War in AfghanistanBy early November, bin Laden is there. US intelligence analysts conclude that bin Laden and his men were preparing to flee across the border. But the US Central Command, which was running the war, do nothing to block their escape. "It was obvious from at least early November that this area was to be the base for an exodus into Pakistan,"' says one intelligence official. "All of this was known, and frankly we were amazed that nothing was done to prepare for it." The vast majority of leaders and fighters are eventually able to escape into Pakistan. (CCR)
US torture allegationsAt first al-Libi is interrogated by FBI agents at Bagram Air Force Base outside of Kabul. In the process, the agents, who are beginning to win al-Libi's cooperation, inform him of his Miranda rights, believing that al-Libi will eventually be flown to the US to stand trial. The FBI believes that al-Libi can be useful as a witness in the trial of suspected 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Instead, after a pitched battle between the CIA and the FBI and personal intervention by CIA director George Tenet to Bush, CIA agents simply take al-Libi away from the FBI. The FBI recommends that al-Libi be treated humanely and even be bargained with, with one high-level FBI official recommending that al-Libi be handled "like it was being done right here, in my office in New York." But the CIA wants to pressure information out of al-Libi without delay. "They duct-taped his mouth, cinched him up, and sent him to Cairo," says one FBI official, to be tortured by Egyptian intelligence agents. "At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, 'You're going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f*ck her.' So we lost that fight."
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"arresting and detaining hundreds without charge or benefit of counsel. In many instances, the families are never contacted, and have no way of contacting their family members. The sweeps are done on a closed basis, with no information provided to the press; many of the detainees are never charged, but held on an indefinite basis as "material witnesses." Many of these detainees are still in custody. (Stephen Pizzo/Daily Misleader, Human Rights Watch)
Attack on civil libertiesdozens of online informational Web sites are shut down as a precaution against terrorists compiling information. Some of the sites include information for communities warning against the hazards of potential risks or accidents at local chemical and hazardous materials plants; online maps used by first responders such as police and fire departments; and academic studies warning of the dangers posed by nuclear power plants. (Stephen Pizzo/Daily Misleader)
Conservative smear campaignsIn April 2002, she will call for an investigation into whether Bush and other government officials may have been warned of the 9/11 attacks. Instead of answers, she is roundly attacked by both Democrats and Republicans as "a traitor, a freak, a conspiracy nut and 'a looney' -- the latter by her state's Democratic senator...." Charges that she is accusing the administration of being complicit in the attacks, which she never said, are leveled against her. McKinney loses her bid for re-election. (Greg Palast, CCR)
Military-industrial complexits primary goal is investing in companies providing goods and services for homeland security. Other board members include Henry Kissinger and Perle's close associate and friend Gerald Hillman. The firm retains Arab arms dealer and investor Adnan Khashoggi to help secure lucrative contracts with Saudi Arabia. (Perle and his cohorts are vocal critics of Saudi Arabia, which they consider a prime supporter of anti-American terrorism, but apparently their criticism of the Saudis doesn't interfere with their efforts to profit from the Sauds.) More about Perle, Hillman, Khashoggi, and Trireme can be found elsewhere in this site. (Seymour Hersh)
"Culture Wars"issues a report entitled "Defending Civilization: How Our Universities are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It." The report contends that "college and university faculty have been the weak link" in the nation's response to the 9/11 attacks, and contends that America's educational institutions are bent on teaching a "pervasive moral relativism" which endorses the notion that Western civilization is "the primary source of the world's ills." The thrust of the report is that the entire American academic community is permeated by terrorist-supporting traitors. "We learn from history that when a nation's intellectuals are unwilling to defend its civilization, they give comfort to its adversaries." As "proof," it lists 117 alleged instances of unpatriotic statements that were made after the attacks, with the names of the perpetrators listed.
