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

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

July 5, 2001: Clarke Warns Domestic Agencies of ‘Something Spectacular’ Planned by Al-Qaeda At the request of National Security Adviser Rice and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke leads a meeting of the Counterterrorism Security Group, attended by officials from a dozen federal agencies, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the FAA, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, Customs, the CIA, and the FBI. The CIA and FBI give briefings on the growing al-Qaeda threat. [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002; TIME, 8/4/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 258] Then Clarke later recalls saying, “You’ve just heard that CIA thinks al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us. So do I. You heard CIA say it would probably be in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Maybe. But maybe it will be here. Just because there is no evidence that says that it will be here, does not mean it will be overseas. They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 236] Two attendees later recall Clarke stating that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.” One who attended the meeting later calls the evidence that “something spectacular” is being planned by al-Qaeda “very gripping.” [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002; TIME, 8/4/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256] Clarke directs every counterterrorist office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises, and place domestic rapid-response teams on much shorter alert. However, there is very poor follow up to the meeting and the attendees don’t share the warnings with their home agencies (see Shortly After July 5, 2001). By early August, all of these emergency measures are no longer in effect. [CNN, 3/2002; WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002] Entity Tags: US Customs Service, Richard A. Clarke, Secret Service, US Coast Guard, Al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Condoleezza Rice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Andrew Card Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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

July 6, 2001: Clarke Tells Rice to Warn Agencies to Prepare for 3 to 5 Simultaneous Attacks; No Apparent Response Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke sends National Security Adviser Rice an e-mail message “outlining a number of steps agreed on” at the Counterterrorism Security Group meeting the day before (see July 5, 2001), “including efforts to examine the threat of weapons of mass destruction and possible attacks in Latin America. One senior administration official [says] Mr. Clarke [writes] that several agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon, [have] been directed to develop what the official [says are] ‘detailed response plans in the event of three to five simultaneous attacks.’” However, no response or follow-up action has been pointed out. [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/4/2004] Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Richard A. Clarke, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Defense Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

July 27, 2001: Clarke Says Immediate Threat Is Over but Attacks Still Going Forward Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke informs National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley that the spike in intelligence about a near-term al-Qaeda attack has stopped. However, he urges keeping readiness at a high level during August, when President Bush and many other top US leaders go on vacation. He warns that another recent report suggests that an attack has just been postponed for a few months “but will still happen.” Similarly, on August 3, the CIA sends a cable to the US intelligence community warning that the threat of impending al-Qaeda attacks is likely to continue indefinitely. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 260, 534] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, Stephen J. Hadley Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

August 4, 2001: Nothing New in Letter from President Bush to Pakistani President Musharraf President Bush sends a letter to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, warning him about supporting the Taliban. However, the tone is similar to past requests dating to the Clinton administration. There had been some discussion that US policy toward Pakistan should change. For instance, at the end of June, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke “urged that the United States [should] think about what it would do after the next attack, and then take that position with Pakistan now, before the attack.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage later acknowledges that a new approach to Pakistan is not yet implemented by 9/11 (see January-September 10, 2001 and Early June 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004 SOURCES: RICHARD ARMITAGE] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Clinton administration, Taliban, George W. Bush, Pervez Musharraf Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Between August 6 and September 11, 2001: No High-Level Meetings to Discuss ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’ Memo The Bush administration holds no high-level meetings prior to 9/11 to discuss the ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’ Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) given to President Bush on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later suggest that 9/11 might have been stopped “if [National Security Adviser] Rice and the president had acted personally, gotten involved, shaken the trees, gotten the Cabinet members involved when they had ample warning in June and July and August that something was about to happen.… [Rice] said that the president received 40 warnings face to face from the director of central intelligence that a major al-Qaeda attack was going to take place and she admitted that the president did not have a meeting on the subject, did not convene the Cabinet. She admitted that she didn’t convene the Cabinet. And as some of the [9/11 Commissioners] pointed out, this was in marked contrast to the way the government operated in December of 1999, when it had similar information and it successfully thwarted attacks.” [ABC NEWS, 4/8/2004] Former CIA official Larry Johnson will similarly comment, “At a minimum, the details in the 6 August PDB should have motivated Rice to convene a principals’ meeting. Such a meeting would have ensured that all members of the president’s national security team were aware of the information that had been shared with the president. George Bush should have directed the different department heads to report back within one week on any information relevant to the al-Qaeda threat. Had he done this there is a high probability that the FBI field agents concerns about Arabs taking flight training would have rung some bells. There is also a high probability that the operations folks at CIA would have shared the information they had in hand about the presence of al-Qaeda operators in the United States.” [TOM PAINE (.COM), 4/12/2004] There will be one cabinet-level principals meeting to discuss terrorism on September 4, 2001, but no evidence has been released suggesting the PDB or the possibility of al-Qaeda attacking the US was discussed (see September 4, 2001). Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Larry C. Johnson Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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

August 23, 2001: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Are Finally Added to Terrorist Watch List

The CIA cable watchlisting Alhazmi, Almihdhar, and two others (the sections mentioning Shakir and bin Attash are blacked out). [Source: FBI] (click image to enlarge) Thanks to the request of Margaret Gillespie, an FBI analyst assigned to the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center, the CIA sends a cable to the State Department, INS, Customs Service, and FBI requesting that “bin Laden-related individuals” Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, and Salah Saeed Mohammed bin Yousaf (an alias for Khallad bin Attash) be put on the terrorism watch list. All four individuals had attended the January 2000 al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia. The cable mostly focuses on Almihdhar, briefly outlining his attendance at the Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000) and his subsequent travel to the US in January 2000 and July 2001. Since March 2000, if not earlier, the CIA has had good reason to believe Alhazmi and Almihdhar were al-Qaeda operatives living in the US, but apparently did nothing and told no other agency about it until now. The hijackers are not located in time, and both die in the 9/11 attacks. FBI agents later state that if they been told about Alhazmi and Almihdhar sooner, “There’s no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together” given the frequent contact between these two and the other hijackers. [NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 538; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 32-36, 302] However, in what the Washington Post calls a “critical omission,” the FAA, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the FBI’s Financial Review Group are not notified. The two latter organizations have the power to tap into private credit card and bank data, and claim they could have readily found Alhazmi and Almihdhar, given the frequency the two used credit cards. [WASHINGTON POST, 7/25/2003] Furthermore, counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and his Counterterrorism Security Group are not told about these two operatives before 9/11 either. [NEWSWEEK, 3/24/2004] The CIA later claims the request was labeled “immediate,” the second most urgent category (the highest is reserved for things like declarations of war). [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/28/2001] The FBI denies that it was marked “immediate” and other agencies treated the request as a routine matter. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/18/2001; US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] The State Department places all four men on the watch list the next day. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] However, this watch list, named TIPOFF, checks their names only if they use international flights. There is another watch list barring suspected terrorists from flying domestically. On 9/11, it contains only 12 names, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other al-Qaeda figures, and some names are added as late as August 28, 2001. But none of these four men are added to this domestic list before 9/11.(see April 24, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] Entity Tags: TIPOFF, Khalid Almihdhar, Margaret Gillespie, Richard A. Clarke, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Department of State, US Customs Service, Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Federal Aviation Administration, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, Central Intelligence Agency, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Federal Bureau of Investigation Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

September 4, 2001: Clarke Memo: Imagine Hundreds of Dead Due to Government Inaction Edit

