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"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." -- George W. Bush, September 13, 2001 (juxtapose this with his statement of March 13, 2002: "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority.")
9/11 attackseven 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. 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. According to Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, two private planes carrying 140 members of the royal family and their entourages are allowed to leave after initially being grounded by the FBI. 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. The Saudis are apparently provided with private planes due to the intervention of 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, and represented Bush Jr. in the Florida recount lawsuits. The Lear jet made 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. The FAA claims that none of these flights are in their logs.
Iraq war and occupationIn a May 2003 interview, Wolfowitz said they discussed with Bush the prospects of launching an attack against Iraq, for no apparent reason other than a "gut feeling" Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks." According to Wolfowitz, the subject of debate was not "whether, but when," and if Afghanistan should be invaded before Iraq. Their justification for the decision to invade is, he said, because Hussein publicly praised the terrorist attacks on 9/11. In another interview after the invasion, Rumsfeld acknowledged that US policy advocated "regime change" in Iraq since the 1990s. He said, "If you go back and look at the debate in the Congress and the debate in the United Nations, what we said was the President said that this is a dangerous regime, the policy of the United States government has been regime change since the mid to late 1990s...and that regime has now been changed. That is a very good thing." Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were two of the signers of a 1998 letter to Bill Clinton urging an invasion of Iraq, a suggestion Clinton refused to take. Bob Woodward notes in his book, Bush at War, that already Bush is impatient with discussion: "Bush was tired of rhetoric," Woodward writes. "The president wanted to kill somebody." From then on, Bush will constantly push for immediate action, saying repeatedly, "We've got to move fast" and "We've got to start showing results." (CCR, Bob Woodward/Peter Singer)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants""He's having a bad time," the elder Bush tells Bandar. "Help him out." In a photo of their meeting, which includes Cheney, Rice, and Bandar's aide Rihab Massoud, both Bush and Bandar are brandishing cigars as they stand on the Truman Balcony of the White House.
Conservative hate speech and intolerance"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)
Conservative hate speech and intoleranceIn 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. Walter Cronkite, the famed former news anchor for CBS, later writes, "Robertson and Falwell both shamefully blamed America's courts and the highest levels of our government for the horrific September 11 attacks on our nation. They said it happened because we 'insulted God.' Falwell went on to blame feminists, pro-choice Americans and other groups he despises." Robertson will continue on with his 700 Club, making progressively more bizarre and hateful pronouncements. (Sullivan County, Interfaith Alliance)
9/11 attacksLess than a year later, Bush will veto $150 million in emergency first-responder grants. Bush touts his administration's $3.5 billion in "new" funding for first responders, but the Congressional Quarterly exposes the claim as under-the-table double-entry bookkeeping, with changes in the accounting procedures that actually lower the amount of new monies going to cities, counties, and states to zero. Bob Beckwith, the tired firefighter in the photo op, will consider attending the 2003 State of the Union Address as a silent protest, but decides not to go. During the speech, Bush pronounces a "crusade...against a new kind of evil," sparking outrage among Muslims and moderate Christians both in the US and abroad, who do not appreciate his apparent advocacy of a Christian holy war. Bush later backs off of his characterization, but others in the evangelical community, particularly Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy and Franklin Graham, have continued to use the term, with all of its connotations. (Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, Kevin Phillips)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityAs she later tells CBS's 60 Minutes, she almost immediately finds a pattern of deliberate failure in her translation department. Her boss says, "Let the documents pile up so we can show it and say that we need more translators and expand the department." She claims that if she wasn't slowing down enough, her supervisor would delete her work. Meanwhile, FBI agents working on the 9/11 investigation would call and ask for urgently needed translations. Senator Charles Grassley says of her charges, "she's credible and the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story." He points out that the speed of such translation might make the difference between a terrorist bombing succeeding or failing. In January 2002, FBI officials tell government auditors that translator shortages have resulted in "the accumulation of thousands of hours of audio tapes and pages" of untranslated material. Edmonds, who will be fired in January 2002 for reporting her concerns about sabotage, intimidation, corruption and incompetence to her superiors, has a whistleblower lawsuit pending against the FBI for these and other charges. She is threatened with jail if she talks to the media, a lawmaker, or even an attorney, but such threats have not stopped her from talking about her experience with the FBI. (CCR, Antiwar.com)
