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Early September 2001: Iranian Inmate in Germany Warns of Imminent Attack on WTC Edit

An Iranian man known as Ali S. in a German jail awaiting deportation repeatedly phones US law enforcement to warn of an imminent attack on the WTC in early September. He calls it “an attack that will change the world.” After a month of badgering his prison guards, he is finally able to call the White House 14 times in the days before the attack. He then tries to send a fax to President Bush, but is denied permission hours before the 9/11 attacks. German police later confirm the calls. Prosecutors later will say Ali had no foreknowledge and his forebodings were just a strange coincidence. They will say he is mentally unstable. [DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR (HAMBURG), 9/13/2001; ANANOVA, 9/14/2001; SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 9/16/2001; OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/17/2001] Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Ali S., George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Early September, 2001: Congressional Document Request Causes Dilemma for White HouseEdit

Dan Burton (R-IN), the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, asks for more than twelve sets of internal Justice Department documents that detail purported fund-raising abuses by the 1996 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Burton also wants documents relating to the FBI’s use of mob informants by its Boston office, where evidence indicates that the office literally let the informants get away with murder and suppressed evidence that allowed an innocent man to go to prison. Burton’s request causes a dilemma for the White House. On the one hand, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have given explicit instructions for staffers to resist such calls for information. On the other hand, when Burton had delved into the questions surrounding Clinton’s last-minute pardons, Bush had already given him unprecedented access to Clinton’s private conversations (see August 21, 2001). Burton immediately released edited transcripts of the tapes (see August 21, 2001). The administration ponders whether or not to release the documents, and in the process perhaps further impugn Clinton, or to refuse, preserving their standard of executive privilege. It will eventually come down on the side of secrecy (see December 13, 2001). [DEAN, 2004, PP. 85-86] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Al Gore, Bush administration, Ehud Barak, George W. Bush, US Department of Justice, Dan Burton, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, House Committee on Government Reform, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

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 6, 2001: US Considers More Favorable Policy Towards Palestinians; But Change Is Halted by 9/11 Attacks According to a New York Times article several days later, on this day President Bush holds a National Security Council meeting with Secretary of State Powell, National Security Adviser Rice, and others, to consider how to change his Middle East policy. This potential change in US policy comes after the Saudis threatened to end their alliance with the US because of US policy towards Israel and Palestine (see August 27, 2001 and August 29-September 6, 2001). It is reported that he is considering meeting with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat when Arafat is scheduled to come to New York for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly two weeks later. Bush has so far been firm in refusing to meet with Arafat. According to the New York Times, at this meeting, “Bush discussed the wisdom of changing tack, officials said. While no clear decision was made, there was an inclination to go ahead with a meeting with Arafat if events unfolded in a more favorable way in the next 10 days or so…” Additionally, it is reported that Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres will meet with Arafat in mid-September, in what it is hoped will be “the first of a series that could start a process of serious dialogue” between Palestine and Israel. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/9/2001] Reporter Bob Woodward will add in 2006, “Bush agreed to come out publicly for a Palestinian state. A big rollout was planned for the week of September 10, 2001.” [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 77] But after the 9/11 attacks a few days later, Bush and Peres do not go forward with any meetings with Arafat and US policy does not change. The Nation will later comment, “In the aftermath of [9/11], few people recalled that for a brief moment in the late summer of 2001, the Bush Administration had considered meeting with Arafat and deepening its political involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [NATION, 7/14/2005] The leak to the New York Times about this September 6 meeting will result in a wide FBI investigation of Israeli spying in the US (see September 9, 2001). Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 7, 2001: Bush’s Plan to Visit Sarasota on 9/11 Is Publicly Announced; Atta and Alshehhi Are Seen in Sarasota that Evening President Bush’s plan to visit a Sarasota, Florida elementary school on September 11 is publicly announced. According to a later news article, numerous eyewitnesses see hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi in Sarasota later that evening. They appear to stay at a Holiday Inn very close to the place Bush will later stay. Atta is seen at the Holiday Inn bar, where he orders one drink, a rum and Coke. He is met by an unidentified male who motions he doesn’t speak English, and then they leave. [LONGBOAT OBSERVER, 11/21/2001] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, George W. Bush, Marwan Alshehhi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 9, 2001: Bush’s First Budget Has Gaps for Counterterrorism Funding President Bush’s first budget calls for $13.6 billion on counterterrorism programs, compared with $12.8 billion in President Clinton’s last budget and $2 billion ten years earlier. However, there are gaps between what military commanders say they need to combat terrorism and what they are slated to receive. These gaps are still unresolved on September 11. [KNIGHT RIDDER, 9/27/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002; TIME, 8/4/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 10, 2001: Cheney’s Domestic Terrorism Task Force Finally Beginning to Hire Staff The domestic terrorism task force announced by President Bush and Vice President Cheney in May 2001 is just gearing up. Cheney appointed Admiral Steve Abbot to lead the task force in June, but he does not receive his White House security pass until now. Abbot has only hired two staffers and been working full time for a few days prior to 9/11. The task force was to have reported to Congress by October 1, 2001, a date they could not have met. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/27/2001; CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY, 4/15/2004] Entity Tags: Steve Abbot, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 10, 2001: President Bush Arrives at Longboat Key Resort; Tight Overnight Security Includes Surface-to-Air Missiles At 6:30 p.m., President Bush arrives at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, Florida. [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 13; SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002] He is in Florida as part of a weeklong effort to place a national spotlight on education and reading, and visited a school in Jacksonville earlier in the day. [ABC NEWS, 9/10/2001; FLORIDA TIMES-UNION (JACKSONVILLE), 9/10/2001] In preparation for the president’s visit to the resort, all guests have been cleared out of the building “to make way for the invasion of White House staffers, aides, communications technicians—even an antiterrorism unit.” Overnight, snipers and surface-to-air missiles are located on the roof of the Colony and adjacent structures, to protect the president. “The Coast Guard and the Longboat Key Police Department manned boats that patrolled the surf in front of the resort all night. Security trucks with enough men and arms to stop a small army parked right on the beach. An Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane circled high overhead in the clear night sky.” [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 13 AND 25; SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 9/10/2002] Whether this is a typical level of security for a presidential visit, or is increased due to recent terror warnings, is unstated. Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 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

September 11Edit

Main article: George W. Bush:11 September 2001

September 12Edit

September 12, 2001: Threat to Air Force One? Stories Conflict Edit

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that President Bush went to Nebraska because “[t]here was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets.” The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush’s political strategist, Karl Rove, confirms, that the Secret Service believed “‘Air Force One may be next,’ and there was an ‘inside’ threat which ‘may have broken the secret codes [i.e., showing a knowledge of presidential procedures].’” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001 ] By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the president, and news stories flatly contradict it. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/27/2001] A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the president should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001] By 2004, a Bush spokesperson says there was no threat, but Cheney continues to maintain that there may have been. Cheney also claims the Secret Service passed him word of the threat, but two Secret Service agents working that day deny their agency played any role in receiving or passing on such a threat. The threat was allegedly based on the use of the word “Angel,” the code word for Air Force One, but Secret Service agents later note that the code word was not an official secret, but a radio shorthand designation that had been made public well before 2001. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/22/2004 ] Entity Tags: Ari Fleischer, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, Secret Service, Karl Rove Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 12, 2001: Bush to Clarke: ‘Look into Iraq’ US President George Bush speaks privately with White House counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke in the White House Situation Room. According to Clarke, Bush tells him to investigate the possibility that Iraq was involved in the attacks. “I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” Bush says. “See if Saddam did this.” When Clarke responds, “But Mr. President, al-Qaeda did this,” Bush replies, “I know, I know, but… see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred.” Clarke insists that the CIA, FBI, and White House already concluded that there were no such links. As he exits the room, Bush “testily” says again, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” [WASHINGTON POST, 3/22/2004 SOURCES: RICHARD A. CLARKE] During a “60 Minutes” interview, Clarke will say that Bush’s instructions were made in a way that was “very intimidating,” and which hinted that Clarke “should come back with that answer.” “Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.” [CBS NEWS, 3/21/2004; NEW YORK TIMES, 3/23/2004] Clarke’s account is later confirmed by several eyewitnesses. [CBS NEWS, 3/21/2004; BBC, 3/23/2004; GUARDIAN, 3/26/2004] After his meeting with Bush, Clarke works with CIA and FBI experts to produce the report requested by Bush (see September 18, 2001). Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Scott McClellan Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Shortly After September 11, 2001: Bush Thinks Iraq Might Be Behind 9/11 In 2004, the 9/11 Commission will ask President Bush his early thoughts on who might have been responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The Commission will summarize his answer: “President Bush had wondered immediately after the attack whether Saddam Hussein’s regime might have had a hand in it. Iraq had been an enemy of the United States for 11 years, and was the only place in the world where the United States was engaged in ongoing combat operations. As a former pilot, the President was struck by the apparent sophistication of the operation and some of the piloting, especially [Hani] Hanjour’s high-speed dive into the Pentagon. He told us he recalled Iraqi support for Palestinian suicide terrorists as well. Speculating about other possible states that could be involved, the President told us he also thought about Iran.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 333] Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

