THE COMPLETE 9/11 TIMELINE, PART 5: Jan. 2002 - Present
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. I've made separate pages for each thread, in addition to webpages with all the threads together.
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.
For simplicity's sake I don't always use the full names and jobs of some of the major people or organizations in this story. For instance, every time I say "bin Laden," I mean the terrorist Osama bin Laden, not one of his family members. I have standardized the spellings of the Islamic names, even within quotes. Al-Qaeda, for instance, can be spelled many ways, and the person known as Saeed Sheikh has too many name variations and spelling variations to count.
CIA: US Central Intelligence Agency
DEA: US Drug Enforcement Administration
FAA: US Federal Aviation Administration
FDA: US Food and Drug Administration
FBI: US Federal Bureau of Investigations
FEMA: US Federal Emergency Management Agency
ISI: Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Mossad: The Israeli intelligence agency
NORAD: US North American Aerospace Defense Command
NSA: US National Security Agency
SEC: US Security and Exchange Commission
Taliban: The rulers of Afghanistan, 1996 - 2001
WTC: World Trade Center
USAMRIID: US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Ahmad: General Mahmud Ahmad, Director of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Ashcroft: John Ashcroft, US Attorney General under Bush Jr.
Atta: Mohamed Atta, lead 9/11 hijacker
bin Laden: Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda terrorist organization
Bush: George Bush Jr., US President since January, 2001
Cheney: Richard "Dick" Cheney, US Vice President under Bush Jr.
Clinton: Bill Clinton, US President before Bush Jr.
Mueller: Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI since July, 2001
Musharraf: General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan since 1999
Powell: Colin Powell, US Secretary of State under Bush Jr.
Rice: Condaleezza Rice, US National Security Advisor under Bush Jr.
Rumsfeld: Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense
Saeed: Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh (and many variations thereof), ISI agent, al-Qaeda money man and supposed murderer of reporter Daniel Pearl
Tenet: George Tenet, Director of the CIA since 1997 under Clinton and remaining under Bush Jr.
There are many spellings and aliases - the names and spellings below are the versions preferred by the FBI. *= Some evidence suggests the identity of this person may be incorrect (see September 16-23, 2001).
American Airlines Flight 11
Waleed Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Wail Alshehri, 28, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Waleed Alshehri, had psychological problems *
Abdulaziz Alomari, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Satam Al Suqami, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Mohamed Atta, 33, from Egypt (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 93
Saeed Alghamdi, 21, from Saudi Arabia (had flight training) *
Ahmed Alhaznawi, 20, from Saudi Arabia *
Ahmed Alnami, 23, from Saudi Arabia *
Ziad Jarrah, 26, from Lebanon (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 175
Ahmed Alghamdi, 22, from Saudi Arabia
Hamza Alghamdi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Ahmed Alghamdi *
Marwan Alshehhi, 23, from United Arab Emirates (the likely pilot) *
Mohand Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia, possible cousin of Marwan Alshehhi and/or from the same extended family as Wail and Waleed Alshehri
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (Alshehri), 24, from United Arab Emirates (had flight training)
American Airlines Flight 77
Khalid Almihdhar, 26, from Saudi Arabia (originally from Yemen, changed citizenship in 1996) *
Nawaf Alhazmi, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Salem Alhazmi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Nawaf Alhazmi *
Hani Hanjour, 29, from Saudi Arabia (the likely pilot)
Majed Moqed, 24, from Saudi Arabia *
January 2002: Two dead microbiologists: Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski. Pravda reports that Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and reports without explanation that Brushlinski was killed in Moscow. Both were "well known around the world" and members of the Russian Academy of Science. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
January 2002 (B): The FBI finally begins subpoenaing laboratories that worked with the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks. But when the labs start to send their samples, they are told to wait another month because a new storage room for the sample needs to be built. "The FBI's delay in requesting the samples - and the government's lack of readiness to receive them - is part of a pattern." Other examples include taking six months to begin testing mailboxes surrounding Trenton, New Jersey, where the anthrax letters were postmarked, and nearly a year to go back into the American Media building in Boca Raton, Florida, to hunt for the source of anthrax that killed the first victim there. [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
January 2002 (C): Steven Hatfill, later to emerge as a suspect of the anthrax attacks (see June 25, 2002), is interviewed by FBI investigators for the first time. He is then given a lie-detector test as part of a wide-ranging FBI review of the scientific community. Hatfill was told he gave satisfactory answers on the test. The FBI returned for a two-hour interview in March. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] Why was such a likely suspect not questioned for so many months?
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]
January 2002 (E): The Patriot Act permits federal agents to secretly obtain information from booksellers and librarians about customers' and patrons' reading, internet and book-buying habits, merely by alleging that the records are relevant to an anti-terrorism investigation. The act prohibits librarians and booksellers from revealing these requests, so they cannot be challenged in court. [Newsday, 9/16/02] A University of Illinois study concludes that federal agents have sought records from about 220 libraries nationwide since September and about this time. [Miami Herald, 9/1/02] The Justice Department refuses to say how many times it has invoked this Patriot Act provision (see also June 13, 2002). [Observer, 3/16/03 (B)] But Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant says that people who borrow or buy books surrender their right of privacy. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/10/03] Some libraries and bookstores unhappy with the law begin to fight back in a number of ways. Some libraries have posted signs warning that the government may be monitoring their users' reading habits. [Reuters, 3/11/03 (B)] Thousands of libraries are destroying records so agents have nothing to seize. [New York Times, 4/7/03] Many librarians polled say they would break the law and deny orders to disclose reading records. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/10/03]
January 1, 2002: Zalamy Khalilzad, already a Special Assistant to the President (see May 23, 2001), is appointed by Bush as a special envoy to Afghanistan. [BBC, 1/1/02] Khalilzad, a former employee of Unocal, took part in negotiations with the Taliban to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. He also wrote op-eds in the Washington Post in 1997 supporting the Taliban regime, back when Unocal was hoping to work with the Taliban. [Independent, 1/10/02] FTW Now the US envoy is a former Unocal employee consulting with a prime minister who is a former Unocal employee (see December 22, 2001) in a country where Unocal might build gas and oil pipelines (see May 13, 2002).
January 4, 2002: 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." [New York Daily News,
1/4/02, Fire Engineering, 1/02]
January 4, 2002 (B): The US government is shown to have doctored information about terrorists. For instance, the State Department said Atta "wanted to learn to fly, but didn't need to take off and land" when this information clearly referred to Zacarias Moussaoui (although that story isn't exactly true for him either- see August 13-15, 2001). The Defense Department even released a photo purporting to be bin Laden in Western clothing, with his hair cut short and beard shaved off. An expert says "Frankly, this is sloppy," and the article calls these efforts "worthy of the tabloids." [AP, 1/4/02]
January 5, 2002: It is reported that the FBI has asked Pakistan for permission to question Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Pakistan arrested him on December 25, 2001 after US pressure to do so (see December 13, 2001 (C)). One Pakistani official says, "The Americans are aware Azhar met bin Laden often, and are convinced he can give important information about bin Laden's present whereabouts and even the September 11 attacks." But the "primary reason" for US interest is the link between Azhar and Saeed Sheikh (see December 24-31, 1999). They hope to learn about Saeed's involvement in financing the 9/11 attacks. It is not certain that Pakistan gives permission to question Azhar. Four days later, the US officially asks Pakistan for help in finding and extraditing Saeed (see August-October 2001 ). [Gulf News, 1/5/02]
January 6, 2002: The US locates former Taliban head Mullah Omar and 1,500 of his soldiers in the remote village of Baghran, Afghanistan. After a six-day siege and surrounded by US helicopters and troops, Omar and four bodyguards supposedly escape the dragnet in a daring chase on motorcycles over dirt roads. His soldiers are also set free in return for giving up their weapons, in a deal brokered by local leaders. Yet it remains unclear if Omar was ever in the village in the first place. [Observer, 1/6/02]
January 6, 2002: The Boston Globe reports that shoe bomber Richard Reid (see December 22, 2001 (B)) may have had ties with an obscure Pakistani group called Al-Fuqra. Reid apparently visited the Lahore, Pakistan home of Ali Gilani, the leader of Al-Fuqra. [Boston Globe, 1/6/02] Reporter Daniel Pearl reads the article, and decides to investigate (see also December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [Vanity Fair, 8/02] Pearl believes he is on his way to interview Gilani when he is kidnapped (see January 23, 2002). [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] A 1995 State Department report said Al-Fuqra's main goal is "purifying Islam through violence." [Vanity Fair, 8/02] Intelligence experts say it is a splinter group of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and has ties to al-Qaeda. [UPI, 1/29/02] Al-Fuqra claims close ties with the Muslims of the Americas, a US tax-exempt group claiming about 3,000 members living in rural compounds in 19 states, the Caribbean and Europe. Members of Al-Fuqra are suspected of at least 13 fire bombings and 17 murders, as well as theft and credit-card fraud. Gilani had links to people involved in the 1993 WTC bombing, and he fled the US after the bombing. Gilani admits he works with the ISI and lives freely in Pakistan. [Boston Globe, 1/6/02, The News, 2/15/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] Saeed Sheikh "has long had close contacts" with the group, and praises Gilani for his "unexplained services to Pakistan and Islam." [The News, 2/18/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] There has been surprisingly little media coverage of Al-Fuqra, given their US presence and al-Qaeda connection (see also [Knight Ridder, 12/25/01, New York Times, 1/3/02, New York Post, 2/10/02, Rocky Mountain News, 2/12/02]).
January 11, 2002: The first of about 600 hundred suspected al-Qaeda and/or Taliban prisoners from the war in Afghanistan are transferred to Camp X-Ray, a detention facility in US-controlled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is reported that the prisoners are hooded, shackled, and possibly drugged during their flight to Cuba. [Guardian, 1/11/02] Pictures of prisoners being transferred in conditions clearly in violation of international law are later leaked, prompting an outcry. But rather than investigating the inhumane transfer, the Pentagon begins investigating how the pictures were leaked. [AP, 11/9/02] The prisoners are sent to this base because of a historical quirk: The base is owned by Cuba but controlled by the US, so the prisoners are in a legal limbo outside of any US law. [Globe and Mail, 9/5/02] Furthermore, the US argues the prisoners are "enemy combatants" rather than prisoners of war, implying that they do not have all the rights assigned to POWs under the Geneva Convention. [Guardian, 9/9/02] Senior British officials privately call the treatment of prisoners "scandalous," and one calls the refusal to follow the Geneva Convention "not benchmarks of a civilized society." [Guardian, 6/13/02] The commander of the base later suggests that some prisoners could end up staying there for decades (see also April 30, 2002 and October 28, 2002). [AFP, 9/13/02]
January 12, 2002: Pakistan President Musharraf makes "a forceful speech... condemning Islamic extremism." [Washington Post, 3/28/02] Around this time, he also arrests about 2000 people he calls extremists. He is hailed in the Western media as redirecting the ISI to support the US agenda. Yet, by the end of the month at least 800 of the arrested are set free [Washington Post, 3/28/02] including "most of their firebrand leaders." [Time, 5/6/02] Within one year, "almost all" of those arrested have been quietly released. Even the most prominent leaders, such as Maulana Masood Azhar (see December 14, 2002), have been released. Their terrorist organizations are running again, often under new names. [Washington Post, 2/8/03]
January 13, 2002: Andreas von Bülow, former German Minister for Research and Technology and a long-time member of German parliament, suggests in an interview that the CIA could have been behind the 9/11 attacks. He states: "Whoever wants to understand the CIA's methods, has to deal with its main task of covert operations: below the level of war, and outside international law, foreign states are to be influenced by inciting insurrections or terrorist attacks, usually combined with drugs and weapons trade, and money laundering.... Since, however, it must not under any circumstances come out that there is an intelligence agency behind it, all traces are erased, with tremendous deployment of resources. I have the impression that this kind of intelligence agency spends 90% of its time this way: creating false leads. So that if anyone suspects the collaboration of the agencies, he is accused of paranoia. The truth often comes out only years later." [Der Tagesspiegel, 1/13/02] In an example of covering tracks, Ephraim Halevy, head of Israel's Mossad from 1998 till 2002, claims, "Not one big success of the Mossad has ever been made public." [CBS, 2/5/03]
Mid-January 2002: Vice Admiral John Poindexter begins running a shadowy new government agency called the Information Awareness Office. [New York Times, 2/13/02, Federal Computer Week, 10/17/02] Poindexter, President Reagan's National Security Adviser, is known for his five felony convictions of lying to Congress, destroying documents, and obstructing Congress in its investigation of his role in the mid-1980s Iran-Contra affair. Later his convictions were overturned on a technicality. [Los Angeles Times, 11/17/02 (B)] Far from apologizing, Poindexter said it was his duty to lie to Congress. [Newsday, 12/1/02] The New York Times notes that his new agency "is developing technologies to give federal officials instant access to vast new surveillance and information-analysis systems." The new office is part of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Poindexter was also known for his controversial role in shifting control of computer security to the military in the 1980s. Says Marc Rotenberg, former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, "It took three administrations and both political parties over a decade to correct those mistakes." [New York Times, 2/13/02] Surprisingly, Poindexter's appointment is little noticed until later in 2002 when the Total Information Awareness program is revealed (see March 2002 (B) and November 9, 2002). Incidentally, several others involved in the Iran-Contra affair also find jobs in the Bush Administration, including Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, and Otto Reich. [Observer, 12/8/02]
January 20, 2002: Evidence comes to light that a scientist named Lt. Col. Philip Zack had a history of suspicious behavior in the nation's most classified anthrax research center, USAMRIID. Zack was fired for unprofessional behavior centering on numerous hateful attacks on his colleague Dr. Assaad (Zack is Jewish and Assaad is Muslim, which may explain the enmity). Security cameras show Zack came into the lab at night on occasion without permission, after being fired. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/02] There is also a history of missing viruses, including anthrax and Ebola, that seem connected to these incidents. [New York Times, 7/19/02, note that the Times story mentions Hatfill (as "Dr. Z") in the article and not Zack, even though Hatfill didn't join USAMRIID until years after these incidents] A former lab technician who worked with some of the anthrax that was later reported missing said all he ever handled was the Ames strain. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/02] Dr. Assaad received a letter just prior to the anthrax attacks in October that appear to frame him (see October 2, 2001). [Hartford Courant, 12/9/01] Zack seems a very likely suspect, but has not been arrested (and wasn't even questioned for months after the attacks).
January 22, 2002: A crowd of mostly unarmed Indian police near the US Information Service building in Calcutta, India, is attacked by gunmen; four policemen are killed and 21 people injured. The gunmen escape. India claims that Aftab Ansari immediately calls to take credit, and India charges that the gunmen belong to Ansari's kidnapping ring also connected to funding the 9/11 attacks (see Early August 2001 (D)). [Telegraph, 1/24/02, AP, 2/10/02] Saeed Sheikh and the ISI assist Ansari in the attack. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] This is the fourth terrorist attack they have cooperated on, including the 9/11 attacks (see Early August 2001 (D), October 1, 2001 (D), and December 13, 2001 (C)).
January 22-25, 2002: FBI Director Mueller visits India, and is told by Indian investigators that Saeed Sheikh sent ransom money to hijacker Mohamed Atta in the US (see Early August 2001 (D)). In the next few days, Saeed is publicly blamed for his role with gangster Aftab Ansari in financing Atta and organizing the Calcutta terrorist attack (see January 22, 2002). [Press Trust of India, 1/22/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Independent, 2/24/02, AFP, 1/27/02, Telegraph, 1/27/02] Meanwhile, on January 23, Saeed helps kidnap reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002) and is later arrested (see February 5, 2002). Also on January 23, Ansari is placed under surveillance after flying to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On January 24, Mueller and US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin discuss Saeed at a previously scheduled meeting with Pakistani President Musharraf. Apparently Saeed's role in Pearl's kidnapping is not yet known. [AP, 2/24/02] Mueller then flies to Dubai on his way back to the US to pressure the government there to arrest Ansari and deport him to India. Ansari is arrested on February 5 and deported 4 days later (see February 9, 2002 (C)). [AP, 2/10/02, Frontline, 2/16/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Is the timing of Mueller's travels coincidental, or is he striking at Saeed and Ansari for their role in financing 9/11?
January 23, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Pakistan while researching stories threatening to the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [Guardian, 1/25/02, BBC, 7/5/02] He is later murdered (see January 31, 2002). FTW Saeed Sheikh is later convicted as the mastermind of the kidnap (see July 15, 2002), and though it appears he lured Pearl into being kidnapped beginning January 11, the actual kidnapping and murder of Pearl is done by others who remain at large. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Wall Street Journal, 1/23/03] Both al-Qaeda and the ISI appear to be behind the kidnapping (see January 28, 2002 and February 5, 2002). The overall mastermind behind the kidnapping seems to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [Time, 1/26/03, CNN, 1/30/03] If Saeed assisted Mohammed in the kidnapping, that would appear to repeat their cooperation in the 9/11 attacks, and strengthen the argument that Mohammed is connected to both al-Qaeda and the ISI (see June 4, 2002).
January 24, 2002: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) later claims that on this day, Vice President Cheney calls him and urges that no 9/11 inquiry be made. Bush repeats the request on January 28, and Daschle is repeatedly pressured thereafter. Newsweek summarizes one of these conversations: "Bush administration officials might say they're too busy running the war on terrorism to show up. Press the issue... and you risk being accused of interfering with the mission." [Newsweek, 2/4/02] Cheney later disagrees: "Tom's wrong. He has, in this case, let's say a misinterpretation." [Reuters, 5/27/02]
January 26, 2002: Salon exposes details about the FBI's anthrax investigation. The FBI appears to be casting a very wide net, for instance approaching all 40,000 members of the American Society of Microbiologists and putting flyers asking for information all over New Jersey. Yet all the evidence suggests that the anthrax strain could only be made in one of two places: USAMRIID in Maryland or US Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Meanwhile, the FBI has not yet subpoenaed employee records of the few labs that used the strain of anthrax used in the attacks. Numerous anthrax experts express puzzlement. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biological arms control expert, believes the FBI is dragging its heels for political reasons. She is convinced the FBI knows who mailed the anthrax letters, but isn't arresting him, because he has been involved in secret biological weapons research that the US does not want revealed. "This guy knows too much, and knows things the US isn't very anxious to publicize. Therefore, they don't want to get too close." [Salon, 1/26/02]
January 28, 2002: The kidnappers of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002) e-mail the media a picture of Pearl and a list of very strange demands. [BBC, 7/5/02] The kidnappers call themselves "The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty," a previously unheard of name. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] Their demands include the return of US-held Pakistani prisoners and the departure of US journalists from Pakistan. [ABC News, 2/7/02] Most unusually, they demand that the US sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan. No terrorist group had ever shown interest in the F-16's, but this demand and the others reflect the desires of Pakistan's military and the ISI. [London Times, 4/21/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] On January 29, "a senior Pakistani official" presumably from the ISI leaks the fact that Pearl is Jewish to the Pakistani press. This may have been an attempt to ensure the kidnappers would want to murder him, which they do shortly thereafter (see January 31, 2002). [Vanity Fair, 8/02] On the same day, it is reported that US intelligence believes the kidnappers are connected to the ISI. [UPI, 1/29/02] Secretary of State Powell will later say there is no connection between the kidnappers and the ISI. [March 3, 2002]
January 29, 2002: President Bush's State of the Union speech describes an "axis of evil" between Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Advisor Richard Perle cautioned against these same three countries a month before 9/11 (see August 6, 2001). Bin Laden is not mentioned in the speech. [CNN, 1/29/02] The speech is followed by a new public focus on Iraq and a downplaying of bin Laden (see September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002).
January 31, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is murdered by his kidnappers in Pakistan (see also January 23, 2002). Pearl is reported dead on February 21; his body is found months later. Police investigators say "there were at least eight to ten people present on the scene" and at least 15 who participated in his kidnapping and murder. "Despite issuing a series of political demands shortly after Pearl's abduction four weeks ago, it now seems clear that the kidnappers planned to kill Pearl all along." [Washington Post, 2/23/02] Some captured participants later claim 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is the one who cuts Pearl's throat (see January 22, 2003).
February 5, 2002: Pakistani police, with the help of the FBI, determine Saeed Sheikh is behind the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002), but are unable to find him. They round up about ten of his relatives and threaten to harm them unless he turns himself in. Saeed Sheikh does turn himself in, but to Ijaz Shah, his former ISI boss (see June 1993-October 1994). [Boston Globe, 2/7/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI holds Saeed for a week, but fails to tell Pakistani police or anyone else that they have him (see February 12, 2002). This "missing week" is the cause of much speculation. The ISI never tells Pakistani police any details about this week. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] Saeed also later refuses to discuss the week or his connection to the ISI, only saying, "I will not discuss this subject. I do not want my family to be killed." He adds, "I know people in the government and they know me and my work." [Newsweek, 3/13/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] It is suggested Saeed is held for this week to make sure that Pearl was killed. Saeed later says that during this week he got a coded message from the kidnappers that Pearl had been murdered. Also, the time might have been spent working out a deal with the ISI over what Saeed would tell police and the public. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] Several others with both extensive ISI and al-Qaeda ties wanted for the kidnapping are arrested around this time. [Washington Post, 2/23/02, London Times, 2/25/02] One of these men, Khalid Khawaja, "has never hidden his links with Osama bin Laden. At one time he used to fly Osama's personal plane." [PakNews, 2/11/02]
February 6, 2002: Pakistani police publicly name Saeed Sheikh and a terrorist group he belongs to, Jaish-e-Mohammad, responsible for reporter Daniel Pearl's murder (see January 31, 2002 and February 5, 2002). [Observer, 2/24/02] In the next several months, at least 12 Western articles mention Saeed's links to al-Qaeda [ABC News, 2/7/02, Boston Globe, 2/7/02, AP, 2/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 3/15/02], including his financing of 9/11 [New York Daily News, 2/7/02, CNN, 2/8/02, AP, 2/9/02, Guardian, 2/9/02, Independent, 2/10/02, Time, 2/10/02, New York Post, 2/10/02, Evening Standard, 2/12/02, Los Angeles Times, 2/13/02, New York Post, 2/22/02, Sunday Herald, 2/24/02, USA Today, 3/8/02], and at least 16 articles mention his links to the ISI. [Cox News, 2/21/02, Observer, 2/24/02, Telegraph, 2/24/02, Newsweek, 2/25/02, New York Times, 2/25/02, USA Today, 2/25/02, National Post, 2/26/02, Boston Globe, 2/28/02, Newsweek, 3/11/02, Newsweek, 3/13/02, Guardian, 4/5/02, MSNBC, 4/5/02]. However, many other articles fail to mention either link. But only three articles consider that Saeed could have been connected to both groups at the same time. [London Times, 2/25/02, London Times, 4/21/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02], and only one of these mentions he could be involved in the ISI, al-Qaeda and financing 9/11. [London Times, 4/21/02] By the time Saeed is convicted of Pearl's murder in July 2002, not a single US newspaper is connecting Saeed to either al-Qaeda or the ISI, while many British newspapers are still making one or the other connection (see July 15, 2002). Is the media afraid of reporting any news that could imply a connection between the ISI and the 9/11 attacks?
