressive than that of the previous administration. “The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces,” the official will tell ABC News. “That went beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force.” [ABC News, 1/13/04 Sources: Unnamed senior official of the Bush administration] Other people, in addition to O'Neill and Bush, who are likely in attendance include Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers. [Sources: National Security Presidential Directives—NSPD-1, 2/13/01]]
People and organizations involved: Paul O?Neill, Colin Powell, Richard B. Myers, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush

February 1, 2001

       The Bush White House holds its second National Security Council meeting. Again, the issue of regime change in Iraq is a central topic. One of the memos discussed during the meeting is titled, “Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.” It reportedly discusses the need for troops in a post-Saddam occupation, war crimes tribunals, and how to divvy up Iraq's oil wealth. [CBS News, 1/10/04; New York Times, 1/12/04 Sources: Paul O?Neill] In attendance is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who speaks in favor of removing Saddam Hussein. It would “demonstrate what US policy is all about,” he says, and help transform the Middle East. According to Paul O'Neill, Rumsfeld talks at the meeting “in general terms about post-Saddam Iraq, dealing with the Kurds in the north, the oil fields, the reconstruction of the country's economy, and the ‘freeing of the Iraqi people.’ ” [New York Times, 1/12/04 Sources: Paul O?Neill] Other people, in addition to O'Neill, Bush, and Rumsfeld, who are likely in attendance include Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers. [Sources: National Security Presidential Directives—NSPD-1, 2/13/01]]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Richard B. Myers, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O?Neill, George W. Bush, George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld

February 24, 2001

       Secretary of State Colin Powell travels to Cairo and meets with his counterpart Amre Moussa. During a press conference, Powell says: “He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.” [US Department of State, 2/24/03; The Mirror, 9/22/03; Associated Press, 9/25/03] Some nineteen months later, when Powell is asked to explain why his assessment of Iraq had so drastically changed over such a short span of time, Powell says, “... I did not say he (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) didn't have weapons of mass destruction.... He was a threat then. The extent of his holdings were yet to be determined. It was early in the administration and the fact of the matter is it was long before 9/11 (the date of the 2001 attacks on the United States).... A lot changed between February 2001 (and the invasion), but I don't find anything inconsistent between what I said then and what I've said all along.” [US Department of State, 9/25/03; Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 9/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Amre Moussa, Colin Powell

March 2001

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

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

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

People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney

April 2001

       A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations titled, “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century” is submitted to Vice President Cheney. “The report is linked to a veritable who's who of US hawks, oilmen and corporate bigwigs.” The report says the “central dilemma” for the US administration is that “the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience.” It warns that the US is running out of oil, with a painful end to cheap fuel already in sight. It argues that “the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma,” and that one of the “consequences” of this is a “need for military intervention” to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil. [Sunday Herald, 10/05/02; Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02 Sources: Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century] In what may be a reference to a pipeline through Afghanistan, the report suggests the US should “Investigate whether any changes to US policy would quickly facilitate higher exports of oil from the Caspian Basin region... the exports from some oil discoveries in the Caspian Basin could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly” (see also September 2000 and Spring 2001). [Sources: Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century]
People and organizations involved: James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University, Dick Cheney  Additional Info 

Between April 2001 and September 2002

       The CIA writes at least 15 reports about Iraq's interest in purchasing 7075-T6 aluminum tubes. Several of the assessments are distributed only to high-level policy makers, including President Bush, and are not sent to other intelligence agencies for peer review. According to several Congressional and intelligence officials who later review the documents, they all fail to note that the opinions of leading centrifuge experts at the Energy Department conflict with the CIA's view. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

