The Center for Cooperative Research
U:     P:    
Not registered yet? Register here
 
Search
 
Current timeline only
Advanced Search


Main Menu
Home 
History Engine Sub-Menu
Timelines 
Entities 
Forum 
Miscellaneous Sub-Menu
Donate 
Links 
End of Main Menu

Volunteers Needed!
Submit a timeline entry
Donate: If you think this site is important, please help us out financially. We need your help!
Email updates
 



  View mode (info):
  Ordering (info):
  Time period (info):

Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence (80)
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs (99)
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions (19)
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda (23)
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq (18)

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (95)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
Click here to join: Suggest changes to existing data, add new data to the website, or compile your own timeline. More Info >>

 

Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

Export to XML Printer Friendly View Email to a Friend Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size


Showing 201-300 of 910 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

November 20, 2001

       The US Embassy in Niamey, Niger's capital, disseminates a cable summarizing a recent meeting between the US ambassador and the director general of Niger's French-led mining consortium. The director general reportedly explained that “there was no possibility” that the government of Niger could have diverted any of the 3,000 tons of uranium produced by the consortium's two mines. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
          

November 21, 2001

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

November 27, 2001

       At the request of President Bush (see November 21, 2001), Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld telephones Gen. Tommy Franks with instructions to work on war plans for Iraq. “General Franks, the president wants us to look at options for Iraq,” the general will later recall being told. In his memoirs, Franks will write: “ ‘Son of a bitch,’ I thought. ‘No rest for the weary.’ ” Franks will brief Bush on the progress of his work a month later (see December 28, 2001). [Salon, 5/19/05; Franks, 2004 Sources: Thomas Franks] Over the next few months, Bush will ask for and receive increasingly detailed briefings from Franks about the forces that would be needed if the US were to move against Iraq. The need to prepare for an invasion of Iraq, according to insiders interviewed by the Atlantic Monthly, hinders the US effort against bin Laden and the Taliban. [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Thomas Franks
          

(December 2001)

       An unnamed US envoy in Middle East, possibly W. Robert Pearson, the US ambassador to Turkey [Salon, 5/19/05] , tells Newsweek, “The question is not if the United States is going to hit Iraq; the question is when.” [Newsweek, 1/7/02 Sources: Unnamed US official]
          

December 2001

       US General Tommy Franks tells Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that US planes patrolling the Iraq “no-fly” zones should begin “spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity.” “We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction,” he later recalls telling the secretary. “As Phase I is completed, we could flow steadily for the next sixty days, while continuing spikes of activity to lend credence to our deception. During the sixty days we would increase kinetic strikes in the no-fly zones to weaken Iraq's integrated air defenses.” [Franks, 2004, pp 530; Raw Story, 6/30/2005 Sources: Thomas Franks]
People and organizations involved: Thomas Franks, Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 7, 2001

       Michael Ledeen, an avid admirer of Machiavelli, argues in a piece published by National Review Online that the US must be “imperious, ruthless, and relentless” against the Muslim world until there has been “total surrender.” Any attempt on the part of the US to be “reasonable” or “evenhanded” will only empower Islamic militants, he asserts. He writes: “We will not be sated until we have had the blood of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away, and every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle.” [National Review Online, 12/7/2001] The piece is republished in the Jewish World Review four days later. [Jewish World Review, 12/11/2001]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

December 9, 2001

       The Bush administration sends two defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to meet with Iranians in Rome in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism. The offer had been backchanneled by the Iranians to the White House through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader and a central person in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted another Iran-Contra figure, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen passed the information on to his friends in the Defense Department who then relayed the offer to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley expressed no reservations about the proposed meeting and informed George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. According to officials interviewed by the New York Times, the United States Embassy in Rome was not notified of the planned meeting as required by standard interagency procedures. Neither the US embassy nor CIA station chief in Rome learns of the three-day meeting until after it happens (see December 12, 2001). When they do catch wind of the meeting, they notify CIA and State Department headquarters in Washington which complain to the administration about how the meetings were arranged. [Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/03; Newsday, 8/9/03] In addition to Ghorbanifar, Ledeen, Franklin, and Rhode, the meeting is attended by Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, and Antonio Martino, Italy's minister of defense. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004] According to the Boston Globe, either at this meeting, a similar one in June (see June 2002), or both, Ledeen and Ghorbanifar discuss ways to destabilize the Iranian government, possibly using the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, a US-designated terrorist group, as a US proxy. [Boston Globe, 8/31/2004] Additionally, according to an unnamed SISMI source, Pollari speaks with Ledeen about intelligence his agency has collected (see October 15, 2001) suggesting that Iraq made a deal with Niger to purchase several tons of uranium. SISMI already sent a report to Washington on the matter in mid-October (see October 15, 2001). Reportedly, Pollari has also approached CIA Station Chief Jeff Castelli about the report, but Castelli has since indicated he is not interested in the information. [La Repubblica, 10/25/2005]
People and organizations involved: Antonio Martino, Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Nicolo Pollari, George Tenet, Harold Rhode, Stephen Hadley
          

December 10, 2001

       US Congressmen write a letter to President Bush urging him to take military action against Iraq. Among those who sign the letter are Jesse Helms (R), Joseph Lieberman (D), John McCain (D), Henry Hyde (R), and Trent Lott (R). The letter states, “As we work to clean up Afghanistan, it is imperative that we plan to eliminate the threat from Iraq. This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. ... Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War levels. We believe we must directly confront Saddam, sooner rather than later.” [US Department of State, 12/5/01; Scripps Howard News Service, 12/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Henry Hyde, Trent Lott, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Jesse Helms
          

December 11, 2001

       The House International Relations Committee drafts House Joint Resolution 75, which states that if Iraq refuses to allow UN inspectors to investigate freely in Iraq, the refusal will constitute an “act of aggression against the United States.” The bill is sponsored by Representatives Lindsey Graham (R), Porter Goss (R), and Henry Hyde (R). A different version of this resolution is passed by the House on December 20 (see December 20, 2001). [H.J Res 75; World Net Daily, 12/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Henry Hyde, Porter J. Goss, Lindsey Graham
          

December 12, 2001

       The newly-installed US ambassador to Italy, Mel Sembler, learns during the course of a private dinner with Iran-Contra figure Michael Ledeen and Italian defense minister Antonio Martino about a secret backchannel meeting that took place three days before (see December 2001) involving US defense officials, former Iran-Contra figures, and Iranian government officials. After the dinner, Sembler immediately contacts the CIA station chief in Rome to find out if he knows about the meeting. But the station chief says he does not know anything either. “Soon both Sembler and the Rome station chief were sending anxious queries back to the State Department and CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., respectively, raising alarms on both sides of the Potomac” since all US government contact with foreign government intelligence agencies is supposed to be overseen by the CIA. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004 Sources: Unnamed US Government sources]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen, Mel Sembler, Antonio Martino
          

December 17, 2001

       After fleeing Iraq, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, 43, defects to the US. Before he is debriefed by the CIA, he spends several days in a Bangkok hotel room being coached by Zaab Sethna, the spokesman of the Iraqi National Congress, on what he should tell his debriefer. On December 17, he meets with a CIA official who questions him. Strapped to a polygraph machine [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005] , al-Haideri proceeds to tell the agent he is a civil engineer who helped hide Iraq's illicit weapons in subterranean wells, private villas, and even beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital. After reviewing the polygraph, which was requested by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the intelligence debriefer concludes that Haideri made the entire story up. [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, Zaab Sethna, Defense Intelligence Agency
          

December 17, 2001

       Czech Police Chief Jiri Kolar says that there is no evidence that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta met an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague in April (see April 8, 2001). He also says—contradicting earlier reports—that there is no documentary evidence that Atta traveled to Prague at all in 2001. Additionally, an unnamed Czech intelligence official tells the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes, that that the person who had met with al-Ani on April 2001 near Prague was not Atta. Another person with the same name had arrived in Prague in 2001 but he “didn't have the same identity card number.” Furthermore, “There was a great difference in their ages, their nationalities didn't match, basically nothing—it was someone else,” the source says. It is also reported that a man named Hassan, described as a businessman and a long-time member of Prague's Arab community, claims to have been a close friend of al-Ani. Hassan says that he believes the Czechs had mistaken another man for Atta, a used car dealer from Nuremberg by the name of Saleh, who often visited Prague to meet al-Ani and and who sold him at least one car. “I have sat with the two of them at least twice. The double is an Iraqi who has met with the consul. If someone saw a photo of Atta he might easily mistake the two,” Hassan says. [Associated Press, 12/16/01; Telegraph, 12/18/01; New York Times, 12/16/01 Sources: Unnamed Czech intelligence officials, Jiri Kolar, Hassan, Unnamed Interior Ministry official] Responding to the report, Gabriela Bartikova, spokeswoman for the Czech Minister of Interior, says that the Czech intelligence agency still believes that Mohammed Atta and al-Ani, the consul and second secretary of the Iraqi embassy met in April 2001. She says, “Minister Gross had the information from BIS (the Czech Republic's Intelligence Agency), and BIS guarantees the information. So we stick by that information.” At about the same time, US officials tell the Associated Press they also still believe the meeting had transpired. [Associated Press, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Stanislav Gross, Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
          