February 6, 2002 (B): CIA Director Tenet tells a Senate hearing that 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. [USA Today, 2/7/02]
February 9, 2002: Pakistani President Musharraf and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai announce their agreement to "cooperate in all spheres of activity" including the proposed Central Asian pipeline, which they call "in the interest of both countries." [Irish Times, 2/9/02] FTW
February 9, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: Victor Korshunov, 56, is bashed over the head and killed at the entrance of his home in Moscow, Russia. He was the head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University and an expert in intestinal bacteria. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 9, 2002 (C): Gangster Aftab Ansari is deported to India. He was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on February 5 (see January 22, 2002 and January 22-25, 2002). [Independent, 2/10/02] He admits funding terrorist attacks through kidnapping ransoms (see Early August 2001 (D)), and building a network of arms and drug smuggling. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2/11/02] He later also admits to close ties with the ISI and Saeed Sheikh, whom he befriended in prison (see November 1994-December 1999). [Press Trust of India, 5/13/02]
February 10, 2002: Katherine Smith is killed one day before he scheduled appearance in court on charges she helped five Muslim terrorists get illegal drivers licenses. Her car supposedly hit a tree and then caught on fire. The FBI later determined that gasoline was poured on her clothing before she died in the fire. A suicide note was found, but prosecutors say they are looking for murder suspects. One of the five Muslims, Sakhera Hammad, was found with a pass for the WTC, dated September 5, 2001, in his wallet. Hammad claims he was a plumber and worked on the WTC's sprinkler system that day (see September 5, 2001). Smith was being investigated by the FBI; the five later plead guilty to charges of fraud. [AP, 2/13/02, Reuters, 2/15/02, Go Memphis, 2/12/02, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/21/02]
February 11, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Ian Langford, 40, is found dead, partially naked and wedged under a chair in his home in Norwich, England. When found, his house was described as "blood-spattered and apparently ransacked." He was an expert in environmental risks and disease and a senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia's Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment. One of his colleagues states: "Ian was without doubt one of Europe's leading experts on environmental risk, specializing in links between human health and environmental risk... He was one of the most brilliant colleagues I have ever had." [London Times, 2/13/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 12, 2002: Saeed Sheikh, already in ISI custody for a week (see February 5, 2002), is handed over to Pakistani police. Shortly afterwards, he publicly confesses to his involvement in reporter Daniel Pearl's murder (see January 31, 2002). Later he will recant this confession. It appears that initially he thought he would get a light sentence. Newsweek describes him initially "confident, even cocky," saying he would only serve three to four years if convicted, and would never be extradited. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] He is in fact sentenced to hang instead (see July 15, 2002). Did Saeed work out a secret deal during his "missing week" in ISI custody to get a light sentence, a deal that is later broken? Pakistani militants respond to his arrest with three suicide attacks that kill more than 30 people. [Guardian, 7/16/02]
February 14, 2002: The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv astutely notes: "If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in the Afghan war], one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean." Ma'ariv also states, "Osama bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests... If I were a believer in conspiracy theory, I would think that bin Laden is an American agent. Not being one I can only wonder at the coincidence." [Chicago Tribune, 3/18/02] FTW
February 18, 2002: The Financial Times reports that the estimated opium harvest in Afghanistan in June 2002 will reach a record 4500 metric tons. Afghanistan is supplying 95% of the heroin in Europe, but the US shows "little interest" in stopping the production. [Financial Times, 2/18/02] FTW
February 18, 2002 (B): The Pakistani government unsuccessfully tries to stop the Pakistani newspaper The News from publishing a story revealing Saeed Sheikh's connections to the ISI, based on leaks from Pakistani police interrogations. [Washington Post, 3/10/02, London Times, 4/21/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] According to the article, Saeed admits his involvement in recent attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi and in Kashmir (see October 1, 2001 (D) and December 13, 2001 (C)), and says the ISI helped him finance, plan and execute them. [The News, 2/18/02] On March 1, the ISI pressures The News to fire the four journalists who worked on the story. The ISI also demands an apology from the newspaper's editor, who flees the country instead. [Washington Post, 3/10/02, London Times, 4/21/02, Guardian, 7/16/02]
February 20, 2002: The Pentagon announces the existence of the new Office of Strategic Influence, which "was quietly set up after September 11." The role of this office is to plant false stories in the foreign press, phony e-mails from disguised addresses, and other covert activities to manipulate public opinion. The new office proves so controversial that it is declared closed six days later. [CNN, 2/20/02, CNN, 2/26/02] It is later reported that the "temporary" Office of Global Communications will be made permanent (it is unknown when this office began its work). This office seems to serve the same function as the earlier Office of Strategic Influence, minus the covert manipulation. [Washington Post, 7/20/02] Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later states that after the office was closed, "I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have" (see also October 2002 and November 24, 2002). [Department of Defense, 11/18/02]
February 21, 2002: Police and intelligence agencies in Britain predict "a potentially huge increase in heroin trafficking because of massive and unchecked replanting of the opium crop in Afghanistan." This dovetails with a UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention report, which has detected massive opium planting that had mostly stopped under the Taliban. An intelligence source describes the idea of cracking down on opium growing as "a political nightmare" that could destroy support for the Afghan government. One solution would be to buy the opium and destroy it, but that has been rejected as too costly and controversial. Afghanistan is the source of 75% of the world's heroin. [Guardian, 2/21/02]
February 25, 2002: Time reports that the second highest Taliban official in US custody, Mullah Haji Abdul Samat Khaksar, has been waiting for months for the CIA to talk to him. Even two weeks after Time informed US officials that Khaksar wanted to talk, no one has properly interviewed him. He says he has useful information, and may be able to help locate former Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Time notes that "he claims to have information about al-Qaeda links to the ISI." [Time, 2/25/02] "The little that Khaksar has divulged to an American general and his intelligence aide - is tantalizing." "He says that the ISI agents are still mixed up with the Taliban and al-Qaeda," and that all three have formed a new group to get the US out of Afghanistan. He also says that "the ISI recently assassinated an Afghan in Paktika province who knew the full extent of ISI's collaboration with al-Qaeda." [Time, 2/19/02] Did the US not want to hear from Khaksar because of his embarrassing information about the ISI?
February 28, 2002: The notion that the 9/11 attacks were not done by bin Laden is only a conspiracy theory in the First World. A Gallup poll conducted in Muslim nations shows 18 percent believe that Arabs were responsible and 61 percent do not. 86 percent in Pakistan say Arabs were not responsible. [Guardian, 2/28/02] Even the President of Pakistan has said bin Laden was not the mastermind, though he probably backed it. [Reuters, 8/4/02]
February 28, 2002 (B): Two dead microbiologists in San Francisco: While taking delivery of a pizza, Tanya Holzmayer, 46, is shot and killed by a colleague, Guyang Huang, 38, who then apparently shot himself. Holzmayer moved to the US from Russia in 1989. Her research focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine. Holzmayer was focusing on helping create new drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS. One year earlier, Holzmayer obeyed senior management orders to fire Huang. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/28/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 2002: Beginning at least by this time, some political activists begin noticing they are being subjected to extra surveillance and security checks when flying in the US. Numerous government agencies later admit they are using a "no fly" list that bans certain people from flying. The government says about 1,000 names are on the list. It is also admitted that there is a second list that subjects anyone on it to increased security every time they fly. A number of agencies, including the CIA, FBI, INS, and State Department, admit that they have added names to such lists, but no agency admits controlling the list. There are no guidelines to determine who gets on the lists and no procedures for getting off a list if someone is wrongfully on it. Airport security personnel note that the lists seem to be netting mostly priests, elderly nuns, Green Party campaign operatives, left-wing journalists, right-wing activists, and people affiliated with Arab or Arab-American groups. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/27/02, Salon, 11/15/02]
March 2002 (B): The US military internally announces the creation of a new global data collection system called Total Information Awareness. The existence of this program is not reported until August 2002 [Wired, 8/7/02], and not widely known until November (see November 9, 2002). Interestingly, the early accounts of this program suggest its budget is a "significant amount" of $96 million [Federal Computer Week, 10/17/02], and not the $10 million later reported, [Guardian, 11/23/02] It is also reported that "parts" of the program "are already operational" whereas later it is said to be only in the conceptual stages of development. [Federal Computer Week, 10/17/02]
March 2002 (C): Authorities in Bosnia, Sarajevo, raid the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation due to suspected funding of al-Qaeda The raid uncovers a handwritten list of twenty wealthy donors sympathetic to al-Qaeda. The list, referred to as "The Golden Chain," reveals both the names of the donors, and the names of the recipients. Seven of the payments were made to Osama bin Laden, while at least one donation to him was made by the "bin Laden brothers." UPI points out that "the discovery of this document in Sarajevo calls into question whether al-Qaeda has received support from one of Osama's scores of wealthy brothers." Adel Batterjee, a wealth businessman from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who is also the founder of both the charity BFI and its predecessor Lajnatt Al-Birr Al-Islamiah, appears to be mentioned as a recipient three times. Batterjee has been named as a defendant in a 9/11 lawsuit against wealthy Saudis, but he has been missing in Saudi Arabia for over a year. When the document was written is not mentioned, but it may date from the early 1990s. [UPI, 2/11/03]
Early March 2002: The book l'Effroyable Imposture (The Horrifying Fraud) is published in France. The book denies that a passenger airliner crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. It is written by Thierry Meyssan, "president of the Voltaire Network, a respected independent think tank whose left-leaning research projects have until now been considered models of reasonableness and objectivity." [Guardian, 4/1/02] The book is widely denounced by the media (for instance, [AFP, 3/21/02, London Times, 5/19/02, National Post, 8/31/02, Baltimore Sun, 9/12/02]). One reporter trashes the book even while admitting never to have read it. [LA Weekly, 7/19/02] But the book sets a French publishing record for first-month sales. [Time, Europe version, 5/20/02] One of Meyssan's theories is that people within the US government wanted to hit the Pentagon for its propaganda effect, but didn't want to create a lot of damage or kill important people like Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. They note that the crash hit the one section under construction, thus greatly reducing the loss of life. Furthermore, the wall at point of impact was the first and only one to be reinforced and have blast-resistant windows installed as part of an upgrade plan. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01]
Early March 2002 (B): William Patrick (see February 1999) is interviewed by the FBI in relation to the anthrax attacks. He is surprised that the FBI didn't interview him earlier. [BBC, 3/14/02] After passing a lie detector test, the FBI invites him to join the inner circle of technical advisers to the anthrax investigation. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] It is later noted that "many of the experts the FBI has turned to for help are also, almost by definition, potential suspects. That has put FBI agents in the uncomfortable position of having to subject their scientist-consultants to polygraph tests, and then, afterward, ask those same experts to help analyze evidence." [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
March 1, 2002: An article in Vanity Fair suggests
the ISI is still deeply involved in the drug trade in Central Asia. It estimates
that Pakistan has a parallel drug economy worth $15 billion a year. Pakistan's
official economy is worth about $60 billion. The article
notes that the US has not tied its billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan to
assurances that Pakistan will stop its involvement in drugs. [Vanity
March 2, 2002: 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. [New York Times, 3/2/02, Dow Jones News, 9/10/02] 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 approximately 3,000 to 4,000 SEC cases were destroyed. Some were backed up in other places, but many were not, especially those classified as confidential. [National Law Journal, 9/17/01] Lost files include documents that could show the relationship between Citigroup and the WorldCom bankruptcy. [The Street, 8/9/02] The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates over 10,000 cases will be affected. [New York Law Journal, 9/14/01] The Secret Service also lost investigative files. Says one agent: "All the evidence that we stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building." [Tech TV, 7/23/02] It is also eventually revealed that there was a secret CIA office in Building 7. [CNN, 11/4/01] 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. [Committee on Science, House of Representatives testimony, 3/6/02]
March 2, 2002 (B): The Washington Post claims that nine of the 19 9/11 hijackers were selected for special security just prior to boarding for the 9/11 attack, including two who were singled out because of irregularities in their identification documents. "Six were chosen for extra scrutiny by a computerized screening system, prompting a sweep of their checked baggage for explosives or unauthorized weapons." [Washington Post, 3/2/02] None of the names selected for screening are given, but a different article makes clear that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, on a watch list for international flights at the time (see August 23, 2001 (C)), are not selected. [Cox News, 10/21/01] It is later revealed that box cutters were illegal to bring on board airplanes at the time of 9/11. [AP, 11/11/02] If this is true, how did they get the box cutters on board, not to mention reports of illegal knives, bombs and chemical spray on two planes (for instance, see September 17, 2001 (C), July 18, 2002 and March 27, 2002)? Also, if all this is true, why have no photos of them boarding planes or interviews with security staff been released?
March 3, 2002: Secretary of State Powell rules out any links between "elements of the ISI" and the murderers of reporter Daniel Pearl. [Dawn, 3/3/02] The Guardian later calls Powell's comment "shocking," given the overwhelming evidence that the main suspect, Saeed Sheikh, worked for the ISI. [Guardian, 4/5/02] Defense Secretary Rumsfeld called him a possible "asset" for the ISI a week earlier. [London Times, 2/25/02] The Washington Post says, "The [ISI] is a house of horrors waiting to break open. Saeed has tales to tell." [Washington Post, 3/28/02] The Guardian says Saeed "is widely believed in Pakistan to be an experienced ISI 'asset.'" [Washington Post, 5/3/02] Does Powell's comment indicate that the US is helping to cover up Saeed's ISI connections?
March 5, 2002: It is reported that many spies in the uncovered Israeli spy ring seemed to have been trailing the 9/11 hijackers. For instance, five Israeli spies are intercepted in the tiny town of Hollywood, Florida, and four 9/11 hijackers are known to have spent time in Hollywood, Florida. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Reuters, 3/5/02, Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/15/02] In one case, some Israeli spies lived at 4220 Sheridan Street, only a few hundred feet from where Atta was living at 3389 Sheridan Street. Israeli spies appear to have been close to at least 10 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. [Salon, 5/7/02]
March 6, 2002: A Washington Post article completely denies the existence of any Israeli spy ring. A "wide array of US officials" supposedly deny it, and Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden says: "This seems to be an urban myth that has been circulating for months. The department has no information at this time to substantiate these widespread reports about Israeli art students involved in espionage." [Washington Post, 3/6/02] The New York Times fails to cover the story at all, even months later. [Salon, 5/7/02] By mid-March, Jane's, the respected British intelligence and military analysis service, notes: "It is rather strange that the US media seems to be ignoring what may well be the most explosive story since the 11 September attacks - the alleged breakup of a major Israeli espionage operation in the USA." [Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/13/02]
March 7, 2002: A series of photos surface purporting to show a plane crashing into the Pentagon on 9/11. It's not clear who released the photos, but the Pentagon says they're authentic and taken from a Pentagon security camera. The release of these pictures comes within days of the publication of the book "l'Effroyable Imposture" (see Early March 2002). "Officials could not immediately explain why the date typed near the bottom of each photograph is Sept. 12 and the time is written as 5:37 p.m." [Fox News, 3/8/02] Could this timing "glitch" help cover the official time of the hit being at 9:37, five minutes before other estimates? Do the pictures show an American Airlines 757, or a much smaller, darker plane that has the shape of a fighter? Because the plane in the first frame hard to see, here is an enlarged version with the plane and its exhaust circled.
March 7, 2002 (B): Pakistani President Musharraf says Saeed Sheikh, chief suspect in the killing of reporter Daniel Pearl (see February 5, 2002), will not be extradited to the US, at least not until after he is tried by Pakistan. [Guardian, 3/15/02] The US Ambassador later reports to Washington that Musharraf privately said, "I'd rather hang him myself" than extradite Saeed. [Washington Post, 3/28/02] Musharraf even brazenly states, "Perhaps Daniel Pearl was over-intrusive. A mediaperson should be aware of the dangers of getting into dangerous areas. Unfortunately, he got over-involved.'' [Hindu, 3/8/02] He also says Pearl was caught up in "intelligence games." [Washington Post, 5/3/02] In early April, Musharraf apparently says he wants to see Saeed sentenced to death. Defense lawyers are appalled, saying Musharraf is effectively telling the courts what to do. [BBC, 4/12/02] The Washington Post reports in early March that Pakistani "police alternately fabricate and destroy evidence, depending on pressure from above" [Washington Post, 3/10/02], and in fact Saeed's trial will be plagued with problems (see July 16-21, 2002).
March 11, 2002: A newspaper reports that the DEA study on Israeli "art students" determined the "students" all had "recently served in the Israeli military, the majority in intelligence, electronic signal intercept or explosive ordnance units." [Palm Beach Post, 3/11/02]
March 13, 2002: A bomb and two smaller explosive-type devices are found and defused in the stairwell outside of the Shelby County Regional Forensic Center, Memphis, Tennessee, where county medical examiner Dr. O. C. Smith works. Smith states, "We have done several high-profile cases from (missing Harvard researcher) Dr. (Don) Wiley to Katherine Smith but there has been no indication that we offended anyone... We just don't know if we were the intended target or not.'' The police state, "It potentially could have been a large blast if exploded." The mystery gets deeper: in June, Dr. Smith is attacked, bound with barbed wire and left with a bomb tied to his body (see June 1, 2002). [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 3/14/02]
March 14, 2002: Attorney General Ashcroft announces a second US criminal indictment of Saeed Sheikh (see August 2001-February 5, 2002), this time for his role in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl (see January 31, 2002). The amount of background information given about Saeed is very brief, and of all his many terrorist acts since he was released from prison in 1999, the only one mentioned is that in September and October 2001 he fought in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda. The indictment and Ashcroft fail to mention Saeed's financing of the 9/11 attacks, and no reporters ask Ashcroft about this either (see Early August 2001 (D)). [CNN, 3/14/02, Los Angeles Times, 3/15/02]
March 15, 2002: Forward, a US publication with a large Jewish audience, admits that there has been an Israeli spy ring in the US. This is a reversal of their earlier stance (see [Forward, 12/21/01]). But, "far from pointing to Israeli spying against US government and military facilities, as reported in Europe last week, the incidents in question appear to represent a case of Israelis in the United States spying on a common enemy, radical Islamic networks suspected of links to Middle East terrorism." [Forward, 3/15/02]
March 22, 2002: Translator Sibel Edmonds later claims that she is fired by the FBI on this day after repeatedly raising suspicions about a coworker and her alleged connections to an unnamed foreign official and an unnamed foreign organization. Both Edmonds and the coworker, Can Dickerson, were hired as translators in late September 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (see Late September 2001). Edmonds claims that Dickerson failed to translate sensitive information concerning the foreign official and organization, did not inform the FBI that she once worked for the organization (which is under investigation), and had "unreported contacts" with the foreign official, who has now left the country. When Edmonds failed to agree to work as a spy for this organization, Dickerson told her that her lack of cooperation could put her family in danger. Both Edmonds and Dickerson are ethnically Turkish, but no one has claimed that Turkey was involved. After her boss and others in the FBI failed to respond to her complaints, she wrote to the Justice Department's inspector general's office in March: "Investigations are being compromised. Incorrect or misleading translations are being sent to agents in the field. Translations are being blocked and circumvented." She claims she was fired for her whistleblowing, and is suing. Both the FBI and some US Senators later agree that there is merit to Edmonds's claims, and are investigating the matter. A second FBI whistleblower, John Cole, also claims to know of security lapses in the screening and hiring of FBI translators. [Washington Post, 6/19/02, Cox News, 8/14/02] In October 2002, at the request of FBI Director Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft asks a judge to throw out Edmonds's lawsuit against the Justice Department. He says he is applying the state secrets privilege in order "to protect the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States." [AP, 10/18/02]
March 22, 2002 (B): British officials claim to have found an al-Qaeda biological weapons lab near Kandahar, Afghanistan. But the lab was incomplete, and "there is still no indication that al-Qaeda ever succeeded in producing biological agents." [New York Times, 3/22/02] Soon after, the US denies even the existence of any such lab, and the British government is accused of inventing the story to justify sending British soldiers to a certain part of Afghanistan. [Observer, 3/24/02]
March 23, 2002: Close on the heels of reports about al-Qaeda wanting to make anthrax in Afghanistan, a new report suggests that one of the 9/11 hijackers had an anthrax wound months before 9/11. Ahmed Alhaznawi went to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in June 2001 complaining of a nasty leg lesion that authorities believe could have been caused by anthrax. But an FBI spokesman says these possibilities were dismissed months ago, and "nothing new has in fact developed." [Observer, 3/24/02] The spokesman adds, "Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been." [CNN, 3/23/02] Phone calls from one of the hijacked planes suggest the hijackers kept passengers at bay with a chemical spray (see July 18, 2002) - could this wound be related to that chemical?
March 24, 2002: The Sunday Times reports that records of bin Laden's satellite phone calls indicate that before 9/11 he and his most senior lieutenants made over 260 calls from their base in Afghanistan to 27 numbers in Britain (see Early 1996-October 1998). They included calls to suspected terrorist agents, sympathizers and companies. If it was known who bin Laden was calling, why weren't those people watched and tracked? It appears British intelligence still doesn't know why bin Laden called certain numbers. Bin Laden's main British contact, Khaled al-Fawwaz, was called over 200 times. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02, Sunday Herald, 5/19/02] Although al Fawwaz was put in prison before 9/11, he told a fellow prisoner about a planned attack on 9/11 (see August 21, 2001).
March 24, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: David Wynn-Williams, 55, is hit by a car while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England. He was an astrobiologist with the Antarctic Astrobiology Project and the NASA Ames Research Center. He was studying the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming. [London Times, 3/27/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 25, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Steven Mostow, 63, dies when the airplane he was piloting crashes near Denver, Colorado. He worked at the Colorado Health Sciences Centre and was known as "Dr. Flu" for his expertise in treating influenza, and expertise on bioterrorism. Mostow was "one of the country's leading infectious disease experts" and was associate dean at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Three others died in the crash. Mostow's death bring the total number of leading microbiologists killed in a six-month period to at least 15. [KUSA TV, 3/26/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 27, 2002: New York Times reporter Jere Longman writes an article based on recent leaks to him about Flight 93's cockpit flight recording (later relatives of the victims are given a single chance to listen to the recording (see April 18, 2002)). He claims that earlier reports of a 911 call from a bathroom reporting smoke and an explosion are incorrect. He names the passenger as Edward Felt and notes that the dispatcher who took the call and Felt's wife both deny the smoke and explosion story. There were messages from both passengers and hijackers on the plane speaking of a bomb. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] Longman also claims that one passenger, Tom Burnett, told his wife there were guns on the plane. [New York Times, 3/27/02] From immediately after 9/11, the fact that Tom Burnett told his wife that he didn't see any guns was widely reported. [Dateline NBC, 9/14/01] Note that the passengers appeared doubtful that the terrorists had either real guns or bombs, but there is a March 2002 report of a gun being used on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)). Why are we only hearing about the possibility of guns on board so many months later? Could it be that the airlines are liable to lose billions if it can be proven weapons were smuggled aboard the plane? Why was the Felt call widely reported and unchallenged by officials until now?
March 28, 2002: FBI agents and Pakistani police commandos raid a house in the city of Faisalabad, Pakistan, and capture al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. He's shot three times but survives. [New York Times, 4/14/02] Many documents are found that lead to the indictment of 100 more people. [Newsweek, 9/4/02] US intelligence found his location by tracing his phone calls. [New York Times, 4/14/02] He has since given the US useful information on 9/11 and other al-Qaeda plans. [Newsweek, 9/4/02] Zubaida is considered one of the highest in al-Qaeda's leadership and the highest ranking prisoner captured by the US so far. [New York Times, 4/14/02] It is believed that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed takes over Zubaida's tasks. [Asia Times, 9/11/02]
March 29, 2002: Abdullah bin Laden, spokesman for the bin Laden family and one of Osama's many brothers, speaks directly to the press for the first time since 9/11. He says the family cut all personal and financial ties to Osama in 1993, and that no family member has contact with him or provides any kind of support for him. "We went through a tough time. It was difficult We felt we are a victim as well." [ABC News, 3/29/02] This appears to be the same Abdullah bin Laden that the FBI began investigating in 1996 only to have the investigation killed by higher-ups in government (see 1996).
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, June or August 2002: It is originally reported that Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda interviews 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 9/11 associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh at a secret location in Karachi, Pakistan in either June [London Times, 9/8/02] or August. [Guardian, 9/9/02] Details and audio footage of the interview come out between September 8-12, 2002. The video footage of the interview al-Qaeda promised to hand over is never given to Al Jazeera. [AP, 9/8/02] Both figures claim the 9/11 attacks were originally going to target nuclear reactors, but "decided against it for fear it would go out of control." Interviewer Fouda is struck that Mohammed and bin al-Shibh remember only the hijackers' code names, and have trouble remembering their real names. [Australian, 9/9/02] Mohammed calls himself the head of al-Qaeda's military committee - the group that planned the targets for 9/11. These interviews "are the first full admission by senior figures from bin Laden's network that they carried out the September 11 attacks." [Sunday Times, 9/8/02] But the Financial Times has reported on Fouda's interview, "Analysts cited the crude editing of the tapes and the timing of the broadcasts as reasons to be suspicious about their authenticity. Dia Rashwan, an expert on Islamist movements at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies in Cairo, said: 'I have very serious doubts [about the authenticity of this tape]. It could have been a script written by the FBI.'" [Financial Times, 9/11/02] Mohammed is later reported to be arrested in June 2002 (see June 16, 2002), killed or arrested in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002), and then arrested in March 2003 (see March 1, 2003). After this last arrest, for the first time Fouda claims this interview took place in April, placing it safely before the first reports of Mohammed's capture. [Guardian, 3/4/03, Canada AM, 3/6/03] Bin al-Shibh also gets captured several days after Fouda's interview in broadcast (see September 11, 2002), and some reports say he is captured because this interview allows his voice to be identified. [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] As a result, Fouda has been accused of betraying al-Qaeda, and now fears for his life. [Independent, 9/17/02] As the Washington Post puts it: "Now al Jazeera is also subject to rumors of a conspiracy." [Washington Post, 9/15/02] Yet after being so reviled by al-Qaeda supporters, Fouda is later given a cassette said to be a bin Laden speech. [MSNBC, 11/18/02] Why would al-Qaeda have given such an exclusive to the man said to have betrayed them? US officials believe the voice on that cassette is "almost certainly" bin Laden, but one of the world's leading voice-recognition institutes said they were 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/18/02, BBC, 11/29/02] Is it possible that Fouda has been working with the US to pass on anti-al-Qaeda propaganda, including the Mohammed and bin al-Shibh interview?
April 1, 2002: "American officials have quietly abandoned their hopes to reduce Afghanistan's opium production substantially this year and are now bracing for a harvest large enough to inundate the world's heroin and opium markets with cheap drugs." They want to see the new Afghan government make at least a token effort to destroy some opium, but it appears they're not doing even that. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai had announced a total ban on opium cultivation, processing, and trafficking, but it appears to be a total sham. The new harvest is so large, it could be "enough opium to stockpile for two or two and a half more years." [New York Times, 4/1/02] Starting this month, Karzai's government offers farmers $500 for every acre of poppies they destroy, but farmers can earn as much as $6,400 per acre for the crop. The program is eventually canceled when it runs out of money to pay farmers. [AP, 3/27/03] If the US wants to ban opium, why doesn't it fund this program?
