US PREPARING FOR A WAR WITH AFGHANISTAN BEFORE 9/11, INCREASING CONTROL OF ASIA BEFORE AND SINCE
By Paul Thompson
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest, as well as the main page, the page for the day of September 11, and the abridged timeline.
Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Erosion of civil liberties and erection of a police state. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
January 20, 1989: George Bush Sr. is inaugurated as US president, replacing Ronald Reagan. He remains president until 1993 (see January 20, 1993). Many of the key members in his government later have important positions again when his son George Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001 (see January 21, 2001). For instance, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell later becomes Secretary of State, and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney later becomes Vice President.
November 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall begins to fall in East Germany, signifying the end of the Soviet Union as a superpower. Just six days later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell presents a new strategy document to President Bush Sr., proposing that the US shift from countering Soviet attempts at world dominance to ensuring US world dominance. Bush Sr. accepts this plan in a public speech, with slight modifications, on August 2, 1990, the same day Iraq begins invading Kuwait. In early 1992, Powell, counter to his usual public dove persona, tells congresspeople that the US requires "sufficient power" to "deter any challenger from ever dreaming of challenging us on the world stage." He says, "I want to be the bully on the block." Powell's early ideas of global hegemony will be formalized by others in a 1992 policy document (see March 8, 1992) and finally realized as policy when Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001. [Harper's, 10/02]
March 8, 1992: The Defense Planning Guidance, "a blueprint for the department's spending priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union," is leaked to the New York Times. [New York Times, 3/8/92, Newsday, 3/16/03] The paper causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been "scrubbed" to replace candid language with euphemisms. [New York Times, 3/10/92, New York Times, 3/11/92, Observer, 4/7/02] The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and to maintain that role it "must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." [New York Times, 3/8/92, New York Times, 3/8/92 (B)] As the Observer summarizes it, "America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington." [Observer, 4/7/02] The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but under Bush Jr. become Deputy Defense Secretary and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, respectively. [Newsday, 3/16/03] The document conspicuously avoids mention of collective security arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US "should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted." [New York Times, 3/8/92] It also calls for "punishing" or "threatening punishment" against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended pre-emptively include "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and] threats to US citizens from terrorism." [Harper's, 10/02] Senator Lincoln Chafee (R), later says, "It is my opinion that [Bush Jr.'s] plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first Bush administration with that 1992 report." [Newsday, 3/16/03] In response to the controversy, in May 1992 the US releases an updated version of the document that stresses the US will work with the United Nations and its allies (see also January 1993). [Washington Post, 5/24/92, Harper's, 10/02]
January 1993: In his last days in office as Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney releases a document called Defense Strategy for the 1990s. It reasserts the plans for US global domination outlined in an earlier Pentagon policy paper (see March 8, 1992). [Harper's, 10/02] But because of Clinton's presidential victory, the implementation of these plans will have to wait until Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001 and Cheney becomes vice president. However, Cheney and others will continue to refine this vision of global domination through the Project for the New American Century think tank while they wait to reassume political power (see June 3, 1997 and September 2000).
January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton is inaugurated as president, replacing George Bush Sr. He remains president until 2001 (see January 21, 2001).
July 7, 1996: The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/6/03] The paper isn't much different from other Israeli right-wing papers at the time, except the authors: the lead writer is Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Policy Board in the US, and very influential with President Bush. Several of the other authors now hold key positions in Washington. The paper advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy "based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ..." The first step would be the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. A war with Iraq would destabilize the entire Middle East, allowing governments in Syria, Iran, Lebanon and other countries to be replaced. "Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them," the paper concludes. [Guardian, 9/3/02, see the original paper here] Perle will be instrumental is moving Bush's US policy towards war with Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B)).