December 20, 2001

       Zaab Sethna of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) arranges Iraqi defector Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri to be interviewed by Judith Miller of the New York Times. Miller, who has known Chalabi for about eight years (see May 1, 2003), immediately flies out to Bangkok for the interview. Her story is published on December 20, just three days after Haideri told his story to a CIA agent who subjected him to a polygraph and determined Haideri's story was a complete fabrication (see December 17, 2001). Miller's front-page article, titled “An Iraqi defector tells of work on at least 20 hidden weapons sites,” reports: “An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer, said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago.” If verified, Miller notes, “his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so.” Sethna also contacts freelance journalist Paul Moran. Moran is a former employee of the INC and has been employed for years by the Rendon Group, a firm specializing in “perception management.” Moran's on-camera interview with Haideri is broadcasted worldwide by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005; New York Times, 12/20/01; New York Review of Books 2/26/04; SBS Dateline, 7/23/2003]
People and organizations involved: Zaab Sethna, Ahmed Chalabi, Judith Miller, Paul Moran, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri
          

December 20, 2001

       House Joint Resolution 75 is passed by the House and sent to the Senate where it is referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. It is not as strongly worded as the initial draft (see December 11, 2001), which included a provision stating that the refusal to admit inspectors would constitute an “act of aggression against the United States.” The final version instead reads: “Iraq's refusal to allow United Nations weapons inspectors immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to facilities and documents covered by United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 and other relevant resolutions presents a mounting threat to the United States, its friends and allies, and international peace and security.” The bill is sponsored by Representatives Lindsey Graham (R), Porter Goss (R) and Henry Hyde (R). [H.J Res 75] This bill will die in the Senate. The congressional bill that conditionally authorizes Bush to take military action against Iraq is not passed until October 11, 2002 (see October 8 and 11, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Porter J. Goss, Henry Hyde, Lindsey Graham
          

December 28, 2001

       General Tommy Franks, the head of US Central Command, visits Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas and briefs him on the progress of his Iraq war plan. Bush requested an updated plan from the Defense Department on November 21 (see November 21, 2001). [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Thomas Franks
          

Late 2001

       Energy Department analysts publish a classified report disputing the theory that the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were intended to be used as rotors in a “Zippe-type” gas centrifuge. The report emphasizes that Zippe centrifuges are not suited for the production of nuclear bombs but rather had been designed for use in laboratory experiment. The Energy Department's experts also say that Iraq would need up to 16,000 of such centrifuges working in concert to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, which they note would be a challenge for even the most advanced centrifuge plants. [New York Times, 10/3/04]
          

Late 2001

       A small group of CIA agents, among them Joe T., flies to Canberra, Australia and meets with Australian intelligence officers from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Defense Intelligence Organization (DIO) and the Office of National Assessments (ONA) at ASIO headquarters. The team of CIA officers presents what is later described as a compelling case that the aluminum tubes, which in July had been intercepted by the US in Jordan on their way to Iraq (see July 2001), had been intended for use as rotors in a gas centrifuge program. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]
          

Late 2001-May 2002

       Jordanian Muslim militant Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi flees Afghanistan and heads to Iran where he continues to run his Islamic militant organization, al-Tawhid, using telephones and a network of couriers to maintain contact with his operatives in Europe. Al Zarqawi's organization establishes another poison and explosive training center camp in northeastern Iraq in an area controlled by Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group opposed to Saddam Hussein. In May 2002, Zarqawi goes to Baghdad and has an amputation performed on his leg, which had been injured when he was fleeing US forces in Afghanistan. According to the Bush administration, Al Zarqawi stays in Baghdad for two months, during which time some two dozen “al-Qaeda affiliates” establish a base of operations in the city. The group presumably “coordinate[s] the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network.” Then Zarqawi reportedly travels to the Ansar al-Islam-controlled region in Northern Iraq, before eventually returning to Iran. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 1/28/03; Independent, 2/6/03] In an effort to justify military action against Iraq, the Bush administration will later claim that Saddam Hussein is aware of Al Zarqawi's presence in Baghdad and therefore is guilty of knowingly harboring a terrorist (see September 26, 2002). The administration will also allege—falsely—that Al Zarqawi is a senior al-Qaeda agent and that his visit is evidence that Saddam's regime has ties to Osama bin Laden. [Guardian, 10/9/02; Independent, 2/6/03; Newsweek, 6/25/03 Sources: Shadi Abdallah] But the administration never offers any conclusive evidence to support this allegation. The claim is disputed by intelligence analysts in both Washington and London. [Telegraph, 2/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden  Additional Info 
          

2002

       An unnamed senior CIA operative will later allege in a lawsuit that in 2002, his superiors instructed him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction because it was “contrary” to “official CIA dogma” and “the politically mandated conclusion.” When the operative refuses to change his reporting, the “management” of the CIA's Counterproliferation Division orders that he “remove himself from any further ‘handling’” of the unnamed asset, who the CIA regards as “a highly respected human asset.” The operative will also allege that CIA managers retaliated in response to his refusal to obey their orders. [Washington Post, 12/9/2004, pp A02 Sources: US District Court for District of Columbia, 12/6/2004]
          

2002-March 2003

       An unnamed CIA case officer with the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) later says: “I was working from the headquarters end in our Iraqi operations. In talking to the specialists, people who had worked on Iraqi issues or Iraq WMD for years, they said to me, ‘I always knew we didn't have anything.’ This was before the war. But I mean, it was sort of horrific to me. ... I talked to analysts and I talked to WMD experts, and I said, ‘Okay, is there a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq?’ ‘No, there's not a link.’ ‘Do we have evidence of all this WMD we're talking about?’ ‘No, we don't have it.’ And then it was like a snowball, and all of a sudden we were at war. Everybody that I was talking to who did know about the issues were saying we didn't have anything. And of course nobody's speaking up. Who can they speak up to? There's no forum for someone who's involved in operations to talk to anyone and say, ‘We don't have any Iraqi assets, we don't have information on WMD, we don't have anything there.’ But yet we all kind of knew it. ... I understand that it [CIA] serves the President and the administration, but my thought is that it should serve the President and the administration in providing intelligence. And what has happened is that it serves the agenda—or at least for the Bush administration it's serving the agenda of this administration, which is not what the CIA is supposed to do.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 336-337]
          

(2002)

       Vice President Dick Cheney asks that his daily intelligence briefer from the CIA be replaced. An unnamed former CIA official later explains to Vanity Fair magazine: “One briefer annoyed Cheney and he asked that she be replaced. He asked for a new briefer. That sent a chill through the whole process. It sent out the message to the analysts, ‘Be careful with some of this stuff. Be careful what you say.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 242-44 Sources: Unnamed former CIA official]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

2002-early 2003

       Vice President Dick Cheney, sometimes accompanied by his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, visits the offices of US intelligence analysts working at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia “approximately 10” times. He drills them on their intelligence work on Iraq. Some analysts later complain that Cheney's visits made them feel pressured to provide the administration with conclusions that supported the case for war. Other analysts will say they did not feel pressured. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 6/5/03; Bamford, 2004, pp 336; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 242; Washington Post, 6/5/03] According to Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran CIA analyst, these visits were “unprecendented.” [McGovern, 7/23/2003] Newt Gingrich also makes visits to CIA headquarters in Langley. [Guardian, 7/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Newt Gingrich, Richard ("Dick") Cheney  Additional Info 
          

January 2002

       The US State Department asks the government of Brazil to remove Jose Bustani from his position as director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), because the US is uncomfortable with his “management style” and his plan to convince Iraq to join the OPCW (see Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001). Brazil refuses. George Monbiot of the Guardian will note that the request is in violation of the chemical weapons convention, which states: “The director-general ... shall not seek or receive instructions from any government.” [Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, Bush administration
          