April 2001

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

April 8, 2001

       An informant for the BIS, the Czech intelligence agency, reportedly sees Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani meeting in a restaurant outside Prague with an Arab man in his 20s. This draws concern from the intelligence community because the informant suggests the person is “a visiting ‘student’ from Hamburg—and ... potentially dangerous.” [Slate, 11/19/2003 Sources: Jan Kavan] The young man is never positively identified or seen again. Fearing that al-Ani may have been attempting to recruit the young man for a mission to blow-up Radio Free Europe headquarters, the diplomat is told to leave the country on April 18. [Slate, 11/19/2003; New York Times, 10/27/01; UPI, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed US officials, Jan Kavan] Information about the incident is passed on to US intelligence. After the 9/11 attacks and after it is reported on the news that Atta had likely visited Prague, the BIS informant will say the young man at the restaurant was Atta. (see September 14, 2001) This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which will hold that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. [Slate, 11/19/2003; New York Times, 10/27/01; UPI, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed BIS informant, Jan Kavan, Unnamed US officials] The theory will be widely discounted by October 2002. [New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed US officials, Unnamed BIS informant]
People and organizations involved: Jabir Salim, Radio Free Europe, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohammed Atta

April 10, 2001

       A classified intelligence report, based primarily on the work of junior CIA analyst Joe T., concludes that the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq from China (see 2000)“have little use other than for a uranium enrichment program.” The report is passed on to the White House. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

April 11, 2001

       US officials in the Energy Department respond to an intelligence report released the previous day (see April 10, 2001) which contended that the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq (see July 2001) are destined for use as centrifuge rotors in a uranium enrichment program. The Energy Department argues that the tubes are too narrow, too heavy, and too long to be used in a gas centrifuge. Furthermore, the officials note, there is no evidence that Iraq is seeking to acquire other materials that would be needed to construct a centrifuge. And if the Iraqis intend to use the tubes for uranium enrichment, they ask, why are they making no effort to conceal their interest in acquiring the tubes? [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Department of Energy (DOE)

April 20, 2001

       Hynek Kmonicek, the Czech Republic's deputy foreign minister, informs the Iraqi charge d'affaires in Prague that al-Ani must leave the Czech Republic within 24-hours because his “presence [is] not in the security interests of the Czech Republic” and because his activities are “incompatible with his diplomatic status.” [New York Times, 10/27/01; New York Times, 12/16/01; Slate, 11/19/2003; Independent, 10/26/01] Kmonicek will later deny that the dismissal is related to the meeting that allegedly took place on April 8 (see April 8, 2001). A Newsweek report in April 2002 will suggest the dismissal is related to video surveillance footage showing al-Ani photographing the Radio Free Europe building on several occasions. [Newsweek, 4/28/01] But a November 2003 report in Slate will say that the dismissal is indeed related to the alleged meeting, explaining that Czech intelligence had become nervous after learning of the meeting. [Slate, 11/19/2003 Sources: Jan Kavan] The real cause for his dismissal is never officially disclosed.
People and organizations involved: Hynek Kmonicek, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani

April 30, 2001

       The US State Department's 2000 annual report states in its section on state-sponsored terrorism that the Ba'ath regime's “terrorist” activities consist primarily of its use of violence to silence dissident exiles. The report also notes that Iraq has not engaged in terrorism against the West “since its failed plot to assassinate former President Bush in 1993 in Kuwait.” Significantly the report does not tie Iraq to international Islamic terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. [US Department of State, 4/30/2001; Newsday, 12/24/01 Sources: US Department of State, 4/30/2001]

May 2001

       Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force releases its energy plan. The plan, titled, Reliable, Affordable and Environmentally Sound Energy for America?s Future, warns that the quantity of oil imported per day will need to rise more than fifty percent to 16.7 million barrels by 2020. “A significant disruption in world oil supplies could adversely affect our economy and our ability to promote key foreign and economic policy objectives, regardless of the level of US dependence on oil imports,” the report explains. One of these objectives is to open markets to US investors and promote free trade through new investment treaties. To meet the United States' rising demand for imported oil, the plan calls for “deep water offshore exploration and production in the Atlantic Basin, stretching from offshore Canada to the Caribbean, Brazil and West Africa.” [The Guardian, 1/23/2003 Sources: Reliable, Affordable and Environmentally Sound Energy for America?s Future, Chapter 8]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney

May 9, 2001

       The Energy Department reports that the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes being sought by Iraq from China (see July 2001) have the same specifications as tubes previously used by Iraq to produce conventional rocket tubes. The findings are published in the department's classified Daily Intelligence Highlight, which is posted on an intranet network accessible by members of the intelligence community and the White House. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Department of Energy (DOE)

May 15, 2001

       Powell says that Saddam Hussein has not been able to “build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction” for “the last 10 years,” adding that the sanctions policy had successfully kept him “in a box.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell

May 23, 2001

       A container shipment of 3,000 7075-T6 aluminum tubes manufactured in China leaves southern China for Hong Kong on a slow barge. From there the shipment will go to Jordan. The tubes' final destination is Iraq. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]

May 25, 2001

       The Chinese government contacts a Chinese aluminum manufacturer that has just filled an order for 3,000 7075-T6 aluminum tubes, which is now on its way to Iraq. The company is told that the US government has a special interest in the order and is determined to prevent the shipment from reaching its destination. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sources: Garry Cordukes]

(July 2001-March 2003)

       In meetings and telephone calls, CIA officials inform administration officials that experts at the Department of Energy do not believe that the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq are intended for use in a gas centrifuge. [New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed Senior CIA official]

July 2001

       The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obtains a few samples of the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes that were seized by the CIA and Jordanian secret service. They examine the tubes and initially are quite skeptical that the Iraqis intended to use them as rotors in a gas centrifuge. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] Later this month, CIA agent Joe T. flies to Vienna and presents his case to the IAEA. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation; New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Jacques Bautes, Andrew Wilkie] But experts at the agency disagree with his conclusions and explain to him why the believe his analysis is wrong. “They pointed out errors in his calculations. They noted design discrepancies,” an unnamed senior US official will later tell the New York Times. [New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed US official] David Albright, a physicist and former weapons inspector, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, similarly explains to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “The view in Vienna in the summer of 2001 was ‘Maybe this guy has a clever idea, but he really is just grabbing at almost straws to prove his case, and when he's debunked in one model, he then shifts it and tries to make his information fit another centrifuge model.’ And yet whenever you confronted him with the facts or the weaknesses in argument, he always came back with the same answer— ‘It's only for centrifuges.’ ” When Joe T. returns to Washington, he tells his superiors at the CIA that the IAEA agrees with his theory. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] But according to an unnamed senior US official, scientists at the IAEA send a summary of their views on the tubes to the US government. [New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed US official]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

(July 2001-March 2003)

       During briefings, intelligence analysts at CIA Winpac inform senior National Security Council officials who deal with nuclear proliferation issues that experts at the Department of Energy do not believe that the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were intended for use in a gas centrifuge. [New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Four unnamed CIA officials, Unnamed senior administration official]

July 2001

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says, “Saddam does not control the northern part of the country. We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice

July 2001-2003

       Joe T. maintains his claim that the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes imported by Iraq but intercepted by the US in Jordan (see July 2001) were meant to be used as rotors in centrifuges. Joe T.'s theory becomes one of the most important components of the Bush administration's argument that Saddam Hussein is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Despite significant criticisms of his theory from prominent experts in the field, Joe T. (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see September 23, 2002) (see December 2002) receives an award for exceptional performance from the CIA for his analysis of the intercepted aluminum tubes. [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

July 2001

       Following leads from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) (see 2000), a team of CIA agents and Jordanian secret police confiscate a shipment to 3,000 7075-T6 aluminum tubes in Jordan. The tubes had been purchased by a Jordanian front company, AT&C, on behalf of Iraq. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation] It is later learned that Iraq's supply of rocket body casing tubes is depleted at about this time (see January 9, 2003) and that “[t]housands of warheads, motors and fins [are] ... crated at the assembly lines [in Iraq], awaiting the arrival of tubes.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors] It is also later determined that the shipment of tubes is meant to replenish Iraq's supply of rocket casing tubes; they are not for Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program.

