- January 4: A firefighter trade magazine with ties to the New York Fire Department calls the investigation into the collapse of the WTC a "half-baked farce." The article points out that the probe has not looked at all aspects of the disaster and has had limited access to documents and other evidence. "The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately." It concludes that a growing number of fire protection engineers have theorized that "the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers." (CCR)
- January 5: Bush sums up his thoughts on the 9/11 attacks: "And in the meantime, this teacher was going on about the curriculum, and I was thinking about what it meant for America to be under attack. It was an amazing thought. But I made up my mind that if America was under attack, we'd get them. I wasn't interested in lawyers, I wasn't interested in a bunch of debate. I was interested in finding out who did it and bringing them to justice. I also knew that they would try to hide, and anybody who provided haven, help, food, would be held accountable by the United States of America. Anyway, it was an interesting day." (White House/Killtown)
Bush asks that Congressional investigation into 9/11 be limited
- January 29: President Bush personally asks Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the congressional probe into the 9/11 attack. Bush asks that only the House and Senate Intelligence Committees look into the potential breakdowns among federal agencies that could have allowed the terrorist attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry that some lawmakers have proposed. Daschle has already been asked by Vice President Dick Cheney to mandate the same limits on the probes. "The vice president expressed the concern that a review of what happened on September 11 would take resources and personnel away from the effort in the war on terrorism," Daschle says. Daschle says he has not agreed to limit the investigation. He says, "I acknowledged that concern, and it is for that reason that the Intelligence Committee is going to begin this effort, trying to limit the scope and the overall review of what happened. ...But clearly, I think the American people are entitled to know what happened and why." Cheney has previously agreed to cooperate with such a probe in discussions with the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees.
- Senator Bob Graham, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, informs reporters that the committees will review intelligence matters only. A number of Congressional Democrats have been calling for a broader inquiry into the actions and preparations of various government agencies beyond the intelligence community. Senator Robert Torricelli says, "We do not meet our responsibilities to the American people if we do not take an honest look at the federal government and all of its agencies and let the country know what went wrong. ...The best assurance that there's not another terrorist attack on the United States is not simply to hire more federal agents or spend more money. It's to take an honest look at what went wrong. Who or what failed? There's an explanation owed to the American people." Many Democrats do not accept Bush's and Cheney's arguments that a wide-reaching inquiry would disrupt the government's attempt to fight terrorism; instead, they believe that the White House may fear a broader investigation. Daschle later agrees to the limitations on the investigations, after threats from Cheney that Democrats will be tarred as terrorist sympathizers if they fail to comply. (CNN, CNN/Killtown, Mark Crispin Miller)
Afghanistan "back-burnered" in favor of preparations to invade Iraq
- February: Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is informed by a senior military commander that, according to Graham, "We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq." Subsequent reports have shown that in the following months, thousands of critical military personnel are pulled from Afghanistan to new duty stations around Iraq, leaving native Afghanis and Pakistan to lead the search for Osama bin Laden and the fight to eliminate Taliban influence in Afghanistan. (Center for American Progress/CommonDreams)
- February 6: CIA Director George Tenet says there was no 9/11 intelligence failure. When asked about the CIA record on 9/11, he says, "We are proud of that record." He also states that the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of three or four people" and thus nearly impossible to prevent. (CCR)
- March 2: A New York Times article theorizes that a diesel fuel tank was responsible for the collapse of Building 7 near the WTC. It collapsed on 9/11 even though it was farther away than many other buildings that remained standing. It was the first time a steel-reinforced high-rise in the US had ever collapsed in a fire. The fuel tank had been installed in 1999 as part of a new "command center" for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. What's curious, especially given all the Wall Street scandals later in the year, is that Building 7 was where the SEC was storing files related to numerous Wall Street investigations. All the files for up to 4,000 SEC cases were destroyed. Some were backed up in other places, but many were not, especially those classified as confidential. Lost files include documents that could show the relationship between Citigroup and the WorldCom bankruptcy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates over 10,000 cases will be affected. The Secret Service also lost investigative files; one agent notes, "All the evidence that we stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building." It is also eventually revealed that there was a secret CIA office in Building 7. A few days later, the head of the WTC collapse investigation says he "would possibly consider examining" the collapse of Building 7, but all the rubble has already been removed and destroyed. (CCR)
- March 13: Bush dismisses Osama bin Laden as "marginalized." He says, "I truly am not that concerned about him. ...Terror is bigger than one person. He is a person who has now been marginalized. His host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it and met his match." (ABC/Killtown)
- April 11: James Pavitt, the CIA's deputy director for operations and the nation's top spymaster, makes a rare public appearance, giving a speech at Duke University in North Carolina. Pavitt discusses the modus operandi of al-Qaeda, saying in part, "The terror cells that we're going up against are typically small and all terrorist personnel...were carefully screened. The number of personnel who know vital information, targets, timing, the exact methods to be used, had to be smaller still.... Against that degree of control, that kind of compartmentalization, that depth of discipline and fanaticism, I personally doubt -- and I draw upon my thirty years of experience in the business -- that anything short of one of the knowledgeable inner-circle personnel or hijackers turning himself in to us would have given us sufficient foreknowledge to have prevented the horrendous slaughter that took place on the eleventh."