(2002-2003)

       An unnamed CIA case officer with the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) will later say with regard to Iraq's alleged arsenal of WMD: “Where I was working, I never saw anything—no one else there did either.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 333]
          

2002 and after

       Diplomats working in Britain's Foreign Office are aware that US and British statements concerning Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction are “totally implausible.” Carne Ross, a key Foreign Office diplomat, tells the Guardian in mid-2005: “I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too.” [Guardian, 6/20/05]
People and organizations involved: British Foreign Office, Carne Ross
          

2002 and after

       Diplomats working in Britain's Foreign Office are aware that US and British statements concerning Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction are “totally implausible.” Carne Ross, a key Foreign Office diplomat, tells the Guardian in mid-2005: “I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too.” [Guardian, 6/20/05]
People and organizations involved: Carne Ross, British Foreign Office
          

January 2002

       A CIA report on global weapons technology proliferation fails to mention Iraq as a nuclear threat. The report only says, “We believe that Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D [research and development] associated with its nuclear program.” [New Republic, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

2002-2003

       In the lead-up to the war, top Bush administration officials make strong statements asserting that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. The administration claims that it has incontrovertible evidence, though no such evidence is disclosed to the public—neither before nor after the invasion. [CBC News, 12/5/02; AP, 12/5/03; CNN, 2/5/03; Newsmax 9/8/02; Associated Press 9/8/02; UPI 9/3/02; Associated Press 9/3/02; Centcom, 9/3/02; AP, 1/7/03b; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 7/17/03; Village Voice, 6/18/03; Guardian 8/22/02; Telegraph 8/21/02; Fox News, 8/20/03; US President, 3/17/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03; White House, 1/9/03; White House, 3/21/03; White House, 10/7/02; US Department of State, 2/5/03; Sunday Herald, 7/13/03; Chicago Tribune 2/7/02; US Vice President 8/26/02; PBS, 9/12/02; The Age (Australia), 6/7/03; White House, 9/12/02]
 Additional Info 
          

Early January 2002

       Harold Rhode, a specialist on Islam who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi, moves into the Pentagon Office of Net Assessment, “an in-house Pentagon think tank” run by Andrew Marshall. Rhode, along with Douglas Feith, whose appointment to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is not approved until July, imposes a new anti-Iraq and anti-Arab orientation on the department. The two men purge the department of career Defense officials whose worldviews are not considered sufficiently compatible with the neoconservative perspective. An intelligence analyst will tell reporter Robert Dreyfuss that Rhode appeared to be “pulling people out of nooks and crannies of the Defense Intelligence Agency and other places to replace us with.” The source adds: “They wanted nothing to do with the professional staff. And they wanted us the f_ck out of there.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Andrew Marshall
          

Early 2002

       DIA reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney takes over the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Chris Carney
          

Early 2002

       Bruce Hardcastle, the Defense Intelligence Agency officer assigned to Bill Luti, provides Luti's office with intelligence briefings. But his reports are not appreciated by Luti or his colleagues, because they do not support neoconservatives' assumptions about Iraq's weapon capabilities and terrorist activities. [Salon, 3/10/04 Sources: Paul O'Neill]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Bruce Hardcastle
          

2002-2003

       Noted experts, analysts and commentators, as well as current and former US and foreign government officials, say that control over Iraq's oil would benefit the United States. A pro-American government in Iraq would provide the US with stable access to its northern and southern oil fields, provide US oil companies with favorable access to oil production sharing agreements and other oil industry-related contracts, allow the US to undermine OPEC's influence in the oil market, and ensure that Iraq's oil is traded in US dollars.
 Additional Info 
          

2002-2004

       Critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy say that its plans for war are motivated by reasons other than those being cited by the White House.
 Additional Info 
          

2002-2003

       The Bush administration develops plans for post-war Iraq. But the process is plagued with infighting between a small, highly secretive group of planners in the Pentagon and experts at the CIA and State Department who are involved with the “Future of Iraq Project” (see April 2002-March 2003). The two opposing groups disagree on a wide range of topics, but it is the Pentagon group which exerts the strongest influence on the White House's plans (see Fall 2002) for administering post-Saddam Iraq. One State Department official complains to The Washington Post in October 2002 “that the Pentagon is seeking to dominate every aspect of Iraq's postwar reconstruction.” The group of Pentagon planners includes several noted neoconservatives who work in, or in association with, the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see September 2002) and the Near East/South Asia bureau. The planners have close ties to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), two think tanks with a shared vision of reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East in favor of US and Israeli interests. The Pentagon planning group “had a visionary strategy that it hoped would transform Iraq into an ally of Israel, remove a potential threat to the Persian Gulf oil trade and encircle Iran with US friends and allies,” Knight Ridder Newspapers will later observe. The group's objectives put it at odds with planners at the CIA and State Department whose approach and objectives are much more prudent. The Pentagon unit works independently of the CIA and State Department and pays little attention to the work of those two agencies. Critics complain that the group is working in virtual secrecy and evading the scrutiny and oversight of others involved in the post-war planning process by confining their inter-agency communications to discussions with their neoconservative colleagues working in other parts of the government. The Pentagon planners even have a direct line to the office of Dick Cheney where their fellow neoconservative, Lewis Libby, is working. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; Washington Post, 4/2/03; Associated Press, 11/12/02] In the fall of 2002, the various groups involved in planning for post-war Iraq send their recommendations to the White House's Executive Steering Committee, which reviews their work and then passes on its own recommendations to the cabinet heads (see Fall 2002). According to a July 2003 report by Knight Ridder Newspapers, the ultimate responsibility for deciding the administration's post-war transition plans lay with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
The Office of Special Plans -

The civilian planners at the Pentagon believe that the UN should exert no influence over the structure, make-up, or policy of the interim Iraqi post-Saddam government. They seek to limit the UN's role to humanitarian and reconstruction projects, and possibly security. The State Department, however, believes that the US will not be able to do it alone and that UN participation in post-Saddam Iraq will be essential. [Observer, 4/6/03; Los Angeles Times, 4/2/03]

The Pentagon group wants to install Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), as leader of post-Saddam Iraq. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03; American Prospect, 5/1/03 Sources: Richard Perle]
The group thinks that the Iraqis will welcome Chalabi, who claims he has a secret network inside and outside the Ba'ath government which will quickly fill in the power vacuum to restore order to the country. Chalabi is a notorious figure who is considered untrustworthy by the State Department and CIA and who has a history of financial misdealings. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03] But the Pentagon is said to be enamored with Chalabi “because he [advocates] normal diplomatic relations with Israel” which they believe will “‘ [take] off the board’ one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security.” Another geopolitical benefit to installing Chalabi is that he can help the US contain “the influence of Iran's radical Islamic leaders in the region, because he would ... [provide] bases in Iraq for US troops,” which would “complete Iran's encirclement by American military forces around the Persian Gulf and US friends in Russia and Central Asia.” [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, with close ties to the Pentagon's planning group, tells Robert Dreyfuss of American Prospect Magazine that the State Department's perception of Chalabi is wrong. “The [Defense Department] is running post-Saddam Iraq,” said Pletka, almost shouting. “The people at the State Department don't know what they are talking about! Who the hell are they? ... the simple fact is, the president is comfortable with people who are comfortable with the INC.” [American Prospect, 5/1/03]
The Pentagon's planning unit believes that the Iraqis will welcome US troops as liberators and that any militant resistance will be short-lived. They do not develop a contingency plan for persistent civil unrest. [Knight Ridder, 7/12/03]
However the State Department's “Future of Iraq” planning project is more prudent, noting that Iraqis will likely be weary of US designs on their country. [New York Times, 10/19/03]
The Pentagon planners believe that Iraq's oil reserves—estimated to contain some 112 billion barrels of oil—should be used to help fund the reconstruction of Iraq. They also advocate a plan that would give the US more control over Iraq's oil. “[The Pentagon] hawks have long argued that US control of Iraq's oil would help deliver a second objective,” reports the Observer. “That is the destruction of OPEC, the oil producers' cartel, which they argue is ‘evil’—that is, incompatible with American interests.” The State Department, however, believes such aggressive policies will surely infuriate Iraqis and give credence to suspicions that the invasion is motivated by oil interests. One critic of the plan says “that only a puppet Iraqi government would acquiesce to US supervision of the oil fields and that one so slavish to US interests risks becoming untenable with Iraqis.” [Insight, 12/28/02; Observer, 11/3/02]