Iraq war and occupationReporters meet with AEI stalwarts Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former UN ambassador; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; AEI scholar and Ahmad Chalabi champion David Wurmser; and AEI fellow Michael Ledeen. Kirkpatrick introduces AEI scholar Laurie Mylroie, who gets straight to the point: while there is only circumstantial evidence that the 9/11 attacks had been carried out by al-Qaeda, they had to have been orchestrated by Saddam Hussein; in fact, there's evidence, according to Mylroie, that Hussein is behind virtually all the world's terrorism over the last eight years. Al-Qaeda, she says, lacks the "sophistication" and "organization" to pull off such an operation; the terrorist group is more like the Keystone Kops than a serious threat. "There's evidence to suggest that Iraq was involved with bin Laden in the 1998 bombing (of two US embassies in Africa) because these bombings occurred in a certain context." Reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write, "For Mylroie, context was evidence." She concludes that all US intelligence on terrorism should be scrubbed and re-evaluated with the focus on Iraq: "[A] review will conclude that a good bit of the terrorism we have experienced since the Gulf War is merely another phase of the Gulf War -- Saddam's part of the Gulf War." Wurmser then adds, "We really do have to begin with Iraq," and Ledeen says the Bush administration should "unleash" Chalabi's INC. "The debris from the World Trade Center had barely settled and cooled," write Isikoff and Corn, "and Mylroie and her allies were already pushing a war to overthrow Saddam."
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityin many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism." In his briefing, Tenet advocates "a strategy to create 'a northern front, closing the safe haven [of Afghanistan].' His idea [is] that Afghan opposition forces, aided by the United States, would move first against the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, try to break the Taliban's grip on that city and open up the border with Uzbekistan. From there the campaign could move to other cities in the north..." Tenet also explains that CIA had begun working with a number of tribal leaders to stir up resistance in the south the previous year. In other words, the exact military strategy that eventually transpires had been prepared by the CIA over the past four years. Tenet then turns to a top secret document called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix," which describes covert operations in 80 countries that are either underway or now recommended. The actions range from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks. By comparison, the military, which is the normal planner of military campaigns, is caught relatively unprepared and defers to the CIA plans. Kenneth Pollack, a former NSC staff member, later recalls of the briefing, "From the first moments after September 11th, there was a group of people both inside the administration and out who believed that the war on terrorism should target Iraq-- in fact, should target Iraq first. They made Saddam Hussein out to be the greatest threat to the United States and the source of all evil, if not in the world, then certainly in the Middle East. And they were pushing very early on to make Iraq the first stop in the war on terrorism." The tension in the administration centers on the conflict between two groups: one, led by Colin Powell, wants to go slow on Iraq and ensure that any retaliation be narrowly focused and has allied support; the other, spearheaded by the Pentagon's Paul Wolfowitz, has a broad agenda for domination of the Middle East beginning with the occupation of Iraq, and wants to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to begin carrying this agenda out. Wolfowitz, with the support of, among others, Cheney and Rumsfeld, will win out. (CCR, PBS)
War in AfghanistanBoth have been planned several years in advance. Operation Swift Sword 2, the biggest deployment of British troops since the Falklands War, sends 22,000 British troops to Oman, a country 200 miles from Pakistan. It runs from September 15 to October 26. Meanwhile, 23,000 US troops take part in Operation Bright Star, from October 8 to November 1. In Egypt, they join 50,000 soldiers from Egypt, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Jordan and Kuwait for what is possibly the largest war game of all time. At the same time two US carrier battle groups arrive on station in the Gulf of Arabia just off the Pakistani coast. Given other reports suggesting the US was planning a war in Afghanistan for mid-October, it is hard to believe that all the troop movements towards Southwest Asia were mere coincidence. (CCR, From the Wilderness)