- However, Pavitt's analysis seems fundamentally flawed, since the cells that Pavitt discussed had members who were mingling in the open and had not yet decided as late as the summer of 2001 exactly what flights to target. Many observers believe by now that the planning for the attacks had been far more ad hoc than originally thought; according to one FBI expert, though the attacks obviously were well orchestrated and planned, that the hijackers had made a number of serious and potentially fatal mistakes. Another official says, "We early on thought that people on flight one didn't know anything about flights two, three, and four, but we did find that there was cross-pollination in travel and coordination. If they're so good, why did they intermingle?" And a third official says, "Are they ten feet tall? They're not." Some believe that the reason the plot worked so well was in part because American airliners are so easy to seize. Worse, there were no systematic methods to deal with leads, warnings, and suspicious incidents or craft information into a plan for preventing al-Qaeda attacks. No such methodology exists today, almost a year after the attacks. (Seymour Hersh)
- May 16: The White House verifies a CBS report that the Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, gave the vacationing president specific warning that Osama bin Laden was planning to hijack airliners with the intention of striking American targets. Criticism ensues, with many questioning Bush's lackadaisical response to the briefing and accusing the government of an inadequate response. Even GOP senator John McCain says, "There were two separate FBI reports plus a CIA warning, none of which were coordinated. The question is, if all three had been connected, would that have led to more vigorous activity?" Newsweek writes, "The fact that the nation's popular war president might have been warned a little over a month before September 11 -- and the supposedly straight-talking Bushies hadn't told anyone about it -- opened up a serious credibility gap for the first time in the war on terror." The White House reacts by going into what David Corn calls "full spin-and-attack mode," denouncing Democrats and other critics of the administration and insisting that the briefing was virtually worthless as far as predicting an attack (see items directly below). (David Corn)
- May 16: Security advisor Condoleezza Rice says, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile" adding that "even in retrospect" there was "nothing" to suggest that. She also states that the pre-9/11 intelligence briefing given to the President on August 6 was not a "warning," but merely a vague "analytic report" that mentioned hijackings only "in the traditional sense," and contained only a general warning of threats and largely historical background information; however the Congressional report issued in July 2003 will show that the briefing included current information about an al-Qaeda plot to send suicide bombers to attack American targets. The report also notes that from 1994 on, the intelligence community had received numerous reports that terrorists were planning strikes using hijacked airplanes. Press secretary Ari Fleischer will continue the deception by telling the press the same day, "Never did we imagine what would take place on September 11th, where people used those airplanes as missiles and as weapons." (CBS/Killtown, AP/Baltimore Sun, CCR, David Corn)
Cheney threatens Democrats over investigation
- May 16: Vice President Cheney warns Democrats not to investigate the 9/11 attacks during a "time of war." He warns against "incendiary rhetoric," and says that suggestions by some Democrats that the attacks could have been prevented were "thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war." (CCR, Seymour Hersh)
Specifics of August 6 warnings made public
- May 19: US government sources confirm that President Bush was given specific and detailed warnings about the 9/11 attacks on August 6, 2001. In a top-secret intelligence memo headlined 'Bin Laden determined to strike in the US', the President was told that Osama bin Laden hoped to 'bring the fight to America' in retaliation for missile strikes on al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998. Bush officials deny that they knew anything other than there was the general possibility of a terrorist attack somewhere, but insist they had no information that the attack or attacks might take place on US soil. Officials admitted four days earlier that Bush was informed that bin Laden wanted to hijack airplanes; administration officials strenuously deny that anyone thought the aircraft hijackings might play a part in such attacks. "It is widely known that we had information that bin Laden wanted to attack the United States or United States interests abroad," says press secretary Ari Fleischer. "The president was also provided information about bin Laden wanting to engage in hijacking in the traditional pre-9/11 sense, not for the use of suicide bombing, not for the use of an airplane as a missile." The memo received by Bush on August 6 contained unconfirmed information passed on by British intelligence in 1998 revealing that al-Qaeda operatives had discussed hijacking a plane to negotiate the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the Muslim cleric imprisoned in America for his part in a plot to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. Bush was on vacation at his "ranch" in Crawford on August 6; after the briefing, which reportedly failed to catch his interest, he spent the rest of the afternoon fishing. (Guardian, New York Times/AFPN)
- May 19: Vice President Cheney says he has advised President Bush not to turn over to Congress the August 2001 intelligence briefing that warned that terrorists were interested in hijacking airplanes. He also insists that the investigation into Sept. 11 should be handled by the Congressional intelligence committees, not an independent commission. "...[T]his administration, as I found in some of my other work in Congress, has a real penchant for secrecy," responded Senator Joseph Lieberman. "I found that in the investigation my committee is doing of Enron, where I think we're asking for some very reasonable information. And the White House has so far stonewalled us." The administration claims that it wants to keep personal conversations and exchanges private; Rep. Henry Waxman points out, "some of these staffers when they worked on the Hill had no concern about asking about the private conversations of President Clinton and his staff or his attorney general and her staff." (CCR)
- May 20: FBI director Robert Mueller testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and emphasizes the difficulties of preventing attacks like those of 9/11. He notes that 50 million people entered and left the US in August 2001 alone. "The terrorists took advantage of America's strengths and used them against us," he says. "And as long as we continue to treasure our freedoms we always will run some risk of future attacks. ...We must refocus our missions and our priorities...we must improve how we hire, manage, and train our workforce, collaborate with others, and manage, analyze, share, and protect our information. ...I am more impatient than most, but we must do these things right, not simply fast." Mueller is widely acknowledged as being serious about reforming the calcified bureaucracy of the FBI, and has won few friends either in the agency or in the Bush White House for his efforts. A Senate aide says that Mueller's frankness in airing the agency's problems won him criticism from the White House and the Justice Department. (Seymour Hersh)
The FBI's Coleen Rowley complains of FBI obstructionism
- May 21: FBI staff lawyer Coleen Rowley, of the Minneapolis office, sends a letter of complaint to FBI director Robert Mueller. The letter, later printed in Time magazine, questions the refusal of FBI officials to endorse the Minneapolis office's request for a FISA warrant to search the apartment and belongings of Zacarias Moussaoui. Rowley acknowledges that the Minneapolis office could have pursued the alternative route of obtaining a search warrant from the local US attorney but decided not to for fear they might have been turned down. Rowley's letter also shows, without intending to, how the FBI routinely makes FISA requests in cases where they lack evidence enough for a criminal warrant, an area of concern for civil libertarians. Law professor and FISA critic Jonathan Turley says that Rowley's letter is "the first time I've seen in writing what we've been seeing for years: you go to FISA when you can't make a criminal case. We've long suspected that FISA is routinely used in cases where there is no evidence of probable cause. Rowley is the very personification of the fears that led to the opposition of FISA." In response to the Rowley letter, Attorney General Ashcroft issues orders giving law enforcement officials far more latitude in requesting FISA warrants, latitude that Turley and many others fear will be used to further erode constitutional liberties in the name of national security. Many observers in the FBI feel that the court was correct in refusing the FISA warrant, and that the Justice Department used Rowley's complaint as an unwarranted excuse to extend the power of FISA, which is essentially a secret, extraconstitutional court outside the parameters of constitutional law. "The people in the Minneapolis office are dying to tell their side," says former US attorney B. Todd Jones, "but Rowley's been painted as Joan of Arc." (Seymour Hersh)
- May 21: Lt. Gen. Steve Butler, an Air Force officer at the Presidio, has a letter published in the Monterey County Herald that directly accuses Bush of knowing about the 9/11 events beforehand: "Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism. His daddy had Saddam and he needed Osama." Butler is relieved of duty on June 3. (Monterey County Herald/Killtown, AP/From the Wilderness)
- May 22: The official in charge of discovering information about the FBI for a joint congressional intelligence panel of 9/11 is the same official who obstructed a Justice Department probe of the bureau in 1999. Thomas Kelley, the FBI's former deputy general counsel, was the bureau's point of contact for special counsel John Danforth's inquiry into the 1993 Waco incident with the David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. According to a December 2000 internal FBI memo, Kelley "continued to thwart and obstruct" the Waco investigation to the point that special counsel John Danforth was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. "This non-cooperative spirit was at the specific direction of [deputy general counsel] Kelley," the memo stated. (Washington Post/Killtown)
Bush opposes forming of investigating commission
- May 23: Bush comes out in opposition to the formation of a special committee to investigate the 9/11 attacks. He believes that Congressional inquiries can handle the matter. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says, in arguing that an investigation will endanger the country even further: "In the context of this ongoing war, it is extremely important to protect the sources and the methods and the informatin so that we can try and disrupt further attacks. The problem is that this is an act that is not finished. We are still fighting a war on terrorism." Predictably, GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay goes for the jugular: "We will not allow our president to be undermined by those who want his job during a time of war." DeLay's statement is interesting, not just because of the assumption that an investigation would be launched with the purpose of undermining the president, but because of his assumption that an investigation would undermine Bush. (Washington Post/Killtown, Joe Conason)
- June 3: Senator Richard Shelby, a member of the joint intelligence committee investigating the attacks, says of the administration, "They don't have any excuse because the information was in their lap, and they didn't do anything to prevent it." (Buzzflash)
- June 3: 14 families of 9/11 victims, totaling 400 people, file a joint lawsuit in US District Court naming 10 defendants, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Norman Mineta. The suit charges Bush and his administration with allowing the 9/11 attacks to take place so as to reap political benefits from the catastrophe. Lawyer Stanley Hilton, who represents the families, alleges that Osama bin Laden is being used as a scapegoat by an administration that ignored pressing warnings of the attack and refused to round up suspected terrorists beforehand. Hilton alleges the ultimate motivation behind these acts was achieved when the Taliban were replaced by American military forces with a regime friendly to America and its oil interests in the region. These same families recently protested the decision to make the 9/11 hearings closed to the public. Like millions of people around the globe (and the editor of this site), these families subscribe to what is being called the LIHOP theory -- that Bush and his administration "let it happen on purpose."
