September 4, 2001 (C): Bush's Cabinet-rank advisers have their second ever meeting on terrorism (see June 3, 2001). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] Back in January, terrorism "czar" Richard Clarke had proposed an ambitious plan to "roll back" al-Qaeda's operations around the world. The plan was strengthened and finally approved at this meeting. It no longer plans a "roll back" of al-Qaeda but aims to "eliminate" it altogether. The plan calls for significant support to the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US military would launch air strikes on training camps and special-operations missions in Afghanistan. In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11." The plan was awaiting Bush's signature on 9/11. Clinton's limited missile attack in 1998 faced a lot of controversy - this new ambitious plan would have faced much more opposition had it not been for 9/11. [Time, 8/4/02] A senior Bush administration official dismisses the allegations: "This idea that there was somehow a kind of -- some sort of full-blown plan for going after al-Qaeda is just incorrect." [CNN, 8/5/02]
September 9, 2001 (F): A formal National Security Presidential Directive describing a "game plan to remove al-Qaeda from the face of the Earth" is placed on Bush's desk for his signature. The plan deals with all aspects of a war against al-Qaeda, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to military operations in Afghanistan. According to NBC News reporter Jim Miklaszewski, the "directive outlines essentially the same war plan ... put into action after the Sept. 11 attacks. The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly to the attacks because it simply had to pull the plans 'off the shelf.'" The plan includes an effort to persuade the Taliban to turn over bin Laden and a military invasion if it refuses. It was prepared through a process of consultation over many months, involving the Pentagon, CIA, State Department and other security and intelligence agencies. Bush was expected to sign the directive, but hadn't finished reviewing it by 9/11. [NBC News, 5/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] FTW Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Advisor, has stated, "You show me one reporter, one commentator, one member of Congress who thought we should invade Afghanistan before September 11 and I'll buy you dinner in the best restaurant in New York City." [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 219] In July 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair will state: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11." [London Times, 7/17/02] How did Bush expect to get public support for his plan to invade and conquer Afghanistan if 9/11 didn't happen?