Hours before the only significant Bush administration Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism before 9/11, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke writes a critical memo to National Security Adviser Rice. He criticizes the Defense Department for reluctance to use force against al-Qaeda and the CIA for impeding the deployment of unmanned Predator drones to hunt for bin Laden. According to the Washington Post, the memo urges “officials to imagine a day when hundreds of Americans lay dead from a terrorist attack and ask themselves what more they could have done.” [WASHINGTON POST, 3/24/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004; WASHINGTON POST, 3/25/2004] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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

September 4, 2001: Debate Heats Up Over Using Armed Predator Drone Against Bin Laden; Decision Again Delayed Attendees to an important cabinet-level meeting on terrorism have a heated debate over what to do with the armed Predator drone, which has been ready for use over Afghanistan since June 2001 (see Early June-September 10, 2001). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke has been repeatedly pushing for the use of the Predator over Afghanistan (in either armed or unarmed versions), and he again argues for its immediate use. Everyone agrees that the armed Predator capability is needed, but there are disputes over who will manage and/or pay for it. CIA Director Tenet says his agency will operate the armed Predator “over my dead body.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/2/2002] Clarke recalls, “The Air Force said it wasn’t their job to fly planes to collect intelligence. No one around the table seemed to have a can-do attitude. Everyone seemed to have an excuse.” [NEW YORKER, 7/28/2003] National Security Adviser Rice concludes that the armed Predator is not ready (even though it had been proven in tests during the summer), but she also presses Tenet to reconsider his opposition to immediately resume reconnaissance flights, suspended since September the year before. After the meeting, Tenet agrees to proceed with such flights. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The armed Predator is activated just days after 9/11, showing that it was ready to be used after all. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/25/2003] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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

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

Others are in Washington:

9:59 Clarke (Between 8:27 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Ong Gives Flight 11 Details; Seating Accounts Differ Edit

Nydia Gonzalez, an American Airlines supervisor at its Southeastern Reservations Office, is relaying information to Craig Marquis, a manager at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) in Fort Worth (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). According to Marquis, “She said two flight attendants had been stabbed, one was on oxygen. A passenger had his throat slashed and looked dead and they had gotten into the cockpit.” Marquis later recollects that Ong said the four hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. She’d said the wounded passenger was in seat 10B. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/15/2001; BOSTON GLOBE, 11/23/2001] Note that this conflicts with the seats flight attendant Amy Sweeney gave for the hijackers at about the same time: 9D, 9G, and 10B (see (Before 8:26 a.m.) September 11, 2001). At around 8:30 a.m., this information is passed to Gerard Arpey, the effective head of American Airlines this morning (see (8:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 12 ] By 9:59 a.m., counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and other top officials receive the information. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 13-14] Entity Tags: Gerard Arpey, Richard A. Clarke, Nydia Gonzalez, Craig Marquis, American Airlines, Betty Ong Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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

in a template

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

President Bush says that, when he learns of the crash while in Sarasota, Florida Wikipedia, “my first reaction was—as an old pilot—how could the guy have gotten so off course to hit the towers? What a terrible accident that is” [see 1].[2]

White House chief of staff Andrew Card Wikipedia, who is with the president, says, “It was first reported to me… that it looked like it was a, a twin-engine pro—prop plane, and so the natural reaction was—‘What a horrible accident. The pilot must have had a heart attack.’”[3]

Adviser Karl Rove, who is also with the president in Florida, is later questioned about his feelings after the first crash. When it is suggested, “I guess at that point, everyone is still thinking it is an accident,” Rove concurs, “Yes, absolutely.” [4]

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, also traveling with the president on this day, says, “[W]hen only the first tower had been hit, it was all of our thoughts that this had been some type of terrible accident.” . [5]

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is in her White House office, is informed of the crash by her executive assistant [see 2]. She later recalls, “I thought, what a strange accident.” . [6]

White House counselor Karen Hughes receives a phone call informing her of the first crash as she is about to leave her Washington, DC home. She later recalls, “they thought it was a small plane at the time… so, of course, my immediate thought was what a terrible accident.” . [7] She adds, “We all assumed it was some kind of weird accident; at that point terrorism didn’t occur to us.” . [8]

The 9/11 Commission later describes, “In the absence of information that the crash was anything other than an accident, the White House staff monitored the news as they went ahead with their regular schedules.” It will only be when they learn of the second tower being hit at 9:03 that “nearly everyone in the White House… immediately knew it was not an accident.” [9] However, when Richard Clarke is called some time after the first crash but before the second by Lisa Gordon-Hagerty—a member of his staff who is at the White House [see 3]—she tells him, “Until we know what this is, Dick, we should assume the worst.” [10] And when CIA Director George Tenet learns of the first crash, reportedly he is told specifically, “The World Trade tower has been attacked,” and his initial reaction is, “This has bin Laden all over it” [see 4].. [11]

(9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Clarke Alerted to Crisis, Immediately Activates Interagency Group Edit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is at a conference three blocks from the White House when a telephone call alerts him to the crisis. He runs to his car. He responds, “Activate the CSG on secure video. I’ll be there in less than five.” The CSG is the Counterterrorism Security Group, comprising the leaders of the government’s counterterrorism and security agencies. Clarke hurriedly drives to the White House. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 1] Entity Tags: Counterterrorism and Security Group, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Shortly After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001: White House Officials Reportedly Converge on Cheney’s Office, but Accounts ConflictEdit

Vice President Dick Cheney sees the second plane hitting the World Trade Center live on television while meeting with his speechwriter John McConnell. He later claims that several other officials then come and join him in his White House office: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, political adviser Mary Matalin, and his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who has come across from the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House. [MEET THE PRESS, 9/16/2001] According to journalist and author Stephen Hayes, “As word of the attacks spread throughout the West Wing, many White House officials migrated to Cheney’s office.” As well as Rice, Libby, and Matalin, these include Sean O’Keefe, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget; Josh Bolten, the deputy White House chief of staff; and counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke. [HAYES, 2007, PP. 332] However, other accounts contradict this. Clarke claims that when he arrives at the White House shortly after 9:03, he sees the vice president and Rice, but the two are “alone in Cheney’s office” (see (9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (It is possible, though, that the other officials only arrive after Clarke ends his brief visit to the vice president’s office.) [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 1-2] In numerous interviews where she discusses her actions this morning, Rice makes no mention of heading to Cheney’s office after the second tower is hit. [O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, 2/1/2002; BBC RADIO 4, 8/1/2002 ; AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/11/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002] Also, according to some accounts, the Secret Service evacuates Cheney from his office shortly after the second attack occurs (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001; ABC NEWS, 9/14/2002] Cheney claims that President Bush phones him around this time, while he is still in his office. [MEET THE PRESS, 9/16/2001] But according to White House adviser Karl Rove, who is with the president in Florida, Bush is unable to reach the vice president because Cheney is being evacuated from his office (see (9:16 a.m.-9:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [MSNBC, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, Joshua Bolten, John McConnell, Mary Matalin, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Sean O’Keefe, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Clarke, Cheney, and Rice Talk; Clarke Concludes that Al-Qaeda Is behind AttacksEdit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is driving up to a gate outside the White House when Lisa Gordon-Hagerty—a member of his staff who is already at the White House—calls and tells him, “The other tower was just hit.” He responds: “Well, now we know who we’re dealing with. I want the highest level person in Washington from each agency on-screen now, especially the FAA.” He ordered Gordon-Hagerty to set up a secure video conference about five minutes earlier. A few minutes later, according to his own recollections, Clarke finds Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in Cheney’s White House office. Clarke tells Cheney: “It’s an al-Qaeda attack and they like simultaneous attacks. This may not be over.” Rice asks Clarke for recommendations, and he says, “We’re putting together a secure teleconference to manage the crisis.” He also recommends evacuating the White House. (A slow evacuation of the White House will begin around 9:20-9:25 (see (9:22 a.m.) September 11, 2001).) Rice notes the Secret Service wants them to go to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, and as Clarke leaves the other two, he sees Cheney gathering up his papers. In Cheney’s outer office, Clarke will recall, he sees eight Secret Service agents instead of the usual two, ready to move to the PEOC. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 1-2; AUSTRALIAN, 3/27/2004] Entity Tags: Secret Service, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, Al-Qaeda, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Directs Crisis Response through Video Conference with Top Officials Edit