People and organizations involved: American Enterprise Institute, Project for the New American Century, Ahmed Chalabi, Donald Rumsfeld, Danielle Pletka, Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

Early 2002

       Most of Task Force 5's members are called home from Afghanistan to prepare for operations in Iraq. In early 2002, there were roughly 150 Task Force 5 commandos in Afghanistan. After the massive transfer, Task Force 5's numbers dip to as low as 30 men. Task Force 5 is a top-secret elite group that includes CIA paramilitary units and military “special mission units,” or SMUs. One of the SMUs is the former Delta Force. The name of the other unit, which specializes in human and technical intelligence operations, is not known. “These elite forces, along with the battlefield intelligence technology of Predator and Global Hawk drone aircraft, were the scarcest tools of the hunt for jihadists along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border,” the Washington Post notes in June 2004. According to Flynt Leverett, a career CIA analyst assigned to the State Deparmtent, “There is a direct consequence for us having taken these guys out prematurely. There were people on the staff level raising questions about what that meant for getting al-Qaeda, for creating an Afghan security and intelligence service [to help combat jihadists]. Those questions didn't get above staff level, because clearly there had been a strategic decision taken.” [Washington Post, 6/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Flynt Leverett
          

2002

       The CIA clandestine service's European division chief meets with a German intelligence officer to discuss intelligence that has been provided by an Iraqi source known as “Curveball” Curveball alleges that Iraq previously had mobile biological weapons labs. But according to the German, it is not clear “whether Curveball was actually telling the truth.” [Washington Post, 5/21/2005] Vincent Cannistraro, a former counter-terrorism specialist, will tell the New Yorker in 2004 that the CIA believes the person who set Curveball up with the Germans was Aras Habib, the INC intelligence chief later accused of providing US intelligence to Iran. “The CIA is positive of it,” he says. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Aras Habib
          

January 2002

       Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz orders the CIA to conduct an investigation of Hans Blix, chairman of the new UN weapons inspection team (UNMOVIC) that will go to Iraq if Saddam Hussein agrees to re-admit the weapons inspectors. Wolfowitz feels that past investigations of Saddam's declared nuclear power plants under the authority of Hans Blix were not sufficiently aggressive. The CIA reports back in late January that Blix conducted his past investigations “fully within the parameters he could operate” as chief of the agency. There are two opposing accounts of how Wolfowitz responds to the report's conclusion. According to an anonymous former State Department official, Wolfowitz “hit the ceiling” upon learning the results because it did not provide a pretext for undermining Blix and UNMOVIC. However an administration official disputes this, claiming that he “did not angrily respond.” [Independent 5/10/02; Guardian 4/23/02; The Washington Post 4/15/02 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Unnamed former State Department official] The Washington Post notes, “[T]he request for a CIA investigation underscored the degree of concern by Wolfowitz and his civilian colleagues in the Pentagon that new inspections—or protracted negotiations over them—could torpedo their plans for military action to remove Hussein from power” and ultimately lead to the suspension of sanctions. [The Washington Post 4/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, Paul Wolfowitz
          

Early 2002, probably May or later

       Czech president Vaclav Havel informs Washington that there is no evidence to substantiate claims that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi diplomat Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). The information is relayed to the White House quietly to avoid embarrassing top Czech officials—presumably Interior Minister Stanislav Gross -who had publicly stated on more than one occasion that there was no evidence to suggest that the meeting did not take place. The New York Times will report in October 2002: “Mr. Havel ... moved carefully behind the scenes in the months after the reports of the Prague meeting came to light to try to determine what really happened, officials said. He asked trusted advisers to investigate, and they quietly went through back channels to talk with Czech intelligence officers to get to the bottom of the story. The intelligence officers told them there was no evidence of a meeting.” The New York Times also reports that analysts in the Czech intelligence service were furious that the Prime Minister stovepiped the information straight to Washington, before they had the opportunity to investigate further. [United Press International, 10/20/03; New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed CIA and FBI officials]
People and organizations involved: Vaclav Havel, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohamed Atta, Stanislav Gross  Additional Info 
          

2002-2003

       In explaining the Bush administration's policy on Iraq, top US officials waver between “disarmament” and “regime change.”
 Additional Info 
          

Early 2002

       Unnamed US intelligence officials tell the New York Times that the CIA has no evidence that Saddam Hussein's government has participated in any militant operations against the United States in nearly a decade. The agency also believes that Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to al-Qaeda or other militant Islamic organizations. [New York Times, 2/6/02 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

January 13, 2002

       US and British warplanes strike at least five targets in southern Iraq. The strikes—described by the Washington Post as the “heaviest ... in at least a year” —target an air defense command site at Tallil, 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, and four repeater stations in southeastern Iraq. According to Iraqi sources, civilian targets in the southern city of Basra are also hit. The Iraqis say that six people are injured as a result of the attacks. [Washington Post, 1/15/2003]
          

January 16, 2002

       CIA Director George Tenet informs Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a meeting in Sharm el Sheikh that the Bush administration has already decided to attack Iraq and asks Mubarak not to publicly express Egypt's opposition to the planned invasion. The Egyptian president warns that such an attack could destabilize the entire Middle East. [Ha'aretz, 2/17/02 Sources: Unnamed source interviewed by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal]
People and organizations involved: Hosni Mubarak, Letter from CIA Director George Tenet to Bob Graham
          

January 29, 2002

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

January 30, 2002

       The CIA sends Congress an unclassified report stating, “Baghdad may be attempting to acquire materials that could aid in reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 30, 2002

       Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice's chief deputy on the National Security Council, instructs former Iran-Contra figure Michael Ledeen and officials in Douglas Feith's office to cease their dealings (see December 2001) with Manucher Ghorbanifar. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Manucher Ghorbanifar, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Stephen Hadley
          

February 2002

       In an interview with the Guardian of London, Ahmed Chalabi describes his plan to overthrow the Iraqi government. “The United States will help us to train and equip light anti-tank battalions, well-trained, and highly mobile. Those people, once on the ground, will be able to defeat Saddam's forces.” Just 11 weeks of training would be adequate to train the Iraqi National Congress' forces to defeat Iraq's army of 400,000, he insists. “Chalabi gave a theoretical example: a rebel incursion across the Kuwaiti border to capture a frontier town. The rebel force would be protected from counter-attack by US air power, and within days the key southern city of Basra would fall as its garrison mutinied.” According to Chalabi, Saddam would quickly lose his grip on the country. “Once that happens, our problem will not be finding people—our problem will be absorbing people,” Chalabi claims. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

February 2002

       Vice President Dick Cheney prepares for a March trip to the Middle East. According to public statements by the Bush administration, Cheney will be conferring with Arab leaders on US Iraq policy. However, a senior Bush administration official tells the Philadelphia Inquirer: “He's not going to beg for support. He's going to inform them that the president's decision has been made and will be carried out, and if they want some input into how and when it's carried out, now's the time for them to speak up.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/13/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

February 2002

       The Defense Intelligence Agency issues a four-page Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary (DITSUM No. 044-02) stating that it is probable that prisoner Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi intentionally misled debriefers when he claimed Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda in working with illicit weapons. During interviews with al-Libi, the DIA noted the Libyan al-Qaeda operative could not name any Iraqis involved, any chemical or biological material used, or where the alleged training took place. “It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers,” the report says. “Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.” Information supplied by al-Libi will be the basis for a claim included in an October 2002 speech (see October 7, 2002) by Bush, in which the president states, “[W]e've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.” Intelligence provided by al-Libi will also be included in Colin Powell's February speech (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) to the UN. In that speech, Powell will cite “the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to al-Qaeda.” On the general subject of Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda, the DIA report notes: “Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.” The report also questions the reliability of information provided by high-value al-Qaeda detainees being held in secret CIA facilities or who have been “rendered” to foreign countries where they are believed to undergo harsh interrogation tactics. The DIA report is presumably circulated widely within the government, and is available to the CIA, the White House, the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and other agencies. [New York Times, 11/6/2005; Washington Post, 11/6/2005, pp A22; Newsweek, 11/10/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, Defense Intelligence Agency
          