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceIn a speech, conservative columnist Ann Coulter says, "A cruise missile is more important than Head Start." (Intervention Magazine)
Secrecy of Bush administrationA 1978 law known as the Presidential Records Act provides for the release of presidential papers 12 years after the president leaves office, so Reagan's papers would have been released next year. Reagan issued an order in 1989 that called for disclosure of most of his official papers 12 years after he left office (the papers should have become available on January 20 of this year), but under the new executive order the papers can be kept secret even if the president in question wants them released. Bush Jr.'s father was Vice President during the Reagan administration. Observers note that now Bush's papers detailing the decision-making process in the war on terrorism can now remain secret forever; the order reverses the law, which provided that all documents must be released by the national archivist "as rapidly and completely as possible," while the new order maintains that they remain secret unless a specific party can prove to the administration's satisfaction that they have "a demonstrated, specific need" for the papers -- a difficult, "Catch-22" task, considering the party cannot see the documents in question until they are released. Reagan's papers were due to be released the day of Bush's inauguration, but White House counsel Alberto Gonzales blocked their release. In March 2001, Bush signed a temporary orders delaying the release of these papers for 90 days, and then signed for another 90 day delay before signing this order making the change permanent. The order follows Bush's earlier decision to ship his gubernatorial records to his father's presidential library at Texas A&M, where they became inaccessible (the Texas A&M administration immediately decided that Texas's Public Information Act didn't apply to them, and threatened any university employee with termination if they said or wrote anything that, in their words, could "cause embarrassment to the Bush family.") Ironically, the order is actually written by Brett Kavanaugh, a White House lawyer who formerly worked for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Starr and Kavanaugh fought against the Clinton efforts to invoke a "deliberative process" privilege to keep information from being released in the Whitewater investigation; Kavanugh's order enshrines the same privilege he fought while a member of Starr's team in an executive order. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales insists that the order actually makes more information available to the public, a tremendous lie. (In the spring of 2002, much, but not all, of the Reagan documents in question will be released.) (CCR, Nation, Kevin Phillips, Paul Waldman, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Conservative media slanta tome purporting to expose the "liberal bias" of CBS News in general and anchor/managing editor Dan Rather in particular. Goldberg's evidence for his case is shoddily researched and easily disproven, though conservatives embrace his book as "proof" of the liberal bias of the news media that they have insisted exists for the last twenty years or more. Central to Goldberg's contention is his assertion that the news media routinely identify conservatives as right-wing proponents, while routinely cloaking the allegiances of liberals. Empirical research proves the exact opposite: the average liberal is 30% more likely to be identified as a liberal than is his conservative counterpart. Congressman Barney Frank, the gay Democrat from southern Boston, was called a liberal more than twice as frequently as Representative Dick Armey was labeled a conservative. Goldberg also insists that conservative celebrities such as Tom Selleck and Bruce Willis are far more likely to be labeled for their beliefs than left-wing celebs such as Barbra Streisand or Rob Reiner; again, research proves the exact opposite, with Streisand and Reiner identified as liberals four times more than Selleck or Willis were labeled as conservatives. The Stanford professor who performs the research, Geoffrey Nunberg, also notes that, in the top twenty American newspapers that he researched, "the word 'media' appears within seven words of 'liberal bias' 469 times and within seven words of 'conservative bias' just 17 times -- a twenty-seven fold discrepancy. Now there's a difference that truly deserves to be called staggering.... Certainly critics on the left haven't been silent about what they take to be conservative bias in the media, whether in the pages of political reviews or in dozens of recent books. But the press has given their charges virtually no attention, while giving huge play to complaints from the right about liberal bias." Joe Conason writes, "Those numbers show that the media are slanted in favor of critics like Goldberg, which helps explain why his book sold so well despite its intellectual vacuity." (Joe Conason)
Prewar intelligence on IraqThe two defectors, who claim to be a lieutenant general and a captain, respectively, from Hussein's army, describe in vivid terms the activities at Salman Pak -- training pilots for suicide missions very similar to those of 9/11, using a real but grounded Boeing 747 in their training. PBS will make a hard-hitting segment of its signature show Frontline from the interviews titled "Gunning for Saddam," bolstered by commentary and analysis supplied by a number of administration officials and right-wing commentators, including former CIA director and leading neoconservative James Woolsey, former Defense Board member Richard Perle, former Bush I secretary of state James Baker, former UNSCOM commission chairman Richard Butler, former Bush I national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, neoconservative author Laurie Mylroie (who has been labeled a "crackpot" for her wild, unsubstantiated theories that Hussein is behind virtually all of the Islamic terrorist threats currently in existence, but is given great credence by the PBS report), and others. Scowcroft and Baker advocate dealing with Hussein separately from al-Qaeda, and state that they believe al-Qaeda and bin Laden are far bigger threats to America's safety. Woolsey, Perle, Butler, and Mylroie insist that dealing with Hussein and al-Qaeda are one and the same. No other viewpoints are welcome on the segment, except for a short denial by Hussein's ambassador to the US.