in a template Around this time, according to his own account, Richard Clarke reaches the Secure Video Conferencing Center just off the main floor of the Situation Room in the West Wing of the White House. From there, he directs the response to the 9/11 attacks and stays in contact with other top officials through video links. Clarke claims that on video he can see Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Wikipedia Director George Tenet, FBI Wikipedia Director Robert Mueller, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson Wikipedia (filling in for the traveling Attorney General John Ashcroft Wikipedia), Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage Wikipedia (filling in for the traveling Secretary of State Colin Powell), and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers (filling in for the traveling Chairman Henry Shelton Wikipedia).

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is with Clarke, but she lets him run the crisis response, deferring to his longer experience on terrorism matters. Clarke is also told by an aide, “We’re on the line with NORAD Wikipedia, on an air threat conference call.” [12][13]

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, logs indicate that Clarke’s video teleconference only begins at 9:25 a.m. [see 5], which is later than Clarke suggests, and CIA Wikipedia and FAA representatives only join it at 9:40 a.m. [14]

Other accounts claim that, rather than being involved in Clarke’s teleconference at this time, Donald Rumsfeld is still in his office waiting for his intelligence briefing [see 6], and Richard Myers is in a meeting on Capitol Hill [see 7].[15][16]

The 9/11 Commission claims that, “While important,” Clarke’s conference has “no immediate effect on the emergency defense efforts.” [17] Yet, as the Washington Post puts it, “everyone seems to agree” Clarke is the chief crisis manager on 9/11.[18] Even Clarke’s later opponent, National Security Adviser Rice, calls him 9/11’s “crisis management guy.” [19]The conference is where the government’s emergency defense efforts are concentrated.

(9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Transportation Secretary Mineta Arrives at White House and Is Briefed by Richard Clarke Edit

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who saw the second plane hitting the WTC on television while at the Department of Transportation, had been called to the White House (see (8:48 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). When he arrives there, as he later recalls, he sees “People… coming out of the White House, pouring out of the Executive Office Building, running over towards Lafayette Park.” As he enters the White House, Mineta is told he has to be briefed by counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke. He goes to the Situation Room where Clarke talks to him for four or five minutes, briefly informing him of what is going on. Clarke instructs him, “You have to get over to the Presidential Emergency Operation Center to be with the vice president.” The Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) is the bunker located below the White House. As Mineta does not know where it is, a Secret Service agent leads him to it. He will arrive there around 9:20-9:27, according to his own recollections (see (Between 9:20 a.m. and 9:27 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [DAILY CALIFORNIAN, 3/18/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 5/23/2003; ACADEMY OF ACHIEVEMENT, 6/3/2006] Entity Tags: Norman Mineta, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:15 a.m. and 9:25 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Head Tells Richard Clarke-Led Videoconference that Flight 11 and 175 Were HijackedEdit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke begins a crisis response video conference by asking FAA Administrator Jane Garvey what she knows. Garvey replies: “The two aircraft that went in [to the WTC] were American flight 11, a 767, and United 175, also a 767. Hijacked.” She says that she has put a hold on all takeoffs and landings in New York and Washington, then states, “We have reports of eleven aircraft off course or out of communications.” Clarke and Garvey discuss the feasibility of canceling all takeoffs nationally, and grounding all planes in the air. Garvey says it is possible, but will take time. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 4-5] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Jane Garvey Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Takes Charge of Video Conference; Condoleezza Rice Says She Is Heading to PEOCEdit

According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, around this time, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says she is going down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House to be with Vice President Dick Cheney. Clarke is currently convening a video teleconference with top officials from the Secure Video Conferencing Center, just off the main floor of the Situation Room (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Rice has just walked in with her deputy, Stephen Hadley. Clarke asks her, “Do you want to chair this as a principals meeting?” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 2-4] (A “principals meeting” includes the principals of the National Security Council, but not the president. [BUMILLER, 2007, PP. 141] ) Rice declines, allowing Clarke to run the conference. Clarke will recall that Rice says to him: “You’re going to need some decisions quickly. I’m going to the PEOC to be with the vice president. Tell us what you need.” Clarke replies, “What I need is an open line to Cheney and you.” Clarke then turns to his White House Fellow, Army Major Mike Fenzel, and instructs him to “go with Condi to the PEOC and open a secure line to me. I’ll relay the decisions we need to you.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 3-4] However, according to her own later recollections, Rice does not head down from the Situation Room to the PEOC until later, at some time shortly after the Pentagon is hit (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [PBS FRONTLINE, 7/12/2002; MSNBC, 9/11/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002; BUMILLER, 2007, PP. XIII] Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, Stephen J. Hadley, Mike Fenzel Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:25 a.m. September 11, 2001: 9/11 Commission’s Conflicting Account of Clarke-Led Video Conference Begins at This TimeEdit

According to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, started a video teleconference from the White House’s Secure Video Conferencing Center, next to the Situation Room, at around 9:10 a.m.(see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). However, the 9/11 Commission says that logs indicate this conference beginning 15 minutes later than this. Included in the conference are the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, the departments of State, Justice, and Defense, and the White House shelter. The FAA and CIA join at 9:40 a.m. The 9/11 Commission says, “It is not clear to us that the video teleconference was fully under way before 9:37, when the Pentagon was struck.” Furthermore, it states: “We do not know who from Defense participated, but we know that in the first hour none of the personnel involved in managing the crisis did. And none of the information conveyed in the White House video teleconference, at least in the first hour, was being passed to the NMCC [in the Pentagon].” Clarke’s video teleconference is not connected into the area of the NMCC from where the crisis is being managed. Consequently, “the director of the operations team-who was on the phone with NORAD-did not have the benefit of information being shared on the video teleconference.” And, “when the Secretary [of Defense Rumsfeld] and Vice Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers] later participated in the White House video teleconference, they were necessarily absent from the NMCC and unable to provide guidance to the operations team.” Clarke, however, gives a specific recollection of Myers speaking over video at 9:28, which is seemingly at odds with the 9/11 Commission’s account (see 9:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). One witness later recalls: “[It] was almost like there were parallel decision-making processes going on; one was a voice conference orchestrated by the NMCC… and then there was the [White House video teleconference].… [I]n my mind they were competing venues for command and control and decision-making.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004] Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Justice, US Department of State, US Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:28 a.m. September 11, 2001: Myers Updates Clarke Videoconference on Fighter ResponseEdit

in a template

According to his own account, during a video conference with top officials that he is directing, Richard Clarke asks Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers, “I assume NORAD has scrambled fighters and AWACS. How many? Where?”