- Author William Rivers Pitt writes, "The LIHOP Theory is straightforward: In the months before 9/11, American intelligence agencies received ominous warnings from the intelligence services of nations like Israel, Russia, Egypt and Germany. These warnings were pointed -- an attack involving hijacked aircraft and prominent American landmarks was imminent, our security forces were told. Bush himself was briefed of these warnings weeks before they happened. Instead of responding vigorously to these warnings, the Bush administration and its security apparatus did nothing." Pitt notes that the LIHOP theory is easily dismissed as a "tinfoil hat" conspiracy theory, involving as it must high-ranking members of government from both parties, as well as the CIA, FBI and NSA. But, "[l]ike all good conspiracy theories, LIHOP is surrounded by disturbing facts and bits of evidence that are difficult to ignore." Pitt raises many of the same questions documented elsewhere on this site.
- The warnings from the foreign intelligence services were not only serious, but, as Pitt characterizes them, "vociferous in their concerns." Germany's BND warned the US that Middle Eastern terrorists intended to "hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture." The BND's information came through Echelon, the American-controlled network of 120 satellites that monitors all worldwide electronic communications. Egypt's warnings of similar attacks planned for the June 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa resulted in anti-aircraft batteries being placed around Columbus Airport. Russia warned of 25 pilots being trained for suicide missions, with the warnings being delivered by Prime Minister Putin himself. Israel's Mossad warned both the FBI and the CIA of "a major assault on the United States" against "a large-scale target" that was "very vulnerable." On September 10, the NSA intercepted two messages warning that "Tomorrow is zero hour." (The NSA claims that the messages were not translated until September 12.)
- Other questions abound. Why did a FEMA official tell CBS's Dan Rather that it had disaster experts at the World Trade Center on September 10? Why did Governor Jeb Bush place Florida's National Guard on high alert, and take the state one short step from martial law, on September 7? Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft suddenly stop his decades-old practice of flying on commercial aircraft in the weeks before 9/11?
- Pitt writes, "At the core of the LIHOP Theory lies motivation -- what possible purpose could be served by the Bush administration allowing a terrorist attack to take place on American soil? It is flatly inconceivable to most Americans that Bush and his people could demonstrate such callous disregard for American lives, and accusations that they allowed an attack to happen reek of the worst kind of poisonous partisan politics. LIHOP Theory, however, is not so easily dismissed. Two French intelligence analysts, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, have published an extensively-researched book entitled Osama bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth. In it, they allege that the Bush administration put energy policy before national security concerns. According to Brisard and Dasquie, a foundering pipeline project aimed at exploiting natural gas reserves along the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan was revived by the Bush administration when it arrived in Washington in January of 2001. The pipeline project, which sought to bring oil and natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to a warm water port, had been the brainchild of American petroleum giant Unocal for much of the 1990s. After the destruction of two American embassies in Africa in 1998 by Osama bin Laden, the Clinton administration forbade any American companies from doing business with the Taliban, which had been sheltering bin Laden in Afghanistan. Unocal's pipeline project was frozen. After the Bush administration came to power, Brisard and Dasquie allege that reinvigorating the pipeline project became a high-priority matter of policy." Much other evidence has later surfaced to support Brisard and Dasquie's assertions.
- Pitt continues, "Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca was dispatched to Pakistan to discuss the pipeline with Taliban officials in August of 2001. Rocca, a career officer with the CIA, had been deeply involved in Agency activities within Afghanistan. According to documents Brisard and Dasquie claim to hold, the main subject of their discussion was oil. A Pakistani foreign minister was also present at the meeting, and witnessed the exchange. How does this pipeline relate to September 11th? According to Brisard and Dasquie, the main obstacle to the completion of the pipeline was the fact that it had to pass through Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The project would receive no international support unless the Afghan government somehow became legitimized. In bargaining for the pipeline, the Bush administration demanded that the Taliban reinstate deposed King Mohammad Zahir Shah as ruler of Afghanistan, and demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden for arrest. In return, the Taliban would reap untold billions in profit from the pipeline. According to Brisard and Dasquie, part of the Bush administration's bargaining tactics involved threats of war if these conditions for the legitimization of Afghanistan were not met." The BBC has reported that plans to invade Afghanistan were on Bush's desk well before the attacks; former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Naik has stated that the plans were slated for October 2001. Naik believes that those plans would have been implemented even if the Taliban had handed over bin Laden and accepted Zahir Shah as Afghanistan's new monarch.
- Pitt writes, "The result, according to the French analysts, was total disaster. The Bush administration fundamentally misunderstood the Taliban regime -- to bring back the King and hand bin Laden over to the West would have been tantamount to suicide for the Taliban. Instead of acquiescing to the hard-sell tactics of the Bush administration, the Taliban unleashed their pet attack dog, Osama, upon America. They were going to lose everything, and chose to attack first in the hope that all-out war would break out in Central Asia and rally other Muslim nations to their cause. Motive suddenly becomes far more clear. The Bush administration very much wanted the Unocal pipeline to go through, and put intense pressure on the Taliban to see it happen. As this was happening, American intelligence services were flooded with warnings of an impending attack upon American targets by bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The decision was made -- let the attack come, and in the ensuing outrage American forces can carve out the guts of the Taliban government like a ripe gourd, replacing them with a 'legitimate' regime more receptive to the pipeline plan."
