9/11 - September 11, 2006: Bush Administration Obstructed 9/11 Commission at All Turns
But the record of best efforts by those who tried to keep you from knowing why and how those thousands died should not be lost to the process of grieving.
For, within 8 hours of the attack, the creative destruction of 9/11/2001 inspired the Bush Administration to twist the horror of our national tragedy into the engine of their decade-long obsession, to invade Iraq:
from DOD Staffer's Notes From 9/11 Obtained Under FOIA
This note documents Donald Rumsfeld's 2:40 PM instructions to General Myers to find the "[b]est info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time - not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]" (as discussed on p. 334-335 of the 9/11 Commission Report and in Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack).
-- link to image of FOIA-released notes
By reviving the archived Record of Bush Administration's Obstruction of Investigation of 911, we hope to ensure that Americans never forget. Remember who you're dealing with:
Bush Marks 9/11 Anniversary
September 11, 2006, Guardian Unlimited
"Laura and I approach tomorrow with a heavy heart. It's hard not to think about people who lost their lives on September 11 2001," Mr Bush said. "I wish there were some way we could make them whole."
The president called today's anniversary "a day of renewing resolve".
"I vowed that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day. There is still an enemy out there who would like to inflict the same kind of damage again."
Osama's still out there?! How? Why?!
White House Press Conference
March 13, 2002, WhiteHouse.gov
Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.
Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you...
Terror is bigger than one person. and one hell of a marketing tool for selling an invasion. It would be a matter of criminal injustice to forget that President Bush and his New American Century cronies didn't want you to know how the tragedy of 9/11/2001 came to be.
Originally compiled to inform the American electorate in October 2004, the Record is currently being revised to accomodate changes in the database from which source records were drawn. And updated to reflect all the more that the regime occupying the White House undertook all means possible to thwart formation and function of the Independent 911 Commission. No matter how flawed it or the Final Report was, the Bush Administration did its utmost to ensure that you and I would be kept in the dark, if they could impact the process of investigation. And they could.
This article attempts to document the White House obstruction of that investigative effort. The new edition will reside at ePluribus Media.
This is a compilation of evidence originally made public by ‘mainstream media’, government, or other creditable sources as entered into the Complete 911 and Complete Iraq Timeline databases. The citations and commentary are as archived in the searchable database at the Cooperative Research website. There I searched for the term "commission". I then compiled only items related to formation or function of the Joint Senate Intelligence or Independent 911 Commissions having dates after 9/11/2001. This tragically clear delimiter was the obvious mark after which data related to formation and process of investigative commissions might follow. Finally excluded from the history-compilation were events that included ‘commission’ simply due to the record mentioning 'commission' in retrospective commentary, that is, the record had no bearing on the Bush Administration's obstruction of its formation or function.
The primary search query is :
which currently (10/31/2004) returns 233 hits in total from throughout the several databases queried by CR's server. I believe the number was closer to 200 at the time I did the original query.
UPDATE: The record I’ve put together is as complete as the Complete Timeline database provided during the first week of September, 2004. This article, additionally, includes a number of entries that were not necessarily identified by the 'commission' string-query but which I observed that go to 'motive' while preparing the history of Bush Administration Obstruction for final presentation here.
The record of the 9/11 commissions' formation and investigative processes are clearly characterized by Bush Administration stonewalling and obstruction, stacking of the membership deck, attempts to control its function, conflicts of interest, attempts at budget-strangulation, restriction of results by security-classification, tactical delays, document-withholding, etc., ad nauseum. The Administration's attempts to portray their efforts as above-board, honest, and in America's best interests bear no relationship to the accounting done in the reality-based world.
To be sure, Paul Thompson and the Center for Cooperative Research deserve massive amounts of gratitude for their work to make such critical information easily accessible. Sincere thanks to these folks.
A note regarding source citation. I've included urls only for the date of the logged event item. Within each event may be found citation of one or more itemized source articles that may be accessed through the live hyperlinks found within each bracketed text item.
John O'Neill, FBI counter-terrorism expert, privately discusses White House obstruction in his bin Laden investigation. O'Neill says: “The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.” He adds: “All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia.” O'Neill also believes the White House is obstructing his investigation of bin Laden because they are still keeping the idea of a pipeline deal with the Taliban open. [CNN 1/8/02; CNN 1/9/02; Irish Times 11/19/01; Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth]
August 22, 2001 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
Counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill quits the FBI. He says it's partly because of the recent power play against him (see August 19, 2001), but also because of repeated obstruction of his investigations into al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] In his last act, he signs papers ordering FBI investigators back to Yemen to resume the USS Cole investigation, now that Barbara Bodine is leaving as Ambassador (they arrive a couple days before 9/11) (see October 12, 2000). He never hears the CIA warning about hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar sent out just one day later. Because he fell out of favor a few months earlier, he also is never told about Ken Williams' flight school memo (see July 10, 2001), nor about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 15, 2001) [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (D)], nor is he at a June meeting when the CIA revealed some of what it knew about Alhazmi and Almihdhar (see June 11, 2001). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] The FBI New York office is eventually warned of Walid Arkeh's warning that the WTC would be attacked, but presumably not in time for O'Neill to hear it (see August 21, 2001).
May 23, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
President Bush says he is opposed to establishing a special, 9/11 Commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before 9/11. [CBS, 5/23/02] He later changes his stance in the face of overwhelming support for the idea (see September 20, 2002), and then sabotages an agreement that Congress had reached to establish the commission (see October 10, 2002).
May 30, 2002Complete 911 Timeline
FBI Agent Robert Wright announces he is suing the FBI over a publishing ban. He has written a book but the FBI won't allow him to show it to anyone. He delivers a tearful press conference at the National Press Club describing his lawsuit against the FBI for deliberately curtailing investigations that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately he has been ordered to not reveal specifics publicly. [Fox News 5/30/02] Wright claims the FBI shut down his 1998 criminal probe into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City (see October 1998). He uses words like “prevented,” “thwarted,” “obstructed,” “threatened,” “intimidated,”and “retaliation” to describe the actions of his superiors in blocking his attempts to shut off money flows to al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. He also alleges that for years the US was training Hamas terrorists to make car bombs to use against Israel, one of the US's closest allies (see also June 9, 2001 and August 9, 2002 (C)). [LA Weekly, 8/2/02] [FTW]
August 11, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
A shocking Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush's advisors advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma! One senior British official says: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Later in the year, Bush's influential advisor Richard Perle states, “No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq … this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” [New Statesman, 12/16/02] In February 2003, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton says in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterward. This is not reported in the US media. [Ha'aretz 2/17/03]
July 12, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
A federal judge denies a motion to dismiss a lawsuit trying to force the release of documents relating to Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed the suit a year earlier. The judge rejects as “mischief”arguments that inquiry into the Energy Task Force would impinge on the president's constitutional powers. The judge further says the Bush Administration's “stunning” arguments “fly in the face of precedent” and are a “problematic and unprecedented assertion … of Executive Power.” He also accuses the Bush Administration of making purposefully misleading arguments in its case. [AP, 7/12/02] In March, the Bush Administration was forced to release thousands of documents after what the judge called ten months of stalling. [New York Times, 3/6/02] But a majority of documents were not released, and of the ones that were, most were completely blanked out. [AP, 3/25/02] The government continues to fight the release of these documents (see October 17, 2002, December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
July 10, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
A briefing given to a top Pentagon advisory group states, “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader … Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies.” They are called “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent.”This position still runs counter to official US policy, but the Washington Post says it “represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration.” The briefing suggests that the Saudis be given an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States . The group, the Defense Policy Board, is headed by Richard Perle. [Washington Post, 8/6/02] An international controversy follows the public reports of the briefing in August 2002 (for instance, [Scotsman, 8/12/02]). In an abrupt change, the media starts calling the Saudis enemies, not allies of the US. Slate reports details of the briefing the Post failed to mention. The briefing states, “There is an ‘Arabia,’ but it needs not be ‘Saudi’ ”. The conclusion of the briefing: “Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize.” [Slate, 8/7/02] Note that a similar meeting of the Defense Policy Board appears to have preceded and affected the US's decision to take a warlike stance against Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B) and August 6, 2001).