Myers, who is at the Pentagon, replies,

“Not a pretty picture, Dick. We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise, but… Otis Wikipedia has launched two birds toward New York. Langley is trying to get two up now [toward Washington]. The AWACS are at Tinker Wikipedia and not on alert.”


Vigilant Warrior may be a mistaken reference to either the on-going war game Vigilant Guardian, or perhaps another exercise called Amalgam Warrior [see 8].

Otis Air National Guard Base Wikipedia is 188 miles east of New York City; Langley is 129 miles south of Washington; Tinker Air Force Base Wikipedia is in Oklahoma. Clarke asks, “Okay, how long to CAP [combat air patrol] over DC?” Myers replies, “Fast as we can. Fifteen minutes?” [20]

The first fighters don’t reach Washington until perhaps more than 30 minutes later [see 9]. However, this account—or at least the time Clarke alleges the conversation occurs—is contradicted by Myers himself and Senator Max Cleland.

Myers claims he has been at a meeting on Capitol Hill with Cleland since about 9 a.m., and does not arrive back at the Pentagon until after it is hit, which is at 9:37 a.m. [21] Cleland confirms the existence of this meeting, and claims that Myers is with him until around the time of the Pentagon attack. [22] (There are, though, some inconsistencies in Myers and Cleland’s accounts of this period [see 10].

(9:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Clarke Orders US Embassies Closed and Military Bases to Raise Alert Level Edit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, who is in the White House Situation Room, instructs that US embassies overseas be closed and that US military bases raise their alert level. According to his own recollection, just after he has spoken to the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers (see 9:28 a.m. September 11, 2001), Clarke is thinking about the simultaneous attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). As he describes, “There was the possibility now of multiple simultaneous attacks in several countries.” He therefore issues instructions to the State Department and the Department of Defense: “We have to assume there will be simultaneous attacks on us overseas. We need to close the embassies. Move [Department of Defense] bases to combat Threatcon.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 5-6] (“Threatcon” is short for “terrorist threat condition.” [SLATE, 9/12/2001] ) According to CNN, all US military forces will be ordered to the highest alert level at 10:10 a.m. (see (10:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CNN, 9/4/2002] But the 9/11 Commission Report will state that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld only orders the US armed forces to Defcon 3, an increased state of readiness, at 10:43 a.m. (see (10:43 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 326 AND 554] The State Department will tell US embassies to make the decision whether to close based on their own local security requirements. Around 50 US embassies or consulates around the world will therefore close, though at what time they do so is unstated. [US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 9/12/2001] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Asks White House Bunker for Air Force One Fighter Escort and Shootdown AuthorizationEdit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, who is in the White House Situation Room, requests a fighter escort for Air Force One and authorization for the Air Force to shoot down threatening aircraft. According to Clarke’s own account, when they see President Bush starting his short speech from the Booker Elementary School library on television (at about 9:30), he and others in the Situation Room briefly discuss getting the president away from the school to somewhere safer. Clarke then telephones the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, which contains Vice President Dick Cheney and others. He speaks with Army Major Mike Fenzel and instructs him: “Mike, somebody has to tell the president he can’t come right back here [to Washington]. Cheney, Condi, somebody. Secret Service concurs. We do not want them saying where they are going when they take off. Second, when they take off, they should have fighter escort. Three, we need to authorize the Air Force to shoot down any aircraft—including a hijacked passenger flight—that looks like it is threatening to attack and cause large-scale death on the ground. Got it?” Fenzel replies, “Roger that, Dick, get right back to you.” This conversation appears to take place shortly before the Pentagon attack occurs, so roughly around 9:35 or 9:36, as soon afterwards Secret Service Director Brian Stafford slips Clarke a note stating that radar shows an aircraft heading their way (see (9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and then Ralph Seigler, the Situation Room deputy director, reports an explosion having occurred at the Pentagon. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 6-7] However, it is unclear how long it takes for Clarke’s requests to be implemented. According to some accounts, fighters do not arrive to accompany Air Force One until an hour or more after it takes off (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Reports are also contradictory as to when shootdown authorization is given for the Air Force. According to Clarke’s own recollections, it is given between around 9:38 and 9:56 (see (9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Other accounts, including that of the 9/11 Commission, state that it is not given until after 9:56, possibly as late as 10:20 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Mike Fenzel Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:33 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Notifies Video Conference United 93 Is Suspected Hijack Edit

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey notifies the video conference chaired by Richard Clarke that all aircraft have been ordered to land at the nearest field and reads a list of potential hijacks including Delta 1989 and United 93. [23]Although, according to Clarke’s account, both General Richard Myers and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are present at the conference at this point, the 9/11 Commission will later claim that the military was not notified about the hijacking of United 93 until over half an hour later [see 11].

(9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Learns of Aircraft Approaching White House Edit

Barbara Riggs. [Source: Miles B. Norman / Elmira Star-Gazette] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke learns of an aircraft heading toward the White House. Clarke, who is in the White House Situation Room, is passed a note by Secret Service Director Brian Stafford, which says, “Radar shows aircraft headed this way.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7] Around this time, the FAA’s Boston Center is reporting a low-flying aircraft six miles southeast of the White House (see 9:36 a.m. September 11, 2001), so this is presumably the same airliner to which Stafford’s note refers. [VANITY FAIR, 8/1/2006] Clarke later comments that the Secret Service is aware of the approaching plane because it has “a system that allowed them to see what FAA’s radar was seeing.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7] Secret Service agent Barbara Riggs, who is in the agency’s Washington headquarters, will later corroborate this, recalling: “Through monitoring radar and activating an open line with the FAA, the Secret Service was able to receive real time information about… hijacked aircraft. We were tracking two hijacked aircraft as they approached Washington, DC, and our assumption was that the White House was a target.” [PCCW NEWSLETTER, 3/2006] Stafford informs Clarke that he is going to evacuate the White House complex. (This evacuation appears to take place at around 9:45 (see (9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001).) Those in the Situation Room are then informed that there has been an explosion at the Pentagon, and soon after that a plane has hit it. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7] Entity Tags: Brian L. Stafford, Richard A. Clarke, Barbara Riggs, Secret Service Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001: Rumsfeld Feels Pentagon Shake When It Is Hit, Allegedly Thinks Bomb Has Gone Off Edit