June 3, 1997: The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank formed in the spring of 1997, issues its statement of principles. PNAC's stated aims: "to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests," to achieve "a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad," "to increase defense spending significantly," to challenge "regimes hostile to US interests and values," and to "accept America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles." [PNAC Principles, 6/3/97] These principles matter because they are signed by a group who will become "a rollcall of today's Bush inner circle." [Guardian, 2/26/03] ABC's Ted Koppel will later say PNAC's ideas have "been called a secret blueprint for US global domination" (see also January 26, 1998, September 2000, August 21, 2001 (B)). [ABC News, 3/5/03 (B)]
October 1997: Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (see December 26, 1979) publishes a book in which he portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia with its vast oil reserves as the key to domination of Eurasia. He states that for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must prevent any possible adversary from controlling that region. He notes that, "The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported Americas engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." Furthermore, because of popular resistance to US military expansionism, his ambitious Central Asian strategy could not be implemented "except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." [The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, by Zbigniew Brzezinski, 10/97 (the link is to excerpts of the book from a From the Wilderness article)]
1997 (B): It is later claimed that the special CIA paramilitary teams start entering Afghanistan in this year. [Washington Post, 11/18/01]
1998 (B): It is later revealed by Uzbekistan that Uzbekistan and the US have been conducting joint covert operations against Afghanistan's Taliban regime and bin Laden since at least before this year. [Times of India, 10/14/01, Washington Post, 10/14/01]
January 26, 1998: The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton, urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a "hazard" to "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil." In a foretaste of what eventually actually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be "crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council." The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (see also June 3, 1997, and September 2000). [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, PNAC Letter, 1/26/98] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long-term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
1999 (D): The CIA finds an abandoned airstrip in Afghanistan, and makes plans to use it to evacuate a captured bin Laden, take agents in and out, and similar purposes. It is speculated that this is the same airstrip occupied and used as a base of operations early in the later Afghan war. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
1999 (F): A joint project run by the CIA and NSA slips into Afghanistan and places listening devices within range of al-Qaeda's tactical radios. [Washington Post, 12/19/01] If all of al-Qaeda's communications was being monitored, why was bin Laden never captured or killed and apparently no hints of the 9/11 plot revealed?
1999 (I): CIA Director Tenet later claims that in this year, the CIA establishes a network of agents throughout Afghanistan and other countries aimed at capturing bin Laden and his deputies. [UPI, 10/17/02] Tenet states that by 9/11, "a map would show that these collection programs and human networks were in place in such numbers to nearly cover Afghanistan. This array meant that, when the military campaign to topple the Taliban and destroy al-Qaeda began [in October 2001], we were able to support it with an enormous body of information and a large stable of assets." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
March 3, 1999: Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities: "There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the US military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation ... the "critical mass" needed to effect it has not yet been achieved. One may conclude that, in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States - a latter-day 'Pearl Harbor' of sorts - surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process." [CSBA, 3/5/99] This comment echoes other strategists who wait for a second Pearl Harbor to fulfill their visions (see October 1997 and September 2000).
Early 2000: By the start of this year, the US has already begun "to quietly build influence" in Central Asia. The US has established significant military-to-military relationships with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Soldiers from those countries have been trained by Americans. The militaries of all three have an ongoing relationship with the National Guard of a US state Kazakhstan with Arizona, Kyrgyzstan with Montana, Uzbekistan with Louisiana. The countries also participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
Spring 2000 (B): Investigative reporter Bob Woodward later claims that special CIA paramilitary teams begin "working with tribes and warlords in southern Afghanistan" and help "create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban's greatest strength." [Washington Post, 11/18/01]
April 2000 (C): The US is given permission to greatly expand a military base in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, and construction begins shortly thereafter. The justification for expanding, Al Adid, a billion-dollar base, is preparedness for renewed action against Iraq. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] Dozens of other US military bases had sprung up in the region in the 1990s. [Village Voice, 11/13/02] Such facilities in Qatar later form the regional headquarters for the US attack on Iraq in 2003.
September 2000: The neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century writes a "blueprint" for the "creation of a 'global Pax Americana'" (see also June 3, 1997). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a "blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." The plan shows Bush intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The report calls for the control of space through a new "US Space Forces," the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates "regime change" in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that "advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool." A British Member of Parliament says of the report, "This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world" (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02, click here to download the think tank report] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though "we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments." [Washington Post, 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
September 2000 (D): US General Tommy Franks, who will later lead the Afghanistan war, tours Central Asia in an attempt to build military aid relationships with nations there, but finds no takers. Russia's power in the region appears to be on the upswing instead. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev writes, "The actions of Islamic extremists in Central Asia give Russia the chance to strengthen its position in the region." But shortly after 9/11, Russia and China agree to allow the US to establish temporary US military bases in Central Asia to prosecute the Afghanistan war. The bases become permanent, and the Guardian will write in early 2002, "Both countries increasingly have good reasons to regret their accommodating stand. Having pushed, cajoled and bribed its way into their Central Asian backyard, the US clearly has no intention of leaving any time soon." [Guardian, 1/10/02]
December 19, 2000: The Washington Post reports that "the United States has quietly begun to align itself with those in the Russian government calling for military action against Afghanistan and has toyed with the idea of a new raid to wipe out Osama bin Laden. Until it backed off under local pressure, it went so far as to explore whether a Central Asian country would permit the use of its territory for such a purpose." Russia and the US are discussing "what kind of government should replace the Taliban. Thus, while claiming to oppose a military solution to the Afghan problem, the United States is now talking about the overthrow of a regime that controls nearly the entire country, in the hope it can be replaced with a hypothetical government that does not exist even on paper." [Washington Post, 12/19/00] It appears that all pre-9/11 plans to invade Afghanistan involve attacking from the north with Russia (see March 15, 2001, June 26, 2001 and July 21, 2001), but 9/11 allows the US to do it without Russian help.