April 4, 2002: Dr. David Franz, a former commander of USAMRIID, says of the anthrax attacks: "I think a lot of good has come from it. From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism." Plentiful evidence suggests that the anthrax came from USAMRIID, but investigators say they have no suspects at all. They also say they have come up "against some closely held military secrets" which are slowing down the investigation. "Federal investigators tell ABCNEWS that military and intelligence agencies have withheld a full listing of all facilities and all employees dealing with top-secret anthrax programs where important leads could be found." [ABC News, 4/4/02] Did the anthrax attacker(s) use similar logic as Franz, reasoning that the attacks would serve as a wake up call to protect the US against bioterror attacks?
April 5, 2002: The
Pakistani trial of Saeed Sheikh and three others begins. [BBC,
7/5/02] NBC reports that death sentences are expected for the four accused
killers of Daniel Pearl, despite a lack of evidence. The case will be decided
in top secret by handpicked judges in Pakistan's anti-terrorism courts. "Some
in Pakistan's government also are very concerned about what [the defendant]
Saeed might say in court. His organization and other militant groups here have
ties to Pakistan's secret intelligence agency [the ISI]. There are concerns
he could try to implicate that government agency in the Pearl case, or other
questionable dealings that could be at the very least embarrassing, or worse."
[MSNBC, 4/5/02] Later in the month the
London Times says that the real truth about Saeed won't come out in the trial
because, "Sheikh is no ordinary terrorist but a man who has connections
that reach high into Pakistan's military and intelligence elite and into the
innermost circles of Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization." [London
April 11, 2002: 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 official story reported in the media that the US overly relied on satellites and other high technologies and had no agents on the ground.
April 11, 2002 (B): Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D) calls for a through investigation into whether President Bush and other government officials may have been warned of the 9/11 attacks but did nothing to prevent them, the first national-level politician to do so. "News reports from Der Spiegel to the London Observer, from the Los Angeles Times to MSNBC to CNN, indicate that many different warnings were received by the Administration. ... I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9/11. ... On the other hand, what is undeniable is that corporations close to the Administration, have directly benefited from the increased defense spending arising from the aftermath of September 11. The Carlyle Group, DynCorp, and Halliburton certainly stand out as companies close to this Administration." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/12/02] McKinney's comments are criticized and ridiculed by other politicians and the media (see April 17, 2002). For instance, Congressman Mark Foley (R) states, "She has said some outrageous things but this has gone too far ... Maybe there should be an investigation as she suggests - but one focused on her." Senator Zell Miller (D) says her comments were dangerous and irresponsible. [Washington Post, 4/12/02] An editorial in her home state calls her the "most prominent nut" promoting 9/11 "conspiracy theories." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/15/02] One columnist says she is possibly "a delusional paranoiac" or "a socialist rabble-rouser who despises her own country." [Orlando Sentinel, 4/21/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said McKinney "must be running for the hall of fame of the Grassy Knoll Society." [Washington Post, 4/12/02] One month after McKinney's comments, the Bush Administration comes under fire after reports reveal it had been warned five weeks before 9/11 about possible al-Qaeda plane hijackings (see May 15, 2002), and McKinney claims vindication. [McKinney website, 5/16/02]
April 11, 2002 (C): A truck bomb kills 19 people in a Djerba, Tunisia, synagogue, most of them German tourists. It is later claimed that al-Qaeda is behind the attack, and that the suspected bomber speaks with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by phone about three hours before the attack. [AP, 8/24/02]
April 17, 2002: The Washington Post reports that, "The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit US ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al-Qaeda," allowing bin Laden to escape. The newspaper claims that while the administration has failed to acknowledge the mistake publicly, "inside the government there is little controversy on the subject." [Washington Post, 4/17/02] The next day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denies this, and states he didn't know at the time of the assault, "nor do I know today of any evidence that he was in Tora Bora at the time or that he left Tora Bora at the time or even where he is today" (see Early December 2001). [USA Today, 4/18/02]
April 18, 2002: The FBI allows relatives of passengers on Flight 93 to listen to and see a written transcript of the cockpit recordings. 70 do so. But the FBI says the relatives are not allowed to make recordings, because the tape might be used in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. [Guardian, 4/19/02] The San Francisco Chronicle responds: "Is there even a dollop of logic in that explanation? It's like saying we can't watch video of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center because that video might be used in a trial." [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] New York Times reporter Jere Longman writes the book Among the Heroes based on his access to the recordings (see March 27, 2002) and interviews with officials and relatives. New details of their struggle on board emerges, but the government still has not officially stated if the passengers took over the plane or not. [Telegraph, 8/6/02, MSNBC, 7/30/02]
April 19, 2002: FBI Director Mueller states: "In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper—either here in the United States or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere—that mentioned any aspect of the September 11 plot." He also claims that the attackers used "extraordinary secrecy" and "investigators have found no computers, laptops, hard drives or other storage media that may have been used by the hijackers, who hid their communications by using hundreds of pay phones and cell phones, coupled with hard-to-trace prepaid calling cards." [FBI speech transcript, 4/19/02, Los Angeles Times, 4/22/02, he repeats the quote the next month, Senate Judiciary Statement, 5/8/02] However, before 9/11, CIA Director Tenet told the Senate that al-Qaeda is "embracing the opportunities offered by recent leaps in information technology," [CIA, 03/21/00], the FBI broke the al-Qaeda computer encryption before February 2001 (see February 13, 2001) [UPI, 2/13/01], witnesses report seeing the hijackers use computers for e-mail at public libraries in Florida and Maine [Sun-Sentinel, 9/16/01, Boston Herald, 10/5/01], in October 2001 there were many reports that hundreds of e-mails discussing the 9/11 plot had been found (see October 2001 (B)), Moussaoui's laptop was found to contain important information, etc... Look also at an MSNBC article about al-Qaeda using computers. [MSNBC, 4/19/02]
April 21, 2002: The Sunday Times reports on Saeed's connections to both the ISI and al-Qaeda in a story entitled, "Pearl Murder Case Briton Was a Double Agent." Most other newspapers continue to fail to connect the dots, and not even this story connects Saeed with funding 9/11, as reported in the media months before. [Sunday Times, 4/21/02]
April 23, 2002: Spanish authorities arrest Syrian-born Spaniard businessman Mohammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi and allege he is a key al-Qaeda financier. [Chicago Tribune, 5/6/02] An accountant, he is considered to be the "big financier" behind terrorist a network al-Qaeda in Europe, according to investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. From 1996 to 2001 he lived in Saudi Arabia, and funneled money into a series of companies he set up that accepted donations; the source of the money is unknown. Around $1 million of money was then forwarded to al-Qaeda agents throughout Europe, especially to Germany. One of Zouaydi's associates had the phone number of Atta's apartment in Hamburg, Germany in the memory of his cell phone (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). [AFP, 9/20/02] Zouaydi also allegedly sent money to Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001), a Syrian-born businessman who has admitted knowing Atta and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Chicago Tribune, 5/6/02] One of Zouaydi's employees in Spain visited the WTC in 1997 where he extensively videotaped the buildings (see 1998). Perhaps only coincidentally, while in Saudi Arabia, Zouaydi "was an accountant for the al-Faisal branch of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud and Prince Turki al-Faisal" (see August 31, 2001). [AFP, 9/20/02]
April 25, 2002: Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see April 1998 and November 22, 2002), reports his passport stolen to Houston, Texas police. [MSNBC, 12/2/02] This confirms that Basnan is in Houston on the same day that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, and Saudi US Ambassador Prince Bandar meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell and National Security Advisor Rice at Bush's ranch in nearby Crawford, Texas. [US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, 4/25/02] Abdullah's entourage passes through Houston that week enroute to Bush's ranch. While in Texas, it is believed that Basnan "met with a high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters and is known to bring suitcases full of cash into the United States." [MSNBC, 12/2/02, Guardian, 11/25/02]
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]
April 30, 2002 (B): The US begins transferring prisoners from the Afghan war from Camp X-Ray to Camp Delta. Both are in US-controlled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but Camp X-Ray was little more than metal wire cages and Camp Delta is made of proper buildings. [BBC, 4/30/02] Conditions in the new facility are considered more humane, but the prisoners are still not named, not allowed to contact their families, and are not given the rights of prisoners of war (see also January 11, 2002 and October 28, 2002). [Globe and Mail, 9/5/02, Guardian, 9/9/02] Halliburton, Vice President Cheney's former company, has been given the contract to build Camp Delta even though it is estimated military engineers could do the job for about half the price. [New York Times, 7/13/02]
May 1, 2002: L. Britt Snider, ex-CIA official and the head of the joint congressional investigation into 9/11, resigns. Apparently there were many conflicts between Snider and his own staff, as well as with Congress. It is later revealed the final straw occurred when Snider tried to hire a CIA employee who had failed an agency polygraph test as an inquiry staffer. The hearings were expected to start in late May, but the resignation is one reason why the first public hearings are delayed until September (see September 18, 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 5/2/02, Los Angeles Times, 10/19/02] Snider is replaced by Eleanor Hill. She is widely credited for turning around an inquiry "hampered by infighting, politics, leaks and dueling agendas" after being hired in June. [Miami Herald, 7/14/02, Washington Post, 9/25/02]
May 1, 2002 (B): FEMA releases its report of the WTC collapses. It concludes, "with the information and time available, the sequence of events leading to the collapse of each tower could not be definitively determined." On Building 7: "The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time." [FEMA study, 5/1/02] Might their failure to come to conclusions have something to do with the fact that they destroyed the evidence before it could be analyzed?
May 2, 2002: After extensive testing, the DNA sequence of the anthrax sent through the US mail in 2001 is deciphered, and it confirms suspicions that the bacteria originally came from USAMRIID. Furthermore, analysis of genetic drift determines that the attacker's anthrax was not separated from the source anthrax at USAMRIID for many generations. It suggests that USAMRIID or USAMRIID samples given to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah and/or Porton Downs in Britain are the most likely sources of the anthrax used in the attacks. [New Scientist, 5/2/02]
May 7, 2002: A moving truck is pulled over for speeding in the middle of the night in Oak Harbor, Washington, near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The base is the home of the advanced electronic warfare Prowler jets. A bomb-sniffing dog detects explosives on one of the men and inside the truck. High-tech equipment is then used to confirm the presence of TNT on the gearshift and RDX plastic explosive on the steering wheel. Both men turn out to be Israeli (one with an altered passport) and in the country illegally. [Fox News, 5/13/02] However, the FBI later clears the two men, saying both the dog and the tests just detected false positives from "residue left by a cigarette lighter." [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/14/02, Jerusalem Post, 5/14/02] The "art student spy ring" frequently uses moving vans as cover (see October 16, 2001 (C)), and has been caught spying on the most top secret military bases. [Salon, 5/7/02] In a possibly related story, the Seattle FBI office that handled this case appears to have been broken into a few weeks later, and even a room containing evidence was penetrated. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/29/02] Is the spy ring is still active? Is the FBI covering up for them and releasing them?
May 7, 2002 (B): Salon reports on the Israeli "art student" ring. All the "students" claim to have come from either Bezalel Academy, or the University of Jerusalem. A look in the Bezalel database shows that not a single one of them appear to have attended school there. There is no such thing as the University of Jerusalem. In fact, the article points out that the sheer sloppiness and brazenness of the spy operation appears to be a great mystery, especially since the Mossad is renowned as one of the best spy agencies in the world. One government source suggests a theory to Salon that the "art students" were actually a smoke screen. They were meant to be caught and connected to DEA surveillance so that a smaller number of spies also posing as art students could complete other missions. One such mission could have been the monitoring of al-Qaeda terrorists. [Salon, 5/7/02] Shortly afterwards, a major Israeli newspaper publishes a story about the spy ring, but doesn't come to any conclusions. [Ha'aretz, 5/14/02] Could it be that Israel assisted the US in keeping an eye on the terrorists, thus allowing the US to maintain plausible deniability and a detachment if there were investigations on what the US knew?
May 8, 2002: FBI Director Mueller: "there was nothing the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the [9/11] attacks." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
May 13, 2002: The BBC reports that Afghanistan is about to close a deal for construction of the $2 billion gas pipeline to run from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. "Work on the project will start after an agreement is expected to be struck" at a summit scheduled for the end of the month. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal) calls Unocal the "lead company" in building the pipeline. [BBC, 5/13/02] FTW The Los Angeles Times comments, "To some here, it looked like the fix was in for Unocal when President Bush named a former Unocal consultant, Zalmay Khalilzad, as his special envoy to Afghanistan late last year." [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02]
May 15, 2002: The Bush Administration is embarrassed when the CBS Evening News reveals that Bush had been warned about al-Qaeda domestic attacks in August 2001 (see August 6, 2001). Bush had repeatedly said that he had "no warning" of any kind. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer states unequivocally that while Bush had been warned of possible hijackings, "The president did not - not - receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers." [New York Times, 5/16/02, Washington Post, 5/16/02] "Until the attack took place, I think its fair to say that no one envisioned that as a possibility." [MSNBC, 9/18/02] Fleischer claims the August memo was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike the US" but the real title is soon found to end with "... Strike in US." [Washington Post, 5/18/02] The Guardian will state a few days later, "the memo left little doubt that the hijacked airliners were intended for use as missiles and that intended targets were to be inside the US." It further states that, "now, as the columnist Joe Conason points out in the current edition of the New York Observer, 'conspiracy' begins to take over from 'incompetence' as a likely explanation for the failure to heed - and then inform the public about - warnings that might have averted the worst disaster in the nation's history." [Guardian, 5/19/02] FTW
May 16, 2002: In the wake of new information on what Bush knew (see May 15, 2002), Vice President Cheney states: "my Democratic friends in Congress ... need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions, as were made by some today, that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9/11." He calls such criticism "thoroughly irresponsible ... in time of war" and states that any serious probe of 9/11 foreknowledge would be tantamount to giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy. [Washington Post, 5/17/02]
May 16, 2002 (B): National Security Advisor Rice states: "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," adding that "even in retrospect" there was "nothing" to suggest that. [White House, 5/16/02] Is Rice aware how many people did predict such a thing, even many years prior to 9/11? What about Japanese kamikaze pilots in WW2? For instance, Former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon has stated that scenario has long been taken seriously by US intelligence: "If you ask anybody could terrorists convert a plane into a missile? nobody would have ruled that out." Rice also states, "The overwhelming bulk of the evidence was that this was an attack that was likely to take place overseas." [MSNBC, 5/17/02] Slate compares this with the title of Bush's August 6 briefing: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," and awards Rice the "Whopper of the Week." [Slate, 5/23/02] Rice later concedes that "somebody did imagine it" but says she didn't know about such intelligence until well after this conference. [AP, 9/21/02] Which is worse: Rice lying again about not knowing such intelligence, or someone in her position actually not knowing such intelligence?
May 16, 2002 (C): In response to all of the revelations about what was known before 9/11 (see May 15, 2002), the major airlines hold a press conference saying they were never warned of a specific hijacking threat, and were not told to tighten security. For instance, an American Airlines spokesman states the airline ''received no specific information from the US government advising the carrier of a potential terrorist hijacking in the United States in the months prior to Sept. 11, 2001. American receives FAA security information bulletins periodically, but the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.'' [Miami Herald, 5/17/02] The FAA gave 15 warnings to the airlines between January and August 2001, but about one general security warning a month had been common for a long time. [CNN, 5/17/02] Even a government official called these warnings "standard fare." [Miami Herald, 5/17/02]
May 17, 2002: CBS anchorman Dan Rather tells the BBC that he and other journalists haven't been properly investigating since 9/11. He says: "There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions." [Guardian, 5/17/02]
May 20-24, 2002: The Bush administration issues a remarkable series of terror warnings that many believe are politically motivated. Vice President Cheney warns it is "not a matter of if, but when" al-Qaeda will next attack the US. [CNN, 5/20/02] Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge says the same thing. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says terrorists will "inevitably" obtain weapons of mass destruction. FBI Director Mueller says more suicide bombings are "inevitable." [Washington Post, 5/22/02] Authorities also issue separate warnings that al-Qaeda terrorists might target apartment buildings nationwide, banks, rail and transit systems, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. USA Today titles an article, "Some Question Motives Behind Series of Alerts." [USA Today, 5/24/02] David Martin, CBS's national security correspondent, says, "Right now they're putting out all these warnings to change the subject from what was known prior to September 11 to what is known now." [Washington Post, 5/27/02] Remarkably, even Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the alerts were issued "as a result of all the controversy that took place last week" (see May 15, 2002 and May 21, 2002). [Village Voice, 5/23/02, Washington Times, 5/22/02] Time notes, "Though uncorroborated and vague, the terror alerts were a political godsend for an Administration trying to fend off a bruising bipartisan inquiry into its handling of the terrorist chatter last summer. After the wave of warnings, the Democratic clamor for an investigation into the government's mistakes subsided." [Time, 5/27/02]
May 21, 2002: Minnesota FBI agent Coleen Rowley, upset with what she considers lying from FBI Director Mueller and others in the FBI about the handling of the Moussaoui case, makes public a long memo she's written about the topic (previously discussed, see August 28, 2001 (D), and see the memo here: [Time, 5/21/02]). She also applies for whistleblower protection. Time magazine calls the memo a "colossal indictment of our chief law-enforcement agency's neglect" and says it "raises serious doubts about whether the FBI is capable of protecting the public - and whether it still deserves the public's trust." [Time, 5/27/02] After 9/11 Mueller made statements such as "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country" (see September 14, 2001 (F)). Coleen Rowley and other Minnesota FBI agents "immediately sought to reach [Mueller's] office through an assortment of higher-level FBI [headquarters] contacts, in order to quickly make [him] aware of the background of the Moussaoui investigation and forewarn [him] so that [his] public statements could be accordingly modified," yet Mueller continued to make similar comments, including in a Senate hearing on May 8, 2002. [Time, 5/21/02 , New York Times, 5/30/02] Finally, after Rowley's memo becomes public, Mueller states, "I cannot say for sure that there wasn't a possibility we could have come across some lead that would have led us to the hijackers." He also admits: "I have made mistakes occasionally in my public comments based on information or a lack of information that I subsequently got." [New York Times, 5/30/02] Time magazine later names Rowley one of three "Persons of the Year" for 2002, along with fellow whistleblowers Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom and Sherron Watkins of Enron. [Time, 12/22/02, Time, 12/22/02]
May 21, 2002 (C): Abdulla Noman, a former employee of the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers got their visas, says that he took money and gifts to provide fraudulent visas to foreigners. He pleads guilty and is convicted. About 50 to 100 visas were improperly issued by Noman from September 1996 until November 2001, when he was arrested. However, a former visa officer in Jeddah, Michael Springman, has claimed in the past that the Jeddah office was notorious for purposefully giving visas to terrorists to train in the US. (see 1987-1989). [AP, 5/21/02] If this is true, then was Noman "the fall guy" to provide a cover story?
May 21-22, 2002: Walid Arkeh is a prisoner in Florida who claims to have told the FBI in August 2001 that al-Qaeda was likely to attack the WTC and other targets soon. At the time, his information was dismissed (see August 21, 2001). After 9/11, his warning is still not taken seriously by the local FBI, but on May 21 he is interviewed by a different group of FBI agents in New York City. They being asking him what three al-Qaeda prisoners he befriended had told him of the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). When Arkeh mentions he has information about 9/11 that he told the FBI before 9/11, the agents are stunned. One says to him: "Let me tell you something. If you know what happened in New York, we are all in deep shit. We are in deep trouble." He tells them that these prisoners hinted that the WTC would be attacked, and targets in Washington were mentioned as well. However, they did not tell him a date or that airplanes would be used. The New York FBI later informs him that they found his information credible. [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Near the end of his prison sentence for dealing in stolen property and slapping his child, it appears Arkeh will be deported to Jordan despite a Responsible Cooperators Program promising visas to those who provided important terrorist information. It is unclear if even one person has been given rewards through this program. [Orlando Sentinel, 11/10/02, Orlando Sentinel, 1/11/03]
May 21-24, 2002: A New York Times editorial says it's time to "light a fire under the FBI in its investigation of the anthrax case. Experts in the bioterror field are already buzzing about a handful of individuals who had the ability, access and motive to send the anthrax." [New York Times, 5/24/02] Similarly, the Guardian suggests that the FBI investigation is moving deliberately slow because the federal authorities have something to hide, stating "there is surely a point after which incompetence becomes an insufficient explanation for failure." [Guardian, 5/21/02]
May 22, 2002: At least half of the 48 Muslim radicals linked to terrorist plots in the US since 1993 manipulated or violated immigration laws to enter this country and then stay here. Even when the terrorists did little to hide violations of visa requirements or other laws, INS officials failed to enforce the laws or to deport the offenders. The terrorists used a variety of methods. At the time they committed their crimes, 12 of the 48 were illegal immigrants. At least five others had lived in the US illegally, and four others had committed significant immigration violations. Others were here legally but should have been rejected for visas because they fit US immigration profiles of people who are likely to overstay their visas. [USA Today, 5/22/02] Experts later strongly suggest that the visa applications for all 15 of the Saudi Arabian 9/11 hijackers should have been rejected due to numerous irregularities (see October 23, 2002).
May 23, 2002: President Bush says he is opposed to establishing a special, independent commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before 9/11. [CBS, 5/23/02] He later changes his stance in the face of overwhelming support for the idea (see September 20, 2002), and then sabotages an agreement that Congress had reached to establish the commission (see October 10, 2002).
May 27, 2002: The New Yorker reports that a senior FBI official acknowledges there has been "no breakthrough" in establishing how the 9/11 suicide teams were organized and how they operated. Additionally, none of the thousands of pages of documents and computer hard drives captured in Afghanistan has enabled investigators to broaden their understanding of how the attack occurred, or even to bring an indictment of a conspirator. [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
May 30, 2002: FBI Agent Robert Wright announces he is suing the FBI over a publishing ban. He has written a book but the FBI won't allow him to show it to anyone. He delivers a tearful press conference at the National Press Club describing his lawsuit against the FBI for deliberately curtailing investigations that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately he has been ordered to not reveal specifics publicly. [Fox News, 5/30/02] Wright claims the FBI shut down his 1998 criminal probe into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City (see October 1998). He uses words like "prevented," "thwarted," "obstructed," "threatened," "intimidated," and "retaliation" to describe the actions of his superiors in blocking his attempts to shut off money flows to al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. He also alleges that for years the US was training Hamas terrorists to make car bombs to use against Israel, one of the US's closest allies (see also June 9, 2001 and August 9, 2002 (C)). [LA Weekly, 8/2/02] FTW
May 30, 2002 (B): Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, Turkmenistan's President Niyazov, and Pakistani President Musharraf meet in Islamabad and sign a memorandum of understanding on the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 6/8/02, Dawn, 5/31/02] FTW The agreement is finalized by the end of the year (see December 27, 2002).
May 30, 2002 (C): Attorney General Ashcroft relaxes decades-old rules limiting government agents from monitoring domestic religious and political groups. Now, FBI agents can attend political rallies or religious meetings without evidence of a crime or advance approval from superiors. The new rules also permit the FBI to broadly search or monitor the internet for evidence of criminal activity without having any tips or leads that a specific criminal act has been committed. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/31/02]
May 31, 2002: At some point prior to this date, when asked why the August 6, 2001 memo read by Bush on al-Qaeda has not been released (see August 6, 2001), Vice President Cheney calls the CIA memo just a "rehash" containing nothing new or interesting. But why Congress should not see it, Cheney says, "because it contains the most sensitive sources and methods. It's the family jewels." [Christian Science Monitor, 5/31/02] How can this "rehash" of "jewels" be simultaneously worthless and full of sensitive information?
Late May 2002: A memo written by a Phoenix FBI agent Ken Williams in July 2001 (see July 10, 2001), which warned that Middle Eastern terrorists might be training at US flight schools, is finally received by the FAA - weeks after it was recounted in news reports. [Washington Post, 10/2/02]
June 2002: The US secretly indicts Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik for attempting to buy $32 million in Stinger missiles and other military weaponry in an undercover arms-dealing investigation. However, a US official states that Abbas is an alleged member of the ISI, and is thought to have ties to Middle East terrorist groups and arms-trafficking operations. He also appears to have foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks (see July 14, 1999). Abdul Malik is said to be Abbas's money man. Abdul Malik is not related to Mohammed Malik, another Pakistani targeted by the undercover operation. The chief US informant in the case, Randy Glass, says that both men also have clear ties to al-Qaeda, and the arms were going to be funneled to al-Qaeda and used against American targets. [Palm Beach Post, 3/20/03, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/20/03] The indictment is not revealed until March 2003; both men still remain missing and are presumed to be in Pakistan. The US says it is still working on capturing and extraditing Abbas and Malik. [MSNBC, 3/18/03] NBC seems to have no trouble reaching Abbas in Pakistan by telephone. [MSNBC, 8/2/02, MSNBC, 3/18/03] The indictment "makes no mention of Pakistan, any ties to Afghanistan's former Taliban regime or the ultimate destination of the weapons." [Palm Beach Post, 3/20/03] In other court cases resulting from this sting, all mentions of Pakistan have been removed (see June 12, 2001).