According to most accounts, at the time the Pentagon is hit, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in his office on the third floor of the Pentagon’s outer E Ring, receiving his daily intelligence briefing. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/12/2001; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 24; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004; CLARKE, 2006, PP. 221; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 1; GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 130; VOGEL, 2007, PP. 438-439] As he later recalls, “the building shook and the tables jumped.” [GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 130] Although he has been informed of the two aircraft hitting the World Trade Center (see Shortly After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001 and (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001), he supposedly does not initially suspect a plane has hit the Pentagon, thinking instead that a bomb has gone off. [ABC NEWS, 9/16/2001; MSNBC, 9/30/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 1/9/2002] In his nearby office, Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant Vice Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr. also hears the explosion, and walks through his doorway toward Rumsfeld’s office. As the two meet, Rumsfeld asks Giambastiani, “What the hell’s happening?” [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 9/8/2006; GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 130] Rumsfeld then looks out his window but, he later recalls, sees “nothing here.” [PARADE MAGAZINE, 10/12/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 1/9/2002] He goes into the hallway and, accompanied by his security guards, hurries toward the crash site (see 9:38 a.m. September 11, 2001). [GOLDBERG ET AL., 2007, PP. 130] However, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later contradict these accounts. Clarke indicates that Rumsfeld has been participating in the video teleconference conducted from the White House Situation Room since shortly after the second WTC crash (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). He claims that Rumsfeld is still involved in this conference at the time the Pentagon is hit, and he tells his deputy, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn’t get hit.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 2-3 AND 7-8] If Clarke’s account were correct, this would presumably mean Rumsfeld is in the Pentagon’s Executive Support Center (ESC), which has secure video facilities, rather than in his office. [WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/23/2004] But according to other accounts, Rumsfeld does not go to the ESC until around 10:15 a.m., after he returns from the crash site (see (10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2006, PP. 221; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 1-5] Entity Tags: Edmund Giambastiani, Richard A. Clarke, Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Clarke Orders Combat Air Patrols over All Major Cities; Unclear Whether Order Is Passed On=Edit

From the White House Situation Room, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gives the instruction for fighter jets to establish patrols over all major US cities. Clarke has been talking with the FAA over the White House video conference, and his deputy, Roger Cressey, has just announced that a plane hit the Pentagon. According to his own recollection, Clarke responds: “I can still see [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld on the screen [for the Pentagon], so the whole building didn’t get hit. No emotion in here. We are going to stay focused.” He orders Cressey: “Find out where the fighter planes are. I want combat air patrol over every major city in this country. Now.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7-8; AUSTRALIAN, 3/27/2004] A combat air patrol (CAP) is an aircraft patrol over a particular area, with the purpose of intercepting and destroying any hostile aircraft before they reach their targets. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 4/12/2001] It is unclear how long it takes for CAPs to be formed over all major cities, as Clarke requests. At 9:49, NORAD Commander Ralph Eberhart will direct all the US’s air sovereignty aircraft to battle stations (see 9:49 a.m. September 11, 2001), but bases have reportedly been calling into NORAD and asking for permission to send up fighters since after the second WTC crash (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [AVIATION WEEK AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY, 6/3/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] At around 11:00 a.m. Eberhart will implement a plan called SCATANA, which clears the skies and gives the military control over US airspace (see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Roger Cressey, Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Clarke Possibly Told to Pass on Shootdown Authorization, Earlier than Other Accounts ClaimEdit

According to one account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is given the go-ahead to authorize Air Force jets to shoot down threatening aircraft around this time. In late 2003, Clarke will recall to ABC News that, minutes earlier, he’d picked up the phone in the White House Situation Room and called Vice President Dick Cheney, who is in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House. He’d told him: “We have fighters aloft now. We need authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” [ABC NEWS, 11/29/2003] This call appears to be one Clarke also describes in his 2004 book Against all Enemies, though in that account he will describe having made his request to Army Major Mike Fenzel, who is also in the PEOC, rather than directly to Cheney. According to that account, the call occurred shortly before Clarke learns of the Pentagon attack, so roughly around 9:36 (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 6-7] Clarke describes to ABC News, “I thought that would take forever to get that [shootdown] authority.” But, “The vice president got on the phone to the president, got back to me, I would say within two minutes, and said, ‘Do it.’” [ABC NEWS, 11/29/2003] If correct, this would mean the president authorizes military fighters to shoot down threatening aircraft at around 9:37-9:38. However, around this time, the president and vice president are reportedly having difficulty communicating with each other, while Bush heads from the Booker Elementary School to the Sarasota airport (see (9:34 a.m.-11:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/18/2004; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 9/10/2006] Furthermore, this account contradicts several others. In his 2004 book, Clarke will describe being told to inform the Pentagon it has shootdown authorization slightly later, some time between 9:45 and 9:56 (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8] According to journalists Bob Woodward and Bill Sammon, Bush gives the shootdown authorization in a phone call with Cheney shortly after 9:56 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 102; WOODWARD, 2002, PP. 17-18; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] The 9/11 Commission will say he gives it in a call at 10:18 (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 41] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Clarke Informed that President Has Issued Shootdown Order, Earlier than Claimed by 9/11 CommissionEdit

According to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is informed that President Bush has authorized the military to shoot down threatening aircraft. Clarke had requested that this authorization be given at around 9:36 (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). In his 2004 book Against all Enemies he will state that he receives a response shortly after the time people begin rapidly evacuating from the White House, and while Air Force One is getting ready to take off. This would therefore be sometime between 9:45 and 9:56. He gets a phone call from the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) below the White House, where Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are located. On the other end is Army Major Mike Fenzel. Fenzel tells Clarke: “Air Force One is getting ready to take off, with some press still on board. He’ll divert to an air base. Fighter escort is authorized. And… tell the Pentagon they have authority from the president to shoot down hostile aircraft, repeat, they have authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” Clarke replies, “Roger that.” In his recollection of this call, Clarke comments, “I was amazed at the speed of the decisions coming from Cheney and, through him, from Bush.” Clarke then gets the attention of those on the video conference screen for the Pentagon, and informs them, “the president has ordered the use of force against aircraft deemed to be hostile.” [CNN, 9/12/2001; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7-8] This description contradicts several other accounts of when the president gives the shootdown authorization. In late 2003, Clarke tells ABC News he gets the go-ahead from the vice president “within two minutes” after he requested shootdown authorization, meaning therefore around 9:37-9:38 (see (9:38 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [ABC NEWS, 11/29/2003] Some accounts say that Bush gives the authorization later, at shortly after 9:56 (see (Shortly After 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [SAMMON, 2002, PP. 102; WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2002] According to the 9/11 Commission, it is not given until around 10:18 (see 10:18 a.m.-10:20 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 41] Entity Tags: Mike Fenzel, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Initiates Continuity of Government Plan At some point after the White House is ordered to evacuate and while Air Force One is preparing to take off in Florida, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke activates the Continuity of Government (COG) plan. The coordinator for Continuity of Government has joined Clarke in the White House Situation Room. Clarke asks, “How do I activate COG?” Recalling this conversation, he will later comment, “In the exercises we had done, the person playing the president had always given that order.” But the coordinator replies, “You tell me to do it.” Soon after, Clarke instructs him, “Go.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8] First Time COG Plan Activated - The Continuity of Government plan, which dates back to the Reagan administration, had originally prepared to set up a new leadership for the US in the event of a nuclear war. This is apparently the first time it has ever been put into effect. Clarke will recall, “Every federal agency was ordered… to activate an alternative command post, an alternative headquarters outside of Washington, DC, and to staff it as soon as possible.” Cabinet officers are dispatched around the country, and people in Congress are taken to alternative locations. Clarke Regularly Particiated in COG Exercises - Since the 1980s, Clarke has in fact been a regular participant in secret COG exercises that rehearsed this plan (see (1984-2004)). [WASHINGTON POST, 4/7/2004; ABC NEWS, 4/25/2004] Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also participated (see 1981-1992). [ATLANTIC MONTHLY, 3/2004] Kenneth Duberstein, formerly President Reagan’s White House chief of staff, who took part in the exercises as well, will recall: “I said to myself, as we proceeded through the day [of 9/11], ‘It’s working.’ All those days of patriotic duty were coming back and they were working.” According to ABC News, “If executive branch leaders and large numbers of congressmen had been killed in an attack on the United States, the plan could have gone further, officials suggest, perhaps even with non-elected leaders of the United States taking control and declaring martial law.” [ABC NEWS, 4/25/2004] Entity Tags: Continuity of Government, Richard A. Clarke, Kenneth Duberstein Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, Civil Liberties

