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July 3, 2001: Tenet Makes Urgent Request for Help from Allies Edit

CIA Director Tenet makes an urgent special request to 20 friendly foreign intelligence services, asking for the arrests of anyone on a list of known al-Qaeda operatives. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002] Also in late June, the CIA orders all its station chiefs overseas to share information on al-Qaeda with their host governments and to push for immediate disruptions of al-Qaeda cells. Vice President Cheney asks Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah for help on July 5, and counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke makes appeals to other foreign officials. As a result, several terrorist operatives are detained by foreign governments. According to a later analysis by the 9/11 Commission, this possibly disrupts operations in the Persian Gulf and Italy (see June 13, 2001) and perhaps averts attacks against two or three US embassies. For instance, al-Qaeda operative Djamel Beghal is detained by the French government in July and gives up information about a plot to attack the US embassy in France (see July 24 or 28, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 258, 534] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 3, 2001: Rare Discussion Takes Place Between National Security Advisers on Terrorism This is one of only two dates that Bush’s national security leadership discusses terrorism. (The other discussion occurs on September 4.) Apparently, the topic is only mentioned in passing and is not the focus of the meeting. This group, made up of the national security adviser, CIA director, defense secretary, secretary of state, Joint Chiefs of staff chairman and others, met around 100 times before 9/11 to discuss a variety of topics, but apparently rarely terrorism. The White House “aggressively defended the level of attention [to terrorism], given only scattered hints of al-Qaeda activity.” This lack of discussion stands in sharp contrast to the Clinton administration and public comments by the Bush administration. [TIME, 8/4/2002] Bush said in February 2001, “I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil.” A few months earlier, Tenet told Congress, “The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving” (see February 7, 2001). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/28/2002] Entity Tags: US Congress, Al-Qaeda, Richard B. Myers, George J. Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Clinton administration, Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 5, 2001: Ashcroft Is Warned of Imminent, Multiple Attacks from Al-Qaeda The CIA briefs Attorney General Ashcroft on the al-Qaeda threat. Several senior CIA Counterterrorist Center officials warn him that a significant attack is imminent, preparations for multiple attacks are in the late stages or already complete, and that little additional warning can be expected. He is told the attack is more likely to occur overseas than in the US. He was also briefed by the CIA on the al-Qaeda threat on May 15, 2001. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 258-259, 534; TENET, 2007, PP. 150] CIA Director Tenet will later claim in a book that at the end of the briefing, Ashcroft turned to some FBI personnel and asked them, “Why are they telling me this? Why am I not hearing this from you?” [TENET, 2007, PP. 150] One week later, the FBI will brief him about the al-Qaeada threat in the US and he will reportedly reply, “I do not want to hear about this anymore” (see July 12, 2001). By the end of July, he will stop flying commercial aircraft in the US (see July 26, 2001). Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, John Ashcroft Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Shortly After July 5, 2001: Warning from Urgent Meeting Is Not Shared within Domestic Agencies On July 5, 2001, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave a dramatic briefing to representatives from several domestic agencies on the urgent al-Qaeda threat (see July 5, 2001). However, the warnings given generally are not passed on by the attendees back to their respective agencies. The domestic agencies were not questioned about how they planned to address the threat and were not told what was expected of them. According to the 9/11 Commission, attendees later “report that they were told not to disseminate the threat information they received at the meeting. They interpreted this direction to mean that although they could brief their superiors, they could not send out advisories to the field.” One National Security Council official has a different recollection of what happened, recalling that attendees were asked to take the information back to their agencies and “do what you can” with it, subject to classification and distribution restrictions. But, for whatever reason, none of the involved agencies post internal warnings based on the meeting, except for Customs which puts out a general warning based entirely on publicly known historical facts. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 258, 264] The FAA issues general and routine threat advisories that don’t reflect the level of urgency expressed by Clarke and others (see January-August 2001). FAA Administrator Jane Garvey later claims she was unaware of a heightened threat level, but in 2005 it will be revealed that about half of the FAA’s daily briefings during this time period referred to bin Laden or al-Qaeda (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/18/2004] Clarke said rhetorically in the meeting that he wants to know if a sparrow has fallen from a tree. A senior FBI official attended the meeting and promised a redoubling of the FBI’s efforts. However, just five days after Clarke’s meeting, FBI agent Ken Williams sends off his memo speculating that al-Qaeda may be training operatives as pilots in the US (see July 10, 2001), yet the FBI fails to share this information with Clarke or any other agency. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 236-37] The FBI will also fail to tell Clarke about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 16, 2001), or what they know about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see August 23, 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Zacarias Moussaoui, US Customs Service, Nawaf Alhazmi, Al-Qaeda, Counterterrorism and Security Group, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Andrew Card, Ken Williams, Richard A. Clarke, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 10, 2001: Urgent CIA Request for Funds to Immediately Deal with Bin Laden Is Denied On this date, CIA Director George Tenet and CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black give the White House an urgent al-Qaeda briefing that, if heeded, Black later believes could have stopped bin Laden. Tenet and Black strongly suggest that both an overall strategy and immediate covert or military action against bin Laden are needed (see July 10, 2001). According to a 2006 book by journalist Bob Woodward that is likely paraphrasing Black, one of Woodward’s sources for his book, “Black calculated that if [the White House] had given him $500 million of covert action funds right then and reasonable authorizations from the president to go kill bin Laden, he would have been able to make great strides if not do away with him.… Over the last two years—and as recently as March 2001—the CIA had deployed paramilitary teams five times into Afghanistan to work with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, a loose federation of militias and tribes in the north. The CIA had about 100 sources and subsources operating throughout Afghanistan. Just give him the money and the authority and he might be able to bring bin Laden’s head back in a box.” [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 77-78; NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 9/29/2006] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Cofer Black Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 10, 2001: CIA Director Tenet Briefed about Al-Qaeda; Urgent White House Meeting Results CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black and Richard Blee, a manager responsible for the CIA’s bin Laden unit, meet with CIA Director George Tenet and review the latest intelligence about al-Qaeda. Black lays out a case based on communications intercepts and other intelligence suggesting a growing chance that al-Qaeda will attack the US soon. There is no smoking gun per se, but there is a huge volume of data indicating an attack is coming (see July 9-10, 2001). The case is so compelling—Tenet will later say it “literally made my hair stand on end”—that Tenet decides to brief the White House on it this same day (see July 10, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 10/1/2006; TENET, 2007, PP. 151] Entity Tags: White House, Rich B., George J. Tenet, Cofer Black, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 10, 2001: CIA Director Gives Urgent Warning to White House of Imminent, Multiple, Simultaneous Al-Qaeda Attacks, Possibly within US

Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet in the White House. This picture is actually taken on October 8, 2001, and President Bush is elsewhere in the room. [Source: Eric Draper / White House] CIA Director George Tenet finds the briefing that counterterrorism chief Cofer Black gave him earlier in the day (see July 10, 2001) so alarming that he calls National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice from his car as he heads to the White House and says he needs to see her right away, even though he has regular weekly meetings with her. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/1/2006] Tenet and Black let a third CIA official, Richard Blee, who is responsible for Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, brief Rice on the latest intelligence. Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke are also present. [MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS, 10/2/2006] 'Significant Attack' - Blee starts by saying, “There will be a significant terrorist attack in the coming weeks or months!” He argues that it is impossible to pick the specific day, saying Osama bin Laden “will attack when he believes the attack will be successful.” He mentions a range of threat information including:

A warning related to Chechen leader Ibn Khattab (see (July 9, 2001)) and seven pieces of intelligence the CIA recently received indicating there would soon be a terrorist attack (see July 9-10, 2001); 
A mid-June statement by bin Laden to trainees that there would be an attack in the near future (see Mid-June 2001); 
Information that talks about moving toward decisive acts; 
Late-June information saying a “big event” was forthcoming; 
Two separate bits of information collected “a few days before the meeting” in which people predicted a “stunning turn of events” in the weeks ahead. This may be a reference to intercepts of calls in Yemen, possibly involving the father-in-law of 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar (see June 30-July 1, 2001). 

Multiple, Simultaneous Attacks in US Possible - Blee says that the attacks will be “spectacular,” they will be designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities and interests, there may be multiple, simultaneous attacks, and they may be in the US itself. He outlines the CIA’s efforts to disrupt al-Qaeda by spreading incorrect word that the attack plans have been compromised, in the hope that this will cause a delay in the attack. But he says this is not enough and that the CIA should go on the attack. Blee also discounts the possibility of disinformation, as bin Laden’s threats are known to the public in the Middle East and there will be a loss of face, funds, and popularity if they are not carried out. Blee urges that the US take a “proactive approach” by using the Northern Alliance. [TENET, 2007, PP. 151-4] Author Bob Woodward will later write: “Black emphasize[s] that this amount[s] to a strategic warning, meaning the problem [is] so serious that it require[s] an overall plan and strategy. Second, this [is] a major foreign policy problem that need[s] to be addressed immediately. They need […] to take action that moment—covert, military, whatever—to thwart bin Laden. The United States ha[s] human and technical sources, and all the intelligence [is] consistent.” [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 80; WASHINGTON POST, 10/1/2006] Richard Clarke expresses his agreement with the CIA about the threat’s seriousness, and Black says, “This country needs to go on a war footing now.” Rice's Response - There are conflicting accounts about the CIA’s reading of Rice’s response. According to Woodward: “Tenet and Black [feel] they [are] not getting through to Rice. She [is] polite, but they [feel] the brush-off.” They leave the meeting frustrated, seeing little prospect for immediate action. Tenet and Black will both later recall the meeting as the starkest warning they gave the White House on al-Qaeda before 9/11 and one that could have potentially stopped the 9/11 attacks if Rice had acted on it (see July 10, 2001) and conveyed their urgency to President Bush. (Tenet is briefing Bush on a daily basis at this time, but he will later say that Rice has a much better rapport with the president.) Black will say, “The only thing we didn’t do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.” [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 80; WASHINGTON POST, 10/1/2006] Rice says that Bush will align his policy with the new realities and grant new authorities. Writing in 2007, Tenet will say that this response is “just the outcome I had expected and hoped for,” and recall that as they leave the meeting, Blee and Black congratulate each other on having got the administration’s attention. Nevertheless, Rice does not take the requested action until after 9/11. [TENET, 2007, PP. 153-4] Rice Concerned about Genoa - Clarke will recall in 2006 that Rice focuses on the possible threat to Bush at an upcoming summit meeting in Genoa, Italy (see June 13, 2001 and July 20-22, 2001). Rice and Bush have already been briefed about the Genoa warning by this time (see July 5, 2001). Rice also promises to quickly schedule a high-level White House meeting on al-Qaeda. However, that meeting does not take place until September 4, 2001 (see September 4, 2001). [MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS, 10/2/2006] Rice also directs that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft be given the same briefing, and they receive it a short time later (see July 11-17, 2001). Meeting Not Mentioned in 9/11 Commission Report - The meeting will not be mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report (see August 4, 2002), and there will be controversy when it is fully revealed in 2006 (see September 29, 2006, September 30-October 3, 2006, and October 1-2, 2006). Entity Tags: Rich B., Stephen J. Hadley, White House, Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, George J. Tenet, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Cofer Black, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 13, 2001: Bush Administration Again Denies CIA Expanded Authority to Assassinate Bin Laden The Bush administration again denies the CIA expanded authorities to go on the offensive against bin Laden. These authorities would include permission to assassinate bin Laden without making an attempt to capture him alive first. In March 2001, the CIA wanted to give a draft request about this to the Bush administration, but officials weren’t ready so the draft was withdrawn (see Early March 2001). On July 13, three days after a dramatic CIA presentation about a likely upcoming al-Qaeda attack (see July 10, 2001), a meeting of deputy cabinet officials is held to discuss the CIA’s expanded authorities request. However, no decisions are made. Tenet will later comment, “the bureaucracy moved slowly.” The Bush administration will grant these authorities a few days after 9/11. [TENET, 2007, PP. 154] Entity Tags: Bush administration, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Mid-July 2001: Tenet Warns Rice About Major Attack CIA Director Tenet has a special meeting with National Security Adviser Rice and her aides about al-Qaeda. Says one official at the meeting, “[Tenet] briefed [Rice] that there was going to be a major attack.” Another at the meeting says Tenet displays a huge wall chart showing dozens of threats. Tenet does not rule out a domestic attack but says an overseas attack is more likely. [TIME, 8/4/2002] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Mid-July 2001: Pentagon Official Suggests to CIA Director that Al-Qaeda is Just ‘Phantom Enemy’ Shortly after a pivotal al-Qaeda warning given by the CIA to top officials (see July 10, 2001), Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Steve Cambone expresses doubts. He speaks to CIA Director George Tenet, and, as Tenet will later recall, he “asked if I had considered the possibility that al-Qaeda threats were just a grand deception, a clever ploy to tie up our resources and expend our energies on a phantom enemy that lacked both the power and the will to carry the battle to us.” Tenet claims he replied, “No, this is not a deception, and, no, I do not need a second opinion.… We are going to get hit. It’s only a matter of time.” After 9/11, Cambone will reportedly apologize to Tenet for being wrong. [TENET, 2007, PP. 154] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz raises similar doubts around the same time (see Mid-July 2001), and Tenet believes Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is blocking efforts to develop a strategy to fight bin Laden (see Summer 2001). Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Stephen A. Cambone Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Mid-July 2001: Wolfowitz Doubts Attack Warnings Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley tells CIA Director George Tenet that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz questions the significance of the recent surge in al-Qaeda warnings. Wolfowitz apparently suggests that bin Laden may merely be trying to study US reactions to an attack threat. Tenet replies that he has already addressed these questions and that the reporting is convincing. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 259] Tenet is likely referring to a report delivered to the White House on June 30 entitled “Bin Laden Threats Are Real” (see June 30, 2001) that was prepared to deal with nearly identical doubts from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (see Summer 2001). In April 2001, Wolfowitz said in a meeting that the main terrorist threat to the US was from Iraq, not bin Laden (see April 30, 2001). Entity Tags: Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen J. Hadley, George J. Tenet, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 24, 2001: King of Jordan Offers to Send Troops to Eliminate Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan; US Not Immediately Interested