June 1, 2002: Memphis, Tennessee, medical examiner O.C. Smith is attacked with chemical spray, bound with barbed wire, and left lying in a nearby parking lot with a bomb tied to his body. He is rescued several hours later. In recent months, Smith has been working on two interesting cases. One is the death of Harvard University microbiologist Don Wiley, who supposedly fell from a Memphis bridge in December (see November 16, 2001). He also helped identify the body of Katherine Smith, a state driver's license examiner who was found burned beyond recognition in February 2002, a day before a hearing on federal charges of helping five Middle Eastern men obtain fake driver's licenses (see February 10, 2002). Adding to the mystery, Smith had received a series of death threat letters early in 2001. [AP, 6/4/02] Perhaps it's all coincidence, but the events around O.C. Smith, Katherine Smith and Don Wiley seem to tie 9/11 and the rash of microbiologist deaths together in some inexplicable way. If someone wanted O.C. Smith dead, why didn't they just kill him instead of attacking him in such a strange way and then leaving him to live? Was this, and the earlier bomb attack against his office (see March 13, 2002), meant as a warning?
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]
June 3, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy states: "Even in the [Zacarias] Moussaoui case, there's lots of uproar over the fact that the - there was a failure to obtain a warrant to search his computer. Well, the facts now are that warrant was ultimately obtained. The computer was searched and guess what? There was nothing significant on there pertaining to 9/11." [CNN, 6/3/02] Three days later, The Washington Post reports: "Amid the latest revelations about FBI and CIA lapses prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, congressional investigators say it is now clear that the evidence that lay unexamined in Zacarias Moussaoui's possession was even more valuable than previously believed. A notebook and correspondence of Moussaoui's not only appears to link him to the main hijacking cell in Hamburg, Germany, but also to an al-Qaeda associate in Malaysia whose activities were monitored by the CIA more than a year before the terror attacks on New York and Washington." [Washington Post, 6/6/02] Slate magazine later gives Kennedy the "Whopper of the Week" award for his comment. [Slate, 6/7/02]
June 3, 2002 (B): A rare follow-up article about inside trading based on 9/11 foreknowledge confirms that numerous inquiries in the US and around the world are still ongoing (see for instance, Early September 2001 (I), Early September 2001 (J), Early September 2001 (K), Early September 2001 (L), Early September 2001 (M) and September 6-10, 2001). However, "all are treating these inquiries as if they were state secrets." The author speculates: "The silence from the investigating camps could mean any of several things: Either terrorists are responsible for the puts on the airline stocks; others besides terrorists had foreknowledge; the puts were just lucky bets by credible investors; or, there is nothing whatsoever to support the insider-trading rumors." [Insight, 6/3/02]
June 3, 2002 (C): San Francisco attorney Stanley Hilton files a $7 billion
lawsuit against President Bush and other government officials, claiming that
they allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur. Hilton is filing a class action suit
on behalf of the families of 14 victims of 9/11. [San
Francisco Examiner, 6/11/02] His suit names as defendants: President Bush,
Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld,
Attorney General Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller, Transportation Secretary Norman
Mineta, and the US government generally. [Stanley
Hilton Suit, 6/3/02] While the suit has gotten virtually no press coverage,
an interview in March 2003 shows that his suit is still ongoing. [Alex
Jones Show, 3/11/03]
June 4, 2002: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is publicly identified as the "mastermind" behind the 9/11 attacks. He is believed to have arranged the logistics while on the run in Germany, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1996 he had been secretly indicted in the US for his role in Operation Bojinka (see January 6, 1995 and January-May 1996), and the US began offering a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998, which increased to $25 million in December 2001. [AP, 6/4/02, New York Times, 6/5/02] There are conflicting accounts on how much US investigators knew about Mohammed before 9/11 (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). Mohammed is Pakistani (thought born in Kuwait [CBS, 6/5/02]) and a relative of Ramzi Yousef, the bomber of the WTC in 1993. [New York Times, 6/5/02] Though not widely reported, Josef Bodansky, the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, says Mohammed also has ties to the ISI, and they had acted to shield him in the past. Bodansky claims Mohammed is the one who orders Pearl's murder (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [UPI, 9/30/02] If the 9/11 mastermind has ties to the ISI, and Saeed Shaikh, an agent of the ISI, helped train the hijackers (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001) and wired money to the 9/11 hijackers on the orders of ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see Early August 2001 (D)), and other ISI agents had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks in 1999 (see July 14, 1999), why has no mainstream media outlet ever suggested that the ISI could have been behind the 9/11 attacks? Mohammed is apparently captured in March 2003, if not earlier (see March 1, 2003).
June 4, 2002 (B): For the first time, Bush concedes that his intelligence agencies didn't do the best job: "In terms of whether or not the FBI and the CIA were communicating properly, I think it is clear that they weren't." [London Times, 6/5/02] However, in an address to the nation three days later, President Bush states, "Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of September the 11th." [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] Days earlier, Newsweek reports that the FBI have prepared a detailed chart showing how agents could have uncovered the terrorist plot if the CIA been told them what it knew about the hijackers Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner. One FBI official says, "There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together." [Newsweek, 6/2/02] FBI Director Mueller denies the existence of such a chart. Attorney General Ashcroft also says it is unlikely better intelligence could have stopped the attacks. [Washington Post, 6/3/02]
June 4, 2002 (C): Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Butler is suspended from his post at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and is told he could face a court martial for writing a letter to a local newspaper calling President Bush a "joke" and accusing him of allowing the 9/11 attacks to happen. The military prohibits public criticism of superiors. [BBC, 6/5/02, see the letter here: Monterey County Herald, 6/5/02] What is not reported is that he may have had unique knowledge about 9/11: A hijacker named Saeed Alghamdi trained at the Defense Language Institute and Butler was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs there (note that this is not the same person as the Steven Butler who later testifies before the 9/11 Congressional inquiry (see October 9, 2002)). [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Later in the month the Air Force announces "the matter is resolved" and Butler will not face a court-martial but it is unknown if he faced a lesser punishment. [Knight Ridder, 6/14/02] FTW
June 10, 2002: Attorney General Ashcroft announces the arrest of Abdullah al-Mujahir, a.k.a. Jose Padilla. He claims that Padilla was part of an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a US city, and supposedly Padilla was scouting bomb targets when arrested. Padilla, a US citizen, is being held as an "enemy combatant," allowing him to be held indefinitely. [Guardian 6/11/02, PBS Newshour, 6/11/02] But almost immediately, doubts grow about this story. The London Times says that it is "beyond dispute" that the timing of the announcement of his arrest was "politically inspired." Padilla was actually arrested a month earlier, on May 8. [London Times, 6/13/02] It is widely believed that Ashcroft made the arrest announcement "only to divert attention from Intelligence Committee inquiries into the FBI and CIA handling of 9/11." [Village Voice, 6/12/02, Independent, 6/12/02, BBC, 6/13/02, Washington Post, 6/13/03] Bush soon privately chastises Ashcroft for overstating claims about Padilla. [Guardian, 8/15/02] The government attorneys apparently could not get an indictment out of a New York grand jury and, rather than let him go, made Padilla an enemy combatant. [Village Voice, 6/12/02] It later comes out that the FBI found no evidence that he was preparing a dirty bomb attack and little evidence to suggest that he had any support from al-Qaeda, or any ties to al-Qaeda cells in the US. Yet the Justice Department maintains that its view of Padilla "remains unchanged," and that he is a "serious and continuing threat." [Guardian, 8/15/02] Because Padilla is a US citizen, he cannot be tried in a military court. So apparently he will simply be held indefinitely. It is pointed out that any American could be declared an enemy combatant and never tried or have that status questioned. [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/11/02, Washington Post, 6/11/02] The Washington Post says, "If that's the case, nobody's constitutional rights are safe." [Washington Post, 6/11/02] Despite the evidence that Padilla's case is grossly overstated, the government won't even allow him access to a lawyer (see December 4, 2002 (B) and March 11, 2003).
June 13, 2002: Several congresspeople submit a list of 50 questions to Attorney General Ashcroft, asking him how the Patriot Act is being implemented (see October 26, 2001). [July 14, 2002] For instance, they ask, "How many times has the department requested records from libraries, bookstores and newspapers? How many roving wiretaps has the department requested?" Ashcroft refuses to answer many of the questions, even though he is legally required to do so. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02] Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D) fails to receive any response to dozens of letters he writes to Ashcroft, and other senators complain of a complete stonewall. [Washington Post, 8/21/02] In March 2003, senators continue to complain that Ashcroft still has not provided the oversight information about the Patriot Act that he is required to give by law. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
June 13, 2002 (B): Sudan arrests an al-Qaeda leader who has confessed to firing a missile at a US plane taking off from Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in May. Saudi Arabia had failed to arrest him. This is just the latest in a series of events where "some countries long deemed key US allies - such as Saudi Arabia - are considered less than helpful in the war against terror, while other states remaining on the US State Department's blacklist of terrorist sponsors, such as Syria and Sudan, are apparently proving more cooperative than their pariah status would suggest." The US hasn't been given access to al-Qaeda members arrested by Saudi Arabia, and "concerns over the Saudi authorities' 'unhelpful' stance are increasing." [Jane's Intelligence Review, 7/5/02]
June 16, 2002: In September 2002, articles appear in the Pakistani and Indian press suggesting that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is actually captured on this day. Supposedly he has been sent to the US, though the US and Pakistan deny the story and say Mohammed has not been captured at all. [Daily Times, 9/9/02, Times of India, 9/9/02, Economic Times, 9/10/02] If it happened, Mohammed may have been captured before an interview with Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda (see April, June or August 2002). It is later widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003). He may also have been captured or killed in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002).
June 18, 2002: FBI Director Mueller testifies before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry; his testimony is made public in September 2002. [AP, 9/26/02] He claims that with the possible exception of Zacarias Moussaoui, "To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot and we have found nothing they did while in the United States that triggered a specific response about them." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The Congressional 9/11 inquiry will later conclude near the end of 2002 that some hijackers had contact inside the US with individuals known to the FBI, and the hijackers "were not as isolated during their time in the United States as has been previously suggested." [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] Mueller also claims, "There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] This statement overlooks some facts, such as the FAA's investigation into Hani Hanjour (see January 2001), Atta's strange visit to the Department of Agriculture (see Late April-Mid-May 2000), or what should have been an FAA investigation into Atta (see December 26, 2000).
June 20, 2002: The long-awaited loya jirga, or grand council, is concluded in Afghanistan. This council was supposed to be a traditional method for the Afghan people to select their leaders, but the council is clearly rigged (as an important think tank later concludes). [BBC, 8/1/02] Half of the delegates walk out in protest. [CNN, 6/18/02] One delegate states, "This is worse than our worst expectations. The warlords have been promoted and the professionals kicked out. Who calls this democracy?" Delegates complain, "This is interference by foreign countries", obviously meaning the US. The New York Times publishes an article ("The Warlords Win in Kabul") pointing out that the "very forces responsible for countless brutalities" in past governments are back in power. [New York Times, 6/21/02] These are the same warlords that have controlled the drug trade for years.
June 22, 2002: Internal FBI documents show that Thomas Kelley, in charge of matters relating to the FBI in the joint congressional intelligence 9/11 inquiry, blocked an inquiry into the FBI's role in Waco. For instance, an internal FBI memo from December 2000 states that Kelley "continued to thwart and obstruct" the Waco investigation to the point that a special counsel was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. [Washington Post, 6/22/02] This follows the resignation of the inquiry head a month previously (see May 1, 2002).
June 25, 2002: The FBI search the home of an anthrax researcher who worked at USAMRIID. [AP, 6/25/02] He remains anonymous in most stories, but some name him as Steven Hatfill. In the wake of all these stories, one microbiologist states, "Their intent was clearly to put [Hatfill's] name in the public eye. The only question is why." The FBI announces that the search found nothing and Hatfill is not a suspect. [Hartford Courant, 6/27/02] The FBI also announces voluntary lie detector tests at USAMRIID and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. [New York Times, 7/2/02] Numerous experts have pointed out for months that these two facilities are the only likely places the anthrax used in the attacks could have been made, and that there are only several dozen possible scientists who could have made it. Why is the FBI only now even beginning to look into this? The New York Times had been running a series of articles about "Mr. Z" [New York Times, 5/24/02, New York Times, 7/2/02, New York Times, 7/12/02], who is eventually revealed as Hatfill. [New York Times, 8/13/02]
June 25, 2002 (B): Although the Western media continues to report that the ISI has reformed itself, "few in Pakistan believe it." The Independent later reports rumors that on this day ISI officers hide three al-Qaeda members after a gun battle in which 10 soldiers were killed. This follows several other betrayals - now the FBI and the Pakistanis no longer tell the ISI about their raids in advance. Other Pakistani investigators are having to build terrorist files from scratch because the ISI won't share what they know. [Independent, 7/21/02]
June 26, 2002: Arne Kruithof, owner of the flight school where hijacker Ziad Jarrah trained, narrowly survives a small plane crash in Venice, Florida. The plane crashes shortly after takeoff, but the pilot and two passengers remarkably walk away unscathed. [Venice Gondolier, 6/29/02] The incident may be completely accidental, but it interesting to note that the owner of the other Venice flight school that trained hijackers, Rudi Dekkers, also survives a crash six months later (see January 24, 2003). Reporter Daniel Hopsicker has been reporting on Kruithof's "curious" connections, and suggests the accident may be an attempt to silence Kruithof's knowledge of 9/11 (see Hopsicker's website).
June 26, 2002 (B): US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy claims that the proposed bill for a new Homeland Security department would put this department "above the law." He reveals that, amongst other disturbing provisions, "The Freedom of Information Act would not apply. The conflicts of interest and accountability rules for agency advisers would not apply." A provision in the bill will exempt employees in the new department from whistleblower protection, the very law that has helped expose intelligence-gathering missteps before 9/11. [Reuters, 6/26/02]
July 3, 2002: The Justice Department announces that only 74 of the 752 people detained on immigration charges after 9/11 are still in US custody. By December, only six of them remain in custody (see December 11, 2002 (D)). Hundreds more were detained on other charges or as material witnesses, but no numbers pertaining to them have been released. 611 were subject to secret hearings. Senator Carl Levin (D), who had requested the figures, says, "It took the Justice Department more than three months to produce a partial response to my letter." But the answers raise "a number of additional questions, including why closed hearings were necessary for so many people." Though many were held for months, "the vast majority were never charged with anything other than overstaying a visa." [New York Times, 7/11/02] All the deportation hearings for these people have been held in secret as well. Some say the government is cloaking its activities out of embarrassment, because none of these people have turned out to have any ties to terrorism. [New York Times, 7/11/02, Detroit Free Press, 7/18/02]
July 6, 2002: Afghan Vice President Hajji Abdul Qadir is assassinated by Afghan warlords. Qadir may have been assassinated by opium warlords upset by Qadir's efforts to reduce the rampant opium farming and processing that has taken place since the US occupation. Qadir had been overseeing a Western-backed eradication program, and had recently complained that the money meant to be given to reward farmers for not planting opium was in fact not reaching the farmers. Additionally, Qadir "had long been suspected of enriching himself through involvement in the opium trade." [New York Times, 7/8/02, Chicago Tribune, 7/8/02] FTW
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 11, 2002: It
is reported that the FBI believes there are approximately 5,000 al-Qaeda agents
inside the US. In early 2003, FBI Director Mueller reduces the estimate to "several
hundred." The New York Times then says that even suggesting over 100 is
probably an exaggeration made for political reasons. [New
York Times, 2/16/03]
July 12, 2002: A federal judge denies a motion to dismiss a lawsuit trying to force the release of documents relating to Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed the suit a year earlier. The judge rejects as "mischief" arguments that inquiry into the Energy Task Force would impinge on the president's constitutional powers. The judge further says the Bush Administration's "stunning" arguments "fly in the face of precedent" and are a "problematic and unprecedented assertion ... of Executive Power." He also accuses the Bush Administration of making purposefully misleading arguments in its case. [AP, 7/12/02] In March, the Bush Administration was forced to release thousands of documents after what the judge called ten months of stalling. [New York Times, 3/6/02] But a majority of documents were not released, and of the ones that were, most were completely blanked out. [AP, 3/25/02] The government continues to fight the release of these documents (see October 17, 2002, December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
July 12, 2002 (B): US prosecutors are arguing in court that the government should be able to block the 9/11 victims' relatives from obtaining sensitive airline information in wrongful death suits alleging inadequate security. The airlines have been named in at least 10 wrongful death suits - now consolidated into one case. Even the airlines on the other side of the case say their lawyers have not been able to learn "basic information" from the government. [Reuters, 7/12/02]
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,
July 15, 2002: Saeed Sheikh and three codefendants are judged guilty for the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 31, 2002). Saeed, the supposed mastermind of the murder, is sentenced to death by hanging, and the others are given 25-year terms. Saeed threatens the judge with retribution. As if to confirm that his death covers up unpleasant truths, in the stories of his sentencing every major US media story fails to report Saeed's connections to 9/11 or even to the ISI. [AP, 7/15/02, AP, 7/15/02, CBS, 7/15/02, CNN, 7/15/02, Los Angeles Times, 7/15/02, MSNBC, 7/15/02, New York Times, 7/15/02, Reuters, 7/15/02, USA Today, 7/15/02, Wall Street Journal, 7/15/02, Washington Post, 7/15/02] In contrast, the British media connects Saeed to the ISI ([Guardian, 7/16/02, Guardian, 7/16/02, Daily Mail, 7/16/02]), al-Qaeda ([Independent, 7/16/02]), the 9/11 attacks ([Scotsman, 7/16/02]), or some combination of the three ([London Times, 7/16/02, Daily Mail, 7/16/02, Telegraph, 7/16/02]) (with one exception: [BBC, 7/16/02, BBC, 7/16/02]). The US and British governments both approve of the verdict. [Wall Street Journal, 7/15/02, BBC, 7/15/02] In the US, only the Washington Post questions the justice of the verdict. [Washington Post, 7/15/02, Washington Post, 7/16/02] By contrast, all British newspapers question the verdict, and subsequently raise additional questions about it (see July 16-21, 2002). Saeed has appealed the decision but a second trial has yet to begin. [AP, 8/18/02]
July 16-21, 2002:
More questions emerge in British newspapers about the conviction of Saeed Sheikh
for reporter Daniel Pearl's murder in the days immediately after the verdict
(see July 15, 2002).
Pakistani police have secretly arrested two men who many believe are the real
masterminds of Pearl's murder, and official confirmation of these crucial arrests
could have ended Saeed's trial. [Guardian,
7/18/02] On May 16, Pearl's body was found and identified,
but the FBI doesn't officially release the DNA results because official confirmation
of the body would also have meant a new trial. [Independent,
7/16/02] Pakistani officials admit they waited to
release the results until after the verdict. [Guardian,
7/18/02] After the trial ends, Pakistani officials
admit that the key testimony of a taxi driver is doubtful. The "taxi driver"
turns out to be a head constable policeman. [Guardian,
7/18/02] One of the codefendants turns out to be working for the Special
7/21/02] The law states the trial needs to finish in a week, but in fact
it took three months. The trial judge and the venue were changed three times.
The trial was held in a bunker underneath a prison, and no reporters were allowed
to attend. When all the appeals are done, it is doubtful that Saeed will be
extradited to the US, "because Mr. Sheikh might tell the Americans about
the links between al-Qaeda and Pakistan's own intelligence organization."
7/16/02] Meanwhile, at least seven more suspects remain at large. All have
ties to the ISI, and as one investigator remarks, "It seems inconceivable
that there isn't someone in the ISI who knows where they're hiding." [Time,
5/6/02] Why is the US complicit in such a sham
July 18, 2002: New revelations about two phone calls made from Flight 11 emerge. Two stewardesses had lengthy telephone calls to their airline company before the plane crashed into the WTC. There's no mention of box cutters being used, but instead the hijackers "went into the cockpit with a bomb with yellow wires attached" and then "sprayed something in the first-class cabin to keep people out of the front of the plane." Three people were also stabbed. Even this may not be the full or accurate story since the government won't release recordings of these conversations. [ABC News, 7/18/02] Note that a detailed article about Madeline Sweeney's call appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in September 20, 2001, without any mention of a bomb or chemical spray. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] Is the story changing or are new details emerging? How could the hijackers get through security with so many weapons?
July 19, 2002: Faced with growing criticism of its Visa Express program (see May 2001 (H)), the State Department early in July 2002 decides merely to change the name of the program. When that fails to satisfy critics, the program is abandoned altogether on July 19. The Visa Express program allowed anyone in Saudi Arabia to apply for US visas through their travel agents instead of having to show up at a consulate in person. [Washington Post, 7/11/02] Mary Ryan, the head of the State Department's consular service that was responsible for letting most of the hijackers into the US, is also forced to retire. It has been pointed out that Ryan deceived Congress by testifying that "there was nothing State could have done to prevent the terrorists from obtaining visas" (see October 21, 2002 and October 23, 2002). However, after all this, Ryan and the other authors of the Visa Express program are given "outstanding performance" awards of $15,000 each. The reporter who wrote most of the stories critical of Visa Express is briefly detained and pressured by the State Department. [Washington Times, 10/23/02, Philadelphia Daily News, 12/30/02]
July 19, 2002 (B):
An editorial in an Indian newspaper wonders why the US is still not interrogating
Saeed Sheikh, recently convicted of murdering Daniel Pearl (see January
31, 2002). Saeed was briefly interrogated by the FBI in February, but
they were unable to ask about his links to al-Qaeda, and no known US contact
has taken place since. [Independent,
7/16/02, Indian Express, 7/19/02]
The editorial suggests that if the US pressures its close ally Pakistan to allow
Saeed to be interrogated in his Pakistani prison, they could learn more about
his financing of the 9/11 attacks and the criminal underworld that Saeed was
connected to (see Early
August 2001 (D)). Also, US attempts to
find al-Qaeda cells in Pakistan could be strongly boosted with new information.
[Indian Express, 7/19/02] No
Western media seems to find it curious that Saeed hasn't been properly interrogated
by US investigators.
July 21, 2002: In an article titled, "Anthrax: the Noose Widens," Time magazine reports, "Despite recent claims by some in the bioterrorism community that the investigation should be homing in on one particular American bioweapons expert, the FBI appears to be moving in the opposite direction. US government officials say the investigation is still ranging far and wide and that the FBI has not ruled out a foreign connection." [Time, 7/21/02]
22, 2002: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld issues
a secret directive to Special Operations forces allowing them to "capture
terrorists for interrogation or, if necessary, to kill them" anywhere in
the world. [New
Yorker, 12/16/02] Bush already issued a presidential finding authorizing
the killing of terrorist leaders, but this increases such efforts. [New
York Times, 12/15/02] However, Bush has not rescinded a presidential executive
order dating from the 1970s that bans all assassinations, claiming that terrorists
are military combatants. "Many past and present military
and intelligence officials have expressed alarm" at the legality, wisdom,
ethics, and effectiveness of the assassination program. Apparently much of the
leadership of Special Operations is against it, worrying about the blowback
effect. In February 2002, a Predator missile targeting someone intelligent agents
thought was bin Laden hit its target, but killed three innocent Afghan farmers
Yorker, 12/16/02] The first successful assassination takes place
in November (see November
July 23, 2002: 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. [New York Times, 7/23/02]
July 26, 2002: ABC News reports that an Alabama urban-warfare training camp primarily used by law-enforcement authorities may also have been used to help Islamic militants prepare for terror attacks. US and British authorities don't know how many militant recruits may have come through "Ground Zero USA" camp, which displays bullet-riddled police cars and a school bus with mannequin targets. Before 9/11, an al-Qaeda supporter had a web site recruiting militant Muslims that touted the camp. [South China Morning Post, 7/26/02] How is it so many terrorists seemed to train in the US so easily, and even within clear view of US law enforcement?
Late July 2002: US Special Forces apprehend Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani, a top general and one of the six most-wanted Taliban, in Kandahar. He is flown to a detention center north of Kabul for interrogation, but is released a few weeks later and escapes to Pakistan. Contradicting the statements of many soldiers in Kandahar, the Defense Intelligence Agency says it "has no knowledge that Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani was ever in US custody in Afghanistan. Given Osmani's high profile and our interest in detaining him, misidentification by experienced personnel is unlikely." [Washington Times, 12/18/02] The incident is one of many examples of the US failing to capture top al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan (see Early November 2001, Mid-November-November 25, 2001, November 16, 2001, November 28, 2001, and Early December 2001).