- There is some disagreement about the level of complicity of the Bush officials, particularly the specificity of their knowledge. Pitt continues, "Whether they had specific knowledge beforehand, or merely decided to let some attack happen somewhere, the final results were the same. The Taliban were routed and replaced by an interim government headed by a man named Harmid Karzai. Karzai was recently elected President of Afghanistan in his own right, legitimizing the Afghanistan government. Soon after this, Karzai announced the impending construction of a pipeline that would exploit Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves. He named Unocal as the lead company for the project. Before becoming President, Karzai was an advisor to Unocal. For LIHOP Theorists, the evidence is clear. The Bush administration got the pipeline it wanted. Along the way, they used the horrors of 9/11 to place themselves above reproach. In the patriotic fervor that resulted from the attacks, both the press and the Democratic opposition were bracketed by the administration-espoused idea that any questions or criticism were tantamount to treason.
- "The passage of the PATRIOT Anti-Terror Act has given the US government sweeping abilities to snuff dissent by defining it as terrorism, thanks to the loosely-defined wording of the bill. Bush enjoyed stratospheric approval ratings that persist to this day, and American citizens were given new enemies to hate. The Defense Department, and the weapons contractors who cater to them, received billions from the federal budget to do with as they pleased in order to address the objects of that hate. Even the most hardened political observer must admit the dismal truth -- September 11th was the greatest thing ever to happen to the Bush administration. Attorney Stanley Hilton has brought LIHOP Theory into the federal court system with his class-action suit, and with the families of 9/11 victims he represents. It will be interesting to see what transpires when these two facts collide in an American courtroom. Given the current climate, it does not seem likely that much will come of it. After all, these conspiracy theorists are just a bunch of nuts. Right?"
- Journalist William Bunch, in a related article almost a year later, asks additional questions: Who made a small fortune "shorting" airline and insurance stocks before 9/11? Why has the FBI had such difficulty identifying the hijackers, and why hasn't this been more publicly investigated or even acknowledged? Why did a passenger on Flight 93 tell his wife, via cellphone, that one of the hijackers had a gun, and that the hijackers claimed to have a bomb? Why weren't the vaunted air defenses of the continental US mobilized, and when they were, why were they so slow to reach the threatened areas? Why has no one been disciplined for what Bunch calls "the worst breakdown in national defense since Pearl Harbor?" Why did Bush react so insouciantly to the attacks, and why wasn't he immediately hustled away to a secure area once the news of the attacks reached him and his party? Why has the FBI apparently changed its story about the crash of Flight 93, now saying that instead of being caused by a heroic struggle between the passengers and their adversaries, the flight crashed because the hijackers intended for it to do so? Cockpit audio and data from the flight's black box recorder has never been made public, as has the data from Flight 77. What connection does the reputed "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui really have with the 9/11 attackers? Why have none of the four "indestructable" black boxes from the World Trade Center ever been found? Why did Donald Rumsfeld and other officials immediately link the attacks to Saddam Hussein? Why did the 47-story Building 7 of the WTC collapse, when it was never struck by an aircraft?
- The official explanation is that debris from the jetliners caused a fire in the building, but as the New York Times reported, "No building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire." Why did Bush officials lie, and why do they continue to lie, about the massive release of lethal toxins into the environment from the WTC collapse? What ever happened to the over $1 billion in donations made by Americans for the victims of the attacks? According to the Red Cross, the largest recipient of the donations, over $250 million of those donations remains unspent as of September 2003. What is Pakistan's role in the attacks, and what connection does the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl have to the attacks? Pearl was on the verge of publishing an expose linking Pakistani intelligence to al-Qaeda, and that Islamic extremists with terrorist connections control Pakistan's nuclear weapons. The head of Pakistan's intelligence service, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad, was fired after being linked to a $100,000 payment that had been wired to al-Qaeda hijacker Mohamed Atta in America to pay for the 9/11 attacks. Is there a connection between the attacks and the October 2001 discovery of a huge C-4 bomb in a Philadelphia bus terminal? Why haven't the documented connections between the Saudi royal family and al-Qaeda been investigated, and why has the Bush administration blocked such investigations? And just where is Osama bin Laden, and why aren't US forces trying harder to flush him out? (Truthout, Philadelphia Daily News/TruthSeeker)
Bush changes mind, supports investigative commission
- June 6: The Bush administration reverses course and declares its support for a commission to investigate the 9/11 bombings and the creation of a full-fledged, Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. The timing of the announcements serves to move FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley's first day of Congressional testimony out of the headlines. Rowley's testimony was feared by White House spinmeisters to be a media showstopper and a huge embarrassment to the White House, unless something could force her off the top of the headlines and news broadcasts. The morning of her testimony, the White House issues the announcements with great fanfare. The support for a Department of Homeland Security is particularly interesting, as, up till now, the Bush administration has been solidly against any such agency; the idea has been pushed, with no success and no lack of mockery from Republicans and their conservative media mouthpieces, by Congressional Democrats. The announcement, and a televised address by Bush the same evening to announce the new department, ensures that media coverage of Rowley's testimony is significantly lessened.
- To deliver the knockout blow to Rowley's media coverage, four days later, during a routine trip to Moscow, Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that the FBI has captured "a known terrorist" who was planning to explode a "dirty bomb" somewhere in the US. The "known terrorist" is Jose Padilla, a Chicago-born gang member whose connections to Islamist terrorists are murky at best. All charges related to the "dirty bomb" will later be dropped due to a complete lack of evidence. But the three announcements serve the purpose of keeping Rowley from dominating the headlines. and becoming an even larger embarrassment to the administration. (Mark Crispin Miller, Frank Rich pp.49-50)
- June 6: Republican senator Arlen Specter doesn't believe the administration's protestations of innocence and ignorance concerning the attacks: "I don't believe any longer that it's a matter of connecting the dots," he says. "I think they had a veritable blueprint, and we want to know why they didn't act on it."