(Between 9:50 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Myers Wants Clarification of Rules of Engagement for Fighter Pilots; Clarke Wants This Issued PromptlyEdit

Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers wants clear rules of engagement for military fighter pilots, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke. In his book Against All Enemies, Clarke will describe hearing that the president has authorized the military to shoot down hostile aircraft some time between about 9:45 and 9:56 (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). From the White House Situation Room, where he is located, he then gets the attention of those on the video conference screen for the Pentagon, and informs them of this decision. Myers asks, “Okay, shoot down aircraft, but what are the ROE [rules of engagement]?” As Clarke will comment, “It was one thing to say it’s okay to shoot down a hijacked aircraft threatening to kill people on the ground, but we needed to give pilots more specific guidelines than that.” Clarke asks his colleague Franklin Miller and Marine Colonel Tom Greenwood—a member of Miller’s staff—to ensure that the Defense Department has “an answer to that question quickly.” He tells them, “I don’t want them delaying while they lawyer that to death.” Clarke recalls that he is then informed: “CNN says car bomb at the State Department. Fire on the Mall near the Capitol.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8-9] It is therefore unclear exactly what time he is describing, as CNN first makes the incorrect report of the State Department car bomb at 10:33, but it reports the fire on the Mall at 9:45. [CNN, 9/11/2001; CNN, 9/11/2001; BROADCASTING AND CABLE, 8/26/2002] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will tell the 9/11 Commission that he works on fashioning the rules of engagement for fighter pilots, in collaboration with Myers, after he enters the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) at around 10:30 (see (10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004] Yet he does not complete and issue these rules until 1:00 p.m. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 465; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 7; MYERS, 2009, PP. 157-158]

(Between 9:50-10:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Numerous False Reports of Terrorist Acts in WashingtonEdit

A television broadcast falsely describes smoke coming from Washington Mall instead of its true source, the Pentagon. [Source: CNN] There are numerous false reports of additional terror attacks. Before 10:00 a.m., some hear reports on television of a fire at the State Department. At 10:20 a.m., and apparently again at 10:33 a.m., it is publicly reported this was caused by a car bomb. [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/11/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/16/2001; BROADCASTING AND CABLE, 8/26/2002] At 10:23 a.m., the Associated Press reports, “A car bomb explodes outside the State Department, senior law enforcement officials say.” [BROADCASTING AND CABLE, 8/26/2002] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke hears these reports at this time and asks Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in the State Department to see if the building he’s in has been hit. Armitage goes outside the building, finds out there’s no bomb, and calls his colleagues to inform them that the reports are false. Reports of a fire on the Capitol Mall also appear and are quickly found to be false. [ABC NEWS, 9/15/2002; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8-9] There are numerous other false reports over the next hour, including explosions at the Capitol building and USA Today headquarters. [BROADCASTING AND CABLE, 8/26/2002] For instance, CNN reports an explosion on Capitol Hill at 10:12 a.m. CNN then announces this is untrue 12 minutes later. [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/11/2001]

9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001: White House Finally Requests Continuity of Government Plans, Air Force One Escort, and Fighters for Washington=Edit

According to the 9/11 Commission: “An Air Force lieutenant colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC’s air threat] conference and state[s] that he had just talked to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The White House request[s]: (1) the implementation of Continuity of Government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) the establishment of a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, DC.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave the order to implement the Continuity of Government plan a few minutes earlier, from inside the White House Situation Room (see (Between 9:45 a.m. and 9:56 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Before that, he had requested a fighter escort for Air Force One (see (Between 9:30 a.m. and 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and combat air patrols over all major US cities (not just Washington), according to his own recollection (see (Between 9:38 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7-8]

(9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Is Told Some Hijackers Have Al-Qaeda ConnectionsEdit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told in private by Dale Watson, the head of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, “We got the passenger manifests from the airlines. We recognize some names, Dick. They’re al-Qaeda.” Clarke replies, “How the f_ck did they get on board then?” He is told, “Hey, don’t shoot the messenger, friend. CIA forgot to tell us about them.” As they are talking about this, they see the first WTC tower collapse on television. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 13-14] Some hijacker names, including Mohamed Atta’s, were identified on a reservations computer over an hour earlier.

(10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Returns to the Pentagon; Speaks to President Bush and Temporarily Joins White House TeleconferenceEdit

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld returns from the Pentagon crash site “by shortly before or after 10:00 a.m.” Then he has “one or more calls in my office, one of which was with the president,” according to his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004] The commission later concludes that Rumsfeld’s call with President Bush has little impact: “No one can recall any content beyond a general request to alert forces.” The possibility of shooting down hijacked planes is not mentioned. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld then goes to the Executive Support Center (ESC) located near his office, arriving there at around 10:15 a.m. In the ESC already are Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld’s closest aide, Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld’s personal chief of staff, and Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Rumsfeld had instructed Di Rita and Clarke to go to the ESC and wait for him there when they’d come to his office soon after the second WTC tower was hit at 9:03 A.M. (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Presently, Rumsfeld gives them their first confirmation that a plane hit the Pentagon, saying, “I’m quite sure it was a plane and I’m pretty sure it’s a large plane.” According to Clarke, he pulls out a yellow legal pad and writes down three categories, “by which his thinking would be organized the rest of the day: what we needed to do immediately, what would have to be underway quickly, and what the military response would be.” [CLARKE, 2006, PP. 221-222; COCKBURN, 2007, PP. 5-6] The Executive Support Center has secure video facilities, and while there, Rumsfeld participates in the White House video teleconference. This is the video conference that counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims Rumsfeld is a part of much of the morning (see (9:10 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Then at around 10:30 a.m., he moves on to the National Military Command Center NMCC, located next door to the ESC (see (10:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/23/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/17/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 43-44] Those in the NMCC are apparently unaware of Rumsfeld’s whereabouts during the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: Brigadier General Montague Winfield later recalls, “For 30 minutes we couldn’t find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC NEWS, 9/11/2002] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, Stephen A. Cambone, Victoria Clarke, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Larry DiRita, Donald Rumsfeld, Executive Support Center Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Orders Securing of Buildings, Harbors, and Borders Edit