King Abdullah II. [Source: David Bohrer/ White House] CIA Director George Tenet will later reveal that on this day, he learns in a briefing that King Abdullah II of Jordan is offering to help the US with troops to defeat bin Laden in a decisive military manner. He offers to send two battalions (roughly between 1,000 and 2,000 soldiers) of “Jordanian Special Forces to go door to door in Afghanistan, if necessary, to deal with al-Qaeda. The offer was a wonderful gesture but would have to have been part of a larger overall strategy in order to succeed. To King Abdullah, bin Laden was the greatest threat in the world to his nation’s security….” [TENET, 2007, PP. 156] There is a claim that al-Qaeda plotted an assassination of King Abdullah II, which was aborted when he learned of the plot in the summer of 2000. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 133] After 9/11, it will be reported that in July 2001, Jordan warned the US that al-Qaeda was planning an attack inside the US (see July 2001). It will also be reported that in the late summer of 2001, Jordan warned the US of a major al-Qaeda attack inside the US using aircraft. They say it is codenamed “The Big Wedding,” which is al-Qaeda’s codename for the 9/11 attacks (see Late Summer 2001). Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein, George J. Tenet, Jordan Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

July 24 or 28, 2001: Captured Operative Had Links That Could Have Led to Moussaoui, 9/11 Plot

Djamel Beghal. [Source: Public domain] High-level al-Qaeda operative Djamel Beghal is arrested in Dubai on his way back from Afghanistan. Earlier in the month the CIA sent friendly intelligence agencies a list of al-Qaeda agents they wanted to be immediately apprehended, and Beghal was on the list (see July 3, 2001). Information Obtained - Beghal quickly starts to talk, and tells French investigators about a plot to attack the American embassy in Paris. Crucially, he provides new details about the international-operations role of top al-Qaeda deputy Abu Zubaida, whom he had been with a short time before. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/28/2001; TIME, 8/4/2002] One European official says Beghal talks about “very important figures in the al-Qaeda structure, right up to bin Laden’s inner circle. [He] mention[s] names, responsibilities and functions—people we weren’t even aware of before. This is important stuff.” [TIME, 11/12/2001] One French official says of Beghal’s interrogations, “We shared everything we knew with the Americans.” [TIME, 5/19/2002] Link to 9/11 - The New York Times later will report, “Enough time and work could have led investigators from Mr. Beghal to an address in Hamburg where Mohamed Atta and his cohorts had developed and planned the Sept. 11 attacks.” Beghal had frequently associated with Zacarias Moussaoui. However, although Moussaoui is arrested (see August 16, 2001) around the same time that Beghal is revealing the names and details of all his fellow operatives, Beghal is apparently not asked about Moussaoui. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/28/2001; TIME, 8/4/2002] Timing of Arrest - Most media accounts place the arrest on July 28. However, in a 2007 book CIA Director George Tenet will say he received a briefing about the arrest on July 24. [TENET, 2007, PP. 156-157] Entity Tags: Djamel Beghal, Al-Qaeda, Mohamed Atta, George J. Tenet, Zacarias Moussaoui Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

July 27, 2001: Rice Briefed on Terrorist Threats, Advised to Keep Ready Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke reports to National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy Steve Hadley that the spike in intelligence indicating a near-term attack appears to have ceased, but he urges them to keep readiness high. Intelligence indicates that an attack has been postponed for a few months. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] In early August, CIA Director Tenet also reports that intelligence suggests that whatever terrorist activity might have been originally planned has been delayed. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen J. Hadley, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Late July 2001: CIA Director Believes Warnings Could Not ‘Get Any Worse’ CIA Director George Tenet has been alarmed all summer about the rise in attack warnings (see Summer 2001). As Tenet later tells the 9/11 Commission, in his world “the system was blinking red.” By late July, Tenet believes that the level of alarm could not “get any worse.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 259] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Late July 2001: Taliban Intelligence Chief Wants Secret Contact with US to ‘Save Afghanistan’ In his 2007 book, CIA Director George Tenet will write that on this day, “From Afghanistan came word that the Taliban intelligence chief, Qari Amadullah, was interested in establishing secret contact, outside the country and without Mullah Omar’s knowledge, “to save Afghanistan.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 156] However, it is unclear if the offer was acted upon because Tenet has nothing more to say about it. The 9/11 Commission will later report that in July a deep schism developed in the Taliban and even al-Qaeda leadership over the wisdom of going through with the 9/11 attacks. Apparently, even top Taliban leader Mullah Omar was ideologically opposed to the attacks at this time, though he may have changed his mind before 9/11. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 251-252] Entity Tags: Mullah Omar, Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Taliban, Qari Amadullah Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Late July 2001: CIA Official Says of Al-Qaeda, ‘They’re Coming Here’ CIA Director George Tenet will recall in his 2007 book that “during one of my updates in late July when, as we speculated about the kind of [al-Qaeda] attacks we could face, Rich B. suddenly said, with complete conviction, ‘They’re coming here.’ I’ll never forget the silence that followed.” Rich B. is the alias Tenet uses for Richard Blee, the official who oversees Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, at this time (see June 1999 and Between Mid-January and July 2000). It is not known who else is at the meeting. [TENET, 2007, PP. 158] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Rich B., George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Late July-August 2001: US Fails to Capture or Kill Al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri. [Source: FBI] The US receives intelligence that bin Laden’s right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is receiving medical treatment at a clinic in Sana’a, Yemen. However, the Bush administration rejects a plan to capture him, as officials are not 100 percent sure the patient is al-Zawahiri. Officials later regret the missed opportunity. [ABC NEWS, 2/20/2002] In another account, an anonymous CIA source claims that the “Egyptian intelligence service briefed us that he was in a hospital in Sana’a. We sent a few people over there, and they made a colossal screwup. While our guys were conducting a surveillance of the hospital, the guards caught them with their videocameras.” [NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002] CIA Director Tenet will touch on this incident in his 2007 book, saying that only that on July 24, 2001, “we had reporting that al-Zawahiri was in Yemen and we were pursuing confirmation and a plan to exfiltrate him to the United States. Although we doubted this information, it was out intention to play this hand out.” He doesn’t mention what happened after that. [TENET, 2007] Al-Zawahiri also appears to have spent time in Yemen in 1998 (see Spring-Summer 1998). Entity Tags: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Bush administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

August 16-September 10, 2001: FBI Fails to Inform Own Director of Moussaoui Case The FBI fails to inform its own head of the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui. It is unclear how this failure occurs. The highest FBI official to be informed of Moussaoui’s arrest is apparently Michael Rolince, head of the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section (see Late August 2001), but it seems he fails to pass the information on. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 275] Thomas Pickard, who is acting FBI director at this time, will later blame CIA director George Tenet, who was briefed repeatedly on the case (see August 23, 2001), for not informing him of Moussaoui’s arrest, but Tenet will comment: “I was stunned to hear [Pickard’s comments] suggesting that I had somehow failed to notify him about Moussaoui. Failed to tell him? Hell, it was the FBI’s case, their arrest. I had no idea that the Bureau wasn’t aware of what its own people were doing.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 200-201] Entity Tags: Michael Rolince, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George J. Tenet, Zacarias Moussaoui, Thomas Pickard Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 16-September 10, 2001: FBI Fails to Brief NSC on Moussaoui, although this Is Standard Practice Following the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, the FBI fails to brief the Counterterrorism and Security Group (CSG) chaired by counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke at the National Security Council (NSC) on the case. CIA director George Tenet will later say that briefing the CSG on such an arrest is “standard practice.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 200] In July 2001, Clarke had told the FBI he wanted to be informed of anything unusual, even if a sparrow fell from a tree (see Shortly After July 5, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George J. Tenet, Zacarias Moussaoui Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 17, 2001: Department of Energy Scientists Dispute CIA Assessment that Aluminum Tubes Were Intended for Nuclear Program A team of centrifuge physicists at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other similar institutions publish a detailed Technical Intelligence Note concerning the aluminum tubes that Iraq recently attempted to import from China (see July 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 8/10/2003; AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 10/27/2003; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] The team includes Dr. Jon A. Kreykes, head of Oak Ridge’s national security advanced technology group; Dr. Duane F. Starr, an expert on nuclear proliferation threats; and Dr. Edward Von Halle, a retired Oak Ridge nuclear expert. They are advised by Dr. Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on centrifuges, and Dr. Gernot Zippe, one of the German scientists who developed an early uranium centrifuge in the 1950s (see 1950s). The 8-page report, titled “Iraq’s Gas Centrifuge Program: Is Reconstitution Underway?” provides a detailed explanation of why the team believes the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were not intended for use in a gas centrifuge. [US CONGRESS, 7/7/2004; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004]

The tubes sought by Iraq are very different from tubes Iraq used previously in its centrifuge prototypes before the first Gulf War. The intercepted aluminum tubes are significantly longer and narrower. [WASHINGTON POST, 8/10/2003; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] 
Aluminum has not been used in gas centrifuges since the 1950s (see After the 1950s). Furthermore, Iraq is known to have had the blueprints for a more efficient centrifuge, which used maraging steel and carbon fiber, not aluminum (see (Late 1980s)). [WASHINGTON POST, 8/10/2003] Aluminum “provides performance roughly half that of” maraging steel and carbon fiber composites. Constructing rotors from 7075-T6 aluminum would require the Iraqis to make twice as many rotors, as well as twice as many other centrifuge components, such as end caps, bearings, and outer casings. [US CONGRESS, 7/7/2004] “Aluminum would represent a huge step backwards,” according to Wood. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] 
There are no known centrifuge machines “deployed in a production environment” that use tubes with such a small diameter. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] Using tubes of this diameter, would have created “various design and operational problems that veteran engineers of Iraq’s prior program should readily understand.” [US CONGRESS, 7/7/2004] 
The report says that the “various tolerances specified in contract documents… are looser than the expected precision call-outs for an aluminum rotor tube by factors of two to five.” [US CONGRESS, 7/7/2004] 
The tubes’ walls, measuring 3.3 millimeters, are three times too thick for “favorable use” in a “Zippe-type” centrifuge, which requires tubes with a thickness of no more than 1.1 millimeter. [WASHINGTON POST, 8/10/2003; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] 
The tubes are anodized, which is “not consistent” with a uranium centrifuge because the anodized coating can react with uranium gas. [US CONGRESS, 7/7/2004; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] Houston G. Wood later tells the Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that such a theory stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” [WASHINGTON POST, 8/10/2003] The scientists conclude that using the tubes in centrifuges “is credible but unlikely, and a rocket production is the much more likely end use for these tubes.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/3/2004] They also note that the Iraqis previously declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that since at least 1989, Iraq’s Nasser State Establishment had used large numbers of high strength aluminum tubes to manufacture 81-mm rockets. “The tubes were declared to be made of 7075-T6 aluminum with an 81 mm outer diameter, 74.4 mm inner diameter, and 900 mm length—the same specifications of the tubes Iraq was trying to acquire in 2001,” a later Senate Intelligence report will say summarizing the nuclear scientists’ report. The scientists also say that IAEA inspectors had seen these tubes stored in various locations at the Nasser site. [US CONGRESS, 7/7/2004]