February 5, 2002

       The CIA Directorate of Operations (DO) issues a second intelligence report from SISMI, Italy's military intelligence service. This report provides additional details on the alleged agreement described in the October 15 report (see October 18, 2001), which reported that Iraq had struck a deal with Niger on the purchase of several tons of uranium. A later Senate Intelligence investigation will report that this report from SISMI includes a “verbatim text” of the accord, but the Senate Intelligence report does not say precisely which of the orginal documents the “verbatim text” is a trascription of. The purported agreement, signed by Iraqi and Niger officials during meetings held July 5-6, 2000, reportedly stated that Niger would sell Iraq 500 tons of uranium per year. [Knight Ridder, 11/4/2005 Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] The SISMI report also draws attention to a 1999 trip to Niger made by Wissam al-Zahawie (see February 1999), Iraq's former ambassador to the Vatican, and alleges that its mission was to discuss the future purchase of uranium. This is the first report from SISMI that names al-Zahawie and refers directly to his 1999 trip. (SISMI's previous report had only stated that negotiations had begun by at least 1999.) This report, as well as the previous report, are likely based on two documents, one of which is definately a forgery (see October 18, 2001). [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 11/3/2005; New Yorker, 10/20/2003 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie, Unnamed US intelligence sources, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Analysts at the CIA and the DIA are more impressed with the detail and substance of this second report, but analysts at the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) remain skeptical of the report's allegations noting that it was unlikely that Niger would sell uranium to Iraq because the Nigeriens would have considered the risk of being caught too great. An INR analyst asks the CIA if the source of the report would submit to a polygraph. A CIA analyst who also asks about the source is told by the DO that the source is “very credible.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Bureau of Intelligence and Research
          

February 6, 2002

       George Tenet tells the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “Our major near-term concern is the possibility that Saddam might gain access to fissile material, . . . [and] with substantial foreign assistance, [Iraq] could flight-test a longer-range ballistic missile within the next five years.” [Chicago Tribune 2/7/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

February 6, 2002

       The New York Times reports, “[S]enior American intelligence officials have concluded that the meeting between Mr. Atta and the Iraqi officer, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, did take place. But they say they do not believe that the meeting provides enough evidence to tie Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks.” A month and a half earlier, the same newspaper had reported that sources in the Czech Republic thought that it had been a different “Mohammed Atta” who had met al-Ani (see December 17, 2001). [New York Times, 12/16/01; CNN, 11/09/01 Sources: Unnamed Senior US intelligence officials]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohamed Atta
          

February 8, 2002-February 10, 2002

       In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 48 percent of the respondents believe that Iraq has “weapons that threaten US.” [USA Today, 2/11/02]
          

February 11, 2002

       Former CIA Director James Woolsey telephones Deputy Asistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells to arrange a meeting between Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts and Mohammad Harith, an Iraqi defector being supplied by the Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] After the phone call, Wells issues an “executive referral,” requesting that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) introduce Harith to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). [Reuters, 2/18/04; Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] Later in the day, two DIA officers meet with Ahmed Chalabi to arrange an interview with Harith. In an email to Knight Ridder Newspapers, Wells will later recall, “I discussed the issue of an individual with information on Iraq weapons of mass destruction with intelligence community members. They said they would follow up. I never met with any member of the INC.” [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Linton Wells, Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress, James Woolsey
          

Between February 12, 2002 and March 31, 2002

       After several meetings with Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002) —an Iraqi defector provided by the Iraqi National Congress—a Defense Intelligence Agency debriefer determines that the defector's information on Iraq's presumed arsenal of banned weapons seems “accurate, but much of it [apears] embellished.” Defense Intelligence Agency analysts also determine that the defected Iraqi has been “coached by the Iraqi National Congress.” Harith claimed that he was a major in an Iraqi intelligence unit charged with concealing illicit weapons and that Iraq has developed mobile biological weapons labs. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress
          

February 12, 2002

       A Bush administration official tells Knight Ridder: “This is not an argument about whether to get rid of Saddam Hussein. That debate is over. This is ... how you do it.” [Knight Ridder, 2/13/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official]
          

February 12, 2002

       Secretary of State Colin Powell tells the Senate Budget Committee: “With respect to Iraq, it's long been, for several years now, a policy of the United States' government that regime change would be in the best interest of the region, the best interest of the Iraqi people. And we're looking at a variety of options that would bring that about.” [CNN, 2/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

(February 12, 2002)

       In response to questions from Vice President Dick Cheney (see (February 12, 2002)), CIA operative Valerie Plame and officials from the CIA's DO Counterproliferation Division (CPD) meet to discuss what the agency should do to determine the validity of recent Italian intelligence reports (see October 15, 2001) (see February 5, 2002) alleging that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger. During the meeting, Plame suggests sending her husband, Joseph Wilson, an Africa expert and former US diplomat, to Niger to investigate the reports. In a memo to the deputy chief of the CPD, Plame says, “[M]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, Counterproliferation Division, Valerie Plame
          

(February 12, 2002)

       Vice President Dick Cheney's morning intelligence briefer provides Cheney with a Defense Intelligence Agency report on a recent report sent to Washington by the Italians suggesting that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Niger. Cheney asks about the implications of the report [New Yorker, 10/20/03; Time Magazine, 7/21/03 Sources: Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Cathie Martin, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] and is reportedly dissatisfied with the initial response. He asks the agency to take another look (see Shortly after February 12, 2002). [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Former high-level CIA official]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

February 12, 2002

       The Defense Intelligence Agency issues a report summarizing the February 5, 2002 SISMI report (see February 5, 2002) that suggested that Iraq had struck an agreement with Niger to purchase 500 tons of uranium per year. The report, titled “Niamey signed an agreement to sell 500 tons of uranium a year to Baghdad,” concludes that “Iraq probably is searching abroad for natural uranium to assist in its nuclear weapons program.” It fails to mention the concerns shared by some US intelligence analysts about the credibility of the source. The report is included in a morning briefing to Vice President Dick Cheney (see (February 12, 2002)). [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

February 13, 2002

       The CIA's DO Counterproliferation Division (CPD) sends a cable to an unnamed government office or official (the identity of which is redacted in the source document) requesting approval to send former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate Italian intelligence reports that Iraq has attempted to purchase uranium from that country. The cable also requests additional information from Italy regarding the matter. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Counterproliferation Division, Joseph C. Wilson, Italy
          

Shortly after February 12, 2002

       The Director of Central Intelligence's (DCI) Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) completes a “senior publish when ready” report, an intelligence assessment with limited distribution, which states, “[I]nformation on the alleged uranium contract between Iraq and Niger comes exclusively from a foreign government service report (see October 15, 2001) that lacks crucial details, and we are working to clarify the information and to determine whether it can be corroborated.” The report discusses the details of a recent foreign intelligence report (see February 5, 2002) issued by the CIA Directorate of Operations and says that “some of the information in the report contradicts reporting (see November 20, 2001) from the US Embassy in Niamey, Niger. US diplomats say the French government-led consortium that operates Niger's two uranium mines maintains complete control over uranium mining and yellowcake production.” The CIA sends a separate version of this assessment to Vice President Dick Cheney. Unlike the official version, the copy sent to Cheney names the foreign intelligence agency, which the New Yorker will later reveal is the Italian SISMI. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern describes Cheney's receipt of this document as “odd.” “[I]n more than two years of briefing then-Vice President George H. W. Bush every other morning, not once did he ask a question about a DIA report or even indicate that he had read one,” McGovern will note. “That this particular report was given to Cheney almost certainly reflects the widespread practice of ‘cherry picking’ intelligence.” [AfterDowningStreet [.org], 7/25/2005]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Ray McGovern, Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control
          

Shortly after February 13, 2002

       Midlevel CIA officials in the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) Counterproliferation Division (CPD) decide to send former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate allegations that Iraq sought to procure uranium from that country. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a CPD officer, relays the request to him explaining that “there's this crazy report” asserting that Iraq made a deal with Niger on the sale of a large quantity of uranium. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Counterproliferation Division, Valerie Plame, Joseph C. Wilson
          

February 15, 2002

       Bush signs an intelligence finding, directing the CIA to conduct operations within Iraq as part of an ultimate plan to overthrow Saddam's government. The CIA warns Bush that staging a coup to depose the leader would be impossible. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