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001.
February 2001 (C): Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, convinces Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser under President Reagan, that Haq and about 50 fellow commanders could lead a force to start a revolt against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. However, Haq wants to do this under the authority of Zahir Shah, the popular former king of Afghanistan, whom the US doesn't support. The CIA fails to give any support to this revolt idea. Says one CIA official to McFarlane a few months later, "We don't yet have our marching orders concerning US policy; it may be that we will end up dealing with the Taliban." Haq goes ahead with his plans without US support, and is later betrayed and killed (see Mid-August 2001 (B) and October 25, 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B), Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01]
March 15, 2001: Jane's Intelligence Review reports that the US is working with India, Iran and Russia "in a concerted front against Afghanistan's Taliban regime." India is supplying the Northern Alliance with military equipment, advisers and helicopter technicians and both India and Russia are using bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for their operations (see December 19, 2000, June 26, 2001 and July 21, 2001). [Jane's Intelligence Review, 3/15/01]
Spring 2001: The Sydney Morning Herald later reports, "The months preceding September 11 [see] a shifting of the US military's focus ... Over several months beginning in April  a series of military and governmental policy documents [are] released that [seek] to legitimize the use of US military force in the pursuit of oil and gas." Michael Klare, an international security expert and author of Resource Wars, says the military has increasingly come to "define resource security as their primary mission." An article in the Army War College's journal by Jeffrey Record, a former staff member of the Senate armed services committee, argues for the legitimacy of "shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices." He also "advocate[s] the acceptability of presidential subterfuge in the promotion of a conflict" and "explicitly urge[s] painting over the US's actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high-minded veneer, seeing such as a necessity for mobilizing public support for a conflict." In April, Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf/South Asia area, testifies to Congress in April that his command's key mission is "access to [the region's] energy resources." The next month US Central Command begins planning for war with Afghanistan, plans that are later used in the real war (see May 2001 (F)). [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02] Other little noticed but influential documents reflect similar thinking (see September 2000 and April 2001 (D)).
April 2001 (D): A report commission by former US Secretary of State James Baker entitled "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century" is submitted to Vice President Cheney this month. "The report is linked to a veritable who's who of US hawks, oilmen and corporate bigwigs." The report says the "central dilemma" for the US administration is that "the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience." It argues that "the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma," and that one of the "consequences" of this is a "need for military intervention" to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil. [Sunday Herald, 10/5/02] In what may be a reference to a pipeline through Afghanistan, the report suggests the US should "Investigate whether any changes to US policy would quickly facilitate higher exports of oil from the Caspian Basin region... the exports from some oil discoveries in the Caspian Basin could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly." [Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century, 4/01] Could the Bush administration have let 9/11 happen to get access to Central Asian oil, and gain support for a war with Iraq, amongst other reasons?
May 2001 (F): General William Kernan, commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command, later mentions: "The details of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan which fought the Taliban and al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks, were largely taken from a scenario examined by Central Command in May 2001." [AFP, 7/23/02]
May 16, 2001: US General Tommy Franks, later to head the US occupation of Afghanistan, visits the capital of Tajikistan. He says the Bush administration considers Tajikistan "a strategically significant country" and offers military aid. This follows a visit by a Department of Defense official earlier in the year and an earlier regional visit by Franks (see September 2000 (D)). The Guardian later asserts that by this time, "US Rangers were also training special troops in Kyrgyzstan. There were unconfirmed reports that Tajik and Uzbek special troops were training in Alaska and Montana." [Guardian, 9/26/01] FTW
June 2001 (D): China, Russia, and four Central Asian countries create the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Its explicit purpose is to oppose US dominance, especially in Central Asia. [Guardian, 10/23/01] Russian defense minister Igor Sergeyev writes, "The actions of Islamic extremists in Central Asia give Russia the chance to strengthen its position in the region." [Guardian, 1/16/02] In March 2003, the Guardian will note that the new ring of US military bases built in the Afghan war (see January 2002 (D)) "has, in effect, destroyed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which Russia and China had established in an attempt to develop a regional alternative to US power." [Guardian, 3/11/03]
June 26, 2001: An Indian magazine reports more details of the cooperative efforts of the US, India, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and Iran against the Taliban regime: "India and Iran will 'facilitate' US and Russian plans for ‘limited military action' against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's fundamentalist regime." Earlier in the month, Russian President Putin told a meeting of the Confederation of Independent States that military action against the Taliban may happen, possibly with Russian involvement using bases and forces from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well (see also December 19, 2000, March 15, 2001 and July 21, 2001). [IndiaReacts, 6/26/01] FTW