July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001

       The twenty-fourth negotiating session convenes to negotiate a proposal to add an enforcement and verification protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. For three days, representatives from more than 50 member-states speak favorably of ending the negotiations and adopting the protocol. The mechanism would require member-states to annually declare their biodefense facilities and programs as well as any industrial facilities with capabilities to produce microbial cultures in quantity. Additionally, all member-states would be subject to random inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made. Inspections would also be conducted if a facility is suspected of illegally producing bioweapons; there are allegations of bioweapons use; or in the event of a disease outbreak suspected to be the result of the activities of a bioweapons facility. But on July 25, US Ambassador Donald Mahley announces that the US will block any consensus on the proposed changes to the convention. “The United States has concluded that the current approach to a protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention . . . is not, in our view, capable of . . . strengthening confidence in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention,” he says. “We will therefore be unable to support the current text, even with changes.” US opposition to the convention is based on fears that inspections of US facilities might harm the profits of US biotech companies and impede the United States' current “biodefense” program. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/2003; Common Dreams, 8/5/02; CNN, 11/1/01; Counterpunch, 10/25/01 Sources: Statement by the United States to the Ad Hoc Group of Biological Weapons Convention States Parties]
People and organizations involved: Donald Mahley

Early September 2001

       At the behest of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former CIA director James Woolsey flies to London to look for evidence tying Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and evidence that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had worked with Iraqi intelligence to plan the September 11 attacks. Woolsey is advised to meet with Iraqi exiles and others who may have useful intelligence. [Observer 10/14/01; The Village Voice, 11/21/01; Observer, 12/2/01] Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA director George Tenet are not informed of the visit. [The Village Voice, 11/21/01]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey

September 4, 2001

       The New York Times reports: “Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a program of secret research on biological weapons that, some officials say, tests the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons. ... The projects, which have not been previously disclosed, were begun under President Clinton and have been embraced by the Bush administration, which intends to expand them.” The US claims that this research is needed to protect Americans from the threat posed by rogue nations or terrorist groups who may be developing such weapons. [New York Times, 9/4/01]

September 11, 2001

       Seven members of Donald Rumsfeld's so-called neocon “brain trust,” including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and William Luti, head of the Pentagon's Near Eastern and South Asian desk, are “busy on unrelated missions in Europe and the Middle East.” They return to Washington the next day (see September 12, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234 Sources: Douglas Feith, William Luti]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, William Luti

September 11, 2001-March 17, 2003

       In the months leading up to the war with Iraq, Bush administration officials manipulate the intelligence provided to them by analysts in order to drum up support for the invasion. Some analysts complain that they are under pressure to write assessments that support the administration's case for invading Iraq. On March 7, 2002, Knight Ridder reports that various military officials, intelligence employees, and diplomats in the Bush administration have charged “that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Hussein poses such an immediate threat to the United States that preemptive military action is necessary.” [Knight Ridder 10/7/02 Sources: Simon Crean, Edward Kennedy, Jonathan Dean, Seymour Hersh, Demetrius Perricos, Scott Ritter, David Albright, Mel Goodman, Karen Kwiatkowski, Knight Ridder Newspapers, John Prados, Robin Cook, Ivan Eland, Vince Cannistraro, Menzies Campbell, Bob Graham, Several unnamed US intelligence officials, David Albright, Ray McGovern, Larry Hanauer, Andrew Wilkie, Dick Cheney, Stansfield Turner, Larry Johnson, Greg Thielmann, Patrick Lang, Joseph Cirincione, Patrick G. Eddington]
 Additional Info 