September 12, 2001: Bush Calls 9/11 Attacks ‘Acts of War’ President Bush publicly comments, “The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror, they were acts of war.” Bush’s speech writer at the time, David Frum, will later refer to this comment and Bush’s “we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them” comment from the night before (see 8:30 p.m. September 11, 2001), and say, “Within 48 hours, [Bush] had made the two key decisions that have defined the war on terror. First, this is a war, not a crime. And second, this war is not going to be limited to just the authors of the 9/11 attack but to anyone who assisted them and helped them and made their work possible, including states. And that is a dramatic, dramatic event. And that defines everything.” [PBS FRONTLINE, 2/20/2003] Entity Tags: David Frum, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 12, 2001: Ashcroft Not Highly Concerned about Following Procedures So Captured Terrorists Can Be Put on Trial During a National Security Council meeting, FBI Director Robert Mueller begins to describe the investigation under way to identify the 9/11 hijackers. According to journalist Bob Woodward, “He said it was essential not to taint any evidence so that if accomplices were arrested, they could be convicted.” But Attorney General John Ashcroft interrupts. Woodward will paraphrase Ashcroft saying, “The chief mission of US law enforcement… is to stop another attack and apprehend any accomplices or terrorists before they hit us again. If we can’t bring them to trial, so be it.” Woodward will comment, “Now, Ashcroft was saying, the focus of the FBI and the Justice Department should change from prosecution to prevention, a radical shift in priorities.” President Bush is at the meeting and apparently does not challenge Ashcroft’s suggestion. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 42-43] Entity Tags: John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, National Security Council, Bob Woodward, Robert S. Mueller III Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Complete 911 Timeline

September 12, 2001: Bush Meeting Raises Iraq Attack Possibility White House counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke meets with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rumsfeld suggests that the US should bomb Iraq in retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq,” Clarke will later recall in his book, Against All Enemies. “We all said, ‘But no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan,’ and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’” [CLARKE, 2004; REUTERS, 3/19/2004; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/20/2004; CBS NEWS, 3/21/2004; WASHINGTON POST, 3/22/2004] Powell agrees with Clarke that the immediate focus should be al-Qaeda. However, Powell also says, “Public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible.” Clarke complains to him, “Having been attacked by al-Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.” President Bush notes the goal should be replacing the Iraqi government, not just bombing it, but the military warns an invasion would need a large force and many months to assemble. [CLARKE, 2004] Rumsfeld’s view is said to be closely aligned with that of his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who believes Saddam, not Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, should be the principal target of the “war on terrorism.” [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 49] Commenting on his feelings after the meeting, Clarke will later write: “At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al-Qaeda. I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/22/2004; WASHINGTON POST, 3/22/2004; NEW YORK TIMES, 3/28/2004] “They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12.” [CLARKE, 2004; REUTERS, 3/19/2004; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/20/2004] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard A. Clarke, Colin Powell Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

September 12, 2001: Top Bush Officials Privately Decide to Focus on Al-Qaeda First, then Alleged State Sponsors of Terrorism like Iraq After concluding a National Security Council meeting (see September 12, 2001), President Bush continues meeting with about six top principal cabinet members. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld poses the question, “Do we focus on bin Laden and al-Qaeda or terrorism more broadly?” Secretary of State Colin Powell suggests the US should focus on terrorism generally, but focus first on al-Qaeda. Vice President Cheney brings up the issue of state sponsorship. “To the extent we define our task broadly, including those who support terrorism, then we get at states. And it’s easier to find them than it is to find bin Laden.” President Bush concludes, “Start with bin Laden, which Americans expect. And then if we succeed, we’ve struck a huge blow and can move forward.” He called the terrorism threat “a cancer” and adds, “We don’t want to define [it] too broadly for the average man to understand.” This is according to journalist Bob Woodward, who later interviews some participants in the meeting. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 43] The main alleged state sponsor that interests many top Bush officials is Iraq. For instance, five days later Bush will state he believes Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks, but that an attack on Iraq will have to wait (see September 17, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Woodward, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

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: Historians Question President Bush’s Failure to Immediately Return to Washington after Attacks Regarding President Bush’s decision not to return to Washington immediately after the 9/11 attacks, historian Robert Dallek tells a USA Today reporter: “Frankly, President Bush made an initial mistake. The president’s place is back in Washington” (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:58 a.m.) September 11, 2001, (9:45 a.m.-9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001, and 10:02 a.m. September 11, 2001). Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley adds, “If I were Bush, I’d be in the White House right now, saying, ‘We took a hit at the Pentagon and had a disaster in New York, but the government of the United States is unscathed by this and we’re going to march forward.’” When Dallek’s words appear in print, White House political adviser Karl Rove calls Dallek to inform him that Bush did not return to Washington right away because of security threats to the White House (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and Air Force One (see 10:32 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (4:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). Rove provides no substantiation for his claims, and media critic Eric Alterman later asks, “If you think Air Force One is to be attacked (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001), why go up in Air Force One?” Looking back on Dallek’s assessment, New York Times columnist Frank Rich later writes, “September 11 was the first time since the British set fire to the White House in 1814 that a president abandoned the capital for security reasons.” [USA TODAY, 9/12/2001; RICH, 2006, PP. 24-25] Entity Tags: Frank Rich, Douglas Brinkley, Eric Alterman, Karl Rove, Robert Dallek, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After September 11, 2001: NSA Begins Huge Data Mining Project Similar to ‘Total Information Awareness’

An illustration of the NIMD dataflow. [Source: LibertyThink.com] (click image to enlarge) Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the NSA awards $64 million in research contracts for a program called Novel Intelligence from Massive Data (NIMD). [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/21/2003; NATIONAL JOURNAL, 1/20/2006] NIMD is one of several cutting-edge data mining technologies that not only has the capability of finding keywords among millions of electronically monitored communications, but can find hidden relationships among data points, and even critique the thinking and biases of a particular analyst and suggest alternative hypotheses differing from the human analysts’ conclusion. Like other data-mining technologies, the NSA will steadfastly refuse to discuss whether NIMD is used to analyze data from domestic surveillance operations. NIMD is designed as an preliminary sort program, to keep human analysts from becoming overwhelmed by raw data. In essence, NIMD is an early-warning system. “NIMD funds research to…help analysts deal with information-overload, detect early indicators of strategic surprise, and avoid analytic errors,” according to the “Call for 2005 Challenge Workshop Proposals” released by the Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA). ARDA was founded in 1998 to create, design, and field new technologies for US intelligence agencies, particularly the NSA. A selected few Congressional lawmakers (see January 18, 2006) were informed that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by President George W. Bush (see Early 2002) was designed to be an early-warning system for possible terrorist attacks or plans. Assistant Attorney General William Moschella will inform the top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence committees in December 2002 that the “president determined that it was necessary following September 11 to create an early-warning detection system” to prevent more attacks. He will justify the use of programs such as NIMD by claiming, as NSA director Michael Hayden and other administration officials have repeatedly claimed, that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the government to obtain warrants to conduct domestic eavesdropping or wiretapping, “could not have provided the speed and agility required for the early-warning detection system.” Many experts outside of the Bush administration feel that NIMD and other programs do not have to operate outside of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because of limitations in the law, but because of the fact that the programs cannot meet the law’s minimum requirements for surveillance. FISA requires that any such surveillance must have a probable cause that the target is a terrorist. NIMD has no such threshold. Steven Aftergood, an expert on intelligence and government secrecy with the Federation of American Scientists, will say in 2006, “Logistically speaking, the early-warning approach may involve a significant increase in the number of surveillance actions. It may be that neither the Justice Department nor the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves wiretapping warrants] is prepared to prepare and process several thousand additional FISA applications per year, beyond the 1,700 or so approved in 2004.” [NATIONAL JOURNAL, 1/20/2006] Some experts will later express the opinion that NIMD is the controversial Total Information Awareness program in a slightly different form (see February 2003 and September 2002). Entity Tags: Senate Intelligence Committee, US Department of Justice, Total Information Awareness, William Moschella, Tom Armour, Novel Intelligence from Massive Data, Steven Aftergood, Michael Hayden, National Security Agency, Advanced Capabilities for Intelligence Analysis, Advanced Research and Development Activity, John Poindexter, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, George W. Bush, Federation of American Scientists (FAS), House Intelligence Committee Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