July 21, 2001: Three American officials, Tom Simons (former US Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs) and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia) meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. [Salon, 8/16/02] It is the third of a series of back-channel conferences called "brainstorming on Afghanistan." Taliban representatives sat in on previous meetings, but boycotted this one due to worsening tensions. However, the Pakistani ISI relays information from the meeting to the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/22/01] At the meeting, former US State Department official Lee Coldren passes on a message from Bush officials. He later says, "I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action." [Guardian, 9/26/01] Accounts vary, but former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik later says he is told by senior American officials at the meeting that military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan is planned to "take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest." The goal is to kill or capture both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place. Uzbekistan and Russia would also participate (see also December 19, 2000, March 15, 2001 and June 26, 2001). Naik also says "it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban." [BBC, 9/18/01] One specific threat made at this meeting is that the Taliban can choose between "carpets of bombs" - an invasion - or "carpets of gold" - the pipeline. [Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, Guillaume Dasquié and Jean-Charles Brisard, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)] Niaz Naik says Tom Simons made the "carpets" statement. Simons claims: "It's possible that a mischievous American participant, after several drinks, may have thought it smart to evoke gold carpets and carpet bombs. Even Americans can't resist the temptation to be mischievous." Naik and the American participants deny that the pipeline was an issue at the meeting. [Salon, 8/16/02] So then what was the "carpets of gold" phrase referring to? FTW
Late summer 2001 (C): The Guardian later reports, "Reliable western military sources say a US contingency plan existed on paper by the end of the summer to attack Afghanistan from the north." [Guardian, 9/26/01]
August 6, 2001 (B): Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board and foreign policy advisor to Bush, is asked about new challenges now that the Cold War is over. He cites three: "We're concerned about Saddam Hussein, we're concerned about the North Koreans, about some future Iranian government that may have the weapon they're now trying so hard to acquire..." [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 8/6/01] Note that these three nations are the same three named in Bush's famous January 2002 "axis of evil" speech (see January 29, 2002). [CNN, 1/29/02] High US officials are later talking about attacking all three, even though there are almost no connections between any of them and al-Qaeda. [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Meanwhile, bin Laden and most top leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban remain at large. Was the 9/11 attack an excuse for the US to go after its enemies?
Mid-August 2001 (B): Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, returns to Peshawar, Pakistan, from the US. Having failed to gain US support (see February 2001 (C)), except for that of some private individuals such as former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Haq begins organizing subversive operations in Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B), Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] He is later killed entering Afghanistan in October 2001, after his position is betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI (see October 25, 2001).
August 21, 2001 (B): Thomas Donnelly, Deputy Executive Director of the Project for the New American Century, an influential neoconservative think tank, explains to the Washington Post that the US should embrace its role as imperialist hegemons over the world. He says many important politicians privately agree with him. "There's not all that many people who will talk about it openly," he says. "It's discomforting to a lot of Americans. So they use code phrases like 'America is the sole superpower.'" He also says, "I think Americans have become used to running the world and would be very reluctant to give it up, if they realized there were a serious challenge to it." [Washington Post, 8/21/01] These types of policies are denounced in Bush's 2000 election, and it is frequently claimed that the Bush Administration only changes its mind toward a more aggressive policy after 9/11. But in this summer of 2001, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's office "sponsored a study of ancient empires - Macedonia, Rome, the Mongols - to figure out how they maintained dominance." [New York Times, 3/5/03]
September 4, 2001 (C): Bush's Cabinet-rank advisers have their second ever meeting on terrorism (see June 3, 2001). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] Back in January, terrorism "czar" Richard Clarke had proposed an ambitious plan to "roll back" al-Qaeda's operations around the world. The plan was strengthened and finally approved at this meeting. It no longer plans a "roll back" of al-Qaeda but aims to "eliminate" it altogether. The plan calls for significant support to the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US military would launch air strikes on training camps and special-operations missions in Afghanistan. In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11." The plan was awaiting Bush's signature on 9/11. Clinton's limited missile attack in 1998 faced a lot of controversy - this new ambitious plan would have faced much more opposition had it not been for 9/11. [Time, 8/4/02] A senior Bush administration official dismisses the allegations: "This idea that there was somehow a kind of -- some sort of full-blown plan for going after al-Qaeda is just incorrect." [CNN, 8/5/02]
September 9, 2001 (F): A formal National Security Presidential Directive describing a "game plan to remove al-Qaeda from the face of the Earth" is placed on Bush's desk for his signature. The plan deals with all aspects of a war against al-Qaeda, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to military operations in Afghanistan. According to NBC News reporter Jim Miklaszewski, the "directive outlines essentially the same war plan ... put into action after the Sept. 11 attacks. The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly to the attacks because it simply had to pull the plans 'off the shelf.'" The plan includes an effort to persuade the Taliban to turn over bin Laden and a military invasion if it refuses. It was prepared through a process of consultation over many months, involving the Pentagon, CIA, State Department and other security and intelligence agencies. Bush was expected to sign the directive, but hadn't finished reviewing it by 9/11. [MSNBC, 5/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] FTW Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Advisor, has stated, "You show me one reporter, one commentator, one member of Congress who thought we should invade Afghanistan before September 11 and I'll buy you dinner in the best restaurant in New York City." [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 219] In July 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair will state: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11." [London Times, 7/17/02] How did Bush expect to get public support for his plan to invade and conquer Afghanistan if 9/11 didn't happen?