Anti-terrorism and homeland security"If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken." Two days later, he says, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" On December 28, a few weeks after the Afghanistan war ends, Bush says, "Our objective is more than bin Laden." Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" and fails to mention bin Laden. On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: "We're going to find him." But only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, "He's a person who's now been marginalized.... I just don't spend that much time on him.... I truly am not that concerned about him." Instead, Bush is "deeply concerned about Iraq." The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Myers states on April 6: "The goal has never been to get bin Laden." In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden's name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden's death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, later points out: "There appears to be a real disconnect" between the US military's conquest of Afghanistan and "the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden." (CCR, September 11 News)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityBush states in a Newsweek interview, "When I take action I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." (NewsMax)
Iraq war and occupationThe host, Tim Russert, says, "If we determine that Saddam Hussein is also harboring terrorists, and there's a track record there, would we have any reluctance of going after Saddam?" Cheney answers bluntly, "No." Cheney admits there is no evidence linking Hussein to terrorism or the 9/11 attacks, an answer that will change dramatically over the ensuing months. (Frank Rich [PDF file])
Iraq war and occupationThe document also directs the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq. Publicly, Bush demands that the Taliban immediately turn over bin Laden and any al-Qaeda members located in Afghanistan, and tells Powell, "We;ll attack them with missiles, bombers, and boots on the ground. ...Let's hit them hard. We want to signal this is a change from the past. We want to hit as soon as possible." According to author Bob Woodward, Powell is "slightly taken aback" that Bush wanted to issue such an ultimatum. Bush will issue the ultimatum himself on September 20.
Bush's foreign policies"This is the imperial edict of a superpower out to exploit its present supremacy to make itself Lord Protector of the universe. And against whom is this threat directed? China and Russia, the only great power rivals to US supremacy. One imagines that the National Security Strategy was read closely in Moscow and Beijing." (Pat Buchanan)
9/11 attacksThe economy slowly returns to normal. The attacks cause more than $20 billion in property damage to buildings in New York City and Washington. The work stoppage and other loss of economic output costs about another $47 billion, making the attacks the costliest man-made disaster in US history. (CCR)
Islamist terrorismdescribes to Congress a missed opportunity to capture bin Laden. He claims that "a few years ago," he was contacted by someone he knew and trusted from the 1980s Afghan war, who claimed he could pinpoint bin Laden's location. Rohrabacher passed this information to the CIA, but found the informant wasn't contacted. After some weeks, Rohrabacher used his influence to set up a meeting with agents in the CIA, NSA and FBI. Yet even then the informant wasn't contacted, until weeks later in a "disinterested" way. Rohrabacher concludes "that our intelligence services knew about the location of bin Laden several times but were not permitted to attack him... because of decisions made by people higher up." (CCR)
9/11 attacksCBS news anchor Dan Rather tells the audience for David Letterman's talk show, "George Bush is the president.... Wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where and he'll make the call." (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
9/11 attacks"The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what's coming now. The party's over, folks.... [Military censorship of news] is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted 'dis-information.' That is routine behavior in wartime -- for all countries and all combatants -- and it makes life difficult for people who value real news. Count on it." (ESPN/Buzzflash)
Iraq war and occupationAhmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, is present, though no State Department or CIA agents are invited. Instead of focusing on the first steps in carrying out a war on terrorism, the discussions center on how the administration can use September 11 to strike at Iraq. It is shortly after this that James Woolsey goes to London to collect possible evidence showing ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda; Woolsey will return empty-handed, but that does not stop Woolsey and other members of the DPB from speaking publicly about Iraq's connection to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 bombings.