February 18, 2002

       The US embassy in Niger disseminates a cable reporting that the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal “provides sufficient detail to warrant another hard look at Niger's uranium sales. The names of GON [government of Niger] officials cited in the report track closely with those we know to be in those, or closely-related positions. However, the purported 4,000-ton annual production listed is fully 1,000 tons more than the mining companies claim to have produced in 2001.” The report says that US ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick met with the Nigerien Foreign Minister to ask for an unequivocal assurance that Niger is not selling uranium to so-called “rogue states.” The cable also notes that in September 2001 Nigerien Prime Minister Mamadou Tandja had informed the US embassy that there were buyers like Iraq who had expressed willingness to pay more for Niger's uranium than France, but the Prime Minister assured them at that time that “of course Niger cannot sell to them.” However, the cable concludes that “we should not dismiss out of hand the possibility that some scheme could be, or has been, underway to supply Iraq with yellowcake from here.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Mamadou Tandja, US Embassy in Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick
          

February 19, 2002

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

February 19, 2002

       The New York Times is the first to report that the Office of Strategic Influence, a secret Pentagon office established shortly after the September 11 attacks (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), is “developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries.” The article reports that many inside the government are opposed to these plans. “[S]everal senior officials have questioned whether its mission is too broad and possibly even illegal,” the Times says. “[T]hey are disturbed that a single office might be authorized to use not only covert operations like computer network attacks, psychological activities, and deception, but also the instruments and staff of the military's globe—spanning public affairs apparatus.” Critics are also concerned that “disinformation planted in foreign media organizations, like Reuters or Agence France-Presse, could end up being published or broadcast by American news organizations.” [New York Times, 2/19/02] The Washington Post similarly reports that discussions on the use of disinformation “have sparked widespread concern inside the Defense Department among officials who feel that the new office, by seeking to manipulate information and even knowingly dispense false information, could backfire and discredit official Pentagon statements.” [Washington Post, 2/25/02] News of the Defense Department's initiative causes an immediate public outcry and the Pentagon denies that it is considering plans to disseminate disinformation. “The Department of Defense, this secretary and the people that work with me tell the American people and the people of the world the truth,” Donald Rumsfeld insists. [Washington Post, 2/21/02] Jim Wilkinson, deputy White House communications director and head of the Coalition Information Center (CIC) war room, likewise states, “The president is a plain-spoken, truthful man and he expects that same high standard from every public affairs spokesperson in the government.” [Washington Post, 2/25/02] Rumsfeld, facing mounting criticism, closes the office a few days later (see February 26, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Office of Strategic Influence, Donald Rumsfeld, James R. Wilkinson
          

February 19, 2002

       The CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) Counterproliferation Division (CPD) holds a meeting with former ambassador Joseph Wilson, intelligence analysts from both the CIA and State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and several individuals from the DO's Africa and CPD divisions. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the merits of sending Wilson to Niger. An INR analyst's notes indicate that the meeting is “apparently convened by [Wilson's] wife [Valerie Plame] who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue.” According to Plame, she leaves the meeting about three minutes after introducing her husband. The INR analyst's meeting notes, as well as e-mails from other participants, indicate that INR expresses skepticism that the alleged uranium contract could have taken place, noting that it would have been very difficult to conceal such a large shipment of yellowcake and because “the French appear to have control of the uranium mining, milling and transport process, and would seem to have little interest in selling uranium to the Iraqis.” INR also says that the embassy in Niger has good contacts and is thus in a position to get to the truth on the matter and therefore believes the proposed trip to Niger would be redundant. Others attending the meeting argue that the trip would probably not resolve the matter because the Nigeriens would be unlikely to admit to a uranium sales agreement with Iraq. An e-mail from a WINPAC analyst to CPD following the meeting notes, “[I]t appears that the results from this source will be suspect at best, and not believable under most scenarios.” CPD concludes that sending Wilson would be worth a try. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Embassy in Niger, Joseph C. Wilson, Valerie Plame, Counterproliferation Division
          

February 20, 2002

       Senior administration officials say the White House intends to create a permanent office of global diplomacy in order to spread a positive image of the United States around the world and combat anti-Americanism, which the administration believes has been caused by the world's failure to understand America. “A lot of the world does not like America, and it's going to take years to change their hearts and minds,” an unnamed senior official tells the New York Times. The office will coordinate the public statements of the State, Defense, and the other departments to ensure that foreign governments, media organizations, and opinion-makers understand US policies. The Times reports that according to one official, “global diplomacy as envisioned in the new office will inject patriotism into the punishing 24-hour, seven-day news cycle.” Reports broadcasted by the office would include information about both US foreign and domestic policies and would utilize the State Department's huge communications network of American embassies and media offices. The earlier White House effort to create a more positive image of the United States was handled by the Coalition Information Center, a joint effort between the US and UK that was led by the president's senior advisor, Karen P. Hughes. [New York Times, 2/02/02] The office will be formally created in July and given the name “The Office of Global Communications” (see July 30, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Office of Global Communications, Bush administration
          

February 20, 2002

       The CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) Counterproliferation Division (CPD) provides former ambassador Joseph Wilson with talking points for his scheduled trip to Niger (see February 19, 2002). The points specify that Wilson should ask Nigerien officials if they have been approached, conducted discussions, or entered into any agreements concerning uranium transfers with any “countries of concern.” Wilson should also determine how Niger accounts for all of its uranium each year, the points say. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, Counterproliferation Division
          

February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002

       The CIA sends Joseph C. Wilson, a retired US diplomat, to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from that country. The trip is paid for by the CIA. But the identity of the party who requests the mission is later disputed. While Wilson will claim the trip was requested directly by Dick Cheney's office, other sources will indicate that the CIA had decided (see February 19, 2002) that a delegation to Niger was needed in order to investigate questions raised by one of Dick Cheney's aides. [Independent, 6/29/03; New York Times, 7/6/03; The Washington Post, 6/12/03; New York Times, 5/6/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officials, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq, Joseph C. Wilson] Wilson arrives in Niger on February 26, two days after Marine General Carlton W. Fulford Jr.'s meeting (see February 24, 2002) with Nigerien officials. Wilson meets with US Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick who informs Wilson that she has already concluded that the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq are unfounded. She tells Wilson “she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington.” After spending eight days chatting with current government officials, former government officials, and people associated with the country's uranium business, Wilson concludes the rumors are false. He calls the allegations “bogus and unrealistic.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; Independent, 6/29/03; CBS News, 7/11/03; New York Times, 7/6/03; Novak, 7/14/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick  Additional Info 
          

February 24, 2002

       Four-Star Marine General Carlton W. Fulford Jr., deputy commander of the US European Command, arrives in Niger on a scheduled refueling stop. At the request of US Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, Fulford joins the ambassador at a meeting with Niger's President Mamadou Tandja and Foreign Minister Aichatou Mindaoudou. He explains the importance of keeping Niger's ore deposits secure. At the meeting, President Tandja assures the ambassador and General Fulford that Niger is determined to keep its uranium “in safe hands.” [Voce of America, 7/15/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282; The Washington Post, 7/15/03 Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] After the meeting, Fulford is of the opinion that Niger's uranium is safely in the hands of a French consortium and that there is little risk that the material will end up in the wrong hands. These findings are passed on to General Joseph Ralston who provides them to General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 282; Voce of America, 7/15/03; The Washington Post, 7/15/03 Sources: Carlton W. Fulford] The Pentagon will later say that Donald Rumsfeld was not informed about the trip or its conclusions. [Voice of America, 7/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, Joseph Ralston, Richard B. Myers, Aichatou Mindaoudou, Mamadou Tandja, Carlton W. Fulford  Additional Info 
          

February 26, 2002

       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces the closure of the Office of Strategic Influence (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), after news of the Pentagon initiative causes a public stir (see February 19, 2002). “The office has clearly been so damaged that it is pretty clear to me that it could not function effectively,” he tells reporters. “So it is being closed down.” Asked if he instructed Rumsfeld to close the office, President Bush says, “I didn't even need to tell him this. He knows how I feel about this.” [New York Times, 2/27/02] Nine months later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says that after the OSI was closed, “I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.” [US Department of Defense, 11/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Office of Strategic Influence, Donald Rumsfeld, James R. Wilkinson
          

February 28, 2002

       During a British cabinet meeting, Home Secretary David Blunkett initiates a discussion about Iraq. During the discussion, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook mentions that most of the Arab world considers Ariel Sharon, rather than Saddam Hussein, to be the largest threat to peace in the Middle East. Describing the subsequent reaction to his comments, Cook later writes in his diary: “Somewhat to my surprise this line provides a round of ‘hear, hearing’ from colleagues, which is the nearest I heard to mutiny in the cabinet.” [Independent, 10/6/03; Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] During the meeting, Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, says “We are in danger of being seen as close to President Bush, but without any influence over President Bush.” [Independent, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: David Blunkett, Robin Cook, Patricia Hewitt
          