6:00 p.m. September 12, 2001: Bush Tells Pentagon Audience that US Is at War; Urges Broad Military Response President Bush gives a private speech at the Pentagon to military leaders. Accompanies by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bush instructs his military audience to think about a response to 9/11 in the broadest possible terms. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith will later recall, “The president said that this was a war, and that it was the Pentagon’s responsibility. He wanted it fought in the right spirit. People came away saying it was clear he wasn’t talking about half-measures.” [VANITY FAIR, 5/2004] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Pentagon Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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 13, 2001: Bush and Saudi Ambassador Discuss Evacuating Saudis and Terrorist Renditions

From left to right: Dick Cheney, Prince Bandar, Condoleezza Rice, and George W. Bush, on the Truman Balcony of the White House on September 13, 2001. [Source: White House] President Bush and Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US, hold a private meeting at the White House. Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, and Bandar’s aide Rihab Massoud also attend. [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 80] Bandar is so close to the Bush family that he is nicknamed “Bandar Bush.” Sen. Bob Graham (D) later will note that while little is known about what is discussed in the meeting, mere hours later, the first flights transporting Saudi royals and members of the bin Laden family are in the air (see September 13, 2001). Over the next week, they will be taken to several gathering points, and then flown back to Saudi Arabia, apparently without first being properly interviewed by the FBI (see September 14-19, 2001). Graham will say, “Richard Clarke, then the White House’s counterterrorism tsar, told me that he was approached by someone in the White House seeking approval for the departures. He did not remember who made the request… The remaining question is where in the White House the request originated, and how.” Graham will imply that, ultimately, the request originated from this meeting between Bush and Bandar. [GRAHAM AND NUSSBAUM, 2004, PP. 105-107] Others also will later suggest that it was Bandar who pushed for and helped arrange the flights. [VANITY FAIR, 10/2003; FIFTH ESTATE, 10/29/2003 ] Bob Woodward will mention in a 2006 book that during the meeting, Bush tells Bandar, “If we [capture] somebody and we can’t get them to cooperate, we’ll hand them over to you.” Woodward will later comment, “With these words, the president casually expressed what became the US government’s rendition policy-the shifting of terrorist suspects from country to country for interrogation.… Though the Saudis denied it, the CIA believe the Saudis tortured terrorist suspects to make them talk.” [WOODWARD, 2006, PP. 80] Entity Tags: Rihab Massoud, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Bob Woodward, Bandar bin Sultan, Condoleezza Rice, Bin Laden Family, Bob Graham Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 13, 2001: NSA Begins Domestic Surveillance of International Telephone Communications NSA director Michael Hayden addresses the entire NSA in a global videoconference, saying that the NSA, like other government agencies, will have to do more to protect the country from further terrorist attacks. The challenge, he says, is to balance Americans’ security with civil liberties: “to keep America free by making Americans feel safe again.” Hayden will say in a 2006 speech reflecting on that videoconference that US citizens operate under misconceptions about the NSA’s capabilities—that while citizens believe the NSA has a global electronic surveillance network that can, and does, spy on citizens willy-nilly, in reality the NSA is understaffed and unprepared to handle the technological advances of the last decade. Hayden claims that with more extensive domestic surveillance of US citizens and foreign visitors, the NSA could have caught some of the 9/11 hijackers before they were able to put their plan into motion. The standards by which US citizens and foreign visitors are monitored must change, Hayden believes, and, using Ronald Reagan’s 1981 executive order 12333, Hayden expands the NSA’s domestic surveillance practices to eavesdrop, sometimes without court approval, on selected international calls made by US citizens. Though Hayden’s expansion of NSA surveillance is not directly authorized by President Bush, and is not the same program as authorized by Bush’s secret executive order of 2002 (see Early 2002), Hayden will later say that his expansion is based on the intelligence community’s assessment “of a serious and continuing threat to the homeland.” Hayden’s program is reviewed and approved by lawyers at the NSA, the Justice Department, and the White House and approved by the attorney general. [MICHAEL HAYDEN, 1/23/2006] House Briefing Omits Key Information - Hayden will brief the House Intelligence Committee on October 1. But according to one NSA staff member, he only discusses the ramifications of Reagan’s executive order on NSA functions, and not the wiretapping program per se. (The order forbids warrantless surveillance of US citizens “unless the Attorney General has determined in each case that there is probable cause to believe that the technique is directed against a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.” On October 11, House member Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will write to Hayden expressing her concerns about the warrantless nature of the NSA wiretaps (see October 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 1/4/2006] NSA Program Authorized From Above - Hayden says that everything the NSA does is with authorization from above. “I didn’t craft the authorization,” he later says, “I am responding to a lawful order.” Hayden will later claim that, while the NSA continues to use court warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), technological advances and terrorist threats have made the law that created and supports FISC, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (see 1978), obsolete. Therefore, NSA would carry out domestic surveillance operations with or without FISC warrants. Hayden later says the warrantless surveillance operations are “operationally more relevant, operationally more effective” than anything FISA can handle. Hayden begins implementing the domestic surveillance program, in what he later calls a “focused, limited” manner, in October 2001, targeting, he later says, only international calls that NSA analysts believe have some connection to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, and, Hayden will claim, subject to intense internal oversight and scrutiny. Hayden will repeatedly deny, in the face of reams of evidence collected by journalists and others to the contrary, that NSA is spying on domestic antiwar groups and religious organizations like the Quakers who publicly advocate nonviolence and peace. [MICHAEL HAYDEN, 1/23/2006] But, according to later evidence, Hayden’s program does everything Hayden claims it does not do: in journalist Spencer Ackerman’s words, the program “mak[es] a mockery of [the] debate” over how far the NSA should go in light of Constitutional freedoms and legal restrictions. The NSA will, over the years, compile a huge database of purely domestic communications, without warrants or oversight, precisely as Hayden later claims it does not do. [NEW REPUBLIC, 5/19/2006] Domestic Surveillance Began Before 9/11? - Though Hayden and other Bush officials eventually admit to beginning surveillance of US citizens only after the 9/11 attacks, that assertion is disputed by evidence suggesting that the domestic surveillance program began well before 9/11 (see Late 1999, February 27, 2000, December 2000, February 2001, February 2001, Spring 2001, and July 2001). Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan, US Department of Justice, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Hayden, Al-Qaeda, National Security Agency, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, House Intelligence Committee, George W. Bush, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