Shortly after September 11, 2001

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Middle East specialist Harold Rhode recruit David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq, having expressed his views in a 1997 op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal (see November 12, 1997) and having participated in the drafting of a 1996 policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (see July 8, 1996). Wurmser works at Feith's office, where he and another neocon, F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. The four- to five-person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04] The Pentagon unit's activities cause tension within the traditional intelligence community. Critics claim that its members manipulate and distort intelligence, “cherry-picking” bits of information that fit their preconceived conclusions. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency,” a defense official will tell the New York Times. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned.” [New York Times, 10/24/02 Sources: Unnamed defense official] Defending the project, Paul Wolfowitz will tell the New York Times that the team's purpose is to circumvent the problem “in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will.” He insists that the special Pentagon unit is “not making independent intelligence assessments.” [New York Times, 10/24/02] One of the cell's projects includes sorting through existing intelligence to create a map of relationships demonstrating links between terrorist groups and state powers. This chart of links, which they name the “matrix,” leads the intelligence unit to conclude that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other groups with conflicting ideologies and objectives are allowing these differences to fall to the wayside as they discover their shared hatred of the US. The group's research also leads them to believe that al-Qaeda has a presence in such places as Latin American. For weeks, the unit will attempt to uncover evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, a theory advocated by both Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04] David Wurmser will later be relocated to the State Department where he will be the senior advisor to Undersecretary Of State for Arms Control John Bolton.(see September 2002). [Mother Jones, 1/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, F. Michael Maloof, Harold Rhode, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle

Soon after September 11, 2001

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

Shortly after September 11, 2001

       According to White House counterterrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, asks during a meeting, “Why we are [sic] beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden?” Clarke responds with an explaination that only al-Qaeda “poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” Wolfowitz then claims that Iraqi terrorism poses “at least as much” a danger. According to Clarke, FBI and CIA representatives who are present at the meeting agree that there is no evidence to support Wolfowitz's assertion. [Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard Clarke]
People and organizations involved: Richard Clarke, Paul Wolfowitz

2:40PM (EST), September 11, 2001

       About five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld learns that three of the names on the airplane passenger manifests are suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Notes taken by one of the aides, read: “[I want the] best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden]. ... Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” However, at this time, there is no intelligence indicating that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. [CBS News, 9/4/02; Bamford, 2004, p. 285 Sources: Notes taken by an aide of Rumsfeld on 9/11]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld  Additional Info 

September 12, 2001

       US President George Bush speaks privately with White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke in the White House Situation Room. According to Clarke, Bush tells him to investigate the possibility that Iraq had been involved in the attacks. “I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” Bush says. “See if Saddam did this.” When Clarke responds, “But Mr. President, Al-Qaeda did this,” Bush replies, “I know, I know, but... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred.” Clarke insists that the CIA, FBI and White House had already concluded that there were no such links. As he exits the room, Bush “testily” reiterates, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” [Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard Clarke] During a “60 Minutes” interview, Clarke will add that Bush's instructions were made in a way that were “very intimidating,” and which hinted that Clarke “should come back with that answer.” “Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.” [CBS News, 3/20/04; New York Times, 3/23/04] White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan will later dispute Clarke's account. Bush “doesn't have any recollection” of such a meeting or conversation, McClellan will say on March 22, 2004. “There's no record of the President being in the Situation Room on that day that ... you know, when the President is in the Situation Room, we keep track of that.” [Associated Press, 3/22/04] But 60 Minutes will later find two sources to confirm Clarke's account and [CBS News, 3/20/04] White House aides eventually concede that the meeting “probably” occurred. [New York Daily News, 3/27/04] After the meeting, Clarke collaborates with CIA and FBI experts producing a report which finds no evidence that Iraq had a hand in the attacks. But “it got bounced by the national-securty advisor, or deputy,” Clarke will explain. “ It got bounced and sent back, saying ‘Wrong answer .... Do it again.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Scott McClellan, George W. Bush, Richard Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley  Additional Info 