Entity Tags: Edward Von Halle, Duane F. Starr, Jon A. Kreykes, Gernot Zippe, Houston G. Wood III, Joe Turner, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

August 17 and 31, 2001: CIA Director Tenet Briefs President Bush; Fails to Mention Moussaoui CIA records show that CIA Director George Tenet briefed President Bush twice in August—once in Crawford, Texas, on August 17, and once in Washington, on August 31. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/15/2004] In Tenet’s 2007 book, he will briefly mention that “A few weeks after the August 6 PDB [titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’ (see August 6, 2001)] was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the president stayed current on events. That was my first visit to the ranch.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 145] Later asked about what he told Bush at this meeting, Tenet will only say, “I held nothing back from the president. He understood our concerns about threats. He understood what we were doing around the world at the time.” [MSNBC, 5/7/2007] By the time of the second briefing, Tenet has been briefed about Zacarias Moussaoui’s arrest (see August 23, 2001), but, apparently, he fails to tell Bush about it. [WASHINGTON POST, 4/15/2004] In April 2004, Tenet will testify under oath before the 9/11 Commission that he had no direct communication with President Bush during the month of August. [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/15/2004] This is quickly discovered to be untrue. A CIA spokesperson will then claim, “He momentarily forgot [about the briefings]” (see April 14, 2004). [WASHINGTON POST, 4/15/2004] Tenet will personally brief Bush six more times before 9/11 and will still apparently fail to mention Moussaoui to him (see September 1-8, 2001). Entity Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, George J. Tenet, George W. Bush, 9/11 Commission Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 20, 2001: Atta Announces Approximate Date of Attack in E-mail to Bin Al-Shibh In a later interview, would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh claims that roughly around this day, he receives a coded e-mail about the 9/11 plot from Mohamed Atta. It reads, “The first term starts in three weeks.… There are 19 certificates for private studies and four exams.” Bin al-Shibh learns the exact day of the attack on August 29. [GUARDIAN, 9/9/2002] Hijacker Hani Hanjour also makes surveillance test flights near the Pentagon and WTC around this time, showing the targets have been confirmed as well. [CBS NEWS, 10/9/2002] Information in a notebook later found in Afghanistan suggests the 9/11 attack was planned for later, but was moved up at the last minute. [MSNBC, 1/30/2002] The FBI later notices spikes in cell phone use between the hijackers just after the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui and just before the hijackers begin to buy tickets for the flights they would hijack. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/10/2002] CIA Director Tenet has hinted that Zacarias Moussaoui’s arrest a few days earlier (on August 15 (see August 16, 2001)) may be connected to when the date of the attack was picked. [US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002] On the other hand, some terrorists appear to have made plans to flee Germany in advance of the 9/11 attacks one day before Moussaoui’s arrest (see August 14, 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, George J. Tenet, Hani Hanjour, Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 22-September 10, 2001: Unclear If Bin Laden Unit Briefs Top CIA Management about Almihdhar’s Presence in US; Unit Chief Knows He Is Likely Attacker

Khalid Almihdhar. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] It is unclear if Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, briefs CIA leaders on information that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar is in the US. Margaret Gillespie, an FBI analyst detailed to the station, discovers that Almihdhar is in the US on August 21, immediately informs the FBI (see August 21-22, 2001), and places Almihdhar, hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi, and two more associates on the TIPOFF watch list the next day (see August 23, 2001). The CIA also forwards information about al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash to the FBI on August 30 (see August 30, 2001). No Information on Briefings - There is no indication that Richard Blee, the CIA manager responsible for Alec Station, or anyone at Alec Station informs the CIA’s leadership, the White House, or Richard Clarke’s Counterterrorism Security Group (see August 23, 2001) of Almihdhar’s presence in the US and the clear implications of this presence. For example, no such briefing will be mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report, although the report will mention that CIA Director George Tenet is briefed about Zacarias Moussaoui around the same time, and it does discuss the circulation of the information about Almihdhar at the FBI in detail. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 268-277] The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will not mention any such briefing, although it will discuss how the FBI handles the information. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 151-4 ] No such briefing will be mentioned in a 2007 book by Tenet, although the book will mention a briefing Tenet receives about Moussaoui. [TENET, 2007, PP. 158-160, 200] The Justice Department inspector general’s report will discuss the FBI’s handling of the information in detail. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 297-313 ] However, the full CIA inspector general’s report about 9/11 will not be made public, and its executive summary will not mention any such briefing. [CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 6/2005, PP. 15-16 ] Alec Station Aware of Threat and Almihdhar - Alec Station, the CIA, and the US intelligence community in general are highly aware that preparations for a large al-Qaeda attack are in the final stages (see Shortly After July 5, 2001, June 28, 2001, and June 28, 2001). Blee is, in fact, the lead briefer within the government about the threats, and has briefed not only his superiors at the CIA, but also National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (see May 30, 2001 and June 28, 2001). He has also recently expressed the belief that the attack will be in the US (see Late July 2001) and has apparently received a series of e-mails in which his former deputy told him Almihdhar may well be involved in the forthcoming attack (see July 5, 2001, July 13, 2001, and July 23, 2001). The information that Almihdhar is in the US therefore confirms Blee’s belief that the attack will be in the US, but it appears Alec Station fails to pass this information on. Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Nawaf Alhazmi, Rich B., Alec Station, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 23, 2001: CIA Director Tenet Told of Moussaoui, but Does Not Inform White House and Takes No Action CIA Director George Tenet and senior CIA senior staff are briefed repeatedly about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui. When news of the case first reaches the CIA, Tenet is absent and his deputy John McLaughlin is briefed, probably around August 20, 2001. [9/11 COMMISSION, 4/13/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 541] Series of Briefings - Tenet is informed of Moussaoui on August 23 in a briefing entitled “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” The briefing states that Moussaoui paid for his training in cash, was interested to learn a plane’s doors do not open in flight, and wanted training on London to New York City flights. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DISTRICT, 7/31/2006 ] At the same time Tenet is briefed on a number of other items, including the arrest of one of Moussaoui’s associates, Djamel Beghal (see July 24 or 28, 2001), and a group of Pakistanis arrested in Bolivia during preparations for a hijacking. [TENET, 2007, PP. 200] Tenet and other CIA officials are then kept up to date with developments in the case in a series of at least five briefings. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] No Discussion with Other Agencies - However, others such as President Bush and the White House Counterterrorism Support Group (CSG) are not told about Moussaoui until after the 9/11 attacks begin (see August 16-September 10, 2001). Even the acting director of the FBI is not told (see August 16-September 10, 2001), despite the fact that lower level FBI officials who made the arrest tried to pass on the information. Tenet later maintains that there was no reason to alert President Bush or to share information about Moussaoui during an early September 2001 Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism, saying, “All I can tell you is, it wasn’t the appropriate place. I just can’t take you any farther than that.” [WASHINGTON POST, 4/17/2004; US DISTRICT COURT OF EASTERN VIRGINIA, 5/4/2006, PP. 6 ] 'Lousy Explanation' - 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer will later come to the conclusion that this is, in author Philip Shenon’s words, a “lousy explanation,” and that Tenet should have called Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard to talk about the case, because Tenet was well aware that the FBI was “dysfunctional” at terrorism investigations and that it did not have a permanent director at that time. Roemer will ask, “The report about Moussaoui shoots up the chain of command at the CIA like the lit fuse on a bomb, but Director Tenet never picks up the phone to call the FBI about it?” Roemer will conclude that a call from Tenet to Pickard might have prevented 9/11, and will be amazed Tenet does not mention it at the September terrorism meeting, “If the system is blinking red, why don’t you bring it up?” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 361] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, John E. McLaughlin, Central Intelligence Agency, Zacarias Moussaoui, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 30, 2001: CIA Officer Expresses Frustration at FBI’s Inaction on Moussaoui, Predicts Suicide Hijacking in US A CIA officer involved in the Moussaoui case contacts a fellow CIA officer assigned to the FBI and complains about the FBI’s inability to obtain a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings, which contain enough information to potentially prevent 9/11 (see August 16, 2001). The officer writes: “Please excuse my obvious frustration in this case. I am highly concerned that this is not paid the amount of attention it deserves. I do not want to be responsible when [Moussaoui and his associate Hussein al-Attas] surface again as members of a suicide terrorist op… I want an answer from a named FBI group chief [note: presumably Dave Frasca, head of the FBI’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit] for the record on these questions… several of which I have been asking since a week and a half ago. It is critical that the paper trail is established and clear. If this guy is let go, two years from now he will be talking to a control tower while aiming a 747 at the White House.” One of these two CIA officers may be Tom Wilshire, who is involved in the Moussaoui case (see August 24, 2001). CIA director George Tenet will write, “This comment was particularly prescient because we later learned after 9/11 that Moussaoui had in fact asked Osama bin Laden for permission to be able to attack the White House.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 203] Greg Jones, an FBI agent involved in the case, makes a similar prediction, but guesses that the target will be the World Trade Center, not the White House (see August 27, 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Tom Wilshire, Zacarias Moussaoui Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Early September 2001: CIA Assets Penetrated Al-Qaeda Training Camps by This Time CIA Director George Tenet will claim in his 2007 book that “a group of assets from a Middle Eastern service” is unknowingly working for the CIA by this time. Out of the more than twenty people in this group, one third are working against al-Qaeda. By September 2001, two assets have successfully penetrated al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. [TENET, 2007, PP. 145] The name of the Middle Eastern country is not known. It is also not known when this group first started working for the CIA nor when the assets first penetrated the camps. Nor has it been reported what information these assets may have shared with the CIA before 9/11. It is known that bin Laden was dropping hints about the upcoming 9/11 attacks to training camp trainees in the summer of 2001 (see Summer 2001). Further, US citizen John Walker Lindh was told details of the 9/11 attacks within weeks of joining a training camp that summer (see May-June 2001). Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 1-8, 2001: Tenet Briefs Bush Six More Times, Fails to Mention Moussaoui, Alhazmi, or Almihdhar With President Bush back in Washington after a long vacation, CIA Director George Tenet resumes personally delivering the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) to him. Tenet has one meeting with Bush on August 31, 2001, after Bush’s return (see August 17 and 31, 2001), and then briefs him six more times in the first eight days of September. Bush is out of town the next few days, so he is briefed by other CIA personnel. [AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 4/15/2004] By this time, Tenet has been told about the arrest of suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 23, 2001). But there is no evidence he mentions this to Bush before 9/11. Further, on August 23, 2001, the CIA watchlisted 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi and began looking for them in the US (see August 23, 2001), but there’s no evidence Tenet or anyone else briefed Bush about this, either. Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, George W. Bush, Khalid Almihdhar, Zacarias Moussaoui, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 4, 2001: Cabinet-Rank Advisers Discuss Terrorism, Approve Revised Version of Clarke’s Eight Month-Old-Plan President Bush’s cabinet-rank advisers discuss terrorism for the second of only two times before 9/11. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002] National Security Adviser Rice chairs the meeting; neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney attends. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later says that in this meeting, he and CIA Director Tenet speak passionately about the al-Qaeda threat. No one disagrees that the threat is serious. Secretary of State Powell outlines a plan to put pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting al-Qaeda. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld appears to be more interested in Iraq. The only debate is over whether to fly the armed Predator drone over Afghanistan to attack al-Qaeda (see September 4, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 237-38] Clarke’s earlier plans to “roll back” al-Qaeda first submitted on January 25, 2001 (see January 25, 2001) have been discussed and honed in many meetings and are now presented as a formal National Security Presidential Directive. The directive is “apparently” approved, though the process of turning it into official policy is still not done. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] There is later disagreement over just how different the directive presented is from Clarke’s earlier plans. For instance, some claim the directive aims not just to “roll back” al-Qaeda, but also to “eliminate” it altogether. [TIME, 8/4/2002] However, Clarke notes that even though he wanted to use the word “eliminate,” the approved directive merely aims to “significantly erode” al-Qaeda. The word “eliminate” is only added after 9/11. [WASHINGTON POST, 3/25/2004] Clarke will later say that the plan adopted “on Sept. 4 is basically… what I proposed on Jan. 25. And so the time in between was wasted.” [ABC NEWS, 4/8/2004] The Washington Post will similarly note that the directive approved on this day “did not differ substantially from Clinton’s policy.” [WASHINGTON POST, 3/27/2004] Time magazine later comments, “The fight against terrorism was one of the casualties of the transition, as Washington spent eight months going over and over a document whose outline had long been clear.” [TIME, 8/4/2002] The primary change from Clarke’s original draft is that the approved plan calls for more direct financial and logistical support to the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban groups. The plan also calls for drafting plans for possible US military involvement, “but those differences were largely theoretical; administration officials told the [9/11 Commission’s] investigators that the plan’s overall timeline was at least three years, and it did not include firm deadlines, military plans, or significant funding at the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks.” [WASHINGTON POST, 3/27/2004; REUTERS, 4/2/2004] Entity Tags: Taliban, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Al-Qaeda, Northern Alliance, Donald Rumsfeld, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 4, 2001: Debate Heats Up Over Using Armed Predator Drone Against Bin Laden; Decision Again Delayed Edit