August 1, 2002: FBI names Steven Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks, the first person to be so named. FBI agents are also seen investigating his trash and conducting a second search of his house (first search, see June 25, 2002). [AP, 8/1/02, London Times, 8/2/02] On the same day, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, one of the world's top anthrax specialists is interviewed by FBI agents who ask her whether a team of government scientists could be trying to frame Hatfill. Rosenberg has been very publicly critical of the FBI investigation. [Washington Times, 8/3/02] Newsweek follows with a lengthy article purporting to detail the entire anthrax investigation, but it focuses entirely on Hatfill and fails to even mention people like Philip Zack (see January 20, 2002). [Newsweek, 8/4/02] The Washington Post does a similar story focusing on Hatfill only (and even claims the US biowarfare program ended decades ago). [Washington Post, 8/4/02]
August 1, 2002 (B): The US Justice Department sends an e-mail to Louisiana State University's biomedical research and training center, telling them to "immediately cease and desist" from employing researcher Steven Hatfill on department-funded programs. The next day Hatfill is placed on administrative leave. [CNN, 9/5/02] On September 4, he is fired. [AP, 9/4/02] A day after that, the person who hired him is fired as well. [AP, 9/5/02] The LSU center relies on funding from the Justice Department for 97% of its money. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02] The New York Times later reports that "several senior law enforcement officials expressed embarrassment over the e-mail incident, saying the domestic preparedness office acted improperly because Mr. Hatfill has never been charged with any wrongdoing and has not been identified as a suspect." [New York Times, 9/5/02]
August 2, 2002: MSNBC airs recordings informant Randy Glass made of arms dealers and Pakistani ISI agents attempting to buy nuclear material and other illegal weapons for bin Laden (see also August 17, 1999 and Early August 2001). [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Meanwhile, it is reported that federal investigators are reexamining the arms smuggling case involving Glass "to determine whether agents of the Pakistani government tried to buy missiles and nuclear weapons components in the United States last year for use by terrorists or Pakistan's military." [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Two such ISI agents, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik, are already secretly indicted by this time (see June 2002). But Glass still says, "The government knows about those involved in my case who were never charged, never deported, who actively took part in bringing terrorists into our country to meet with me and undercover agents." [Cox News, 8/2/02] One such person may be a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, who was interested in buying weapons for the Taliban and attended a meeting in which ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas said the WTC would be destroyed (see July 14, 1999). [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, MSNBC, 8/2/02] Others not charged may include Mohamed Amir and Dr. Magdy el Amir (see Spring 1999 (B)).
August 2, 2002 (B): The Washington Post reveals that FBI agents have questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about 9/11-related information leaks. They have asked them to submit to lie detector tests but most have refused. Congresspeople express "grave concern" for this historically unprecedented move. 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." [Washington Post, 8/2/02] 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.'" [Washington Post, 8/3/02] 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. [Washington Post, 8/24/02] 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, 8/29/02]
August 2, 2002 (C): 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. [Washington Post, 8/3/02 (B)] The judge calls the secret arrests "odious to a democratic society." The New York Times applauds the decision and notes that the government's argument that terrorist groups could exploit the release of the names makes no sense, because the detainees were allowed a phone call to notify anyone that they were being held. [New York Times, 8/6/02] Two weeks later, the same judge agrees to postpone the release of the names until an appeals court can rule on the matter. [New York Times, 8/16/02] The appeals court still has not ruled, so the names remain secret.
August 3, 2002: 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." [Portugal News, 8/3/02, Portugal News, 8/8/02]
August 4, 2002: A "lost
tape" of radio messages from firefighters inside the WTC on 9/11 is made
public. Supposedly, "city fire officials simply delayed listening"
to this tape until after the official report on the fire department's response
to the attacks was published, and they still refuse to allow any officials to
discuss the contents. The tape reveals that two firefighters were able to reach
the crash site on the 78th floor of the South Tower. While there, "Chief
Palmer could see only two pockets of fire, and called for a pair of engine companies
to fight them." [New
York Times, 8/4/02, Guardian,
8/5/02] Though the New York Times doesn't
mention it, these small, containable fires contradict the official explanation
that the tower collapsed because of a raging inferno that melted the steel support
columns holding up the building.
August 8, 2002: No physical evidence connects anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill to the deadly anthrax mailings. The main reason he's considered a suspect is smell: bloodhounds trained to recognize the scent of the anthrax envelopes reacted strongly to Hatfill's apartment, his girlfriend's apartment and a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana where he had eaten the day before the hounds were there. According to Newsweek, when the dogs merely got near Hatfill's apartment building complex, "They went crazy." [Newsweek, 8/4/02] But the Baltimore Sun interviewed three veteran bloodhound handlers; all were highly skeptical that a useful scent of the anthrax mailer would have remained on the letters eleven months after they were mailed, rubbed against other letters and then decontaminated to kill the anthrax (additionally, the letters were likely handled with gloves in a special room). The managers at the 12 Denny's in Louisiana said they have not been visited by federal agents with bloodhounds. [Baltimore Sun, 8/8/02]
August 9, 2002: New details emerge about anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill's experiences in Africa. After leaving the US Army in late 1978, he studied at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Zimbabwe, graduating in 1983. That was just a few years after the world's largest outbreak of human anthrax in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. Between 1978 and 1980, nearly 200 people died and more than 10,000 cases were recorded. "Researchers characterize the outbreak as suspicious and some believe it may have been the result of deliberate action by white Rhodesian security forces in the waning days of what was a long and brutal war with black liberation fighters." [Voice of America News, 8/9/02, New York Times, 7/2/02] Hatfill claimed on a resume that he was in the US Special Forces at the time, the US claims he dropped out of training. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] However, it is later reported that information in these stories of his past always trace back to "an outfit called the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO)." The JDO is a "radical, breakaway faction of Meir Kahane's already-quite-radical Jewish Defense League (JDL) by a man named Mordechai Levy" - a man who was recently sent to prison after firing an automatic rifle from his roof and wounding a bystander. The Weekly Standard claims that all such evidence is nothing but "transparent innuendo" written by JDO member A. J. Weberman, who was briefly famous for obsessively studying the garbage of musician Bob Dylan, and who was recently successfully sued for libel. The Standard also points out that the anthrax outbreak took place before Hatfill arrived in Zimbabwe, and by the time he started studying and working in that country, the white racist regime had already been replaced by a black one. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
August 9, 2002 (B): The government announces it will play cockpit voice recordings of an executive jet near the Flight 93 crash to the jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. The contents of this previously unknown recording will remain classified to the public. [AP, 8/9/02] This revelation is strange in several ways. First, it seems impossible that the jet was near the crash at all (see September 14, 2001 (C)). Second, the jet company, Executive Jet, is owned by Warren Buffett, who held a very curious event at a military base on the morning of 9/11 (see September 11, 2001). [Reuters, 3/27/01]
August 9, 2002 (C): FBI agent Robert Wright is a whistleblower who claims the FBI shut down a criminal investigation into the operation of terror-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City, years before the 9/11 attacks (see October 1998, June 9, 2001 and May 30, 2002). It is reported that Wright submitted a formal complaint to the Inspector General's Office of the Justice Department, which probes agency wrongdoing and mistakes. Amazingly, he was turned away, and told to take his cause to Congress. The Inspector General's Office claims they do "not have the resources to conduct an investigation of this anticipated size and scope." Yet they've conducted similar investigations in the past, including a full-blown investigation into the FBI's alleged mishandling of evidence in the probe of Timothy McVeigh, the convicted Oklahoma City bomber. [L.A. Weekly, 8/9/02]
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 11, 2002 (B): In the past, Afghanistan had mostly exported raw opium, but now many new refineries are converting the opium into heroin. The British government has spent £20 million to eradicate opium, but the program is marred by corruption and largely seen as a failure. The new heroin factories are said to be "working in broad daylight." There has been a rash of bombings and assassinations in Afghanistan as various factions fight over drug profits. The Observer was able to determine the precise location of some of these factories, but the US led forces in Afghanistan are doing nothing to stop them. [Observer, 8/11/02]
August 11, 2002 (C): ABC TV reports, "the FBI concedes [Steven Hatfill] could not himself make anthrax, does not have what they call 'the bench skills' to make it." [ABC, 8/11/02] The New York Times has reported of Hatfill (without naming him): "His anthrax vaccinations are up to date, he unquestionably had the ability to make first-rate anthrax..." [New York Times, 5/24/02] Yet there are other claims Hatfill has not had anthrax vaccinations for several years. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] It also later emerges that Hatfill has alibis for the times the anthrax letters were mailed. A former FBI agent says, "Most investigations don't prosper when they are public, and that's what bothers me about this case. It tells me they have either reached a dead end or their case has a great big hole in it and they are trying to put pressure on this person." [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
August 11, 2002 (D): Anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill defends himself in a public speech and Washington Post interview. He claims that he is being set up as the "fall guy" for the anthrax attacks. He says his life "has been completely and utterly destroyed," and he has twice lost a job due to the allegations. His lawyer also accuses the FBI of leaking documents to the press and conducting searches of Hatfill's residence in a highly visible way when a more discreet method could have been arranged. [Washington Post, 8/11/02, Fox News, 8/12/02]
August 11, 2002 (E): The New York Times has an article on the mysterious deaths of numerous microbiologists, and strongly argues the entire thing is a coincidence. Says a professor of statistics, ''We can never say for a fact that something isn't a conspiracy. We can just point out the odds that it isn't.'' [New York Times, 8/11/02]
August 12, 2002: A group of FAA flight controllers hold a press conference to talk about the 9/11 events for the first time. However, virtually no new information is disclosed. As the Boston Globe put it, "questions about detailed communications from the hijacked planes was avoided, with FAA officials saying that information remains under investigation." [Boston Globe, 8/13/02]
August 13, 2002: The Independent carries a story entitled, "Unanswered Questions: The Mystery of Flight 93," a rare critique of the official version of events around that plane's crash. Most of the information is a summation of what was reported before. However, there is one interesting new theory. Theorizing why witnesses didn't see smoke from the faltering plane, the article points out to the 1996 research of Harvard academic Elaine Scarry, "showing that the Air Force and the Pentagon have conducted extensive research on 'electronic warfare applications' with the possible capacity intentionally to disrupt the mechanisms of an aeroplane in such a way as to provoke, for example, an uncontrollable dive. Scarry also reports that US Customs aircraft are already equipped with such weaponry; as are some C-130 Air Force transport planes. The FBI has stated that, apart from the enigmatic Falcon business jet, there was a C-130 military cargo plane within 25 miles of the passenger jet when it crashed. According to the Scarry findings, in 1995 the Air Force installed "electronic suites" in at least 28 of its C-130s – capable, among other things, of emitting lethal jamming signals." [Independent, 8/13/02]
13, 2002 (B): On the Donahue TV show, Kristen
Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says the following about Bush's
behavior on 9/11: "It was clear that we were under attack. Why didn't the
Secret Service whisk [Bush] out of that school? He was on live local television
in Florida. The terrorists, you know, had been in Florida. I mean, we find that
out now. He was less than 10 miles from an airport. And I am concerned. I want
to know why the Secret Service did not whisk him away. I want to know why he
is the commander-in-chief of the USA, our country was clearly under attack,
it was after the second building was hit. I want to know why he sat there for
25 minutes." She further states, "I don't understand how a plane could
hit our Defense Department, which is the Pentagon, an hour after the first plane
hit the first tower. I don't understand how that is possible. I'm a reasonable
person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars
on national defense and you're telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon,
our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures
and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders
are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th." [Donahue,
8/13/02] Why have mainstream journalists largely continued to ignore
August 15, 2002: More than 600 relatives (later rising to over 2,500 out of 10,000 eligible [Newsweek, 9/13/02]) 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. [CNN, 8/15/02, Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan (see June 1998 (D), August 2001 (G), and August 31, 2001), former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998, August 31, 2001, and October 18, 2002), Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001), and Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988, August 13, 1996, April 1999, December 4, 2001 (B) and Early December 2001 (B)). [AP, 8/15/02, MSNBC, 8/25/02] "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." [CNN, 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC, 8/15/02] 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. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] 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. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Telegraph, 8/20/02] Saudi businesses withdraw more than $100 billion from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002), and the US government later threatens to block or limit the suit (see November 1, 2002).
August 15, 2002 (B): Trace elements of anthrax are found in a post office box across the street from Princeton University in New Jersey. [MSNBC, 8/12/02] The FBI declares Steven Hatfill has not "received any more attention than any other person of interest in the investigation." [Fox News, 8/12/02] Yet Hatfill's photo is the only one being shown by the FBI to residents of the neighborhood near the mailbox. [AP, 8/15/02] A law enforcement official later admits to the Los Angeles Times that, "to be honest, we don't have anybody that is real good [as a possible anthrax suspect]. That is why so much energy has gone into Hatfill - because we didn't have anybody else." [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
August 15, 2002 (C): Rena Golden, the executive vice-president and general manager of CNN International, claims that the press has censored itself over 9/11 and the Afghanistan war. "Anyone who claims the US media didn't censor itself is kidding you. It wasn't a matter of government pressure but a reluctance to criticize anything in a war that was obviously supported by the vast majority of the people. And this isn't just a CNN issue - every journalist who was in any way involved in 9/11 is partly responsible." [Press Gazette, 8/15/02] These comments echo criticisms by Dan Rather (see May 17, 2002).
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,
August 18, 2002: The
Washington Post blasts the FBI's treatment of Steven Hatfill. "Each slipshod
case whittles away our collective liberties, our self-respect, our confidence
in the legal system." The article also blasts the
media's coverage: "Wittingly or unwittingly, reporters and government investigators
may collude, creating the appearance of a posse mentality that discredits them
both." [Washington Post, 8/18/02]
August 18, 2002 (B): An FBI forensic linguistics expert says the anthrax mailer was probably someone with high-ranking US military and intelligence connections. He says he has identified two suspects who both worked for the CIA, USAMRIID and other classified military operations. He expresses frustration about accessing evidence. "My two suspects both appear to have CIA connections. These two agencies, the CIA and the FBI, are sometimes seen as rivals. My anxiety is that the FBI agents assigned to this case are not getting full and complete cooperation from the US military, CIA and witnesses who might have information about this case." He also says the killer seems to have tried implicating two former USAMRIID scientists who had left the laboratory in unhappy circumstances by posting the letters from near their homes in New Jersey. [BBC, 8/18/02] Could one of the framed people be Dr. Assaad (see October 2, 2001)?
August 20, 2002: The Financial Times reports that "disgruntled Saudis have pulled tens of billions of dollars out of the US, signaling a deep alienation from America." Estimates range from $100 billion to over $200 billion. Part of the anger is in response to reports that the US might attack Saudi Arabia and freeze Saudi assets unless Saudi Arabia fights terrorism more effectively (see July 10, 2002 and August 11, 2002). It is also in response to a lawsuit against many Saudi Arabians that also may lead to a freeze of Saudi assets (see August 15, 2002). Estimates of total Saudi investments in the US range from $400 billion to $600 billion. [Financial Times, 8/20/02]
August 22, 2002: Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and his wife are arrested for visa fraud. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, MSNBC, 11/23/02] One report says he was arrested for allegedly having links to Omar al-Bayoumi (see November 1999 (B)). [Arab News, 11/26/02] On October 22, Basnan and his wife, Majeda Dweikat, admit they used false immigration documents to stay in the US. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/22/02] Possible financial connections between Basnan and al-Bayoumi, Almidhar and Alhazmi, and the Saudi royal family are known to the Congressional Inquiry Panel (as well as the FBI and CIA) at this time (see November 22, 2002), but Basnan is deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17, 2002. His wife is deported to Jordan the same day. [Washington Post, 11/24/02] Less than a week after the deportations, new media reports make Basnan an internationally-known wanted man (see November 22, 2002). Why was Basnan let go, when authorities knew of these new revelations about him since at least early October (see October 9, 2002)?
August 23, 2002: The government starts giving out large cash compensations to the relatives of the 9/11 attack victims. However, in order to qualify, the families have to promise not to sue anyone. Only about one-fifth have agreed to compensation, the rest appear to want to sue the airlines, the Saudis, the government and others. There are many lawsuits in motion (see August 15, 2002, September 4, 2002, and September 10, 2002). [AP, 8/23/02]
August 25, 2002: 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." In the same show, despite being on a US terrorist list since October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), Saudi millionaire Yassin al-Qadi 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 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. [MSNBC, 8/25/02]
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 26, 2002: Anthrax
suspect Steven Hatfill releases photos he claims show that the FBI "trashed"
his girlfriend's apartment. The photos "evoked an uneasy sense of recognition
among law enforcement experts," who have seen these kinds of strong armed
tactics when the FBI is desperate for a conviction. "Veteran FBI-watchers
suggest the Bureau, looking at Steven Hatfill off and on for nearly a year,
does not have the goods on him. Law enforcement sources confirm he passed a
polygraph test administered by the FBI last fall ... Apparent absence of evidence
suggests either incompetence at the level of false accusations in the 1996 Atlanta
Olympic Park bombing - or something worse." [New
York Post, 8/3/02]
August 27, 2002: Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, meets privately for more than an hour with Bush and National Security Advisor Rice in Crawford, Texas (see April 25, 2002). [Telegraph, 8/28/02] 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. [Fox News, 8/27/02] Prince Bandar, a longtime friend of the Bush family, donated $1 million to the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Bush Library] 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 (see December 4, 1999 and November 22, 2002). [New York Times, 11/23/02, MSNBC, 11/25/02]
August 27, 2002 (B): 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]
August 28, 2002: The judge presiding over the Moussaoui trail is puzzled why the FBI claims it couldn't find an e-mail account used by Moussaoui: "We do not understand why an immediate and thorough investigation into the defendant's e-mail and computer activities did not lead investigators to the ... account, if it existed," the judge says. She adds, "A more detailed explanation from the United States is warranted." Moussaoui was carrying a Kinko's receipt when he was arrested in August 2001, and was known to have used Kinko's computers for e-mail. His Hotmail account was erased by Hotmail because it wasn't used for 90 days - the judge doesn't understand why that didn't give the FBI plenty of time to find his e-mails after 9/11. [AP, 8/28/02] Could it be that the FBI did find the account, but didn't like what it saw, and so claimed ignorance?
August 28, 2002 (B): "A global campaign to block al-Qaeda's access to money has stalled, enabling the terrorist network to obtain a fresh infusion of tens of millions of dollars and putting it in a position to finance future attacks, according to a draft UN report." In the months immediately following 9/11, more than $112 million in assets was frozen. Since then, only $10 million more has been frozen, and most of the original money has been unfrozen due to lack of evidence. Private donations to the group, estimated at $16 million a year, are believed to "continue, largely unabated." The US and other governments are not sharing information about suspected terrorists, and known terrorists are not being put on suspected terrorist lists. [Washington Post, 8/29/02]
August 29, 2002: German authorities charge a Moroccan man named Mounir El Motassadeq with complicity in the 9/11 attacks. He is a Moroccan who was arrested in Germany two months after 9/11. He is only the second person in the world to be charged with any crime related to the 9/11 attacks, after Moussaoui. He is charged with helping finance Atta and others in the Hamburg terrorist cell (see August 1998). [AFP, 8/29/02, New York Times, 8/29/02] His trial lasts three months, ending with a guilty verdict in February 2003 (February 18, 2003).
August 30, 2002: 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, the pilots said they were given no such order. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76, 222] 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. US Air Force Col. Robert Marr, commander of the Northeast Air Defense Sector, in Rome, New York, 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. [ABC News, 8/30/02] Supposedly, the question of ramming turned out to be moot, because these fighters were still about 40 miles away when the plane crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] 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. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] 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. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Were Bush and Cheney given the wrong information or is someone rewriting this story?
September 2002: The Customs Service intercepts a package sent via Federal Express from the Associated Press bureau in Manila to the AP office in Washington, and turns the contents over to the FBI. The FBI keeps the material, all unclassified and previously publicly disclosed, and fails to inform AP about this. It is claimed they do this to prevent the reporters from reporting their story, which is about government foreknowledge of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and ties with Ramzi Yousef and other terrorists in the Philippines. [AP, 3/12/03]
September 4, 2002: 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. [CBS News, 9/5/02] 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 their archenemy, the US. [AP, 9/4/02] Former CIA agent and terrorist consultant Robert Baer (see August 2001 (G)) is hired by the prosecuting legal team to find evidence of a meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents (see April 8, 2001 and September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002), but despite the help of the CIA, is unable find any evidence of such a meeting. [CBS, 12/8/02]
September 5, 2002: Based on the recent interrogations of terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui's al-Qaeda associates, including his alleged handler, French intelligence believes Moussaoui was not part of the 9/11 attacks, but was being readied for a second wave of attacks. Says one French official: "Moussaoui was going to be a foot soldier in a second wave of attacks that was supposed to culminate in early 2002 with simultaneous bombings against US embassies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as several hijackings in the United States." However, the US has charged him with being the "20th hijacker" who planned to be on Flight 77 in the 9/11 attack. [ABC News, 9/5/02] Other accounts suggest he wasn't meant to the 20th hijacker (for instance, see September 30, 2002). Why doesn't the US prosecute Moussaoui on other charges?
September 5, 2002 (B): 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." [New York Times, 9/10/02 (B)]
September 8-11, 2002: Details of an Al Jazeera interview with al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh are widely publicized. [London Times, 9/8/02, Australian, 9/9/02, Guardian, 9/9/02] But there are numerous doubts about this interview (see April, June or August 2002). The possibility has been raised that the broadcast of Ramzi bin al-Shibh's voice in the interview helps in his capture a few days later (see September 11, 2002). [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] Al Jazeera also broadcasts footage of hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari speaking against the US filmed in Afghanistan in early 2001 (see March 2001).
September 10, 2002: Right before a one-year deadline, the Port Authority, the government body that owns the WTC complex, is sued by five insurance companies, one utility and 700 relatives of the WTC victims. The insurance companies and utility are suing because of safety violations connected to the installation of diesel fuel tanks in 1999 that many blame for the collapse of WTC Building 7. [Dow Jones News, 9/10/02] The relatives' lawsuit is much more encompassing, and even blames the Port Authority for the Flight 93 hijacking (the Port Authority owns Newark airport, where the flight originated). The relatives' lawsuit is likely to lie dormant for at least six months as evidence is collected. Relatives are also considering suing the airlines, security companies and other entities. [Newsweek, 9/13/02]
September 10, 2002 (B): The FBI searches Steven Hatfill's house for anthrax residue for a third time (for the second search, see August 1, 2002). Hatfill had moved out several weeks earlier. [MSNBC, 9/11/02]
September 11, 2002: Would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh is arrested after a huge gunfight in Karachi, Pakistan, involving thousands of police. [Observer, 9/15/02] He is considered "a high-ranking operative for al-Qaeda and one of the few people still alive who know the inside details of the 9/11 plot." [New York Times, 9/13/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed called bin al-Shibh "the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday [9/11] operation" in an interview aired days before (see September 8-11, 2002). Captured with him are approximately nine associates, as well as numerous computers, phones and other evidence. [Time, 9/15/02, New York Times, 9/13/02] There are conflicting claims that Mohammed is killed in the raid [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02, Asia Times, 10/30/02, Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03, Asia Times, 3/6/03], shot while escaping [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03], someone who looks like him is killed, leading to initial misidentification [Time, 1/20/03], someone matching his general appearance is captured [AP, 9/16/02], or that he narrowly escapes capture and his young children are captured. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] It is widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003).
September 11, 2002 (B): 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 (see the Day of 9/11 for more). But one year later, Card claims 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." [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11/02] In a different account, Card says, "Not that many seconds later the president excused himself from the classroom." [MSNBC, 9/9/02] 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. [New York Post, 9/12/02]
September 11, 2002 (C): 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 F. 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." [New York Times, 9/11/02] 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." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02]
September 12, 2002: For the first time, a mainstream US newspaper looks at the people who believe there was government complicity or criminal incompetence in 9/11 and does not immediately dismiss them (see September 23, 2001 (B)). The San Francisco Examiner quotes a number of 9/11 skeptics and lets them speak for themselves. "While different theorists focus on different aspects of the attacks, what they seem to have in common is they would like an independent investigation into 9/11." [San Francisco Examiner, 9/12/02]
September 17, 2002: CBS reports that in the days after the arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shibh and four other al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan (see September 11, 2002), "a search of the home of the five al-Qaeda suspects turned up passports belonging to members of the family of Osama bin Laden." No more details, such as which family members, or why bin al-Shibh's group had these passports, is given. [CBS, 9/17/02]
September 18, 2002: The Congressional joint committee 9/11 inquiry hold its first public hearing. The committee was formed in February 2002 but suffered months of delays. The day's testimonies focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs (see the committee's complete 30-page report here: [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]). However, the Washington Post reports, "lawmakers from both parties ... [protest] the Bush administration's lack of cooperation in the congressional inquiry into Sept. 11 intelligence failures and [threaten] to renew efforts to establish an independent commission." Eleanor Hill, the joint committee's staff director, testifies that "According 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." [Washington Post, 9/19/02] 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 publics interest in this particular area." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A few days later, The New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/02] An FBI spokesman says the FBI had offered "full cooperation" to the committee. A CIA official denies that the report is damning: "The committee acknowledges the hard work done by intelligence community, the successes it achieved..." [MSNBC, 9/18/02] The complete open hearing transcripts: [9/18/02, 9/19/02, 9/19/02 (B), 9/24/02, 9/26/02, 10/1/02, 10/3/02, 10/8/02, 10/17/02]
September 18, 2002 (B): Two relatives of 9/11 victims testify before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died at the WTC, asks how the FBI was so quickly able to assemble information on the hijackers (see August 13, 2002 (B)). She cites a The New York Times article stating that agents descended on flight schools within hours of the attacks. "How did the FBI know where to go a few hours after the attacks?" she asks. "Were any of the hijackers already under surveillance?" [MSNBC, 9/18/02] She adds, "Our intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and responsibilities leading up to and on September 11th. But their negligence does not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of NY, the FAA, the INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the Air Force, and the airlines also failed our nation that morning." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Stephen Push states, "If the intelligence community had been doing its job, my wife, Lisa Raines, would be alive today." He cites the governments failure to place Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on a terrorist watch list until long after they were photographed meeting with alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. [MSNBC, 9/18/02]
September 20, 2002: In the wake of damaging Congressional 9/11 inquiry revelations, President Bush reverses course (see May 23, 2002) and backs efforts by many lawmakers to form an independent commission to conduct a broader investigation than the current Congressional inquiry. Newsweek reports that Bush had virtually no choice. "There was a freight train coming down the tracks," says one White House official. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] But as 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." [CBS, 9/20/02] 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. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] Perhaps Bush's true stance on the inquiry can be seen by calls Vice President made to try and stop it earlier in the year (see January 24, 2002).