July 13, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
The US military releases a new Defense Planning Guidance strategic vision. It “contains all the key elements” of a similar document written ten years earlier by largely the same people now in power (see March 8, 1992). Like the original, the centerpiece of this vision is preventing any other powers from challenging US world dominance. Some new ideas are added, for instance, not just preemptive strikes but preemptive strikes using nuclear weapons. [Los Angeles Times, 7/13/02, Los Angeles Times, 7/16/02, Harper's, 10/02] David Armstrong notes in Harper's magazine, “[In 1992] the goal was global dominance, and it met with bad reviews. Now it is the answer to terrorism. The emphasis is on preemption, and the reviews are generally enthusiastic. Through all of this, the dominance motif remains, though largely undetected.” [Harper's 10/02]
July 22, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
Three prominent members of the Saudi royal family die in mysterious circumstances. Prince Ahmed bin Abdul-Aziz, a nephew of the Saudi king, prominent businessman, and owner of the winning 2002 Kentucky Derby horse, is said to die of a heart attack at the age of 43. The next day, Prince Sultan bin Faisal, another nephew of the king, dies driving to Prince Ahmed's funeral. A week later, Prince Sultan bin Faisal supposedly “dies of thirst”in the Arabian desert. Seven months later, on February 20, 2003, Pakistan's air force chief Mushaf Ali Mir, dies in a plane crash in clear weather, along with his wife and closest confidants. Controversial author Gerald Posner implies that all of these events are linked together and the deaths not accidental, because of the testimony of captured al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. Supposedly, Zubaida confessed that he was working with all of the above individuals, and that they had foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot. The deaths all occurred not long after the respective governments were told of Zubaida's confessions. Only one other key figure named by Zubaida remains alive: Saudi Intelligence Minister Prince Turki bin Faisal. Posner says, “He's the J. Edgar Hoover of Saudi Arabia,” too powerful and aware of too many secrets to be killed off. Prince Turki loses his Intelligence Minister job ten days before 9/11, and is later made Saudi ambassador to Britain, giving him diplomatic immunity from any criminal prosecution. [Time 8/31/03]
August 2, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
The Washington Post reveals that FBI agents have questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about 9/11-related information leaks. They have asked them to submit to lie detector tests but most have refused. Congresspeople express “grave concern” for this historically unprecedented move. A law professor states, “Now the FBI can open dossiers on every member and staffer and develop full information on them. It creates a great chilling effect on those who would be critical of the FBI.” [Washington Post, 8/2/02] Senator John McCain suggests that “the constitutional separation of powers is being violated in spirit if not in the letter. ‘What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on people who are investigating the same organization. The administration bitterly complains about some leaks out of a committee, but meanwhile leaks abound about secret war plans for fighting a war against Saddam Hussein. What's that about? There's a bit of a contradiction here, if not a double standard.’ ” [Washington Post, 8/3/02] Later the search for the source of the leak intensifies to unprecedented levels as the FBI asks 17 senators to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters. [Washington Post, 8/24/02] Most, if not all, turn over the records, even as some complain that the request breaches the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. One senator says the FBI is “trying to put a damper on our activities and I think they will be successful.” [AP, 8/29/02] In January 2004 it is reported that the probe is now focusing on Republican Senator Richard Shelby. There has been no further word or indictments since. [Washington Post 1/22/04 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36876-2004Jan21.html]
August 13, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
On the Donahue TV show, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says the following about Bush's behavior on 9/11: “It was clear that we were under attack. Why didn't the Secret Service whisk [Bush] out of that school? He was on live local television in Florida. The terrorists, you know, had been in Florida. I mean, we find that out now. He was less than 10 miles from an airport. And I am concerned. I want to know why the Secret Service did not whisk him away. I want to know why he is the commander-in-chief of the USA, our country was clearly under attack, it was after the second building was hit. I want to know why he sat there for 25 minutes.” She further states, “I don't understand how a plane could hit our Defense Department, which is the Pentagon, an hour after the first plane hit the first tower. I don't understand how that is possible. I'm a reasonable person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars on national defense and you're telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon, our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th.” [Donahue, 8/13/02]
August 15, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Deena Burnett speaks on behalf of the relatives suing the Saudis.
More than 600 relatives (later rising to over 2,500 out of 10,000 eligible [Newsweek, 9/13/02]) of victims of the September 11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. The defendants include the Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual terrorist financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. [CNN, 8/15/02, Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan (see June 1998 (D), August 2001 (G), and August 31, 2001), former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998, August 31, 2001, and October 18, 2002), Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001), and Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988, , December 4, 2001 (B) and Early December 2001 (B)). [AP, 8/15/02, MSNBC, 8/25/02] “The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia.” [CNN 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC 8/15/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Telegraph, 8/20/02] Saudi businesses withdraw more than $100 billion from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002), and the US government later threatens to block or limit the suit (see November 1, 2002).
August 25, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Former CIA agent Bob Baer says the US collects virtually no intelligence about Saudi Arabia nor are they given any intelligence collected by the Saudis. He says this is because there are implicit orders from the White House, “Do not collect information on Saudi Arabia because we're going to risk annoying the royal family.” In the same show, despite being on a US terrorist list since October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), Saudi millionaire Yassin al-Qadi says, “I'm living my life here in Saudi Arabia without any problem”because he is being protected by the Saudi government. Al-Qadi admits to giving bin Laden money for his “humanitarian” work, but says this is different from bin Laden's terrorist work. Presented with this information, the US Treasury Department only says that the US “is pleased with and appreciates the actions taken by the Saudis” in the war on terror. The Saudi government still has not given US intelligence permission to talk to any family members of the hijackers, even though some US journalists have had limited contact with a few. [MSNBC 8/25/02]
August 27, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Prince Bandar and President Bush meet at Bush's ranch in August.
Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, meets privately for more than an hour with Bush and National Security Advisor Rice in Crawford, Texas (see April 25, 2002). [Telegraph, 8/28/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer characterizes it as a warm meeting of old friends. Bandar, his wife (Princess Haifa) and seven of their eight children stay for lunch. [Fox News, 8/27/02] Prince Bandar, a longtime friend of the Bush family, donated $1 million to the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01 (B), Bush Library] This relationship later becomes news when it is learned that Princess Haifa gave between $51,000 and $73,000 to two Saudi families in California who may have financed two of the 9/11 hijackers (see December 4, 1999and November 22, 2002). [New York Times 11/23/02; MSNBC 11/25/02]
September 5, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, expresses doubts that the committee's investigation into 9/11 will be able to accomplish anything, and he supports an independent investigation. “Time is not on our side,” he says, since the investigation has a built-in deadline at the end of 2002. “You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece.” He adds that there is explosive information that has not been publicly released. “I think there are some more bombs out there … I know that.” [New York Times 9/10/02 (B)]
September 11, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the story of what Bush did on that day is significantly rewritten. In actual fact, when Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Bush about the second plane crash into the WTC, Bush continued to sit in a Florida elementary school classroom and hear a story about goats for about an additional 10 minutes, as video footage shows (see the Day of 9/11 for more). But one year later, Card claims that after he told Bush about the second WTC crash, “it was only a matter of seconds” before Bush “excused himself very politely to the teacher and to the students, and he left the Florida classroom.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11/02] In a different account, Card says, “Not that many seconds later the president excused himself from the classroom.”[MSNBC, 9/9/02] An interview with the classroom teacher claims that Bush left the class even before the second WTC crash: “The president bolted right out of here and told me: ‘Take over.’ ” When the second WTC crash occurred, she claims her students are watching TV in a nearby media room. [New York Post 9/12/02]
September 11, 2002 (C) Complete 911 Timeline
On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times writes, “One year later, the public knows less about the circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about the Titanic, which sank in the middle of an ocean in the dead of night.” John F. Timoney, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia, says: “You can hardly point to a cataclysmic event in our history, whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, the Pearl Harbor attack, the Kennedy assassination, when a blue-ribbon panel did not set out to establish the facts and, where appropriate, suggest reforms. That has not happened here.” The Times specifically points to a failure by New York City Mayor Bloomberg to conduct a real investigation into the WTC attack response. Bloomberg stated in August 2002, “Every single major event is different from all others. The training of how you would respond to the last incident is not really important.” [New York Times, 9/11/02 (B)] The Chicago Tribune made similar comments a week earlier, pointing out that despite the “largest investigation in history,” “Americans know little more today about the Sept. 11 conspiracy, or the conspirators, than they did within a few weeks of the attacks.” [Chicago Tribune 9/5/02]
September 12, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
For the first time, a mainstream US newspaper looks at the people who believe there was government complicity or criminal incompetence in 9/11 and does not immediately dismiss them (see September 23, 2001 (B)). The San Francisco Examiner quotes a number of 9/11 skeptics and lets them speak for themselves. “While different theorists focus on different aspects of the attacks, what they seem to have in common is they would like an independent investigation into 9/11.” [San Francisco Examiner 9/12/02]
September 18, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
The Congressional joint committee 9/11 inquiry hold its first public hearing. The committee was formed in February 2002 but suffered months of delays. The day's testimonies focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs (see the committee's complete 30-page report here: [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]). However, the Washington Post reports, “lawmakers from both parties … [protest] the Bush administration's lack of cooperation in the congressional inquiry into Sept. 11 intelligence failures and [threaten] to renew efforts to establish an 9/11 Commission.” Eleanor Hill, the joint committee's staff director, testifies that “According to [CIA Director Tenet], the president's knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified.” She adds that “the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security.” [Washington Post, 9/19/02] Furthermore, the committee believes that “a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks” and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet “has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American public's interest in this particular area.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A few days later, The New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/02] An FBI spokesman says the FBI had offered “full cooperation” to the committee. A CIA official denies that the report is damning: “The committee acknowledges the hard work done by intelligence community, the successes it achieved… ” [MSNBC, 9/18/02] The complete open hearing transcripts: [Congressional Inquiry 9/18/02; 9/19/02; 9/19/02 (B); 9/24/02; 9/26/02; 10/1/02; 10/3/02; 10/8/02; 10/17/02]
September 20, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
In the wake of damaging Congressional 9/11 inquiry revelations, President Bush reverses course (see May 23, 2002) and backs efforts by many lawmakers to form an 9/11 Commission to conduct a broader investigation than the current Congressional inquiry. Newsweek reports that Bush had virtually no choice. “There was a freight train coming down the tracks,” says one White House official. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] But as one of the 9/11 victim's relatives says, “It's carefully crafted to make it look like a general endorsement but it actually says that the commission would look at everything except the intelligence failures.” [CBS, 9/20/02] Rather than look into such failures, Bush wants the commission to focus on areas like border security, visa issues and the “role of Congress” in overseeing intelligence agencies. The White House also refuses to turn over documents showing what Bush knew before 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/22/02]
September 26, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
A leaked August 16, 2002 report from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's influential Defense Science Board 2002 is exposed. [UPI, 9/26/02] The board “recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception. Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at ‘stimulating reactions’ among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction—that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to ‘quick-response’ attacks by US forces. Such tactics would hold ‘states/sub-state actors accountable’ and ‘signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk.’ ” [Los Angeles Times 10/27/02; Asia Times 11/5/02] An editorial in the Moscow Times comments: “In other words—and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan—the United States government is planning to use ‘cover and deception’ and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people.” It is further suggested terrorists could be instigated in countries the US wants to gain control over. [Moscow Times, 11/1/02] Could the US already be using this policy, and if so, since when?
October 6, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
60 Minutes airs a program on the religious support for Bush's expansionist Middle Eastern policies. [CBS, 10/6/02] A Guardian editorial from around the same time suggests that “Christian millenarians” who are “driven by visions of messiahs and Armageddon” have formed an alliance with “secular, neoconservative Jewish intellectuals, such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz” and are strongly influencing Bush's foreign policy. [Guardian, 9/17/02] A later Washington Post article also sees the support of evangelical Christians and right-wing Jewish groups as instrumental in defining US Middle East policy. [Washington Post 2/9/03]
October 10, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
A tentative congressional deal to create an 9/11 Commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks falls apart hours after the White House objected to the plan (it appears Vice President Cheney called Republican leaders and told them to renege on the agreement [New York Times, 11/2/02]). Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier (see September 20, 2002), but doubters who questioned his sincerity appear to have been proved correct. Hours after top Republican leaders announced at a press conference that an agreement had been reached, House Republican leaders said they wouldn't bring the legislation to the full House for a vote unless the commission proposal was changed. There are worries that if the White House can delay the legislation for a few more days until Congress adjourns, it could stop the creation of a commission for months, if not permanently. [Washington Post 10/11/02; New York Times 10/11/02]
October 15, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
About 10 relatives of the 9/11 victims meet with lawmakers and two Bush administration officials in an unsuccessful attempt to break a deadlock over the establishment of an independent 9/11 commission. The Bush administration says it supports such a commission, but wants its allies to have more control over leadership and subpoena powers (see September 20, 2002 and October 10, 2002). [AP, 10/16/02] No agreement is reached before the 107th Congress ends a few days later, but the committee is established one month later (see November 15, 2002).
October 17, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club again win a ruling against Vice President Cheney (see July 12, 2002), and a judge demands that Cheney turn over documents relating to his Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). [Reuters 10/17/02] But the Bush Administration continues to fight the release of these documents. A similar lawsuit by the General Accounting Office, the Congressional investigative body, is later dropped (see December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
October 27, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
The Observer reports, “America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W. Bush's Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of al-Qaeda's plans. Vidal's highly controversial 7,000 word polemic titled ‘The Enemy Within’ … argues that what he calls a ‘Bush junta’ used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a preexisting agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home. Vidal states, ‘Apparently, ‘conspiracy stuff’ is now shorthand for unspeakable truth’ ”(read a summary here [Observer, 10/27/02 (B)], or Vidal's entire essay here [Observer, 10/27/02], and an interview here [Salon, 4/24/02]).