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page.
September 11, 2001 (V): Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is given information that three of the names on the airplane passenger manifests are suspected al-Qaeda operatives. The notes he composes at the time are leaked nearly a year later. Rumsfeld writes he wants the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL. [Usama bin Laden] Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." [CBS, 9/4/02] He presents the idea to Bush the next day (see September 12, 2001 (F)). It is later revealed that shortly after 9/11, Rumsfeld sets up "a small team of defense officials outside regular intelligence channels to focus on unearthing details about Iraqi ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks." It has continued to sift "through much of the same databases available to government intelligence analysts but with the aim of spotlighting information the spy agencies have either overlooked or played down." [Washington Post, 10/25/02] Time will report in May 2002 that Defense Secretary "Rumsfeld has been so determined to find a rationale for an attack that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The intelligence agency repeatedly came back empty-handed." [Time, 5/6/02] Since the plan to defeat Iraq is planned despite a complete lack of evidence showing Iraqi involvement in 9/11 (see also September 17, 2001 (B)), how can any later evidence pointing to Iraq's complicity in 9/11 be trusted?
September 12, 2001 (F): Following his notes from the day before suggesting that 9/11 should be blamed on Iraq and not just al-Qaeda (see September 11, 2001 (V)), Defense Secretary Rumsfeld proposes to President Bush that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism." Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and others support the idea. Bush and all of his advisors agree that Iraq should be attacked, but they decide such an attack should wait. Secretary of State Powell says, "Public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible." [Washington Post, 1/28/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] There is still no evidence suggesting Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks (the first and only evidence, later refuted, comes around September 19, 2001 (see September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002)).
September 14, 2001 (M): Congress authorizes Bush to use all necessary military force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, their sponsors, and those who protected them. [State Department, 12/26/01] In March 2003, Bush informs Congress that Iraq is being attacked for its support of 9/11, despite the lack of any evidence for such a connection (see March 20, 2003).
September 15, 2001: CIA Director Tenet briefs Bush "with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in 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. [Washington Post, 1/31/02]
September 15-November 1, 2001: Two of the largest war games in history take place during the buildup for war in Afghanistan. Both 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. [NewsAhead, 9/1/01] 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. USA Today has an article called "War-games Troops May Join Real Fight" but it's unclear if that's what happened or not. [USA Today, 9/30/01] At the same time two US carrier battle groups arrive on station in the Gulf of Arabia just off the Pakistani coast. FTW Given other reports suggesting the US was planning a war in Afghanistan for mid-October, is all this troop movement towards Southwest Asia a coincidence?
September 17, 2001 (B): President Bush signs a document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlines a plan for going to war in Afghanistan. The document also directs the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq. Two days after Bush signs the document, the Defense Policy Board - with Rumsfeld in attendance - meets at the Pentagon and animatedly discusses the importance of ousting Saddam Hussein (a policy Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, had advocated in 1996 for the goal of "rebuilding Zionism" (see 1996 (B)). Iraq secretly becomes a "central focus" of the US's counter-terrorism efforts over the next nine months, without much in the way of internal debate, public pronouncements or paper trail (see also September 2000, April 2001 (D) and September 11, 2001 (V)). [Washington Post, 1/12/02]
September 20, 2001 (C): The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publicly publishes a letter to President Bush, advising him to quickly conquer Iraq (see also January 26, 1998). "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 "Americas staunchest ally against international terrorism." [PNAC, 9/20/01] 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" - Richard Perle, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and their allies, who argue that Iraq shouldn't wait. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01 (C)] The latter side eventually wins the argument.