Attendees to an important cabinet-level meeting on terrorism have a heated debate over what to do with the armed Predator drone, which has been ready for use over Afghanistan since June 2001 (see Early June-September 10, 2001). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke has been repeatedly pushing for the use of the Predator over Afghanistan (in either armed or unarmed versions), and he again argues for its immediate use. Everyone agrees that the armed Predator capability is needed, but there are disputes over who will manage and/or pay for it. CIA Director Tenet says his agency will operate the armed Predator “over my dead body.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/2/2002] Clarke recalls, “The Air Force said it wasn’t their job to fly planes to collect intelligence. No one around the table seemed to have a can-do attitude. Everyone seemed to have an excuse.” [NEW YORKER, 7/28/2003] National Security Adviser Rice concludes that the armed Predator is not ready (even though it had been proven in tests during the summer), but she also presses Tenet to reconsider his opposition to immediately resume reconnaissance flights, suspended since September the year before. After the meeting, Tenet agrees to proceed with such flights. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The armed Predator is activated just days after 9/11, showing that it was ready to be used after all. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/25/2003] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline


September 4-11, 2001: ISI Director Visits Washington for Mysterious Meetings ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington for the second time. On September 10, a Pakistani newspaper reports on his trip so far. It says his visit has “triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council” as well as meetings with CIA Director Tenet (see September 9, 2001), unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon, and his “most important meeting” with Marc Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The article suggests, “[O]f course, Osama bin Laden” could be the focus of some discussions. Prophetically, the article adds, “What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time [his] predecessor was [in Washington], the domestic [Pakistani] politics turned topsy-turvy within days.” [NEWS (ISLAMABAD), 9/10/2001] This is a reference to the Musharraf coup just after an ISI Director’s visit on October 12, 1999 (see October 12, 1999). Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Marc Grossman, National Security Council, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, Mahmood Ahmed Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 4-5, 2001: FBI Agent Fails to Conduct Simple Credit Card Check that Could Have Stopped 9/11 Attacks On September 4 and 5, 2001, FBI agent Robert Fuller attempts to find hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in the US. However, he fails to perform many basic checks, including a check of credit card usage (see September 4-5, 2001). In 2006, journalist Bob Woodward will report that CIA Director George Tenet believed that FBI could have potentially stopped the 9/11 attacks. Woodward will write, paraphrasing Tenet, “If the FBI had done a simple credit card check on the two 9/11 hijackers who had been identified in the United States before 9/11, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, they would have found that the two men had bought 10 tickets for early morning flights for groups of other Middle Eastern men for September 11, 2001. That was knowledge that might conceivably have stopped the attacks.” [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 79-80] Alhazmi and Almihdhar did buy some tickets for themselves and Nawaf Alhazmi also bought a ticket for his brother Salem Alhazmi, but it has not been reported that they bought as many as ten tickets (see August 25-27, 2001 and August 25-September 5, 2001). Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Bob Woodward, George J. Tenet, Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Fuller Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 9, 2001: CIA Director Meets ISI Director about Bin Laden Issue Pakistani ISI Director Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, who is visiting Washington (see September 4-11, 2001), meets with CIA Director George Tenet. In his 2007 book, Tenet will claim that he “tried to press” Mahmood to do something about Taliban support for bin Laden, since the Pakistani government has been supporting the Taliban since its creation in 1994. But Mahmood was supposedly “immovable when it came to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.” Tenet will say that Mahmood’s sole suggestion was the US should try bribing key Taliban officials to get them to turn over bin Laden. However, “even then he made it clear that neither he nor his service would have anything to do with the effort, not even to the extent of advising us whom we might approach.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 141-142] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Mahmood Ahmed Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 10, 2001: Alleged CIA Informant Warns Syrian Government about 9/11 Attacks; Syria Apparently Fails to Pass on Warning

Luai Sakra. [Source: Associated Press] In his 2007 book At the Center of the Storm, former CIA Director George Tenet will write that on September 10, 2001, “a source we were jointly running with a Middle Eastern country went to see his foreign handler and basically told him that something big was about to go down. The handler dismissed him.” Tenet claims the warning was “frightening but without specificity.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 160] While Tenet will not mention the name of the source, his description perfectly matches a Syrian-born militant named Luai Sakra. Sakra will be arrested in Turkey in 2005 (see July 30, 2005) and reportedly will tell interrogators after his arrest, “I was one of the people who knew the 9/11 perpetrators, and I knew the plans and times beforehand.” He claims to have provided the pilots with passports and money (see September 2000-July 24, 2001). Der Spiegel will report, “Western investigators accept Sakra’s claims, by and large, since they coincide with known facts. On September 10, 2001, he tipped off the Syrian secret service… that terrorist attacks were about to occur in the United States. The evidently well-informed al-Qaeda insider even named buildings as targets, and airplanes as weapons. The Syrians passed on this information to the CIA—but only after the attacks.” [DER SPIEGEL (HAMBURG), 8/24/2005] In 2007, Sakra will also claim to have trained some of the 9/11 hijackers in Turkey starting in late 1999 (see Late 1999-2000). If Tenet is referring to Sakra, then it appears Sakra did develop a relationship with the CIA that continued at least through 9/11 (see 2000). Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Luai Sakra, Syria Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Before September 11, 2001: Tenet Said to Warn Congresspeople about Imminent Attack on the US

Ike Skelton. [Source: Publicity photo] On the morning of 9/11, David Welna, National Public Radio’s Congressional correspondent, will say, “I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton—a Democrat from Missouri and a member of the Armed Services Committee—who said that just recently the Director of the CIA [George Tenet] warned that there could be an attack—an imminent attack—on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected.” More details, such as when Tenet said this, who else he may have said it to, and so forth, remain unknown. [NPR, 9/11/2001] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Ike Skelton Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Just Before September 11, 2001: Deputies Still Putting Final Touches on Three-Year Plan to Stop Al-Qaeda Another deputies meeting further considers policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, and makes further revisions to the National Security Presidential Directive regarding al-Qaeda. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] By the end of the meeting, a formal, three-phase strategy is agreed upon. An envoy is to go to Afghanistan and give the Taliban another chance to expel bin Laden. If this fails, more pressure will be put on the Taliban, including more support for the Northern Alliance and other groups. If the Taliban still refuse to change, the US will try to overthrow the Taliban through more direct action. The time-frame for this strategy is about three years. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] CIA Director Tenet is formally tasked to draw up new authorities for the covert action program envisioned, and request funding to implement it. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The directive is then to be sent to National Security Adviser Rice for approval. President Bush is apparently aware of the directive and prepared to sign it (though he hasn’t attended any of the meetings about it), but he does not sign it until October. [MSNBC, 5/16/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 5/18/2002; WASHINGTON POST, 4/1/2004] Entity Tags: Taliban, George W. Bush, Northern Alliance, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Shortly Before September 11, 2001: CIA Learns Pakistani Charity Front Tried to Sell Nuclear Weapon to Libya, but Takes No Effective Action Against It According to a 2007 book by former CIA Director George Tenet, shortly before 9/11, the CIA learns that a Pakistani charity front has been helping al-Qaeda acquire weapons of mass destruction. The charity, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN), was founded in 2000 by two prominent nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudiri Abdul Majeed (see 2000). UTN allegedly is conducting charitable projects in Afghanistan, but a friendly intelligence service tells the CIA that UTN is really helping al-Qaeda build weapons, especially nuclear weapons. Tenet will claim that he presses “all of our contacts worldwide to find out anything we could about the people and organizations with WMD that might be wiling to share expertise with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.” Ben Bonk, deputy chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC), meets with Musa Kusa, head of Libya’s intelligence service, and Kusa tells him that Libya had contact with UTN. “Yes, they tried to sell us a nuclear weapon. Of course, we turned them down.” According to Tenet, this confirms other information from a different intelligence agency that UTN approached Libya with an offer to provide WMD expertise. The CIA then informs the Pakistani government of this, and Pakistan brings in seven board members of UTN for questioning. But according to Tenet, “The investigation was ill-fated from the get-go” and the UTN officials “were not properly isolated and questioned.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 262-263] Also shortly before 9/11, the CIA also learns that the two nuclear scientists who founded UTN had recently met with Osama bin Laden and advised him on how to make a nuclear weapon (see Shortly Before September 11, 2001). But despite all this the US takes no other action against UTN before 9/11, not even freezing the assets of the charity until December 2001 (see Early October-December 2001). Entity Tags: Musa Kusa, Ben Bonk, Central Intelligence Agency, Chaudiri Abdul Majeed, George J. Tenet, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

Shortly Before September 11, 2001: CIA Learns Pakistani Nuclear Scientists Are Helping Al-Qaeda, but Takes No Effective Action Edit

In October 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell visits Pakistan and tells Pakistani officials that, shortly before 9/11, the CIA learned two prominent Pakistani nuclear scientists had met with al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in mid-August 2001 (see Early October-December 2001). In the meeting, the two scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudiri Abdul Majeed, discussed helping al-Qaeda make a nuclear weapon (see Mid-August 2001). [FRANTZ AND COLLINS, 2007, PP. 268-269] In a 2007 book, former CIA Director George Tenet will confirm that the CIA learned of this prior to 9/11. He will write, “A Western intelligence service came to us in the fall of 2001 [with details of the meeting]… [The] CIA pressed the Pakistanis to confront Mahmood and Majeed with this new information. We put [evidence that a charity named Ummah Tameer-e-Nau run by Mahmood and Majeed tried to sell Libya a nuclear weapon] on the table. We also passed new information that had been collected by other intelligence services. To no avail. Then 9/11 struck, and there was no slowing down in this pursuit.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 264] But no evidence will come forward that President Bush or other top US officials were warned of this, or that there were any general warnings inside the US government about this. Pakistan is not successfully pressured about it before 9/11 (in fact, the Pakistani ISI already knew about it and failed to warn the US (see Between Mid-August and September 10, 2001)), and after 9/11 the only action Pakistan will take is to twice arrest and then quickly release the two scientists. Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will comment in a 2007 book that “This information, added to the missing canisters of highly enriched uranium [in Pakistan], might have been sufficient to redirect” top Bush officials to take sterner action against al-Qaeda before 9/11. [LEVY AND SCOTT-CLARK, 2007, PP. 311] Entity Tags: Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, George J. Tenet, Chaudiri Abdul Majeed, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Central Intelligence Agency, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

(8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Some US Leaders Are Scattered; Others in Washington Edit

Just prior to learning about the 9/11 attacks, top US leaders are scattered across the country and overseas. Others are in Washington:

(Before 8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CIA Director Tenet Expresses Worry about Al-Qaeda Attack Edit

CIA Director George Tenet is eating breakfast with his mentor, former Senator David Boren, at the St. Regis Hotel, three blocks north of the White House.