November 1, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Some of the 9/11 victims' relatives hold a rally at the US Capitol to protest what they fear are plans by the Bush administration to delay or block their lawsuit against prominent Saudi individuals for an alleged role in financing al-Qaeda (see August 15, 2002). [Washington Post 11/1/02] US officials say they have not decided whether to submit a motion seeking to block or restrict the lawsuit, but they are concerned about the “diplomatic sensitivities” of the suit. Saudis have withdrawn hundreds of billions of dollars from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002). The Guardian previously reported that “some plaintiffs in the case say the Bush administration is pressuring them to pull out of the lawsuit in order to avoid damaging US-Saudi relations, threatening them with the prospect of being denied any money from the government's own compensation scheme if they continue to pursue it. Bereaved relatives who apply to the federal compensation scheme must, in any case, sign away their rights to sue the government, air carriers in the US, and other domestic bodies—a condition that has prompted some of them to call the government compensation ‘hush money.’ The fund is expected, in the end, to pay out $4 billion. They remain, however, free to sue those they accuse of being directly responsible for the attacks, such as Osama bin Laden, and—so they thought—the alleged financers of terrorism.” [Guardian 9/20/02]
November 15, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Congress approves legislation creating an 9/11 Commission—the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States—to “examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks” and “make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks.” President Bush signs it into law November 27, 2002. [US Department of State, 11/28/02] Bush originally opposed an 9/11 Commission, but he changes his mind over the summer after political pressure (see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). The Democrats concede several important aspects of the commission (such as subpoena approval) after the White House threatens to create a commission by executive order, over which it would have more control. Bush will appoint the Commission chairman (see November 27, 2002) and he sets a strict time frame (18 months) for the investigation. [CNN, 11/15/02] The commission will only have a $3 million budget. Senator Jon Corzine (D) and others have wondered how the commission can accomplish much with such a small budget. [AP 1/20/03]
November 17, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
A Toronto Star editorial entitled “Pursue the Truth About Sept. 11” strongly criticizes the government and media regarding 9/11: “Getting the truth about 9/11 has seemed impossible. The evasions, the obfuscations, the contradictions and, let's not put too fine a point on it, the lies have been overwhelming. … The questions are endless. But most are not being asked—still—by most of the media most of the time. … There are many people, and more by the minute, persuaded that, if the Bushies didn't cause 9/11, they did nothing to stop it.” The article also mentions the Complete 9/11 Timeline website, calling it one of several “carefully considered, well crafted and very compelling” websites to look at for more information about 9/11. [Toronto Star 11/17/02]
November 22, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Newsweek reports that hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan (see August 1994, April 1998, and December 4, 1999), based on information leaked from the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry the month before (see October 9, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02, Washington Post, 11/23/02, New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi is in Saudi Arabia by this time (see September 21-28, 2001); Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia just five days earlier (see August 22, 2002). Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any terrorist connections. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Newsweek reports that while the money trail “could be perfectly innocent … it is nonetheless intriguing—and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9/11 … ” [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Some Saudi newspapers which usually reflect government thinking claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. [MSNBC 11/25/02] Senior government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This causes a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks (see December 11, 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/23/02] A number of senators, including Richard Shelby (R), John McCain (R), Mitch O'Connell (R), Joe Lieberman (D), Bob Graham (D), Joe Biden (D), and Charles Schumer (D), express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding terrorists. [New York Times, 11/25/02, Reuters, 11/24/02] Lieberman says, “I think it's time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11—you're either with us or you're with the terrorists.” [ABC News, 11/25/02] FBI officials strongly deny any deliberate connection between these two and the Saudi government or the hijackers [Time, 11/24/03], but later even more connections between them and both entities are revealed. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
November 27, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
President Bush names Henry Kissinger as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Congressional Democrats appoint George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader and peace envoy to Northern Ireland and the Middle East, as Vice Chairman. Their replacements and the other eight members of the commission are chosen by mid-December (see and December 16, 2002 (B)). Kissinger served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor for Presidents Nixon and Ford. [New York Times, 11/29/02] Kissinger's ability to remain independent is met with skepticism (for instance, see Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/3/02, Washington Post, 12/17/02, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/13/02, CNN, 11/30/02, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/29/02]. He has a very controversial past—for instance, “Documents recently released by the CIA, strengthen previously-held suspicions that Kissinger was actively involved in the establishment of Operation Condor, a covert plan involving six Latin American countries including Chile, to assassinate thousands of political opponents.” He is also famous for an “obsession with secrecy.” [BBC, 4/26/02] Its even difficult for Kissinger to travel outside the US. Investigative judges in Spain, France, Chile and Argentina seek to question him in several legal actions related to his possible involvement in war crimes particularly in Latin America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile and East Timor. [BBC 4/18/02; Village Voice 8/15-21/01; Chicago Tribune 12/1/02] “Indeed, it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed.” [New York Times, 11/29/02] The Chicago Tribune notes that “the president who appointed him originally opposed this whole undertaking”(see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). Kissinger is “known more for keeping secrets from the American people than for telling the truth” and asking him “to deliver a critique that may ruin friends and associates is asking a great deal.” [Chicago Tribune, 12/5/02] Both he and Mitchell resign a short time later rather than reveal the clients they work with (see and December 13, 2002).
Dec 2002 Speculation
Bush names Thomas Kean as the new chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Kean has business ties to Osama's brother-in-law, who is suspected to have funnelled millions of dollars to the Al Qaeda network and is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by families of Sept 11 victims. [Article; Article]
December 9, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
A federal judge rules against the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, in its attempt to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G)). The judge writes, “This case, in which neither a House of Congress nor any congressional committee has issued a subpoena for the disputed information or authorized this suit, is not the setting for such unprecedented judicial action.” [AP, 12/9/02] The GAO later declines to appeal the ruling (see February 7, 2003 (B)). In a similar suit being filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club, the Bush Administration has successfully delayed deadlines forcing these documents to be turned over. That case continues, with another deadline avoided on December 6. [AP 12/6/02]
December 11, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry concludes its seven month investigation of the performance of government agencies before the 9/11 attacks. A report hundred of page long has been written, but only nine pages of findings and 15 pages of recommendations are released at this time, and those have blacked out sections. [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] After months of wrangling over what has to be classified (see January-July 2003), the final report is released in July 2003 (see July 24, 2003). In the findings released at this time, the Inquiry accuses the Bush administration of refusing to declassify information about possible Saudi Arabian financial links to US-based terrorists, criticizes the FBI for not adapting into a domestic intelligence bureau after the attacks and says the CIA lacked an effective system for holding its officials accountable for their actions. Asked if 9/11 could have been prevented, Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, gives “a conditional yes.” Graham says the Bush administration has given Americans an “incomplete and distorted picture” of the foreign assistance the hijackers may have received. [ABC, 12/10/02] Graham further says, “There are many more findings to be disclosed” that Americans would find “more than interesting,” and he and others express frustration that information that should be released is being kept classified by the Bush administration. [St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Many of these findings remain classified after the Inquiry's final report is released (see July 28, 2003 and August 1-3, 2003). Sen. Richard Shelby (R), the vice chairman, singles out six people as having “failed in significant ways to ensure that this country was as prepared as it could have been”: CIA Director Tenet; Tenet's predecessor, John Deutch; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; NSA Director Michael Hayden; Hayden's predecessor, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan; and former Deputy Director Barbara McNamara. [Washington Post, 12/11/02; Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Committee Recommendations, 12/11/02] Shelby says that Tenet should resign. “There have been more failures on his watch as far as massive intelligence failures than any CIA director in history. Yet he's still there. It's inexplicable to me.” [Reuters, 12/10/02, PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] “A list of 19 recommendations consists largely of recycled proposals and tepid calls for further study of thorny issues members themselves could not resolve.” [Los Angeles Times 12/12/02]
December 11, 2002 (C) Complete 911 Timeline
In discussing the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9/11 (see December 11, 2002 (B)), Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, says he is “surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [9/11] terrorists in the United States…. To me that is an extremely significant issue and most of that information is classified, I think overly-classified. I believe the American people should know the extent of the challenge that we face in terms of foreign government involvement. I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing—although that was part of it—by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down…. It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now. ” [PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] In March 2003, Newsweek says its sources indicate Graham is speaking about Saudi Arabia, and that leads pointing in this direction have been pursued. Graham also says that the report contains far more miscues than have been publicly revealed. “There's been a cover-up of this,” he says. [Newsweek, 3/1/03 (B)]
December 13, 2002 Complete 911 Timeline
Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, Kissinger's resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC 12/13/02; Seattle Times 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see October 21, 1995, and August 9, 1998). [Washington Post 10/5/98; Salon 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its “long-standing” relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission “has lost time” and “is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet.” [Washington Post 12/14/02]
December 16, 2002 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
The ten members of the new 9/11 Commission (see November 15, 2002) are appointed by this date, and are: Republicans Thomas Kean (Chairman), Slade Gorton, James Thompson, Fred Fielding, and John Lehman, and Democrats Lee Hamilton (Vice Chairman), Max Cleland, Tim Roemer, Richard Ben-Veniste, and Jamie Gorelick. [New York Times, 12/17/02, Washington Post, 12/15/02, AP, 12/16/02, Chicago Tribune, 12/12/02] Senators Richard Shelby (R) and John McCain (R) had a say in the choice of one of the Republican positions. They and many 9/11 victims' relatives wanted former Senator Warren Rudman (R), who cowrote an acclaimed report about terrorism before 9/11 (see January 31, 2001). But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott blocks Rudman's appointment and chooses John Lehman instead. [St. Petersburg Times 12/12/02; AP 12/13/02; Reuters 12/16/02] It slowly emerges over the next several months that at least six of the ten commissioners have ties to the airline industry. [CBS, 3/5/03] Every commissioner has at least one potential conflict of interest.
- For Chairman Thomas Kean's conflicts of interests, see [commentary in note following this entry, below].