September 12, 2001

       White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke meets with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. During the briefing Rumsfeld suggests that the US should bomb Iraq in retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq,” Clarke will later recall in his book, Against All Enemies. “... We all said, ‘but no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan’ and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’ ” [Clarke, 2004.; Associated Press, 3/20/04; Reuters, 3/19/04; Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard Clarke] Secretary of State Powell agrees with Clarke that the immediate focus should be on al-Qaeda. However, Powell also says, “Public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible.” Clarke complains to him, “Having been attacked by al-Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.” President Bush notes the goal should be replacing the Iraqi government, not just bombing it, but the military warns an invasion would need a large force and many months to assemble. [Clarke, 2004.] Rumsfeld's view is said to be closely aligned with that of his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who believes Saddam, not Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, should be the principal target of the “war on terrorism.” [Woodward, Bob. Bush at War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Pg. 49] Commenting on his feelings after the meeting, Clarke will later write: “At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al-Qaeda. I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq. My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.” [Washington Post, 3/22/2004] Bush administration officials will contest the accusations Clarke—who was a registered Republican in 2000—makes in his book, dismissing them as politically motivated comments made during an election year. [Associated Press, 3/22/04] But another source had provided a similar account a year earlier. In his book, Bush at War, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward stated that during a White House meeting, Rumsfeld had suggested that the US should attack Iraq. (Note: It is not clear whether or not this meeting is the same one referred to by Clarke.) [Woodward, Bob. Bush at War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Pg. 49] Clarke also says in his book, referring to unspecified administration officials, “They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12.” [Clarke, Richard. Against All Enemies. Free Press, 2004.; Associated Press, 3/20/04; Reuters, 3/19/04 Sources: Richard Clarke]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush, Richard Clarke, Donald Rumsfeld  Additional Info 

September 12, 2001

       Seven members of Donald Rumsfeld's so-called neocon “brain trust,” meet at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany where they are picked up by an Air Force refueling plane which brings them back to Washington. During the flight they discuss the implications of the 911 attacks for US foreign policy. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234 Sources: William Luti, Douglas Feith] “[R]ight there on the plane, we took out our laptops and sketched out for Secretary Rumsfeld where we thought we had to go, what it meant to get things on a war footing,” William Luti will tell Vanity Fair magazine. “Obviously we had Afghanistan on our minds straightaway. That was our immediate concern. But we also thought we had to learn about the terrorist networks, how they connected to he states.” They arrive at Andrews Air Force base a few minutes after five in the afternoon. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 234]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Douglas Feith

September 13, 2001

       Two days after the September 11 attacks, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative think tank focused on maintaining and strengthening the US/Israeli military alliance, releases a press statement calling for regime change in Iraq. “In response to the attack on September 11, 2001 JINSA calls on the United States to: Halt all US purchases of Iraqi oil under the UN Oil for Food Program and to provide all necessary support to the Iraq [sic] National Congress, including direct American military support, to effect a regime change in Iraq,” the statement reads. [Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

September 14, 2001

       The CIA intelligence liaison in Prague is told by the Czech intelligence agency (BIS) that one of its informants in the local Prague Arab community believes the Hamburg “student” he had seen meeting with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani on April 8, 2001 in a restaurant outside of Prague was 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta. (see April 8, 2001) Czech intelligence treats the claim skeptically because it comes only after Atta's picture has been broadcast on television and after the Czech press reported that records showed Atta had traveled to Prague. FBI agents go to the Czech Republic and are given full access to Czech intelligence material. This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which holds that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. The theory will be widely discounted by October 2002. [Slate, 11/19/2003; New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani

September 15, 2001

       George W. Bush, CIA Director George Tenet, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Paul Wolfowitz, and perhaps other officials as well, meet at Camp David to discuss war plans in Afghanistan. The meeting reportedly begins at 9:30 AM with a prayer. [Washington Post, 1/31/02; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232] There is discission on a paper submitted by the Defense Department depicting Iraq, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda as priority targets. Paul Wolfowitz pushes for regime change in Iraq, claiming that there is a 10 to 50 percent chance that Iraq was involved in the attacks. [Woodward, Bob. Bush at War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Pg. 83; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232; Washington Post, 7/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert S. Mueller III, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul O?Neill, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell  Additional Info 

September 17, 2001

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

September 18, 2001

       Information about the alleged April 2001 meeting in Prague between 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani is leaked to the Associated Press, which reports, “A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States has received information from a foreign intelligence service that Mohamed Atta, a hijacker aboard one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, met earlier this year in Europe with an Iraqi intelligence agent.” [Slate, 11/19/2003; Associated Press, 9/18/01 Sources: Unnamed US official]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohammed Atta

