Administration officials lie about information surrounding attacks
- September 12: The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is there was no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US. "There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad," says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators have been searching through "mountains of information, but the vast electronic 'take' on bin Laden...contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark and Washington." These are obvious lies, as many of the warnings received specifically mentioned targets within the continental US. Also, it's worth recalling that the title of Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001 was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."
- However, from Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's recollections of an NSC meeting that he participated in on this day, Bush and his senior staff seem very interested in pinning the attacks on Iraq, with Donald Rumsfeld first raising the question with Bush before the meeting. Rumsfeld says that there is no doubt Iraq was involved in the attacks, and any retaliation against the terrorists would inevitably end up going through Baghdad -- so why not just start there? Secretary of State Colin Powell strenuously objects, reminding Bush that the public is focused on al-Qaeda and that common knowledge places bin Laden and his organization in Afghanistan, under the protection of the ruling Taliban. At this juncture, Bush is unwilling to authorize immediate action against Iraq. By the next day's NSC meeting, the discussion has focused on attacking Afghanistan -- where CIA analyst Cofer Black, brought in as George Tenet's "closer," tells the assemblage that "When we're through with them, they will have flies walking across their eyeballs" and says that the terrorists could be routed within weeks, if Bush accepts the possibility of serious US military casualties.
- In other meetings in the next few days, more specific plans for attacking the terrorists in Afghanistan, primarily from Tenet's CIA and Robert Mueller's FBI, are floated. Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to drastically expand the FBI's powers against "terrorist sympathizers" in the US. And Condoleezza Rice uses the discussions to introduce Paul Wolfowitz's plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Wolfowitz is a savvy salesman, dancing over the lack of any evidence of Iraq's complicity in the attacks and focusing on the idea that if Bush wants to overthrow Hussein, the mission is quite doable, and the 9/11 attacks provide a great opportunity for Bush's use to achieve this goal. "I thought what Wolfowitz was asserting about Iraq was a reach, and I think others in the room did, too," O'Neill later recalls. "It was like changing the subject -- Iraq is not where bin Laden is and not where there's trouble. I was mystified. It's like a bookbinder accidentally dropping a chapter from one book into the middle of another one. The chapter is coherent, in its way, but it doesn't seem to fit in this book." Wolfowitz's proposals for invading Iraq are tabled, for the moment.
- In an afternoon meeting with his NSC, Bush hears everyone's opinions. Most believe that Afghanistan must be targeted; few believe that a move against Iraq is a good idea at this time. O'Neill remembers Bush coming across as flat and emotionless, "placing all energy, it would seem, toward grasping the complexities at hand." The consensus seems to follow Tenet's ideas of a military strike against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, accompanied by a spate of covert activities around the globe, including secret strikes and assassinations, targeting not just al-Qaeda, but anyone who might be considered an enemy of America. Tenet's plan insists on keeping almost everything out of reach for Congressional or public oversight. Tenet's documents supporting his proposals are given out to everyone, and O'Neill recalls thinking, "I hope the president really reads this carefully. It's kind of his job. You can't forfeit this much responsibility to unelected individuals. But I knew he wouldn't." (CCR, Ron Suskind)
- September 12: During the first post-attack meeting of the National Security Council, Donald Rumsfeld asks Bush, why not go after Iraq and not just al-Qaeda? Rumsfeld has always criticized the elder Bush for not knocking off Saddam Hussein in 1991, and now he sees a chance to rectify what he believes was a tremendous error and lack of will. Bush, listening to more practical advice, decides to focus, for now, on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda. Rumsfeld is doubly angered by the information he receives from his military advisors, who inform him that General Tommy Franks, the head of CENTCOM, which includes the Middle East, has no plans for invading Afghanistan. Franks tells Rumsfeld that it might be months before the US can put boots on the ground in Afghanistan. When Bush asks Rumsfeld during the meeting what the military can do immediately to respond to the attacks, Rumsfeld replies, "Very little, effectively." The CIA will step in to coordinate America's response, enraging Rumsfeld, who wants to run the show himself.
- As detailed in the item above, Tenet and Cofer Black present Bush with a plan of action within 48 hours of the meeting. The CIA and other US intelligence agencies will coordinate the strike against Afghanistan's Taliban and al-Qaeda units in that mountainous country, with the assistance of the US military, particularly Special Forces teams. Tenet and Black plan to use the factional opposition to the Taliban known collectively as the Northern Alliance. While Rumsfeld fumes over the apparent impotence of "his" military, Tenet tells Bush confidently, "We can do this. No doubt in my mind." On September 26, the first US covert teams will enter Afghanistan. On October 7, the first full-scale bombing runs will take place. Bob Woodward writes, "The campaign represented some of the CIA's finest moments after 9/11, and it was a frustrating time for Rumsfeld. General Franks had only 31 Taliban and al-Qaeda targets for the first day of bombing and Rumsfeld was all over target selection, insisting they also destroy some four dozen Taliban airplanes. (Bob Woodward)
Evidence found implicating Mohammed Atta possibly planted
- September 12: A flight manual in Arabic and a copy of the Koran are found in a car rented by hijacker Mohammed Atta, now abandoned at Boston's Logan Airport. That find is certainly believable, but the next one, supposedly found less than a week after the attacks, is harder to swallow: Atta's passport, found in the debris of the World Trade Center. PopMatters's Mike Ward describes it as "[an] incriminating item...thrown intact from a cataclysmic fireball and miraculously plucked from 1.6 million tons of debris in a matter of hours." The Guardian's Anne Karpf later writes, "We had all seen the blizzard of paper rain down from the towers, but the idea that Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged would have tested the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism." The "lucky" finds will continue: on September 24, a search of "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui's belongings turns up a cropdusting manual, and days later, a suspicious "suicide note" from Atta, counseling other suicide bombers to shine their shoes before meeting their maker, and asserting that Atta and other such bombers will be greeted with "72 virgins" upon entering heaven. Peace activist John Judge says of the flight manuals, "These manuals could serve no useful purpose at such a late stage unless the hijackers planned to finish learning how to fly during a half-hour ride to the airport. But as deliberately placed articles, they are as if a signed diary called 'My Plan to Kill the President' had been unearthed in Lee Harvey Oswald's flat." And veteran journalist Robert Fisk writes that the suicide note, sometimes described as a manifesto, reads as if was written by a Christian with a minimal understanding of Islam. In December, a "laughing, boasting" video of bin Laden bragging about the attacks will be located in a deserted house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (Guardian, AlterNet)
"The moment I heard the first news about the airline plot, I knew it was just a matter of time until we heard the word Pakistan. Whether it's 9/11, the Bali bombs, 7/7 and now this, Pakistan is always the connection. That's gotta raise some questions." -- a US intelligence agent, quoted in August 2006
Pakistan agrees to cooperate with US on retaliation against al-Qaeda after Armitage threatens to "bomb you back to the Stone Age"
- September 12: Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage meets with the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency (ISI), Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad, who is already in Washington to discuss Pakistani support for military operations in Afghanistan. (Ahmad had been breakfasting with Senators Porter Goss and Bob Graham of the Senate Intelligence Committee, discussing terrorism in Afghanistan, which had to have meant bin Laden. The breakfast was brought to a sudden close with the second strike against the WTC.) Armitage gives Ahmad a simple choice: cooperate with the US's war on terror or "we will bomb you back to the Stone Age." The price for Pakistani support is for Washington to turn a blind eye towards Pakistani support for Muslim terrorists fighting India in the disputed province of Kashmir. Bush officials either do not know, or have chosen to ignore, the fact that Ahmad wired $100,000 to the hijackers on September 10. Ahmad's meetings with Armitage and other State Department officials on September 14, and he goes home with an unprecedented package of billions of dollars in aid and public recognition of Pakistan as "an ally in the war on terror." (Interestingly, Ahmad and several other ISI senior officials will be demoted in October, supposedly as part of Musharraf's purge of the agency of outspoken Taliban supporters. Ahmad will retire into almost-total seclusion in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, and keeps his knowledge of any Taliban or ISI complicity in the 9/11 attacks to himself.)
- The decision to support Bush's war on terror turns President Pervez Musharraf from a pariah dictator to a feted world leader," the Sunday Times observes in August 2006. Armitage will continue to be one of the administration's staunchest supporters of the Pakistani regime of Musharraf, helping Musharraf receive $3.6 billion in economic aid from the US between late 2001 and mid-2006, with an additional $1.5 billion in forgiven debt, and over $900 million in military aid. Armitage, who will retire from the State Department at the beginning of Bush's second term, still insists that the US support Musharraf, saying in September 2001 that the US must support Musharraf "no matter how frustrated we become at the pace of political change and the failure to eliminate Taliban fighters from the Afghan border." Musharraf is better than what might come after him, Armitage argues, and is a moderate who has done his best to fend off the entrenched forces of Islamic extremism in Pakistan. This is highly debatable. Under Musharraf, Pakistan has engineered a tremendous "black market" in nuclear technology, supplying technology to, among other nations, Libya, North Korea, and Iran.
- Musharraf's has long been an opportunistic regime, playing along with both Western nations and Islamic terrorist organizations. On September 19, 2001, Musharraf will assure his people that his decision to cooperate with the US in finding and eliminating al-Qaeda cells is a temporary one. As far forward as the fall of 2006, Musharraf is still cooperating with the Taliban, and allowing Taliban forces to operate virtually unchecked in Pakistani-Afghani border towns. "I have done everything for the ...Taliban when the whole world was against them," Musharraf says on September 19. "We are trying our best to come out of this critical situation without any damage to Afghanistan and the Taliban." And Musharraf has a simple strategy for both placating the Americans and helping Bush's political fortunes: every time Washington brings pressure on Pakistan to show some cooperation with the war on terror, Pakistan makes a splashy, media-friendly arrest of an al-Qaeda agent.