Some time after the first WTC tower collapse, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke orders all landmark buildings and all federal buildings in the US evacuated. He also orders all harbors and borders closed. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 14-15] The Sears Tower in Chicago begins evacuation around 10:02 a.m. Other prominent buildings are slower to evacuate. [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/11/2001] Entity Tags: Sears Tower, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Updated on Fighter Situation, Told Flight 93 Still Headed toward Washington Edit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told by White House Situation Room Deputy Director Ralph Seigler, “Secret Service reports a hostile aircraft ten minutes out.” Two minutes later, he is given an update: “Hostile aircraft eight minutes out.” In actual fact, when Flight 93 crashed at 10:06 a.m., it was still about 15 minutes away from Washington. Clarke is also told that there are 3,900 aircraft still in the air over the continental US (which is roughly accurate); four of those aircraft are believed to be piloted by terrorists (which is inaccurate by this time). Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Richard Myers then reports: “We have three F-16s from Langley over the Pentagon. Andrews is launching fighters from the DC Air National Guard. We have fighters aloft from the Michigan Air National Guard, moving east toward a potential hostile over Pennsylvania. Six fighters from Tyndall and Ellington are en route to rendezvous with Air Force One over Florida. They will escort it to Barksdale.” [NORTH AMERICAN AEROSPACE DEFENSE COMMAND, 9/18/2001; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 8-9] However, fighters do not meet up with Air Force One until about an hour later (see (11:29 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Franklin Miller, a senior national security official who is working alongside Clarke on 9/11, and another official who is also in the Situation Room, will later fail to recall hearing any warning that a plane could be only minutes away. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/30/2004] The time of this incident is unstated, but the Michigan fighters are not diverted until after 10:06 a.m. (see (After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001). If it takes place after 10:06 a.m., this would parallel similar warnings about Flight 93 after it has already crashed provided to Vice President Dick Cheney elsewhere in the White House (see (Between 10:10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Secret Service, Richard B. Myers, Franklin Miller, Ralph Seigler, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(After 10:06 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Told of Flight 93 Crash Edit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told by an aide, “United 93 is down, crashed outside of Pittsburgh. It’s odd. Appears not to have hit anything much on the ground.” The timing of this event is unclear. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 14-15] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:13 a.m. September 11, 2001: Washington Buildings Evacuate Edit

More prominent buildings in Washington begin evacuation. The United Nations building in New York City evacuates first; many federal buildings follow later. [CNN, 9/12/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/12/2001] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke apparently began arranging these evacuations a short time before this. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 14-15] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, United Nations Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

(Shortly Before 12:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke Heads to White House Bunker; Told that Vice President Cheney Keeps Hanging up Clarke Telephone, and Cheney’s Wife is InterferingEdit

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, who is in the White House Situation Room, is informed that Vice President Dick Cheney wants him to come down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), located below the East Wing of the White House. Clarke heads down and, after being admitted by Cheney’s security detail, enters the PEOC. In addition to the vice president and his wife Lynne Cheney, the PEOC contains National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, political adviser Mary Matalin, Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, deputy White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, and White House counselor Karen Hughes. Clarke can see the White House Situation on a screen. But Army Major Mike Fenzel, who is also in the PEOC, complains to him, “I can’t hear the crisis conference [that Clarke has been leading] because Mrs. Cheney keeps turning down the volume on you so she can hear CNN… and the vice president keeps hanging up the open line to you.” Clarke later describes that Lynne Cheney is, like her husband, “a right-wing ideologue,” and is offering her advice and opinions while in the PEOC. When Clarke asks the vice president if he needs anything, Cheney replies, “The [communications] in this place are terrible.” His calls to President Bush keep getting broken off. By the time Clarke heads back upstairs to the Situation Room, it is 12:30 p.m. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 17-19] Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, Mike Fenzel, Lynne Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Joshua Bolten, Mary Matalin, Karen Hughes, Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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

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

(After 4:15 p.m.) September 11, 2001: US Leaders Determine to Crush TalibanEdit

After President Bush leaves his video conference, other top leaders continue to discuss what steps to take. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks what to do about al-Qaeda, assuming they are behind the attacks. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage states, “Look, we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened, it’s their ass. No difference between the Taliban and al-Qaeda now. They both go down.” Regarding Pakistan, the Taliban’s patrons, Armitage says, “Tell them to get out of the way. We have to eliminate the sanctuary.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 22-23] Entity Tags: Pakistan, Richard Armitage, Taliban, Richard A. Clarke, Al-Qaeda, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline, War in Afghanistan

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

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

Shortly After September 11, 2001: Wolfowitz More Interested in Going after Iraq than Bin Laden Edit

According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz asks during a meeting, “Why we are [sic] beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden?” Clarke responds with an explanation that only al-Qaeda “poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” Wolfowitz then claims that Iraq poses “at least as much” a danger. According to Clarke, FBI and CIA representatives who are present at the meeting agree that there is no evidence to support Wolfowitz’s assertion. [WASHINGTON POST, 3/22/2004 SOURCES: RICHARD A. CLARKE] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Paul Wolfowitz Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

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

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 13, 2001: Saudi Royals Fly to Kentucky in Violation of Domestic Flight Ban After a complete air flight ban in the US began during the 9/11 attacks, some commercial flights begin resuming this day. However, all private flights are still banned from flying. Nonetheless, at least one private flight carrying Saudi royalty takes place on this day. And in subsequent days, other flights carry royalty and bin Laden family members. These flights take place even as fighters escort down three other private planes attempting to fly. Most of the Saudi royals and bin Ladens in the US at the time are high school or college students and young professionals. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/30/2001; VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] The first flight is a Lear Jet that leaves from a private Raytheon hangar in Tampa, Florida, and takes three Saudis to Lexington, Kentucky. [TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/5/2001] This flight apparently takes place several hours after a private meeting between President Bush and Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US. Some think the idea of the flights were approved at that meeting (see September 13, 2001). For two years, this violation of the air ban is denied by the FAA, FBI, and White House, and decried as an urban legend except for one article detailing them in a Tampa newspaper. [TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/5/2001] Finally, in 2003, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke confirms the existence of these flights, and Secretary of State Powell confirms them as well. [MSNBC, 9/7/2003; VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] However, the White House remains silent on the matter. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/4/2003] Officials at the Tampa International Airport finally confirm this first flight in 2004. But whether the flight violated the air ban or not rests on some technicalities that remain unresolved. [LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/10/2004] The Saudis are evacuated to Saudi Arabia over the next several days (see September 14-19, 2001). Entity Tags: Bandar bin Sultan, Bin Laden Family, Federal Aviation Administration, Bush administration, Richard A. Clarke, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Colin Powell Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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 14-19, 2001: Bin Laden Family Members, Saudi Royals Quietly Leave US

Khalil bin Laden at the Orlando, Florida, airport, about to be flown out of the country in the days after 9/11. [Source: Lions Gate Films] Following a secret flight inside the US that is in violation of a national private airplane flight ban, members of the bin Laden family and Saudi royalty quietly depart the US. The flights are only publicly acknowledged after all the Saudis have left. [BOSTON GLOBE, 9/21/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/30/2001] About 140 Saudis, including around 24 members of the bin Laden family, are passengers in these flights. The identities of most of these passengers are not known. However, some of the passengers include:

The son of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan. Sultan is sued in August 2002 for alleged complicity in the 9/11 plot. [TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/5/2001] He is alleged to have contributed at least $6 million since 1994 to four charities that finance al-Qaeda. [VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] 
Khalil bin Laden. He has been investigated by the Brazilian government for possible terrorist connections. [VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] 
Abdullah bin Laden and Omar bin Laden, cousins of bin Laden. Abdullah was the US director of the Muslim charity World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The governments of India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Bosnia have all accused WAMY of funding terrorism. These two relatives were investigated by the FBI in 1996 (see February-September 11, 1996) in a case involving espionage, murder, and national security. Their case is reopened on September 19, right after they leave the country. [VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] Remarkably, four of the 9/11 hijackers briefly lived in the town of Falls Church, Virginia, three blocks from the WAMY office headed by Abdullah bin Laden. [BBC, 11/6/2001] 
Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen. He is a prominent Saudi official who was in the same hotel as three of the hijackers the night before 9/11. He leaves on one of the first flights to Saudi Arabia before the FBI can properly interview him about this. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/2/2003] 
Akberali Moawalla. A Pakistani and business partner of Osama’s brother Yeslam bin Laden. In 2000, a transfer of over $250 million was made from a bank account belonging jointly to Moawalla and Osama bin Laden (see 2000). [WASHINGTON POST, 7/22/2004] 