September 20, 2002 (B): In an editorial for the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, David Welch, the US Ambassador to Egypt, denounces the publishing of "incredible conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11] without the slightest bit of evidence to back them up" in both state and opposition press. "Leading Egyptian newspapers and magazines in the past two weeks alone have published columns by senior columnists who suggested governments or groups other than al-Qaeda were responsible." Welch urges editors to exercise better judgment. The next day, a group of journalists and intellectuals criticize the editorial, calling it "an American call for imposing restrictions on press freedom" (see February 28, 2002). [Cairo Times, 9/26/02]
September 20, 2002 (C): A Bosnian government probe connects the Saudi charity Talibah International Aid Association to terrorist funding and an al-Qaeda front group. Talibah has been under investigation since shortly after 9/11 due to a foiled terror attack in Bosnia that has been connected to Talibah and al-Qaeda. Abdullah bin Laden, a relative of bin Laden (though his exact relationship can't be determined), is a Talibah officer in its Virginia office. An investigation into Abdullah bin Laden was canceled in 1996 (see September 11, 1996). The US has been criticized for failing to list Talibah as a sponsor of terrorism and for not freezing its assets. [Wall Street Journal, 9/20/02]
September 24, 2002: Federal prosecutors say a business card found in the wreckage of Flight 93 provides a link between alleged conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and hijacker Ziad Jarrah. Supposedly a business card belonging to Jarrah has a phone number written on it, and Moussaoui had once called that number. It was not explained what the number is, whose phone number it was, when Moussaoui called it, when the card was found, or how investigators know the card belonged to Jarrah. [MSNBC, 9/24/02, Washington Post, 9/25/02] Interestingly, this find comes just as the case against Moussaoui is facing trouble. For instance, one month earlier, USA Today said investigators had found no link between Moussaoui and the other hijackers. [USA Today, 8/29/02] Prosecutors have been trying to get permission to play the Flight 93 cockpit voice recordings to the jury, but on September 13, the judge said, "the recordings appear to have marginal evidentiary value while posing unfair prejudice to the defendant." [Washington Post, 9/25/02] Was it just incredible luck to have found this card a year after 9/11, or could someone have created new evidence by writing a phone number on a card?
September 25, 2002: In an interview with CBS, FBI Director Mueller states, "I can tell you there are things I wish we had done differently. That there are things we should have followed up on. But the bottom line is I do not believe that we would have been able to prevent September 11th." Speaking about the Zacarias Moussaoui case, he says, "That took us several months, to follow that lead, and it also required the full support of the German authorities, and it would have been very, I think impossible to have followed that particular lead in the days between the time in which Moussaoui was detained and September 11th." [CBS, 9/25/02] This negativism is in sharp contrast to a previous statement he made (see May 21, 2002 (C)), as well as the opinion of many rank and file FBI officers, some of whom have made a chart showing how all the hijackers could have been caught if certain leads had been followed. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] Mueller's opinion on the Moussaoui case is contradicted by many, including FBI agents working on that case. [Time, 5/21/02] The media also doesn't agree. For instance the Independent stated information on Moussaoui's computer "might have been enough to expose the Hamburg cell, which investigators believe was the key planning unit for 11 September." [Independent, 12/11/01]
September 26, 2002: Senator Pat Roberts (R), a member of the Congressional 9/11 inquiry, publicly criticizes the inquiry staff because one staffer had written that CIA official Cofer Black might "dissemble" if asked certain questions. Roberts, who had repeatedly expressed opposition to the existence of the inquiry, then offers his personal apology to Black for "the unintended consequences of what I believe is an inspector general runaway train." [AP, 9/27/02] The next day, CIA Director Tenet accuses the inquiry of "bias, preconceived notions, and apparent animus." [Washington Post, 9/28/02]
September 26, 2002 (B): A leaked August 16, 2002 report from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's influential Defense Science Board 2002 is exposed. [UPI, 9/26/02] The board "recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception. Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at 'stimulating reactions' among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by US forces. Such tactics would hold 'states/sub-state actors accountable' and 'signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk.'" [Los Angeles Times, 10/27/02, Asia Times, 11/5/02] An editorial in the Moscow Times comments: "In other words - and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan - the United States government is planning to use 'cover and deception' and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people." It is further suggested terrorists could be instigated in countries the US wants to gain control over. [Moscow Times, 11/1/02] Could the US already be using this policy, and if so, since when?
September 30, 2002: Seymour Hersh of New Yorker magazine 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." [New Yorker, 9/30/02]
October 2002: The State Department's propaganda office, closed in 1996, is reopened. Called the Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team, this office supposedly only aims its propaganda overseas to counter propaganda from other countries (see February 20, 2002 and November 24, 2002). [AP, 3/10/03]
October 3-11, 2002: Both French and British investigators and intelligence deny any claim of a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The British specifically deny any meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents in the Czech Republic. They state that Iraq has purposely distanced itself from al-Qaeda, not embraced it. [Financial Times, 10/4/02, Guardian, 10/10/02] Meanwhile, Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterintelligence, says, "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA." A source connected to the 9/11 investigation says, "The FBI has been pounded on to make this link." [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10/02] The Los Angeles Times also reports an escalating "war" between the Pentagon and the CIA over tying Iraq to al-Qaeda. [Los Angeles Times, 10/11/02]
October 5, 2002: The New York Times reports that the FBI is refusing to allow Abdussattar Shaikh, the FBI informant who lived with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see September-December 2000), to testify before a Congressional inquiry. His local FBI contact is also not allowed to testify. The FBI claims the informer would have nothing interesting to say, but Congressional investigators are skeptical. The Justice Department also wants to learn more about the informant. [New York Times, 10/5/02] The local FBI contact, Steven Butler, testifies before a secret session the following week (see October 9, 2002); Shaikh apparently doesn't testify at all. [Washington Post, 10/11/02]
October 6, 2002: Newsweek reports that the US has dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets across Afghanistan offering $25 million for the capture of Taliban leader Mullah Omar and bin Laden. However, the picture of Omar is actually that of an Afghan villager named Mulvi Hafizullah, who is now afraid to leave his house for fear of being killed for the reward money. [Newsweek, 10/6/02]
October 6, 2002 (B): 60 Minutes airs a program on the religious support
for Bush's expansionist Middle Eastern policies. [CBS,
10/6/02] A Guardian editorial from around the same time suggests that "Christian
millenarians" who are "driven by visions of messiahs and Armageddon"
have formed an alliance with "secular, neoconservative Jewish intellectuals,
such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz" and are strongly influencing
Bush's foreign policy. [Guardian,
9/17/02] A later Washington Post article also sees the support of evangelical
Christians and right-wing Jewish groups as instrumental in defining US Middle
East policy. [Washington
October 8, 2002: Many in the US have the impression that the war in Afghanistan is over, and US allied forces conquered the country. However, the US ambassador says, "The war is certainly not over. Military operations are continuing, especially in the eastern part of the country and they will continue until we win." Most of the country is controlled by warlords, which the US has pacified with weapons and money (see adjacent map). [Telegraph, 10/8/02]
October 9, 2002: San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler reportedly gives "explosive" testimony to the 9/11 inquiry. Butler, recently retired, has been unable to speak to the media, but accounts of his testimony say he was the agent who managed Abdussattar Shaikh, an FBI informant who rented a room to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see September-December 2000). Butler claims he might have uncovered a hint of the 9/11 plot if the CIA had provided the FBI with more information earlier about Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [New York Times, 11/23/02] Butler discloses that he had been monitoring a flow of Saudi Arabian money that wound up in the hands of two of the 9/11 hijackers, but his supervisors failed to take any action on the warnings. It is not known when Butler started investigating the money flow, or warned his supervisors. Some details of this Saudi money trail will cause headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). The FBI unsuccessfully tried to prevent Butler from testifying (see October 5, 2002). Despite the knowledge about the Saudi money trail involving Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi revealed at this time, Basnan is nonetheless deported to Saudi Arabia the next month, where he disappears (see August 22, 2002), and al-Bayoumi, who is living in Britain, disappears as well (see September 22, 2001).
October 10, 2002: A tentative congressional deal to create an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks falls apart hours after the White House objected to the plan (it appears Vice President Cheney called Republican leaders and told them to renege on the agreement [New York Times, 11/2/02]). Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier (see September 20, 2002), 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. [Washington Post, 10/11/02, New York Times, 10/11/02]
October 12, 2002: A car bomb detonates in front of a discotheque at Kuta Beach, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, starting a fire that rages through a dozen buildings, killing 202 people. No group claims responsibility, but Jemmah Islamiyah, a radical Islamic organization in Indonesia, is suspected. [New York Times, 10/13/02, New York Times, 10/14/02, BBC, 2/19/03]
October 15, 2002: About 10 relatives of the 9/11 victims meet with lawmakers and two Bush administration officials in an unsuccessful attempt to break a deadlock over the establishment of an independent 9/11 commission. The Bush administration says it supports such a commission, but wants its allies to have more control over leadership and subpoena powers (see September 20, 2002 and October 10, 2002). [AP, 10/16/02] No agreement is reached before the 107th Congress ends a few days later, but the committee is established one month later (see November 15, 2002).
October 17, 2002: Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club again win a ruling against Vice President Cheney (see July 12, 2002), and a judge demands that Cheney turn over documents relating to his Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). [Reuters, 10/17/02] But the Bush Administration continues to fight the release of these documents. A similar lawsuit by the General Accounting Office, the Congressional investigative body, is later dropped (see December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
October 17, 2002 (B): NSA Director Michael Hayden testifies before a Congressional inquiry that the "NSA had no [indications] that al-Qaeda was specifically targeting New York and Washington ... or even that it was planning an attack on US soil.'' Before 9/11, the ''NSA had no knowledge . . . that any of the attackers were in the United States.'' Supposedly, a post-9/11 NSA review found no intercepts of calls involving any of the 19 hijackers. [Reuters, 10/17/02, USA Today, 10/18/02, NSA Director Hayden testimony, 10/17/02] Yet, in the summer of 2001, the NSA intercepted communications between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and hijacker Atta, when he was in charge of operations in the US. What was said between the two has not been revealed (see Summer 2001). The NSA also intercepted multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the US in the days before 9/11. But who was called or what was said has not been revealed (Early September 2001 (B)).
October 17, 2002 (C): The directors of the US's three most famous intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, testify before a Congressional inquiry on 9/11 (CIA Director Tenet testimony, 10/17/02, NSA Director Hayden testimony, 10/17/02). All three say no individual at their agencies has been punished or fired for any of missteps connected to 9/11. This does not satisfy several on the inquiry, including Senator Carl Levin (D), who says "People have to be held accountable." [Washington Post, 10/18/02]
October 18, 2002: 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 (see August 15, 2002). It is later noted that his ambassador position could give him diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. [New York Times, 12/30/02] Turki's predecessor as ambassador was recalled after it was revealed he had written poems praising suicide bombers. [Observer, 3/2/03 (C)] Reports on his new posting suggest that Turki last met bin Laden in the early 1990s before he became a wanted terrorist. [London Times, 10/18/02, Guardian, 10/19/02] However, these reports fail to mention other contacts with bin Laden (for instance, see July 1998), including a possible secret meeting in July 2001 (see July 4-14, 2001).
October 18, 2002 (B): "The massive mothballed Dabhol power project that bankrupt US energy company Enron Corp. built in western India could be running within a year, with a long-standing dispute over power charges close to being renegotiated, a government official said." Dabhol is the largest foreign investment project in India's history. Despite reorganizing from a bankruptcy, Enron still holds a controlling 65 percent stake in the plant, while General Electric Co. and Bechtel Corp. hold 10 percent each. The local Indian state electricity board holds the remaining 15 percent (see also November 1993 and June 2001 (J)). [AP, 10/18/02]
October 18, 2002 (C): FBI Director Mueller says in a speech, "There is a continuum between those who would express dissent and those who would do a terrorist act. Somewhere along that continuum we have to begin to investigate. If we do not, we are not doing our job. It is difficult for us to find a path between the two extremes.'' [San Jose Mercury News, 10/19/02] The comment receives little notice. Isn't legal dissent completely different from terrorism?
October 21, 2002: The General Accounting Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, releases a report asserting that at least 13 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were never interviewed by US consular officials before being granted visas to enter the US. This contradicts previous assurances from the State Department that 12 of the hijackers had been interviewed. It also found that, for 15 hijackers whose applications could be found, none had filled in the documents properly. Records for four other hijackers, including Atta, could not be checked because they were accidentally destroyed (see October 23, 2002). [Washington Post, 10/22/02] The State Department maintains that visa procedures were properly followed. In December 2002, Senators Jon Kyl (R) and Pat Roberts (R) state in a report that "if State Department personnel had merely followed the law and not granted nonimmigrant visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers in Saudi Arabia ... 9/11 would not have happened." [AP, 12/18/02]
October 22, 2002: The recent capture of would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh (see September 11, 2002) is threatening the trials of Zacarias Moussaoui in the US and Atta associate Mounir El Motassadeq in Germany. Bin al-Shibh is connected to both, and would normally be an extremely important witness in both cases. But the US does not want bin al-Shibh to testify. Both Moussaoui and Motassadeq have a good chance to win their trials on the argument that they cannot get a fair trial if they cannot call bin al-Shibh as a witness. As a result, there is talk that the US may have to abandon Moussaoui's civilian court trial, and retry him in a military court. It appears a judge has delayed the Moussaoui trial until June 2003 to give the US time to interrogate bin al-Shibh. But the US wants to secretly interrogate him for a couple years, at least. [New York Times, 10/22/02, Washington Post, 10/23/02] Does bin al-Shibh know secrets about 9/11 that would embarrass the US?
October 22, 2002 (B): Investigators say they are building a "growing circumstantial evidence case" against anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill. Supposedly, "their secret weapon" is bloodhounds tying "scent extracted from anthrax letters" to Hatfill's apartment. [ABC News, 10/22/02] But the bloodhound story has already been reported and largely discredited (see August 8, 2002).
October 23, 2002: Visa applications for the 15 Saudi Arabian hijackers are made public, and six separate experts agree: "All of them should have been denied entry [into the US]." Joel Mowbray, who first breaks the story for the conservative National Review, says he is shocked by what he saw: "I really was expecting al-Qaeda to have trained their operatives well, to beat the system. They didn't have to beat the system, the system was rigged in their favor from the get-go." A former US consular officer says the visas show a pattern of criminal negligence. Some examples: "Abdulaziz Alomari claimed to be a student but didn't name a school; claimed to be married but didn't name a spouse; under nationality and gender, he didn't list anything." "Khalid Almihdhar ... simply listed 'Hotel' as his US destination no name, no city, no state but no problem getting a visa." Only one actually gave a US destination, and one stated his destination as "no." Only Hani Hanjour had a slight delay in acquiring his visa. His first application was flagged because he wrote he wanted to visit for three years when the legal limit is two. When he returned two weeks later, he simply changed the form to read "one year" and was accepted. The experts agree that even allowing for chance, incompetence and human error, the odds were that only a few should have been approved (see October 21, 2002). [New York Post, 10/9/02, ABC News, 10/23/02] Could Michael Springman, a former visa official at the same US consulate where the 15 hijackers got their visas, be correct that the US is purposely letting terrorists get visas (see 1987-1989)? Click here to see visa applications for Hani Hanjour 1, 2 and 3, Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, and Abdulaziz Alomari, all taken from the National Review. [National Review, 10/9/02]
October 25, 2002: "[German authorities] say they're not getting the cooperation they need from the authorities in the USA, and they're 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. [Online Newshour, 10/25/02] 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." [New York Times, 11/4/02]
October 27, 2002: The Observer reports, "America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W. Bush's Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of al-Qaeda's plans. Vidal's highly controversial 7,000 word polemic titled 'The Enemy Within' ... argues that what he calls a 'Bush junta' used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a preexisting agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home. Vidal states, "Apparently, 'conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable truth" (read a summary here [Observer, 10/27/02], or Vidal's entire essay here [Observer, 10/27/02], and an interview here [Salon, 4/24/02]).
October 28, 2002: Four prisoners are freed from Guantanamo Bay, the first of the 600 or so prisoners there to be released (see January 11, 2002 and April 30, 2002 (B)). The four, mostly elderly Afghan men, are released because they were determined not to be involved in al-Qaeda and posed no security threat. [BBC, 10/29/02] 19 more are released in March 2003. [BBC, 3/24/03] The prisoners are supposedly being kept there to be interrogated about what they know of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But it is reported that virtually none of the prisoners in Guantanamo have any useful information. One US official says, "[Guantanamo] is a dead end" for fresh intelligence information. According to the Washington Post, "Officials realize many of them had little intelligence value to begin with...." [Washington Post, 10/29/02] US officials privately concede that "perhaps as many as 100 other captives" are innocent of any connections to al-Qaeda or the Taliban, but most of these still have not been released. Furthermore, not a single prisoner has been brought before a US military tribunal. Apparently this is to hide "a sorry fact: the US mostly netted Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters of only low to middling importance, bagging few of the real bad guys." [Time, 10/27/02] At least 59 were deemed to have no intelligence even before being sent to Cuba, but were nonetheless sent there, apparently because of bureaucratic inertia. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02 (B)]
October 28, 2002 (B): The Washington Post reports, "A significant number of scientists and biological warfare experts are expressing skepticism about the FBI's view that a single disgruntled American scientist prepared the spores and mailed the deadly anthrax letters that killed five people last year." More than a dozen experts suggest investigators should "reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice." These experts suggest that making the type of anthrax used could take a team of experts and millions of dollars. The article focuses on the possibility that Iraq could be to blame. [Washington Post, 10/28/02] Why would Iraq have targeted Democratic Senators Leahy and Daschle? Why is the possibility of a team of anthrax attackers from within the US continually brushed aside?
November 2002: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef blames Zionists and Jews for the 9/11 attacks. He tells journalists, "Who has benefited from Sept. 11 attacks? I think [the Jews] were the protagonists of such attacks." Nayef is in charge of the Saudi investigation into the attacks, and some US congresspeople respond to the comments by questioning how strongly Saudi Arabia is investigating the involvement of the 15 Saudi 9/11 hijackers. [AP, 12/5/02]
November 1, 2002: Some of the 9/11 victims' relatives hold a rally at the US Capitol to protest what they fear are plans by the Bush administration to delay or block their lawsuit against prominent Saudi individuals for an alleged role in financing al-Qaeda (see August 15, 2002). [Washington Post, 11/1/02] US officials say they have not decided whether to submit a motion seeking to block or restrict the lawsuit, but they are considered about the "diplomatic sensitivities" of the suit. Saudis have withdrawn hundreds of billions of dollars from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002). The Guardian previously reported that "some plaintiffs in the case say the Bush administration is pressuring them to pull out of the lawsuit in order to avoid damaging US-Saudi relations, threatening them with the prospect of being denied any money from the government's own compensation scheme if they continue to pursue it. Bereaved relatives who apply to the federal compensation scheme must, in any case, sign away their rights to sue the government, air carriers in the US, and other domestic bodies - a condition that has prompted some of them to call the government compensation "hush money." The fund is expected, in the end, to pay out $4 billion. They remain, however, free to sue those they accuse of being directly responsible for the attacks, such as Osama bin Laden, and - so they thought - the alleged financers of terrorism." [Guardian, 9/20/02]
November 3, 2002: A CIA-operated Predator drone fires a missile that destroys a carload of suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen. The target of the attack is Qaed Senyan al-Harethi, a top al-Qaeda operative, but five others are also killed, including American citizen Kamal Derwish. [Washington Post, 11/4/02, AP, 12/3/02] US officials say the CIA has the legal authority to target and kill American citizens it believes are working for al-Qaeda (see July 22, 2002). [AP, 12/3/02] Bush administration officials say Derwish was the ringleader of a terrorist cell in Lackawanna, New York. [Washington Post, 11/9/02] The CIA also has a "high-value target list" of about two dozen terrorist leaders it is authorized to assassinate, including bin Laden. [New York Times, 12/15/02] Many international lawyers and some foreign governments question the legality of the assassination. [Guardian, 11/6/02] Noting that in its battle against al-Qaeda, the US has effectively deemed the entire planet a combat zone, Scott Silliman, director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security says: "Could you put a Hellfire missile into a car in Washington, DC? ... The answer is yes, you could." But National Security Adviser Rice says, "No constitutional questions are raised here." [ABC, 12/3/02, Chicago Tribune, 11/24/02] A former high-level intelligence officer complains that Rumsfeld wants "to take guys out for political effect." Al-Harethi's was being tracked for weeks through his cell phone. [New Yorker, 12/16/02] The attack happens one day before mid-term elections in the US. Was the timing of this assassination done for its political effect?
November 5, 2002: David Shayler, a member of the British intelligence agency MI5, is convicted of divulging British intelligence secrets. Shayler claims that British intelligence paid an al-Qaeda agent to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (see 1996). Under strict secrecy laws, the British press is not allowed to report Shayler's claims. The press is not even allowed to report that the government won a gag order on the press. [The Age, 10/10/02] Shayler is not allowed to argue that he acted in the public interest, and the veracity of his claims is not challenged in court. [Guardian, 11/6/02 (B)] Shayler is sentenced to six months in prison, but only serves seven weeks then is released on parole. [BBC, 12/23/02]
November 5, 2002 (B): The New York Times reports that the official Pentagon study assessing the structural effect of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon was completed in July 2002 but has not been released, and may never be released. The report "was specifically intended to consider Pentagon security in the light of new terrorist threats... Some, confused over what could be considered sensitive in the report, have expressed outrage that the lessons it may hold for other buildings could be squandered." Engineers outside the investigation say the implications are considerable, since the design of the Pentagon is much more similar to other major buildings elsewhere than the design of the WTC. If the report were released, it is likely building codes would be changed and many lives saved in the long term. [New York Times, 11/5/02]
November 6 and 22, 2002: The US tightens immigration restrictions for 18 countries. All males over age 16 coming to the US from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates or Yemen must register with the US government and be photographed and fingerprinted at their local INS office. [Washington Post, 11/7/02, AP, 11/23/02] Two countries are not included: Pakistan (the home country of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and many other al-Qaeda terrorists) and Saudi Arabia (the home country of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers). These two countries are added to the list on December 13, 2002, after criticism that they were not included. [New York Times, 12/19/02]
November 9, 2002: The New York Times exposes the existence of John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness data collection program, begun in early 2002 (see Mid-January 2002 and March 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/9/02 (C)] Conservative columnist William Safire writes, "If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend - all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.' To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance and you have the supersnoop's dream: a 'Total Information Awareness' about every US citizen." [New York Times, 11/14/02] Poindexter says it will take years to realize his vision, but his office has already begun providing some technology to government agencies. [Washington Post, 11/12/02] The existence of this program, and the fact that Poindexter is running it, causes concern for many on both the left and right. [USA Today, 1/16/03] It is regularly called Orwellian, conjuring visions of 1984's Big Brother, and even supporters admit it sounds Orwellian. [Newsweek, 11/15/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/17/02 (B), Guardian, 11/23/02, Newsday, 12/1/02, New Yorker, 12/9/02, BBC, 12/12/02, Dallas Morning News, 12/16/02, Baltimore Sun, 1/5/03] The New York Times suggests, "Congress should shut down the program pending a thorough investigation." [New York Times, 11/18/02] Experts question not only its civil liberties implications, but also if it is even feasible. If it does work, would its database be swapped with errors that could not be removed? (See such problems in a much smaller database in March 2002.) [San Jose Mercury News, 12/26/02] However, many newspapers fail to report on the program at all, and ABC is the only network to report the story on prime time television. [ABC News, 11/25/02 (B), ABC News, 11/16/02] Despite so many objections, the program is included in the Homeland Security bill (see November 25, 2002), and only later somewhat curbed by Congress (see January 23, 2003).