- All six of the top al-Qaeda officials captured through late 2006, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, have all been arrested in Pakistan. They were not hiding in caves but living in cities like Karachi and Faisalabad. Mohammed will be arrested in the military cantonment of Rawalpindi. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl will be murdered in Pakistan in 2002; Pakistan has refused to extradite the ISI official convicted of Pearl's murder, Omar Saeed Sheikh; speculation is rampant that Pakistan does not want Sheikh talking to anyone, particularly US interrogators. Other al-Qaeda bombers, including two from the July 7, 2005 subway bombings in London, are known to have entered and exited Pakistan without hindrance, and in some cases have openly worked on their plans for attack in that country. Many Pakistani military officials have openly run terrorist training camps on their own. Says author Husain Haqqani, "The attitude of condoning extremist behaviour is so pervasive that it may be difficult for people to adjust to a new attitude of cracking down on them."
- In September 2006, blogger "LondonYank" of the liberal Web site Daily Kos makes a disturbing statement that is all too likely to be true: "My guess is that the determination of the Bush administration to have secret military tribunals and secret evidence against detainees is driven by a need to hide Pakistani complicity in virtually every major act of terrorism for the past 20 years, including all major attacks against the United States and its War on Terror allies -- Britain, Spain, Australia and India. My guess is that every serious terrorist being held by the United States in its gulags was trained, financed and supplied by terrorist organizations based in and operating from Pakistan."
(9/11 Press for Truth/Daily Kos, Los Angeles Times, Sunday Times, Asia Times, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Fleischer lies about possible strike on White House
- September 12: Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that Bush went to Nebraska because "There was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets." The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush's political
strategist Karl Rove confirms, that the Secret Service believed "'Air Force One may be next,' and there was an 'inside' threat which 'may have broken the secret codes'" protecting the craft's communications. (Apparently the story of the code breaking originates with Dick Cheney.) The story apparently originates to counter charges that Bush may have done himself political damage by delaying his return to Washington. Fleischer even purports to quote the words of the caller, who supposedly used the proper "code words" and said ominously, "Air Force One is next." Eric Alterman and Mark Green observe, "[T]he official account is logically inconsistent. If the White House received a 'credible' threat to Air Force One, why would the president and his men return to the target and take off unprotected?" As the story begins to fall apart, Fleischer resorts to evasion, telling reporters "We exhausted that topic about two days ago" and refusing to provide details of the "evidence" of the threat while continuing to claim the story is true.
- By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the President and new stories flatly contradict it. The administration finally admits that it fabricated the entire story, though an effort will be made to claim that the entire story resulted from White House telephone operators misunderstanding comments made by security personnel, a claim that is just as specious as the original fabricated threat. The story served two purposes: to bolster Cheney's argument that Bush should stay away from Washington, and to give Bush a credible reason for doing so. (CCR, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
- September 12: This morning Bush announces his first post-9/11 policy move. Because the attacks were "more than acts of terror; they were acts of war, this morning I am sending to Congress a request for emergency funding authority." News commentator Tim Russert observes, "suddenly the Social Security lockbox seems so trivial." Since then the Social Security trust fund has been repeatedly raided to subsidize pork barrel and deficit spending with no apparent political fallout. Reporter Brad Carlton writes in 2002, "It is sickening to contemplate an administration intentionally looking the other way while terrorists scheme so that whatever havoc they wreak can provide cover for the president to raid Social Security." (CCR)
- September 12: Anatoli Kornukov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, says it's generally impossible how the 9/11 attacks happened in the U.S. "Generally it is impossible to carry out an act of terror on the scenario which was used in the USA yesterday. We had such facts too. ...As soon as something like that happens here, I am reported about that right away and in a minute we are all up." (Pravda/Killtown)
- September 12: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announces that US airports will remain closed, and that airports will begin heightened security procedures. Mineta says, "safety is always of paramount importance." Mineta's statement is belied by the facts. While many European countries regard airline and airport safety as functions of the government, in the US, airport security is usually farmed out to private contractors, who often pay their employees low wages and provide them with minimal training. Pre-9/11 efforts to raise wages and submit screeners to FBI background checks had been successfully blocked by corporate officials, often with support from Republican lawmakers. After 9/11, Congress will consider legislation to make 28,000 airport security screeners federal employees; the move will be hotly opposed by the White House, which doesn't want to add that many employees to the traditionally Democratic-leaning government employees' unions. However, once Congress approves the bill, Bush will sign it and take credit for its passage, calling it "an important step" for national security. (US State Department, David Corn)
- September 12: The United Nations Security Council passes a resolution condemning the attacks, and holding accountable "those responsible for aiding, supporting, or harboring the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of these acts." The UNSC also authorizes "all necessary steps" to respond to the attacks. For the first time in its history, all of the UN members present rise to stand together as they cast their votes in a demonstration of unity with the US. (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Bush officials coordinate with Saudi Arabians on PR spin
- September 12: Around 10 pm, a high-level CIA director, most likely George Tenet, calls Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the close friend of the Bush family and the Saudi most responsible for keeping the image of Saudi Arabia pristine in the eyes of America, to tell him that 15 of the 19 hijackers are confirmed to be Saudis. Bandar later says, "I felt as if the Twin Towers had just fallen on my head." Bandar realizes that public relations is now a crucial and immediate issue, and hires PR giant Burston-Marstellar to place newspaper ads all over the country condemning the attacks and dissociating Saudi Arabia from them. The connection with al-Qaeda, through Saudi leader Osama bin Laden, is difficult to spin, particularly because of the bin Ladens' close ties with the Bush family. Author Craig Unger writes, "Like Bandar, the Bin Laden family epitomised the marriage between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Their huge construction company, the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), banked with Citigroup and invested with Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. [The family company and various family members use the spelling Binladin rather than Bin Laden, the spelling most frequently used for Osama.] Over time, the Bin Ladens did business with such icons of Western culture as Disney, the Hard Rock Cafe, Snapple and Porsche. In the mid-nineties, they joined various members of the House of Saud in becoming business associates with former secretary of state James Baker and former president George Bush by investing in the Carlyle Group.... As Charles Freeman, the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told the Wall Street Journal: 'If there were ever any company closely connected to the US and its presence in Saudi Arabia, it's the Saudi Binladin Group.' Suddenly those years of close political and corporate connections need to be downplayed.
- Dozens of bin Laden family members are currently in the States, doing everything from working in businesses to attending universities to living as jet-setters. One, an unnamed brother of Osama, calls the Saudi embassy in a panic shortly after the attacks; he is quickly ensconsced in the Watergate hotel and told not to answer the door. Saudi's King Fahd informs his emissaries in Washington to "take measures to protect the innocents." And a Saudi prince sends a directive to the Tampa Police Department in Florida that young Saudis who were close to the royal family and went to school in the area were in potential danger. Bandar, with his intimate ties to the Bush family and his covert work for the CIA, is in a prime position to pull the right strings. All over the country, bin Laden family members are gathering to be taken to safety. Bandar orchestrates their removal through his FBI contacts, though the FBI denies its involvement. "With coordination with the FBI," he later says on CNN, "we got them all out." One former FBI agent involved with the exodus later says, "I recall getting into a big flap with Bandar's office about whether they would leave without us knowing who was on the plane. Bandar wanted the plane to take off and we were stressing that that plane was not leaving until we knew exactly who was on it." In the end, the FBI is able to check papers and identify everyone on the flights. Spokesmen for the FBI assert that the Saudis had every right to leave the country, despite the official lockdown. (See below for more details about the Saudi exodus.) (Independent/Truthout)
Outpouring of global support for US
- September 12: The French newspaper Le Monde runs as its banner headline, "We Are All Americans." The lead article opens, "In this tragic moment, when words seem so inadequate to express the shock people feel, the first thing that comes to mind is this: We are all Americans! We are all New Yorkers, just as surely as John F. Kennedy declared himself to be a Berliner in 1962 when he visited Berlin. Indeed, just as in the gravest moments of our own history, how can we not feel profound solidarity with those people, that country, the United States, to whom we are so close and to whom we owe our freedom, and therefore our solidarity?" The outpouring of sympathy and solidarity around the world is staggering. Millions hold vigils, rallies, and prayer services, including a million-person rally supporting the US in tehran, Iran. A tremendous amount of money is collected for the victims and their families. For the first time in its history, NATO invokes Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, obligating its members to come to the aid of one of its members and considering that an attack on one of its members is an attack on all. NATO will adopt an entire series of measures to combat terrorism, and Russia actively cooperates with NATO on its efforts to curb terrorism. The UN Security Council unanimously passes a strong anti-terrorism resolution which mandates cutting off UN financial support for regimes supporting terror.
