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May 2002: CIA and FBI Are Increasingly Skeptical of Alleged Atta Meeting in Prague, but Do Not Share Skepticism with Public In a 2007 book, CIA Director George Tenet will say of the alleged meeting between hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi agent in Prague, “We devoted an extraordinary effort to the issue but could never find any convincing evidence that the visit had happened.… By May of 2002, FBI and CIA analysts voiced increasing skepticism that these meetings had taken place. The case for the meetings continued to weaken from that time forward.” [TENET, 2007] But Tenet will not publicly say the CIA is “increasingly skeptical” about the meeting until July 2004, long after the start of the Iraq war and after the 9/11 Commission publicly confirmed that the meeting did not take place (see April 28, 2002 and June 16, 2004). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion Category Tags: Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links

May 2002: Silverstein Properties Awarded Insurance Payout for WTC 7 Industrial Risk Insurers agrees to make a full payment under its $861 million policy for the loss of World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story office building which completely collapsed late in the afternoon of 9/11. [INSURANCE JOURNAL, 6/7/2002; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/10/2002; NEWSDAY, 10/21/2003] WTC 7 was owned by Silverstein Properties, which also acquired the lease on the Twin Towers six weeks before 9/11. [INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF SHOPPING CENTERS, 4/27/2001; PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, 7/24/2001] Larry Silverstein, the president of Silverstein Properties, intends to use $489 million of the insurance payment to cover an existing mortgage on WTC 7, and $65 million of it for other debts and costs. The remaining $307 million will go toward the construction costs of the new WTC 7. [BLOOMBERG, 1/14/2003; NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 1/14/2003] He is currently in a dispute with the carriers of his insurance on the Twin Towers, over whether the 9/11 attack constituted one or two separate events, and this will not be settled until mid-2007 (see May 23, 2007). [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/11/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 5/23/2007] Entity Tags: Larry Silverstein, Silverstein Properties, Industrial Risk Insurers, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 9/11 Related Lawsuits

May 2002: Equipment Intecepting Al-Qaeda Communications In Afghanistan Arena Is Sent to Iraq

An RC-135 “Rivet Joint” spy plane. [Source: Defense Department] In May 2002, the US Air Force’s only specially-equipped RC-135 “Rivet Joint” U spy planes—credited with having successfully intercepted the radio transmissions and cellphone calls of al-Qaeda’s leaders—are pulled from Afghanistan to conduct surveillance over Iraq. In June 2003, some RC-135s will finally return to support operations in Afghanistan. Retired Air Force colonel Rick Francona will later comment, “It’s not just the platform itself, it’s the linguists that man the platform. They were being really overworked.” He also says, “I don’t think there is any question that the effort against al-Qaeda was degraded.” [MSNBC, 7/29/2003; GUARDIAN, 3/26/2004] NSA satellites are also “boreholed,” (redirected) from Afghanistan to Iraq. [ATLANTIC MONTHLY, 10/2004] Entity Tags: US Department of the Air Force, National Security Agency Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Iraq War Impact on Counterterrorism, Afghanistan

May 2002: Latin American Specialist Appointed Head of CIA Counterterrorism

Jose Rodriguez. [Source: CIA] Jose Rodriguez, formerly chief of the CIA’s Latin American division, is appointed head of its rapidly expanding Counterterrorist Center. The appointment surprises some, as Latin America is not at the heart of global counterterrorism efforts and Rodriguez, who cannot speak Arabic, has no experience in the Middle East. In addition, Rodriguez was removed from his position in 1997, after he tried to get the government of the Dominican Republic to drop charges against a person described as a “friend,” and was criticized by the CIA Office of Inspector General for showing a “remarkable lack of judgment” over the affair. [INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 12/8/2007] CIA officer Gary Berntsen, who served under Rodriguez as a station chief in an unnamed South American country, will be critical of him in a 2005 book. When Berntsen, an officer with a wealth of counterterrorism experience, took up his position in South America following the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000, Rodriguez greeted him “by saying that he had heard about my successful record of conducting counterterrorism operations, but that would not, repeat not, be my primary mission as a Chief of Station in South America. He stated categorically that he wanted me to conduct normal foreign intelligence collection against traditional targets and no, repeat no, counterterrorism. I was stunned. Had this man been living in a cave the last two years?” Berntsen was also surprised when, after 9/11, he received a message from CIA headquarters asking for volunteers to fight terrorism, and then a message from Rodriguez ordering all Latin American station chiefs not to volunteer. Berntsen will comment: “I didn’t understand… he was ordering me and other highly skilled officers in Latin America not to step forward? Had this guy taken leave of his senses? In a time of national tragedy was he still thinking of how to protect his Division?” [BERNTSEN AND PEZZULLO, 2005, PP. 69, 71] Rodriguez’s identity is supposedly secret until the summer of 2007, shortly before he retires from the agency. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/8/2007] Rodriguez will be put in charge of the Directorate of Operations in 2004, but will become involved in a scandal over the destruction of videotapes of detainee interrogations (see November 2005 and December 6, 2007). [INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 12/8/2007] Entity Tags: Gary Berntsen, Central Intelligence Agency, Counterterrorist Center, Jose Rodriguez, Jr. Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives Category Tags: Destruction of CIA Tapes, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

May-December 5, 2002: US Investigators Pressed to Look Into Ptech

Indira Singh. [Source: Michael Kane] In October 2001, Ptech insiders attempted to warn the FBI that suspected terrorist financier Yassin al-Qadi had funded Ptech (see Shortly After October 12, 2001). Then Indira Singh, an employee at JP Morgan Chase bank, develops her own suspicions about Ptech after her bank assigned her to investigate Ptech for a potential business deal. In May 2002, she speaks with the FBI about her concerns. Weeks later, she learns the FBI still has not told any other government agencies about the potential Ptech security threat. She later will recall, “the language, the kind of language law enforcement, counterterrorism, and the FBI agents themselves were using basically indicated to me that absolutely no investigation was going on, that it was totally at a standstill, at which point my hair stood on end.” She contacts a Boston CBS television station, WBZ-TV, and a reporter for the station named Joe Bergantino begins investigating Ptech. [BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7/2002; NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, 12/8/2002; WBZ 4 (BOSTON), 12/9/2002] Around the same time, a former government official with contacts in the Bush administration tells officials at the National Security Council about the Ptech allegations. By late August, Operation Greenquest then opens its own Ptech investigation. The FBI then tries “to muscle its way back into the probe once it [becomes] clear that [Greenquest is] taking the case seriously.” [NEWSWEEK, 12/6/2002; WBZ 4 (BOSTON), 12/9/2002] Beginning in late November, US agents begin calling Ptech officials and asking them if they have ties to money laundering, thus tipping them off. Ptech will also be notified when a December raid will be occurring before it happens. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 1/3/2003] WBZ-TV prepared a story on Ptech, but withheld it from the public for more than three months after receiving “calls from federal law enforcement agencies, some at the highest levels.” The station claims the government launched its Ptech probe in August 2002, after they “got wind of our investigation” and “asked us to hold the story so they could come out and do their raid and look like they’re ahead of the game.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7/2002; WBZ 4 (BOSTON), 12/9/2002] Entity Tags: Operation Greenquest, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ptech Inc., National Security Council, Indira Singh Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: BMI and Ptech, Terrorism Financing, FBI 9/11 Investigation

May 2002-2003: CIA Uses Controversial Waterboarding Technique on Several High-Ranking Al-Qaeda Detainees

This picture of US soldiers supervising the waterboarding of North Vietnamese prisoners was published in a US newspaper in 1968, resulting in an investigation and convictions. [Source: Bettmann / Corbis] In 2007, it will be reported that the CIA used the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding on at least three detainees. The Associated Press will claim the detainees are:

Abu Zubaida, who is captured in March 2002 and tortured around May 2002 (see March 28, 2002 and Mid-May 2002 and After). 
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is captured in November 2002 (see Early October 2002 and Shortly After Early October 2002). 
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), who is allegedly captured in early 2003 (see March 1, 2003 and Shortly After March 1, 2003). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/11/2007] 
NBC News will report a list of three that includes Hambali, who is captured in August 2003 (see August 12, 2003 and Shortly After August 12, 2003). NBC’s list also mentions KSM and Zubaida, but does not mention al-Nashiri. [MSNBC, 9/13/2007] In a 2007 book, former CIA Director George Tenet will hint that slightly more than three may have been waterboarded, writing, “The most aggressive interrogation techniques conducted by CIA personnel were applied to only a handful of the worst terrorists on the planet, including people who had planned the 9/11 attacks…” [TENET, 2007, PP. 242] ABC News will claim in September 2007, “It is believed that waterboarding was used on fewer than five ‘high-value’ terrorist subjects…” [ABC NEWS, 9/14/2007] Prior to 2002, waterboarding was classified by the US government as a form of torture, and treated as a serious criminal offense. US soldiers were court-martialled for waterboarding captives as recently as the Vietnam War. The technique is said to simulate death by drowning. [NEW YORKER, 8/6/2007] In the 1600s, King James I of England wrote about the torture his government was using and stated that waterboarding was the most extreme form of torture used, worse than the rack and thumbscrews. [HARPER'S, 12/15/2007] In 2007, it will be revealed that at least some of the interrogations of Zubaida and al-Nashiri were videotaped, and it is suspected by some that their waterboarding may have been taped (see Spring-Late 2002). These tapes will later be destroyed under controversial circumstances (see November 2005). A government official will later claim that waterboarding is no longer used after 2003. The CIA and US military will prohibit the use of waterboarding in 2006. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/11/2007]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Hambali, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaida Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives Category Tags: Destruction of CIA Tapes, High Value Detainees, Abu Zubaida, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

Early May 2002: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Suggests Warlords Should Share Power with Afghan Government In early May 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says, “How ought security to evolve in [Afghanistan] depends on really two things; one is what the interim government decides they think ought to happen, [the other is] what the warlord forces in the country decide they think ought to happen, and the interaction between the two.” Rumsfeld’s suggestion that the warlords should share power with the government in Afghanistan outrages many leaders in the US and Afghanistan. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid will later comment that this “gave the Taliban just the propaganda excuse they needed to reorganize themselves. [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai considered Rumsfeld’s comment an insult to all Afghans, and from that time on, he saw [Rumsfeld] as being completely out of touch with reality.” Senator Joe Biden (D) says a few days later: “America has replaced the Taliban with the warlords. Warlords are still on the US payroll but that hasn’t brought a cessation of violence. Not only is the US failing to reign in the warlords, we are actually making them the centerpiece of our strategy.” [RASHID, 2008, PP. 134-135] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Joseph Biden, Taliban, Hamid Karzai Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Afghanistan

Early 2002, probably May or later: Czech President to Washington: No Evidence of Prague Meeting Czech President Vaclav Havel informs Washington that there is no evidence to substantiate claims that 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta met with Iraqi diplomat Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). The information is relayed to the White House quietly to avoid embarrassing top Czech officials—presumably Interior Minister Stanislav Gross -who had publicly stated on more than one occasion that there was no evidence to suggest that the meeting did not take place. The New York Times will report in October 2002: “Mr. Havel… moved carefully behind the scenes in the months after the reports of the Prague meeting came to light to try to determine what really happened, officials said. He asked trusted advisers to investigate, and they quietly went through back channels to talk with Czech intelligence officers to get to the bottom of the story. The intelligence officers told them there was no evidence of a meeting.” The New York Times also reports that analysts in the Czech intelligence service were furious that the Prime Minister stovepiped the information straight to Washington, before they had the opportunity to investigate further. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 10/20/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/21/2002 SOURCES: UNNAMED CIA AND FBI OFFICIALS] Entity Tags: Stanislav Gross, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohamed Atta, Vaclav Havel Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta, Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links

May 1, 2002: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry’s Staff Director Resigns L. Britt Snider, ex-CIA official and the staff director of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, resigns. Apparently there were many conflicts between Snider and his own staff, as well as with Congress. It is later revealed the final straw occurred when Snider tried to hire a CIA employee who had failed an agency polygraph test as an inquiry staffer. The hearings were expected to start in late May, but the resignation is one reason why the first public hearings are delayed until September. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 5/2/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/19/2002] Snider is replaced by Eleanor Hill. She will be widely credited for turning around an inquiry “hampered by infighting, politics, leaks and dueling agendas.” [MIAMI HERALD, 7/14/2002; WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2002] Entity Tags: US Congress, Eleanor Hill, L. Britt Snider Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry

May 1, 2002: Investigation into Cause of Building Collapse on 9/11 Is Inconclusive

FEMA’s World Trade Center Building Performance Study. [Source: FEMA] FEMA releases its report of the WTC collapses. It concludes, “[W]ith the information and time available, the sequence of events leading to the collapse of each tower could not be definitively determined.” On Building 7: “The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time.” [FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, 5/1/2002] Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: WTC Investigation

May 1, 2002: Bush: ‘I’m Going to Kick [Saddam’s] Sorry Motherf_cking ass all over the Middle East’ During the White House daily press briefing, Ari Fleischer is peppered with questions about Bush’s Iraq policy by Helen Thomas, a reporter for Hearst News Service. [WHITE HOUSE, 5/1/2002; ISIKOFF AND CORN, 2006, PP. 2-3] After the briefing, Fleischer meets with the president and recounts his exchange with Thomas. According to Adam Levine, a White House communications assistant who is present, the president’s mood immediately changes. “Did you tell her I don’t like motherf_ckers who gas their own people?,” Bush asks. “Did you tell her I don’t like assholes who lie to the world? Did you tell her I’m going to kick his sorry motherf_cking ass all over the Middle East?” Fleischer responds, “I told her half of that.” [ISIKOFF AND CORN, 2006, PP. 2-3 SOURCES: ADAM LEVINE] Entity Tags: Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush, Adam Levine Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion Category Tags: Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links, Iraq War Impact on Counterterrorism

May 2, 2002: Pentagon Authorizes National Defense Service Medal for War on Terrorism The Defense Department announces that all service members who were on active duty on or after 9/11 are eligible to wear the National Defense Service Medal. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz says, “The sacrifices and contributions made by the armed forces in direct response to the terrorism attacks on the United States and to the long-term resolution of terrorism merit special recognition.” With a few exceptions, members of the National Guard and Reserve may also be awarded the medal. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 5/2/2002] Entity Tags: Paul Wolfowitz, US Department of Defense Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

May 3, 2002: Report Fails to Explain ‘Exit Hole’ in Pentagon Wall

Overview of aircraft’s trajectory inside the Pentagon showing the points of entry (top right) and “exit” (bottom left). [Source: pentagonresearch (.com)] (click image to enlarge) A report about shoring used in the Pentagon submitted to the University of Maryland makes reference to a hole created in a wall inside the Pentagon on 9/11, near the end of the path of damage caused by the aircraft that hit the building. However, the assessment gives no specific explanation for what exactly caused the hole. The hole was on the ground level in a brick wall of the C Ring (the third of five concentric rings that form the Pentagon), on the A-E Drive, a service roadway that runs round the building between its C and B rings. The report says, “a nine foot diameter exit hole was created in the wall of C ring and the remainder of the debris from the impact ended up in the […] A-E Drive.” [TITUS, 5/3/2002, PP. 9 ] Similarly, other reports do not offer any conclusive explanation for what caused the hole. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pentagon Building Performance Report, published in 2003 January 23, 2003, will show the hole’s location in several diagrams, but explain only that “there was a hole in the east wall of Ring C, emerging into A-E Drive, between column lines 5 and 7 in Wedge 2. The wall failure was approximately 310 ft from where the fuselage of the aircraft entered the west wall of the building.” [MLAKAR ET AL., 1/2003, PP. 28 ] The Arlington County After-Action Report, published in 2002, contains a photo of the exit hole with the note “the damage extended all the way through the inner wall of the C Ring, a distance of approximately 285 feet.” It offers no further explanation for what precisely caused the hole. [US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, 7/2002, PP. A8] Various explanations of how the hole came about are advanced after 9/11 (see September 15, 2001 and After). Category Tags: Other 9/11 Investigations