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"A company e-mail sent today reads in part, "President Bush cannot talk about Dabhol as was previously mentioned." The e-mail also directs Bush economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey, who is a former consultant to Enron, to not discuss Dabhol. Enron, who along with the Bush administration was trying to strong-arm India into buying the Dabhol plant, abandons its attempts to sell the plant. Enron will file for bankruptcy in December. Bush had intended to press Enron's case over the Dabhol power plant with India's foreign minister, but after Enron's disclosure, removes the item from his agenda. (Albion Monitor/AlterNet, David Corn)
"Do you have blacks, too?" George W. Bush, to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Nov. 8, 2001 (Brazil has one of the largest populations of African descent in the Western Hemisphere.)
War in AfghanistanMany local warlords and militias abruptly shift their alliances from the Taliban to the Alliance after the fall of the city. The rest of Northern Afghanistan is abandoned by the Taliban in the next few days, except the city of Kunduz, to which most of the Taliban flee. Kunduz falls on November 25, but not before most of the thousands of fighters there are airlifted out. In the following months and years to come, the Taliban will regroup in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and will draw thousands of new recruits, mainly from the more hardline madrassahs, or religious schools, in the region. (CCR, Wikipedia)
Medical research and fundingThat decision was to refrain from intervening in states' decisions to allow doctors to end a terminally end patient's life upon request. Ashcroft's decision isn't based in any change in the law, but on a dubious legal opinion from Justice Department lawyers that, in turn, is based on a Supreme Court decision revolving around the case of a doctor who was, in effect, acting as a drug dealer -- in other words, using a completely inapplicable case upon which to base a decision to abrogate the rights of the states. Another basis for the decision is a 1984 amendment to the Controlled Substances Act which allows the attorney general to revoke a doctor's medical license for acts contrary to the "public interest." The amendment was written to combat drug abuse, and had nothing to do with physician-assisted suicide; additionally, in Peter Singer's words, "[t]he Justice Department assumes that decisions about what is or is not in the 'public interest' cannot be left to the states, but must be decided in Washington, and is better decided by a single, unelected official -- the attorney general -- than by the voters or by the legislature. This is in direct opposition to the view of the US Supreme Court, which specifically upheld the states' role in the area of physician-assisted suicide in its 1997 decision, Washington v. Glucksberg. Ashcroft was, as an amicus brief filed by a number of bioethicists and lawyers against the attorney general put it, 'hijacking an unrelated statute in order to capture new powers for the federal government.'"
War in Afghanistan(though Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters will continue to resist American forces well into 2007 and beyond). Documents are found in abandoned Taliban facilities that show bin Laden's group is trying to develop nuclear weapons. The search for bin Laden continues after the Taliban abandons the fight, but he is never located. He is presumed to have fled first to Pakistan; his whereabouts afterwards are less certain. The US begins to work with the ragged Northern Alliance to reform an Afghani government, but tribal rivalries, chronic defections, and lack of cooperation between rival groups within the alliance make the formation of a legitimate government difficult. As of summer 2003, most of Afghanistan is still in anarchy. Various areas of the country are controlled by rival factions within the putative alliance, by factions of the Taliban, or are under no control at all except for local warlords and strongmen. Hamid Karzai, the US-backed "prime minister" of Afghanistan, in actuality controls the region around the capital city of Kabul and little else. (CCR)
9/11 attacksBush tells the United Nations General Assembly, "We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty." (United Nations/Killtown)