According to journalist Bob Woodward, Boren asks Tenet, “What are you worried about these days?” Tenet replies, “Bin Laden,” and says he is convinced the al-Qaeda leader is going to do something big. Boren asks him how could one person without the resources of a foreign government be such a threat? Tenet responds, “You don’t understand the capabilities and the reach of what they’re putting together.”[2] When, shortly afterwards, Tenet learns of the first attack on the World Trade Center, he will immediately say he thinks bin Laden is responsible [see 1].

(Between 8:46 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Key Administration Officials Allegedly Think First Crash Is an Accident Edit

A number of key White House officials later claim that, when they learn of the first crash at the World Trade Center, they initially think it is just an accident:

President Bush says that, when he learns of the crash while in Sarasota, Florida, “my first reaction was—as an old pilot—how could the guy have gotten so off course to hit the towers? What a terrible accident that is” (see (Between 8:55 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 42] 
White House chief of staff Andrew Card, who is with the president, says, “It was first reported to me… that it looked like it was a, a twin-engine pro—prop plane, and so the natural reaction was—‘What a horrible accident. The pilot must have had a heart attack.’” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] 
Adviser Karl Rove, who is also with the president in Florida, is later questioned about his feelings after the first crash. When it is suggested, “I guess at that point, everyone is still thinking it is an accident,” Rove concurs, “Yes, absolutely.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] 
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, also traveling with the president on this day, says, “[W]hen only the first tower had been hit, it was all of our thoughts that this had been some type of terrible accident.” [CNN, 9/11/2006] 
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is in her White House office, is informed of the crash by her executive assistant (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). She later recalls, “I thought, what a strange accident.” [O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, 2/1/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002] 
White House counselor Karen Hughes receives a phone call informing her of the first crash as she is about to leave her Washington, DC home. She later recalls, “they thought it was a small plane at the time… so, of course, my immediate thought was what a terrible accident.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2002; CNN, 4/6/2004] She adds, “We all assumed it was some kind of weird accident; at that point terrorism didn’t occur to us.” [HUGHES, 2004, PP. 234] 

The 9/11 Commission later describes, “In the absence of information that the crash was anything other than an accident, the White House staff monitored the news as they went ahead with their regular schedules.” It will only be when they learn of the second tower being hit at 9:03 that “nearly everyone in the White House… immediately knew it was not an accident.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 35] However, when couterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is called some time after the first crash but before the second by Lisa Gordon-Hagerty—a member of his staff who is at the White House (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001)—she tells him, “Until we know what this is, Dick, we should assume the worst.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 1] And when CIA Director George Tenet learns of the first crash, reportedly he is told specifically, “The World Trade tower has been attacked,” and his initial reaction is, “This has bin Laden all over it” (see (8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 4] Entity Tags: Andrew Card, Richard A. Clarke, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, George J. Tenet, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(8:50 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CIA Director Tenet Told of Attack, Immediately Suspects Bin Laden Edit

in a template CIA Wikipedia Director George Tenet is told of the first WTC crash while he is eating breakfast with his mentor, former Senator David Boren, at the St. Regis Hotel Wikipedia in Washington, DC. They are interrupted when CIA bodyguards converge on the table to hand Tenet a cell phone. Tenet is told that the WTC has been attacked by an airplane. Boren later says, “I was struck by the fact that [the messenger] used the word ‘attacked.’” Tenet then hands the cell phone back to an aide and says to Boren, “You know, this has bin Laden’s fingerprints all over it.” “‘He was very collected,’ Boren recalls. ‘He said he would be at the CIA in 15 minutes, what people he needed in the room and what he needed to talk about.’” [3]

According to other accounts, Tenet responds to the caller, “They steered the plane directly into the building?” Tenet then says to Boren, “That looks like bin Laden.” Tenet muses aloud, “I wonder if this has something to do with the guy [ Zacarias Moussaoui ] who trained for a pilot’s license.” (Moussaoui had been arrested several weeks earlier.) [4] [5] According to another account, Tenet pauses while on the phone to tell Boren, “The World Trade Center has been hit. We’re pretty sure it wasn’t an accident. It looks like a terrorist act,” then returns to the phone to identify who should be summoned to the CIA situation room. [6] Tenet later tells author Ronald Kessler, “There was no doubt that al-Qaeda was going to come here eventually, and that something spectacular was planned. I knew immediately who it was [behind the attack].” [7] [8] In his own 2007 book, Tenet will largely confirm the above accounts. He will add,

“Most people, I understand, assumed that the first crash was a tragic accident. It took the second plane hitting the second tower to show them that something far worse was going on. That wasn’t the case for me. We had been living too intimately with the possibility of a terrorist attack on the United States. I instantly thought that this had to be al-Qaeda.”

He also mentions thinking aloud about Moussaoui.[9]

Tenet will subsequently hurry back to CIA headquarters in his car [see 2].

(8:55 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CIA Director Tenet in Communications Blackout as He Returns to CIA Headquarters; Recalls Bojinka PlotEdit

CIA Director George Tenet has just learned of the first attack on the WTC while having breakfast with former Senator David Boren (D) at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC. He later says, “It was obvious to us both that I had to leave immediately.” Along with Tim Ward, the head of his security detail, he gets into his car and, with lights flashing, hurries back to the CIA headquarters in Langley. Tenet later recalls that in these first minutes after the attack, “All the random dots we had been looking at started to fit into a pattern.… [M]y head was exploding with connections. I immediately thought about the ‘Bojinka’ plot to blow up twelve US airliners over the Pacific and a subsequent plan to fly a small airplane into CIA headquarters, which was broken up in 1994.” During his journey, he calls John Moseman, his chief of staff, and instructs him to assemble the senior CIA staff and key people from the Counterterrorist Center in the conference room next to his office. However, Tenet claims, it is difficult for him to get calls through on the secure phone, meaning he is “Essentially… in a communications blackout between the St. Regis and Langley, the longest twelve minutes of my life.” He only learns that a second plane hit the World Trade Center when he arrives at CIA headquarters. Tenet enters the conference room at around 9:15 a.m. By that time, he says, “I don’t think there was a person in the room who had the least doubt that we were in the middle of a full-scale assault orchestrated by al-Qaeda.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 161-163] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Serious Communications Problems Experienced in Washington Area, Affect Key Government Officials Edit

In the Washington, DC, area, members of the public, emergency responders, and government officials experience serious communications problems. Telephone and cell phone services around the capital remain unavailable to members of the public for most of the day. [VERTON, 2003, PP. 149]

Particular problems are experienced around the Pentagon. Reportedly, cellular and landline telephone communications there are “virtually unreliable or inaccessible during the first few hours of the response,” after it is hit at 9:37 (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. C36] 

Some senior government officials also experience communications difficulties:

CIA Director George Tenet has problems using his secure phone while heading from a Washington hotel back to CIA headquarters, located about eight miles outside Washington (see (8:55 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [INDEPENDENT, 11/6/2002; TENET, 2007, PP. 161-162] 
Secretary of State Colin Powell has to take a seven-hour flight from Peru, to get back to the capital. He later complains that, during this flight, “because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn’t talk to anybody in Washington” (see (12:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] 
Between the time of the second WTC attack and about 9:45 a.m., Vice President Dick Cheney, who is at the White House, has problems reaching Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert at the US Capitol by secure telephone (see (9:04 a.m.-9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [DAILY HERALD (ARLINGTON HEIGHTS), 9/11/2002; HAYES, 2007, PP. 336-337] 
Even President Bush experiences difficulties communicating with Washington after leaving a school in Florida, and subsequently while flying on Air Force One (see (9:34 a.m.-11:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] 

A classified after-action report will later be produced, based on observations from a National Airborne Operations Center plane launched near Washington shortly before the time of the Pentagon attack (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to one government official, the report indicates that the nation was “deaf, dumb, and blind” for much of the day. [VERTON, 2003, PP. 150-151] Members of the public in New York City also experience communications problems throughout the day, particularly with cell phones (see (After 10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Colin Powell, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Dennis Hastert, George J. Tenet, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Condoleezza Rice Tries to Assemble National Security Team, but Cannot Reach Key OfficialsEdit

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tries to gather together the principals of the National Security Council (NSC), but is unable to get in touch with key officials. Rice realized the US was under terrorist attack during a staff meeting, when her assistant informed her of the second plane striking the World Trade Center (see (9:04 a.m.) September 11, 2001). She had then headed to the White House Situation Room’s operations center. [NEWSWEEK, 12/31/2001; BUMILLER, 2007, PP. XII] Here she intends to assemble the principals of the NSC for a crisis meeting. [O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, 2/1/2002] Along with the national security adviser, the principal members of the NSC are the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of the treasury, and the secretary of defense; additionally, the CIA director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are statutory advisers to the NSC. [US PRESIDENT, 2/13/2001; FELIX, 2002, PP. 226] However, Rice remembers that Secretary of State Colin Powell is currently away in Peru (see (8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill is away in Japan. [US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, 11/29/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, 1/23/2002] And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Henry Shelton is on his way to Europe for a NATO meeting there. [CNN, 10/1/2001] Rice tries calling Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is in his office at the Pentagon (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001), but cannot reach him. [PBS FRONTLINE, 7/12/2002; CLARKE, 2006, PP. 218-219; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 1] She is also unable to get a call through to CIA Director George Tenet. [BUMILLER, 2007, PP. XII] (Tenet will later claim that, around this time, he is having trouble using his secure phone while being driven out to CIA headquarters (see (8:55 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [TENET, 2007, PP. 161-162] ) Also around this time, in the Secure Video Conferencing Center just off the main floor of the Situation Room, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is trying to convene a video teleconference with other top officials (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [BUMILLER, 2007, PP. XII] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Hugh Shelton, Colin Powell, Paul O’Neill, National Security Council, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Directs Crisis Response through Video Conference with Top Officials Around this time, according to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke reaches the Secure Video Conferencing Center just off the main floor of the Situation Room in the West Wing of the White House. From there, he directs the response to the 9/11 attacks and stays in contact with other top officials through video links. Clarke claims that on video he can see Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet, FBI Director Robert Mueller, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson (filling in for the traveling Attorney General John Ashcroft), Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (filling in for the traveling Secretary of State Colin Powell), and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers (filling in for the traveling Chairman Henry Shelton). National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is with Clarke, but she lets him run the crisis response, deferring to his longer experience on terrorism matters. Clarke is also told by an aide, “We’re on the line with NORAD, on an air threat conference call.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 2-4; AUSTRALIAN, 3/27/2004] According to the 9/11 Commission, logs indicate that Clarke’s video teleconference only begins at 9:25 a.m. (see 9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001), which is later than Clarke suggests, and CIA and FAA representatives only join it at 9:40 a.m. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 36 AND 462] Other accounts claim that, rather than being involved in Clarke’s teleconference at this time, Donald Rumsfeld is still in his office waiting for his intelligence briefing (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and Richard Myers is in a meeting on Capitol Hill (see (Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [ARMED FORCES RADIO AND TELEVISION SERVICE, 10/17/2001; CLARKE, 2006, PP. 218-219] The 9/11 Commission claims that, “While important,” Clarke’s conference has “no immediate effect on the emergency defense efforts.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Yet, as the Washington Post puts it, “everyone seems to agree” Clarke is the chief crisis manager on 9/11. [WASHINGTON POST, 3/28/2004] Even Clarke’s later opponent, National Security Adviser Rice, calls him 9/11’s “crisis management guy.” [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 4/9/2004] The conference is where the government’s emergency defense efforts are concentrated. Entity Tags: Richard Armitage, John Ashcroft, Larry D. Thompson, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard A. Clarke, Henry Hugh Shelton, Robert S. Mueller III, Richard B. Myers, George J. Tenet, Jane Garvey, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, 9/11 Commission, Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Reports of Unresponsive Aircraft Prompt Evacuation of CIA HeadquartersEdit