On and around September 18, 2001

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

September 19, 2001-September 20, 2001

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

September 20, 2001

       A top Pentagon official—thought to be Douglas Feith—pens a top-secret memo fielding the idea that the US should consider initially attacking targets outside the Middle East, like Latin America, or “non-Al Qaeda” targets like Iraq. The memo suggests that striking such a target would catch al-Qaeda off-guard. [Sources: 9/11 Commission Report] The memo's recommendation is reportedly based on research by the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group , a two-man secret intelligence team operating under Feith's office that was set up to identify possible links between al-Qaeda and other groups, including states like Iraq. [Newsweek, 8/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, F. Michael Maloof

September 20, 2001

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. During dinner that night, also attended by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and British ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair tells Bush that he wants to concentrate on ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush replies, “I agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.” Blair says nothing to disagree. [BBC, 4/3/03; Observer, 4/4/04; Independent, 4/4/04; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238 Sources: Christopher Meyers]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, Christopher Meyers

September 20, 2001

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publicly publishes a letter to President Bush, advising him to conquer Iraq quickly. “Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.” According to PNAC, the US should demand that Iran and Syria cease all support of Hezbollah, and if they fail to do so, the US should “retaliate” against those two countries as well. PNAC also praises Israel as “America's staunchest ally against international terrorism.” [Project for the New American Century, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Project for the New American Century (PNAC)

After October 2001

       Rohan Gunaratna, a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, begins researching for his book, Inside al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. He examines several tens of thousands of documents acquired from al-Qaeda and Taliban sources. During the course of his investigation, he finds no evidence of an Iraqi-al-Qaeda link. In an op-ed piece printed in the International Herald Tribune on February 19, 2003, he writes: “In addition to listening to 240 tapes taken from al-Qaeda's central registry, I debriefed several al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees. I could find no evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The documentation and interviews indicated that al-Qaeda regarded Saddam, a secular leader, as an infidel.” [International Herald Tribune, 2/19/03 Sources: Rohan Gunaratna]
People and organizations involved: Rohan Gunaratna

Fall 2001

       The Italian intelligence agency, SISMI, provides the CIA with a report on a 1999 trip to Niger made by Wissam al-Zahawie (see February 1999), Iraq's former ambassador to the Vatican. The report suggests that the trip's mission was to discuss the future purchase of uranium oxide, known as “yellowcake.” According to sources later interviewed by New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the report is “dismissed as amateurish and unsubstantiated” by US intelligence. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie, Unnamed US intelligence sources]
People and organizations involved: Wissam al-Zahawie, SISMI

Fall 2001

       Joe T., an analyst for the CIA, gives a presentation in Room 6526 of the State Department's Office of Strategic Proliferation on his theory that a confiscated shipment of 7075-T6 aluminum tubes destined for Iraq (see July 2001) had been intended for use in a gas centrifuge program. Present at the meeting is Greg Theilmann, head of the nuclear proliferation monitoring division at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, who is not at all impressed with Joe T.'s argument. “I found the presentation to be unpersuasive,” Thielmann later explains to Vanity Fair. “He seemed far more a man on a mission than an objective analyst. He had something to sell.” Also in attendance is a scientist from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory who also disagrees with Joe T.'s conclusions. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 281]
People and organizations involved: Joe T., Greg Thielmann

Fall 2001 and after

       The momentum towards a policy of “regime change” in Iraq increases, independent of Bush's own decisions. “The issue got away from the president,” a senior official will later tell The Washington Post. “He wasn't controlling the tone or the direction” and was influenced by people who “painted him into a corner because Iraq was an albatross around their necks.” [Washington Post, 1/12/03 Sources: Unnamed senior official]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