(New York Daily News/Buzzflash)
- July 23: The New York City government decides that the audio and written records of the Fire Department's actions on 9/11 should never be released to the general public. The New York Times has been trying to get copies of the materials, which include firsthand accounts given to Fire Department officials by scores of firefighters and chiefs. The city claims the firefighters were told their accounts would be kept confidential, but senior fire officials say they were never told that their remarks would be kept confidential. (CCR)
- August 2: The Bush administration asks that members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees take lie detector tests as part of an investigation into the leak of information related to the Sept. 11 attacks. Several of the committee members refuse, citing the separation of powers between legislative and executive branches, along with the unreliability of the tests. A law professor states, "Now the FBI can open dossiers on every member and staffer and develop full information on them. It creates a great chilling effect on those who would be critical of the FBI." FBI investigators are trying to determine who leaked information to CNN about communications in Arabic that made vague references to an impending attack on the United States; agents question nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about 9/11-related information leaks. The communications were intercepted by the National Security Agency on Sept. 10, 2001, and contained the phrases, "Tomorrow is zero hour" and "The match is about to begin." The intercepts weren't translated until Sept. 12. Press secretary Ari Fleischer says that the leaks "risk undermining national security." Senator John McCain suggests that "the constitutional separation of powers is being violated in spirit if not in the letter. What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on people who are investigating the same organization. The administration bitterly complains about some leaks out of a committee, but meanwhile leaks abound about secret war plans for fighting a war against Saddam Hussein. What's that about? There's a bit of a contradiction here, if not a double standard."
- Later the search for the source of the leak intensifies to unprecedented levels as the FBI asks 17 senators to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters. Most, if not all, turn over the records, even as some complain that the request breaches the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. One senator says the FBI is "trying to put a damper on our activities and I think they will be successful." (AP/Boston Globe/Truthout, CCR)
- August 2: A federal judge rules that the Bush administration must reveal the identities of the hundreds of people secretly arrested after the 9/11 attacks within 15 days. The judge calls the secret arrests "odious to a democratic society." Two weeks later, the same judge agrees to postpone the release of the names until an appeals court can rule on the matter. The appeals court still has not ruled, so the names remain secret. (CCR)
- August 3: A Portuguese newspaper reports on an independent inquiry into 9/11 by a group of military and civilian US pilots that challenges the official version of events. The group's press statement says, "The so-called terrorist attack was in fact a superbly executed military operation carried out against the USA, requiring the utmost professional military skill in command, communications and control. It was flawless in timing, in the choice of selected aircraft to be used as guided missiles and in the coordinated delivery of those missiles to their preselected targets." A member of the inquiry team, a US Air Force officer who flew over 100 sorties during the Vietnam war, says: "Those birds [airliners] either had a crack fighter pilot in the left seat, or they were being maneuvered by remote control." (CCR)
Lawsuit against al-Qaeda financiers, Taliban, and Binladin Group
- August 15: More than 600 relatives (later rising to over 2,500 out of 10,000 eligible) of victims of the September 11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. The defendants include the Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual terrorist financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, Yassin al-Qadi, and Khalid bin Mahfouz. "The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia." The plaintiffs also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. Saudi businesses withdraw more than $100 billion from the US in response to the suit, and the US government later threatens to block or limit the suit. Weeks later, victims' families are offered cash compensations from the US government if they agree not to sue; about a fifth of the families agree, and the others continue to sue. (CCR)
CIA agent describes White House's protection of Saudi Arabia
- August 25: Former CIA agent Bob Baer says the US collects virtually no intelligence about Saudi Arabia nor are they given any intelligence collected by the Saudis. He says this is because there are implicit orders from the White House: "Do not collect information on Saudi Arabia because we're going to risk annoying the royal family." Saudi millionaire Yassin al-Qadi, who has been on the US terrorist list since October 2001, says, "I'm living my life here in Saudi Arabia without any problem" because he is being protected by the Saudi government. Al-Qadi admits to giving Osama bin Laden money for his "humanitarian" work, but says this is different from bin Laden's terrorist work. Presented with this information, the US Treasury Department only says that the US "is pleased with and appreciates the actions taken by the Saudis" in the war on terror. The Saudi government still has not given US intelligence permission to talk to any family members of the hijackers, even though some US journalists have had limited contact with a few. (CCR)
- August 27: Prince Bandar bin Saud, Saudi ambassador to the US, meets privately for more than an hour with Bush and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in Crawford, Texas. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer characterizes it as a warm meeting of old friends. Bandar, his wife Princess Haifa, and seven of their eight children stay for lunch. Bandar, a longtime friend of the Bush family, donated $1 million to the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. This relationship later becomes news when it is learned that Princess Haifa gave between $51,000 and $73,000 to two Saudi families in California who may have financed two of the 9/11 hijackers. (CCR)
- August 27: Author Gore Vidal prints an article in the British press accusing the Bush administration of complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Much of the evidence he cites is mentioned within this Web site. The article creates a firestorm of controversy in Europe, but is virtually ignored by the American media. Among other charges, Vidal writes that Osama bin Laden was chosen to be a villian for Americans to focus upon: "Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the frightening logo for our long-contemplated invasion and conquest of Afghanistan ... [because] the administration is convinced that Americans are so simple-minded that they can deal with no scenario more complex than the venerable, lone, crazed killer (this time with zombie helpers) who does evil just for the fun of it 'cause he hates us because we're rich 'n free 'n he's not." (Observer/9-11 Congress, Observer)
Official story of fighter deployment on 9/11 changes
- August 30: The official story about fighter response on 9/11 significantly changes. Previously it was explained that fighters over Washington left to track Flight 93. But in a book released in this month, Jere Longman's Among the Heroes, the pilots said they were given no such order. This new account states that after the Pentagon explosion, "two F-16's that happened to be on a training mission near Detroit" were sent to intercept Flight 93. But supposedly, they didn't have any weapons since they were on a training mission. Air Force Colonel Robert Marr, commander of the Northeast Air Defense Sector, says, "we're going to put them as close to that airplane as we could, in view of the cockpit and convince that guy in that airplane that he needs to land," and if that fails, ram the fighters into the plane. Supposedly, the question of ramming turned out to be moot, because these fighters were still about 40 miles away when the plane crashed. If the story is true, it suggests an incredible level of incompetence. Minutes after the second WTC crash at 9:03, military base commanders from all over the US were calling NORAD and volunteering to scramble planes. For instance, the commander at Syracuse, New York said he could get a plane in the air armed with cannon in ten minutes. Yet none of these planes were put in the air until after the last hijacked plane had crashed over an hour later. The idea that the US sent planes after Flight 93 with no weapons is as absurd and contradicts previous accounts. For instance, Cheney has explained how he and Bush agreed to sent fighters to shoot down Flight 93, and repeatedly confirmed that order. The question arises: were Bush and Cheney given the wrong information or is someone rewriting this story? (CCR)
- September 4: Over 1,400 relatives of 9/11 attack victims sue Iraq for more than $1 trillion, claiming there is evidence Iraq conspired with al-Qaeda on the 9/11 attacks. One of the key pieces of evidence cited is an article in an small town Iraqi newspaper written by Naeem Abd Muhalhal on July 21, 2001. He describes bin Laden thinking "seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert, about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House." He adds that bin Laden is "insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting," which has been interpreted as a possible reference to the 1993 bombing of the WTC. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently praised this writer on September 1, 2001. The lawsuit is based largely on the idea that "Iraqi officials were aware of plans to attack American landmarks," yet didn't warn the US. Former CIA agent and terrorist consultant Robert Baer is hired by the prosecuting legal team to find evidence of a meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents, but despite the help of the CIA, is unable find any evidence of such a meeting. (CCR)