By 9:50 a.m., CIA Director George Tenet is in his office on the seventh floor of the agency’s Langley headquarters. He later describes: “[E]veryone was wondering, what next? Reports came in of several airplanes that were not responding to communications from the ground and perhaps heading toward Washington. Several [Counterterrorist Center] officers reminded us that al-Qaeda members had once discussed flying an airplane into CIA headquarters, the top floor of which we were presently occupying.” Tenet himself later recalls that, in the minutes after he’d learned of the first attack, he’d “thought about the ‘Bojinka’ plot to blow up twelve US airliners over the Pacific and a subsequent plan to fly a small airplane into CIA headquarters” (see (8:55 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 7-8; TENET, 2007, PP. 162 AND 164] According to CIA contractor Billy Waugh, people at the headquarters are aware that Flight 93 is currently unaccounted for, and it is “a widespread assumption within the building that this flight [is] headed straight for us in the CIA headquarters” (see (Before 10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WAUGH AND KEOWN, 2004, PP. 293-294] Tenet asks Mike Hohlfelder, the chief of his security detail, for his recommendation, and is advised, “Let’s evacuate.” Though he later claims he was “reluctant” about this, Tenet tells his senior leadership: “We have to save our people. We have to evacuate the building.” Therefore, at about 10 a.m., the word goes out for a large number of the CIA’s thousands of employees to go home. Initially, the senior leadership team moves from Tenet’s seventh-floor conference room to another room on the first floor, but it then exits the headquarters building and heads across the campus to the CIA’s printing plant, where a crude operational capability has been set up. However, due to the objections of CIA counterterrorism chief Cofer Black, those in the Counterterrorist Center and the Global Response Center are allowed to stay in place in the headquarters (see (10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Tenet and his staff will leave the printing plant and return to the headquarters at around 1 p.m., by which time they will consider the danger to be over. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 8-9; TENET, 2007, PP. 164-165 AND 168] The CIA headquarters evacuation is aided by the fact that a fire had occurred there just over a month earlier. Consequently, new evacuation procedures had been laid out, which Tenet follows on this day (see August 7-September 10, 2001). [KESSLER, 2003, PP. 222-223] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Hohlfelder, Billy Waugh Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Counterterrorist Center Does Not Evacuate with Rest of CIA Headquarters

Counterterrorist Center logo. [Source: CIA] At around 10 a.m., following reports that several aircraft were not responding to communications and could be heading toward Washington, CIA Director George Tenet orders the evacuation of the CIA headquarters building in Langley, Virginia (see (9:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, Cofer Black, the director of the Counterterrorist Center (CTC), is unhappy about this and tells Tenet, “Sir, we’re going to have to exempt CTC from this because we need to have our people working the computers.” The CTC, according to the Los Angeles Times, is “the nerve center for the CIA’s effort to disrupt and deter terrorist groups and their state sponsors.” About 200 employees are currently working in it. Eight of them are in the Global Response Center on the sixth floor of the building, monitoring the latest intelligence on terrorism throughout the world. The rest are in a windowless facility low down in the building. When Tenet points out that the Global Response Center staff will be at risk, Black responds, “They have the key function to play in a crisis like this. This is exactly why we have the Global Response Center.” When Tenet points out, “They could die,” Black replies, “Well, sir, then they’re just going to have to die.” After pausing, Tenet agrees, “You’re absolutely right.” Tenet later says, “Now that we were under attack, the Counterterrorist Center, with its vast data banks and sophisticated communications systems, was more vital than ever. Even as we were discussing going or staying, CTC was sending out a global alert to our stations around the world, ordering them to go to their liaison services and agents to collect every shred of information they could lay their hands on.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/12/2001; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 8-9; TENET, 2007, PP. 164-165] Entity Tags: Counterterrorist Center, Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Cofer Black Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Plane Heading for Britain Appears Suspicious, Emits Strange Transponder Signals

Richard Dearlove. [Source: Daily Express] CIA Director George Tenet later recalls that, at some unspecified time during this day, a commercial passenger jet on its way to Britain behaves suspiciously, raising fears that al-Qaeda might have launched a two-continent attack. Aircraft are equipped with a device called a transponder, which transmits information to controllers on the ground, such as the plane’s flight number, altitude and speed. But this plane is emitting all kinds of “squawks,” with its transponder going off and on. Tenet calls Richard Dearlove, his counterpart at the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), to inform him of what is going on. Eventually, according to Tenet, the problem is resolved, and it turns out to have been caused simply by the transponder being faulty. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/17/2001; TENET, 2007, PP. 166] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Richard Dearlove Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CIA Receives Passenger Lists From Hijacked Planes After Initial Problems At some unspecified time after when Flight 93 crashed, CIA Director George Tenet receives the passenger lists for the hijacked planes. He is currently in the CIA’s printing plant, after having evacuated the agency’s headquarters building (see (9:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). An analyst from the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) has raced across to the plant with the list, and says, “Some of these guys on one of the planes are the ones we’ve been looking for in the last few weeks.” He specifically points at the names Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (two of the alleged Flight 77 hijackers). According to Tenet, this is “the first time we had absolute proof of what I had been virtually certain of from the moment I heard about the attacks: we were in the middle of an al-Qaeda plot.” Tenet will later say that after the CTC had first “requested passenger lists from the planes that had been turned into weapons that morning… the initial response from some parts of the bureaucracy (which parts since mercifully forgotten) was that the manifests could not be shared with CIA. There were privacy issues involved.” They were only obtained after some “gentle reasoning, and a few four-letter words.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 167] The agency that provided these lists to the CTC may have been the Customs Office of Intelligence. According to Robert Bonner, the commissioner-designate of US Customs, “through an evaluation of data related to the passengers manifest for the four terrorist hijacked aircraft, Customs Office of Intelligence was able to identify the likely terrorist hijackers. Within 45 minutes of the attacks, Customs forwarded the passenger lists with the names of the victims and 19 probable hijackers to the FBI and the intelligence community” (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will claim he was told as early as 9:59 a.m. that the FBI had received the passenger manifests from the airlines (see (9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 13-14] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Shortly After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001: CIA Director Tenet Tells Vice President Cheney Attackers Are ‘Done for the Day’ At some unspecified time, apparently relatively soon after Flight 93 crashed, Vice President Dick Cheney calls CIA Director George Tenet and asks him if he is anticipating any further attacks. Tenet replies, “No. My judgment is that they’re done for the day.” Tenet will later explain his reasoning behind this judgment: “There was a lull in the action, and to me that was telling.… I had no data to go on. But the pattern of spectacular multiple attacks within a very tight attack window was consistent with what we knew of al-Qaeda’s modus operandi based on the East African embassy attacks and others. Events happened within a strict timeline, and then they were done.” Yet at 10 a.m., Tenet had wanted the CIA headquarters evacuated, following reports that several airplanes were not responding to communications and were perhaps heading toward Washington. A large number of the CIA’s workforce had therefore been sent home (see (9:50 a.m.-10:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [TENET, 2007, PP. 164 AND 167] And according to recordings of the operations floor at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) later obtained by Vanity Fair magazine, “inside NEADS there was no sense that the attack was over with the crash of United 93; instead, the alarms go on and on. False reports of hijackings, and real responses, continue well into the afternoon” (see 10:15 a.m. and After September 11, 2001). [VANITY FAIR, 8/1/2006] Tenet and his staff will return to the CIA headquarters building at around 1 p.m. after having earlier evacuated to the CIA’s printing plant nearby. By that time, Tenet will say, “The danger was over for the day, in our estimation.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 168] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

12:05 p.m. September 11, 2001: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Finds Evidence of Al-Qaeda Role Not Good Enough CIA Director Tenet tells Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about an intercepted phone call from earlier in the day at 9:53 a.m. An al-Qaeda operative talked of a fourth target just before Flight 93 crashed. Rumsfeld’s assistant Stephen Cambone dictates Rumsfeld’s thoughts the time, and the notes taken will later be leaked to CBS News. According to CBS, “Rumsfeld felt it was ‘vague,’ that it ‘might not mean something,’ and that there was ‘no good basis for hanging hat.’ In other words, the evidence was not clear-cut enough to justify military action against bin Laden.” [CBS NEWS, 9/4/2002] A couple of hours later, Rumsfeld will use this information to begin arguing that Iraq should be attacked, despite the lack of verified ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq (see (2:40 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen A. Cambone, Al-Qaeda, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Meets with Top Officials via Video Conference Call

President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left. [Source: White House] At Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, President Bush convenes the first meeting of the National Security Council since the attacks occurred. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 26] He begins the video conference call from a bunker beneath the base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I’m coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” But according to Condoleezza Rice, he begins with the words, “We’re at war.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. Bush asks CIA Director Tenet who he thinks is responsible for the day’s attacks. Tenet later recalls, “I told him the same thing I had told the vice president several hours earlier: al-Qaeda. The whole operation looked, smelled, and tasted like bin Laden.” Tenet tells Bush that passenger manifests show that three known al-Qaeda operatives had been on Flight 77. According to Tenet, when he tells the president in particular about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (two of the alleged Flight 77 hijackers), Bush gives Mike Morell, his CIA briefer, “one of those ‘I thought I was supposed to be the first to know’ looks.” (Other evidence indicates the third al-Qaeda operative whose name is on the passenger manifest would be Salem Alhazmi (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001).) Tenet tells the meeting that al-Qaeda is “the only terrorist organization capable of such spectacular, well-coordinated attacks,” and that “Intelligence monitoring had overheard a number of known bin Laden operatives congratulating each other after the attacks. Information collected days earlier but only now being translated indicated that various known operatives around the world anticipated a big event. None specified the day, time, place or method of attack.” Richard Clarke later corroborates that Tenet had at this time told the president he was certain that al-Qaeda was to blame. Yet only six weeks later, in an October 24, 2001 interview, Rice will claim differently. She will say, “In the first video conference, the assumption that everybody kind of shared was that it was global terrorists.… I don’t believe anybody said this is likely al-Qaeda. I don’t think so.” Tenet also relays a warning the CIA has received from French intelligence, saying another group of terrorists is within US borders and is preparing a second wave of attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld briefs on the status of US forces, and states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 26-27; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 21-22; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 326 AND 554; TENET, 2007, PP. 169] The meeting reportedly ends around 4:00-4:15 p.m. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/8/2002] Entity Tags: Norman Mineta, Osama bin Laden, Richard Armitage, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, National Security Council, George W. Bush, George J. Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Andrew Card, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Meets with Advisers, Declares War Without Barriers