Islamist terrorismwhere he tries to convince Omar to extradite bin Laden or face an immediate US attack. Omar refuses. On September 28, Ahmed returns to Afghanistan with a group of about 10 religious leaders. He talks with Mullah Omar, who again says he will not hand over bin Laden. A senior Taliban official later claims that on these trips Mahmood in fact urges Omar not to extradite bin Laden, but instead urges him to resist the US. Another account claims Mahmood does "nothing as the visitors [pour] praise on Omar and [fails] to raise the issue" of bin Laden's extradition. Two Pakistani brigadier generals connected to the ISI also accompany Mahmood, and advise al-Qaeda to counter the coming US attack on Afghanistan by resorting to mountain guerrilla war. The advice is not followed. Other ISI officers also stay in Afghanistan to advise the Taliban. (CCR,September 11 News)
War in AfghanistanThe Taliban calls on the Afghani people and the Arab world in general to wage "holy war" against America if Afghanistan is attacked. (September 11 News)
War in AfghanistanThe invasion is originally scheduled for October 2001. To avoid war, the Taliban is told that they will accept King Zahir Shah as their ruler, and hand over bin Laden. Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik, who is the source of the information, says that he doubts even if the Taliban comply with the US demands, that war would be averted. The Taliban obviously refused the offer, as to do so would destroy their control over Afghanistan and ruin their standing within the Arab world. Instead, Naik believes that the Taliban unleashed bin Laden on America as a last-ditch effort to retain power, hoping that all-out war would break out in Central Asia and other Islamic countries would rally to Afghanistan's defense. (Truthout)
Domestic terrorismThe first anthrax letters are mailed out, two days after the anti-terrorism bill Patriot Act is first proposed. But the anthrax crisis won't begin until October 4 with the first confirmed sickness. (CCR)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"allowing non-citizens suspected of terrorism to be detained without charge for 48 hours or "an additional reasonable period of time" in the event of an "emergency or other extraordinary circumstance." The new rule is used to hold hundreds indefinitely until the Patriot Act passes in October, providing more solid grounds to hold non-citizens without charge. (CCR)
US military"Even if one imagines a major ground war against Iraq or Afghanistan, these are the sorts of things that we've been planning to do with our active duty force for a long time. If we had a five-year occupation and needed to help shepherd in new governments before we could withdraw...then conceivably you would get into the kinds of manpower requirements that would advise in favor of a draft." (ABC/Buzzflash)
War in AfghanistanUS combat aircraft are sent to reinforce US military bases in the Persian Gulf. Pakistani President Pervez Musharref assures his country that Pakistan is in no danger from American military strikes; thousands of Afghanis flee towards the Afghan-Pakistani border. (CCR, September 11 News)
Attack on civil libertiesHowever, due to Congressional opposition of its broad powers, the act is revised and reintroduced on October 2. Usually it takes months to prepare such a long and complex piece of legislation; the fact that it was introduced a mere eight days after the bombings makes one believe that it had been prepared beforehand. (CCR)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityDemocrat Joseph Biden writes, "One of the lessons we should have learned from the devastating attack of September 11 is that terrorists determined to do this nation harm can employ a wide variety of means, and that weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological, or even nuclear -- need not arrive on the tip of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a return address. That's why the Joint Chiefs of Staff argue that an ICBM launch ranks last on the 'Threat Spectrum,' while terrorists attacks constitute the greatest potential threat to our national security. The administration's obsession with missile defense -- with a price tag in excess of a quarter-trillion dollars for the layered program on the president's wish list -- is doubly troubling because of the attention and resources being diverted from critical efforts to address genuine threats." Biden's words fall on deaf ears. (Ian Williams)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityRidge later becomes secretary of a new Homeland Security Department. Accepting the post, Ridge says, "Liberty is the most precious gift we offer our citizens." The Village Voice responded, "Could Tom Ridge have said anything scarier or more telling as he accepted the post of homeland security czar? Trying to strike the bell of liberty, he sounds its death knell, depicting government not as the agent of the people's will, but as an imperious power with the authority to give us our democratic freedoms. Which means, of course, that it can also take them away." Interestingly enough, while