- Unfortunately, it does not take long for Bush's actions to squander all of this tremendous goodwill. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz does not even bother to address the NATO offer in his address to officials in Brussels, much less thank the body for its offer; instead, his presentation is little more than a statement informing the alliance of what the US intends to do, with or without NATO assistance. "He said very clearly that we don't need you," says one European NATO official. French strategist Jacques Rupnik characterizes the American attitude: "We decide what is good and we decide what is evil. If Europe wants to follow us, fine; if not, too bad for them." Career US diplomat John Brady Kiesling resigns in protest over the Bush administration's high-handed methodologies, and writes, "We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of internatioal relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security." (Le Monde/World Press Review, Eric Alterman and Mark Green, Joseph Cirincione/Karen Balkin, Peter Singer)
- September 12: Bush gives a brief statement to the public, one of four delivered on September 11 and 12. He calls the attacks "an act of war...in a monumental struggle between good and evil." Neither of his September 12 addresses are particularly reassuring; staff members privately think Bush looks confused and tentative, stumbling over words and obviously reading by rote from a teleprompter. (Ron Suskind)
- September 12: Bush tells his senior staff that he wants the New York Stock Exchange to open on September 13. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill opposes the move. In a phone conversation with the undersecretary for domestic finance, Peter Fisher, who tells O'Neill of Bush's wishes, O'Neill says that the NYSE is not ready to open. "We only get one chance at this, Peter," says O'Neill. "I understand that the computers up there are under thirty feet of water. The phone and electrical systems are compromised. We'll get only one chance to re-open the market, and it has to work. If it falters, or goes down again, the terrorists will have won. When it opens, it has to be clear that it's not closing again." After receiving on-site estimates of the damage done to the stock market's building and equipment, O'Neill tells Bush on September 13 that the soonest the market can reopen safely and effectively is September 17. Bush hesitates, then says, "Okay, if you say so. Monday, then." The NYSE opens for business on September 17, ready to begin handling the market once more. As O'Neill biographer Ron Suskind writes, "Business suddenly felt like a call to arms." (Ron Suskind)
- September 13: Bush tells the press, "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." (Buzzflash)
Saudi Arabians allowed to secretly fly out of US
- September 13: 24 members of Osama bin Laden's family and 140 members and associates of the Saudi royal family are allowed to fly out of the US to Saudi Arabia, even before restrictions on commercial and private flying are lifted. Several of the family members have deep connections with terrorist activities of their own, and would have been targets of investigation by the FBI had the US government not allowed them to leave; none of the departees are questioned before they are allowed to depart. Three of the family members leave the US on flights that the US government insists never took place, at a time when the airspace over the US was shut down to all civilian traffic. (Tampa police officer Dan Grossi, who escorts some of the Saudis to Kentucky, maintains that clearance for the flight had come from the White House after the Prince's family obtained a favor from former President Bush.) Some bin Laden family members leave Tampa in a Lear jet from Raytheon Airport Services and are flown to Lexington, Kentucky, where they take a 747 directly to Saudi Arabia; others fly from Texas to Washington DC, where they are flown out of the country. Multiple 747s with Arabic lettering on their sides are already in Tampa, suggesting another secret assembly point. The Saudis are apparently provided with private planes due to the intervention from former President George H.W. Bush. Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the father of one of the young men, is a close friend of the Bush family and reportedly requested assistance in getting them out of the US; he is being sued by the families of the victims of 9/11, in part because of a documented trail of evidence showing that he personally authorized millions of dollars in funding to terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda. The Prince is being represented by James Baker's firm Baker, Botts; Baker was Secretary of State under the first Bush presidency, represented Bush Jr. in the Florida recount lawsuits, and is a senior member of the Carlyle Group.
- The Lear jet makes at least 5 separate flights on 9/13, from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, from Tampa to Lexington, from Lexington back to Tampa, from Tampa to New Orleans, and from New Orleans to New York. At least one other flight originates in Texas, where bin Laden family members are "driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks." The FAA claims that none of these flights are in their logs. Filmmaker Michael Moore will ask in May, 2003: "What if on the day after Oklahoma City, Bill Clinton, suddenly worried about the safety of the McVeigh family up in Buffalo, allowed a jet to pick them all up and take them out of the country, not to return?" Tampa is the home to the US military's Central Command; Raytheon is the supplier of many of the high-tech weapons used in Afghanistan and Iraq; the airstrip is near Venice, where several 9/11 hijackers received flight training. Virginia Buckingham, the head of the Massachusetts Public Authority which oversees Logan Airport, is horrified at the decision. She writes of her reaction, "Does the FBI know? Does the State Department know? Why are they letting these people go? Have they questioned them? This is ridiculous." Other flights, including a plane carrying a heart for transplant into a deathly ill patient in Seattle, are grounded; the patient nearly dies from the delay. Yet the Saudi flights seem to gain approval with almost no questions being asked. (Tampa Tribune, Greg Palast, Democrats.com, New York Times/Want to Know, Amy and David Goodman)
- September 13: Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar meets privately with Bush in the White House; over Cohiba cigars, they discuss how they can work together in the nascent war on terror. They agree that Bush will turn over any al-Qaeda suspects he chooses to the Saudis, who are free under their law to torture suspects for information. While no documentation of the remainder of their discussion exists, it is likely that Bush gives Bandar belated permission to allow the flight of over 140 Saudis out of the US without interrogation by the FBI (see above). (Independent/Truthout)
- September 13: Ann Coulter publishes a column in The National Review that states: "This is no time to be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack. ...We don't need long investigations of the forensic evidence to determine with scientific accuracy the person or persons who ordered this specific attack. We don't need an 'international coalition.' We don't need a study on 'terrorism.' ...We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war." Coulter's statements are used by Muslims to "prove" that America fully intends to conduct all-out war against Islamic nations in the Middle East. (National Review)
Evangelists blame gays, liberals, ACLU for attacks
- September 13: Jerry Falwell joins Pat Robertson on the 700 Club television show to air their opinions about the 9/11 attacks. In the show, Robertson and Falwell manage to blame the attacks on the American Civil Liberties Union ("The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this"), the courts and the public schools ("...throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools"), pro-abortion supporters ("The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad"), and people with alternative lifestyles ("I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'"). Both will apologize, to an extent, for their remarks, and shortly thereafter, Robertson will resign as head of the Christian Coalition. (Sullivan County)
"If we members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy don't get back to our daily routine of obsessive Clinton-bashing, the terrorists will have won." -- Mark Steyn
- September 13-14: The two "black boxes" for Flight 93 are found, but they are deemed severely damaged, and it isn't known if the data could be recovered. Months later, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes. On September 14, the
black box for Flight 77 is found, but the FBI claims it contains "nothing useful." (CCR)
Congress authorizes military action against terrorists
- September 14: Both houses of Congress authorize President Bush to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks." The Senate passes the resolution unanimously; only one representative, California's Barbara Lee, votes against the resolution, saying that military action cannot guarantee the safety of the country and that "as we act, let us not become the evil we deplore." Lee's argument is, in Lewis Lapham's words, a "correct statement of the facts joined with a decent respect for the constitutional balancing of executive and legislative power," but is badly received; Lee is the recipient of thousands of death threats from as far away as Guam. In March 2003, Bush informs Congress that Iraq is being attacked for its support of 9/11, despite the lack of any evidence for such a connection. (September 11 News, Lewis Lapham)
Bush photo-op at WTC
- September 14: George W. Bush visits the WTC site for the first time since the attacks. It is here that the famous photo-op of Bush standing atop a pile of debris, shouting into a megaphone while accompanied by a firefighter, is staged. Among other things, Bush shouts in reply to complaints that his listeners couldn't hear him, "I can hear you. The rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon!" (CCR, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
FBI's Mueller lies about information in hand before attacks
- September 14: FBI Director Robert Mueller categorically states that the FBI had absolutely no information that would have led the bureau to believe that any kind of terrorist attacks were being planned. Three days later, he states even more bluntly: "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country." On May 29, 2002, Mueller admitted that he was mistaken in making the statements. Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein suggested that Mueller may have been more interested in defending the administration than telling the truth about what the FBI did and didn't know. (CCR)
Director of ANG lies about failure of jets to protect targets
- September 14: The Director of the Air National Guard explains why jets failed to scramble towards the hijacked aircraft for so long. He says that before 1997, 100 bases defended the US, but since then the number was reduced to seven, with only two fighter planes at each base defending the entire country from external threats. However, numerous air force bases on the East Coast alone, including bases in Westfield, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York, Hartford, Connecticut and Andrews, Virginia, claim they have battle ready fighters on alert 24 hours a day. All of these bases were better positioned to respond to the hijacked airplanes than the bases ultimately chosen. Some of these bases have websites that get changed after 9/11, erasing claims that they have battle-ready fighters on alert. In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart's plane went off course, fighters were scrambled from four different bases (none of the official seven) and reached his plane in under 10 minutes. There are numerous other examples of fighter scramblings since 1997 that seem to contradict the "only seven bases" story. (CCR)
- September 14: Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC ruins. Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a stewardess. There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of one of the hijackers, and the body of another stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire. Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker's body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified. While all these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, not one of the four black boxes for these two airplanes are ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman says: "It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders." The black boxes are considered "nearly indestructible," are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G's. Phone calls from two stewardesses on Flight 11 contradict the idea that stewardesses or anyone else had their hands tied. (CCR)
Congress denied information about attacks
- September 14: Lawmakers emerging from briefings about the 9/11 attacks complain that they are being told virtually nothing. Says GOP senator John McCain, "We're learning more from CNN." Representative Neil Abercrombie, says, "You can't even begin to call these briefings." The Administration's obsession with 9/11 secrecy will lead to an FBI investigation into senators and congresspeople a year later. (CCR)