- John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, has large investments in Ball Corp., which has many US military contracts. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
- Richard Ben-Veniste represents Boeing and United Airlines. [CBS, 3/5/03] His law firm also represents Deutsche Bank, which have many connections to 9/11. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)] Ben-Veniste also has other curious connections, according to a 2001 book on CIA ties to drug running written by Daniel Hopsicker, which has an entire chapter called “Who is Richard Ben-Veniste?” Lawyer Ben-Veniste, Hopsicker says, “has made a career of defending political crooks, specializing in cases that involve drugs and politics.” Ben-Veniste has been referred to in print as a “Mob lawyer,” and was a long-time lawyer for Barry Seal, one of the most famous drug dealers in US history who also is alleged to have had CIA connections. [Barry and the Boys, Daniel Hopsicker, 9/01, pp. 325-330, ]
- Max Cleland, former US senator, has received $300,000 from the airline industry. [CBS, 3/5/03]
- James Gorelick is a director of United Technologies, one of the Pentagon's biggest defense contractors and a supplier of engines to airline manufacturers. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
- Lee Hamilton sits on many advisory boards, including those to the CIA, the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the US Army. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
- Tim Roemer represents Boeing and Lockheed Martin. [CBS, 3/5/03]
Note: in the iteration of the Complete 911 Timeline database in operation when I first ran the query, the following segment was part of the December 16, 2002 entry. It appears that entry has been revised in the interim and the segment no longer exists. It may be inadvertent as the current "Thomas Kean" reference, above, lacks a destination link (as of 10/31/2004). For that reason, I retain this segment as harvested in early September, 2004.
President Bush names former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean as the Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, after his original choice, Henry Kissinger, resigned (see November 27, 2002 and December 13, 2002). [Washington Post, 12/17/02] In an appearance on NBC, Kean promises an aggressive investigation. "It's really a remarkably broad mandate, so I don't think we'll have any problem looking under every rock. I've got no problems in going as far as we have to in finding out the facts." [AP, 12/17/02] However, Kean plans to remain President of Drew University and devote only one day a week to the commission. He also claims he would have no conflicts of interest, stating: "I have no clients except the university." [Washington Post, 12/17/02] However, he has a history of such conflict. Multinational Monitor has previously stated: "Perhaps no individual more clearly illustrates the dangers of university presidents maintaining corporate ties than Thomas Kean," citing the fact that he is on the Board of Directors of Aramark (which received a large contract with his university after he became president), Bell Atlantic, United Health Care, Beneficial Corporation, Fiduciary Trust Company International, and others. [Multinational Monitor 11/97] Most disturbing is his Board of Director and Executive Committee positions at Amerada Hess, an oil company with extensive investments in Central Asia. [Amerada Hess, 2002] Fortune magazine points out that through this investment, "Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's investigating—al-Qaeda." [Fortune 1/22/03] In 1998, Amerada Hess created an alliance with the Saudi oil company Delta Oil, calling it Delta Hess. [Azerbaijan International, 2002] Delta Hess is invested in a number of oil field and pipeline projects in Central Asia (see for instance [Azerbaijan International, 1998]). Delta Oil has been one of the main financial partners in a controversial oil pipeline designed to go through Afghanistan. According to an article in Fortune Magazine, the company was financially controlled by Khalid bin Mahfouz, and is connected to Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996) (However, a bin Mafouz family spokesperson denies that bin Mahfouzor Nimir ever had an ownership interest in the company [Fortune, 3/17/03]). Fortune calls it an "interesting coincidence" that three weeks before his appointment onto the 9/11 commission, Amerada Hess quietly severed its ties with Delta Oil. [Fortune 1/22/03] George Mitchell resigned from the commission a few days earlier in part because of ties with al-Amoudi (see December 11, 2002), yet Kean's conflict of interest with Amerada Hess and ties with al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have only been mentioned in a short Fortune article and briefly at the end of an AP article. [AP 1/20/03; Fortune 1/22/03]
January-July 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry is originally expected to release its complete and final report in January 2003, but the panel spends seven months negotiating with the Bush Administration about what material could be made public, and the final report is not released until July 2003 (see July 24, 2003). [Washington Post, 7/27/03] The Administration originally wanted two thirds of the report to remain classified. [AP, 5/31/03] Former Senator Max Cleland, (D), member of the 9/11 9/11 Commission, later claims, “The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaeda) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers … What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends. The reason this report was delayed for so long—deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created—is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over … before (it) came out. Had this report come out in January  like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration.” [UPI 7/25/03]
January 13, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
The Guardian reports on the state of journalism in the US: “The worldwide turmoil caused by President Bush's policies goes not exactly unreported, but entirely de-emphasized. Guardian writers are inundated by e-mails from Americans asking plaintively why their own papers never print what is in these columns… If there is a Watergate scandal lurking in [the Bush] administration, it is unlikely to be [Washington Post journalist Bob] Woodward or his colleagues who will tell us about it. If it emerges, it will probably come out on the web. That is a devastating indictment of the state of American newspapers.” [Guardian 1/13/03]
January 27, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
The 9/11 Commission, officially titled the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, holds its first meeting in Washington. The commission has $3 million and only until May 2004 to explore the causes of the attacks. By comparison, a 1996 federal commission to study legalized gambling was given two years and $5 million. [AP, 1/27/03] The Bush Administration later grudgingly increases the funding to $12 million total (see March 26, 2003). Philip Zelikow, currently the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and formerly in the National Security Council during the first Bush administration, is also appointed executive director of the commission. He is expected to resign to focus full time on the commission. [AP, 1/27/03] Zelikow cowrote a book with National Security Advisor Rice. [9/11 Commission 3/03] A few days later, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says, “The focus of the commission will be on the future. We want to make recommendations that will make the American people more secure…. We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility.” [UPI 2/6/03]
January 30, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
Stephen Push, a 9/11 victim's relative, is putting 45,000 pages from the recent German trial of Mounir El Motassadeq onto computer disks for the 9/11 9/11 Commission. He is one of about 20 victims' relatives who joined that case as co-plaintiffs and got access to evidence that otherwise would be classified. [AP, 2/28/03] Push has quit his job to devote all his time and $100,000 of his own money investigating 9/11. Originally a Bush supporter, he now says, “Clearly the official government line [on 9/11] is a lie.” [Newsday 1/30/03]
February-March 20, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
With war against Iraq imminent, numerous media outlets finally begin reporting on the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank and its role in influencing Iraq policy and US foreign policy generally. PNAC's plans for global domination had been noted before 9/11 (see for instance, [Washington Post, 8/21/01]), and PNAC's 2000 report recommending the conquest of Iraq even if Saddam Hussein is not in power was first reported on in September 2002 (see September 2000 and [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02]), but there were few follow-up mentions until February (exceptions: [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/29/02, Bangor Daily News, 10/18/02, New Statesman, 12/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]. Many of these articles use PNAC to suggest that global and regional domination is the real reason for the Iraq war. Coverage increases as war gets nearer, but many media outlets still have not done any reporting on this, and some of the reporting that has been done is not prominently placed (for instance, a New York Times article on the topic is buried in the Arts section! See [New York Times, 3/11/03]). One Newsweek editorial notes that “not until the last few days” before war have many reasons against the war been brought up. It calls this “too little, too late” to make an impact. [Newsweek, 3/18/03] (Articles that discuss PNAC: [Philadelphia Daily News, 1/27/03, New York Times, 2/1/03, PBS Frontline, 2/20/03, Observer, 2/23/03, Bergen Record, 2/23/03, Guardian, 2/26/03, Mother Jones, 3/03, BBC, 3/2/03, Observer, 3/2/03 (B), Der Spiegel, 3/4/03, , Salon, 3/5/03, Independent, 3/8/03, Toronto Star, 3/9/03, ABC, 3/10/03, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/10/03, CNN, 3/10/03, Guardian 3/11/03, New York Times, 3/11/03, American Prospect, 3/12/03, Chicago Tribune, 3/12/03, Globe and Mail, 3/14/03, Japan Times, 3/14/03, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/15/03, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/15/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/16/03, Observer, 3/16/03, Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, Toronto Star, 3/16/03, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 3/17/03, Globe and Mail, 3/19/03, Asia Times, 3/20/03, The Age, 3/20/03])