September 13, 2001: Hayden Tells NSA Agency Must Do More to Protect US from Terrorist Attacks NSA director Michael Hayden addresses the NSA in a global videoconference, saying that the NSA, like other government agencies, will have to do more to protect the country from further terrorist attacks. The challenge, he says, is to balance Americans’ security with civil liberties, “to keep America free by making Americans feel safe again.” Hayden will say in a 2006 speech reflecting on that videoconference (see January 23, 2006) that US citizens operate under misconceptions about the NSA’s capabilities—that while citizens believe the NSA has a global electronic surveillance network that can, and does, spy on citizens willy-nilly, in reality the NSA is understaffed and unprepared to handle the technological advances of the last decade. Hayden will say that with more extensive domestic surveillance of US citizens and foreign visitors, the NSA could have caught some of the 9/11 hijackers before they were able to put their plan into motion. The standards by which US citizens and foreign visitors are monitored must change, Hayden believes. Expansion of NSA Surveillance Powers - Using Ronald Reagan’s 1981 executive order 12333 (see December 4, 1981), Hayden expands the NSA’s domestic surveillance practices to eavesdrop, sometimes without court approval, on selected international calls made by US citizens. Though Hayden’s expansion of NSA surveillance is not directly authorized by President Bush, and is not the same program as authorized by Bush’s secret executive order of 2002 (see Early 2002), Hayden will later say that this expansion is based on the intelligence community’s assessment “of a serious and continuing threat to the homeland.” Hayden’s program is reviewed and approved by lawyers at the NSA, the Justice Department, and the White House, as well as Attorney General John Ashcroft. [MICHAEL HAYDEN, 1/23/2006] Domestic Surveillance Began Before 9/11? - Though Bush officials admit to beginning surveillance of US citizens only after the 9/11 attacks, some evidence indicates that the domestic surveillance program began some time before 9/11 (see Late 1999, February 27, 2000, December 2000, February 2001, February 2001, Spring 2001, and July 2001). Entity Tags: Terrorist Surveillance Program, US Department of Justice, National Security Agency, John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Bush administration, Ronald Reagan, Michael Hayden Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

September 13-22, 2001: Russia Fails to Stop US Expansion into Central Asia, Strikes Deal Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the Russian government realizes the US will attempt to push into the Central Asian “Stans”—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—as part of the US effort to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the region. But these countries had been part of the Soviet Union ten years before, and Russia does not want the US increasing its influence there. On September 13, 2001, Russian intelligence officials hold a meeting with Northern Alliance figures and the other governments that support the Northern Alliance—Iran, India, and Uzbekistan. They promise to increase support to the Northern Alliance in an attempt to outbid the US and keep the US military out of the region. Soon after, Tajikistan announces that it will not allow its airspace to be used by US aircraft. But Uzbekistan is the key country, since it has the most military bases inherited from the Soviet era, the largest population, and also a key strategic location. It also has been working with the CIA against al-Qaeda and the Taliban for several years (see 1998 and After). Uzbekistan indicates it is going to allow the US to base some of its military operations there. Realizing that the other countries are likely to follow Uzbekistan’s lead, Russia switches positions and attempts to make a collective offer to the US. On September 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting in Moscow with the leaders from all the “Stans” in an attempt to reach a joint agreement about allowing the US to use former Soviet military bases. A formal deal is reached between the US and Russia on September 22 after Putin speaks to President Bush on the telephone.

The US agrees that its bases in the region will only be temporary. 
Bush will stop criticizing Russia for its war in Chechnya. 
The US will consult with Russia before taking further steps in Central Asia. 
The US will help accelerate Russian integration into Western economic institutions. 
Russian commanders who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s give extensive briefings to US Army generals.

By this time, CIA teams are already moving into the K2 air base in southern Uzbekistan. Tajikistan also reverses course and allows the US to use bases there as well. Deals between the US, Russia, and Central Asian countries are initially kept secret from the public. But within days of the agreement between Putin and Bush, newspapers begin to report that US forces are moving into Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Other countries make similar deals later (see September 22, 2001-December 2001). [RASHID, 2008, PP. 69-71] Entity Tags: Vladimir Putin, Russia, George W. Bush, Taliban, United States Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, US International Relations, War in Afghanistan

September 14, 2001: President Bush Says He Will ‘Rid the World of Evil’ In a speech at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, President Bush says that “our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.” [SALON, 3/27/2008] Two days later, he says, “This is a new kind of evil, and we understand… this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while.” [NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, 9/11/2005] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 14, 2001: President Bush Declares a State of Emergency President Bush issues a proclamation declaring, “A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.” The national emergency, he states, has existed since September 11. [US PRESIDENT, 9/17/2001] In furtherance of this proclamation, he authorizes the Pentagon to call up 50,000 reservists to active duty for homeland defense and recovery missions. [CNN, 9/14/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/15/2001; US PRESIDENT, 9/17/2001] On September 12, 2002, Bush will announce that, “[b]ecause the terrorist threat continues,” this national emergency will continue for an additional year. [US PRESIDENT, 9/16/2002] It will be renewed again in the years up to and including 2008 (see August 28, 2008), which is Bush’s last full year in office. [WHITE HOUSE, 9/10/2004; WHITE HOUSE, 9/8/2005; WHITE HOUSE, 9/5/2006; WHITE HOUSE, 9/12/2007; WHITE HOUSE, 8/28/2008] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 14-26, 2001: Bush Makes Public Appearances with Suspected Terrorism Supporters

President Bush in front of the Islamic Center on September 17, 2001. Alamoudi is on the far right. [Source: Martin H. Simon/ Corbis] In the weeks after 9/11, President Bush makes a number of public appearances with Muslim leaders in an attempt to reach out to what is perceived as the moderate Muslim community. However, some leaders invited to appear with Bush are actually radical Islamists with suspected terrorism ties. For instance, on September 14, 2001, Bush appears at a prayer service dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 attacks with Abdurahaman Alamoudi, the president of the American Muslim Council. US intelligence had suspected Alamoudi of ties with bin Laden and other terrorist leaders since 1994 (see Shortly After March 1994), and in late 2000 the Bush campaign returned a campaign contribution from Alamoudi because of his controversial ties (see July 2000). Alamoudi also proclaimed his support for Hamas and Hezbollah, both officially designated terrorist groups by the US, at a 2000 public rally in Washington. Another invited attendee at the prayer service is Muzzammil Siddiqi, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Society of Orange County. Siddiqi said of the US government a year earlier, “If you remain on the side of injustice the wrath of God will come.” [FOX NEWS, 10/1/2001] In the early 1990s, the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, lectured about violent jihad at Siddiqi’s mosque while Siddiqi sat beside him to translate. Several members of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell, including Khalil Deek and Adam Gadahn, were regular attendees at his mosque. [NEW YORKER, 1/22/2007] “Former Secret Service officer Ron Williams says, “The intelligence community has known for sometime the association of Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Mr. Alamoudi and their association with terrorist organizations.” [FOX NEWS, 10/1/2001] Agha Jafri, a Shia Muslim leader, calls Siddiqi part of a Saudi-backed “mafia” intent on crushing moderate Sufi and Shiite Muslims in the US and says, “They hate us.” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/11/2003] On September 17, 2001, Bush speaks before the Islamic Center, a Washington mosque. Alamoudi is again pictured with Bush. On September 26, Bush meets with 15 prominent Muslim leaders at the White House. Siddiqi sits next to Bush. Other Muslim leaders at these meetings have expressed support for Hamas and other officially designated terrorist groups. Influential Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist has been working to build a political alliance between the Republican Party and Muslim Americans since at least 1998 (see 1998-September 2001), and he is allegedly responsible for arranging these meetings and vouching for the attendees. [NEW REPUBLIC, 11/1/2001] Bush apparently does not make any more public appearances with Alamoudi or Siddiqi after a Fox News report in early October 2001 regarding their appearances with him. [FOX NEWS, 10/1/2001] It will later come out that Alamoudi met with two of the 9/11 hijackers’ suspected associates in 2000 (see October-November 2000), and in 2004, Alamoudi will be sentenced to a long prison term for illegal dealings with Libya (see October 15, 2004). Siddiqi remains an imam in Orange County and denies any terrorism links. An FBI official will say in 2007, “We have a very strong relationship with Dr. Siddiqi.” [NEW YORKER, 1/22/2007] Entity Tags: Grover Norquist, George W. Bush, American Muslim Council, Hamas, Agha Jafri, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Muzzammil Siddiqi, Hezbollah, Abdurahman Alamoudi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 14-18, 2001: Congress to Bush: Use All Necessary Military Force The US Congress adopts a joint resolution, the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), that determines that “the president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” Congress also states that the “grave acts of violence” committed on the US “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to [its] national security and foreign policy.” [US CONGRESS, 9/14/2001] President Bush signs the resolution into law on September 18. [WHITE HOUSE, 9/18/2001] The passage of the AUMF served another purpose: to extend presidential power. While the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff intended the AUMF to define the conflict in narrow terms, and authorize the US to move militarily against al-Qaeda and its confederates, and the Taliban, Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington, had a larger goal. Attorney Scott Horton, who has written two major studies on interrogation of terrorism suspects for the New York City Bar Association, says in 2005 that Cheney and Addington “really wanted [the AUMF defined more broadly], because it provided the trigger for this radical redefinition of presidential power.” Addington helped draft a Justice Department opinion in late 2001, written by lawyer John Yoo (see Late September 2001), that asserted Congress cannot “place any limits on the president’s determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response.” [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 5/21/2006] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Taliban, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Scott Horton, John C. Yoo, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Al-Qaeda, George W. Bush, Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), David S. Addington Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Complete 911 Timeline, Civil Liberties