There is a later dispute regarding how thoroughly the Saudis are interviewed before they leave and who approves the flights. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke says he agrees to the flights after the FBI assures him none of those on board has connections to terrorism and that it is “a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House.” [US CONGRESS, 9/3/2003] Clarke says the decision to approve the flights “didn’t get any higher than me.” [HILL, 5/18/2004] According to Vanity Fair, both the FBI and the State Department “deny playing any role whatsoever in the episode.” However, Dale Watson, the head of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, says the Saudis on the planes “[are] identified, but they [are] not subject to serious interviews or interrogations” before they leave. [VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] An FBI spokesperson says the bin Laden relatives are only interviewed by the FBI “at the airport, as they [are] about to leave.” [NATIONAL REVIEW, 9/11/2002] There are claims that some passengers are not interviewed by the FBI at all. [VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] Abdullah bin Laden, who stays in the US, says that even a month after 9/11, his only contact with the FBI is a brief phone call. [BOSTON GLOBE, 9/21/2001; NEW YORKER, 11/5/2001] The FBI official responsible for coordinating with Clarke is Assistant Director Michael Rolince, who is in charge of the Bureau’s International Terrorism Operations Section and assumes responsibility for the Saudi flights. Rolince decides that the Saudis can leave after their faces are matched to their passport photos and their names are run through various databases, including some watch lists, to check the FBI has no derogatory information about them.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 196-197, 209 ] Numerous experts are surprised that the bin Ladens are not interviewed more extensively before leaving, pointing out that interviewing the relatives of suspects is standard investigative procedure. [NATIONAL REVIEW, 9/11/2002; VANITY FAIR, 10/2003] MSNBC claims that “members of the Saudi royal family met frequently with bin Laden—both before and after 9/11” [MSNBC, 9/5/2003] , and many Saudi royals and bin Laden relatives are being sued for their alleged role in 9/11. The Boston Globe opines that the flights occur “too soon after 9/11 for the FBI even to know what questions to ask, much less to decide conclusively that each Saudi [royal] and bin Laden relative [deserve] an ‘all clear,’ never to be available for questions again.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30/2003] Senator Charles Schumer (D) says of the secret flights: “This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get. It’s almost as if we didn’t want to find out what links existed.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/4/2003] Judicial Watch will disclose FBI documents that say, “Osama bin Laden may have chartered one of the Saudi flights.” [JUDICIAL WATCH, 6/20/2007] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dale Watson, Khalil bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, Bin Laden Family, Abdullah bin Laden, Michael Rolince, Osama bin Laden, Bush administration, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Omar bin Laden, US Department of State, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Charles Schumer, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

September 18, 2001: Clarke’s Report to Bush Finds No Link between Iraqi Government and Al-Qaeda or 9/11 Attacks On September 12, 2001, President Bush spoke to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and told him to look into possible Iraqi links to the 9/11 attacks (see September 12, 2001). Clarke works with CIA and FBI experts to make a report on the issue. [VANITY FAIR, 5/2004, PP. 238] On September 18, Clarke sends a memo to National Security Adviser Rice entitled, “Survey of Intelligence Information on Any Iraq Involvement in the September 11 Attacks.” It passes along a few foreign intelligence reports, including a report just coming out of the Czech Republic alleging that hijacker Mohamed Atta met an Iraqi agent in Prague in April 2001. But it concludes there is no compelling case that Iraq had planned the 9/11 attacks. It further points out that allegations of any ties between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government are weak, especially since bin Laden resents the secular nature of Saddam Hussein’s government. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 335, 559] Clarke will later claim that the first draft of his memo was returned by National Security Adviser Rice or her deputy Stephen Hadley because it did not find any link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. He says, “It got bounced and sent back, saying ‘Wrong answer…. Do it again.’” Rice and Hadley will later deny that they asked to have the memo redone for this reason. Clarke does not know if Bush ever sees his report. “I don’t think he sees memos that he doesn’t-wouldn’t like the answer.” [VANITY FAIR, 5/2004, PP. 238; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 559] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Late September 2001: Administration Lawyers Formulate More Aggressive, ‘Flexible’ Approach to Terror Threats

Bradford Berenson. [Source: PBS] In the weeks following 9/11, government lawyers begin to formulate a legal response to the newly perceived threat of terrorism. Four related issues are at hand: forceful prevention, detention, prosecution, and interrogation. What degree of force can the government employ to prevent acts of terrorism or apprehend suspected terrorists? How and where can it best detain terrorists if captured? How can it best bring them to trial? And how can it best obtain information from them on terrorist organizations and plots? These questions are handled in a new atmosphere that is more tolerant towards flexible interpretations of the law. Bradford Berenson, an associate White House counsel at this time, later recalls: “Legally, the watchword became ‘forward-leaning’ by which everybody meant: ‘We want to be aggressive. We want to take risks.’” [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/24/2004] This attitude is seemingly in line with the president’s thinking. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later recall President Bush saying, “I don’t care what the international lawyers say. We are going to kick some ass” (see (9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 23-24] At the center of legal reconstruction work are Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, his deputy Timothy E. Flanigan, and David S. Addington, legal counsel to Vice President Cheney. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/19/2004] They will find a helpful hand in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), most notably its head, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 6/10/2004] and his deputies John C. Yoo [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/15/2004] and Patrick F. Philbin. Most of the top government lawyers dwell in fairly conservative circles, with many being a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal fraternity. Some have clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whose ruling effectively lead to the presidency being awarded to George W. Bush after the 2000 presidential election. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/24/2004] Others worked for Judge Lawrence H. Silberman, who set up secret contacts with the Iranian government under President Reagan leading to the Iran-Contra scandal, and who advised on pursuing allegations of sexual misconduct by President Clinton. [INTER PRESS SERVICE, 2/6/2004] Entity Tags: Patrick F. Philbin, Richard A. Clarke, John C. Yoo, Joan Claybrook, Alberto R. Gonzales, Bradford Berenson, Jay S. Bybee, Alan M. Dershowitz, Rena Steinzor Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, Civil Liberties

Late September 2001: Cheney’s Chief of Staff Pressures Clarke to Support Alleged Mohamed Atta-Iraq Connection In the driveway outside the West Wing of the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, allegedly grabs counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and says, “I hear you don’t believe this report that Mohamed Atta was talking to Iraqi people in Prague.” Clarke responds, “I don’t believe it because it’s not true.” According to Clarke, Libby replies, “You’re wrong. You know you’re wrong. Go back and find out; look at the rest of the reports, and find out that you’re wrong.” Clarke will later comment, “And I understood what he was saying, which was, ‘This is a report that we want to believe, and stop saying it’s not true. It’s a real problem for the vice president’s office that you, the counterterrorism [‘tsar’], are walking around saying that this isn’t a true report. Shut up.’ That’s what I was being told.” [PBS FRONTLINE, 6/20/2006; PBS FRONTLINE, 6/20/2006; UNGER, 2007, PP. 279] While the timing of the incident is not specified, it likely takes place in late September 2001, after allegations that Atta met an Iraqi agent in Prague are made public, but before Clarke resigns as counterterrorism “tsar” at the end of the month. Entity Tags: Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion


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