February 7, 2003 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
The General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, declines to appeal a case attempting to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G) and December 9, 2002 (B)). This ends a potentially historic showdown between the congressional watchdog agency and the executive branch. [Los Angeles Times 2/8/03 (B)] It is widely believed that the suit is dropped because of pressure from the Republican Party—the suit was filed when the Democrats controlled the Senate, and this decision comes shortly after the Republicans gained control of the Senate. [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)] The head of the GAO denies the lawsuit is dropped because of Republican threats to cut his office's budget, but US Comptroller General David Walker, who led the case, says there was one such “thinly veiled threat” last year by a lawmaker he wouldn't identify. [Reuters, 2/25/03] Another account has Senator Ted Stevens (R) and a number of other congresspeople making the threat to Walker. [Hill 2/19/03] The GAO has previously indicated that accepting defeat in this case would cripple its ability to oversee the executive branch. [Washington Post 2/8/03 (C)] A similar suit filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club is still moving forward (see July 12, 2002 and October 17, 2002). [Washington Post 2/8/03 (C)]
March 26, 2003 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
Bush signs an executive order delaying the public release of millions of government documents, citing the need to more thoroughly review them first. The government faced a April 17 deadline for declassifying millions of documents 25 years or older. [Reuters, 3/26/03] The order also treats all material sent to American officials from foreign governments, no matter how routine, as subject to classification. It expands the ability of the CIA to shield documents from declassification. And for the first time, it gives the vice president the power to classify information. The New York Times says, “Offering that power to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has shown indifference to the public's right to know what is going on inside the executive branch, seems a particularly worrying development.” [New York Times 3/28/03]
March 26, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
Time reports that the 9/11 Commission has requested an additional $11 million to add to the $3 million for the commission, and the Bush Administration has turned down the request. The request will not be added to a supplemental spending bill. A Republican member of the commission says the decision will make it “look like they have something to hide.” Another commissioner notes that the recent commission on the Columbia shuttle crash will have a $50 million budget. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims' families, says the decision “suggests to me that they see this as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail. They've never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon.” The Administration has suggested it may grant the money later, but any delay will further slow down the commission's work. Already, commission members are complaining that scant progress has been made in the four months since the commission started, and they are operating under a deadline. [Time, 3/26/03] Three days later, it is reported that the Bush Administration has agreed to extra funding, but only $9 million, not $11 million. The commission has agreed to the reduced amount. [Washington Post, 3/29/03] The New York Times criticizes such penny-pinching, saying, “Reasonable people might wonder if the White House, having failed in its initial attempt to have Henry Kissinger steer the investigation, may be resorting to budgetary starvation as a tactic to hobble any politically fearless inquiry.” [New York Times 3/31/03]
March 27, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
It is reported that “most members” of the 9/11 Commission still have not received security clearances. [Washington Post, 3/27/03] For instance, Slade Gorton, picked in December 2002, is a former senator with a long background in intelligence issues. Fellow commissioner Lee Hamilton says, “It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance. It's a matter we are concerned about.” The commission is said to be at a “standstill” because of the security clearance issue, and cannot even read the classified findings of the previous 9/11 Congressional inquiry. [Seattle Times, 3/12/03] Already Hamilton has said that, “We will be short of time. It will be very difficult” to meet the deadline of May 2004, when the commission must complete its investigation. [UPI 2/6/03]
March 28, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
An article highlights conflicts of interest amongst the commissioners on the 9/11 Commission. It had been previously reported that many of the commissioners had ties to the airline industry (see December 16, 2002 (B)), but a number have other ties. “At least three of the 10 commissioners serve as directors of international financial or consulting firms, five work for law firms that represent airlines and three have ties to the US military or defense contractors, according to personal financial disclosures they were required to submit.” Bryan Doyle, project manager for the watchdog group Aviation Integrity Project says, “It is simply a failure on the part of the people making the selections to consider the talented pool of non-conflicted individuals.” Commission chairman Thomas Kean says that members are expected to steer clear of discussions that might present even the appearance of a conflict. [AP, 3/28/03]
March 31, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
The 9/11 Commission has its first public hearing. The Miami Herald reports, “Several survivors of the attack and victims' relatives testified that a number of agencies, from federal to local, are ducking responsibility for a series of breakdowns before and during Sept. 11.” [Miami Herald 3/31/03] The New York Times suggests that the 9/11 Commission would never have been formed if it were not for the pressure of the 9/11 victims' relatives. [New York Times 4/1/03] Some of the relatives strongly disagreed with statements from some commissioners that they would not place blame. For instance, Stephen Push states, “I think this commission should point fingers…. Some of those people [who failed us] are still in responsible positions in government. Perhaps they shouldn't be.” [UPI 3/31/03] The most critical testimony comes from 9/11 relative Mindy Kleinberg, but her testimony is only briefly reported on by a few newspapers. [UPI 3/31/03; Newsday 4/1/03; New York Times 4/1/03; New York Post 4/1/03; New Jersey Star-Ledger 4/1/03] In her testimony, Kleinberg says, “It has been said that the intelligence agencies have to be right 100% of the time and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. This explanation for the devastating attacks of September 11th, simple on its face, is wrong in its value. Because the 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again.” She points out the inside trading based on 9/11 foreknowledge, the failure of fighters to catch the hijacked planes in time, hijackers getting visas in violation of standard procedures, and other events, and asks how the hijackers could have been lucky so many times. [9/11 Commission 3/31/03]
July 24, 2003 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report (see July 24, 2003) concludes that at least six hijackers received “substantial assistance” from associates in the US, though its “not known to what extent any of these contacts in the United States were aware of the plot.” These hijackers came into contact with at least 14 people who were investigated by the FBI before 9/11, and four of these investigations were active while the hijackers were present. But in June 2002, FBI Director Mueller testified: “While here, the hijackers effectively operated without suspicion, triggering nothing that would have alerted law enforcement and doing nothing that exposed them to domestic coverage. As far as we know, they contacted no known terrorist sympathizers in the United States.” CIA Director Tenet made similar comments at the same time, and another FBI official stated, “[T]here were no contacts with anybody we were looking at inside the United States.” These comments are clearly untrue, because one FBI document from November 2001 uncovered by the Inquiry concludes that the six lead hijackers “maintained a web of contacts both in the United States and abroad. These associates, ranging in degrees of closeness, include friends and associates from universities and flight schools, former roommates, people they knew through mosques and religious activities, and employment contacts. Other contacts provided legal, logistical, or financial assistance, facilitated US entry and flight school enrollment, or were known from [al-Qaeda]-related activities or training.” The declassified sections of the Congressional Inquiry's final report show the hijackers have contact with:
- Osama Basnan, US intelligence is informed of his terror connections several times in early 1990s but fails to investigate (April 1998).
- Omar al-Bayoumi, investigated in San Diego from 1998-1999 (see September 1998-July 1999).
- Osama “Sam” Mustafa, owner of a San Diego gas station, and investigated beginning in 1991 (see Autumn 2000)
- Ed Salamah, manager of the same gas station, and uncooperative witness in 2000 (see Autumn 2000).
- Unnamed friend of Hani Hanjour, FBI tries to investigate in 2001 (see 1997-July 2001).
- Unnamed associate of Marwan Alshehhi, investigated beginning in 1999 (see July 1999).
- and more: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, who had contact with numbers 3-7 above, “maintained a number of other contacts in the local Islamic community during their time in San Diego, some of whom were also known to the FBI through counterterrorist inquiries and investigations,” but details of these individuals and possible others are still classified. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] None of the above figures have been arrested or even publicly charged of any terrorist crime, although Zammar is in prison in Syria (see October 27, 2001).