September 15, 2001: President Bush Tells Neoconservative Adviser that US Will Attack Iraq after Afghanistan During a morning meeting with advisers at Camp David, President Bush indicated that he wanted to focus on attacking Afghanistan first, and then look at the issue of attacking Iraq later (see September 15, 2001). During the lunch break, he sends a message to the neoconservatives in attendance that he does not want to hear any more about Iraq that day. But one of the neoconservatives there is Richard Perle, who holds no government position but heads the Defense Policy Board advising the Pentagon. According to Vanity Fair, Perle will later claim that the morning discussion about Iraq “had planted a seed. Bush told Perle at Camp David that once Afghanistan had been dealt with, it would be Iraq’s turn.” [VANITY FAIR, 5/2004] Entity Tags: Richard Perle, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence, 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

Mid-September 2001: President Bush on Economic Effect of 9/11: ‘Lucky Me, I Hit the Trifecta’ President Bush remarks to Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, how the 9/11 attacks have enabled him to abandon his earlier promises to balance the US budget: “Lucky me, I hit the trifecta.” [OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, 10/16/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 1/17/2003; STAR-TRIBUNE (MINNEAPOLIS), 9/25/2003] In summer 2000, during his election campaign, Bush had assured voters his planned tax cut was affordable, and he pledged not to dip into the Social Security surplus. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/30/2002] On August 24, 2001, he’d told a reporter, “I’ve said that the only reason we should use Social Security funds is in case of an economic recession or war.” [WHITE HOUSE, 8/24/2001] On September 6, he’d stated three conditions that would permit a change of policy: “I have repeatedly said the only time to use Social Security money is in times of war, times of recession, or times of severe emergency.” [WHITE HOUSE, 9/6/2001] Now, shortly after September 11, Bush alludes to these three conditions as he tells Daniels, “Lucky me, I hit the trifecta.” (A trifecta is a kind of bet that requires picking the top three finishers in a horse race.) As Daniels will comment in late November, “So [President Bush] and the economic team believe that running deficits in a time like this is acceptable.” [OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, 11/28/2001] Bush will make similar comments during numerous public appearances in early 2002, telling roughly the same joke over and over. For instance: “You know, I was campaigning in Chicago and somebody asked me, is there ever any time where the budget might have to go into deficit? I said only if we were at war or had a national emergency or were in recession. Little did I realize we’d get the trifecta.” [WHITE HOUSE, 2/27/2002; WHITE HOUSE, 3/1/2002; WHITE HOUSE, 3/27/2002; WHITE HOUSE, 4/16/2002; WHITE HOUSE, 5/10/2002; WHITE HOUSE, 6/14/2002] Entity Tags: Mitch Daniels, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Mid-September 2001: Evangelist Tells Bush that Bush Is ‘God’s Man for This Hour’ A few days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush invites a small group of evangelical, conservative Christians to the White House to discuss the theological implications of the attacks. James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, says, “Mr President, you and I are fellow believers in Jesus Christ.” Bush nods. “We both believe there is a sovereign God in control of this universe.” Bush again agrees. “Since God knew that those planes would hit those towers before you and I were born,” Merritt says, “since God knew that you would be sitting in that chair before this world was ever created, I can only draw the conclusion that you are God’s man for this hour.” Upon hearing these words, Bush begins to cry. [UNGER, 2007, PP. 218-219] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, James Merritt Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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

September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002: Bush Shifts Public Focus from Bin Laden to Iraq On September 15, 2001, President Bush says of bin Laden: “If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/16/2001] Two days later, he says, “I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West, I recall, that says, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’” [ABC NEWS, 9/17/2001] On December 28, 2001, even as the US was declaring victory in Afghanistan, Bush says, “Our objective is more than bin Laden.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/21/2002] Bush’s January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” and fails to mention bin Laden at all. On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: “We’re going to find him.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/1/2002] Yet, only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, “He’s a person who’s now been marginalized.… I just don’t spend that much time on him.… I truly am not that concerned about him.” Instead, Bush is “deeply concerned about Iraq.” [US PRESIDENT, 3/18/2002] The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers states on April 6, “The goal has never been to get bin Laden.” [EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS, 4/6/2002] In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden’s name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden’s death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/1/2002] Charles Heyman, editor of Jane’s World Armies, later points out: “There appears to be a real disconnect” between the US military’s conquest of Afghanistan and “the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden.” [CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 3/4/2002] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Richard B. Myers, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Mid-September 2001: President Bush’s Popularity Ratings Soar Over 90 Percent; Journalists Feel Reluctant to Criticize His Handling of 9/11

An average of major US polls ranking Bush’s popularity, from February 2001 to June 2007. [Source: Stuart Eugene Thiel] (click image to enlarge) Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory writes that since 9/11, “[T]he country has rallied to the president’s side. Even those who wished for a little more eloquence from him did not want to hear a word against him. Ask any journalist who raised questions about his initial handling of the crisis: They have been inundated with furious calls calling them a disgrace to their profession and even traitors. Congress is well aware that George Bush has become a colossus, surpassing his father’s 90 percent approval rating after the Persian Gulf War. .. Democratic consternation and misgivings have been expressed behind the scenes. When Bush requested blanket authority for retaliation, some remembered the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which they unwarily gave to Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam and came to regret. They said the president’s current powers give him all the authority he needed to punish the authors of the obscene attacks. But, as one Democrat said disconsolately, ‘No one wants to say no to Bush now.’” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/18/2001] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Mary McGrory Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, Domestic Propaganda

September 16, 2001: Bush Tells Rice, ‘We Won’t Do Iraq Now, but It’s a Question We Will Return To’ President Bush tells National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that while the US is going to focus on attacking Afghanistan first, he also wants to do something about Saddam Hussein. Journalist Bob Woodward will later paraphrase what Bush told him: “There’s some pressure to go after Saddam Hussein. Don Rumsfeld has said, ‘This is an opportunity to take out Saddam Hussein, perhaps. We should consider it.’ And the president says to Condi Rice meeting head to head, ‘We won’t do Iraq now. But it is a question we’re gonna have to return to.’” [CBS NEWS, 4/18/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 335] Bush will later claim he made the decision to invade Afghanistan and then go after Iraq one day earlier (see September 15, 2001). Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

September 16-October 14, 2001: President Bush Claim that Using Planes as Missiles Was Impossible to Predict Is Contradicted by Former CIA Official President Bush says, “Never (in) anybody’s thought processes… about how to protect America did we ever think that the evil doers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets… never.” [US PRESIDENT, 9/24/2001] A month later, Paul Pillar, the former deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, will say, “The idea of commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into the ground and causing high casualties, sure we’ve thought of it.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/14/2001] Entity Tags: Paul R. Pillar, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 16, 2001: Veteran Journalist Argues ‘Bush Is Walking into a Trap’ by Launching Afghanistan War Robert Fisk, a veteran journalist who in 1993 was the first Westerner to interview bin Laden (see December 6, 1993), writes an editorial in the Independent entitled “Bush is Walking Into a Trap.” Contrary to the prevailing mood at the time, he writes: “President Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him. Let us have no doubts about what happened in New York and Washington last week. It was a crime against humanity.… But this crime was perpetrated - it becomes ever clearer - to provoke the United States into just the blind, arrogant punch that the US military is preparing.” He argues that unjust US foreign policy in the Middle East is the main reason for widespread Muslim animosity to the US, and that new wars will only exacerbate the problem. He concludes: “I repeat: what happened in New York was a crime against humanity. And that means policemen, arrests, justice, a whole new international court at The Hague if necessary. Not cruise missiles and ‘precision’ bombs and Muslim lives lost in revenge for Western lives. But the trap has been sprung. Mr Bush [is] now walking into it.” [INDEPENDENT, 9/16/2001] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Robert Fisk, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