- September 14: Canadian jailers open the sealed envelope from Mike Vreeland in Toronto and see that the contents describe the attacks against the WTC and Pentagon. The US Navy subsequently states that Vreeland was discharged as a seaman in 1986 for unsatisfactory performance and has never worked in intelligence. On January 10, 2002, Vreeland's attorneys call the Pentagon's switchboard operator in open court, who confirms that Vreeland is indeed a Naval lieutenant on active duty. She provides an office number and a direct dial phone extension to his office in the Pentagon. (Note: Paul Thompson of the Center for Cooperative Research considers Vreeland a far less than credible source.) (Toronto Star/From the Wilderness)
Rice lies about FAA warnings
- Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Condoleezza Rice claims that the FAA had warned both American and United Airlines of a potential terrorist threat as part of a general alert issued to US air carriers. However, both airlines deny that they ever received any warnings. "American Airlines received no specific information from the US government advising the carrier of a potential terrorist hijacking in the United States in the months prior to Sept. 11, 2001," says a spokesman for the airline. "American receives FAA security information bulletins periodically, but the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements." Ditto for United, whose spokesperson states, "In 2001 there were no alerts or cautions that indicated a Sept. 11 scenario was credible or possible." (Miami Herald/Unanswered Questions)
- September 15: Administration sources leak the information that two of the 19 hijacking suspects had been under intensive scrutiny, partially because of their links to the bombing of the USS Cole. (CCR)
- September 15: Bush escalates his tough-guy rhetoric regarding the attacks, warning bin Laden through the media, "If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken." (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Wolfowitz urges retaliation against Iraq
- September 15: During a White House meeting about the terror attacks, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz urges that the US immediately begin planning a strike against Iraq, even though no evidence of Iraq's involvement exists. "Attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain." he says, "Iraq was a brittle oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable." (Washington Post/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
- September 16: Confirming earlier reports, Osama bin Laden denies any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. In a statement to Arab media outlet Al Jazeera, he states, "I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons." Later events prove that bin Laden is lying. (Guardian/Killtown, September 11 News)
FBI blocks investigation of Flight 93 crash site
- September 16: It is reported that the crash site of Flight 93 is being searched and recorded in 60 square-foot grids. That's what the two forensic scientists in charge of the crash site wanted. They said doing so could help determine who was where when the plane crashed, and possibly how it crashed. However, almost a year later it will be revealed that that is not what actually happened. "The FBI overruled them, instead dividing the site into five large sectors. It would be too time-consuming to mark tight grids, and would serve no real investigative purpose, the bureau decided. There was no mystery to solve about the crash. Everybody knew what happened to the plane." While the military may suggest there is no mystery, some articles have suggested the plane was shot down. Also, at the time of this decision, investigators were still considering the possibility a bomb may have destroyed the plane. (CCR)
- September 16: President Bush says, "Never [in] anybody's thought processes ... about how to protect America did we ever think that the evildoers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets... never." A month later, Paul Pillar, the former deputy director of the CIA's counter-terrorist center, says, "The idea of commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into the ground and causing high casualties -- sure, we've thought of it." (September 11 News)
- September 17: FBI Director Robert Mueller says during a Justice Department briefing, "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country." There is no other way to categorize this statement as anything else except a baldfaced lie. Also on this day, the Taliban state that they will let a cadre of Islamic clerics decide whether or not to allow bin Laden to be turned over to the US. The stock market reopens for the first time after the strikes, and as expected, plummets. (CCR)
- September 17: Three potential terrorists are arrested in Detroit. All three work as dishwashers in the Detroit airport, and were likely casing the airport for possible security breaches. In their apartment, authorities discover notes about the "American base in Turkey," the "American Foreign Minister" and "Alia Airport" in Jordan. They believe the three were planning to assassinate ex-Defense Secretary William Cohen during a visit to Turkey. A stash of false documents is also found, and all three have false passports, Social Security cards and immigration papers. The apparent ringleader of this group, is arrested in North Carolina in November 2002. All are to be tried on terrorist charges in 2003. (CCR)
- September 17: During a National Security Council meeting, Bush says, "I believe Iraq was involved [in 9/11], but I'm not going to strike them now. I don't have evidence at this point." Previously, both Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz had pressured Bush to make Iraq the first target of the US's retaliatory strikes, as have other officials. The pressure for the US to attack Iraq will mount. Additionally, Bush will demand that the US issue an ultimatum to the Taliban demanding the immediate turnover of bin Laden and al-Qaeda operatives to the US, a demand that takes Colin Powell aback. Aside from telling Powell of his decision to issue an ultimatum, Bush never discusses the ultimatum, or its possible ramifications, with anyone except Cheney and other administration neocons. (David Corn, Peter Singer)
Bush wants bin Laden "dead or alive"
- September 17: In one of Bush's most famous tough-guy statements, he says of bin Laden, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" Immediately, newspapers and Web sites begin churning out posters featuring bin Laden's menacing visage under Bush's boast. (Later, with bin Laden proving elusive, many conservative pundits will deny Bush ever made the "dead or alive" claim, in some instances indulging in ludicrous word-parsing to say that Bush didn't really intend to make such a statement.) (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Tenet being scapegoated
- September 18: A top CIA official defends the job performance of CIA director George Tenet, telling journalist Seymour Hersh, "We know there's a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking going on, but people don't understand the conditions that George inherited. You can't penetrate a six-man cell when they're brothers and cousins -- no matter how much Urdu you know." Acknowledging that Tenet was under heavy fire, he says, "George has not gotten any word other than the president has full confidence in him. ...George wouldn't resign in a situation like this." GOP senator Richard Shelby, the former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sees Tenet's service differently. "We do have guys in the field with great ideas who are not supported by the establishment," a committee staff member says of Shelby's thinking. But before the attacks, none of the senior Democrats on the committee wanted to embarrass Tenet, one of only two holdovers from the Clinton administration, by holding hearings or inquiring into the complaints surrounding his service. One Democrat acknowledges that Tenet isn't the crux of the problem with the CIA: "Tenet's been briefing about bin Laden for years, but we weren't organized to consider what are threats to the United States. We're chasing whatever the hell is in the news right now." A friend and former colleague of Tenet's says of the director, "He's a politician, too. That's why he shouldn't have been there, because he had no status to tell the senators, 'You don't know what you're talking about.'" Many feel that Tenet has less than six months to resign gracefully; in reality, Tenet will not resign until June 2004. His official reason is that he wants to spend more time with his family, but he is aware that his reputation has been permanently scarred due to the attacks, and that he will be perceived as being far too deferential to the Bush administration over the upcoming Iraq invasion. (Seymour Hersh)
- September 18: Rita Lasar, brother of 9/11 victim Abe Zelmanowitz, publishes a letter to the New York Times requesting that George W. Bush not mention her brother's name in his speeches; Bush told the story of how Zelmanowitz stayed in the WTC to help a quadriplegic friend, and eventually died with him when the building collapsed. Lasar writes, "It is in my brother's name and mine that I pray that we, this country that has been so deeply hurt, not do something that will unleash forces we will not have the power to call back." (Amy and David Goodman)
- September 18: CBS news anchor Dan Rather, excoriated as a "liberal" by many in the right wing, tells David Letterman, "George Bush is the president, he makes the desicions, and, you know, as just one American, he wants me to line up, just tell me where." (NBC/Paul Waldman)
Up to four other possible hijack teams revealed
- September 19: The FBI claims that there were six hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. A different report claims investigators are privately saying eight. But the reports below suggest there may have been as many as eight aborted flights, leading to a potential total of 12 hijackings. Knives identical to the ones used in the successful hijackings were found taped to the backs of seat trays on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark. The FBI continues to look into American Airlines Flight 43, which left Boston about 8:10 bound for Los Angeles and was canceled minutes before takeoff due to a mechanical problem. Another version claims the flight left from Newark and made it as far as Cincinnati before being grounded in the nationwide air ban. Knives and box cutters were found on two separate canceled Delta Airlines planes later that day, one leaving Atlanta for Brussels and the other leaving from Boston. Two knives were found on an Air Canada flight that would have flown to New York on 9/11 if not for the air ban. Two men arrested on 9/11 may have lost their nerve on American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50, and was later forced to land in St. Louis. It is also possible that they may have been planning an attack for September 15. There may have been an attempt to hijack United Airlines Flight 23 flying from Boston to Los Angeles around 9:00 Three Middle Eastern men angrily refused to get off the plane when it was canceled, then escaped security. Knives were found hidden in the seats on a plane due to leave Boston that was delayed due to technical problems and then canceled (note that this might be the same as one of the Delta flights). A box cutter knife was found under a seat cushion on American Airlines Flight 160, a 767 that would have flown from San Diego to New York on the morning of 9/11 but for the air ban. Suspicions that US airport staff may have played an active role in the conspiracy and helped the hijackers to circumvent airport security is strong. All of this contradicts the official story that the hijackers walked on board with their weapons, which were chosen because they were technically legal. (CCR)
Bush asks for British support in invading Iraq
- September 20: Bush asks for Tony Blair's support of a US invasion of Iraq in retaliation for the 9/11 bombings. Over a private dinner at the White House, with the British ambassador, Sir Christopher Meyer in attendance, Bush tells Blair of his intention to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. The story is not told until June 2004, by Meyer. Blair replies that he would rather concentrate on ousting the Taliban and restoring peace in Afghanistan. According to Meyer, Bush responds, "I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq." Meyer says Blair "said nothing to demur" at the prospect. Blair will deny any intention on either the US or Britain's part to invade Iraq until days before the actual invasion in March 2003. (Independent/CommonDreams)
Clark warned of Iraq invasion plans
- September 20: Retired General Wesley Clark, former supreme NATO commander in Kosovo under Clinton, visits the Pentagon, and calls on a three-star general whom he formerly worked with. As Clark recounts the meeting, the general asks him, "'Sir, I have to ask you, have you heard the joke going through the halls?' I said, 'No, what is it?' He said, 'It goes like this: If Saddam Hussein didn't do 9/11, too bad. He should have, 'cause we're going to get him anyway.' He looked at me, and I looked at him, and we both knew that it would be a classic mistake if we did that." Later on, Clark revisits the same general as the war in Afghanistan is developing, and as Clark recalls, "this same guy said to me, 'Oh, yes, sir, not only is it Afghanistan. There's a list of countries. We're not that good at fighting terrorists, so we're going after states: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Iran. There's a five-year plan." Clark writes in his book, Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire, that the plan included Iraq first, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan. Clark writes that "I left the Pentagon deeply concerned" after hearing about this plan. (Rolling Stone, Amy and David Goodman)
Bush lies about Taliban's unwillingness to cooperate with anti-terrorist moves