November 11, 2002: It is revealed that while the government didn't ban box cutters, the airlines' own rules did. It had been widely reported the hijackers used box cutters because they were legal. It now appears pepper spray was also banned, and like box cutters, should have been confiscated. There is evidence the hijackers used pepper spray as well (see July 18, 2002). It has been reported that nine of the hijackers were given special security screenings on 9/11, and six of those had their bags checked for weapons (see March 2, 2002 (B)). How did the hijackers get their weapons on board the airplanes?
November 12, 2002: A new audio tape purportedly made by bin Laden, in which he praises recent terrorist attacks in Bali, Kuwait, Yemen and Moscow, is broadcast by Al Jazeera. [BBC, 11/13/02, BBC, 11/18/02] US officials believe the voice is "almost certainly" bin Laden, but the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland, one of the world's leading voice-recognition institutes, is 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/18/02, BBC, 11/29/02, Toronto Star, 12/16/02] Two weeks later, a British newspaper publishes the complete text of a "letter to the American people," purportedly written by bin Laden. [Observer, 11/25/02] However, "diplomats were skeptical about the authenticity of the document..." [Guardian, 10/15/02]
November 15, 2002: 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. [US Department of State, 11/28/02] Bush originally opposed an independent commission, but he changes his mind over the summer after political pressure (see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). The Democrats concede several important aspects of the commission (such as subpoena approval) 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 (see November 27, 2002) and he sets a strict time frame (18 months) for the investigation. [CNN, 11/15/02] The commission will only have a $3 million budget. Senator Jon Corzine (D) and others have wondered how the commission can accomplish much with such a small budget. [AP, 1/20/03]
November 17, 2002: A Toronto Star editorial entitled "Pursue the Truth About Sept. 11" strongly criticizes the government and media regarding 9/11: "Getting the truth about 9/11 has seemed impossible. The evasions, the obfuscations, the contradictions and, let's not put too fine a point on it, the lies have been overwhelming. ... The questions are endless. But most are not being asked -still - by most of the media most of the time. ... There are many people, and more by the minute, persuaded that, if the Bushies didn't cause 9/11, they did nothing to stop it." The article also mentions the Complete 9/11 Timeline website, calling it one of several "carefully considered, well crafted and very compelling" websites to look at for more information about 9/11. [Toronto Star, 11/17/02]
November 20, 2002: The US claims that captured would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh says Zacarias Moussaoui met 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Afghanistan during the winter of 2000-01 and Mohammed gave him names of US contacts. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] Bin al-Shibh and Mohammed agreed Moussaoui should be nothing more than a backup figure in the 9/11 plot because he could not keep a secret and was too volatile and untrustworthy. Supposedly, bin al-Shibh wired Moussaoui money intended for other terrorist activities, not 9/11. [USA Today, 11/20/02] The Washington Post has suggested this may cause Moussaoui to not want to call bin al-Shibh as a witness in his trial, but it appears Moussaoui still wants him as a witness. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] There have been suggestions that the US may move Moussaoui's case from a civilian court to a military tribunal, which would prevent bin al-Shibh from testifying, but the issue remains undecided (see October 22, 2002). [USA Today, 11/20/02]
November 22, 2002: Newsweek reports that 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan (see November 1999 (B) and December 4, 1999), based on information leaked from the Congressional 9/11 inquiry last month (see October 9, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/22/02, MSNBC, 11/23/02, Washington Post, 11/24/02, New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi's whereabouts are unknown; Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17 (see August 22, 2002 and September 22, 2001). Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any terrorist connections. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Newsweek reports 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 ..." Newsweek reports that Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham (D) says, "'This one stinks of people using classified information' for political purposes." [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Some Saudi newspapers which usually reflect government thinking claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. [MSNBC, 11/25/02] Senior government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This has caused a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks (see December 11, 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/23/02]A number of senators, including Richard Shelby (R), John McCain (R), Mitch O'Connell (R), Joe Lieberman (D), Bob Graham (D), Joe Biden (D) and Charles Schumer (D) express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding terrorists. [New York Times, 11/25/02, Reuters, 11/24/02] 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." [ABC, 11/25/02]
November 22, 2002 (B): 9/11 victims' relatives add 50 defendants to the 100 defendants previously named in their $1 trillion lawsuit against Saudi citizens and organizations (see August 15, 2002). New defendants include Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif and the Saudi American Bank, that nation's second largest financial institution. Also named is Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, a billionaire Saudi businessman (see August 13, 1996 and Early December 2001 (B)). He is alleged to have directed the Kenya branch of al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was banned in Kenya after the bombing of the US embassy there in 1998 (see August 7, 1998). The Bosnia and Somalia branches of the charity have been designated terrorist entities by the US. [Wall Street Journal, 11/22/02] Al-Amoudi is also on a secret United Nations list of al-Qaeda financiers (see November 26, 2002). In 1999 it was reported that US and British officials are investigating if a bank he heads, the Capitol Trust Bank in New York and London, has transferred money to bin Laden. He is also seen as the financial successor to Khalid bin Mahfouz in some respects (see 1988, December 4, 2001 (B)), since Mahfouz was placed under house arrest (see April 1999). [USA Today, 10/29/99]
November 24, 2002: The Los Angeles Times reports that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is creating new agencies to make "information warfare" a central element of any US war. For instance, Rumsfeld created a new position of deputy undersecretary for "special plans" - a euphemism for deception operations. "Increasingly, the administration's new policy -- along with the steps senior commanders are taking to implement it -- blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other. And, while the policy ostensibly targets foreign enemies, its most likely victim will be the American electorate" (see also February 20, 2002 and October 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Authorities have arrested and jailed at least 44 people as potential grand jury witnesses in the 14 months of the nationwide terrorism investigation, but nearly half have never been called to testify before a grand jury, according to defense lawyers and others involved in the cases.
November 24, 2002 (B): The Washington Post reports that the US is using an obscure statute to detain and investigate terrorism suspects without having to charge them with a crime. At least 44 people, some of them US citizens, have been held as "material witnesses." Some have been held for months, and some have been held in maximum-security conditions. Most in fact have never testified, even though that is supposedly why they were held. [Washington Post, 11/24/02]
November 25, 2002: President Bush signs legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is promoted to Secretary of Homeland Security (see September 20, 2001). The Department will consolidate nearly 170,000 workers from 22 agencies, including the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the federal security guards in airports, and the Customs Service. [New York Times, 11/26/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/26/02] However, the FBI and CIA, the two most prominent anti-terrorism agencies, will not be part of Homeland Security. [New York Times, 11/20/02] The department wants to be active by March 1, 2003, but "it's going to take years to integrate all these different entities into an efficient and effective organization." [New York Times 11/20/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/26/02] Some 9/11 victims' relatives are angry over sections inserted into the legislation at the last minute. Airport screening companies will be protected from lawsuits filed by family members of 9/11 victims. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says, "We were down there lobbying last week and trying to make the case that this will hurt us, but they did it anyway. It's just a slap in the face to the victims." [New York Times, 11/26/02] The bill also allows the controversial Total Information Awareness program to move forward with its funding. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20/02 (B)] It also gives a Freedom of Information Act exemption for information submitted by private industry to government agencies. Such information given will be automatically classified, protecting the private sector from public scrutiny and lawsuits. Robert Leger, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, says, "This bill sacrifices, in the name of homeland security, the long-standing American principle of open government." [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19/02]
November 26, 2002: In the wake of news that two Saudis living in San Diego, California may have helped two of the 9/11 hijackers (see November 22, 2002), reports surface that the US has a secret, short list of wealthy individuals who are the key financiers of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The Washington Post claims there are nine names on the list: seven Saudi, plus one from Egypt and one from Pakistan. [Washington Post, 11/26/02] ABC News claims the list consists of 12 names, all Saudis, and says they were financing al-Qaeda through accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland and Malaysia, among other countries. [ABC, 11/25/02] They also claim the Saudi government has a copy of the list. US officials privately say all the people listed have close personal and business ties with the Saudi royal family. [ABC, 11/26/02] A secret report to the United Nations by French investigator Jean-Charles Brisard names seven prominent Saudi financiers of terror; the number matches the seven Saudis mentioned in the Post article, though it's not known if all the names are the same. The Saudis mentioned by Brisard are: Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999); Yassin al-Qadi (see October 1998, October 12, 2001, and December 5, 2002); Saleh Abdullah Kamel (see June 1998 (D)); Abdullah Suleiman al-Rajhi; Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee; Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996, Early December 2001 (B), and November 22, 2002 (B)); and Wa'el Hamza Julaidan (who has had his assets frozen by the US [State Department, 9/6/02]). Brisard says al-Qaeda has received between $300 million and $500 million over the last 10 years from wealthy businessmen and bankers. He claims that the combined fortunes of these men equal about 20% of Saudi Arabia's GDP (gross domestic product). [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02, UN report, 12/19/02 or here] It is also reported that a National Security Council task force recommends the US demand that Saudi Arabia crack down on terrorist financiers within 90 days of receiving evidence of misdeeds and if they don't, the US should take unilateral action to bring the suspects to justice. [Washington Post, 11/26/02] However, the US denies this, calling Saudi Arabia a "good partner in the war on terrorism." [Washington Post, 11/25/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says: "I think the fact that many of the hijackers came from that nation [Saudi Arabia] cannot and should not be read as an indictment of the country." [Radio Free Europe, 11/27/02]
November 27, 2002: President Bush names Henry Kissinger as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Congressional Democrats appoint George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader and peace envoy to Northern Ireland and the Middle East, as Vice Chairman. Their replacements and the other eight members of the commission are chosen by mid-December (see December 16, 2002). Kissinger served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor for Presidents Nixon and Ford. [New York Times, 11/28/02] Kissinger's ability to remain independent is met with skepticism (for instance, see Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/3/02, Washington Post, 12/1/02, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/13/02, CNN, 11/30/02, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/29/02]. He has a very controversial past - for instance, "Documents recently released by the CIA, strengthen previously-held suspicions that Kissinger was actively involved in the establishment of Operation Condor, a covert plan involving six Latin American countries including Chile, to assassinate thousands of political opponents." He is also famous for an "obsession with secrecy." [BBC, 4/26/02] Its even difficult for Kissinger to travel outside the US. Investigative judges in Spain, France, Chile and Argentina seek to question him in several legal actions related to his possible involvement in war crimes particularly in Latin America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile and East Timor. [BBC, 4/18/02, Village Voice, 8/15-21/01, Chicago Tribune, 12/1/02] "Indeed, it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed." [New York Times, 11/29/02] The Chicago Tribune notes that "the president who appointed him originally opposed this whole undertaking" (see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). Kissinger is "known more for keeping secrets from the American people than for telling the truth" and asking him "to deliver a critique that may ruin friends and associates is asking a great deal." [Chicago Tribune, 12/5/02] Both he and Mitchell resign a short time later rather than reveal the clients they work with (see December 11, 2002 and December 13, 2002).
November 28, 2002: Three suicide bombers detonate their explosives outside a resort hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. Terrorists also fire shoulder-launched missiles unsuccessfully at a passenger jet. [New York Times, 11/30/02] The death toll reaches 16. [CNN, 12/1/02] Al-Qaeda purportedly claims responsibility a few days later. [CNN, 12/2/02]
December 4, 2002: Marion (Spike) Bowman, head of the FBI's National Security Law Unit and the person who refused to seek a special warrant for a search of Zacarias Moussaoui's belongings before the 9/11 attacks (see August 23-27, 2001 and August 28, 2001 (D)) is among nine recipients of bureau awards for "exceptional performance." FBI Director Mueller says the honorees "are strongly linked to our counter-terrorism efforts" and "have gone out on a limb to improve our administrative practices [and] our legal tools." The awards include cash bonuses of up to 35% of each recipient's base salary. The award came shortly after a 9/11 Congressional inquiry report that said Bowman's unit gave Minneapolis FBI agents "inexcusably confused and inaccurate information" that was ''patently false'." [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/22/02] Bowman's unit also blocked an urgent request by FBI agents to begin searching for Khalid Almihdhar after his name was put on a watch list (see August 29, 2001). In early 2000, the FBI acknowledged serious blunders in surveillance Bowman's unit conducted during sensitive terrorism and espionage investigations, including agents who illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission, and recorded the wrong phone conversations. [AP, 1/10/03] Mueller also promotes Pasquale D'Amuro, the FBI's counter-terrorism chief in New York City before 9/11, to the bureau's top counterterrorism post. A former Justice Department official says Mueller has "promoted the exact same people who have presided over the ... failure." [Time, 12/30/02]
December 4, 2002 (B): A federal judge in New York rules that Jose Padilla, a US citizen who has been accused of being an al-Qaeda "dirty bomber," has the right to meet with a lawyer (see June 10, 2002). The judge agrees with the government that Padilla can be held indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" even though he is a US citizen. But he says such enemy combatants can meet with a lawyer to contest their status. However, the ruling makes it very difficult to overturn such a status. The government only need show that "some evidence" supports its claims. [Washington Post, 12/5/02, Washington Post, 12/11/02] In Padilla's case, many of the allegations against Padilla given to the judge, such as Padilla taking his orders from al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, have been widely dismissed in the media. [Washington Post, 9/1/02] As one newspaper puts it, Padilla "appears to be little more than a disoriented thug with grandiose ideas." [Guardian, 10/10/02 (B)] However, the government continues to challenge this ruling, and Padilla still has not had access to a lawyer (see March 11, 2003).
December 5, 2002: Federal agents search the offices of Ptech, Inc., a computer software company in Quincy, Massachusetts, looking for evidence of links to bin Laden. A senior Ptech official confirms that Yassin al-Qadi, one of 12 Saudi businessmen on a secret CIA list suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda, was an investor in the company, beginning in 1994 (see October 1998 and November 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 12/6/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Some of Ptech's customers include the White House, Congress, Army, Navy, Air Force, NATO, FAA, FBI and the IRS. [Boston Globe, 12/7/02] A former FBI counter-terrorism official states, "For someone like [al-Qadi] to be involved in a capacity, in an organization, a company that has access to classified information, that has access to government open or classified computer systems, would be of grave concern." Yacub Mirza - "a senior official of major radical Islamic organizations that have been linked by the US government to terrorism" - has recently been on Ptech's board of directors. Hussein Ibrahim, the Vice President and Chief Scientist of Ptech, was vice chairman of a now defunct investment group called BMI. An FBI affidavit names BMI as a conduit to launder money from al-Qadi to Hamas terrorists. [WBZ4, 12/9/02] The search into Ptech is part of Operation Green Quest, which has served 114 search warrants in the past 14 months involving suspected terrorist financing. Fifty arrests have been made and $27.4 million seized. [Forbes, 12/6/02] Al-Qadi's assets were frozen by the FBI in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001). [Arab News, 9/26/02] That same month, a number of Ptech employees told the Boston FBI that Ptech was financially backed by al-Qadi, but the FBI did little more than take their statements. A high level government source claims the FBI did not convey the information to a treasury department investigation of al-Qadi, and none of the government agencies using Ptech software were warned. Indira Singh, a second whistleblower, spoke with the FBI in June 2002 and was "shocked" and "frustrated" when she learned the agency had done nothing. [Boston Globe 12/7/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Beginning in mid-June 2002, WBZ-TV Boston had prepared an lengthy investigative report on Ptech, but withheld it for more than three months after receiving "calls from federal law enforcement agencies, some at the highest levels." The station claims the government launched its Ptech probe in August 2002, after they "got wind of our investigation" and "asked us to hold the story so they could come out and do their raid and look like they're ahead of the game." [Boston Globe, 12/7/02 (B) , WBZ4, 12/9/02]
December 9, 2002: US commanders have rejected as too risky many special operations missions to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. After Army Green Beret A-Teams received good intelligence on the whereabouts of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, commanders turned down the missions as too dangerous. Soldiers traced the timidity to an incident in June 2002 called Operation Full Throttle, which resulted in the death of 34 civilians. [Washington Times, 12/9/02]
December 9, 2002 (B): A federal judge rules against the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, in its attempt to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G)). The judge writes, "This case, in which neither a House of Congress nor any congressional committee has issued a subpoena for the disputed information or authorized this suit, is not the setting for such unprecedented judicial action.'' [AP, 12/9/02] The GAO later declines to appeal the ruling (see February 7, 2003 (B)). In a similar suit being filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club, the Bush Administration has successfully delayed deadlines forcing these documents to be turned over. That case continues, with another deadline avoided on December 6. [AP, 12/6/02]
December 11, 2002: George Mitchell resigns as Vice Chairman of the recently-created 9/11 investigative commission (see November 27, 2002). Lee Hamilton, an Indiana congressman for more than 30 years and chairman of the committee which investigated Iran-Contra, is named as his replacement. [CNN, 12/11/02] Mitchell cites time constraints as his reason for stepping down, but he also does not want to sever ties with his lawyer-lobbying firm, Piper Rudnick, or reveal his list of clients. Recent clients include two Mideast governments - Yemen and the United Arab Emirates - and a firm owned by Mohammed Hussain Al-Amoudi, a Saudi magnate under scrutiny from US anti-terror investigators (see November 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 12/15/02] Committee Chairman Henry Kissinger resigns two days later (see December 13, 2002).
December 11, 2002 (B): A Senate 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.
[Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] 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 (D), 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." [ABC,
12/10/02] 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. [St.
Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Sen. Richard Shelby
(R), the 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. [Washington
Post, 12/11/02; Committee
Findings, 12/11/02, Committee
Recommendations, 12/11/02] 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
Newshour, 12/11/02] "A list of 19 recommendations consists largely
of recycled proposals and tepid calls for further study of thorny issues members
themselves could not resolve." [Los
Angeles Times, 12/12/02]
December 11, 2002 (C): In discussing the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9/11 (see December 11, 2002 (B)), Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, 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." [PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] In March 2003, Newsweek says its sources indicate 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. "Theres been a cover-up of this," he says. [Newsweek, 3/1/03 (B)] Could Graham also be referring to evidence showing Pakistan's ISI foreknowledge of 9/11 that was given to his office before 9/11 (see Early August 2001)?
December 11, 2002 (D): The Justice Department announces that only six of the 765 people detained on immigration charges after 9/11 are still in US custody (see also November 5, 2001 (B) and July 3, 2002). Almost 500 of them were released to their home countries; the remainder are still in the US. 134 others were arrested on criminal charges and 99 were convicted. Another group of more than 300 were taken into custody by state and local law enforcement and so statistics are unknown about them. Additionally, more were arrested on material witness warrants, but the government won't say how many. The Washington Post has determined there are at least 44 in this category (see November 24, 2002 (B)). [Washington Post, 12/12/02] The names of all those secretly arrested still have not been released (see August 2, 2002 (C)). None in any of the categories have been charged with any terrorist acts.
December 12, 2002: The vast majority of the more than 900 people the federal government acknowledges detaining after the 9/11 attacks have been deported, released or convicted of minor crimes unrelated to terrorism, according to government documents (see October 20, 2001). An undisclosed number - most likely in the dozens - are or were held as material witnesses. The Justice Department reports that only six of the 765 people arrested for immigration violations are still held by the INS. An additional 134 people were charged with criminal offenses, with 99 found guilty through pleas or trials. [Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/02] MSNBC reports that of the "more than 800 people" rounded up since 9/11, "only 10 have been linked in any way to the hijackings" and "probably will turn out to be innocent." [Newsweek, 10/29/02]
December 12-17, 2002: At least 15 FBI investigators conduct a six-day search of Gambrill State Park (outside Frederick, Maryland) and Frederick Municipal Forest in connection with the anthrax investigation. Frederick Municipal Forest is located about four miles northwest of USAMRIID, the Army's principal biodefense lab. In addition to a ground search and excavation of some areas, teams of divers search small lakes and ponds in the park. The search is based on information that former USAMRIID government scientist Steven Hatfill may have disposed of laboratory equipment in one of the ponds near his former Maryland home (see February 1999, September 1999 (B), August 1, 2002, and August 8, 2002). [ABC, 12/12/02, CNN, 12/13/02, Washington Post, 12/13/02, Baltimore Sun, 12/13/02] The FBI search turns up nothing. [ABC News, 1/9/03] Afterwards, Hatfill alleges that a virtual caravan of unmarked vans and cars are keeping him under constant surveillance, following him on errands and to restaurants and driving past his house with a video camera pointed out the window. He also believes that his telephone is wiretapped. [UPI, 11/23/02]
December 13, 2002: Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, copy of resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC, 12/13/02, Seattle Times, 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see October 21, 1995, and August 9, 1998). [Washington Post, 10/5/98, Salon, 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its "long-standing" relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission "has lost time" and "is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet." [Washington Post, 12/14/02]
December 14, 2002: A Pakistani court ruling frees Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, from prison. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] Two weeks later, he is freed from house arrest. He was held for exactly one year without charge, the maximum allowed in Pakistan. [AP, 12/29/02] He was arrested shortly after an attack on the Indian Parliament that was blamed on his terrorist group (see December 13, 2001). In 1999 he and Saeed Sheikh were rescued by al-Qaeda from an Indian prison (see December 24-31, 1999), and he has ties to al-Qaeda and possibly the 9/11 attacks (see January 5, 2002). Pakistan frees several other top terrorist leaders in the same month. It is believed they are doing this so these terrorists can fight in a secret proxy war with India over Kashmir. US officials have remained silent about the release of Azhar and others Pakistani terrorist leaders. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] The US froze the funds of Jaish-e-Mohammad in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), but the group simply changed its name to al-Furqan, and the US has not frozen the funds of the "new" group. [Financial Times, 2/8/03, Washington Post, 2/8/03]
December 16, 2002: President Bush names former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean as the Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, after his original choice, Henry Kissinger, resigned (see November 27, 2002 and December 13, 2002). [Washington Post, 12/17/02] In an appearance on NBC, Kean promises an aggressive investigation. "It's really a remarkably broad mandate, so I don't think we'll have any problem looking under every rock. I've got no problems in going as far as we have to in finding out the facts." [AP, 12/17/02] However, Kean plans to remain President of Drew University and devote only one day a week to the commission. He also claims he would have no conflicts of interest, stating: "I have no clients except the university." [Washington Post, 12/17/02] However, he has a history of such conflict. Multinational Monitor has previously stated: "Perhaps no individual more clearly illustrates the dangers of university presidents maintaining corporate ties than Thomas Kean," citing the fact that he is on the Board of Directors of Aramark (which received a large contract with his university after he became president), Bell Atlantic, United Health Care, Beneficial Corporation, Fiduciary Trust Company International, and others. [Multinational Monitor, 11/97] Most disturbing is his Board of Director and Executive Committee positions at Amerada Hess, an oil company with extensive investments in Central Asia. [Amerada Hess, 2002] Fortune magazine points out that through this investment, "Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's investigating - al-Qaeda." [Fortune, 1/22/03] In 1998, Amerada Hess created an alliance with the Saudi oil company Delta Oil, calling it Delta Hess. [Azerbaijan International, 2002] Delta Hess is invested in a number of oil field and pipeline projects in Central Asia (see for instance [Azerbaijan International, 1998]). Delta Oil has been one of the main financial partners in a controversial oil pipeline designed to go through Afghanistan. The company has been financially controlled by Khalid bin Mahfouz, and is connected to Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996). Both men are on a secret United Nations list of al-Qaeda financers (see November 26, 2002), and bin Mahfouz is bin Laden's brother-in-law (see 1988). Fortune calls it an "interesting coincidence" that three weeks before his appointment onto the 9/11 commission, Amerada Hess quietly severed its ties with Delta Oil. [Fortune, 1/22/03] George Mitchell resigned from the commission a few days earlier in part because of ties with al-Amoudi (see December 11, 2002), yet Kean's conflict of interest with Amerada Hess and ties with al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have only been mentioned in a short Fortune article and briefly at the end of an AP article. [AP, 1/20/03, Fortune, 1/22/03]
December 16, 2002 (B): The ten members of
the new 9/11 Commission (see November
15, 2002) are appointed by this date, and are: Republicans Thomas Kean
(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. [New
York Times, 12/17/02, Washington
Post, 12/15/02, AP,
Tribune, 12/12/02] Senators Richard Shelby (R) and John McCain (R) had a
say in the choice of one of the Republican positions. They and many 9/11 victims'
relatives wanted former Senator Warren Rudman (R), who cowrote an acclaimed
report about terrorism before 9/11 (see January
31, 2001). But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott blocks Rudman's appointment
and chooses John Lehman instead. [St.
Petersburg Times, 12/12/02, AP,
12/13/02, Reuters, 12/16/02] It
slowly emerges over the next several months that at least six of the ten commissioners
have ties to the airline industry. [CBS,
3/5/03] Every commissioner has at least one potential conflict of interest.
1) For Chairman Thomas Kean's conflicts of interests, see December 16, 2002.