the Bush administration used the charge that Democratic congressmen were blocking the passage of the Homeland Security bill to coerce the Democrats into voting for the bill, Democrats had been calling for the passage of a Homeland Security bill for months before September 11 without heed from the administration. Buried in the bill authorizing the new department is a provision shielding pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly from litigation related to thimerosol, an additive in many children's vaccines that contains mercury and may contribute to autism. Bush's budget director Mitch Daniels is a former Eli Lilly executive; Bush named Lilly CEO Sidney Tauzel to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. (Buzzflash, September 11 News, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Iraq war and occupationChalabi's old ally Richard Perle is the chairman of the DPB. Chalabi's aide and marketing specialist Francis Brooke recalls the meeting, which takes place with the smell of smoke from the 9/11 jetliner attack still hanging in the air, "very emotional." The group agrees with Chalabi that the US should not bother with Afghanistan, where the Taliban harbors al-Qaeda, but should instead immediately target Iraq. One participant in the meeting recalls that Chalabi made a compelling case for invading Iraq, focusing on the ease of an American victory. "He said there'd be no resistance, no guerrilla warfare from the Ba'athists, and a quick matter of establishing a government." While Chalabi has little difficulty selling the administration on moving towards an invasion of Iraq, he finds himself at odds with some officials over the rationale for such an action. Chalabi later says he and the INC would rather sell the war to the American people on philosophical grounds, as a fight against genocidal tyranny and in favor of bringing democracy to the Arab world, but that this approach is fought by the administration; administration officials want to push the concept of Iraqi WMDs. quot;Look, our focus was on Saddam's crimes, moral crimes, genocide," he says. "We were not focused on WMD. The US asked us. We didn't bring these people up; they asked us! They requested this help from us." Brooke says that no one specifically ordered the INC to focus strictly on WMDs, but "I'm a smart man. I saw what they wanted, and I adapted my strategy." In 2003, Paul Wolfowitz admits to Vanity Fair that everyone knew the WMD issue was not the strongest argument for the war, but that, for bureaucratic reasons, "we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction." As a result, the war was largely marketed domestically as a scare campaign, and the INC is enlisted to promote the danger posed by Iraq. Brooke recalls, "I sent out an all-points bulletin to our network, saying, 'Look, guys, get me a terrorist, or someone who works with terrorists. And, if you can get stuff on WMD, send it!'" (New Yorker)
Islamist terrorismmany Islamic clerics urge bin Laden to voluntarily leave Afghanistan. Bush will never discuss the ultimatum, or any possible response, with anyone besides Cheney and the other administration neocons. (CCR, September 11 News, Peter Singer)
War in AfghanistanThe Pentagon orders over 5,000 members of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard to report for active duty. Many more reservists and National Guard members are called up over the next few days. (CCR)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityFrom this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." Shortly thereafter, Bush says: "As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they've been nothing but cooperative," and "[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am." However, several experts continue to claim Saudi Arabia is being "completely unsupportive" and is giving "zero cooperation" to the 9/11 investigation. Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, "They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow.... It's better to shut it down right away." The Saudi government continues to be uncooperative to this day, and the US government continues to downplay this. (France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Turkey, the UK, Canada, Spain, Norway, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania all send troops to help the US in Afghanistan, and assist in bearing the costs. Many of these countries will later refuse to be part of the Iraq invasion.) (CCR, Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose)
Iraq war and occupationpublicly publishes a letter written by William Kristol to President Bush, advising him to quickly conquer Iraq, along with the conquest of Afghanistan, 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)
Iraq war and occupationAccording to a former British ambassador to Washington, Bush tells Blair he wants to attack Iraq immediately, but Blair convinces him that Afghanistan should be attacked first. While interesting in suggesting that Bush wanted to attack Iraq before there was any evidence connecting it to al-Qaeda, this account conflicts with evidence that the US had plans before 9/11 to attack Afghanistan by mid-October 2001. (CCR)