September 20, 2001 (D): Bush meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. [State Department, 12/26/01] According 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. [BBC, 4/3/03] 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 (see July 21, 2001 and September 9, 2001 (F)). This is the same day the Project for the New American Century publishes a letter urging Bush to attack Iraq immediately (see September 20, 2001 (C)).
September 21, 2001: A secret report to NATO allies says the US privately wants to hear allied views on "post-Taliban Afghanistan after the liberation of the country." However, the US is publicly claiming it has no intentions to overthrow the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/21/01]
September 22, 2001-December 2001: Witnesses begin to report US military planes secretly landing at night in the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The US, Tajik, and Uzbek governments initially deny that any US troops have been sent there. [Telegraph, 9/23/01, AP, 9/25/01 (D)] By October 5, witnesses say a "huge military buildup" has already occurred. [Telegraph, 10/4/01] On October 7, the US and Uzbekistan sign a secret agreement that reportedly is "a long-term commitment to advance security and regional stability." [Financial Times, 10/13/01] It is later reported that the US military bases here, "originally agreed as temporary and emergency expedients, are now permanent." [Guardian, 1/16/02] 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. [New York Times, 1/9/02] The base is only 200 miles from China. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/17/02] The building of these bases is the culmination of efforts begun long before 9/11 (see 1998 (B), Early 2000, September 2000 (D) , and May 16, 2001).
Late September-Early October 2001: According to a later Mirror article, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamic parties negotiate bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden 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. According to reports in Pakistan (and the Telegraph), this plan has both bin Laden's approval and that of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. However, the plan is vetoed by Pakistan's president 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." [Mirror, 7/8/02]
Early October 2001: The US begins using the Shahbaz air force base and other bases in Pakistan in their attacks against Afghanistan. [London Times, 10/15/01] However, because of public opposition in Pakistan to US support, it is falsely claimed the US is there for purely logistical and defensive purposes. Even six months later, the US won't confirm it is using the base for offensive operations. [Los Angeles, 3/6/03] Such bases in Pakistan become a link in a chain of US military outposts in Central Asia (see January 2002 (D)). Other countries also falsely maintain that such bases are not being used for military operations in Afghanistan. [Reuters, 12/28/01]
October 15, 2001 (C): According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia (see also June 2001 (D)), with the control of oil as a prominent motive: "While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia - and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea." [Moscow Times, 10/15/01] The US later appears to gain military influence over Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country with the most resource wealth, and closest to the Russian heartland (see also December 19, 2001 and March 30, 2002).
November 21, 2001 (D): Bush states, "Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win." [White House, 11/21/01] A short time later, it is reported that "the US has honed a hit list of countries to target for military action in rogue regions across the globe where it believes terror cells flourish," including Iraq. [Guardian, 12/10/01]
December 19, 2001: Speaking in Kazakhstan, US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones states: "We will not leave Central Asia after resolving the conflict [in Afghanistan]. We want to support the Central Asian countries in their desire to reform their societies as they supported us in the war against terrorism. These are not only new but long-term relations" (see also January 2002 (D) and April 30, 2002). [BBC, 12/19/01] This important change in official US policy is not actually reported in the US itself.
January 2002 (D): It is reported that now the US is improving bases in "13 locations in nine countries in the Central Asian region" (see also September 22, 2001-December 2001 and Early October 2001). [Christian Science Monitor, 1/17/02] 60,000 US military personnel now work in these new bases surrounding Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] "Of the five ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, Turkmenistan alone is resisting pressure to allow the deployment of US or other Western forces on its soil...." [Guardian, 1/10/02] "The task of the encircling US bases now shooting up on Afghanistan's periphery is only partly to contain the threat of political regression or Taliban resurgence in Kabul. Their bigger, longer-term role is to project US power and US interests into countries previously beyond its reach. ... The potential benefits for the US are enormous: growing military hegemony in one of the few parts of the world not already under Washington's sway, expanded strategic influence at Russia and China's expense, pivotal political clout and - grail of holy grails - access to the fabulous, non-OPEC oil and gas wealth of central Asia." [Guardian, 1/16/02] On January 9, the speaker of the Russian parliament states, "Russia would not approve of the appearance of permanent US bases in Central Asia," but Russia seems helpless to stop what a Russian newspaper calls "the inexorable growth" of the US military presence in central Asia. [Guardian, 1/10/02]
March 30, 2002: With US troops already in many Central Asian countries (see January 2002 (D)), it is now reported that US Special Forces soldiers are training Kazakhstan troops in a secret location. [London Times, 3/30/02] An anonymous source in the Kazakh government previously stated, "It is clear that the continuing war in Afghanistan is no more than a veil for the US to establish political dominance in the region. The war on terrorism is only a pretext for extending influence over our energy resources" (see October 11, 1996). [Observer, 1/20/02]
April 11, 2002: In a speech, Jim Pavitt, the CIA Deputy Director of Operations emphasizes how prepared the CIA was to launch subversive actions in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. "With a small logistical footprint they came with lightning speed. We were on the ground within days of that terrible attack. They also came with something else. They came with knowledge of local languages, whatever you heard to the contrary notwithstanding, terrain, and politics... In those few days that it took us to get there after that terrible, terrible attack, my officers stood on Afghan soil, side by side with Afghan friends that we had developed over a long period of time, and we launched America's war against al-Qaeda... Quite simply, we were there well before the 11th of September." [CIA, 4/11/02] This is in stark contrast to the usual story reported in the media that the US overly relied on satellites and other high technologies, and had no agents on the ground.