- September 20: Bush makes a forceful presentation to Congress, demanding that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban turn over all al-Qaeda terrorists in the country to the US, and close down all of its terrorist training camps. Although Bush will pretend that the Taliban chose to ignore his ultimatum, in reality, Taliban leader Mullah Omar asks the US to provide evidence that bin Laden was behind the attacks, and says that if this is done, he will turn over bin Laden to a court in another country, as long as the court has at least one Islamic judge. Omar also suggests the involvement of the Organization of the Islamic Conference , a group of over fifty Muslim countries. Omar also offers to meet with US officials to discuss the ultimatum and his offer. Omar's request for evidence, and his offer of cooperation, are roundly ignored by the Bush administration. (Eric Alterman and Mark Green, Peter Singer)
Bush frames terrorist attacks as "evil"
- September 20: In his speech to Congress, Bush poses the rhetorical question of the attackers, "Why do they hate us?" The question is important because Americans need to understand the motives behind the attacks and the hatred for America that produces Islamic (and other anti-American) terrorists. Such answers will help shape America's policy options for dealing with a long-term threat to the security of the United States. But Bush's answer is simplistic and unhelpful: "They hate our freedoms." Of al-Qaeda, he says, "Its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere," a valid if simplistic assessment, but then he follows up with the assertions that their goal is "to kill all Americans." David Corn writes that Bush offers little more than a "comic-book interpretation of the event. It covered up complexities and denied Americans information crucial for developing a full understanding of the attacks. His account was oblivious to history and facts. In the view Bush furnished, bin Laden was a would-be conqueror of the world, a man motivated solely by irrational evil, who killed for the purpose of destroying freedom." Terrorism experts and the State Department offers a more complex, realistic assessment of bin Laden's goals. Corn observes that he is not bent on "global dominations, slaughter for slaughter's sake, or the repression of freedom in the West. He was working to achieve specific geopolitical objectives, as he pursued a theological Yankees-go-home crusade. Bin Laden's aim was to chase the United States out of the Middle East. He considered the presence of US troops in the land of Islam (such as US forces in Saudi Arabia) an abomination. He wanted to force Washington to end its support of autocratic Arab regimes in order to ease the way for a fundamentalist takeover of the region." A 1998 fatwa issued by bin Laden calls for the "liberation" of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque and the holy mosque in Mecca from the grip of American military and civilian personnel. A 1998 State Department fact sheet from the department's counterterrorism coordinator notes that "bin Laden and his network seek to provoke a war between Islam and the West and the overthrow of existing Muslim governments such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.... Bin Laden's goal in his own words is to 'unite Muslims and establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs,' which he believes he can accomplish only by overthrowing nearly all Muslim governments, driving Western influence from these countries and eventually abolishing state boundaries." With that understanding, Bush's invasion of Iraq can be seen as playing right into bin Laden's hands. (David Corn)
PNAC advises invasion of Iraq
- September 20: The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publicly publishes a letter written by William Kristol to Bush, advising him to quickly conquer Iraq, along with the conquest of Afghanistan and Palestine, and the eradication of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. "[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack," the letter says, "any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism." They also demand that Iran and Syria cease all support of Hezbollah, and state that if they fail to do so, the US should "retaliate" against those two countries as well. The letter also praises Israel as "America's staunchest ally against international terrorism." (Other signatories include Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Gary Bauer, Francis Fukuyama, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Martin Peretz, Stephen Solarz, Vin Weber, and media columnist Charles Krauthammer.) The next day, the Los Angeles Times notes that there is an internal battle inside the Bush administration about launching a war against Iraq. On one side are Secretary of State Powell and his allies, who argue that al-Qaeda needs to be defeated first. On the other side is the "string of Perles" - PNAC members Richard Perle, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and their allies, who argue that Iraq shouldn't wait. The latter side will win out, though Bush will take Powell's advice to conquer Afghanistan first. (Asia Times, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Video footage of Pentagon strike confiscated
- September 21: Federal investigators may have video footage of the attack on the Pentagon. A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon may have captured footage of the hijacked Boeing 757 airliner as it impacted the western wall of the Pentagon. Hotel employees viewed the film several times before the FBI confiscated the video as part of its investigation. It may be the only available video of the attack. However, the Pentagon has told broadcast news reporters that its security cameras did not capture the crash. The attack occurred close to the Pentagon's heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring. In a later report, an employee at a gas station across the street from the Pentagon that services only military personnel says the gas station's security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he has never seen the footage: "The FBI was here within minutes and took the film." A later release of five tiny and grainy images of the crash from a Pentagon security camera shows the government's claim that no security cameras captured the crash was untrue. The question"why refuse to release the footage of the crash if there is nothing to hide about the crash itself?" remains unanswered. (CCR)
- September 21: Congress approves a $15 billion federal aid package for the US airline industry, and sets up a government fund to compensate 9/11 victims' relatives. However, relatives are only allowed to sue terrorists, and if they sue anyone else, they are not entitled to any compensation money. The law also limits the airlines' liability to the limits of their insurance coverage, around $1.5 billion per plane. Nevertheless, many later sue important Saudi Arabians and the Port Authority, owner of the WTC. (CCR)
- In a related decision, Bush pushes legislation to privide the insurance industry with up to $90 billion a year to cover costs it might incur due to another terrorist attack, one of the largest industry bailouts by the federal government in history. Bush will rely on lies and exaggerations to push his proposal: he claims that "many insurance companies stopped covering builders and real estate owners against the risk of terrorist attack. The lack of terrorism insurance has delayed or canceled more than $15 billion in real estate transactions. The $15 billion worth of delay has cost 300,000 jobs -- jobs to carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, and other hardworking Americans." He will claim that terrorism insurance has become "basically extinct." Bush is using figures provided by the Real Estate Roundtable, the trade group primarily pushing for the new legislation; their information is proven to be unreliable upon examination. The AFL-CIO's Michael Dugan says his union knows of no jobs lost because of a lack of terrorism insurance. And a study by the Consumer Federation of America will find that, a year after the attacks, the insurance industry was quite strong and providing insurance as needed, though many members were still indulging in "price-gouging" due to the attacks. Nevertheless, spurred by promises that his legislation will "get our hard hats back to work," Congress passes the bill, to the glee of insurance industry executives, but with no discernible effect on American workers. (David Corn)
- September 23: Secretary of State Colin Powell promises "we will put before the world, the American people, a persuasive case" showing that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. "We are putting all of the information that we have together, the intelligence information, the information being generated by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies." The promised "white paper" never appears. Later the administration will justify the delay by saying most of the information is classified; a CIA agent says privately that the intelligence community does not as yet have enough information about the terrorists' operations, financing, and planning. "One day we'll know, but at the moment we don't know." Behind closed doors, two mutually exclusive theories are forming. The FBI believes that the terrorists may not have been "a cohesive group," but rather a hodgepodge: "These guys look like a pickup basketball team," says one official involved in the discussions. The FBI is still trying to sort out identities and backgrounds for the hijackers, and the official admits that as of now, "we don't know much about them." The FBI officials argue that the hijackers' biggest ally was luck and the element of surprise. "In your wildest dreams, do you think they thought they'd be able to pull off four hijackings?" asks the official. "Just taking out one jet and getting it into the ground would have been a success. These are not supermen."
- The official argues that history and pilot training also contributed to the success of the hijackings; most hijackings end up with the plane landing peacefully at a Third World airport, so most pilots have been trained to go along with the hijackers' demands. The other theory, supported at the Pentagon and the CIA, credits the hijackers with years of advance planning and preparation, along with a deliberate after-the-fact disinformation campaign. "These guys were below everybody's radar," says one official. "They're professionals. There's no more than five or six in a cell. Three men will know the plan, three won't know. They've been 'sleeping' out there for years and years." Another person familiar with the investigation says, "Look, if it were as simple and straightforward as a lucky one-off oddball operation, then the seeds of confusion would not have been sown as they were." Some believe that the first clues to the hijackers' identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found: "Whatever trail was left was left deliberately -- for the FBI to chase," says a former senior intelligence official. CIA and other intelligence agencies are forced to revise their opinion of the sophistication and capabilities of bin Laden's organization. "This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he's running this operation?" asks one CIA official. "It's so huge. He couldn't have done it alone." Some investigators suspect that a foreign government might have lent aid. The CIA official adds, "To me, the scariest thing is that these guys got the first one free. They knew that the standard operating procedure in an aircraft hijacking was to play for time. And they knew for sure that after this the security on airplanes was going to go way up. So whatever they've planned for the next round they've had in place already."
- Some FBI officials believe that the 9/11 attacks were part of an overall plan devised by Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1995 World Trade Center attack. Yousef, now in maximum custody in a Colorado "supermax" prison, has been involved in a number of terrorist plans, most visibly the infamous, abortive "Operation Bojinka" from 1995 and others, including plans to release biotoxins and the bombing of tunnels linking New York City to New Jersey. "Do they go chem/bio in one, two, or three years?" asks one general rhetorically. "We must now make a difficult transition from reliance on law enforcement to the preemptive. That part is hard. Can we recruit enough good people? ...This is about going back to deep, hard work, with tough people going down dark alleys with good instincts." At the time of the attacks, it is likely that US intelligence agencies have not one single deep-cover operative inside any Islamic fundamentalist circles. In the summer of 2001, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former case officer with the CIA's Near East Division, quotes one CIA official as saying, "For Christ's sake, most case officers live in the suburbs of Virginia. We don't do that kind of thing."
- And shortly after the attacks, the CIA's claims about the effectiveness of its Counter Terrorism Center, set up in 1986 after a wave of international bombings and hijackings, were proven "wildly optimistic," according to journalist Seymour Hersh. Although the CTC was created to facilitate closer ties between various US intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, most specifically the CIA and FBI, the CTC was not authorized to recruit or handle agents overseas -- that task was left to the CIA, which has its own priorities. Robert Baer, a former CIA field agent in the Middle East, recalls in his book See No Evil how poorly the CTC was functioning as far back as 1986, when it was set up by its director, Iran-Contra figure Duane "Dewey" Clarridge. "Instead of fighting terrorists, we were fighting bureaucratic inertia, an implacable enemy...."