- September 5: Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, expresses doubts that the committee's investigation into 9/11 will be able to accomplish anything, and he supports an independent investigation. "Time is not on our side," he says, since the investigation has a built-in deadline at the end of 2002. "You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece." He adds that there is explosive information that has not been publicly released. "I think there are some more bombs out there...I know that." (CCR)
- September 11: Bush publicly gives his backing to an independent investigation of the intelligence lapses surrounding 9/11. The White House said that before now it had been concerned that an additional inquiry or commission into the attacks would be redundant and "divert the attention and resources of both the Congress and relevant executive agencies away from their important work of combating terrorism." On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times writes, "One year later, the public knows less about the circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about the Titanic, which sank in the middle of an ocean in the dead of night." John Timoney, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia, says: "You can hardly point to a cataclysmic event in our history, whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, the Pearl Harbor attack, the Kennedy assassination, when a blue-ribbon panel did not set out to establish the facts and, where appropriate, suggest reforms. That has not happened here." The Times specifically points to a failure by New York City Mayor Bloomberg to conduct a real investigation into the WTC attack response. Bloomberg stated in August 2002, "Every single major event is different from all others. The training of how you would respond to the last incident is not really important." The Chicago Tribune made similar comments a week earlier, pointing out that despite the "largest investigation in history," "Americans know little more today about the Sept. 11 conspiracy, or the conspirators, than they did within a few weeks of the attacks." Naturally, the story from the White House is now that they always supported an investigation. (ABC/Killtown, CCR)
- September 11: Al-Qaeda leader Ramzi bin al-Shibh is arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, after a shootout between him and Pakistani forces. He is turned over to the US for questioning, held at an undisclosed military base, and is expected to be tried before a military tribunal. 9/11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui will try, and fail, to obtain al-Shibh's testimony as part of his defense. (Seymour Hersh)
Official story of Bush's actions on 9/11 changes
- September 11: On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the story of what Bush did on that day is significantly rewritten. In actual fact, when Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Bush about the second plane crash into the WTC, Bush continued to sit in a Florida elementary school classroom and hear a story about goats for about an additional 10 minutes, as video footage shows. But one year later, Card claims to the San Francisco Chronicle that after he told Bush about the second WTC crash, "it was only a matter of seconds before Bush 'excused himself very politely to the teacher and to the students, and he left' the Florida classroom." In a different account, Card tells MSNBC, "Not that many seconds later the president excused himself from the classroom." An interview with the classroom teacher claims that Bush left the class even before the second WTC crash: "The president bolted right out of here and told me: 'Take over.'" When the second WTC crash occurred, she claims her students are watching TV in a nearby media room, a claim proven false by video records. (CCR)
White House stonewalls Congressional investigation of 9/11
- September 18: On the first day of Congress's joint inquiry into the events of 9/11, the Bush administration refuses to release information about 9/11 requested by the Congressional inquiry, specifically information that shows the President and his staff did receive warning of potential terrorist attacks against the United States, including plans by al-Qaeda linked terrorists to use hijacked planes as weapons, before 9/11. Lawmakers from both parties protest the administration's lack of cooperation and threaten to open an independent investigation. Eleanor Hill, the joint committee's staff director, testifies that, "[a]ccording to [CIA Director Tenet], the president's knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified." She adds that "the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security." Furthermore, the committee believes that "a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks" and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet "has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American public's interest in this particular area." The joint inquiry was begun in February 2002, but delays and lack of cooperation from Bush officials have stymied its efforts to get underway. The first day's testimony revolves around intelligence that should have led administration officials to realize that jetliners could be used as bombs. (Washington Times/Killtown, CCR)
- September 23: The Senate passes a resolution authorizing a bipartisan commission to investigate the 9/11 bombings on a 90-8 vote. Bush and Cheney have realized since their public declaration of support on June 6 that such a commission is inevitable; to ensure that the commission is strictly limited in its efforts, they insist on imposing a deadline of 12 months for the commission to operate, on crippling the commission's subpoena power, on the right to name the person who will chair the commission, the authority to publish some or none of the commission's report, and on a budget of $3 million (the investigation into the explosion of the USS Challenger received $50 million, and the Whitewater investigation cost more than that). "There was a freight train coming down the tracks," says one White House official. One of the 9/11 victim's relatives says, "It's carefully crafted to make it look like a general endorsement but it actually says that the commission would look at everything except the intelligence failures." Rather than look into such failures, Bush wants the commission to focus on areas like border security, visa issues and the "role of Congress" in overseeing intelligence agencies. The White House also refuses to turn over documents showing what Bush knew before 9/11. (CCR, Mark Crispin Miller)
- September 30: Journalist Seymour Hersh reveals that, despite a weak case against Zacarias Moussaoui, no federal prosecutor has discussed a plea bargain with him since he was indicted in November 2001. Hersh reports that "Moussaoui's lawyers, and some FBI officials, remain bewildered at the government's failure to pursue a plea bargain." Says a federal public defender, "I've never been in a conspiracy case where the government wasn't interested in knowing if the defendant had any information -- to see if there wasn't more to the conspiracy." Apparently a plea bargain isn't being considered because Attorney General Ashcroft wants nothing less than the death penalty for Moussaoui. One former CIA official claims, "They cast a wide net and [Moussaoui] happened to be a little fish who got caught up in it. They know it now. And nobody will back off." A legal expert says, "It appears that Moussaoui is not competent to represent himself, because he doesn't seem to understand the fundamentals of the charges against him, but I am starting to feel that the rest of us are crazier...we may let this man talk himself to death to soothe our sense of vulnerability." Intercepted transmissions indicate that his al-Qaeda colleagues felt that Moussaoui was incompetent and did not include him in the plans for 9/11, but that Moussaoui still may have valuable information about the planners that, if encouraged, he would be willing to divulge. Unfortunately, Ashcroft's insistence on pursuing the death penalty against Moussaoui, and his refusal to bargain with Moussaoui for his knowledge, has resulted in an early opportunity to get reliable intelligence being missed. (CCR, Seymour Hersh)
White House reneges on deal to create commission
- October 10: A tentative congressional deal to create an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks falls apart hours after the White House objects to the plan; Vice President Cheney calls Republican leaders, most prominently House Intelligence Committee chairman Porter Goss, and tells them to renege on the agreement. The Bush administration says it supports such a commission, but wants its allies to have more control over leadership and subpoena powers. Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier, but doubters who questioned his sincerity appear to have been proved correct. Hours after top Republican leaders announced at a press conference that an agreement had been reached, House Republican leaders said they wouldn't bring the legislation to the full House for a vote unless the commission proposal was changed. There are worries that if the White House can delay the legislation for a few more days until Congress adjourns, it could stop the creation of a commission for months, if not permanently. Democratic representative Tim Roehmer notes that "the White House is trying to pull the carpet over the independent commission, and do the slow roll and kill it." (The administration is successful at delaying the legislation until Congress adjourns, but the commission will be established in November.) (CCR, Mark Crispin Miller)