February 28, 2002

       John Bolton and other US officials fly to Europe and meet with Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). They demand that Bustani quietly resign from his position. Bustani refuses. He later explains to the New York Times, “They said they did not like my management style, but they said they were not prepared to elaborate.” [Associated Press, 6/5/2005; Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, Bush administration, John R. Bolton
          

Late February 2002

       An unnamed UN official tells The Washington Post that Iraq's level of cooperation is improving. “[F]or example,” the Iraqis have been “frantically digging in an area where it claims biological weapons were destroyed,” the UN official explains. [The Washington Post, 3/1/03 Sources: Unnamed UN official]
          

Late February 2002

       Chief UN Inspector Hans Blix prepares a list of disarmament tasks that Iraq needs to complete in order prove its claim that it has no weapons of mass destruction. According to UN Resolution 1284, the completion of these tasks would make Iraq eligible for the suspension of sanctions. [The Washington Post, 3/01/03]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix
          

March 1, 2002

       The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) publishes an intelligence assessment, titled “Niger: Sale of Uranium to Iraq Is Unlikely,” that disputes recent Italian intelligence reports (see October 15, 2001) (see February 5, 2002) suggesting that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Niger. The assessment reiterates INR's view that France controls the uranium industry and “would take action to block a sale of the kind alleged in a CIA report of questionable credibility from a foreign government service.” It adds that though “some officials may have conspired for individual gain to arrange a uranium sale,” Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja's government would have been unlikely to risk relations with the US and other key aid donors. “A whole lot of things told us that the report was bogus,” Greg Thielmann, a high-ranking INR official, later explains to Time Magazine. “This wasn't highly contested. There weren't strong advocates on the other side. It was done, shot down.” The assessment, drafted in response to interest from the vice president's office (see (February 12, 2002)), is sent to the White House situation room and Secretary of State Colin Powell. [Time Magazine, 7/21/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Colin Powell
          

March 2002

       A British Foreign Office memo concludes that a proposal to increase the number of US and British aerial attacks on targets in Iraq's “no-fly” zone in order to “put pressure on the regime” would violate international law. The memo is later distributed to several high officials as an appendix to a July 21 Cabinet Office briefing paper (see July 21, 2002) meant to prepare officials ahead of a meeting on July 23 (see July 23, 2002). The memo also disputes the United States' contention that the bombings are meant to enforce compliance with UN resolutions 688 and 687, which ordered Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. “This view is not consistent with resolution 687, which does not deal with the repression of the Iraqi civilian population, or with resolution 688, which was not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and does not contain any provision for enforcement,” it says. [London Times, 6/19/05]
People and organizations involved: British Foreign Office
          

March 2002

       After Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), refuses to give in to US demands (see February 28, 2002) that he resign from his post, the Bush administration mounts a campaign aimed at sacking Bustani. The US sends envoys to the member-states of the OPCW in order to secure votes for his dismissal. The Bush administration accuses Bustani of a number of allegations including “financial mismanagement,” “demoralization of his staff,” “bias,” and “ill-considered initiatives.” The US argues that Bustani should resign if he wishes to avoid damage to his reputation. [Guardian, 4/16/2002] But supporters of Bustani say the accusations are baseless. The US allegation of financial mismanagement is contradicted by the fact that the organization's books were recently audited and found to be perfectly sound. The OPCW's only financial problem, in fact, is that the US has restricted the OPCW's budget and is withholding its dues. Regarding the charge of “demoralization,” George Monbiot of the Guardian writes that “staff morale is reportedly higher [at the OPCW] than at any other similar international organization.” Nor is there much evidence that Bustani is guilty of “bias.” According to Monbiot, this charge stems from Bustani's insistence that the OPCW be permitted to examine chemical-industry facilities in the United States with the same rigor it examines facilities in other countries. [Guardian, 4/16/2002] The last claim, that Bustani has embarked on “ill-considered initiatives,” is a reference to his effort to convince Saddam Hussein to sign the chemical weapons convention. The US is opposed to OPCW involvement in Iraq (see Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001). [New York Times, 7/26/2002; Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, Bush administration
          

March 2002

       The office of John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control, issues a “white paper” asserting that Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), is seeking an “inappropriate role” in the United States' confrontation with Iraq. The paper is distributed to the member-states of the OPCW. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, John R. Bolton, Mickey Herskowitz
          

March 2002

       The United States tries to exact a vote of no confidence in Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), during an OPCW Executive Council meeting. Bustani survives the vote. [Guardian, 4/16/2002] The night before, John Bolton met with Bustani in The Hague personally seeking his resignation. When Bustani refused, “Bolton said something like, ‘Now we'll do it the other way,’ and walked out,” former Bustani aide Bob Rigg later tells the AP. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, John R. Bolton, Jose M. Bustani
          

March 2002

       Iraqi defector Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002) appears on CBS's “60 Minutes” and claims that while working as an Iraqi intelligence operative he had purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks for the purpose of converting them into biological weapons laboratories. His identity is not revealed during the program. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammad Harith
          

Spring 2002

       The Bush administration shifts its attention from Afghanistan and al-Qaeda to Iraq. White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke later recalls: “They took one thing that people on the outside find hard to believe or appreciate. Management time. We're a huge government, and we have hundreds of thousands of people involved in national security. Therefore you would think we could walk and chew gum at the same time. I've never found that to be true. ... It just is not credible that the principals and the deputies paid as much attention to Afghanistan or the war against al-Qaeda as they should have.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004] Laurence Pope, an ambassador to Chad, similarly recalls in 2004 that the change in focus that spring had a particularly damaging effect on operations in Afghanistan. “There was a moment of six months or so when we could have put much more pressure on the tribal areas [to get al-Qaeda], and on Pakistan, and done a better job of reconstruction in Afghanistan. In reality, the Beltway can only do one thing at a time, and because of the attention to Iraq, what should have happened in Afghanistan didn't.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004] US Intelligence agencies are also affected by the shift in priorities. The CIA's limited supply of Arabic-speakers and Middle East specialists are redeployed to help meet the increasing demand for intelligence on Iraq. Michael Scheuer, a career CIA officer who was head of the agency's anti-bin Laden team from the late 1990s until his retirement in 2004, says, “With a finite number of people who have any kind of pertinent experience there [was] unquestionably a sucking away of resources from Afghanistan and al-Qaeda to Iraq, just because it was a much bigger effort.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004]
People and organizations involved: Michael Scheuer, Laurence Pope, Richard A. Clarke, Bush administration
          

(Spring 2002)

       The US Air Force's only two specially-equipped RC135 U spy planes—credited with having successfully intercepted the radio transmissions and cellphone calls of al-Qaeda's leaders—are pulled from Afghanistan to conduct surveillance over Iraq. [Guardian, 3/26/2004]
          

Early March 2002

       According to a former White House official interviewed by Seymour Hersh during the fall of 2003, Bush makes the decision to invade Iraq at this time and begins diverting resources away from the “war on terrorism” to the planned invasion of Iraq. “The Bush administration took many intelligence operations that had been aimed at al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected them to the Persian Gulf. Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.” [The New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed Former White House official]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush  Additional Info 
          

(March 2002)

       During a meeting at the White House attended by Condoleezza Rice and a group of Republican and Democratic senators, President Bush, who is not scheduled to be at the meeting, shows up. At some point, the discussion drifts to Iraq and the president says, “F__k Saddam. We're taking him out.” [Time, 5/5/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice
          

March 2002

       Fifth Group Special Forces—an elite group whose members speak Arabic, Pashtun, and Dari—is pulled from its mission in Afghanistan and sent to Iraq where the group is assigned the task of locating Saddam Hussein. Its mission in Afghanistan is reassigned “to people who [speak] no Dari, Pashtun or Arabic, and [have] no rapport” with the Afghans. Members of Fifth Group, who spent six months developing a network of local sources and alliances and who believe they were close to finding Osama bin Laden, are upset with the orders. “We were going nuts on the ground about that decision,” one of them will later recall. [Guardian, 3/26/2004]
          

March 2002

       Vice President Dick Cheney drops by a Senate Republican policy lunch and instructs everyone that what he is about to say should not be repeated to anyone. He then explains that the question is no longer if the US will attack Iraq, but when. [Time, 5/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