September 16, 2001: Bin Laden, in Statement Read on Al Jazeera, Denies Involvement in 9/11 Attacks Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi multimillionaire considered by the United States to be the prime suspect for the 9/11 attacks, issues a statement through the Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera, in which he denies responsibility for those attacks. [CNN, 9/17/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/17/2001] In the statement, which is read out by an Al Jazeera announcer, bin Laden says: “The US government has consistently blamed me for being behind every occasion its enemies attack it. I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons. I have been living in the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders’ rules. The current leader does not allow me to exercise such operations.” The statement is signed “Sheik Osama bin Laden.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/16/2001; CNN, 9/17/2001] President Bush dismisses bin Laden’s denial. Asked whether he believes it, Bush responds: “No question he is the prime suspect. No question about that.” [WHITE HOUSE, 9/16/2001; BALTIMORE SUN, 9/17/2001] Vice President Dick Cheney says he has “no doubt that [bin Laden] and his organization played a significant role” in the 9/11 attacks. [NBC, 9/16/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/17/2001] On this day, bin Laden also faxes a statement to the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency, in which he denies responsibility for the 9/11 attacks (see September 16, 2001). [GUARDIAN, 9/17/2001] Previously, on September 12, he denied any involvement, according to a close aide of his (see September 12, 2001). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/13/2001] On September 13, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said bin Laden told them he had played no role in the attacks (see September 13, 2001). [REUTERS, 9/13/2001] But in mid-December 2001, the Pentagon will release a video which apparently shows bin Laden indicating his complicity (see Mid-November 2001). [BBC, 12/14/2001; FOX NEWS, 12/14/2001] However, there will be questions about the authenticity of this film (see December 13, 2001). [GUARDIAN, 12/15/2001] Entity Tags: Al Jazeera, George W. Bush, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 17, 2001: Bush Signs Afghanistan War Plan, But Also Includes Order to Prepare for Iraq President Bush signs a 2 1/2-page “top secret” document that outlines the administration’s plan to invade Afghanistan and topple its government. According to administration officials interviewed by the Washington Post, the document also instructs the Pentagon to begin planning for an invasion of Iraq. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/12/2003; MIRROR, 9/22/2003; ATLANTIC MONTHLY, 10/2004 SOURCES: SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS] The document further orders the military to be ready to occupy Iraq’s oil fields if the country acts against US interests. [WASHINGTON POST, 7/23/2004] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, War in Afghanistan

September 17, 2001: Bush Tells His Advisers ‘I Believe Iraq Was Involved’ in 9/11 Attacks The issue of possible Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks is debated in a National Security Council meeting. According to journalist Bob Woodward, President Bush ends the debate by saying, “I believe Iraq was involved, but I’m not going to strike them now. I don’t have the evidence at this point.” Bush says wants to keep working on plans for military action in Iraq but indicates there will be plenty of time to do that later. Right now his focus is mainly on Afghanistan. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 99] At the time Bush says this, no evidence has emerged possibly linking Iraq to 9/11. One day later, an account of hijacker Mohamed Atta meeting an Iraqi agent in Prague will become known, but it will ultimately be discredited (see September 18, 2001). Entity Tags: National Security Council, George W. Bush, Bob Woodward Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

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, 2001: US Special Forces Presentation Meant for President Bush Suggests Poisoning Afghanistan Food Supply

Franklin Miller. [Source: PBS] President Bush is briefed at the Pentagon on upcoming special operations in Afghanistan. National Security Council staffer Franklin Miller reviews a classified slide presentation that an unnamed two-star general is going to give Bush in a few minutes. One slide in the presentation is labeled, “Thinking Outside the Box—Poisoning Food Supply.” Miller shows this to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and points out that the US is legally prohibited from committing chemical or biological attacks. Rice talks to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the two of them agree to take the slide out of the presentation before Bush sees it. [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 86-87] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, National Security Council, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Franklin Miller Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

September 17, 2001: Falwell Says Remarks about Americans Being Responsible for 9/11 Taken ‘out of Context,’ Again Attacks Gays, Civil Libertarians Televangelist Jerry Falwell writes an explanation of his recent comments blaming gays, civil libertarians, and pro-choice advocates for the 9/11 attacks (see September 13, 2001). Falwell writes that though people may have gotten the wrong “impression” from “news reports over the past several days,” he blames “no one other than the terrorists, and the people and nations who have enabled and harbored them, responsible for the September 11 attacks on this nation.” He says his comments “made during a theological discussion on a Christian television program were taken out of their context and reported, and that my thoughts—reduced to sound bites—have detracted from the spirit of this time of mourning.” He says that since the afternoon of the attacks, he has led numerous groups in prayer, from his “Liberty University family of thousands” to his church congregation and, on September 14, at a special Day of Prayer held at the National Cathedral with President Bush in attendance. Falwell continues: “My statements on the 700 Club… were called divisive by some whom I mentioned by name. I had no intention of being divisive. I was sharing my burden for revival in America on a Christian TV program, intending to speak to a Christian audience from a theological perspective about the need for national repentance. In retrospect, I should have mentioned the national sins without mentioning the organizations and persons by name.” Apology, Then Attack - Falwell then launches into a condemnation of the practice of abortion, and accuses the US of “expell[ing] God from the public square and the public schools.” He accuses the nation of “normaliz[ing] an immoral lifestyle [homosexuality] God has condemned,” adding: “American families are falling apart. Because of our national moral and spiritual decline during the past 35 years, I expressed my personal belief that we have displeased the Lord and incurred his displeasure.” He writes that he was asking his “Christian audience” to follow Biblical teachings and “repent,” and for the “church to heed Proverbs 14:34, which says in paraphrase, ‘Living by God’s principles promotes a nation to greatness; violating those principles brings a nation to shame.’ I was blaming no one but the terrorists for the terror, but I was chastising us, the Church, for a generation of departure from God. I was doing what I have done for nearly 50 years in the pulpit—confronting the culture and calling for national revival.” 'Ill-Timed Comments' - Falwell then turns back towards explaining his remarks, saying his mistake was “doing this at the time I did it, on television, where a secular media and audience were also listening.” He adds: “And as I enumerated the sins of an unbelieving culture, because of very limited time on the 700 Club, I failed to point the finger at a sleeping, prayerless and carnal church. We believers must also acknowledge our sins, repent, and fast and pray for national revival.… [If] my statements seemed harsh and ill-timed, I truly regret this and apologize. But, I repeat, I blame no one but the hijackers and terrorists for the horrific happenings of September 11. But I do believe God’s protection of us as individuals and as a nation is dependent upon our obedience to His laws.” [NATIONAL LIBERTY JOURNAL, 9/17/2001] Falwell will make essentially the same arguments three years later; then, he will claim to have included his criticisms of the church in his original remarks, criticisms he today admits he failed to make (see November 28, 2004). Entity Tags: Pat Robertson, George W. Bush, Jerry Falwell, Liberty University Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 17, 2001: Bush Authorizes CIA ‘Black Sites,’ Assassination of Terrorists President Bush signs a directive giving the CIA the authority to kill or capture suspected al-Qaeda members and to set up a global network of secret detention facilities—“black sites”—for imprisoning and interrogating them. [TRUTHOUT (.ORG), 8/27/2004] The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will later call the sites a “hidden global internment network” designed for secret detentions, interrogations, and ultimately, torture. At least 100 prisoners will be remanded to this secret system of “extraordinary rendition.” The network will have its own fleet of aircraft (see October 4, 2001) and relatively standardized transfer procedures. [NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, 3/15/2009] The directive, known as a memorandum of notification, will become the foundation for the CIA’s secret prison system. The directive does not spell out specific guidelines for interrogations. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/10/2006] Bush also approves a secret “high-value target list” containing about two dozen names, giving the CIA executive and legal authority to either kill or capture those on the list. The president is not required to approve each name added to the list and the CIA does not need presidential approval for specific attacks. Further, a presidential finding gives the CIA broad authority to capture or kill terrorists not on the list; the list is merely the CIA’s primary focus. The CIA will use these authorities to hunt for al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/15/2002] Entity Tags: International Committee of the Red Cross, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Complete 911 Timeline, Civil Liberties, War in Afghanistan

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 19, 2001-September 2002: Members of the Bush Administration Describe 9/11 as ‘Opportunity’ On numerous occasions, key members of the Bush administration refer to 9/11 as an “opportunity.” [NEW STATESMAN, 12/16/2002]