May 5, 2002-July 22, 2004: US Government Fails to Investigate FBI Agent Wright’s Complaints FBI agent Robert Wright, feeling that he had been gagged by FBI superiors (see September 11, 2001-October 2001), files a formal complaint in early 2002 with the Inspector General’s Office (IGO) of the Justice Department. The IGO probes agency wrongdoing and mistakes. However, the IGO turns him away. On May 5, 2002, the IGO writes that “Mr. Wright raises serious charges concerning the FBI’s handling of a criminal matter relating to suspected terrorists,” but the IGO does “not have the resources to conduct an investigation of [the] anticipated size and scope.” Instead, the IGO recommends Wright to refer his complaints to Congress. The IGO had previously conducted large-scale investigations, for instance looking into the FBI’s alleged mishandling of evidence in the trial of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. David Schippers, one of Wright’s lawyers, scoffs at the IGO’s explanation: “The truth is, they don’t want to investigate FBI dereliction of duty.” The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will interview Wright in late 2002. [LA WEEKLY, 8/9/2002] However, neither his name, nor Yassin al-Qadi’s name, nor any details about the Vulgar Betrayal investigation will appear in the Inquiry’s heavily censored 2003 final report. He will not be interviewed by the 9/11 Commission, and neither his name, nor Yassin al-Qadi’s name, nor any details about the Vulgar Betrayal investigation will appear in the 9/11 Commission Final Report in 2004. Supposedly, the FBI “stalled Wright’s appearance before the 9/11 Commission until it was too late for him to appear before its public hearings.” [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003; DEBBIESCHLUSSEL (.COM), 7/14/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004] Entity Tags: US Congress, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Inspector General (DOJ), David Schippers, Robert Wright Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing

May 7, 2002: Explosives Detected on Illegal Israelis

A Fox News report on the Oak Harbor truck incident. [Source: Fox News] A moving truck is pulled over for speeding in the middle of the night in Oak Harbor, Washington, near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The base is the home of the advanced electronic warfare Prowler jets. A bomb-sniffing dog detects explosives on one of the men and inside the truck. High-tech equipment is then used to confirm the presence of TNT on the gearshift and RDX plastic explosive on the steering wheel. Both men turn out to be Israeli (one with an altered passport) and in the country illegally. [FOX NEWS, 5/13/2002] However, the FBI later clears the two men, saying both the dog and the tests just detected false positives from “residue left by a cigarette lighter.” [SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 5/14/2002; JERUSALEM POST, 5/14/2002] The “art student spy ring” frequently uses moving vans as cover, and has been caught spying on the most top secret military bases. [SALON, 5/7/2002] In a possibly related story, the Seattle FBI office that handled this case will be broken into a few weeks later, and even a room containing evidence will be penetrated. [SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 7/29/2002] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Oak Harbor Israelis” Category Tags: Israel

May 7, 2002: Sloppy Israeli Spy Ring Could Have Been Smoke Screen Salon reports on the Israeli “art student spy ring.” All the “students” claim to have come from either Bezalel Academy or the University of Jerusalem. A look in the Bezalel database shows that not a single “art student” appears to have attended school there. There is no such thing as the University of Jerusalem. In fact, the article points out that the sheer sloppiness and brazenness of the spy operation appears to be a great mystery, especially since the Mossad is renowned as one of the best spy agencies in the world. One government source suggests a theory to Salon that the “art students” were actually a smoke screen. They were meant to be caught and connected to DEA surveillance so that a smaller number of spies also posing as art students could complete other missions. One such mission could have been the monitoring of al-Qaeda operatives. [SALON, 5/7/2002] Shortly afterwards, a major Israeli newspaper publishes a story about the spy ring, but does not come to any conclusions. [HA'ARETZ, 5/14/2002] Entity Tags: “Israeli art students”, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks (Mossad), Drug Enforcement Agency, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Israel

May 8, 2002: Pakistani Militants Kill 14 in Karachi, Mostly French

A bloody victim of the Sheraton Hotel bombing. [Source: Agence France-Presse] A car bomb blows up outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. A bus full of French engineers is targeted, killing seven of them as well as three Pakistanis. [RASHID, 2008, PP. 154] The attack is blamed on a new militant group, called Lashkar-e-Omar in tribute to Omar Saeed Sheikh, who is said to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks and the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl. This group is said to have been formed from factions of other Pakistani militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Al-Qaeda is also alleged to have been involved in the attack. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/15/2002] Entity Tags: Lashkar-e-Toiba, Saeed Sheikh, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Omar, Jaish-e-Mohammed Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI, Saeed Sheikh, Alleged Al-Qaeda Linked Attacks

May 8, 2002: FBI Could Not Have Foreseen 9/11, Declares FBI Director Mueller FBI Director Robert Mueller states, “[T]here was nothing the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the [9/11] attacks.” [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, 9/11 Denials

Before May 11, 2002: Al-Qaeda Operative Who Ran Communications Hub Reportedly Arrested in Yemen Ahmed al-Hada, an operative who ran an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen that was monitored by US intelligence, is said to be arrested by authorities in Yemen, though it is not known exactly when this happened. The hub was involved in the East African embassy bombings (see August 4-25, 1998), the attack on the USS Cole (see Mid-August 1998-October 2000) and 9/11 (see Early 2000-Summer 2001). His son, who helped run the hub, died while being pursued by security forces in February 2002 (see February 13, 2002). Details such as whether he is questioned by the US, whether he is charged, and the place he is being held are unknown. [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 5/11/2002] According to author Lawrence Wright, he will still be in custody in 2006. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 378] However, an undated MSNBC article apparently written around 2005 will list him as still being at large. [MSNBC, 5/2005] Entity Tags: Ahmed al-Hada Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Yemen Hub

May 11, 2002: FBI Agent Wright Sues FBI for Blocking Book Criticizing FBI Failures FBI agent Robert Wright claims he began writing a book in August 1999, immediately after being removed from the Vulgar Betrayal investigation. “It was single spaced, 500 pages, and it was titled ‘Fatal Betrayals of the Intelligence Mission.’ The manuscript outlines the FBI’s intentional, at times, failure, to pursue the terrorists and thereby prevent terrorist attacks. Ironically, I completed the text of the manuscript two days after the September 11th attack. On September 10th, I had all but the last three pages completed.” He submitted the book for FBI approval on October 3, 2001, and the FBI is required to apply any censorship and approve publication within 3 days. By May 2002, he feels the FBI is stalling and he sues the FBI to force them to release the book. At one point, the FBI will approve 96 percent of the text and 94 percent of another document he wrote shortly after 9/11, but later the FBI will revoke this decision and prohibit the release of any portion of the book at all. Wright will claim that he based the book entirely on open source materials (with affidavits and other court documents from his investigations apparently making up much of the content). But as of the end of 2005, the book still has not be cleared for publication. Wright’s lawsuit is still ongoing. [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/12/2002; FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 5/30/2002; ROBERT G. WRIGHT, JR., V. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 5/16/2005] Entity Tags: Robert Wright, Federal Bureau of Investigation Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing

May 15, 2002: Bush’s ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’ Warning Is Leaked to Public