2) Fred Fielding also works for a law firm lobbying for Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. [AP, 2/14/03, CBS, 3/5/03]
3) Slade Gorton has close ties to Boeing, which built all the planes destroyed on 9/11, and his law firm represents several major airlines, including Delta Airlines. [AP, 12/12/02, CBS, 3/5/03]
4) John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, has large investments in Ball Corp., which has many US military contracts. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
5) James Thompson, former Illinois governor, is the head of a law firm that lobbies for American Airlines, and he has previously represented United Airlines. [AP, 1/31/03, CBS, 3/5/03]
6) Richard Ben-Veniste represents Boeing and United Airlines. [CBS, 3/5/03] His law firm also represents Deutsche Bank, which have many connections to 9/11. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)] Ben-Veniste also has other curious connections, according to a 2001 book on CIA ties to drug running written by Daniel Hopsicker, which has an entire chapter called "Who is Richard Ben-Veniste?" Lawyer Ben-Veniste, Hopsicker says, "has made a career of defending political crooks, specializing in cases that involve drugs and politics." Ben-Veniste has been referred to in print as a "Mob lawyer," and was a long-time lawyer for Barry Seal, one of the most famous drug dealers in US history who also is alleged to have had CIA connections. [Barry and the Boys, Daniel Hopsicker, 9/01, pp. 325-330, link to the chapter on Ben-Veniste]
7) Max Cleland, former US senator, has received $300,000 from the airline industry. [CBS, 3/5/03]
8) James Gorelick is a director of United Technologies, one of the Pentagon's biggest defense contractors and a supplier of engines to airline manufacturers. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
9) Lee Hamilton sits on many advisory boards, including those to the CIA, the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the US Army. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
10) Tim Roemer represents Boeing and Lockheed Martin. [CBS, 3/5/03]
December 18, 2002 (B): Four brothers in Texas - Ghassan Elashi, Bayan Elashi, Hazim Elashi and Basman Elashi - are arrested on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist, illegal export and making false statements. [AP, 12/18/02 (B), Washington Post, 12/19/02] Ghassan Elashi is the vice president of InfoCom Corporation, which was raided on September 5, 2001 by 80 members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force (see September 5-8, 2001). [Guardian, 9/10/01] He is also chairman of Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which had its assets frozen by the FBI in December 2001 (see December 4, 2001 (B)). [New York Times, 12/20/02] The 33-count indictment names a fifth brother, Ihsan Elashi, who is already in custody, as well as Mousa Abu Marzook, whom the US deported in 1997, and his wife Nadia Elashi (both believed to be in the Middle East). [BBC, 12/18/01] On December 20, a judge rules Bayan and Hazim Elashi should remain in federal detention, but frees Basman Elashi on $15,000 bail. [New York Times, 12/20/02] Ghassan Elashi is released without bond, but will wear an electronic monitor. [AP, 12/23/02]
December 19, 2002: European security chiefs still regard Britain as a safe haven for al-Qaeda units. Since September 11 Britain has had only three minor prosecutions for terrorist offenses, all for being members of groups that are banned in the country. A senior French security source says that Britains record since the attacks is abysmal. [London Times, 12/19/02] Reportedly, hundreds of British recruits trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The French are furious for Britain's lax treatment of terrorism suspects, including key al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada (see Early December 2001 (C)). [Observer, 2/24/02]
December 27, 2002: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan sign an agreement for the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, a US$3.2 billion project that has been delayed for many years. [AP, 12/26/02, BBC, 12/27/02] 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 (see August 13, 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 (see December 5, 1998). The Afghan, Pakistani and Turkmen leaders relaunched the project in May 2002 (see May 30, 2002 (B)). Unocal has denied it is interested in returning to Afghanistan. Skeptics say the project would require an indefinite foreign military presence in Afghanistan. [AP, 12/26/02, BBC, 5/30/02]
January 12, 2003: As the Bush Administration talks of war with Iraq, a nationwide Knight-Ridder poll shows that 50% of respondents say that one or more of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. Only 17% say none came from Iraq. No government or major newspaper has ever suggested that even one of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. Additionally, "Nearly 1 in 4 respondents thinks the Bush administration has publicly released evidence tying Iraq to the planning and funding of the Sept. 11 attacks, and more than 1 in 3 respondents didn't know or refused to answer. No such evidence has been released." [Knight-Ridder, 1/12/03]
January 12, 2003 (B): It is reported that 22 cities representing 3.5 million residents have passed resolutions criticizing the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts (see October 26, 2001). Another 70 cities have such resolutions in the works. [AP, 1/12/03] Many of the resolutions provide some legal justification for local authorities to resist cooperating in the federal war on terrorism when they deem civil liberties and Constitutional rights are being compromised. [New York Times, 12/23/02]
January 13, 2003: The Guardian reports on the state of journalism in the US: "The worldwide turmoil caused by President Bush's policies goes not exactly unreported, but entirely de-emphasized. Guardian writers are inundated by e-mails from Americans asking plaintively why their own papers never print what is in these columns... If there is a Watergate scandal lurking in [the Bush] administration, it is unlikely to be [Washington Post journalist Bob] Woodward or his colleagues who will tell us about it. If it emerges, it will probably come out on the web. That is a devastating indictment of the state of American newspapers." [Guardian, 1/13/03]
January 18, 2003: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warns of an "impending danger" that Pakistan will become a target of war for "Western forces" after the Iraq crisis. "We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle." [Press Trust of India, 1/19/03, Financial Times, 2/8/03] Pointing to "a number of recent 'background briefings' and 'leaks'" from the US government, "Pakistani officials fear the Bush administration is planning to change its tune dramatically once the war against Iraq is out of the way." [Financial Times, 2/8/03] Despite evidence that the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, ordered money given to the hijackers (see October 7, 2001), so far only one partisan newspaper has suggested Pakistan was involved in 9/11. [WorldNetDaily, 1/3/02] But could Musharraf be worried about evidence suggesting involvement of the ISI in the 9/11 attacks?
January 22, 2003: One year after reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder (see January 23, 2002 and January 31, 2002), the investigation is mired in controversy. "Mysteries still abound. ... Suspects disappear or are found dead. Crucial dates are confused. Confessions are offered and then recanted. ... Nobody who physically carried out the killing has been convicted. None of the four men sentenced is even believed to have ever been at the shed where Pearl was held" and killed. The government arrested three suspects in May 2002 but hasn't charged them and still won't admit to holding them, because acknowledging their testimony would ruin the case against Saeed Sheikh. [AP, 8/18/02, AP, 1/22/03] Two of the three claim that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed cut Pearl's throat with a knife. [MSNBC, 9/17/02, Time, 1/26/03]
January 22, 2003 (B): CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt says he is convinced all the intelligence the CIA had on Sept. 11, 2001, could not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. "It was not as some have suggested, a simple matter of connecting the dots," he claims. [Reuters, 1/23/03]
January 22, 2003 (C): The FBI conducts a very public search of a Miami, Florida, house belonging to Mohammed Almasri and his Saudi family. Having lived in Miami since July 2000, on September 9, 2001 they said they were returning to Saudi Arabia, hurriedly put their luggage in a van, and sped away, according to neighbors. A son named Turki Almasri was enrolled at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, where hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also studied. [Washington Post, 1/23/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03] Neighbors repeatedly called the FBI after 9/11 to report their suspicions, but the FBI only began to search the house in October 2002. The house had remained abandoned, but not sold, since they left just before 9/11. [Washington Post, 1/23/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/22/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/22/03] The FBI returned for more thorough searches in January 2003, with some agents dressed in white biohazard suits. [Washington Post, 1/23/03] US Representative Robert Wexler (D), later says, "This scenario is screaming out one question: Where was the FBI for 15 months?" The FBI determines there is no terrorism connection, and apologizes to the family. [UPI, 1/24/03] An editorial notes the "ineptitude" of the FBI in not reaching family members over the telephone, as reporters were easily able to do. [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/03]
January 23, 2003: Congress imposes some limitations on the notorious Total Information Awareness program (see March 2002 (B) and November 9, 2002). Research and development of the program would have to halt within 90 days of enactment of the bill unless the Defense Department submits a detailed report about the program. The research can also continue if Bush certifies that the report cannot be provided. Congress also okays use of the program internationally, but it cannot be used inside the US unless Congress passes new legislation specifically authorizing such use. [New York Times, 1/24/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/19/03] However, a bill to completely stop the program has yet to pass. [San Jose Mercury News, 1/17/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/19/03] Several days earlier, Senator Charles Grassley (R) alleged that the Justice Department and FBI are more extensively exploring the use of the Total Information Awareness program than they have previously acknowledged. [AP, 1/21/03, Washington Post, 1/22/03] Contracts worth tens of millions of dollars have been signed with private companies to develop pieces of the program. [AP, 2/12/03] Salon also reports that the program "has now advanced to the point where it's much more than a mere 'research project.'" [Salon, 1/29/03]
January 24, 2003: Rudi Dekkers, owner of the flight school where hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi trained, is nearly killed in a helicopter accident. While piloting a helicopter, his engine dies, and the helicopter plunges into a river. But remarkably a nearby helicopter sees and rescues him. [AP, 1/24/03, NBC2, 1/25/03, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 1/25/03] There may be no foul play in the accident, but it is eerily reminiscent of an crash six months earlier that nearly killed Arne Kruithof, the flight school owner where Ziad Jarrah trained (see June 26, 2002). Reporter Daniel Hopsicker has for months been reporting on Dekkers' strange ties to the CIA (see Hopsicker's website). Interestingly, Dekkers was on his way to a meeting to sell his flight school, Huffman Aviation, which he sells to a competitor the next day. [Venice Gondolier, 1/25/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/28/03] Just the week before, the state attorney's office filed criminal fraud charges against Dekkers. He is accused of a third-degree felony security interest fraud against business partner Wally Hilliard. [Venice Gondolier, 1/18/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/22/03] Hilliard has agreed to drop the charges because of the flight school sale, but the state hasn't dropped them. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/28/03]
January 27, 2003: The 9/11 Independent Commission, officially titled the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, holds its first meeting in Washington. The commission has $3 million and only until May 2004 to explore the causes of the attacks. By comparison, a 1996 federal commission to study legalized gambling was given two years and $5 million. [AP, 1/27/03] The Bush Administration later grudgingly increases the funding to $12 million total (see March 26, 2003). Philip Zelikow, currently the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and formerly in the National Security Council during the first Bush administration, is also appointed executive director of the commission. He is expected to resign to focus full time on the commission. [AP, 1/27/03] Zelikow cowrote a book with National Security Advisor Rice. [Independent Commission, 3/03] A few days later, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says, "The focus of the commission will be on the future. We want to make recommendations that will make the American people more secure.... We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility." [UPI, 2/6/03]
January 30, 2003: Stephen Push, a 9/11 victim's relative, is putting 45,000 pages from the recent German trial of Mounir El Motassadeq onto computer disks for the 9/11 Independent Commission. He is one of about 20 victims' relatives who joined that case as co-plaintiffs and got access to evidence that otherwise would be classified. [AP, 2/28/03] Push has quit his job to devote all his time and $100,000 of his own money investigating 9/11. Originally a Bush supporter, he now says, "Clearly the official government line [on 9/11] is a lie." [Newsday, 1/30/03]
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])
February 7, 2003: Charles Lewis of the Center
for Public Integrity reveals the leaked text of a new anti-terrorism bill. Called
the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, it becomes popularly known as
the Patriot Act II. The text of the bill is dated January 9, 2003. [NOW
with Bill Moyers, 2/7/03, Center
for Public Integrity, 2/7/03, Patriot
Act II text] Before it was leaked, the bill was being
prepared in complete secrecy from the public and Congress. Only House Speaker
Dennis Hastert and Vice President Cheney were sent copies on January 10. [San
Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03] A week earlier, Attorney General Ashcroft
said the Justice Department was not working on any bill of this type, and when
the text was released, they said it was just a rough draft. But the text "has
all the appearance of a document that has been worked over and over." [ABC
News, 3/12/03, Village
Voice, 2/28/03] Some, including a number of congresspeople, speculate that
the government is waiting until a new terrorist act or war fever before formally
introducing this bill. [NOW
with Bill Moyers, 2/7/03, AP,
2/10/03 (B), UPI,
Voice, 3/26/03] Here are some of its provisions:
1) The attorney general is given the power to deport any foreign national, even people who are legal permanent residents. No crime need be asserted, no proof offered, and the deportation can occur in complete secrecy. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03]
2) It would authorize secret arrests in terrorism investigations, which would overturn a court order requiring the release of names of their detainees. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03] Not even an attorney or family need be informed until the person is formally charged, if that ever happens. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
3) The citizenship of any US citizen can be revoked, if they are members of or have supported any group the attorney general designates as terrorist. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03] A person who gives money to a charity that only later turns out to have some terrorist connection could then lose his or her citizenship. [CNN, 3/6/03]
4) "Whole sections ... are devoted to removing judicial oversight." Federal agents investigating terrorism could have access to credit reports, without judicial permission. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03]
5) Federal investigators can conduct wiretaps without a court order for 15 days whenever Congress authorizes force or in response to an attack on the United States. [UPI, 3/10/03]
6) It creates a DNA database of anyone the Justice Department determines to be a "suspect,'' without court order. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/03]
7) It would be a crime for someone subpoenaed in connection with an investigation being carried out under the Patriot Act to alert Congress to any possible abuses committed by federal agents. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
8) Businesses and their personnel who provide information to anti-terrorism investigators are granted immunity even if the information is fraudulent. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
9) The government would be allowed to carry out electronic searches of virtually all information available about an individual without having to show probable cause and without informing the individual that the investigation was being carried out. Critics say this provision "would fundamentally change American society" because everyone would be under suspicion at all times. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
10) Federal agents would be immune from prosecution when they engage in illegal surveillance acts. [UPI, 3/10/03]
11) Restrictions are eased on the use of secret evidence in the prosecution of terror cases. [UPI, 3/10/03]
12) Existing judicial consent decrees preventing local police departments from spying on civil rights groups and other organizations are canceled. [Salon, 3/24/03]
Initially the story generates little press coverage, but there is a slow stream of stories over the next weeks, all expressing criticism. Of all the major newspapers, only the Washington Post puts the story on the front page, and no television network has the story in prime time. [AP, 2/8/03, CBS, 2/8/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/8/03, New York Times, 2/8/03, Washington Post, 2/8/03 (B), AP, 2/10/03 (B), San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/13/03, St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03, Denver Post, 2/20/03, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/20/03, San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/03, Baltimore Sun, 2/21/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/21/03, Village Voice, 2/28/03, Houston Chronicle, 3/1/03, UPI, 3/10/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3/19/03, Salon, 3/24/03, Village Voice, 3/26/03, CNN, 3/6/03, ABC News, 3/12/03, Tampa Tribune, 4/6/03] Representative Jerrold Nadler (D) says the bill amounts to "little more than the institution of a police state." [San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03]
February 7, 2003 (B): The General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, declines to appeal a case attempting to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G) and December 9, 2002 (B)). This ends a potentially historic showdown between the congressional watchdog agency and the executive branch. [Los Angeles Times, 2/8/03 (B)] It is widely believed that the suit is dropped because of pressure from the Republican Party - the suit was filed when the Democrats controlled the Senate, and this decision comes shortly after the Republicans gained control of the Senate. [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)] The head of the GAO denies the lawsuit is dropped because of Republican threats to cut his office's budget, but US Comptroller General David Walker, who led the case, says there was one such "thinly veiled threat" last year by a lawmaker he wouldn't identify. [Reuters, 2/25/03] Another account has Senator Ted Stevens (R) and a number of other congresspeople making the threat to Walker. [Hill, 2/19/03] The GAO has previously indicated that accepting defeat in this case would cripple its ability to oversee the executive branch. [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)] A similar suit filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club is still moving forward (see July 12, 2002 and October 17, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)]
February 18, 2003: Mounir El Motassadeq, an alleged member of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg al-Qaeda cell, is convicted in Germany of accessory to murder in the 9/11 attacks (see also August 29, 2002). His is given the maximum sentence of 15 years. [AP, 2/19/03] Motassadeq, admitted varying degrees of contact with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Said Bahaji, Ziad Jarrah and Zakariya Essabar, admitted he had been given power of attorney over Alshehhi's bank account, and admitted attending an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan from May to August 2000, but he claimed he had nothing to do with 9/11 (see also (see August 1998 and Mid-June 1999). [New York Times, 10/24/02] The conviction is the first related to 9/11, but as the Independent puts it, "there are doubts whether there will ever be a second." This is because intelligence agencies have been reluctant to turn over evidence, or give access to requested witnesses. In Motassadeq's case, his lawyers tried several times unsuccessfully to obtain testimony by two of his friends, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohammed Haydar Zammar - a lack of evidence that could be grounds for an appeal. German intelligence also failed to turn over evidence on those two, again, making an appeal likely. [Independent, 2/20/03]
February 25, 2003: The Chicago Tribune reveals that there appear to be many more members of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg cell than previously realized. While many members of the cell died in the attacks or fled Germany just prior to them (see September 3-5, 2001), up to a dozen suspected of belonging to the Hamburg cell stayed behind, apparently hoping to avoid government scrutiny. Many of their names have not yet been revealed. In some cases, investigators still don't know the names. For instance, phone records show that someone using the alias Karl Herweg was in close communication with the Hamburg cell and Zacarias Moussaoui, but Herweg's real identity is not known. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
February 26, 2003: Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistleblower who was proclaimed Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2002, sends another public letter to FBI Director Mueller (see also August 28, 2001 (D) and May 21, 2002). She believes the FBI is not prepared for new terrorist attacks likely to result from the upcoming Iraq war. She also says counter-terrorism cases are being mishandled. She claims the FBI and the Justice Department have not questioned captured al-Qaeda suspects Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid about their al-Qaeda contacts, choosing instead to focus entirely on prosecution. She writes, "Lack of follow-through with regard to Moussaoui and Reid gives a hollow ring to our 'top priority' - i.e. preventing another terrorist attack. Moussaoui almost certainly would know of other al-Qaeda contacts, possibly in the US, and would also be able to alert us to the motive behind his and Mohammed Atta's interest in crop-dusting." Moussaoui's lawyer also says the government has not attempted to talk to Moussaoui since 9/11. [New York Times, 3/5/03 (C), New York Times, 3/6/03 (B)]
Late February 2003: Medical examiners match human remains to the DNA of two of the hijackers that flew on Flights 11 and/or 175 into the WTC. The names of the two hijackers are not released. The FBI gave the examiners DNA profiles of all ten hijackers on those flights a few weeks earlier. Genetic profiles of five hijackers from Flight 77 and the four from Flight 83 that did not match any of the passengers' profiles have been given to the FBI, but the FBI has not given any DNA profiles with which to match them. [CNN, 2/27/03]
March 1, 2003: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is reportedly arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. [AP, 3/1/03] He is reported arrested in a late-night joint Pakistani and FBI raid that also captures Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, said to be the main money man behind the 9/11 attacks. [MSNBC, 3/3/03] However, there are serious doubts that Mohammed or Al-Hawsawi (who might not even exist) were at the house when it was raided. Mohammed has previously been reported arrested or killed (see June 16, 2002 and September 11, 2002 and also this essay, Is There More to the Capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Than Meets the Eye?, for a detailed analysis of his capture).
March 10, 2003: the ISI shows what they claim is a video of Mohammed's capture (see March 1, 2003). But the video only adds to doubts about that capture, as it is openly questioned to be a forgery by the reporters who see it. [ABC, 3/11/03, Reuters, 3/11/03, PakNews, 3/11/03, Daily Times, 3/13/03] A Fox News reporter even says, "Foreign journalists looking at it laughed and said this is baloney, this is a reconstruction." [Fox News, 3/10/03]
March 11, 2003: A judge reaffirms the right of Jose Padilla, a US citizen being held as an "enemy combatant," to meet with a lawyer (see June 10, 2002 and December 4, 2002 (B)). The same judge ruled that he could meet with a lawyer in December 2002, but the government continues to challenge the ruling and continues to block his access to a lawyer. [AP, 3/11/03] Later in the month, the government tells the judge it is planning to ignore his order and will appeal the case. [AP, 3/26/03] Why is the US fighting so hard to keep Padilla in total isolation despite evidence that the "dirty bomb" plot he is accused of is almost totally fictitious? While it may be completely coincidental, the Village Voice has noticed that Padilla is a "dead ringer" for the never found "John Doe #2" of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and other evidence could tie him to it. [Village Voice, 6/13/02, Village Voice, 3/27/02]
March 14, 2003: The Afghani government warns that unless the international community hands over the aid it promised, Afghanistan will slip back into its role as the world's premier heroin producer. The country's Foreign Minister warns Afghanistan could become a "narco-mafia state." [BBC, 3/17/03] A United Nations study later in the month notes that Afghanistan is once again the world's number one heroin producer, producing 3,750 tons in 2002. Farmers are growing more opium poppies than ever throughout the country, including areas previously free of the crop. [AP, 3/27/03]
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]
March 26, 2003: Time reports that the 9/11 Independent Commission has requested an additional $11 million to add to the $3 million for the commission, and the Bush Administration has turned down the request. The request will not be added to a supplemental spending bill. A Republican member of the commission says the decision will make it "look like they have something to hide." Another commissioner notes that the recent commission on the Columbia shuttle crash will have a $50 million budget. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims' families, says the decision "suggests to me that they see this as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail. They've never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon." The Administration has suggested it may grant the money later, but any delay will further slow down the commission's work. Already, commission members are complaining that scant progress has been made in the four months since the commission started, and they are operating under a deadline. [Time, 3/26/03] Three days later, it is reported that the Bush Administration has agreed to extra funding, but only $9 million, not $11 million. The commission has agreed to the reduced amount. [Washington Post, 3/29/03] The New York Times criticizes such penny-pinching, saying, "Reasonable people might wonder if the White House, having failed in its initial attempt to have Henry Kissinger steer the investigation, may be resorting to budgetary starvation as a tactic to hobble any politically fearless inquiry." [New York Times, 3/31/03]
March 26, 2003 (B): Bush signs an executive order delaying the public release of millions of government documents, citing the need to more thoroughly review them first. The government faced a April 17 deadline for declassifying millions of documents 25 years or older. [Reuters, 3/26/03] The order also treats all material sent to American officials from foreign governments, no matter how routine, as subject to classification. It expands the ability of the CIA to shield documents from declassification. And for the first time, it gives the vice president the power to classify information. The New York Times says, "Offering that power to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has shown indifference to the public's right to know what is going on inside the executive branch, seems a particularly worrying development." [New York Times, 3/28/03]
March 27, 2003: It is reported that "most members" of the 9/11 Independent Commission still have not received security clearances. [Washington Post, 3/27/03] For instance, Slade Gorton, picked in December 2002, is a former senator with a long background in intelligence issues. Fellow commissioner Lee Hamilton says, "It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance. It's a matter we are concerned about." The commission is said to be at a "standstill" because of the security clearance issue, and cannot even read the classified findings of the previous 9/11 Congressional inquiry. [Seattle Times, 3/12/03] Already Hamilton has said that, "We will be short of time. It will be very difficult" to meet the deadline of May 2004, when the commission must complete its investigation. [UPI, 2/6/03] Are the security clearances being delayed to thwart the commission?
March 28, 2003: An article highlights conflicts of interest amongst the commissioners on the 9/11 Independent Commission. It had been previously reported that many of the commissioners had ties to the airline industry (see December 16, 2002 (B)), but a number have other ties. "At least three of the 10 commissioners serve as directors of international financial or consulting firms, five work for law firms that represent airlines and three have ties to the US military or defense contractors, according to personal financial disclosures they were required to submit." Bryan Doyle, project manager for the watchdog group Aviation Integrity Project says, "It is simply a failure on the part of the people making the selections to consider the talented pool of non-conflicted individuals." Commission chairman Thomas Kean says that members are expected to steer clear of discussions that might present even the appearance of a conflict. [AP, 3/28/03] It remains to see what will happen in practice.
March 31, 2003: The 9/11 Independent Commission has its first public hearing. The Miami Herald reports, "Several survivors of the attack and victims' relatives testified that a number of agencies, from federal to local, are ducking responsibility for a series of breakdowns before and during Sept. 11." [Miami Herald, 3/31/03] The New York Times suggests that the Independent Commission would never have been formed if it were not for the pressure of the 9/11 victims' relatives. [New York Times, 4/1/03] Some of the relatives strongly disagreed with statements from some commissioners that they would not place blame. For instance, Stephen Push states, "I think this commission should point fingers.... Some of those people [who failed us] are still in responsible positions in government. Perhaps they shouldn't be." [UPI, 3/31/03] The most critical testimony comes from 9/11 relative Mindy Kleinberg, but her testimony is only briefly reported on by a few newspapers. [UPI, 3/31/03, Newsday, 4/1/03, New York Times, 4/1/03, New York Post, 4/1/03, New Jersey Star-Ledger, 4/1/03] In her testimony, Kleinberg says, "It has been said that the intelligence agencies have to be right 100% of the time and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. This explanation for the devastating attacks of September 11th, simple on its face, is wrong in its value. Because the 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again." She points out the inside trading based on 9/11 foreknowledge, the failure of fighters to catch the hijacked planes in time, hijackers getting visas in violation of standard procedures, and other events, and asks how the hijackers could have been lucky so many times. [Independent Commission, 3/31/03]
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)]