President Bush (below television screen) meeting with the National Security Council in a bunker below the White House. In the far row from left to right, are Attorney General Ashcroft, President Bush, Chief of Staff Card, CIA Director Tenet, and counterterrorism “tsar” Ckarke. In the near row, Secretary of State Powell can be seen waving his hand, and National Security Advisor Rice sits to his right. [Source: Eric Draper/ White House] President Bush meets with his full National Security Council. According to journalist Bob Woodward, this meeting turns out to be “unwieldy.” So at 9:30 p.m., Bush follows it with a meeting with a smaller group of his most senior principal national security advisers in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) beneath the White House. Bush and his advisers have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. As the president later recalls, in these meetings, “That’s when we first got the indication… we’ve identified, we think it’s al-Qaeda.” He says the FBI now thinks that “it’s al-Qaeda, and we start to develop our plans to get them. I mean, there wasn’t any hesitation. We’re starting the process of coalition-building and how to get ‘em.” (According to other accounts, though, the CIA had informed Bush hours earlier that it was virtually certain al-Qaeda was to blame for the attacks (see (3:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001).) CIA Director George Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Tenet says, “Tell the Taliban we’re finished with them.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 133; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 31-33; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] The president says, “I want you all to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they’re gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda.” When, later in the discussion, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld points out that international law only allows force to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush yells, “No. I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 23-24] Bush will subsequently announce a new US doctrine of preemptive attack the following June (see June 1, 2002). [TIME, 6/23/2002] During the meeting, the president refers to the present political situation as a “great opportunity” (see (Between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). By the time the meeting ends, it is after 10 p.m. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 133] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, National Security Council, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Al-Qaeda, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Between September 12, 2001 and October 17, 2002: CIA Officer Gives Conflicting Accounts of His Conduct at Crucial Meeting with FBI CIA officer Clark Shannon gives conflicting accounts of his conduct in the failed search for Khalid Almihdhar to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry’s staff and CIA director George Tenet. Shannon attended a meeting at which the CIA and FBI discussed the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole and failed to disclose information about hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi to the Cole investigators (see June 11, 2001). Shannon tells the Congressional Inquiry’s staff that he was aware that Almihdhar had a US visa and Alhazmi had traveled to the US, but did not disclose this to the FBI, as he would not share such information outside the CIA unless authorized to do so. However, CIA director George Tenet tells the Congressional Inquiry that Shannon told him something different and that Almihdhar is not who they were talking about at the meeting. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/17/2002; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004 ] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Clark Shannon, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 12, 2001: CIA Briefing to President Bush Lays Out Evidence of Bin Laden Responsibility for Attacks CIA Director George Tenet arrives at the White House to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. With him is Mike Morell, the president’s regular CIA briefer. They meet with Bush at 8 a.m. in the Oval Office, joined by Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. The Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) on this day is about ten to twelve pages long, and a further twelve pages includes full reports from case officers, the Directorate of Intelligence, and the National Security Agency. The PDB includes a review of the available intelligence tracing the previous day’s attacks back to Osama bin Laden and his top al-Qaeda associates. Among the evidence presented:

Several reports identify Capitol Hill and the White House as intended targets of the attacks. 
One report says a bin Laden associate incorrectly “gave thanks for the explosion in the Congress building.” 
A key figure in the al-Qaeda charity front the Wafa Humanitarian Organization had initially claimed that “The White House has been destroyed,” but then had to correct himself. 
A report shows that al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan had said at 9:53 a.m. the previous day that the attackers were following through with “the doctor’s program” (see 9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). This is thought to be a reference to the second-ranking member of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician often referred to as “the Doctor.” 
The CIA and the FBI have evidence connecting at least three of the alleged hijackers to Osama bin Laden and his training camps in Afghanistan. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Salem Alhazmi were quickly linked to al-Qaeda on the day of 9/11, as two of them were on a US watch list even before 9/11 (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001). The attacks were also consistent with intelligence reports throughout the summer that indicated bin Laden was planning “spectacular attacks” against US targets. 
A report out of Kandahar, Afghanistan shows the attacks were “the results of two years’ planning.” 
Another report says the attacks were “the beginning of the wrath.” 
A key piece of evidence involves Abu Zubaida, who has been identified as the chief field commander for the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. A supposedly reliable report received after the 9/11 attacks stated that Zubaida had referred to September 11 as “zero hour.” It is not known is an intercepted message from before 9/11 saying “tomorrow is zero hour,” or some other message (see September 10, 2001). 

According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, “For Tenet, the evidence on bin Laden was conclusive—game, set, match.” Though Tenet, along with Rice and other officials, has already spent several months working on a plan to vastly expand covert action in Afghanistan and worldwide, he tells Bush that an even more extensive plan will soon be presented for approval, and this will be very expensive. The president tells him, “Whatever it takes.” [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 39-41; WASHINGTON POST, 1/28/2002; KESSLER, 2003, PP. 231-233; TENET, 2007, PP. 165] Bush will approve Tenet’s plan by the following Monday (see September 17, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Osama bin Laden, Wafa Humanitarian Organization, Khalid Almihdhar, Michael J. Morell, George J. Tenet, Salem Alhazmi, Abu Zubaida, George W. Bush, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 12, 2001: British Intelligence Chiefs Fly to US; Delegation Visits CIA and Advises to Concentrate on Afghanistan, Not Iraq

Eliza Manningham-Buller. [Source: AFP / Getty Images] Despite the restrictions on air travel following the previous day’s attacks, one private plane is allowed to fly from Britain to the United States. On it are Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British secret intelligence service (MI6), and Eliza Manningham-Buller, the deputy chief of Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5. In his 2007 book At the Center of the Storm, CIA Director George Tenet will admit, “I still don’t know how they got flight clearance into the country.” Manningham-Buller and Dearlove dine for an hour-and-a-half with a group of American intelligence officials at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. [TENET, 2007, PP. 173-174; BBC, 12/4/2007] In addition to Tenet, the US officials at the dinner include James Pavitt and his deputy from the CIA’s Directorate for Operations; A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the CIA’s executive director; Cofer Black, the director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center; Tyler Drumheller, the chief of the CIA’s European Division; the chief of the CIA’s Near East Division; and Thomas Pickard, the acting director of the FBI. Also part of the British delegation is David Manning, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser, who was already in the US before 9/11. [SALON, 7/2/2007] The British offer condolences and their full support. The Americans say they are already certain that al-Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks, having recognized names on passenger lists of the hijacked flights. They also say they believe the attacks are not yet over. [TENET, 2007, PP. 174; BBC, 12/4/2007] According to Drumheller, Manning says, “I hope we can all agree that we should concentrate on Afghanistan and not be tempted to launch any attacks on Iraq.” Tenet replies: “Absolutely, we all agree on that. Some might want to link the issues, but none of us wants to go that route.” [NEWSWEEK, 10/30/2006; SALON, 7/2/2007; GUARDIAN, 8/4/2007] Entity Tags: Thomas Pickard, Tyler Drumheller, James Pavitt, George J. Tenet, Richard Dearlove, David Manning, Eliza Manningham-Buller, A.B. (“Buzzy”) Krongard, Cofer Black Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

Shortly After September 11, 2001: Perle Says Iraq ‘Has to Pay a Price for’ 9/11 Edit

According to a later account provided by CIA Director George Tenet, he bumps into Pentagon adviser Richard Perle in the White House who tells him, “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday, they bear responsibility.” Tenet, recalling his reaction to Perle’s statement, later says, “I’ve got the manifest with me that tells me al-Qaeda did this. Nothing in my head that says there is any Iraqi involvement in this in any way shape or form and I remember thinking to myself, as I’m about to go brief the president, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’” (Note: Tenet says in his book that this incident happened on September 12; however, after Perle insists that he was not in the country that day, Tenet concedes that it may have happened a little later). [TENET, 2007; CBS NEWS, 4/29/2007; CNN, 4/30/2007] On September 16, 2001, Perle will hint in a CNN interview that Iraq should be punished for the 9/11 attacks (see September 16, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard Perle, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence

September 13, 2001: CIA Presents President with Plan to Confront Global Terrorism; Claims Victory Can Be Achieved in Weeks CIA Director George Tenet and Cofer Black, the director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, meet at 9:30 a.m. in the White House Situation Room with President Bush and the National Security Council. Tenet presents a plan for tracking down Osama bin Laden, toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan, and confronting terrorism worldwide. According to journalist Bob Woodward, the plan involves “bringing together expanded intelligence-gathering resources, sophisticated technology, agency paramilitary teams and opposition forces in Afghanistan in a classic covert action. They would then be combined with US military power and Special Forces into an elaborate and lethal package designed to destroy the shadowy terrorist networks.” A key concept is to utilize the Northern Alliance, which is the main opposition force in Afghanistan. Despite being “a strained coalition of sometimes common interests,” Tenet says that along with the CIA teams “and tons of money, the Alliance could be brought together into a cohesive fighting force.” Black gives a presentation describing the effectiveness of covert action. He says they will need to go after the Taliban as well as al-Qaeda, as the two are joined at the hip. He wants the mission to begin as soon as possible, and adds, “When we’re through with them, they will have flies walking across their eyeballs.” Black claims that once they are on the ground, victory could be achieved in weeks. According to Bob Woodward, “No one else in the room, including Tenet, believed that was possible.” Black also warns the president, “Americans are going to die.… How many, I don’t know. Could be a lot.” Bush responds, “That’s war. That’s what we’re here to win.” This is the second presentation laying out an increasingly detailed set of CIA proposals for expanding its fight against terrorism. (George Tenet had given the first when he met with the president the day before (see September 12, 2001).) Tenet will give a more detailed presentation of the CIA’s covert action plan two days later, at Camp David (see September 15, 2001). [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 50-53; WASHINGTON POST, 1/29/2002; KESSLER, 2003, PP. 233-234] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Al-Qaeda, Cofer Black, George W. Bush, National Security Council, Osama bin Laden, Northern Alliance, Taliban Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

September 15, 2001: CIA Director Presents Bush and his Cabinet with Extensive Plan for Combating Terrorism Worldwide

Some attendees of the Camp David meeting on September 15, 2001. From left to right: I. Lewis Libby, John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz. [Source: PBS] President Bush meets with his advisers at Camp David for a day of intensive discussions about how to respond to the 9/11 attacks. CIA Director George Tenet has arrived there “with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism.” With him is his deputy, John McLaughlin, and counterterrorism chief Cofer Black. Also in the conference room with them, among others, are Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell. For his 30-minute presentation, Tenet gives out a briefing packet titled “Going to War.” His presentation covers several key components for the fight against terrorism:

Tenet advocates substantially stepping up “direct support of the Northern Alliance,” the main Afghan opposition group, as part of a strategy to create “a northern front, closing the safe haven” of Afghanistan. His idea is that “Afghan opposition forces, aided by the United States, would move first against the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, try to break the Taliban’s grip on that city and open up the border with Uzbekistan. From there the campaign could move to other cities in the north.” Tenet also explains that the CIA had begun working with a number of tribal leaders in the south of Afghanistan the previous year, and these could be enticed to joint a US-led campaign. 
The plan includes “a full-scale covert attack on the financial underpinnings of the terrorist network, including clandestine computer surveillance and electronic eavesdropping to locate the assets of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.” 
The CIA and FBI would work together to track down bin Laden supporters in the US. 
A key proposal is a recommendation that the president give the CIA “exceptional authorities” to destroy al-Qaeda. Tenet wants a broad intelligence order allowing the agency to conduct covert operations without requiring formal approval for each specific operation, thus authorizing it to operate without restraint. Tenet and his senior deputies would be permitted to approve “snatch” operations abroad. Journalist Bob Woodward calls this “truly exceptional power.” 
Tenet has with him a draft of a presidential intelligence order—a “finding”—that would give the CIA power “to use the full range of covert instruments, including deadly force.” 
Another proposal is that, with additional hundreds of millions of dollars for new covert action, the CIA could “buy” intelligence services of key Arab nations including Egypt, Jordan, and Algeria. These could act as surrogates for the US. As Bob Woodward points out, this “would put the United States in league with questionable intelligence services, some of them with dreadful human rights records. Some had reputations for ruthlessness and using torture to obtain confessions.” 
Tenet calls for the initiation of intelligence contact with certain rogue states, such as Libya and Syria, so as to obtain helpful information about the terrorists. (Subsequently, by early 2002, Syria will have emerged as one of the CIA’s most effective allies in the fight against al-Qaeda (see Early 2002-January 2003).) 
He has with him a top-secret document called the “Worldwide Attack Matrix.” This details covert operations in 80 countries that he is recommending or are already underway. “Actions ranged from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks.” As Woodward describes, this proposal represents “a striking departure for US policy. It would give the CIA the broadest and most lethal authority in its history.” 