The New York Post has a banner headline on May 16, 2002. [Source: New York Post] The Bush administration is embarrassed when the CBS Evening News reveals that President Bush had been warned about al-Qaeda domestic attacks in August 2001 (see August 6, 2001). [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/15/2002; WASHINGTON POST, 5/16/2002] CBS’s David Martin reports: “The president’s daily intelligence brief is delivered to the president each morning, often by the director of central intelligence himself. In the weeks before 9/11 it warned that an attack by Osama bin Laden could involve the hijacking of a US aircraft.” [MCCLELLAN, 2008, PP. 113] Bush had repeatedly said that he had “no warning” of any kind. Press secretary Ari Fleischer states unequivocally that while Bush had been warned of possible hijackings, “[t]he president did not—not—receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/15/2002; WASHINGTON POST, 5/16/2002] “Until the attack took place, I think it’s fair to say that no one envisioned that as a possibility.” [MSNBC, 9/18/2002] Fleischer claims the August memo was titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike the US,” but the real title is soon found to end with “Strike in US” [WASHINGTON POST, 5/18/2002] The Guardian will state a few days later, “[T]he memo left little doubt that the hijacked airliners were intended for use as missiles and that intended targets were to be inside the US.” It further states that, “now, as the columnist Joe Conason points out in the current edition of the New York Observer, ‘conspiracy’ begins to take over from ‘incompetence’ as a likely explanation for the failure to heed—and then inform the public about—warnings that might have averted the worst disaster in the nation’s history.” [GUARDIAN, 5/19/2002] Current deputy press secretary Scott McClellan will point out in 2008: “The [CBS] report left much open to question. Was it suggesting that the president had received info that should have led him to act? Was it just a possible warning sign, like many others that may have gone unheeded? Or was it something else, possibly a nonspecific bit of intelligence from years earlier?” McClellan will write that the uncertainty “mattered little to Democratic leaders in Congress. They saw an opportunity to attack the president’s strong suit—his leadership in the war on terrorism—and cut into his enormous popularity ahead of the midterm elections that coming November.” [MCCLELLAN, 2008, PP. 113] Entity Tags: Bush administration, David Martin, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, Scott McClellan, Ari Fleischer, Joe Conason Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, 9/11 Denials, Other 9/11 Investigations


May 16, 2002: CIA Operative Hurt While Posing as Terrorist Bomber in Philippines? US citizen Michael Meiring is suspected of being a CIA operative after injuring himself in an explosion in his own hotel room. Meiring claimed a grenade was thrown into his room, but a Philippine government investigation determined the center of the blast came from an assembled bomb kept in a metal box owned by Meiring. Hotel employees said Meiring told them for weeks not to touch the box while cleaning the room. Additionally, an ID card with his picture on it found in his room lists him as an officer in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a Muslim rebel militant group. [KHOU-TV, 12/2/2004] One hour after the bombing in his room, a bomb explodes in a marketplace in the same region, injuring four people. [AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 5/16/2002] In the two months prior to this explosion in his room, there were several other other explosions in the same region, killing 37 people and injuring 170 more. [MINDA NEWS, 5/30/2003] In 2003, a group of Philippine soldiers will mutiny, in part because they believe these bombings were done with the secret approval of the Philippine government, and not done by rebel groups as the government claims (see July 27-28, 2003). A number of Philippine officials speculate Meiring may have been a CIA agent. Those who knew him said that he referred to himself as a CIA agent, but said it stood for “Christ In Action.” He had frequently visited the Philippines for at least ten years. [MINDA NEWS, 5/30/2003] He claimed to be a treasure hunter, and had a company called Parousia International Trading (in Christian theology, Parousia is a term for the second coming of Christ). He also had ties to right wing extremists in the US (see 1992-1993). He was said to be very well connected in the Philippines, being visited in his hotel room prior to the explosion by congressmen, a governor, and military officials. He was also connected to militants in the MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, and other groups. He was said to have met with top leaders of these militant groups starting in 1992 (see 1992-1993). One source who knew him said that earlier in the year he had predicted a series of bombings and that his predictions “always came true.” [MINDA NEWS, 5/31/2003] Meiring was already a major suspect in the production and distribution of counterfeit US Treasury bills. Over the last few years, billions of dollars worth of fake US Treasury bills were confiscated in the region. [TIME, 2/26/2001; BUSINESSWORLD, 5/27/2002] Four days after the explosion, FBI agents take him out of the hospital where he was recovering from severe burns and amputations. According to the Philippine Immigration Deputy Commissioner, agents of the US National Security Council then take him to the capital of Manila. The Financial Times will later report that he returns to the US and is handed over to the CIA. [MANILA TIMES, 5/30/2002; FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/12/2002; GUARDIAN, 8/15/2003] The Guardian will later comment, “Local officials have demanded that Meiring return to face charges, to little effect. BusinessWorld, a leading Philippine newspaper, has published articles openly accusing Meiring of being a CIA agent involved in covert operations ‘to justify the [recent] stationing of American troops and bases in Mindanao.’ The Meiring affair has never been reported in the US press.” [GUARDIAN, 8/15/2003] In 2004, a Houston TV station will trace Meiring back to the US, where he still lives, despite the Philippine government wanting him to be extradited to face a variety of charges related to the explosion (see December 2, 2004). Entity Tags: Moro National Liberation Front, National Security Council, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Abu Sayyaf, Michael Meiring Timeline Tags: Alleged Use of False Flag Attacks Category Tags: Philippine Militant Collusion, Counterterrorism Action After 9/11, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia

May 16, 2002: Nobody Predicted 9/11-Style Attacks, Says Condoleezza Rice

National Security Adviser Rice tries to explain what Bush knew and when in her May 16, 2002 press conference. [Source: CNN] National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice states, “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile,” adding that “even in retrospect” there was “nothing” to suggest that. [WHITE HOUSE, 5/16/2002] Contradicting Rice’s claims, former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon acknowledges that such a scenario has long been taken seriously by US intelligence: “If you ask anybody could terrorists convert a plane into a missile? [N]obody would have ruled that out.” Rice also states, “The overwhelming bulk of the evidence was that this was an attack that was likely to take place overseas.” [MSNBC, 5/17/2002] Slate awards Rice the “Whopper of the Week” when the title of Bush’s August 6 briefing is revealed: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” [SLATE, 5/23/2002] Rice later will concede that “somebody did imagine it” but will say she did not know about such intelligence until well after this conference. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/21/2002] Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, World Trade Center, John Gannon, Pentagon Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, 9/11 Denials