- During the 1990s, Baer writes that "a fatal malaise" settled over the CIA's Paris station and, by extension, the entire organization. "We'll never know the losses we had in terms of not capitalizing on the Soviet collapse," a retired official says. Little changed when Bill Clinton took office; though the CTC received more funding, it remained primarily a paper-shuffling entity. In 1995, after a Guatamalan paid informant murdered an American innkeeper and the Guatamalan husband of an American lawyer, the CIA's director, John Deutch, responded to the public outcry by restricting CIA access to anyone with a prior criminal record. The "scrub order" was implemented with good intentions, and provided for case-by-case review, but in practice hundreds of potentially useful CIA recruits were indiscriminately removed from the CIA's payroll, with a devastating effect on anti-terrorist operations in the Middle East. One retired officer says that the most important weapons in the war against international terrorism were being evaluated by people who "wouldn't drive to a DC restaurant at night because they were afraid of the crime problem." "It was mindless," recalls another officer. "Look, we recruited as*holes. I handled bad guys. But we don't recruit people from the Little Sisters of the Poor -- they don't know anything. ...What we've done to ourselves is criminal. There are a half-dozen good guys out there trying to keep it together." (Seymour Hersh)
9/11 hijackers misidentified
- September 23: Supposed 9/11 hijacker Waleed al-Shehri, named by the FBI as one of the 19 men aboard the four suicide flights, turns up alive and well in Casablanca, Morocco. Al-Shehri, who came forward after his name and photograph were published in the world media, says he had nothing to do with the attacks, and is a victim of misidentification. The identities of at least three other suspects named by the FBI as hijackers are now in doubt along with al-Shehri, who says he has been a pilot with a Saudi Arabian airline and is currently training in Morocco. Another suspect, Abdulaziz Al Omari, is also alive. Al Omari, an engineer with Saudi Telecoms, says he lost his passport in Denver while studying there, and says it is possible one of the hijackers used his passport to identify himself. A third named hijacker, Saeed Alghamdi, has been interviewed since the attacks; a fourth, Khalid Al Midhar, may also be alive. FBI Director Robert Mueller now acknowledges that the identities of several of the suicide hijackers is now in doubt. (BBC)
- September 24: An FBI agent investigating Zacarias Moussaoui testifies that he told the Secret Service on August 27, 2001, that terrorists might hijack a plane and 'hit the nation's capital.' The FBI agent said that evidence in the case pointed to a broader hijack attack, but added that investigators were largely in the dark because they were blocked from getting access to Moussaoui's computer and handwritten notes. He said he considered Moussaoui so dangerous that he might "take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center." (NY Post/NLPWessex, AP/Softcom)
- September 26: Asked for comment on a possibly "seditious" comment from television talk show host Bill Maher (Maher said that the terrorists were not cowards for flying suicide missions into American buildings, but that it was cowardly for Americans to attack targets from thousands of miles away using cruise missiles), press secretary Ari Fleischer says, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic, joins Fleischer, writing that this is no time for ambiguity, questioning, and doubt: "The nation is now at war. And in such an environment, domestic political dissent is immoral without a prior statement of national solidarity, a choosing of sides." (Lewis Lapham)
- September 30: Health and Human Services director Tommy Thompson tells CBS's 60 Minutes that the US is "prepared to take care of any contingency, any consequence that develops for any kind of bioterrorism attack." But following his appearance, ABC News reports that senior administration officials are privately saying that "Thompson dramatically overestimated the US readiness to deal with such an attack." An unidentified CIA official says, "If they were being completely honest with the American public about the dangers posed by biological weapons, it would cause panic." A September 18 study by the GAO finds "deficiencies in capacity, communication, and coordination elements essential to preparedness and response, such as workforce shortages, inadequacies in disease surveillance and laboratory systems, a lack of regional coordination and compatible communications systems." The GAO reports that state and local officials "reported a lack of adequate guidance from the federal government on what it means to be prepared for bioterrorism."
- Three days later, Thompson admits to Congress that the nation is unprepared for a biological attack. Thompson is the same White House official who, on October 4 after a Florida tabloid photo editor contracted inhalation anthrax from a mailing, called the infection an "isolated" case, said there was no evidence that the anthrax infection was a terrorist attack, and that the man, Robert Stevens, may have contracted anthrax from drinking water from a stream, a method of contracting the disease never before documented. By the time Thompson made his remarks, Stevens's doctor had confirmed that the infection was due to a mailing of anthrax through the postal service. Throughout the anthrax mailings, the government will refuse to handle the threat as a possible bioterrorist attack, though administration officials make ominous noises about al-Qaeda. (David Corn, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
- September 30: Bush ostentatiously flies to Chicago and urges Americans to "get on board" public airplanes and enjoy life "the way we want it to be enjoyed." Three days later Attorney General Ashcroft warns of "a very serious threat" of additional terrorist attacks. The confusion, uncertainty, and coginitive dissonance in the American public is extraordinary. (New York Times/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Bush accuses Democrats who do not support his tax cuts proposals of sympathy for terrorists
- Late September: Bush accuses Senate Democrats who don't line up to vote for his tax cut proposals and other legislation "more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people," an ugly accusation that prompts some Democrats to call foul. However, Bush will continue to use the line. When asked by a reporter if Bush was "trying to bring Democrats and Republicans together essentially by saying if you don't agree with me then I'm going to tell America you don't want to protect America," press secretary Ari Fleischer retorts that Bush is merely engaging in a "legitimate policy debate," and adds that what Bush is saying is "not out of any malicious feelings" towards Democrats. Weeks later, Bush attends a fundraiser for Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is running to unseat Democrat Max Cleland from his Senate seat. Bush blames Cleland and his fellow Democrats for trying to "tie the hands of this president and future presidents to be able to carry out one our most solemn duties, which is to protect the homeland," essentially accusing Democrats of placing the country at risk. At the time, Chambliss is airing a television ad picturing Cleland alongside Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein and accusing Cleland of voting against "homeland security" and lacking the "courage to lead." (Cleland lost three limbs in Vietnam during the horrific Khe Sanh offensive; Chambliss refused to serve.) After Chambliss's victory, Bush will extoll the virtues of the Republicans' "clean campaigns" and say, "Their accent was on the positive." (David Corn)
Useless missile defense system funded
- October 2: The US Senate, without debate, votes unanimously to fund a $60 billion missile defense system that, in Lewis Lapham's words, "couldn't hit its celestial targets and offered no defense against the deadly weapons (smallpox virus, dynamite stuffed into a barrel of nuclear waste) likely to be hand-delivered by terrorists driving rented speedboats or stolen trucks." Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, explains the absence of discussion of the system, previously the target of huge criticism, by saying "we have no need to create dissent while we need unity." Later in October the House will pass a huge economic stimulus bill proffered by the Bush administration that gave the bulk of the $101 billion in stimulus funds to the wealthiest of US business interests -- $1.4 billion to IBM, $833 million to GM, $671 million to GE, etc. Republican Dick Armey, the House majority leader, justifies the giveaway by saying, "This country is in the middle of the war. Now is not the time to provoke spending confrontations with our Commander in Chief." Democrats apparently fail to notice that all the calls for "unity" were for programs advocated by the administration and by Congressional Republicans; no Democratic legislation was the beneficiary of this sudden feeling of togetherness.
- The unity is strictly one-sided. An analysis by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds little evidence that the economic legislation will provide any stimulus for the economy, and will largely benefit only the wealthiest 5% of taxpayers. Another study by the equally nonpartisan Citizens for Tax Justice organization finds that the middle 20% of taxpayers -- wage earners making between $28,000 to $46,000 -- received a princely $11 in tax breaks to spend in the newly stimulated economy. Those in the next highest bracket, making up to $75,000, would receive an equally stunning $98. However, the top 1% -- those making over $384,000 -- would receive $16,275 on average. After some Democrats criticize the economic stimulus package as being virtually worthless for the American middle class, as promised by Bush, Bush will appear in numerous televised attack ads excoriating Democrats for opposing his post-9/11 tax cuts. Unwilling to be seen as being less than unified with the president, the Democrats drop most of their opposition, and the tax cuts sail through Congress. (Lewis Lapham, David Corn)
- October 4: Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence, but never do so. Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. In the speech, Blair claims, "One of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization" and that "there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt" of al-Qaeda in the attacks. There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo to Bush are not included. In fact, Blair's paper states, erroneously, that no such information had been available before the attacks. (CCR)
- October 7: "Zeljko E.," a Serbian, enters a Hamburg, Germany police station and says he wants to turn himself in. He tells the police that he has robbed a business and stolen piles of paper written in Arabic, with the hopes of selling them. A friend of his told him that they relate to the 9/11 attacks. The 44 pounds of papers are translated and prove to be a "treasure trove." But German agents do not believe the story; they suspect another intelligence agency of trying to get this evidence into their hands. Some German investigators suggest the CIA was responsible; others believe it was engineered by the FBI. (CCR)
- October 7: Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama, is reported to be the manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia branch of the bin Laden family company, the Binladin Group. In 1979, Binladin company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. Both the Bush administration and the bin Laden family continually claim that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. (CCR)
- October 10: Mohammed Heikal, longtime Egyptian journalist, former government spokesman, and the "Arab world's foremost political commentator," expresses disbelief that bin Laden and al-Qaeda could have conducted the 9/11 attack without the US knowing. "Bin Laden does not have the capabilities for an operation of this magnitude. When I hear Bush talking about al-Qaeda as if it were Nazi Germany or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is there. Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by US intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication." (Observer/9-11 Congress)
- October 11: In a televised press conference, Bush answers the reporters' questions with a calm and composure that goes a long way to repair his damaged reputation and establish him, in the eyes of many, as a true leader. Shortly after the conference, Bush's poll numbers climb to an astounding 90% approval rating. It is unfortunate that the conference, like the administration's response to the attacks, is long on style and entirely lacking in substance. For example, Bush claims that the government is "taking every possible step to protect our country from danger." While such "rhetorical excess," in David Corn's words, is understandable at the time, it is also important not to mislead the public about what is and is not being done to secure the safety of the populace. Public health officials warn that a bioterrorism attack could overload the weak public health infrastructure. The administration continues to refuse to fund a $30 million program recommended by the Department of Energy to secure nuclear weapons and materials in Russia and former Soviet republics. Frontline defenders like the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and state and local fire and police, remain woefully underfunded, and in many cases suffer further budget cuts, undermining their capability to protect the citizenry. (A year after the attacks, only 5% of the cargo entering the country is being inspected.)