Conservative media slantthe nation's media outlets report on the lengthy investigation by the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago into the Florida elections of 2000. According to the headlines from newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among others, the NORC report declares that Bush would have been the winner of the recounts under almost any scenario. Newsday is one of the few major news outlets to report the study as "inconclusive." The same tale is echoed on television. In reality, of the 44 scenarios studied by NORC, covering eleven different scenarios producing four sets of results based on different standards of agreement between the coders examining the ballots, the results are even: 22 scenarios favor Bush, and 22 favor Gore. Most of the scenarios favoring Bush come from instances where undervotes would be counted but not overvotes. The NORC report is also clear that, if all the disputed votes in Florida were counted, Gore would have been the winner. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida Supreme Court justice Terry Lewis, who would have overseen the recount had the US Supreme Court allowed it to proceed, would have allowed both undervotes and overvotes to be counted. "Logically," says Lewis, "if you can look at a ballot and see, this is a vote for Bush or a vote for Gore, then you would have to count it." The fact that Gore would have won under these conditions is actually contained in many news stories, but buried deep in the columns; meanwhile, the headlines and opening paragraphs flatly contradict the NORC report. (Paul Waldman)
War in AfghanistanKabul, Afghanistan's capital, falls to the Northern Alliance. The Taliban abandon the rest of the country over the next few weeks. As the New Yorker reports, "The initial American aim in Afghanistan had been not to eliminate the Taliban's presence there entirely but to undermine the regime and al-Qaeda while leaving intact so-called moderate Taliban elements that would play a role in a new postwar government. This would insure that Pakistan would not end up with a regime on its border dominated by the Northern Alliance." The surprisingly quick fall of Kabul ruins this plan. (CCR)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"The president will decide which defendants will be tried by military tribunals. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will appoint each panel and set its rules and procedures, including the level of proof needed for a conviction. There is no provision for an appeal to US civil courts or international tribunals. Only the president or the secretary of defense has the authority to overturn a decision. Such military tribunals were in the Civil War and again in World War II. But experts say that while there is precedent, aspects of the order are probably unconstitutional. The New York Times writes, "There is still no practical or legal justification for having the tribunals." The tribunals "still constitute a separate, inferior system of justice, shielded from independent judicial review." A year after the order is issued, the Washington Post confirms that "the Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- US citizens and non-citizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system." The order remands to a military tribunal any foreign national about whom he has "reason to believe" a "rumor of cohabitation with a terrorist organization, a nihilist author, or an anarchist idea," in the words of Lewis Lapham. Bush concedes that the order sets aside "the principles of law and the rules of evidence." (CCR, Lewis Lapham)
War in AfghanistanUS warplanes drop two 500-pound bombs on the al-Jazeera bureau in Kabul, destroying it utterly. The media outlet had previously informed the military of the exact location of their building in the hopes that it would not be targeted. The US defends the destruction of the news building by saying it is "a known al-Qaeda facility." While al-Jazeera is by no means an American-friendly media outlet, it is not allied with al-Qaeda or any known terrorist organizations. (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
War in AfghanistanNorthern Alliance forces, supported by US troops and air assaults, take the town of Kunduz, occupied by hundreds of Taliban forces fleeing the assault. The Taliban forces attempt to negotiate surrender terms, as is standard practice among Afghani tribes, but the Bush administration heatedly opposes any surrender terms, and insist that the town be taken and the Taliban forces eradicated. Over 4000 Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters are forced to surrender. On November 26, Bush brags to the media, "We're smoking them out. They're running, and now we're bringing them to justice." Bush's dramatic announcement is undermined by reports that Pakistani aircraft flew into Kunduz to evacuate Pakistanis trapped there; Defense Secretary Rumsfeld falsely claimed a week earlier that any rescue aircraft spotted by US or Northern Alliance troops would be shot down. After the siege of Kunduz ends, General Richard Myers says that it would have been almost impossible for any aircraft to land due to damage to the runways. The Pakistani government also insists that no Pakistani troops were in Kunduz and that reports of a Pakistani airlift were "total rubbish. Hogwash." It is later proven that Pakistani aircraft indeed flew Pakistanis to safety, with the approval of the Bush administration. The supposedly controlled evacuation got out of control, and an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda members escaped with the Pakistanis. "Dirt got through the screen," says a senior intelligence official.