May 16, 2002 and After: Democrats Raise Questions about Bush’s Warning of 9/11 Attacks Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) says he is “gravely concerned” to learn that President Bush “received a warning in August about the threat of hijackers,” referring to a CBS News report revealing that Bush had been warned about a possible hijacking over a month before the 9/11 attacks (see August 6, 2001). Daschle calls on the White House to provide the classified briefing to Congressional investigators. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) says, using the language of Watergate investigators, “I think what we have to do now is find out what the president, what the White House knew about the events leading up to 9/11, when they knew it, and, most importantly, what was done about it at the time.” White House deputy press secretary Scott McClellan will later write that, as objectionable as the White House finds these statements, “the Democrat who most aroused the ire of the White House and Republicans was New York’s Democratic senator, Hillary Clinton.” Clinton takes the floor of the Senate and says, “We learn today something we might have learned at least eight months ago: that President Bush had been informed last year, before September 11, of a possible al-Qaeda plot to hijack a US airliner.” She displays a New York Post headline that reads, “BUSH KNEW” (see May 15, 2002) and “9/11 BOMBSHELL.” “The president knew what?” Clinton asks. McClellan will write that he and his White House colleagues are “incensed” at Clinton’s rhetoric: “To us, such grandstanding appeared to be a return to the ugly partisan warfare that had come to define Washington and its culture during the 1990s. Politics as war, the innuendo of scandal, and the egregious implication that the president had deliberately neglected the country’s safety—it was all in service of the November election results. All the familiar elements were there. The story and the partisan accusations that followed provided great controversy for the media to cover.” (In this passage, McClellan fails to note that White House political guru Karl Rove had, months before, advised Bush and Republican candidates to use the war to attack Democrats in the November 2002 elections—see January 2002). McClellan will complain that Clinton “had not even bothered to call [the White House] to find out more about the facts behind the headlines before delivering her speech,” and will note: “To us, the disingenuous way the leaders rushed to create a damning story line about the president and his administration crossed a line. Republicans objected vehemently and aggressively in a counteroffensive led by the White House,” with Vice President Dick Cheney calling the Democrats’ questions “incendiary” (see May 16, 2002) and Bush declaring, “Had we any inkling, whatsoever, that terrorists were about to attack our country, we would have moved heaven and earth to protect America.” Bush adds: “And I’m confident that President Clinton would have done the same thing (see September 7, 2003). Any president would have.” McClellan will call Bush’s statement “a gesture toward the rapidly vanishing spirit of bipartisanship.” He will write that Democrats did not, by themselves, break the bipartisanship that had supposedly reigned before CBS broke the news of the August 6 briefing: “Democrats were responding in part to perceived efforts by Republicans seeking political advantage from the president’s aggressive efforts to wage war against Islamist terrorists,” and will note that in 1998, Republicans accused President Clinton of “wagging the dog”—launching military strikes against Iraq to distract the nation from the Monica Lewinsky scandal (see December 16-19, 1998). [MCCLELLAN, 2008, PP. 117-118] Entity Tags: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bush administration, George W. Bush, Tom Daschle, Scott McClellan, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard Gephardt, Karl Rove Category Tags: Presidential Level Warnings, 9/11 Denials, US Government and 9/11 Criticism

May 16, 2002: Vice President Cheney Publicly Warns Democrats Against Criticizing Handling of Pre-9/11 Warnings In the wake of new information on what President Bush knew, Vice President Cheney states, “[M]y Democratic friends in Congress… need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions, as were made by some today, that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9/11.” He calls such criticism “thoroughly irresponsible… in time of war” and states that any serious probe of 9/11 foreknowledge would be tantamount to giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002] The days later, Cheney adds that he doesn’t “have any problem with a legitimate debate over the performance of our intelligence agencies,” but he has “a real problem with the suggestion that somehow my president had information and failed to act upon it to prevent the attack of Sept. 11.” He calls this “beyond the pale.” On May 21, the on-line newspaper Salon suggests that such pressure “appears to have worked. Democrats are largely chastened in their criticism of the [Bush] administration, and few have criticized attempts to silence them.” [SALON, 5/21/2002] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

May 16, 2002: Condoleezza Rice Incorrectly Claims President Bush’s Pre-9/11 Warning Contains Only Historical Information National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice holds a press conference to respond to the public leak (see May 15, 2002) of the title of President Bush’s August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief item entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” (see August 6, 2001). Presidential Daily Brief - She asserts: “It was an analytic report that talked about [Osama bin Laden]‘s methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998.… I want to reiterate, it was not a warning. There was no specific time, place, or method mentioned.” [WHITE HOUSE, 5/16/2002] In April 2004, Rice will testify under oath before the 9/11 Commission and repeatedly assert that it was “a historical memo… not threat reporting” (see April 8, 2004). Comment by Philip Shenon - Author Philip Shenon will later comment, “She failed to mention, as would later be clear, that the PDB focused entirely on the possibility that al-Qaeda intended to strike within the United States; it cited relatively recent FBI reports of possible terrorist surveillance of government buildings in New York.” After rereading the transcript of the press conference, Shenon will call it a “remarkable document,” because “To many of the Commission’s staff, it offered proof of how, to Condoleezza Rice, everything is semantics. A threat is not a threat, a warning is not a warning, unless she says it is. The word historical appeared to have an especially broad definition to Rice. To her, a warning that was a few weeks or months old was of relatively little value because it was ‘historical.’” Aircraft as Weapons - Rice also says, “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon—that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.” However, various government agencies were well aware of the concept of planes as missiles, including the FBI (see August 27, 2001), the Defense Department (see April 17-26, 2001), and the White House itself (see June 20, 2001). Shenon will point out that this news conference occurs eight months after the attacks, yet Rice is “suggesting that in all that time, no one had bothered to tell her [of these reports].” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 213, 237-239] Entity Tags: Philip Shenon, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, 9/11 Denials

May 17, 2002: White House Official Suggests Criticism of President Bush Helps Terrorists On May 16, 2002, CBS News broke the story that President Bush was given a Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) one month before 9/11 entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” (see May 15, 2002). Some Democratic politicians immediately criticized Bush for not acting on this before 9/11. The next day, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett tells the Washington Post that such comments by Democrats “are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do.” The news website Salon comments, “This is the most direct statement by an administration official to date suggesting that dissent aids the enemy.” Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) similarly comments, “For us to be talking like our enemy is George W. Bush and not Osama bin Laden, that’s not right.” [SALON, 5/21/2002] Entity Tags: Dan Bartlett, Trent Lott Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

May 17, 2002: President Bush Claims He Did Not Know ‘Enemy Was Going to Use Airplanes to Kill’ on 9/11 President Bush says of 9/11 in a speech, “Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people.” [US PRESIDENT, 5/20/2002] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, 9/11 Denials

May 17, 2002: Dan Rather Says Fear of Being Unpatriotic Affects Media Coverage After 9/11 CBS anchorman Dan Rather tells the BBC that he and other journalists haven’t been properly investigating since 9/11. He says, “There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people’s necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions.” [GUARDIAN, 5/17/2002] Entity Tags: Dan Rather Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, 9/11 Timeline, Domestic Propaganda Category Tags: Media

May 17, 2002: CIA Counterterrorism Head Fired for Criticizing Failure to Capture Bin Laden It is announced that Cofer Black, head of the CIA’s counterterrorism division for the last three years, has been assigned to another position. However, in 2004, six anonymous US intelligence officials will claim that, in fact, Black is removed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld because Black publicly revealed details of the US military’s failure to capture or kill bin Laden in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in late 2001. Sources will call Black “very aggressive, very knowledgeable,” in fighting al-Qaeda. According to these sources, after the Tora Bora battle ended, an intelligence analysis determined that bin Laden had been trapped in Tora Bora, and deemed his escape a “significant defeat” for the US. Rumsfeld, however, disagreed with the criticism, and said there was not enough “solid evidence” to come to that conclusion. Black then spoke on deep background to the Washington Post, and on April 17, 2002, the Post called the failure to capture bin Laden “the gravest error in the war against al-Qaeda.”(see April 17, 2002) Rumsfeld learned about Black’s role and used his influence to get him removed. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 7/29/2004] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Donald Rumsfeld, Cofer Black, Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Afghanistan, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

May 17, 2002: White House Misstates Title of Key Presidential Daily Brief on Bin Laden White House spokesman Ari Fleischer misstates the title of a key presidential daily brief item from August 2001 about al-Qaeda’s intentions to attack the US (see August 6, 2001). Fleischer says: “The president was aware that bin Laden, of course, as previous administrations have well known, that bin Laden was determined to strike the United States. In fact, the label on the president’s (presidential daily briefing) was ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike the United States.’” [FOX NEWS, 5/17/2002] Author Philip Shenon will later point out that “Fleischer had left out the title’s all-important preposition—‘in’ the United States.” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 214] The full title is “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 261] The Washington Post soon points out the misstatement: “White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters yesterday […] the headline on the document was, ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike the United States.’ But sources who have read the memo said the headline ended with the phrase ‘in US.’” [WASHINGTON POST, 5/19/2008] Entity Tags: Philip Shenon, Ari Fleischer Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB

May 20-24, 2002: Flurry of Government Terrorist Warnings Given at Politically Suspicious Time The Bush administration issues a remarkable series of terror warnings that many believe are politically motivated. Vice President Cheney warns it is “not a matter of if, but when” al-Qaeda will next attack the US. [CNN, 5/20/2002] Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge says the same thing. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says terrorists will “inevitably” obtain weapons of mass destruction (see May 21, 2002). FBI Director Mueller says more suicide bombings are “inevitable.” [WASHINGTON POST, 5/22/2002] Authorities also issue separate warnings that al-Qaeda militants might target apartment buildings nationwide, banks, rail and transit systems, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. USA Today titles an article, “Some Question Motives Behind Series of Alerts.” [USA TODAY, 5/24/2002] David Martin, CBS’s national security correspondent, says, “Right now they’re putting out all these warnings to change the subject from what was known prior to September 11 to what is known now.” It had been revealed the week before that Bush received a briefing in August 2001 entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” (see August 6, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 5/27/2002] Remarkably, even Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the alerts were issued “as a result of all the controversy that took place last week.” [WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/22/2002; VILLAGE VOICE, 5/23/2002] A retired CIA official reveals that the administration “made a political decision” to make any threat public, even those deemed to be hoaxes. In response to the alleged threat to New York, the former head of the FBI bureau there states that “there really isn’t any hard information.” [ROLLING STONE, 9/21/2006 ] Time notes, “Though uncorroborated and vague, the terror alerts were a political godsend for an administration trying to fend off a bruising bipartisan inquiry into its handling of the terrorist chatter last summer. After the wave of warnings, the Democratic clamor for an investigation into the government’s mistakes subsided.” [TIME, 5/27/2002] Entity Tags: Robert S. Mueller III, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge, Ari Fleischer, Al-Qaeda, David Martin Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline, Domestic Propaganda Category Tags: Media, Terror Alerts, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Internal US Security After 9/11

May 21, 2002: Rumsfeld Warns Al-Qaeda Is in US, Says It Is Inevitable Terrorists Will Use WMDs Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says that al-Qaeda operatives are in the US, and “they are very well-trained.” He also says that “terrorist networks have relationships with terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction, and… they inevitably are going to get their hands on them, and they would not hesitate one minute in using them. That’s the world we live in.” [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 121] His comments are part of a wave of ominous warnings by the Bush administration (see May 20-24, 2002) that come just days after it is reported that President Bush was given a warning before 9/11 entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” (see August 6, 2001). Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld Category Tags: Terror Alerts

May 21, 2002: Fraudulent Consular Staff Admits to Providing Hijackers with Visas Abdulla Noman, a former employee of the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers got their visas, says that he took money and gifts to provide fraudulent visas to foreigners. He pleads guilty and is convicted. About 50 to 100 visas were improperly issued by Noman from September 1996 until November 2001, when he was arrested. However, a former visa officer in Jeddah, Michael Springmann, has claimed in the past that the Jeddah office was notorious for purposefully giving visas to terrorists to train in the US (see September 1987-March 1989). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/21/2002] Entity Tags: Abdulla Noman, US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Investigations

May 21, 2002: FBI Whistleblower Reveals Slip-Ups in Moussaoui Arrest Before 9/11

Coleen Rowley. [Source: Publicity photo] Minnesota FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, upset with what she considers lying from FBI Director Mueller and others in the FBI about the handling of the Zacarias Moussaoui case, releases a long memo she wrote about the case two weeks before 9/11. [TIME, 5/21/2002] She also applies for whistleblower protection. Time magazine calls the memo a “colossal indictment of our chief law-enforcement agency’s neglect” and says it “raises serious doubts about whether the FBI is capable of protecting the public—and whether it still deserves the public’s trust.” [TIME, 5/27/2002] Three days after 9/11, Mueller made statements such as “There were no warning signs that I’m aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country.” Coleen Rowley and other Minnesota FBI agents “immediately sought to reach [Mueller’s] office through an assortment of higher-level FBI [headquarters] contacts, in order to quickly make [him] aware of the background of the Moussaoui investigation and forewarn [him] so that [his] public statements could be accordingly modified.” Yet Mueller continued to make similar comments, including in a Senate hearing on May 8, 2002. [TIME, 5/21/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 5/31/2002] Finally, after Rowley’s memo becomes public, Mueller states, “I cannot say for sure that there wasn’t a possibility we could have come across some lead that would have led us to the hijackers.” He also admits: “I have made mistakes occasionally in my public comments based on information or a lack of information that I subsequently got.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/31/2002] Time magazine later names Rowley one of three “Persons of the Year” for 2002, along with fellow whistleblowers Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom and Sherron Watkins of Enron. [TIME, 12/22/2002; TIME, 12/22/2002] Entity Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Coleen Rowley, FBI Minnesota field office Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui

May 21-22, 2002: Prisoner Told FBI of Imminent Al-Qaeda Attacks before 9/11

Walid Arkeh. [Source: Orlando Sentinel / Bureau of Prisons] Walid Arkeh, a prisoner in Florida, is interviewed by a group of FBI agents in New York City. The agents seek information regarding the 1988 US embassy bombings and are there to interview him about information he learned from three al-Qaeda prisoners he had befriended. During the interview, Arkeh claims that, in August 2001, he told the FBI that al-Qaeda was likely to attack the WTC and other targets soon, but he was dismissed (see August 21, 2001). After 9/11, his warning still was not taken seriously by the local FBI. The New York FBI agents are stunned. One says to him: “Let me tell you something. If you know what happened in New York, we are all in deep sh_t. We are in deep trouble.” Arkeh tells the agents that these prisoners hinted that the WTC would be attacked, and targets in Washington were mentioned as well. However, they did not tell him a date or that airplanes would be used. The New York FBI later will inform him that they find his information credible. [ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/30/2002] Arkeh is later deported to Jordan despite a Responsible Cooperators Program promising visas to those who provided important information to US-designated terrorist groups. (It is unclear whether any one ever has been given a reward through this program.) [ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/10/2002; ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/11/2003; ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/12/2003] Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Walid Arkeh, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, FBI 9/11 Investigation

May 22, 2002: Illegal Status of Terrorists Points to US Immigration Failure A study indicates that at least half of the 48 Islamic radicals linked to terrorist plots in the US since 1993 manipulated or violated immigration laws to enter this country and then stay here. Even when the militants did little to hide violations of visa requirements or other laws, INS officials failed to enforce the laws or to deport the offenders. The militants used a variety of methods. At the time they committed their crimes, 12 of the 48 were illegal immigrants. At least five others had lived in the US illegally, and four others had committed significant immigration violations. Others were here legally but should have been rejected for visas because they fit US immigration profiles of people who are likely to overstay their visas. [USA TODAY, 5/22/2002] Experts later strongly suggest that the visa applications for all 15 of the Saudi Arabian 9/11 hijackers should have been rejected due to numerous irregularities. Entity Tags: Immigration and Naturalization Service Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Investigations

May 23, 2002: President Bush Opposes Independent 9/11 Commission President Bush says he is opposed to establishing a special, independent commission to probe how the government dealt with terrorism warnings before 9/11. [CBS NEWS, 5/23/2002] He will later change his stance in the face of overwhelming support for the idea (see September 20, 2002), and will then sabotage an agreement reached with Congress to establish a commission. Several years after leaving the White House, current Bush press secretary Scott McClellan will write that the president’s reluctance to open an independent investigation into the 9/11 attacks (see November 15, 2002) was part of a larger penchant for secrecy in the administration. McClellan will write: “Unfortunately, the initial response of the Bush White House to demands by partisan critics in Congress and elsewhere for an independent investigation fueled the firestorm of anger. It was an early indication that the Bush administration did not sufficiently accept the necessity for transparency in its management of the public business. The president and his senior advisers had little appetite for outside investigations. They resisted openness, and believed that investigations simply meant close scrutiny of things they would prefer to keep confidential. Not that anything they’d done had necessarily crossed a legal line; rather, some things done privately might not look so good if disclosed publicly, and might cause political embarrassment for the president.… The Bush administration lacked real accountability in large part because Bush himself did not embrace openness or government in the sunshine. His belief in secrecy and compartmentalization was activated when controversy began to stir.” [MCCLELLAN, 2008, PP. 117-118] Entity Tags: Scott McClellan, Bush administration, 9/11 Commission, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 9/11 Commission