October 4, 2001

       Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control testifies in Congress before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and the South Asia Committee on International Relations that Iraq “is still committed to developing weapons of mass destruction.” He states: “Iraq has become self-sufficient in biological weaponry; it possesses the strains, growth media and infrastructure necessary to build a biological arsenal. Iraq also retains stocks of chemical agent from the period of the Gulf War and is known to have all the elements of a workable nuclear weapon except the fissile material needed to fuel it. Iraq's authorized program for developing short-range missiles will also enable the building of longer-range missiles, and Iraq is showing an interest in cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, apparently to deliver chemical or biological payloads.” [US House of Representatives, 10/4/01; United Press International, 1/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Gary Milhollin

October 13, 2001

       Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan briefs Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington about the alleged trip 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta took to the Czech Republic in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). Kavan tells Powell that the BIS, the Czech intelligence service, has reason to believe that Mohamed Atta may have met near Prague with Iraqi Counsel Al-Ani. [New York Times, 10/20/01 Sources: Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Jan Kavan, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohammed Atta

October 16, 2001

       Referring to the claim that Atta met with Iraqi Counsel al-Ani on April 8, 2001 (see April 8, 2001), Stanislav Gross, the Czech interior minister, states, “I can only confirm one visit in the summer” and Petr Necas, chairman of the parliamentary defense committee, says, “I haven't seen any direct evidence that Mr. Atta met any Iraqi agent.” Citing a senior Czech Republic official, the New York Times will report on October 20 that “firm documentary evidence existed only that Mr. Atta had passed through the Prague airport from Germany to take a flight to Newark.” [New York Times, 10/20/01 Sources: Unnamed senior Czech Republic official] The rumors, which had first surfaced shortly after the attacks, were based on information from a Czech intelligence source inside Prague's Middle Eastern community. The source had told the BIS, the Czech Republic's intelligence service, that he had seen Atta meeting al-Ani in a restaurant outside of Prague on April 8 earlier that year.(see April 8, 2001) [CNN, 9/19/01; Newsweek, 4/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Stanislav Gross, Mohammed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Petr Necas

October 25, 2001

       Powell, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dismisses bin Laden's claims that al-Qaeda's fight is in solidarity with Iraqis and Palestinians. Powell argues: “We cannot let Osama bin Laden pretend that he is doing it in the name of helping the Iraqi people or the Palestinian people. He doesn't care one whit about them. He has never given a dollar toward them. He has never spoken out for them.” [US Department of State; Slate MSNBC, 2/11/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell

October 26, 2001

       Czech interior minister Stanislav Gross says during a press conference that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta had in fact met with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, the consul and second secretary of the Iraqi embassy, in the Czech Republic after arriving in Prague on April 8, 2001 (see April 8, 2001). “We can confirm now that during his ... trip to the Czech Republic, he did have a contact with an officer of the Iraqi intelligence,” he says. He also says that Atta had been in Prague at least twice—in May 2000 after coming to Prague from Germany on his way to the United States and then again in April when he allegedly met with Ahni. [New York Times, 10/27/01; CNN, 10/27/01] Also, by this time, the FBI claims it has physical evidence of Atta's trip to Prague. The New York Times reports, “On April 4 he was in Virginia Beach. He flew to the Czech Republic on April 8 and met with the Iraqi intelligence officer ... By April 11, Atta was back in Florida renting a car.” [New York Times, 10/27/01 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed US officials] But this will later be disputed. In late April 2002, Newsweek will report, “The FBI could find no visa or airline records showing he had left or re-entered the United States that month,” quoting an unnamed US official who says, “Neither we nor the Czechs nor anybody else has any information he was coming or going [to Prague] at that time.” [Newsweek, 4/28/02 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed US official] And in late 2003, Edward Jay Epstein will similarly report in Slate that there “were no car rental records in Virginia, Florida, or anywhere else in April 2001 for Mohamed Atta, since he had not yet obtained his Florida license ... [n]or were there other records in the hands of the FBI that put Atta in the United States at the time.” But Epstein will note that Atta would likely have traveled to Prague using false documents anyway. [Slate, 11/19/03]
People and organizations involved: Stanislav Gross, Mohammed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani  Additional Info 
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