Iraq war and occupationBritish and American aircraft conduct strikes against Iraqi missile batteries. The British deny any connection between the bombing and the 9/11 attacks. (MidEast Web)
Conservative media slantFox News senior vice president John Moody retorts, "I'd sure prefer that to a hammer and sickle, I'll tell you that." As far as can be ascertained, no one ever suggested to Fox that a hammer and sickle display would be a good idea. Instead, Fox will lead the way in network news "cheerleading" for the idea of American military response to the attacks, and the subsequent invasion of Iraq; one of its most memorable images for the Iraq war will be that of a fighter plane flying across the screen firing its guns, then morphing into a bald eagle. Fox will also adopt the government's own "Operation Iraqi Freedom" slogan for its coverage of the Iraq invasion. And only Fox, and the New York Post, both Rupert Murdoch-owned outlets, will adopt the government-suggested term "homicide bombers" for the more commonly used term "suicide bombers." (New York Times/Paul Waldman)
War in AfghanistanThe Taliban decides not to turn Osama bin Laden over to the US. Instead, Afghani forces take up defensive positions along the Afghan-Pakistani border. (CCR, September 11 News)
War in Afghanistanthe next day, Rumsfeld will confirm that the plane has been lost. The United Arab Emirates cuts diplomatic ties with Afghanistan for not turning bin Laden over to the US; Saudi Arabia will follow suit. More American military forces are sent to the Persian Gulf. (CCR, September 11 News, Wikipedia)
Bush's foreign policiesThe US, Tajik, and Uzbek governments initially deny that any US troops have been sent there. By October 5, witnesses say a "huge military buildup" has already occurred. On October 7, the US and Uzbekistan sign a secret agreement that reportedly is "a long-term commitment to advance security and regional stability." It is later reported that the US military bases here, "originally agreed as temporary and emergency expedients, are now permanent." The US begins building a military base in the nearby country of Kyrgyzstan in December 2001. "There are no restrictions" in the agreement on what the US can do with this base, and it will be a "transportation hub" for the whole region. The base is only 200 miles from China. The building of these bases is the culmination of efforts begun long before 9/11. (CCR)
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."
Anti-terrorism and homeland securitythe US and six other countries work to freeze assets of dozens of terrorist groups. One of those organizations is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Qaddafi Islamist organization. Recognizing that he and the US have a common enemy, Qaddafi orders his intelligence service to cooperate with its American counterpart. Bin Laden calls on Pakistan's Muslims to rise up and fight. (History of the Middle East Libya Timeline, CCR, September 11 News)
"Unitary executive"Yoo's rationale, which most legal scholars believe is merely an excuse for Bush to jettison Constitutional limits on his authority as president, asserts that Bush does not need Congressional authority to attack any terrorist group or country that supports terrorism, even if they have no connection with the 9/11 attacks. Yoo argues that there are effectively "no limits" on the president's authority to wage war -- a sweeping, extralegal assertion of executive power that Constitutional scholars say goes considerably beyond any that had previously been articulated by the department and in fact goes well beyond the Constitution itself. The memo also lays the groundwork for Bush's impending invasion of Iraq. The memo is not made public until December 2004, though the memo's existence has been known since late 2001. In a footnote that explains why such broad war-making authority is needed, the memo argues that terrorist groups and their state sponsors "operate by secrecy and concealment" and it is therefore difficult to establish, by the standards of criminal law, what groups are behind particular terrorist attacks. Moreover, "it may be impossible" for Bush to disclose such evidence even if he has it without compromising classified methods and sources. The memo concludes that this should not in any way restrict the president from ordering whatever military actions "in his best judgment" he believes are necessary to protect the country. In the exercise of his power to use military force, "the president's decisions are for him alone and are unreviewable." In essence, Yoo's memo, which will be used as the foundation for the administration's arguments about the scope of presidential powers in the war on terror, says that in a time of war -- declared or undeclared -- the president can do anything he likes, without any public accountability whatsoever. A year later, the same arguments will be used by Yoo's colleague Jay Bybee to assert that the US is not bound by Congressional laws or international treaties proscribing torture during the interrogation of detainees.