During a news conference on September 19, President Bush says: “[I]n terms of foreign policy and in terms of the world, this horrible tragedy has provided us with an interesting opportunity. One of the opportunities is in the Middle East.” He continues: “[T]his government, working with Congress, are going to seize the moment. Out of our tears, I said I see opportunity, and we will seek opportunity, positive developments from this horrible tragedy that has befallen our nation.” [WHITE HOUSE, 9/19/2001] 
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tells the New York Times: “[I]s it possible that what took place on September 11th… that maybe out of this tragedy comes opportunity? Maybe… the world will sufficiently register the danger that exists on the globe and have this event cause the kind of sense of urgency and offer the kind of opportunities that World War II offered, to refashion much of the world.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/12/2001] 
In March 2002, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tells the New Yorker “that she had called together the senior staff people of the National Security Council and asked them to think seriously about ‘how do you capitalize on these opportunities’ to fundamentally change American doctrine, and the shape of the world, in the wake of September 11th.” [NEW YORKER, 4/1/2002] In a speech the following month, she says: “[I]f the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 bookend a major shift in international politics, then this is a period not just of grave danger, but of enormous opportunity. Before the clay is dry again, America and our friends and our allies must move decisively to take advantage of these new opportunities. This is, then, a period akin to 1945 to 1947, when American leadership expanded the number of free and democratic states—Japan and Germany among the great powers—to create a new balance of power that favored freedom.” [WHITE HOUSE, 4/29/2002] 
President Bush’s National Security Strategy, published in September 2002 (see September 20, 2002), states, “The events of September 11, 2001, fundamentally changed the context for relations between the United States and other main centers of global power, and opened vast, new opportunities.” [US PRESIDENT, 9/2002]

As early as the evening of 9/11 itself, Bush had referred to the political situation resulting from the attacks as a “great opportunity” (see (Between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 31-32] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 20, 2001: Tom Ridge Named Homeland Security Secretary

Tom Ridge. [Source: US State Department] President Bush announces the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, to be led by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/19/2002] Accepting the post, Ridge says, “Liberty is the most precious gift we offer our citizens.” Responding to this comment, the Village Voice opines, “Could Tom Ridge have said anything scarier or more telling as he accepted the post of homeland security czar? Trying to strike the bell of liberty, he sounds its death knell, depicting government not as the agent of the people’s will, but as an imperious power with the authority to give us our democratic freedoms. Which means, of course, that it can also take them away.” [VILLAGE VOICE, 9/11/2002] In November 2002, Ridge will become secretary of a new Homeland Security Department (see November 25, 2002). Entity Tags: US Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Civil Liberties

September 20, 2001: Bush Warns of Lengthy Global War on Terrorism, Says ‘Either You Are with Us, or You Are with the Terrorists’

President Bush giving his joint session of Congress speech. [Source: Eric Draper / White House] In a speech before a joint session of Congress, President Bush says the US faces a lengthy global war on terrorism. He says, “On September 11, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country.… Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.” "Hand Over the Terrorists" or "Share in Their Fate" - He says to the Taliban: “Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.” "Either You Are with Us, or You Are with the Terrorists" - “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.… We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” "They Hate Our Freedoms" - “Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber—a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.… These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life.… They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions—by abandoning every value except the will to power—they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism.” "Every Resource" Will Be Used - “We will direct every resource at our command—every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war—to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.” "Live Your Lives" - Bush has surprisingly little to specifically ask of the ordinary citizen. “Americans are asking: What is expected of us? I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children.… I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.… I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here.… I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions.… I ask for your patience, with the delays and inconveniences that may accompany tighter security; and for your patience in what will be a long struggle.… I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy.” [US PRESIDENT, 9/24/2001] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, US Congress Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Complete 911 Timeline

September 20, 2001: Bush to Blair: After Afghanistan, ‘We Must Come Back to Iraq’

Bush and Blair (left) meeting in the White House around September 20, 2001. [Source: PBS] British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. During dinner that night, also attended by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and British ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair tells Bush that he wants to concentrate on ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush replies, “I agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.” Blair says nothing to disagree. [BBC, 4/3/2003; OBSERVER, 4/4/2004; INDEPENDENT, 4/4/2004; VANITY FAIR, 5/2004, PP. 238 SOURCES: CHRISTOPHER MEYER] Entity Tags: Tony Blair, Colin Powell, Christopher Meyer, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

September 20, 2001: Neoconservative Think Tank Demands Bush Invade Iraq ‘Even if Evidence Does Not Link Iraq Directly’ to 9/11 Attacks; Also Demand Attacks against Syria, Iran, Hezbollah The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter addressed to President Bush and signed by magazine publisher William Kristol, Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle (see September 16, 2001), and 38 other neoconservatives and hardliners. It is reprinted by Kristol’s Weekly Standard shortly thereafter. The authors threaten to brand Bush as a “wimp,” guilty of “surrender in the war on international terrorism” if he fails to carry out their demand to make “a determined effort” to overthrow Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the [9/11] attack[s].” [PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY, 9/20/2001; RICH, 2006, PP. 28] Any failure to attack Iraq, the authors say, “will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.” Invading Iraq is not their only demand. To retain their support, the letter reads, Bush must also target the terror organization Hezbollah for eradication, and retaliate against Syria and Iran if they do not break their ties with Hezbollah. The letter calls Israel “America’s staunchest ally against international terrorism.” Conservative isolationist Pat Buchanan will later write that the real motive for this letter seems to be tied to Israel: “Here was a cabal of intellectuals telling the commander in chief, nine days after an attack on America, that if he did not follow their war plans, he would be charged with surrendering to terror. Yet, Hezbollah had nothing to do with 9/11. What had Hezbollah done? Hezbollah had humiliated Israel by driving its army out of Lebanon. President Bush had been warned. He was to exploit the attack of 9/11 to launch a series of wars on Arab regimes, none of which had attacked us. All, however, were enemies of Israel.… The War Party [Bush administration neoconservatives] seemed desperate to get a Middle East war going before America had second thoughts.” [PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY, 9/20/2001; AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, 3/24/2003] Entity Tags: Patrick Buchanan, William Kristol, Weekly Standard, Project for the New American Century, George W. Bush, Richard Perle Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence

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

September 22, 2001: Bush: Al-Qaeda ‘Target[ing]’ US Economy, Promotes Tax Cuts According to President Bush, al-Qaeda has “targeted our economy” in the 9/11 attacks. Congress has already passed $40 billion in emergency appropriations for security and recovery, and another $15 billion in aid for the airline industry. Bush says the attacks make it paramount that his tax cut plan—largely targeted at wealthy Americans and corporations—be passed as soon as possible. “There ought to be more” tax cuts, Bush will later say, “to make sure that the consumer has got money to spend, money to spend in the short term.” [ROBERTS, 2008, PP. 89] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: Global Economic Collapse

September 23, 2001-Present: 9/11 Skeptics Derided as Conspiracy Nuts The first of many mainstream articles ridiculing 9/11 “conspiracy theories” is published. [INDEPENDENT, 9/23/2001] Early articles of this type generally deride Middle Eastern views blaming Israel. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/3/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 10/13/2001; DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/19/2001] Later articles mostly deride Western theories blaming President Bush, and criticize the Internet and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for spreading these ideas. [CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/8/2002; ABC NEWS, 4/17/2002; ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/18/2002; TORONTO SUN, 5/19/2002] The title of one article, “Conspiracy Nuts Feed On Calamity,” expresses the general tone of these articles. [ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 5/22/2002] An Ottawa Citizen article mockingly includes a Do-It-Yourself Conspiracy Theory section, where you can fill in the blanks for your own personal 9/11 theory. The article calls 9/11 conspiracy theories “delirious,” “dangerous,” and “viruses,” while admitting, “[I]t’s true that some of the events surrounding the September 11 attacks are hard to explain.” [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/1/2002] Another article attempts to discredit theories that oil was a motive for the US to attack Afghanistan by interspersing them with theories that space aliens were behind the 9/11 attacks. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/5/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Cynthia McKinney, Israel Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 25, 2001: Justice Department: US Can Conduct Warrantless Surveillance against Citizens John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), issues an opinion that says the US can conduct electronic surveillance against its citizens without legal warrants. Yoo says that judicial precedents approving deadly force in self-defense cover such warrantless surveillance. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 9/25/2001 ; AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, 1/28/2009 ; NEW YORK TIMES, 3/2/2009] Yoo’s legal rationale, involving the boundaries set by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is almost “perfunctory,” according to a 2009 analysis by Ars Technica reporter Julian Sanchez. But Yoo uses the memo to “veer… into what can only be described as a lengthy and unsolicited digression, laying out his view of the primacy of the president in the national security arena, and the scant limits on presidential discretion to order surveillance targeting foreign terrorists,” Sanchez will observe. Yoo’s memo claims that during a “time of… grave and unforeseen emergencies” such as the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, only the president—and not Congress—has the “unity in purpose and energy in action” to make critical national security decisions. “As the commander in chief, the president must be able to use whatever means necessary to prevent attacks upon the United States,” he writes; “this power, by implication, includes the authority to collect information necessary for its effective exercise.” As for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Yoo finds it almost irrelevant: “FISA itself is not required by the Constitution, nor is it necessarily the case that its current standards match exactly to Fourth Amendment standards.” [ARS TECHNICA, 3/2/2009] Entity Tags: Julian Sanchez, US Department of Justice, George W. Bush, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Office of Legal Counsel, John C. Yoo Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