- The 2003 Homeland Security budget will be at least $7 billion underfunded, and much of the $38 billion allocated for DHS will be passed to large military and energy corporations with little or no effect on US security. 123 US chemical plants that handle toxins capable of threatening one million people apiece if attacked are not adequately protected against terrorist attacks, and no funding for security upgrades will be provided. An attempt by the EPA to establish regulations to bolster security at these sites will be thwarted by administration lawyers, who argue that the EPA lacks the authority to carry out these security improvements. Even EPA secretary Christine Todd Whitman and Homeland Security director Tom Ridge will say in 2002 that the government's reliance on voluntary compliance for improved security at these facilities is unsatisfactory, and that mandatory guidelines need to be implemented. Yet, prodded by lobbyists from the chemical industry, the Bush administration will propose legislation that continues reliance on voluntary compliance with standards; worse, these standards will be written by an industry trade group that seems more interested in protecting industry profits than actually securing these dangerous facilities. A 2002 study by the Brookings Institute concludes that "for every important step that has been taken [by the government to protect the populace], an equally important one has been neglected." In July 2003, an independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and chaired by former GOP lawmaker Warren Rudman will conclude, "The United States remains dangerously ill-prepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil." The CFR report concludes, "If the nation does not take immediate steps to better identify and address the urgent needs of emergency responders, the next terrorist incident could have an even more devastating impact than the September 11 attacks." (David Corn, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
- October 11: The Justice Department takes over all terrorist prosecutions from the US Attorneys office in New York, which has had a highly successful track record in prosecuting terrorist cases connected to Osama bin Laden. The Justice Department will compile a 0% conviction rate after taking the cases. (New York Times/From the Wilderness)
Bush says Americans can fight terror by shopping
- October 11: "After 9/11, when millions of Americans were clamoring to know what they could do, how they might give, to aid the victims and to help their battered country, Bush replied that every good American should hit the shopping mall ASAP," writes Mark Crispin Miller. On this day Bush tells a press conference, "Now the American people have got to go about their business. We cannot let the terrorists achieve the objective of frightening our nation to the point where we don't -- where we don't conduct business, where people don't shop." Instead of encouraging Americans to conserve energy and reduce the nation's dependency on Middle Eastern oil, Bush and his officials encourage more consumption. Instead of donating money or blood or volunteering time for reconstruction efforts, Bush encourages Americans to spend money at Disney World. He even becomes the first president to allow his likeness to be used in a commercial when he appears in a TV spot for the Travel Industry Association of America, urging Americans to book airplane flights and hotel reservations. In December, he will make a high-profile visit to Home Depot, one of his campaign's largest contributors, to urge Americans to spend, spend, spend. "In their world," Miller writes, "your money is the only thing that matters in this world. Even -- or especially -- in time of war, your estate, your ease, your health, come first; an indication of your blessedness, according to the theocrats. 'Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes,' said Tom DeLay in early April of 2003. (Mark Crispin Miller)
Rumsfeld says missile, not airliner, struck Pentagon; confirms that administration knew of attacks
- October 12: Donald Rumsfeld gives an interview to Parade magazine in which he says that a missile, not an aircraft, struck the Pentagon on 9/11: "Here we're talking about plastic knives and using an American Airlines flight filed with our citizens, and the missile to damage this building and similar (inaudible) that damaged the World Trade Center." He also confirms that the US government knew the attacks were imminent: "There were lots of warnings," he says. (Defense Link/Killtown, Buzzflash)
- Mid-October: The NYSE's Dow Jones Industrial Average, after having suffered a precipitous drop has recovered most of its pre-attack losses. Although still weak and vulnerable to negative earnings reports, a crash has been averted by a massive infusion of government spending on defense programs, subsidies for "affected" industries and planned tax cuts for corporations. (New York Times/From the Wilderness)
- October 17: Retired Special Forces soldier and former tactics instructor Stan Goff pens an article that casts serious doubt on the official administration story about the events of 9/11. He also predicts that the administration's response to 9/11 will be an invasion of Afghanistan -- not for retaliation, but for control of Central Asian oil. "Based on [my] experience, and operations in eight designated conflict areas from Vietnam to Haiti," Goff writes, "I have to say that the story we hear on the news and read in the newspapers is simply not believable. The most cursory glance at the verifiable facts, before, during, and after September 11th, does not support the official line or conform to the current actions of the United States government." He points out that since 1991, NATO was used to recruit former Soviet bloc states in Eastern Europe to the Western military alliance. Further, when Yugoslavia refused to cooperate with the International Monetary Fund's edicts, the US and Germany systematically destabilized that country, encouraging it to split apart into smaller, more pliable fledgling nation-states, even employing some veterans of the Afghanistan resistance. Goff says, "NATO became the military arm of that agenda -- the break-up of Yugoslavia into compliant statelets, the further containment of the former Soviet Union, and the future pipeline easement for Caspain Sea oil to Western European markets through Kosovo."
- NATO, which Goff describes as "an instrument of military aggression," is used by the Bush administration to expand into more territories formerly controlled by the Soviet Union, particularly the oil-rich "stans" of Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. "The US military has already taken control of a base in Uzbekistan. No one is talking about how what we are doing seems to be a very logical extension of a strategy that was already in motion, and has been in motion for two decades. Once we recognize the pattern of activity designed to simultaneously consolidate control over Middle Eastern and South Asian oil, and contain and colonize the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan is exactly where they need to go to pursue that agenda. Afghanistan borders Iran, India, and even China but, more importantly, the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. These border Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan borders Russia. Turkmenistan sits on the Southeastern quadrant of the Caspian Sea, whose oil the Bush Administration dearly covets. Afghanistan is necessary for two things: as a base of operations to begin the process of destabilizing, breaking off, and establishing control over the South Asian Republics, which will begin within the next 18-24 months in my opinion, and constructing a pipeline through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to deliver petroleum to the Asian market." (As of fall 2003, Goff's predictions have been largely borne out. Afghanistan was invaded and its ruling government, the anti-American Taliban, was overthrown. Iraq's government was also overthrown, giving the US access to its huge oil reserves. Most of the Central Asian republics have aligned themselves economically and socially with the US. Pakistan is, at least putatively, a close ally of the US in the region. And the Trans-Caspian pipeline is in the works.)
- As for the attacks on 9/11, "This administration is lying about this whole thing being a 'reaction' to September 11th. That leads me, in short order, to be very suspicious of their yet-to-be-provided evidence that someone in Afghanistan is responsible. It's just too damn convenient. Which also leads me to wonder-just for the sake of knowing-what actually did happen on September 11th, and who actually is responsible. The so-called evidence is a farce. The US presented Tony Blair's puppet government with the evidence, and of the 70 so-called points of evidence, only nine even referred to the attacks on the World Trade Center, and those points were conjectural. This is a bullsh*t story from beginning to end. Presented with the available facts, any 16-year old with a liking for courtroom dramas could tear this story apart like a two-dollar shirt. ...This cartoon heavy they've turned bin Laden into makes no sense, when you begin to appreciate the complexity and synchronicity of the attacks. As a former military person who's been involved in the development of countless operations orders over the years, I can tell you that this was a very sophisticated and costly enterprise that would have left what we call a huge 'signature.' In other words, it would be very hard to effectively conceal." (Narco News/Pravda)
"Terror roundup" nets no terrorist suspects
- October 20: The New York Times reports that, although 830 people have been arrested in the 9/11 terrorism investigation (a number that will eventually reach almost 2,000), there is no evidence that anyone now in custody was a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, "none of the nearly 100 people still being sought by the [FBI] is seen as a major suspect." Of all the people arrested, only four, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ayub Ali Khan, Mohammed Azmath, and Nabil al-Marabh, are likely connected to al-Qaeda. Three of those are later cleared of ties to al-Qaeda. After being kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months without seeing a judge or being assigned a lawyer, al-Marabh pleads guilty to the minor charge of entering the United States illegally. On September 12, 2002, after a year in solitary confinement and four months before he was able to contact a lawyer, Mohammed Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud, and is released with time served. Ayub Ali Khan, whose real name is apparently Syed Gul Mohammad Shah, is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud, but is released and deported by the end of 2002. By December 2002, only 6 are known to still be in custody, and none have been charged with any terrorist acts. On September 24, 2001, Newsweek reported that "the FBI has privately estimated that more than 1,000 individuals -- most of them foreign nationals -- with suspected terrorist ties are currently living in the United States." With the exception of Moussaoui, who was arrested before 9/11, it appears not one person of the 1,200 arrested has been connected to al-Qaeda. The question remains: what happened to the 1,000 or more terrorists? (CCR)
Bush ignores calls for Department of Homeland Security
- October 21: After appointing former Pennsylvania GOP governor Tom Ridge to head a new White House office on homeland security, Bush publicly refuses to listen to some Democrats' call for a new, Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. Press secretary Ari Fleischer tells the media that there "does not need to be a Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security." For months Bush echoes the line, refusing to consider the creation of such an office, until he abruptly reverses himself on June 6, 2002, and calls for the creation of such a department. The turnaround can best be explained as an attempt to regain the initiative on national security after months of blistering criticism concerning the administration's lack of preparedness and refusal to take real steps to protect the nation from a second terrorist attack. True to form, he twists history by asserting that it was his intention all along to create such a department, and asks all Americans "to support my plan." Democrats immediately find themselves fighting against the reversal of workplace regulations for the employees of the new department; intending to keep unions out of the new department, Bush complains that unionized port inspectors had refused to carry radiation detectors and that Customs employees had refused to provide their personal telephone numbers in case of emergencies. Both anecdotes are false. Dispirited Democrats will eventually lose out on their battle for workplace protections in the new department. (David Corn)
Myers repeats administration lie that no one could conceive of terrorists using hijacked airliners
- October 23: Air Force General Richard Myers says the military has never thought of the scenario of terrorists hijacking planes and using them as missiles despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. "You hate to admit it, but we hadn't thought about this." (Depearment of Defense/Killtown)
- October 27: A number of government intelligence officials accuse the NSA of destroying data pertinent to the 9/11 investigation. They claim that possible leads aren't being followed because of the NSA lack of cooperation. (CCR)