Islamist terrorismsuccessfully identifies a high-level al-Qaeda meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, and joins in an attack that kills bin Laden military chief Mohammed Atef. Atef is considered al-Qaeda's military commander, and one of its top leaders. He is apparently the only top level al-Qaeda or Taliban leader killed or captured in the Afghan war. (AP/RedNova)
Attack on civil libertiesassumed by Bush: "Misadvised by a frustrated and panic-stricken attorney general, a president of the United States has just assumed what amounts to dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens," he writes. "Intimidated by terrorists and inflamed by a passion for rough justice, we are letting George W. Bush get away with the replacement of the American rule of law with military kangaroo courts. In his infamous emergency order, Bush admits to dismissing 'the principles of law and the rules of evidence' that undergird America's system of justice. He seizes the power to circumvent the courts and set up his own drumhead tribunals -- panels of officers who will sit in judgment of non-citizens who the president need only claim 'reason to believe' are members of terrorist organizations. Not content with his previous decision to permit police to eavesdrop on a suspect's conversations with an attorney, Bush now strips the alien accused of even the limited rights afforded by a court-martial. His kangaroo court can conceal evidence by citing national security, make up its own rules, find a defendant guilty even if a third of the officers disagree, and execute the alien with no review by any civilian court. No longer does the judicial branch and an independent jury stand between the government and the accused. In lieu of those checks and balances central to our legal system, non-citizens face an executive that is now investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer or executioner. In an Orwellian twist, Bush's order calls this Soviet-style abomination 'a full and fair trial.'" (New York Times/CommonDreams)
War in Afghanistanlater claims that his troops and other Northern Alliance fighters held back at the request of the US from sweeping into Kandahar at this time. The reasoning was that the US didn't want the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance to conquer Pashtun areas. But Khan maintains "we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters." British newspapers at the time report bin Laden is surrounded in a 30-mile area, but the conquest of Kandahar takes weeks without the Northern Alliance and bin Laden slips away. (CCR)
War in AfghanistanIn one example, the CIA pays a top officer of the Northern Alliance $1 million for him to commit his troops to a morning battle against the Taliban near the town of Mazar-i-Sharif. The warlord's troops are routed; the CIA pays him another million to regroup his forces and attack again that afternoon. (Seymour Hersh)
War in AfghanistanMany senior leaders are in the group. They had walked a long trek from bombing in the Tora Bora region. There are two main routes out of the Tora Bora cave complex to Pakistan. The US bombed only one route, so the 600 escaped unattacked using the other route. Hundreds continue to use the escape route for weeks, generally unbothered by US bombing or Pakistani border guards. US officials later privately admit they lost a golden opportunity to close a trap. On the same day, the media reports that the US is studying routes bin Laden might use to escape Tora Bora, but the one escape route isn't closed, and apparently bin Laden and others escape into Pakistan using this route weeks later. On April 17, 2002, the Washington Post will report that Bush officials knew without a doubt that bin Laden was trapped in Tora Bora, but chose not to send US troops in to hunt him down, and in effect allowed bin Laden to escape.
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityCheney names no specific countries, but the list is known to include Iraq, Yemen, Indonesia, the Phillippines, Malaysia, and Somalia, the East African nation that has been in anarchy for over a decade and is known to be a haven for al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists. Britain is known to be cool over the prospects of such grandiose interventions, with a Foreign Office source saying, "Thinking is going on about a second phase but no decision has been taken yet and we would never speculate on it." "There are a great many places round the world where there are cells of the al-Qaeda organization," Cheney tells a BBC outlet. "Maybe as many as 40 or 50. We're working with the services of other countries and other governments to try to wrap those organizations up." Months later, Bush will tell audiences that up to 60 nations may be targeted for American action. (Guardian, Foreign Policy in Focus)
Partisan Bush appointeesSembler is most noted for his horrendous history as the co-director, with his wife Betty, of a large private juvenile rehabilitation program called STRAIGHT, for 16 years before it was forcibly broken apart in 1993. The program, which operated in nine states, was brought down by an array of complaints of abuse of its inmates which spanned the range from enforced confinement and hunger to beatings and even rapes.