The president reportedly is much pleased with Tenet’s proposals, “virtually shouting ‘Great job!’” [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 74-78; WASHINGTON POST, 1/31/2002; KESSLER, 2003, PP. 234] He will grant all Tenet’s requests by the following Monday (see September 17, 2001). Tenet had presented a cruder version of the CIA plan at the White House two days earlier (see September 13, 2001). Entity Tags: Paul Wolfowitz, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, John E. McLaughlin, George J. Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Al-Qaeda, George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, Colin Powell, Cofer Black, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

September 15, 2001: Wolfowitz Suggests Striking Iraq Immediately; Bush Decides to Focus on Afghanistan First

George Tenet pointing at a map and describing CIA operations in Afghanistan on September 30, 2001. Also at the table are George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card. [Source: White House] President Bush and his top advisers meet at Camp David to discuss how to respond to the 9/11 attacks. Attendees include: CIA Director George Tenet, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/31/2002; VANITY FAIR, 5/2004, PP. 232] There is discussion on a paper submitted by the Defense Department submitted the day before depicting Iraq, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda as priority targets (see September 14, 2001). Push to Attack Iraq - Rumsfeld has already suggested that the US should use 9/11 as an excuse to attack Iraq (see 10:00 p.m. September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001). Now Wolfowitz pushes for regime change in Iraq, claiming that there is a 10 to 50 percent chance that Iraq was involved in the attacks. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 83; VANITY FAIR, 5/2004; WASHINGTON POST, 7/23/2004] Attacking Afghanistan is uncertain at best, Wolfowitz argues, with the likelihood that US troops will get mired in mountain fighting. In contrast, Iraq is, in author Bob Woodward’s words, “a brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable.” According to Woodward, chief of staff Andrew Card believes that Wolfowitz is doing nothing more than “banging a drum” and is “not providing additional information or new arguments.” [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 83; AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, 3/24/2003] Powell will later recall that Wolfowitz argues that Iraq should be attacked because it is ultimately the source of the terrorist problem. Wolfowitz “was always of the view that Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with. And he saw this as one way of using this event as a way to deal with the Iraq problem.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 335] Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin will later recall that the discussion about possible Iraqi involvement in 9/11 “went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The [CIA] argued that that was not appropriate, not the right conclusion to draw at this point.” Secretary of State Colin Powell supports the CIA on this. Then, according to McLaughlin: “At the end of all this deliberation, the president says, ‘Thank you all very much. This has been a very good discussion. I’m going to think about all of this on Sunday, and I’ll call you together Monday [September 17] and tell you what I’ve concluded.” [PBS FRONTLINE, 6/20/2006] Focus on Afghanistan First - Bush will later tell reporter Bob Woodward that, in his own mind, he made the decision not to immediately attack Iraq in the morning on this day. He wants to focus on Afghanistan first. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 335] Wolfowitz will later recall in an interview with Vanity Fair: “On the surface of the debate it at least appeared to be about not whether but when. There seemed to be a kind of agreement that yes it should be, but the disagreement was whether it should be in the immediate response or whether you should concentrate simply on Afghanistan first. To the extent it was a debate about tactics and timing, the president clearly came down on the side of Afghanistan first. To the extent it was a debate about strategy and what the larger goal was, it is at least clear with 20/20 hindsight that the president came down on the side of the larger goal.” [VANITY FAIR, 5/9/2003] In his 2002 book Bush at War, Woodward will write, “Bush’s advisers wondered if they would ever find a way to end the talking and pull the trigger.” [ROBERTS, 2008, PP. 106] Entity Tags: Robert S. Mueller III, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, John E. McLaughlin, Colin Powell, Paul O’Neill, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Mid-September-October 2, 2001: CIA Official Holds Secret but Unfruitful Talks with Taliban Second-in-Command over Fate of Bin Laden Robert Grenier, head of the CIA station in Islamabad, Pakistan, has a secret meeting with Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani, considered to be the second-most powerful figure in the Taliban. They meet in a five-star hotel in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Grenier suggests that if the Taliban want to avoid the wrath of the US in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, there are several things they can do:

Turn bin Laden over to the US for prosecution. 
As CIA Director George Tenet will later put it, “administer justice themselves, in a way that clearly [takes] him off the table.” 
Stand aside and let the US find bin Laden on their own. 

Osmani and his team relays the offers back to top Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but Omar rejects them. On October 2, Grenier has a second meeting with Osmani in a Baluchistan villa. He makes the new proposal that Osmani should overthrow Omar and then use his new power to get rid of bin Laden. This too is rejected. There are no contemporary media accounts of these meetings, but Tenet will describe them in his 2007 book. [TENET, 2007, PP. 182-183] Curiously, Osmani will be captured by US forces in 2002 and then let go (see Late July 2002). He will be killed in late 2006 (see December 19, 2006). Entity Tags: Taliban, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani, Robert Grenier Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

September 17, 2001: Bush Authorizes Extensive New Powers and Funding for the CIA Two days earlier at Camp David, CIA Director George Tenet had given a presentation to President Bush and his war cabinet, laying out an extensive plan for combating global terrorism and giving the CIA sweeping new powers (see September 15, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 1/31/2002] Bush had thanked Tenet and said he would think about his proposals, as well as those put forward by his other advisers, and would get back with his decisions by the following Monday. By this day, September 17, he has decided to agree to all of Tenet’s requests, which include an extra $1 billion of funding. Reportedly, Bush wants “the CIA to be first on the ground, preparing the way for the military with both intelligence officers and paramilitary officers.” [KESSLER, 2003, PP. 234-235; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 333] Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin will later recall that “we all assembled in the Cabinet Room, and the president lays down about 12 decisions, just like that, machine-gun fashion.… [T]he thing that stands out in my memory, because it hit me vividly, was he said, ‘I want CIA in there first.’” [PBS FRONTLINE, 6/20/2006] In one of these decisions, Bush gives the CIA broad powers to capture, kill, and/or interrogate high-ranking al-Qaeda figures (see September 17, 2001). Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, John E. McLaughlin Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 17-18, 2001: CIA Connects Moussaoui to 9/11 Hijackers through Malaysia Summit Host The CIA is informed that the possessions of Zacarias Moussaoui, which were searched after 9/11, contain a letter from a company called In Focus Tech (see August 16, 2001). The CIA finds that the company’s manager is Yazid Sufaat, who hosted an al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that was attended by hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Various al-Qaeda leaders were also present at the meeting, which was monitored by the CIA (see January 5-8, 2000). CIA director George Tenet will later comment: “and with that the circle closed and things started to come together in a hurry… [T]his was the same Yazid Sufaat whose condo in Kuala Lumpur had been the venue for what turned out to be the first operational meeting in the planning for 9/11—the meeting… that was attended by Almihdhar and Alhazmi.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 204] Entity Tags: Yazid Sufaat, Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 19, 2001: Bush Directs CIA to Investigate Al-Qaeda-Hussein Link; Cheney Pushes Atta in Prague Story In a briefing with CIA Director George Tenet, President Bush tells Tenet, “I want to know about links between Saddam [Hussein] and al-Qaeda. The Vice President knows some things that might be helpful.” He then turns to Cheney, who is participating in the meeting through a secure video link. Unusual for a vice president, Cheney’s office has nearly a dozen national security staffers. Cheney tells Tenet that one of them has picked up a report that hijacker Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague. This had already been reported in the press the day before (see September 18, 2001), but apparently Cheney has information about it that the CIA does not. Tenet promises to get to the bottom of it right away. [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 22-23] Two days later, Tenet will tell Bush that the report “just doesn’t add up” (see September 21, 2001). Entity Tags: George W. Bush, George J. Tenet, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Mohamed Atta Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

September 21, 2001: President Bush Told of No Connection between Iraq and 9/11 During President Bush’s presidential daily briefing (PDB), Bush is informed that the US intelligence community has found no evidence linking Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, nor any evidence of links between Hussein and al-Qaeda. The briefing has been prepared at the request of Bush, who is said to be eager to learn of any possible connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Yet during the briefing, he is told that the few believable reports of contact between the two were in fact attempts by Hussein to monitor the group, which he considered a threat to his secular regime. Analysts believe that at one point Hussein considered infiltrating al-Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or Iraqi intelligence operatives, so as to learn more about its inner workings. A former US administration official later will state, “What the president was told on September 21 was consistent with everything he has been told since—that the evidence [linking Iraq to 9/11] was just not there.” The existence of the September 21 PDB will not be disclosed to the Senate Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004, while the committee will be investigating whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the period leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. As of the end of 2005, the Bush administration will still refuse to turn over the briefing, even on a classified basis, and will say nothing more about it other than the fact that it exists. [NATIONAL JOURNAL, 11/22/2005; MSNBC, 11/22/2005; AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 11/23/2005; UNGER, 2007, PP. 217] According to journalist Ron Suskind, during the meeting, CIA Director George Tenet tells Bush about the alleged meeting hijacker Mohamed Atta had with an Iraqi agent in Prague, which has been reported in the media in recent days (see September 18, 2001). However, Tenet says: “Our Prague office is skeptical about the report. It just doesn’t add up.” He points out that credit card and phone records place Atta in Virginia during the time in question. [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 23] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Bush administration, Al-Qaeda, George J. Tenet Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, 9/11 Timeline

Late September 2001: Neoconservatives Look to Tie Iraq to 1993 WTC Bombing, but Evidence Contradicts Their Theory At the behest of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former CIA Director James Woolsey and a team of Justice and Defense Department officials fly to London on a US government plane to look for evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Woolsey’s trip is in part the idea of neoconservative author Laurie Mylroie (see Late July or Early August 2001). It is the second such mission undertaken by Woolsey this year, as he made a similar trip in February (see February 2001). Woolsey is looking for evidence to support the theory (see Late July or Early August 2001 and Mid-September-October 2001) that Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 WTC bombing, was actually an Iraqi agent who had assumed the identity of a Pakistani student named Abdul Basit. Woolsey visits the Swansea Institute, where Basit studied, to see if Basit’s fingerprints match those of Yousef, who is now serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison. Matching fingerprints would discredit the theory. [KNIGHT RIDDER, 10/11/2001; OBSERVER, 10/14/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/26/2001; MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, 6/2004] While in Europe, Woolsey also attempts to link the Iraqi government to 9/11 and the October 2001 anthrax attacks (see Mid-September-October 2001). But according to Knight Ridder, “Several of those with knowledge of the trips said they failed to produce any new evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks.” [KNIGHT RIDDER, 10/11/2001] Newsweek will similarly report in 2004 that “the results of the Woolsey mission were exactly what the FBI had predicted: that the fingerprints were in fact identical.” [NEWSWEEK, 4/21/2004] The local police in Swansea are curious about Woolsey’s visit and they call the US embassy in London to clarify if Woolsey is visiting in an official capacity. This alerts the State Department and CIA of Woolsey’s trip for the first time, and apparently both agencies are upset. One intelligence consultant familiar with the trip will say, “It was a stupid, stupid, and just plain wrong thing to do.” [KNIGHT RIDDER, 10/11/2001; VILLAGE VOICE, 11/21/2001] It is through this contact that Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet learn of Woolsey’s mission (see September 19-20, 2001). [MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, 6/2004] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, James Woolsey, Abdul Basit, Colin Powell, Saddam Hussein, Paul Wolfowitz, Ramzi Yousef Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence, 2001 Anthrax Attacks

September 27, 2001: First CIA Covert Teams Enter Afghanistan According to CIA Director George Tenet, on this day the CIA inserts its first covert teams into Afghanistan. Eventually this will grow to about 110 CIA operatives by the time the Taliban is routed from Afghanistan in late 2001. [TENET, 2007, PP. 187, 225] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

September 28, 2001: Bush Tells His Advisers Iraq ‘Probably Was Behind’ 9/11; Wants to Use Afghanistan War as Warning to Other Countries During a National Security Council meeting attended by CIA Director Tenet, National Security Adviser Rice, Secretary of State Powell, Vice President Cheney and others, President Bush says of the 9/11 attacks, “Many believe Saddam [Hussein] is involved. That’s not an issue for now. If we catch him being involved, we’ll act. He probably was behind this in the end.” He also says, “What we do in Afghanistan is an important part of our effort. It’s important to be serious and that’ll be a signal to other countries about how serious we are on terror.” He mentions Syria and Iran as countries he wants to warn. This is according to journalist Bob Woodward, who interviews many top officials at the meeting. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 167] One week earlier, the CIA advised Bush that there was no link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. CIA Director Tenet also told Bush that the one alleged connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attack “just doesn’t add up” (see September 21, 2001). Entity Tags: National Security Council, Bob Woodward, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Saddam Hussein, George J. Tenet, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

  1. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002]
  2. .  [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 1 AND 3; CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/6/2002]
  3. . [USA TODAY, 9/24/2001; ABC NEWS, 9/14/2002]
  4. . 
  5. [ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/29/2002; STERN, 8/13/2003]
  6. . [TIME, 9/14/2001]
  7. . 
  8. [KESSLER, 2003, PP. 196]
  9. .  [TENET, 2007, PP. 161]

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