September 25-26, 2001: VOA Prints Censored US Interview with Taliban Leader, Airs Short Excerpt The Voice of America radio station (VOA) prints a transcript of the recently censored interview it did with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. It also airs a short excerpt from the interview. VOA did not air it on its slated broadcast date of September 21 due to objections from the US’s Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, and senior officials on the National Security Council (see September 21-26, 2001). Omar tells the interviewer that his organization is sheltering Osama bin Laden because the issue is not bin Laden, but “Islam’s prestige [and] Afghanistan’s tradition.… If we did, it means we are not Muslims… that Islam is finished.” He says that he sees the US’s war on terrorism as two conflicting promises: “One is the promise of God, the other is that of Bush. The promise of God is that my land is vast. If you start a journey on God’s path, you can reside anywhere on this earth and will be protected.… The promise of Bush is that there is no place on earth where you can hide that I cannot find you. We will see which one of these two promises is fulfilled.… We are confident that no one can harm us if God is with us.” When asked what he means in his repeated statements that “America has taken the Islamic world hostage,” Omar replies: “America controls the governments of the Islamic countries. The people ask to follow Islam, but the governments do not listen because they are in the grip of the United States. If someone follows the path of Islam, the government arrests him, tortures him or kills him. This is the doing of America. If it stops supporting those governments and lets the people deal with them, then such things won’t happen. America has created the evil that is attacking it. The evil will not disappear even if I die and Osama dies and others die. The US should step back and review its policy. It should stop trying to impose its empire on the rest of the world, especially on Islamic countries.” [GUARDIAN, 9/26/2001; COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS, 9/27/2001] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, National Security Council, Voice of America, Mullah Omar, Richard Armitage Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

September 27, 2001: Bush Tells Americans to Fly to Disney World and ‘Enjoy Life’

TIA logo. [Source: Conventions (.net)] At a rally at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, surrounded by politicians and airline executives, President Bush exhorts the American public to begin flying again. The open, and unprecedented, endorsement of commercial airlines and tourist resorts by a sitting president is part of a “pro-consumption publicity blitz” launched by the White House in conjunction with the travel industry. “[O]ne of the great goals of this nation’s war [against terrorism] is to restore public confidence in the airline industry,” Bush says. “It’s to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” Bush’s remarks are part of a coordinated advertising campaign by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), which hinges on a series of “public service” television ads by Bush himself (see Early 2002). [WHITE HOUSE, 9/27/2001; ROBERTS, 2008, PP. 90] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Travel Industry Association of America, Bush administration Timeline Tags: Global Economic Collapse

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

Late September 2001: Saudi Arabia Uncooperative in 9/11 Investigation, Hiding Information about 9/11 Hijackers President Bush states on September 24, 2001: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” [US PRESIDENT, 9/24/2001] On the same day, he says, “As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they’ve been nothing but cooperative,” and “[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am.” But in fact, Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, “They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow.… It’s better to shut it down right away.” Several experts claim the Saudi government is being “completely unsupportive” and is giving “zero cooperation” to the 9/11 investigation. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/13/2001; NEW YORKER, 10/16/2001] On September 25, it is also reported that the Saudi government “has not granted visas to reporters for major US publications to trace the hijackers’ roots.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] By mid-October 2001, journalist Seymour Hersh will write in the New Yorker, “Other officials said that there is a growing worry inside the FBI and the CIA that the actual identities of many of those involved in the attacks may not be known definitively for months, if ever.” [NEW YORKER, 10/16/2001] Entity Tags: Saudi Arabia, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Late September, 2001: NSA Wiretapping Program Begins at This Time, According to Conservative Author According to author Ronald Kessler’s November 2007 book The Terrorist Watch, the NSA’s domestic surveillance program begins around two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, when President Bush meets with NSA director Michael Hayden and other NSA officials in the Oval Office. According to chief of staff Andrew Card, in attendance, Bush asks, “What tools do we need to fight the war on terror?” Hayden suggests revamping NSA guidelines to allow the agency to wiretap domestic phone calls and intercept e-mails to and from terror suspects if one end of the communication is overseas. Kessler gives the following rather lurid example: “Thus, if [Osama] bin Laden were calling the US to order the detonation of a nuclear device, and the person he called began making overseas calls, NSA could listen in to those calls as well as to bin Laden’s original call.” Kessler is a chief correspondent for the extremist conservative Web site NewsMax; his assertion is disputed by evidence suggesting that the domestic surveillance program began well before the 9/11 attacks (see Late 1999, February 27, 2000, December 2000, February 2001, February 2001, Spring 2001, and July 2001). [KESSLER, 2007, PP. 130] Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Andrew Card, Michael Hayden, Ronald Kessler, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Late September-Early October 2001: Bin Laden Reportedly Agrees to Face International Tribunal; US Not Interested? Leaders of Pakistan’s two Islamic parties are negotiating bin Laden’s extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks during this period, according to a later Mirror article. Under the plan, bin Laden will be held under house arrest in Peshawar and will face an international tribunal, which will decide whether to try him or hand him over to the US. According to reports in Pakistan (and the Daily Telegraph ), this plan has been approved by both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. [MIRROR, 7/8/2002] Based on the first priority in the US’s new “war on terror” proclaimed by President Bush, the US presumably would welcome this plan. For example, Bush had just announced, “I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West, I recall, that says, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’” [ABC NEWS, 9/17/2001] Yet, Bush’s ally in the war on terror, Pakistani President Musharraf, rejects the plan (stating that his reason for doing so was because he “could not guarantee bin Laden’s safety”). Based on a US official’s later statements, it appears that the US did not want the deal: “Casting our objectives too narrowly” risked “a premature collapse of the international effort [to overthrow the Taliban] if by some lucky chance Mr. bin Laden was captured.” [MIRROR, 7/8/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, Pervez Musharraf Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Late September-Late October 2001: US Military Slow in Entering Afghanistan until Rumsfeld Makes Power Grab By late September 2001, the CIA covert plan to conquer Afghanistan is in place but it needs the US military to work. CIA official Gary Schroen will later recall, “We were there for just about a month by ourselves in the valley. We were the only Americans in the country for almost a month.” According to a PBS Frontline documentary, at some point around the middle of October, “there was a fiery NSC [National Security Council] meeting. The CIA had been complaining [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld was dragging his feet in Afghanistan. It was said Rumsfeld didn’t like taking orders from the CIA.” Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong will later say, “Rumsfeld went to the president and said, ‘The CIA has to work for me, or this isn’t going to work.’” President Bush finally agrees and places Rumsfeld in charge of the Afghanistan war. A short time later, on October 20, the first US Special Forces are put into action in Afghanistan, calling in precision air strikes. The Taliban fold in the face of the attack and the capital of Kabul will fall in mid-November. But according to Schroen, “I was absolutely convinced that that would happen and that the Taliban would break quickly. That could have happened in October, early October,” had the US military arrived to assist the CIA sooner. [PBS FRONTLINE, 6/20/2006] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, Gary C. Schroen, Michael DeLong, National Security Council, Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

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