July 24, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report comes out (see the report here: Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 and Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)). Officially, the report was written by the 37 members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, but in practice, cochairmen Bob Graham (D) and Porter Goss (R) exercised “near total control over the panel, forbidding the inquiry's staff to speak to other lawmakers.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/29/02] Both Republican and Democrats in the panel complained how the two cochairmen withheld information and controlled the process. [Palm Beach Post 9/21/02] The report was finished in December 2002 and some findings were released then (see December 11, 2002 (B)), but the next seven months were spent in negotiation with the Bush Administration over what material had to remain censored (see January-July 2003). The Inquiry had a very limited mandate, focusing solely on the handling of intelligence before 9/11. It also completely ignored or censored out all mentions of intelligence from foreign governments. Thomas Kean, the Chairman of 9/11 9/11 Commission says the Inquiry's mandate covered only “one-seventh or one-eighth” of what his newer investigation will hopefully cover. [Washington Post, 7/27/03] The report blames virtually every government agency for failures:
- Newsweek's main conclusion is: “The investigation turned up no damning single piece of evidence that would have led agents directly to the impending attacks. Still, the report makes it chillingly clear that law-enforcement and intelligence agencies might very well have uncovered the plot had it not been for blown signals, sheer bungling—and a general failure to understand the nature of the threat. ” [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
- According to the New York Times, the report also concludes, “the FBI and CIA had known for years that al-Qaeda sought to strike inside the United States, but focused their attention on the possibility of attacks overseas.” [New York Times 7/26/03]
- CIA Director Tenet was “either unwilling or unable to marshal the full range of Intelligence Community resources necessary to combat the growing threat.” [Washington Post 7/25/03]
- US military leaders were “reluctant to use … assets to conduct offensive counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan” or to “support or participate in CIA operations directed against al-Qaeda.” [Washington Post 7/25/03]
- “There was no coordinated … strategy to track terrorist funding and close down their financial support networks” and the Treasury Department even showed “reluctance” to do so. [Washington Post 7/25/03]
- According to the Washington Post, the NSA took “an overly cautious approach to collecting intelligence in the United States and offered ‘insufficient collaboration’ with the FBI's efforts.” [Washington Post 7/25/03]
Many sections remain censored, especially an entire chapter detailing possible Saudi support for 9/11 (see August 1-3, 2003). The Bush Administration insisted on censoring even information that was already in the public domain. [Newsweek, 5/25/03 (B)] The Inquiry attempted to determine “to what extent the President received threat-specific warnings” but received very little information. The was a focus on learning what was in Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001) but the White House refused to release this information, citing “executive privilege.” [Washington Post, 7/25/03 (B), Newsday, 8/7/03] Pressure builds to release more classified information, but it remains secret except for some media leaks (see July 28, 2003 and August 1-3, 2003). The report also causes pressure to reopen an investigation into Saudi connections to 9/11 and possible associates of the hijackers (see July 24, 2003 (B)), but a halfhearted effort to do so apparently dies in less than a month (see August 2003).
July 28, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's final report (see July 24, 2003), pressure builds to release most of the still-censored sections of the report, but on this day Bush says he is against the idea. [AP, 7/29/03 (B), New York Times, 7/29/03] Though an obscure rule the Senate could force the release of the material with a majority vote [USA Today, /5/29/03], but apparently the number of votes in favor of this idea falls just short. MSNBC reports, “the decision to keep the passage secret … created widespread suspicion among lawmakers that the administration was trying to shield itself and its Saudi allies from embarrassment. … Three of the four leaders of the joint congressional investigation into the attacks have said they believed that much of the material on foreign financing was safe to publish but that the administration insisted on keeping it secret.” [MSNBC, 7/28/03] Senator Richard Shelby (R), one of the main authors of the report, states that “90, 95 percent of it would not compromise, in my judgment, anything in national security.” Bush ignored a reporter's question on Shelby's assessment. [AP 7/29/03 (B)] Even the Saudi government claims to be in favor of releasing the censored material so it can better respond to Saudi criticism. [MSNBC 7/28/03] All the censored material remains censored; however, some details of the most controversial censored sections are leaked to the media (see August 1-3, 2003).
August 1-3, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
In the wake of the release of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry's full report (see July 24, 2003), anonymous officials leak some details from a controversial, completely censored 28 page section that focuses on possible Saudi support for 9/11. According to leaks given to the New York Times, the section says that Omar al-Bayoumi and/or Osama Basnan “had at least indirect links with two hijackers were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials.” It also says that Anwar Al Aulaqi “was a central figure in a support network that aided the same two hijackers.” Most connections drawn in the report between the men, Saudi intelligence, and 9/11 is said to be circumstantial. [New York Times 8/2/03] One key section is said to read, “ On the one hand, it is possible that these kinds of connections could suggest, as indicated in a CIA memorandum, ‘incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists’ … On the other hand, it is also possible that further investigation of these allegations could reveal legitimate, and innocent, explanations for these associations.” Some of the most sensitive information involves what US agencies are doing currently to investigate Saudi business figures and organizations. [AP 8/2/03] According to the New Republic, the section outlines “connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family.” An anonymous official is quoted as saying, “There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities. They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government. … If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to al-Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to al-Qaeda, they would have been in good shape. … If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight.” [New Republic 8/1/03] The section also is critical that the issue of foreign government support remains unresolved. One section reads, “In their testimony, neither CIA or FBI officials were able to address definitely the extent of such support for the hijackers, globally or within the United States, or the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature. This gap in intelligence community coverage is unacceptable.” [Boston Globe 8/3/03]
September 6, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
British government minister Michael Meacher publishes an essay entitled, “The War on Terrorism is Bogus.” Meacher is a long time British Member of Parliament, and served as Environmental Minister for six years until three months before releasing this essay. The Guardian, which publishes the essay, states that Meacher claims, “the war on terrorism is a smokescreen and that the US knew in advance about the September 11 attack on New York but, for strategic reasons, chose not to act on the warnings. He says the US goal is ‘world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies’ and that this Pax Americana ‘provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis.’ Mr Meacher adds that the US has made ‘no serious attempt’ to catch the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden.” [Guardian, 9/6/03] Meacher provides no personal anecdotes based on his years in Tony Blair's cabinet, but he cites numerous mainstream media accounts to support his thesis. He emphasizes the Project for a New American Century 2000 report (see September 2000) as a “blueprint” for a mythical “global war on terrorism,” “propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda—the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies”in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read Meacher's complete essay here: Guardian, 9/6/03 (B). Meacher's stand causes a controversial debate in Britain (see also BBC, 9/6/03, Telegraph, 9/7/03 (B)), but the story is almost completely ignored by the mainstream US media.