May 23, 2002: Rep. Curt Weldon Said to Show Able Danger Chart in Public Speech

A blurry image of the chart Rep. Curt Weldon presented to the Heritage Foundation in 2002. [Source: Heritage Foundation] During a speech before the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Curt Weldon (R) unfurls a chart, which, his comments suggest, was produced by Able Danger. He says it is “the unclassified chart that was done by the Special Forces Command briefing center one year before 9/11. It is the complete architecture of al-Qaeda and pan-Islamic extremism. It gives all the linkages.” However, he does not mention Mohamed Atta or any other 9/11 hijackers during the speech. Video footage of the speech shows the chart, but picture quality is too poor to determine whether Atta is on it. [NEWSMAX, 8/29/2005] Weldon later claims to have given up his only copy of the chart showing Atta’s face in late 2001 (see September 25, 2001). [TIME, 8/29/2005] In September 2005, Weldon will refer to the chart shown in this 2002 speech and suggest it may not have been the same chart that contained Atta’s face. He also says he can’t find the chart used in the speech anymore. [OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON, 9/17/2005] Entity Tags: Curt Weldon, Heritage Foundation, Al-Qaeda, Special Operations Command, Able Danger Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Able Danger

May 27, 2002: FBI Still Has ‘No Breakthrough’ in Understanding 9/11 Plot Journalist Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker, “In a recent conversation, a senior FBI official acknowledged that there had been ‘no breakthrough’ inside the government, in terms of establishing how the September 11th suicide teams were organized and how they operated.” The recent war in Afghanistan “has yet to produce significant information about the planning and execution of the attacks. US forces are known to have captured thousands of pages of documents and computer hard drives from al-Qaeda redoubts, but so far none of this material—which remains highly classified—has enabled the Justice Department to broaden its understanding of how the attack occurred, or even to bring an indictment of a conspirator.” [NEW YORKER, 5/27/2002] It has never been made clear if, how, and/or when the FBI subsequently made a breakthrough in understanding the 9/11 plot. Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: FBI 9/11 Investigation

May 30, 2002: Former Clinton National Security Adviser Visits National Archives, Fails to Find Apparently Compromising Document Sandy Berger, a former national security adviser to Bill Clinton, visits the National Archives to conduct a document review as Clinton’s representative to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. A junior staffer would usually perform such a document search, but the papers are so highly classified that Berger has to go himself. Berger is already worried that the archives may contain documents that can be used against him and the Clinton administration to attack it as having left the US vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Although he should use a secure reading room, where he would be monitored by a guard or camera, to review the documents, he is allowed to do so in the office of a senior archivist. He also keeps his cell phone, in breach of the rules. One of the boxes of documents he reviews contains files for former counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and Berger will later steal copies of one such document (see July 18, 2003). [SHENON, 2008, PP. 1-5] Entity Tags: National Archives and Records Administration, Sandy Berger Category Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry

May 30, 2002: Ground Zero Cleanup Operation Officially Ends A brief ceremony marks the official ending of the cleanup and recovery effort at Ground Zero, eight months and 19 days after 9/11. As part of the ceremony, attended by thousands of people, a flatbed truck carries the last steel beam from the World Trade Center away from the site. The cleanup has been completed three months sooner than predicted and at a cost of $750 million. More than 108,000 truckloads of debris, comprising 1.8 million tons of steel and concrete, have been removed from the site. The debris was taken to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. Controversially, much of the steel was melted down or shipped out of the US for recycling (see September 12-October 2001). A small number of workers will remain at the site for a few more weeks, due to a delay by Deutsche Bank in letting firefighters search its high-rise at 130 Liberty Street. The final truckload of debris will be removed on June 24 and control of the site will be turned over to the New York Port Authority, which owns the land. Forensic investigators will continue sifting through debris at Fresh Kills, in the hope of finding and identifying more victims, until mid-July. [CBS NEWS, 5/16/2002; CBS NEWS, 5/30/2002; CNN, 5/30/2002; PBS, 5/30/2002; BBC, 7/15/2002; GLANZ AND LIPTON, 2004, PP. 316-318; STOUT, VITCHERS, AND GRAY, 2006, PP. 219 AND 226-227] Entity Tags: World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: WTC Investigation

May 30, 2002: Afghan, Turkmen, and Pakistani Leaders Sign Pipeline Deal

Leaders sign the pipeline agreement. [Source: Associated Press] Afghanistan’s interim leader, Hamid Karzai, Turkmenistan’s President Niyazov, and Pakistani President Musharraf meet in Islamabad and sign a memorandum of understanding on the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project. [DAWN (KARACHI), 5/31/2002; ALEXANDER'S GAS & OIL CONNECTIONS, 6/8/2002] Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal) calls Unocal the “lead company” in building the pipeline. [BBC, 5/13/2002] The Los Angeles Times comments, “To some here, it looked like the fix was in for Unocal when President Bush named a former Unocal consultant, Zalmay Khalilzad, as his special envoy to Afghanistan late last year .” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 5/30/2002] Unocal claims that it has no interest in any Afghanistan pipeline after 9/11. However, Afghan officials say that Unocal will be the lead company in funding the pipeline. The Afghan deputy minister of mines comments on Unocal’s claim of disinterest: “Business has its secrets and mysteries. Maybe… they don’t want it to be disclosed in the media.” [TORONTO STAR, 3/2/2003] Entity Tags: Hamid Karzai, Saparmurat Niyazov, Unocal, Pervez Musharraf, George W. Bush, Zalmay M. Khalilzad Category Tags: Pipeline Politics, US Dominance

May 30, 2002: Wright Claims FBI Obstructed Efforts to Stop Terrorist Money Flows

Robert Wright tears up as he apologizes to 9/11 victims’ relatives in his 2002 press conference. [Source: Getty Images] FBI agent Robert Wright holds a press conference. He makes a statement that has been preapproved by the FBI. As one account puts it, “Robert Wright’s story is difficult to piece together because he is on government orders to remain silent.… [T]his is in distinct contrast to the free speech and whistle-blower protections offered to Colleen Rowley, general counsel in the FBI Minneapolis office, who got her story out before the agency could silence her. Wright, a 12-year bureau veteran, has followed proper channels” but has been frustrated by limitations on what he is allowed to say (see September 11, 2001-October 2001). “The best he could do [is a] press conference in Washington, D.C., where he [tells] curious reporters that he [has] a whopper of a tale to tell, if only he could.” Wright says that FBI bureaucrats “intentionally and repeatedly thwarted [his] attempts to launch a more comprehensive investigation to identify and neutralize terrorists.” He also claims, “FBI management failed to take seriously the threat of terrorism in the US.” [FOX NEWS, 5/30/2002; FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 5/30/2002; LA WEEKLY, 8/2/2002] Larry Klayman, a lawyer representing Wright, says at the conference that he believes one reason Wright’s investigations were blocked “is because these monies were going through some very powerful US banks with some very powerful interests in the United States. These banks knew or had reason to know that these monies were laundered by terrorists. And there are very significant potential conflicts of interests in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations—with the country primarily responsible for funding these charities, mainly Saudi Arabia. We have both Clinton and Bush, and in particular this Bush Administration, who is as tight with Saudi Arabia as you can get.” He also says, “Corruption is knowing when something is not being done, knowing when the American people are being left unprotected and when you make a decision not to do something to protect the American people… And you effectively allow 9/11 to occur. That is the ultimate form of government corruption—dereliction of duty. That’s subject in the military to prosecution, to court martial…. Frankly, if not treason.” [FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 5/30/2002] Entity Tags: William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Wright, Clinton administration, Bush administration, Larry Klayman, Coleen Rowley Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing

Late May 2002: Pakistani Army Finally Makes Limited Move into Border Region Where Al-Qaeda Is Regrouping In the wake of the defeat of al-Qaeda and the Taliban at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, many of them flee into the tribal region of Waziristan, just across the Pakistani border (see December 2001-Spring 2002). These tribal regions normally have no Pakistani military presence, and the Pakistani army left the border near Waziristan unguarded (see December 10, 2001). [RASHID, 2008, PP. 148, 268] In early May, the US begins applying pressure on Pakistan to act. On anonymous Defense Department official tells the Washington Post, “We know where there is a large concentration of al-Qaeda.” He notes there are several hundred in one Waziristan border town alone. A senior US offical says, “We are trying to encourage, wheedle, coerce, urge the Pakistanis to move more aggressively” against the Waziristan safe haven, but have not been having much progress. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/12/2002] Pakistan finally moves army units into Waziristan in late May 2002, but even then the 8,000 troops remain in the administrative capital of Wana and do not attempt to seal the border with Afghanistan. [RASHID, 2008, PP. 148, 268] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Pakistani Army Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI, Haven in Pakistan Tribal Region

Summer 2002: Pennsylvania Coroner Receives Inquiry from Relative of Flight 93 Hijacker about Remains Wallace Miller, the coroner in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed on 9/11, is contacted by an uncle of one of the Flight 93 hijackers, who asks him if any remains of his nephew have been recovered. According to Miller: “I got a call from Beirut at 4 a.m. He said he was an uncle of one of them and wanted to know what the situation was. I said if he sent a DNA sample, we’d make a cross-reference to confirm, but I never heard anything more from him.” In 2008, Miller will say that he cannot recall the name of the caller or who his nephew was. However, only one of the Flight 93 hijackers—Ziad Jarrah—was from Beirut, while the others were apparently Saudis (see 1980s and 1990s). Miller will say that the uncle’s inquiry was apparently prompted by a British or South African journalist who had put the man on the phone after interviewing him about the events of 9/11. This appears to be the only attempt ever made by a relative to claim the remains of a hijacker (see September 21, 2008). [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/21/2008] Entity Tags: Wallace Miller, Ziad Jarrah Category Tags: FBI 9/11 Investigation

Summer-Early November 2002: Second Informant Helps British Intelligence Communicate with Informer Abu Qatada

Jamil al-Banna. [Source: Public domain] Jamil al-Banna is friends with Bisher al-Rawi, who is working as an informant for the British intelligence agency MI5. Al-Rawi is mostly helping MI5 communicate with imam Abu Qatada, who also is an MI5 informant but is pretending to be in hiding (see Late September 2001-Summer 2002 and Early December 2001). Al-Banna is aware of al-Rawi’s work and begins to help him. Sometimes al-Banna also serves as a go-between for MI5 and Abu Qatada. Al-Rawi stops working for MI5 in the summer of 2002 (see Summer 2002), but al-Banna does not. For instance, when Abu Qatada is arrested in late October 2002 (see October 23, 2002), al-Banna takes his wife and child home at the request of the British officials on the scene. [INDEPENDENT, 3/16/2006] But in early November 2002, al-Banna will go to Gambia with al-Rawi on business, and MI5 will turn the two of them over to the CIA to be interrogated (see November 8, 2002-December 7, 2002). Entity Tags: UK Security Service (MI5), Abu Qatada, Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil al-Banna Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives Category Tags: Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, Abu Qatada, Other Possible Moles or Informants

Summer 2002: Informant Helping British Intelligence Communicate with Abu Qatada Has Doubts and Is Fired Bisher al-Rawi, an informant for the British intelligence agency MI5, begins to have doubts about his informant work. He is mostly helping MI5 communicate with imam Abu Qatada, another MI5 informant who is pretending to be hiding from the authorities (see Late September 2001-Summer 2002). Al-Rawi is concerned that he might incriminate himself by talking to people who have links to terrorism, and is also concerned that his role as an informant could be publicly exposed. He suggests holding a meeting between his MI5 handlers and a private attorney, and specifically suggests using human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce. However, his MI5 handlers refuse and instead have him meet with an MI5 lawyer known only by the alias “Simon.” Simon assures him that MI5 would come to his aid if he is compromised or has other problems. Al-Rawi will later recall: “[Simon] gave me very solid assurances about confidentiality. He promised they would even protect me and my family if they had to. He said that, if I was ever arrested, I should cooperate with the police. If a matter got to court, he would come as a witness and tell the truth.” Some agents are beginning to have doubts that he is carrying out all their orders, and he brings up the idea of ending the relationship. Then one day one of his MI5 handlers calls him and terminates his MI5 work. [INDEPENDENT, 3/16/2006; OBSERVER, 7/29/2007] Several months later, MI5 will betray him and turn him over to the CIA to be interrogated in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo (see December 8, 2002-March 2003 and March 2003-November 18, 2007). Entity Tags: UK Security Service (MI5), Abu Qatada, Bisher al-Rawi, “Simon” Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives Category Tags: Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, Abu Qatada, Other Possible Moles or Informants

Summer 2002: Bush Advisor: We Say What Reality Is Reporter and author Ron Suskind meets with a unnamed senior adviser to Bush, who complains to Suskind about an article he recently wrote in Esquire magazine about Bush’s communications director, Karen Hughes. In spite of his displeasure, the senior advisor says, boastfully: Guys like you are “in what we call the reality-based community”—people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” [NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, 10/17/2004] Entity Tags: Ron Suskind, Karen Hughes Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Domestic Propaganda Category Tags: Media

Summer 2002: Arms Dealer Victor Bout Helps Taliban and Al-Qaeda Ship Gold to Sudan In September 2002, the Washington Post reports that European, US, and Pakistani investigators believe that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have secretly shipped large quantities of gold from Pakistan to Sudan in recent weeks and months. Disguised boxes of gold are taken by small boat from Karachi, Pakistan, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, or Iran, and then flown to Khartoum, Sudan. European officials claim that some of the chartered planes used to fly the gold and other commodities are linked to Victor Bout, the world’s largest illegal arms dealer. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/3/2002] Bout worked extensively with the Taliban before 9/11 (see October 1996-Late 2001), but reportedly began working with the US after 9/11 (see Shortly After September 11, 2001). So if these various allegations against Bout are true, it means he would be working with the US and the Taliban and al-Qaeda at the same time. European and US intelligence sources say Sudan may have been chosen because Osama bin Laden used to live there and still retains business contacts there. The Taliban kept most of their money in gold when they ruled Afghanistan. Large amounts of gold were also apparently shipped out of Afghanistan shortly before the Taliban were driven from power there in late 2001. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/3/2002] The US learned of bin Laden’s extensive financial network in Sudan several years before 9/11, but apparently never shut it down, even after 9/11 (see December 1996-January 1997 and March 16, 2000). Entity Tags: Victor Bout, Al-Qaeda, Taliban Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action After 9/11, Victor Bout

Summer-Winter 2002: CIA Employee Allegedly Lies to Congressional Inquiry over Notification about Hijacker Almihdhar According to an FBI official interviewed by author James Bamford, a CIA officer lies to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry about the sharing of information concerning 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. The FBI official will say that the CIA officer, from the Directorate of Intelligence, originally claims she physically brought information about Almihdhar to FBI headquarters in Washington. However, the FBI then checks the visitors logs and finds that she was not in the building at the time in question. According to the FBI official, “Then she said she gave it to somebody else, she said, ‘I may have faxed it down—I don’t remember.’” The CIA officer’s name and the information said to have been communicated to FBI headquarters in this instance are not known. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 224-5] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry

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