March 5, 2002

       In response to a request from Vice President Dick Cheney for an update on the Niger uranium issue made a few days earlier, CIA WINPAC analysts provide an analytic update to Cheney's intelligence briefer stating that the government of Niger has said it is making all efforts to ensure that its uranium will be used for only peaceful purposes. The update says the foreign government service (Italian military intelligence agency, SISMI) that provided the original report “was unable to provide new information, but continues to assess that its source is reliable.” The update also notes that the CIA would “be debriefing a source who may have information related to the alleged sale on March 5.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Central Intelligence Agency
          

March 5, 2002

       Two CIA officers from the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) debrief former ambassador Joseph Wilson who returned from his trip to Niger the previous day (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002). The debriefing takes place in Wilson's home. Based on information provided verbally by the former ambassador, the DO case officer writes a draft intelligence report and sends it to the DO reports officer who adds additional relevant information from his notes. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Joseph C. Wilson
          

March 7, 2002

       According to British Foreign Minister Robin, Home Secretary David Blunkett asks where Britain had obtained the “legal authority” to invade Iraq. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Independent, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: David Blunkett
          

March 8, 2002

       The CIA sends a 1 1/2-page cable to the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, with news that a CIA source (Joseph Wilson) sent to Niger has failed to find any evidence to back claims that Iraq sought uranium from that country. [BBC, 7/8/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; BBC, 7/8/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03 Sources: senior CIA official, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] The report does not name the CIA source or indicate that the person is a former ambassador. Instead it describes the source as “a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record” and notes that the Nigeriens with whom he spoke “knew their remarks could reach the US government and may have intended to influence as well as inform.” A later Senate report on the US' prewar intelligence on Iraq will state: “The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it.” Mayaki, according to the report, also acknowledged a June 1999 visit (see June 1999) by a businessman who arranged a meeting between Mayaki and an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report says that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss purchasing uranium. The meeting did take place, but according to the report, “Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.” The intelligence report also says that Niger's former Minister for Energy and Mines, Mai Manga, told Wilson that there have been no sales outside of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) channels since the mid-1980s. Mai Manga is also reported to have described how the French mining consortium controls Nigerien uranium mining and keeps the uranium very tightly controlled from the time it is mined until the time it is loaded onto ships in Benin for transport overseas. Mai Manga said he believed it would be difficult, if not impossible, to arrange a special clandestine shipment of uranium to a country like Iraq. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Bush administration officials will later say in June 2003 that the cable left out important details of the trip. They will say it did not include the conclusions of the trip. And consequently, the Washington Post will report in June 2003, “It was not considered unusual or very important and not passed on to Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, or other senior White House officials.” [Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 6/12/03 Sources: senior administration official] But the CIA source who made the journey, Joseph Wilson, will find this explanation hard to believe. “Though I did not file a written report [he provided an oral briefing (see March 5, 2002)], there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission,” he will later explain. “The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.” [New York Times, 7/6/03 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson] According to intelligence analysts later interviewed by congressional investigators, the intelligence community does not believe the trip has contributed any significant information to what is already known about the issue, aside from the details of the 1999 Iraqi delegation. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Mai Manga, Ibrahim Mayaki, Joseph C. Wilson, Central Intelligence Agency
          

March 12, 2002

       Vice President Richard Cheney and other senior administration officials receive two CIA reports which cite the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq as evidence that “Iraq ... may be trying to reconstitute its gas centrifuge program.” Neither report mentions the fact that leading centrifuge experts at the Energy Department strongly disagree with the CIA's theory. [New York Times, 10/3/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

March 14, 2002

       Sir David Manning, the British prime minister's foreign policy adviser, meets with President George Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice. In a summary of the meeting written for Tony Blair, Manning says: “We spent a long time at dinner on Iraq. It is clear that Bush is grateful for your support and has registered that you are getting flak. I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a parliament, and a public opinion that was very different than anything in the States. And you would not budge on your insistence that, if we pursued regime change, it must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an option.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05; Guardian, 4/21/05 Sources: Memo from David Manning to Tony Blair, 3/14/2002] Manning reports that the “big questions” have not been thoroughly considered by the US president. Bush, he notes, “has yet to find the answers ... [about] how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified” and how to deal with “what happens on the morning after.” [Washington Post, 6/12/2005 Sources: Memo from David Manning to Tony Blair, 3/14/2002] With regard to the problem of international opinion, Manning says he suggested to Rice that “[r]enewed refusal by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument” in convincing others to support an invasion. [Guardian, 4/21/05; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, David Manning
          

March 15, 2002

       British Intelligence MI6 says in an intelligence assessment that information on Saddam's alleged arsenal of illicit weapons is “sporadic and patchy.” In its conclusion, the report states: “We believe Iraq retains some production equipment, and some small stocks of chemical warfare agent precursors, and may have hidden small quantities of agents and weapons. There is no intelligence on any biological agent production facilities.” [Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05]
People and organizations involved: UK Secret Intelligence Service
          

March 17, 2002

       British Ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer attends lunch with Paul Wolfowitz and other Bush administration officials in Washington and assures them that the British would support the use of military force against Iraq. Meyer informs Sir David Manning, Tony Blair's foreign policy adviser, in a memo the following day: “On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe. The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam. I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs [Security Council Resolutions] and the critical importance of the MEPP [Middle East Peace Process] as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; BBC, 4/29/05; Guardian, 4/21/05 Sources: Memo from Christopher Meyer to David Manning, 3/18/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Christopher Meyer, Paul Wolfowitz, David Manning
          

March 19, 2002

       Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet says: “There is no doubt that there have been (Iraqi) contacts and linkages to the al-Qaeda organization. As to where we are on September 11, the jury is still out. As I said carefully in my statement, it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship whether Iranian or Iraqi and we'll see where the evidence takes us.... There is nothing new in the last several months that changes our analysis in any way.... There's no doubt there have been contacts or linkages to the al-Qaeda organization.... I want you to think about al-Qaeda as a front company that mixes and matches its capabilities.... The distinction between Sunni and Shia that have traditionally divided terrorists groups are not distinctions we should make any more, because there are common interests against the United States and its allies in this region, and they will seek capabilities wherever they can get it.... Their ties may be limited by divergent ideologies, but the two sides' mutual antipathies toward the United States and the Saudi royal family suggests that tactical cooperation between them is possible.” [PBS, 3/19/02; Agence France Press, 3/20/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

March 22, 2002

       Peter Ricketts, the British Foreign Office's political director, offers advice to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who is to provide Tony Blair with a note (see March 25, 2005) before he sets off for a planned meeting with Bush in Texas. In the memo, Ricketts recommends that Blair back the Bush policy on regime change, in a broad sense, because it would allow the British to exert some influence on the exact shape of the administration's policy. “In the process, he can bring home to Bush some of the realities which will be less evident from Washington,” he says. “He can help Bush make good decisions by telling him things his own machine probably isn't.” But he acknowledges that the British, in backing US plans against Iraq, may have a difficult time convincing Parliament and the British public to support the use of military force against Iraq because of scant evidence supporting Washington's allegations against Iraq. “The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September.” He adds that the “figures” being used in a dossier on Iraq that Downing Street is drafting needs more work in order for it to be “consistent with those of the US.” He explains: “[E]ven the best survey of Iraq's WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile, or chemical weapons/biological weapons fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.” He also says the US has little evidence to support its other allegation. “US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda is so far frankly unconvincing,” he says. [Guardian, 4/21/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05 Sources: Memo from Peter Ricketts to Jack Straw, 3/22/2002]
People and organizations involved: Peter Ricketts, Tony Blair, Jack Straw
          

March 25, 2002

       The CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) issues a third and final intelligence report from Italy's military intelligence service, SISMI, on the alleged 2000 Niger-Iraq uranium purchase deal. The report does not provide any information about its source. A later Senate investigation will find that of the seven names mentioned by the Italian reports, “two were not the individuals in the positions described in the reports” and “one date, July 7, 2000, is said to be a Wednesday in the report, but was actually a Friday.” [Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 3/22/03; Knight Ridder, 11/4/2005 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials]
          

Late March 2002

       Philip Gordon of the Brooking Institution tells the Associated Press, “Removing Saddam will be opening a Pandora's box, and there might not be any easy way to close it back up.” [Associated Press, 3/31/02]
People and organizations involved: Philip Gordon
          
Showing 201-300 of 910 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100


Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under the Creative Commons License below:

Creative Commons License Home |  About this Site |  Development |  Donate |  Contact Us
Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use