September 10, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
Slate reports that two years after the 9/11 attacks, neither the Chicago Board Options Exchange nor the Securities and Exchange Commission will make any comment about their investigations into insider trading before 9/11. “Neither has announced any conclusion. The SEC has not filed any complaint alleging illegal activity, nor has the Justice Department announced any investigation or prosecution. … So, unless the SEC decides to file a complaint—unlikely at this late stage—we may never know what they learned about terror trading.” [Slate 9/10/03]
September 12, 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
9/11 victim's relative Ellen Mariani sues the US government for what she claims is their foreknowledge of 9/11 (see ). “I'm 100 percent sure that they knew,” she says. In doing so, she is ineligible for government compensation from what she calls the “shut-up and go-away fund.” She believes she would have received around $500,000. According to a statement by her lawyer, the lawsuit against Bush, Vice President Cheney, the CIA, Defense Department, and other administration members “is based upon prior knowledge of 9/11; knowingly failing to act, prevent or warn of 9/11; and the ongoing obstruction of justice by covering up the truth of 9/11; all in violation of the laws of the United States.” As the Toronto Star has put this, this interesting story has been “buried” by the mainstream media. Coverage has been limited mostly to Philadelphia where the case was filed and New Hampshire where Mariani lives. [AP 12/24/03; Philadelphia Inquirer 9/23/03; Philadelphia Inquirer 12/3/03; Aljazeera 12/9/03; Toronto Star 11/30/03; Village Voice 12/3/03]
October 2003 Complete 911 Timeline
9/11 Commission staff director Philip Zelikow and several members of his staff visit Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries on a fact finding mission. While in Pakistan, they interview at least two senior members of the ISI. Whether or not this means they are investigating a possible ISI role in the 9/11 plot is unclear. [UPI 11/5/03]
Paul O'Neill, Bush's Treasury Secretary from inauguration until early 2003, appears on CBS's 60 Minutes and on the front page of Time Magazine as a new book containing his criticisms of Bush is released. [CBS 1/10/04; CBS 1/11/04; Time 1/10/04] Amongst his many critical charges in the book The Price of Loyalty, perhaps the most controversial is the claim, as CBS puts it, that “The Bush Administration began making plans for an invasion of Iraq, including the use of American troops, within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001—not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks, as has been previously reported.” [CBS 1/10/04] O'Neill's book, written by Ron Suskind, is based not only on O'Neill's account, but also 19,000 government documents, including transcripts of private, high-level National Security Council meetings. [CBS 1/11/04] The Bush administration angrily reacts to O'Neill's charges, admitting they were targeting Iraq from the first days in office, but claiming they were merely considering different options. They open a probe into whether O'Neill was authorized to disclose the documents he released. O'Neill is later cleared. [Washington Post 1/13/04]
March 21, 2004 Complete 911 Timeline
Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” from 1998 until October 2001, ignites a public debate by accusing Bush of doing a poor job fighting al-Qaeda before 9/11. In a prominent 60 Minutes interview, he says, “I find it outrageous that the President is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11…. I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism.” He adds, “We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al-Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months.” He complains that he was Bush's chief adviser on terrorism, yet he never got to brief Bush on the subject until after 9/11. [CBS, 3/20/04, CBS, 3/21/04, Guardian, 3/23/04, Salon, 3/24/04] The next day, his book Against All Enemies is released and becomes a best seller. [Washington Post 3/22/04]
March 21, 2004 (B) Complete 911 Timeline
The 9-11 Family Steering Committee and 9-11 Citizens Watch demand the resignation of Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission. The demand comes shortly after former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke told the New York Times that Zelikow was present when he gave briefings on the threat posed by al-Qaeda to National Security Advisor Rice from December 2000 to January 2001. The Family Steering Committee, a group of 9/11 victims' relatives, writes, “It is clear that [Zelikow] should never have been permitted to be a member of the commission, since it is the mandate of the commission to identify the source of failures. It is now apparent why there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We now can see that trail would lead directly to the staff director himself.” Zelikow has been interviewed by his own commission because of his role during the transition period. But a spokesman for the commission claims that having Zelikow recluse himself from certain topics is enough to avoid any conflicts of interest. [New York Times 3/20/04; UPI 3/23/04]
March 24, 2004 Complete 911 Timeline
Just a few days after releasing a new book (see March 21, 2004), former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke testifies before the 9/11 commission. His opening statement consists of little more than an apology to the relatives of the 9/11 victims. He says, “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you. For that failure, I would ask…for your understanding and forgiveness.” Under questioning, he praises the Clinton administration, saying, “My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting al-Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration—certainly no higher priority.” But he's very critical of the Bush administration, stating, “By invading Iraq…the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.” He says that under Bush before 9/11, terrorism was “an important issue, but not an urgent issue…. [CIA Director] George Tenet and I tried very hard to create a sense of urgency by seeing to it that intelligence reports on the al-Qaeda threat were frequently given to the president and other high-level officials. But although I continue to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way.” He points out that he made a proposal to fight al-Qaeda in late January 2001 (see January 25, 2001). While the gist of them were implemented after 9/11, he complains, “I didn't really understand why they couldn't have been done in February .” He says that with a more robust intelligence and covert action program, “we might have been able to nip [the plot] in the bud.” [Washington Post 3/24/04; New York Times 3/24/04; 9/11 Commission 3/24/04] It soon emerges that President Bush's top lawyer places a telephone call to at least one of the Republican members of the commission just before Clarke's testimony. Critics call that an unethical interference in the hearings. [Washington Post, 4/1/04 (B)] Democratic Commissioner Bob Kerrey complains, “To call commissioners and coach them on what they ought to say is a terrible mistake.” [New York Daily News 4/2/04]
Late March 2004 Complete 911 Timeline
Republicans attack Richard Clarke in the wake of his new book and 9/11 commission testimony, while Democrats defend him. [New York Times 3/25/04] Senator John McCain (R) calls the attacks “the most vigorous offensive I've ever seen from the administration on any issue.” [Washington Post, 3/28/04] Republicans on the 9/11 Commission criticize him while Democrats praise him. The White House violates its long-standing policy by authorizing Fox News to air remarks favorable to Bush that Clarke had made anonymously at an administration briefing in 2002. National Security Advisor Rice says to the media, “There are two very different stories here. These stories can't be reconciled.” However, in what the Washington Post calls a “masterful bit of showmanship” Clarke replies that he emphasized the positives in 2002 because he was asked to, but didn't lie. [Fox News, 3/24/04, Washington Post, 3/25/04, Washington Post, 3/26/04 (B)] Republican Senate leader Frist asks “If [Clarke] lied under oath to the United States Congress” in closed testimony in 2002. [Washington Post, 3/27/04 (B)] However, a review of declassified citations from Clarke's 2002 testimony provides no evidence of contradiction, and White House officials familiar with the testimony agree that any differences are matters of emphasis, not fact. [Washington Post, 4/4/04 (B)] Republican leaders threaten to release his 2002 testimony, and Clarke claims he welcomes the release. The testimony remains classified. [AP, 3/26/04, AP, 3/28/04] Clarke also calls on Rice to release all e-mail communications between them before 9/11; this is not released either. [Guardian, 3/29/04] Vice President Cheney calls Clarke “out of the loop” on terrorism. But Rice says Clarke was very much involved. [New York Times, 3/25/04 (D)] Clarke responds by pointing out that he voted Republican in 2000 and he pledges under oath not to seek a post if Senator John Kerry wins the 2004 Presidential election. [Washington Post, 3/24/04] According to Reuters, a number of political experts conclude, “The White House may have mishandled accusations leveled by their former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke by attacking his credibility, keeping the controversy firmly in the headlines into a second week.” [Reuters 3/29/04]
April 13, 2004 Complete 911 Timeline
In a press conference, President Bush states, “We knew he [Osama bin Laden] had designs on us, we knew he hated us. But there was nobody in our government, and I don't think [in] the prior government, that could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.” [Guardian, 4/15/04] He also says, “Had I any inkling whatsoever that the people were going to fly airplanes into buildings, we would have moved heaven and earth to save the country.” [White House, 4/13/04, New York Times, 4/18/04 (C)] Two days earlier, he says, “Had I known there was going to be an attack on America I would have moved mountains to stop the attack.” [New York Times 4/18/04]
April 25, 2004 Complete 911 Timeline
It is reported that Allen Poteshman, a professor of finance at the University of Illinois, has confirmed that inside trading in options on United and American airline stocks indicates someone profited from foreknowledge of 9/11. Poteshman writes in an academic paper, “There is evidence of unusual option market activity in the days leading up to Sept. 11.” [Chicago Tribune 4/25/04; a link to his study]
May 2004 Complete 911 Timeline
The Justice Department retroactively classifies information it gave to Congress in 2002 regarding FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Senator Charles Grassley (R) says, “What the FBI is up to here is ludicrous. To classify something that's already been out in the public domain, what do you accomplish? This is about as close to a gag order as you can get.” The New York Times reports that some of the information discussed would potentially be very “damaging if released publicly.” Topics like what languages Edmonds translated, what types of cases she handled, and where she worked is now classified, even though much of this has been widely reported on shows like CBS's 60 Minutes. [New York Times, 5/20/04 http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/20/politics/20classify.html] In late 2002, the Justice Department invoked the rarely used "state secrets privilege" to limit what she could say. [Salon 3/26/04 http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/03/26/translator/]
July 2004 Complete Iraq Timeline
The 9/11 Commission concludes that there was “no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States” and that repeated contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda “do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.” It also says that it did not believe the alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (see 1999) ever took place. [New York Times, 7/12/2004]