Conservative media slantdefends his choice to put only political commentators who supported the Bush administration on the air by saying that he could find no credible spokespersons for the anti-war contingent, and that apart from a few Hollywood celebrities, there wasn't enough dissent in the country "to warrant coverage." MSNBC and other mainstream US media outlets use Pentagon-supplied war footage from Afghanistan without question. When the few independent reporters in Afghanistan sent in footage of the Taliban as they more often were: in Lapham's words, "ragged fugitives...lightly armed, often barefoot, their cause lost without a fight...." the American media "reinforced the adjectives, airbrushed out the footage of dogs devouring dead bodies on the road to Kunduz, dressed up the headlines with 'monsters' and 'diabolical henchmen' overseeing 'a web of hate.' Fox News correspondant Geraldo Rivera waves a pistol in front of the cameras, telling viewers he would shoot Osama bin Laden himself if the opportunity arose. (Lewis Lapham)
Iraq-Niger scandalThe Director-General of the French consortium that oversees all of Niger's uranium transactions has told the US ambassador that "there was no possibility" that Niger had diverted any of the uranium from its two mines to Iraq. (Frank Rich [PDF file])
Iraq war and occupationHe also asks Rumsfeld to tell General Tommy Franks, the commander of the US's CENTCOM military command, to begin working on plans to "protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to." Bush says that this war planning must remain secret. Rumsfeld acknowledges Bush's request for secrecy, telling him that such secrecy will be easy because Rumsfeld is "refreshing" all of America's war plans. Reporter Bob Woodward writes, "On this day, Bush formally set in motion the chain of events that would lead to the invasion of Iraq 16 months later." ...The Iraq war plan was the chessboard on which Rumsfeld would test, develop, expand and modify his ideas about military transformation. And the driving concept was 'less is more' -- new thinking about a lighter, swifter, smaller force that could do the job better. Rumsfeld's blitzkrieg would vindicate his leadership of the Pentagon."
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityThere are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win." A short time later, it is reported that "the US has honed a hit list of countries to target for military action in rogue regions across the globe where it believes terror cells flourish," including Iraq. (CCR)
War in AfghanistanA film titled "Afghan Massacre" tells of American Special Forces took control of the operation, re-directed the containers carrying the living and dead into the desert and stood by as survivors were shot and buried. Director Jamie Doran says that approximately 7,500 captured Taliban soldiers were sent to a prison at Kalai Janghi, or Qala-i-Janghi, including "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. Riots soon broke out, and were quelled after three days of intense violence; one American, Mike Spann, is killed; after covering the Spann and Lindh stories, the Western journalists left. The prisoners were then taken to Kalai Zeini for holding. They were supposed to be processed by American officials, who were to sort out the terrorists from the simple foot soldiers and so on, and then interned at Sheberghan prison. Unfortunately, Sheberghan was only built to hold 500-600 prisoners, but the Americans and Afghanis wedge 3,000 Taliban prisoners into the building. Some of the remaining 4500 or so prisoners were sold to their respective security agencies, where they were tortured for information and most likely killed, and the rest were apparently massacred by being crammed into airtight containers and driven in trucks to Sheborghan; most of them die en route. Doran says, "...in many ways, in the great Afghan tradition, sadly, this massacre was preplanned. A number of these people who surrendered at Kunduz were never, ever expected to make it [out] alive."
9/11 attacksBush performs an about-face and signs legislation to create the new Department of Homeland Security. He names close friend and current homeland security chief Tom Ridge to head the new department. He also said he will nominate Navy Secretary Gordon England to be Ridge's deputy, and Asa Hutchinson, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, to be undersecretary of border and transportation security. It is the largest reorganization and expansion of the federal government since the founding of the Defense Department in 1947. Former Bush official John DiIulio describes the creation of the department as "incredibly slapdash" and a "politically timed reversal" which had received little more than "talking-points deliberation" before suddenly being adopted. Democrats like Joseph Lieberman and Max Cleland, who had months earlier written legislation urging just such a reorganization, immediately throw their support to Bush's idea, not realizing that Bush's political machine will use it to attack Democrats later on down the line. The DHS legislation also has a provision that none of the department's employees can have civil service protection, putting supportive Democrats in the untenable position of either voting for the department and thereby voting against unions, or voting against the legislation and being tarred as traitors. "I don't think you make America more safe by making the workers that protect America more unsafe," says Cleland. Most Senate Democrats vote against the legislation, insisting that union protections be added before they will approve it; Bush promptly smears the Democrats' patriotism, telling one audience, "The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people." (CCR, Al Franken)