- November: CNN producer Peter Bergen, the first American journalist to interview Osama bin Laden, publishes a book entitled Holy War Inc. in which he writes, "Why is bin Laden doing what he is doing? ...Bin Laden is not some 'AY-rab' who woke up one morning in a bad mood, his turban all in a twist, only to decide America was the enemy.... In all the tens of thousands of words that bin Laden has uttered on the public record there are some significant omissions: he does not rail against the pernicious effects of Hollywood movies, or against Madonna's midriff, or against the pornography protected by the US Constitution. Nor does he inveigh against the drug and alcohol culture of the West, or its tolerance for homosexuals.... Judging by his silence, bin Laden cares little about such cultural issues. What he condemns the United States for is simple: its policies in the Middle East. Those are, to recap briefly: the continued American presence in Arabia, US support for Israel, its continued campaign against Iraq, and its support for regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia that bin Laden regards as apostates from Islam." With the September 11 attacks, Bergen writes, "bin Laden hoped to ignite anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries that would cause the downfall of governments and replace them with Taliban-like theocracies." And the authors of the book The Age of Sacred Terror, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Stern, write, "al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and used them to inflict harm on the country that it perceived as the greatest enemy of Islam, with the aim of forcing that country to change its policies." (Peter Bergen/Benjamin and Stern/David Corn)
Media doctors Clinton statement to allege that Clinton blames US for attacks
- November 8: The Moonie-controlled Washington Times cuts, pastes, and edits a Bill Clinton speech to falsely imply that Clinton blamed America for the 9/11 attacks. The headline blares, "Clinton calls terror a US debt to past." However, a reading of the entire text of the speech, given at Georgetown University. The thrust of the speech is that Clinton supports the Bush efforts to fight terrorism, with Clinton saying, "We have to win the fight we're in." Instead, the Times takes passing references to American slavery and to the Crusades and twists them into assertions that Clinton said the US brought the attacks upon itself. Right-wing talk radio and TV hosts latch on to the Times article and lambast Clinton relentlessly. (Right-wing maven Andrew Sullivan pauses from his Clinton-bashing to admit, after reading the entire speech, that the Times has "appallingly slanted" Clinton's remarks, then gets right back to blasting Clinton for saying what he didn't say.) (Washington Times/Joe Conason)
- November 10: Bush lashes out at so-called conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11: "We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of 11 September -- malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty." (United Nations/Killtown)
Hijackers' identities in dispute
- November 16: The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology releases a list of the passengers and crew of Flight 77; none of the names are Arabic. Autopsies done on the bodies prove that none of the people on board were Arabs. This fits the conclusion drawn by many observers that some of the 19 hijackers supposedly killed on board the four hijacked flights are actually alive and well; which brings up the question of who actually hijacked the planes. Some, including an investigative commission made up of American military pilots, have concluded that it is possible the planes were flown by remote control. (Sierra Times)
EPA lies about toxins released in WTC bombings
- December: The EPA informs rescue workers in New York that they were "unlikely to suffer serious short- or long-term health effects from the terror attack," a flat and extremely dangerous lie. In reality, hundreds of workers have already suffered serious respiratory complaints from asbestos and other toxins, and many women have experienced, or will experience, problems with delivering babies that are severely underweight. (Laura Flanders)
- Early December: Bush officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to get the Saudi government to cooperate with the 9/11 investigation. They have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Says one expert, "It's good old fashioned 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.' You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil." These deals are worth an incredible amount of money: one Washington Post reporter claims that US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone, and that was before 1993. (CCR)
Bush lies again about events of the morning of 9/11
- December 4: Bush gives his own version of his perceptions of the first airliner attack on the WTC: "...actually, I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works. I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly, myself, and I said, well, there's one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there, I didn't have much time to think about it. And I was sitting in the classroom, and Andy Card, my Chief of Staff, who is sitting over here, walked in and said, 'A second plane has hit the tower, America is under attack.'" Not only are Bush's recollections garbled and tangled past the point of sensibility, they are flatly impossible, based on videotapes of the session at the elementary school. Bush will make the same claims in a January 2002 press conference. (White House/Killtown)
- December 6: In the wake of 9/11, Attorney General Ashcroft has prevented the FBI from investigating gun-purchase records to discover if any of the hundreds arrested or suspected had bought any guns. The White House supports him, saying they have no intention of changing the law to clarify the FBI's ability to search gun-purchase records.
- Ashcroft admits this in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he waves a training manual from al-Qaeda before the cameras, warning, "In this manual, al-Qaeda terrorists are told how to use America's freedom as a weapon against us." True enough, particularly on the issue of guns. The manual says in part:
After this story breaks, a Justice Department spokeswoman says the decision to prevent the FBI to search for terrorists using gun registrations was made after "senior Justice officials" had done an extensive study of the law. Among these senior officials is Viet Dinh, the assistant attorney general for legal policy, who wrote, according to the New York Times, "that these checks were improper, reasong that they would violate the privacy of these foreigners." This may be the only time the Ashcroft Justice Department would express any concern whatsoever for the rights of foreigners in terrorist investigations. But the actual legal opinion rendered by the Justice Department, released internally on October 1, 2001, said that there is nothing wrong with using gun background files to check if suspected terrorists had purchased guns. (CCR, New York Times/Michael Moore)
- In some countries of the world, especially the USA, firearms training is available to the general public. One should try to join a shooting club if possible and make regular visits to the firing range. There are many firearms courses available to the public in the USA, ranging from one day to two weeks or more.
- Useful courses to learn are sniping, general shooting, and orher rifle courses. Handgun courses are useful but only after you have mastered rifles.
- In other countries, e.g. some states of the USA and South Africa, it is perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country, obtain an assault rifle legally, preferably an AK-47 or variations, learn how to use it properly and go and practice in the areas allowed for such training.
- Respect the laws of the country you are in and avoid dealing in illegal firearms. One can learn to operate many arms legally, so there is no need to spend years in prison for dealing in small, illegal firearms. Learn the most you can according to your circumstances and leave the rest to when you actually go for jihad.
- December 11: Zacarias Moussaoui is criminally indicted for his role in the 9/11 attacks. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. Moussaoui has admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda, but while he has been involved in terrorist activity, many have expressed doubts that he had any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Attorney General John Ashcroft apparently intends to make Moussaoui's court proceedings a show trial, by declaring that the case against Moussaoui is "a chronicle of evil" and leveling charges against him of conspiracy to commit international terrorism, to commit aircraft piracy, to to destroy aircraft, to use weapons of mass destruction, to murder federal employees, and to destroy property. Four of these charges warrant the death penalty. The evidence presented by the government at Moussaoui's arraignment is largely circumstantial, basically alleging that he followed the same pattern of activities as performed by the actual hijackers. The most convincing evidence is the fact that Moussaoui was wired $14,000 in August 2001 by al-Qaeda intermediary Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who also provided money to at least one of the hijackers and is named as a co-conspirator in the Moussaoui indictment. On September 12 al-Shibh proclaimed, over an al-Jazeera television broadcast, that he, not Moussaoui, was slated to be the 20th hijacker. The government holds that since al-Shibh was unable to get a visa to enter the US, the hijackers were forced to turn to Moussaoui, a theory that holds little water. US district attorney Paul McNulty writes in March 2002 that although Moussaoui was not directly involved in the hijackings, that the death penalty is warranted because he intentionally participated in the act in "an especially heinous, cruel, and depraved manner," and "with reckless disregard for human life." Unfortunately for the government's case, little evidence of Moussaoui's direct involvement in the hijacking plot will surface. (CCR, Seymour Hersh)
US releases possibly faked bin Laden video
- December 13: The US releases a video of bin Laden that seems to confirm his role in the 9/11 attack. However, a number of strange facts about this video soon emerge. For one, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera. This video was supposedly recorded without his knowledge, found in a house in Afghanistan, and then passed to the CIA by an unknown person or group. Experts point out that it would be possible to fake such a video. So many people doubt the video's authenticity that Bush soon makes a statement, saying it was "preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored. Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man." Some observers point out that bin Laden is wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous films, he had worn no jewelry apart from a watch. The German television show Monitor does an independent translation that questions the translation given by the Pentagon. Says Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Hamburg, "This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can't use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places." There is also a great deal of controversy about whether or not the person in the tape is actually bin Laden; there are a remarkable amount of physical discrepancies between images known to be of bin Laden and the images in the tape.
- According to BBC reporter Greg Palast, no friend of the White House, the tape is indeed authentic. He quotes bin Laden from the tape as saying, "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. ...[D]ue to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all we that we had hoped for." (CCR, Greg Palast)
Bush: "Lucky me, I hit the trifecta"
- Shortly after the 9/11 attacks: Bush had repeatedly assured voters that he would not raid the Social Security fund except in cases of war, recession or national emergency. Soon after 9/11 it was reported that Bush commented to Budget Director Mitch Daniels, "Lucky me, I hit the trifecta." Not the reaction of a man horrified and angered by an unexpected and heinous attack on American soil, resulting in over 3000 deaths. Since then he's repeated the "joke" at numerous Republican fundraisers and other events. (CCR)
- December 21: Bush states, "But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me." (White House/Killtown)
- December 28: In Crawford, Texas, Bush tells the press pool in regards to bin Laden, "...he is not escaping us. This is a guy, who, three months ago, was in control of a county [sic]. Now he's maybe in control of a cave. He's on the run. Listen, a while ago I said to the American people, our objective is more than bin Laden. But one of the things for certain is we're going to get him running and keep him running, and bring him to justice. And that's what's happening. He's on the run, if he's running at all. So we don't know whether he's in cave with the door shut, or a cave with the door open -- we just don't know...." (Buzzflash)
- Amazingly, at the end of fiscal year 2001, the CIA is left with millions of dollars allocated for counterterrorism unspent. (Eric Alterman and Mark Green)