April 30, 2002: It is reported that the US military is drawing up a plan for a long-term military "footprint" in Central Asia. The US says it plans no permanent bases, but the leaders of Central Asia speak of the US being there for decades, and inside US bases temporary structures are being replaced by permanent buildings (see also December 19, 2001 and January 2002 (D)). [AP, 4/30/02, Washington Post, 8/27/02, Los Angeles Times, 4/4/02] All of the countries are encumbered by corrupt dictatorships, and many experts say their serious social and economic problems are growing worse. Some experts wonder if the US is increasing Muslim resentment and the risk of terrorism by closely associating with such regimes. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
June 1, 2002 (B): In a speech, Bush announced a new US policy of preemptive attacks: "If we wait for threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge." [New York Times, 6/2/02] This preemptive strategy is included in a defensive strategic paper the next month (see July 13, 2002), and formally announced in September 2002. In all these developments, the media fails to notice that this preemptive policy was the fulfillment of a vision first articulated in Bush Sr.'s administration (see November 9, 1989 and March 8, 1992), and later pushed by the influential Project for the New American Century think tank (see June 3, 1997). [New York Times, 9/20/02, Washington Post, 9/21/02, Guardian, 9/21/02]
July 10, 2002: A briefing given to a top Pentagon advisory group states, "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader ... Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies." They are called "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent." This position still runs counter to official US policy, but the Washington Post says it "represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration." The briefing suggests that the Saudis be given an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States. The group, the Defense Policy Board, is headed by Richard Perle. [Washington Post, 8/6/02] A international controversy follows the public reports of the briefing in August 2002 (for instance, [Scotsman, 8/12/02]). In an abrupt change, the media starts calling the Saudis enemies, not allies of the US. Slate reports details of the briefing the Post failed to mention. The briefing states, "There is an 'Arabia,' but it needs not be 'Saudi'". The conclusion of the briefing: "Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize." [Slate, 8/7/02] Note that a similar meeting of the Defense Policy Board appears to have preceded and affected the US's decision to take a warlike stance against Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B) and August 6, 2001 (B)).
July 13, 2002: The US military releases a new Defense Planning Guidance strategic vision. It "contains all the key elements" of a similar document written ten years earlier by largely the same people now in power (see March 8, 1992). Like the original, the centerpiece of this vision is preventing any other powers from challenging US world dominance. Some new ideas are added, for instance, not just preemptive strikes but preemptive strikes using nuclear weapons. [Los Angeles Times, 7/13/02, Los Angeles Times, 7/16/02, Harper's, 10/02] David Armstrong notes in Harper's magazine, "[In 1992] the goal was global dominance, and it met with bad reviews. Now it is the answer to terrorism. The emphasis is on preemption, and the reviews are generally enthusiastic. Through all of this, the dominance motif remains, though largely undetected." [Harper's, 10/02]
July 16, 2002: British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "We knew about al-Qaeda for a long time. They were committing terrorist acts, they were planning, they were organizing. Everybody knew, we all knew, that Afghanistan was a failed state living on drugs and terror. We did not act. To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11." [London Times, 7/17/02]
August 11, 2002: A shocking Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush's advisors advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma! One senior British official says: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran." [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Later in the year, Bush's influential advisor Richard Perle states, "No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq ... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ... our children will sing great songs about us years from now." [New Statesman, 12/16/02] In February 2003, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton says in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterward. This is not reported in the US media. [Haaretz, 2/17/03]
August 15, 2002 (D): General Tommy Franks, commander of US troops in Central Asia, says, "It does not surprise me that someone would say, 'Oh gosh, the military is going to be in Afghanistan for a long, long time.' Sure we will be." He likens the situation to South Korea, where the US has stationed troops for over 50 years. A few days earlier, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers says the war on terrorism "could last years and years." [CBS, 8/16/02]
August 25, 2002 (B): General Tommy Franks, head of the US Central Command, suggests that the "war on terror" should not be limited to Afghanistan, but expand into neighboring countries as well. [Reuters, 8/25/02]