War in AfghanistanApparently, as US forces approach, new Afghanistan head Hamid Karzai makes a deal with the Taliban, giving them a general amnesty in return for surrender of the city. Taliban's leader Mullah Omar is allowed to escape as part of the deal. But the US says it won't abide by the deal and Karzai then says he won't let Omar go free after all. Taliban forces begin surrendering on December 7, but Omar manages to escape. Karzai is later "outed" as a former paid consultant for Unocal. (Washington Post/From the Wilderness)
Iraq war and occupationfor the first time that Iraq may be the next target for US military intervention, saying, "As for Mr. Saddam Hussein, he needs to let inspectors back in his country to show us that he is not developing weapons of mass destruction." (Frank Rich [PDF file])
Osama bin LadenSpecial Forces soldiers sit by waiting for orders and watch two helicopters fly into the area where bin Laden was believed to be, load up passengers, and fly toward Pakistan. No other soldiers have come forward to corroborate the story, but bin Laden is widely believed to have been in the Tora Bora area at the time. Newsweek separately reports that many locals "claim that mysterious black helicopters swept in, flying low over the mountains at night, and scooped up al-Qaeda's top leaders." (CCR)
Domestic terrorismUSAMRIID gave it to Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio; the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Defense Research Establishment Suffield, in Canada; the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, in Utah; and the Chemical Defense Establishment at Porton Down, Britain. These in turn sent it to seven more labs, for a total of a dozen. But only five labs total received the virulent form, and some of these may have received strains that were too old (it is known the anthrax used was two years old or less). (CCR)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityTenet's presentation to Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice includes the fact that two Pakistani scientists who previously offered to help Libya build a nuclear bomb had also met with Osama bin Laden. (US government officials later find that bin Laden was quite curious as to what his next steps should be if he already possessed enriched uranium.) Cheney has already been thinking about how to handle with what he calls "a low-probability, high-impact event;" he says after Tenet's briefing, "If there's a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response." Suskind writes that this "Cheney doctrine," or what he calls the "One Percent Doctrine," lets Bush and Cheney evade analytic debate and "rely on impulse and improvisation to a degree that was without precedent for a modern president." It also constricts the mission of the intelligence and counterterrorism professionals -- "the invisibles," Suskind calls them -- who, in the days and months that follow, come to believe that "their jobs were not to help shape policy, but to affirm it." From what Suskind can glean, the actual policy direction comes from Cheney, to the point where Cheney earns the nickname "Edgar," as in Edgar Bergen, casting the president as the famous ventriloquist's dummy. (Washington Post)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityHomeland Security Director Tom Ridge issues the first of many "indefinite" terror alerts. The Bush administration later admits that many of these terror alerts were issued without basis in fact, and were issued to distract the American media and populace from news releases that reflected unfavorably on the adminstration. (CCR)
Middle East unrestWar nearly breaks out between Israeli and Palestinian forces, as Israeli military attacks on Palestinian strongholds coincide with Palestinian and terrorist attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets. (CCR)
War in AfghanistanMassive opium planting gets underway all across Afghanistan. Farmers are encouraged by warlords allied with the US to plant "as much opium as possible." (Independent/Observer/From the Wilderness)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"along with hundreds of surrendering Taliban fighters who are then sent to the Qala-e-Jangi prison complex near Mazar-e Sharif. Among the surrendering Taliban forces, some non-Afghan fighters, known as Afghan Arabs, instigate a prison riot among the 600 prisoners by detonating grenades they had concealed in their clothing, attacking Northern Alliance guards and seizing weapons. The riot is brutally quashed by American air strikes, and over 500 prisoners are killed. Two American prisoners, Hamdi and John Walker Lindh, are among the survivors. Hamdi is designated an "enemy combatant" and incarcerated without charge or legal representation. A challenge to his status is mounted by civil libertarians, and Federal judge Robert Doumar, a staunch Republican, who will hear the challenges to Hamdi's status, says he is unable to find a case of any kind where a lawyer couldn't meet with his or her client. "This case," says Doumar, "sets the most interesting precedent...in Anglo-American jurisprudence since the days of the Star Chamber." Doumar will grant Hamdi a lawyer, but the US Court of Appeals will reverse Doumar's decision, ruling that a "wartime" president has the right to indefinitely detain a US citizen captured as an enemy combatant on the battlefield and deny that person access to a lawyer. (Wikipedia, Peter Singer)