- October 18: Saudi Arabia announces that Turki al-Faisal will be its next ambassador to Britain. Turki is a controversial figure because of his long-standing relationship to bin Laden. He has also been named in a lawsuit by 9/11 victims' relatives against Saudi Arabians for their support of al-Qaeda before 9/11. It is later noted that his ambassador position could give him diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. Turki's predecessor as ambassador was recalled after it was revealed he had written poems praising suicide bombers. Reports on his new posting suggest that Turki last met bin Laden in the early 1990s before he became a wanted terrorist. However, these reports fail to mention other contacts with bin Laden, including a possible secret meeting in July 2001. (CCR)
- October 25: German authorities complain that they aren't getting the cooperation they need from US authorities in their investigations of the 9/11 attacks, and they worried that a political dispute between Washington and Berlin is hampering their ability to protect the public. In Hamburg, the police say that breakdown in communications between the US and German governments has also led to a dramatic reduction in the amount of investigative help they're getting from the USA. The Bush administration has not spoken to the German government since it won reelection four months earlier while openly opposing Bush's planned war on Iraq. Germans say existing prosecutions of 9/11 suspects are now threatened by the information breakdown. The Germans helped capture terrorist Mohamed Heidar Zammar and turned him over to a third country, yet now they're learning very little from his interrogations, even though he has admitted to being involved in a plot to attack a consulate in Germany. A US State Department official denies there is any problem, aside from a few "bumps in the road." (CCR)
- November 14: Congressional Republicans unveil a new Homeland Security Bill that leaves out entirely any mention of the previously agreed-upon provision for an independent inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. After Democrats mount their opposition, the bill is modified to once again include the commission -- after the White House wrangles more key concessions from the Democrats over the makeup of the commission, including further limitations on the commission's subpoena power. The Democrats do manage to extend the commission's lifespan from 12 to 18 months. (Mark Crispin Miller)
Congress mandates creation of independent 9/11 investigative commission
- November 15: Congress approves legislation creating an independent commission, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, to "examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks" and "make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks." President Bush signs it into law November 27, 2002. Bush originally opposed an independent commission, but he changes his mind over the summer after political pressure. Democrats concede several important aspects of the commission after the White House threatens to create a commission by executive order, over which it would have more control. Bush will appoint the commission chairman, he sets a strict time frame of one year for the investigation, he limits the commission's ability to issue subpoenas, and he reserves the right to publish all, some, or none of the commission's final report. The commission will only have a $3 million budget. Democratic Senator Jon Corzine and others wonder how the commission can accomplish much with such a small budget. (In contrast, the government appropriated $7 million to investigate Whitewater, a figure that later ballooned to over $70 million, and $5 million to study the effects of casino gambling; $50 million was authorized to investigate the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.) (CCR, Paul Waldman, Mark Crispin Miller)
- November 19: Veteran political reporter publishes Bush at War, a paean to the administration's Iraq war efforts. Woodward was granted unprecedented access to senior Bush officials for the book. Interestingly, among the flack is an admission that Bush did not take the threat of al-Qaeda seriously before 9/11: "Until September 11, however, Bush had not put that thinking [that Clinton's response to al Qaeda emboldened bin Laden] into practice, nor had he pressed the issue of bin Laden," Woodward writes. "Though Rice and others were developing a plan to eliminate al Qaeda, no formal recommendations had ever been presented to the president. 'I know there was a plan in the works.... I don't know how mature the plan was,' Bush recalled.... He acknowledged that bin Laden was not his focus or that of his national security team. 'There was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11. I was not on point [before that date], but I knew he was a menace, and I knew he was a problem.'" It is later shown that Woodward was given access to classified information that even the 9/11 commission investigators will be denied. (Bob Woodward/Buzzflash)
- November 22: According to a Newsweek report, 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan. The report is based on information leaked from the 9/11 congressional inquiry the month before. Al-Bayoumi is in Saudi Arabia by this time; Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia just five days earlier. Saudi officials and Princess Haifa, a member of the Saudi royal family suspected of funding the hijackers, immediately deny any terrorist connections. Newsweek writes that while the money trail "could be perfectly innocent...it is nonetheless intriguing -- and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9/11...." Some Saudi newspapers which usually reflect government thinking claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. Senior government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This causes a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks. A number of senators, including Republicans Richard Shelby, John McCain, and Mitch O'Connell, and Democrats Joe Lieberman, Bob Graham, Joe Biden, and Charles Schumer, express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding terrorists. Lieberman says, "I think it's time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11 -- you're either with us or you're with the terrorists." FBI officials strongly deny any deliberate connection between these two and the Saudi government or the hijackers, but later even more connections between them and both entities are revealed. (CCR/Break On Through)
- November 26: Press secretary Ari Fleischer announces that Bush will not testify before the congressional inquiry into 9/11. (CBS/Killtown)
Bush names Henry Kissinger to head 9/11 commission
- November 29: Bush signs the bill authorizing an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks. Of all people, he names Henry Kissinger to head the commission. Kissinger is the former Secretary of State and former national security advisor under Richard Nixon, and a former Unocal consultant with deep ties to the intelligence community and the oil corporations, who now heads a lobbying and consulting group. Democrats and others decry Kissinger's appointment, citing his shady past and his penchant for skirting the law and covering up information. (The New York Times' Maureen Dowd quips, "Who better to investigate an unwarranted attack on America than the man who used to instigate American unwarranted attacks? Who better to ferret out government duplicity and manipulation than the man who engineered secret wars, secret bombings, secret wiretaps, and secret coups?") Kissinger will refuse the appointment after he is asked to reveal a list of his lobbying clients (which includes Saddam Hussein). Democrats appoint former senator George Mitchell as vice-chairman of the commission. Mitchell will also step down from his position rather than sever ties with his law firm. Eventually the commission will be headed by former New Jersey Republican governor and Homeland Security Project co-chairman Thomas Kean, a career politician with little national security experience. Mark Crispin Miller calls Kissinger's appointment "a gesture of contempt, [and] the most perverse appointment in our history...." (The Nation, CNN/Killtown, CCR, David Corn, Eric Alterman and Mark Green, Mark Crispin Miller)
Congressional investigation report on 9/11 issued
- December 11: The Joint Select Committee on Intelligence investigating the performance of government agencies before the 9/11 attacks releases its final report. A 450-page report was written, but only nine pages of findings and 15 pages of recommendations are released, and those have blacked-out sections. It is unclear if any more will be released. The committee accuses the Bush administration of refusing to declassify information about possible Saudi Arabian financial links to US-based terrorists, criticizes the FBI for not adapting into a domestic intelligence bureau after the attacks and says the CIA lacked an effective system for holding its officials accountable for their actions. Asked if 9/11 could have been prevented, Senator Bob Graham, the committee chairman, gives "a conditional yes." Graham says the Bush administration has given Americans an "incomplete and distorted picture" of the foreign assistance the hijackers may have received." Graham further says, "There are many more findings to be disclosed" that Americans would find "more than interesting," and he and others express frustration that information that should be released is being kept classified by the Bush administration. Senator Richard Shelby, the Republican vice chairman, singles out six people as having "failed in significant ways to ensure that this country was as prepared as it could have been:" CIA Director Tenet; Tenet's predecessor, John Deutch; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; NSA Director Michael Hayden; Hayden's predecessor, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan; and former Deputy Director Barbara McNamara. Shelby says that Tenet should resign. "There have been more failures on his watch as far as massive intelligence failures than any CIA director in history. Yet he's still there. It's inexplicable to me." He adds, "A list of 19 recommendations consists largely of recycled proposals and tepid calls for further study of thorny issues members themselves could not resolve."