August 27, 2002: The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has recently signed a treaty committing the US to respond to "any external threat" to the country. Uzbekistan's foreign minister: "The logic of the situation suggests that the United States has come here with a serious purpose, and for a long time." The other Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan - have similar agreements with the US. The US claims it is supporting democracy in these nations, but experts say authoritarianism has been on the rise since 9/11. A new US military base in Uzbekistan currently holds about 1,000 US soldiers, but is being greatly enlarged. The article makes the general point that the US is replacing Russia as the dominant power in Central Asia. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
February-March 20, 2003: With war against Iraq imminent, numerous media outlets finally begin reporting on the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank and its role in influencing Iraq policy and US foreign policy generally. PNAC's plans for global domination had been noted before 9/11 (see for instance, [Washington Post, 8/21/01]), and PNAC's 2000 report recommending the conquest of Iraq even if Saddam Hussein is not in power was first reported on in September 2002 (see September 2000 and [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02]), but there were few follow-up mentions until February (exceptions: [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/29/02, Bangor Daily News, 10/18/02, New Statesman, 12/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]. Many of these articles use PNAC to suggest that global and regional domination is the real reason for the Iraq war. Coverage increases as war gets nearer, but many media outlets still have not done any reporting on this, and some of the reporting that has been done is not prominently placed (for instance, a New York Times article on the topic is buried in the Arts section! See [New York Times, 3/11/03]). One Newsweek editorial notes that "not until the last few days" before war have many reasons against the war been brought up. It calls this "too little, too late" to make an impact. [Newsweek, 3/18/03] (Articles that discuss PNAC: [Philadelphia Daily News, 1/27/03, New York Times, 2/1/03, PBS Frontline, 2/20/03, Observer, 2/23/03, Bergen Record, 2/23/03, Guardian, 2/26/03, Mother Jones, 3/03, BBC, 3/2/03, Observer, 3/2/03, Der Spiegel, 3/4/03, ABC, 3/5/03 (B), Salon, 3/5/03, Independent, 3/8/03, Toronto Star, 3/9/03, ABC, 3/10/03, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/10/03, CNN, 3/10/03, Guardian 3/11/03, New York Times, 3/11/03, American Prospect, 3/12/03, Chicago Tribune, 3/12/03, Globe and Mail, 3/14/03, Japan Times, 3/14/03, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/15/03, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/15/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/16/03, Observer, 3/16/03, Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, Toronto Star, 3/16/03, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 3/17/03, Globe and Mail, 3/19/03, Asia Times, 3/20/03, The Age, 3/20/03])
March 20, 2003: The US, Britain, Australia, and Poland send in troops to conquer Iraq. [AP, 3/19/03] Bush sends a letter to Congress giving two reasons for the war. The first is that he has determined that further diplomacy will not protect the US. The second is that the US is "continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." [White House, 3/18/03] This mimics language from a bill passed by Congress in October 2002 giving Bush the power to declare war against Iraq if a link with the 9/11 attacks is shown. [White House, 10/2/02] Yet on January 31, 2003, when a reporter asked both Bush and British Prime Minister Blair, "Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?" Bush replied, "I can't make that claim." Blair then replied, "That answers your question." [White House, 1/31/03] A New York Times/ CBS poll from earlier in the month indicates that 45 percent of Americans believe Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 3/11/03 (B)] The Christian Science Monitor notes, "Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding al-Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression...." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/14/03] For instance, Bush claims Hussein has supported "al-Qaeda-type organizations," and "al-Qaeda types." [New York Times, 3/9/03]
April 3, 2003: Former CIA Director James Woolsey says the US is engaged in a world war, and that it could continue for years: "As we move toward a new Middle East, over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous." He calls it World War IV (World War III being the Cold War according to neoconservatives like himself), and says it will be fought against the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda. He singles out the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying, "We want you nervous." This echoes the rhetoric of the Project for the New American Century, of which Woolsey is a supporter (see January 26, 1998), and the singling out of Egypt and Saudi Arabia echoes the rhetoric of the Defense Policy Board, of which he is a member. In July 2002, a presentation to that board concluded, "Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize" (see July 10, 2002). [CNN, 4/3/03, CNN, 4/3/03 (B)]