Attack on civil liberties"There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do...." Fleischer was responding to comments made by Bill Maher, the host of Politically Incorrect. Maher said the hijackers were not cowards but that it was cowardly for the US to launch cruise missiles on targets thousands of miles away. Many advertisers and affiliate stations pull their support of the show in response. ABC cancels Maher's show at the end of its season because of the controversy. Several journalists are fired around the same time for criticizing Bush. (CCR)
"We have to put a stop to the idea that it is a part of everybody's civil rights to say whatever he pleases." -- Adolf Hitler
War in AfghanistanRice tells Bush that the US military is not ready to begin bombing Afghanistan, nor is it ready to send troops in; Bush retorts, "That's unacceptable!" He later tells reporter Bob Woodward that he is "ready to go" with military strikes, and says, "I rely on my instincts. I just knew that at some point in time, the American people were going to say, 'Where is he [bin Laden]? What are you doing? Where's your leadership? Where is the United States? You're all-powerful, do something.'" (Bob Woodward/Peter Singer)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityThe UN Security Council unanimously approves a US-sponsored resolution urging all countries to take action against terrorism. (CCR, September 11 News)
Iraq war and occupationUS and British planes strike Iraqi targets in the southern no-fly zone for the second time in a week. Raids in Iraq have stepped up since August, before the September 11 bombings. A US military spokesperson says that the raids are in response to "military threats" from Iraq, but gives no details. (Reuters/New York Times/American Assembler)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityIt is reported that Boston's Logan Airport has no video cameras in its terminals, gate areas or concourses; possibly it is the only major airport in the US to not have such cameras. The two other airports used by the hijackers to launch the 9/11 attacks had security cameras, but none of the footage has been released. It was previously reported that FBI agents had "examined footage from dozens of cameras at the three airports where the terrorists boarded the aircraft." (CCR)
9/11 attacksBush 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)
War in AfghanistanUS special forces begin "scouting missions" within Afghani borders. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution urging all member nations to put a stop to terrorism inside their borders (see above related item). (CCR)
Bush's foreign policiesThe sanctions have had little effect on stopping Pakistani scientists, particularly the head of its nuclear weapons program, Dr. A.Q. Khan, from providing information and technology to radical Islamist groups. "There is an awful lot of al-Qaeda sympathy within Pakistan's nuclear program," says a US intelligence official. And an American nonproliferation expert adds, "If we're incinerated next week, it will be because of HEU [highly enriched uranium] that was given to al-Qaeda by Pakistan. In October, two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists will be questioned by Pakistani officials about their close ties to Afghanistan's Taliban. The two, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmoud and Chaudry Abdul Majid, were career officials of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, working on weapons-related projects. An intelligence officer expert in the affairs of that region says that Mahmoud and Majid are "the tip of a very serious iceberg" that proves sympathy for the Taliban extends far beyond officials in Pakistan's Army. It is strongly believed that many in the Pakistani nuclear program have more loyalty to Islamic fundamentalist causes than to their country.
Islamist terrorismThe terms are that he would be held under house arrest in Peshawar and would face an international tribunal, which would decide whether to try him or hand him over to the US. The plan has both bin Laden's approval and that of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. However, the plan is vetoed by Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf, who says he "could not guarantee bin Laden's safety." But it appears the US did not want the deal: a US official later says that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort [to overthrow the Taliban] if by some lucky chance Mr. bin Laden was captured." (CCR, September 11 News)
Islamist terrorismBetween three and five ISI officers give military advice to the Taliban in late September, and at least five ISI operatives help the Taliban prepare defenses in Kandahar. None are later punished for this. Secret advisors begin to withdraw in early October, but some stay on into November. Large convoys of rifles, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan on October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan begins and after a supposed crackdown on ISI fundamentalists. The Pakistani ISI secretly gives safe passage to these convoys, despite having promised the US in September that such assistance would immediately stop. Secret ISI convoys of weapons and nonlethal supplies continue into November. An anonymous Western diplomat later states, "We did not fully understand the significance of Pakistan's role in propping up the Taliban until their guys withdrew and things went to hell fast for the Talibs." (CCR)
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