- In discussing the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9/11, Graham says he is "surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [9/11] terrorists in the United States.... To me that is an extremely significant issue and most of that information is classified, I think overly-classified. I believe the American people should know the extent of the challenge that we face in terms of foreign government involvement. I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing -- although that was part of it -- by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down.... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now." In March 2003, Newsweek will write that Graham is speaking about Saudi Arabia, and that leads pointing in this direction have been pursued. Graham also says that the report contains far more miscues than have been publicly revealed. "There's been a cover-up of this," he says.
- Most interesting is a 28-page redaction that apparently deals with the Saudi's complicity in terrorist activities. The redaction not only covers the sins of the Saudis, longtime allies of the Bush family, but Bush and Cheney themselves. While there is a media outcry over the missing 28 pages, the media fails to report adequately on the extensive stonewalling and limitations throughout the report. For example, the commission was never able to see the Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs), and CIA personnel were not allowed to be interviewed regarding the preparation of the PDBs. The commission was not allowed to interview CIA chief George Tenet, or read key documents from the CIA about their counter-terrorism activities. Commission members were refused access to US intelligence agencies' budgets. The National Security Council refused to allow them access to information about covert US actions against al-Qaeda; in fact, almost all information involving the NSC was blocked by the White House. An FBI counterterrorism informant with critical information about the hijackings was blocked from testifying to the commission. And, since the Joint Commission's report is immediately classified, the newly empaneled 9/11 investigative commission has no access to the report, nor to the information that was used to compile the report, nor to the Joint Commission's transcripts of hearings. Any of these documents requested by the 9/11 commission will be reviewed first by White House officials and refused if any question of "privilege" is raised. (CCR, Mark Crispin Miller)
- December 16: The ten members of the new 9/11 Commission are appointed by this date. They include Republicans Thomas Kean (the chairman), Slade Gorton, James Thompson, Fred Fielding, and John Lehman; and Democrats Lee Hamilton (vice-chairman), Max Cleland, Tim Roemer, Richard Ben-Veniste, and Jamie Gorelick. Republican senators Richard Shelby and John McCain helped decide who would be the Republicans on the committee. Both, as well as many 9/11 victims' relatives, wanted former senator Warren Rudman, who cowrote an acclaimed report about terrorism before 9/11. But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott blocks Rudman's appointment and chooses John Lehman instead. It slowly emerges over the next several months that at least six of the ten commissioners have ties to the airline industry. Every commissioner, Democrat and Republican alike, has at least one potential conflict of interest.
- While Kean, Bush's personal choice to head the commission, says he plans an aggressive and unrestrained investigation, he continues to hold his position as president of Drew University and spend only one day a week on the commission's work. He also denies having any personal conflicts of interest, when in fact he has at least one huge conflict: sitting on the board of oil conglomerate Amereda Hess, which has large oil interests in Central Asia. "Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's investigating -- al-Qaeda," writes Fortune magazine. (Kean's link to Amereda Hess, and its connections to Saudi oil interests and perhaps even al-Qaeda financiers, is detailed elsewhere in this site.)
- In addition, further restrictions are placed upon the supposedly independent and unconstrained 9/11 commission. It takes up to 7 months for some panel members to receive security clearances. Subpoenaed documents are not delivered for months, or sometimes not at all, particularly from the White House, the Pentagon, and NORAD. Interviews are either blocked or heavily restricted by White House "minders." National Security director Condoleezza Rice is kept from testifying until March 2004; until then, commission members are forced to rely on written questions submitted to one of Rice's deputies. Witnesses before the commission are required not to testify under oath, obviating any legal requirement to tell the truth. Between these and other restrictions, the commission's meager budget, and the strict time limitations, the commission finds it almost impossible to do its job. Later, commissioner Max Cleland states bluntly, "The administration sold the connection [between Iraq and al-Qaeda] to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers.... What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends. The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over...before [it] came out. Had this report come out in January  like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration." It must also be pointed out that most commissioners felt they could not do a thorough investigation by January 2003, though many desired to release at least some interim reports by that time. (CCR/Break On Through, Mark Crispin Miller)
Caspian Sea oil pipeline agreement signed
- December 17: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan sign an agreement for the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, a $3.2 billion project that has been delayed for many years. A study by the Asian Development Bank stated that the pipeline would move natural gas from Turkmenistan's huge Dauletabad-Donmez fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar. The pipeline was originally launched in 1996, but was abandoned when a consortium led by Unocal withdrew over fears of being seen as supporting the Taliban and because the US launched missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1998. The Afghan, Pakistani and Turkmen leaders relaunched the project in May 2002. Unocal has denied it is interested in returning to Afghanistan. Skeptics say the project would require an indefinite foreign military presence in Afghanistan. (CCR)
- December 21: Columnist Thomas Oliphant observes, "[T]he least understandable argument of all is the line first used by [national security advisor Condoleezza] Rice in May of 2002, that no one could have foreseen that terrorists would hijack airplanes and crash-fly them into buildings. It is especially odd coming from the coordination person in the White House.... It is also odd coming from the official who had an administration plan for actions against al-Qaeda on her desk on the day of the attacks." (Buzzflash)