COVER-UP, LIES, AND/OR CONTRADICTIONS
By Paul Thompson
The key to abbreviations and other explanations can be found on the main timeline page.
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest, as well as the main page, the page for the day of September 11, and the abridged timeline.
Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Erosion of civil liberties and erection of a police state. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
December 26, 1979: Soviet forces invade Afghanistan. They will withdraw in 1989 after a brutal 10-year war. It has been commonly believed that the invasion was unprovoked. But in a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Adviser, reveals that the CIA began destabilizing the pro-Soviet Afghan government six months earlier, in a deliberate attempt to get the Soviets to invade and have their own Vietnam-type costly war: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?" [Le Nouvel Observateur, 1/98, Mirror, 1/29/02] The US and Saudi Arabia give a huge amount of money (estimates range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the mujaheddin guerrilla fighters opposing the Russians. Most of the money is managed by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. [Nation, 2/15/99]
1982-1991: Afghan opium production skyrockets from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1991, coinciding with CIA support and funding of the mujaheddin. Alfred McCoy, a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin, says US and Pakistani intelligence officials sanctioned the rebels' drug trafficking because of their fierce opposition to the Soviets: "If their local allies were involved in narcotics trafficking, it didn't trouble CIA. They were willing to keep working with people who were heavily involved in narcotics." For instance, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a rebel leader who received about half of all the CIA's covert weapons, was known to be a major heroin trafficker. The director of the CIA in Afghanistan claims later to be oblivious about the drug trade: "We found out about it later on." [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01, Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
1986: The CIA, ISI and bin Laden work together to build the Khost tunnel complex in Afghanistan. This will be a major target of bombing and fighting in the US defeat of the Taliban in 2001. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01, The Hindu, 9/27/01, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid, 3/01] It is reported before 9/11 that "bin Laden worked closely with Saudi, Pakistani and US intelligence services to recruit mujaheddin from many Muslim countries," but this hasn't been reported much since. [UPI, 6/14/01] A CIA spokesman will later claim, "For the record, you should know that the CIA never employed, paid, or maintained any relationship whatsoever with bin Laden." [Ananova, 10/31/01]
August 12, 1988: The first media report appears about Echelon, a high-tech global electronic surveillance network between the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Governments deny that Echelon exists, but whistleblowers expose it. They claim it's being abused in many ways, including to spy on politicians domestically. Echelon is capable of "near total interception of international commercial and satellite communications," including taps into transoceanic cables, but it is "impossible for analysts to listen to all but a small fraction of the billions of telephone calls, and other signals which might contain 'significant' information." [New Statesman, 8/12/88] Understanding the information surveillance capabilities of Echelon is vital to determining what should have been known about 9/11.
January 20, 1989: George Bush Sr. is inaugurated as US president, replacing Ronald Reagan. He remains president until 1993 (see January 20, 1993). Many of the key members in his government later have important positions again when his son George Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001 (see January 21, 2001). For instance, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell later becomes Secretary of State, and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney later becomes Vice President.
1990: Hani Hanjour enters the US, the first of the hijackers to do so. He takes an English course in Tuscon, Arizona. [Time, 9/24/01, Cox News, 10/15/01, New York Times, 6/19/02] However, the FBI claims Hanjour first arrived on October 3, 1991. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
March 1991: Did bin Laden ever truly break with the US and the CIA? The strongest motive that he did comes from this time, which is also roughly when al-Qaeda first starts targeting US interests. Although the Gulf War against Iraq just ended, the US does not withdraw all of its soldiers from Saudi Arabia, but stations some 15,000-20,000 there permanently. [Nation, 2/15/99] In 1991, President Bush Sr. falsely claims that all US troops have withdrawn. [Guardian, 12/21/01] Their presence isn't admitted until 1995, and there has never been an official explanation as to why they are there. The Nation postulates that they are there to prevent a coup. Saudi Arabia has an incredible array of high-tech weaponry, but may lack the expertise to use it and local soldiers may have conflicting loyalties. In 1998, bin Laden will release a statement: "For more than seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." [Nation, 2/15/99]
1991-1995: According to a Dutch government report, the US military secretly breaks a United Nations arms embargo during the 1991-1995 Yugoslavia war by channeling arms through radical Muslim groups in an "Iran-Contra-style operation." US, Turkish and Iranian intelligence groups work with radical Muslims in what the Dutch report calls the "Croatian pipeline." Arms bought by Iran and Turkey and financed by Saudi Arabia are flown into Croatia. Mujaheddin fighters are also flown in. The US is "very closely involved" in the flagrant breach of the embargo, an embargo the US is in charge of monitoring. [Guardian, 4/22/02] Could bin Laden have had a secret deal with the US to jointly support the Bosnian Muslims, and in return the US didn't try to catch bin Laden? If so, did it last after 1995?
January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton is inaugurated as president, replacing George Bush Sr. He remains president until 2001 (see January 21, 2001).
March 1995: Belgian investigators find a CD-ROM of an al-Qaeda terrorist manual and begin translating it a few months later. Versions of the manual circulate widely and are seized by the police all over Europe. A former CIA official claims the CIA does not obtain a copy of the manual until the end of 1999: "The truth is, they missed for years the largest terrorist guide ever written." He blames CIA reluctance to scrutinize its support for the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s (see December 26, 1979 and March 1985). The CIA claims that the manual isn't that important, and that it had copies for years in any case (see also September 1, 1992). [New York Times, 1/14/01, CBS, 2/20/02]
March 1995-February 1996: A man named Ziad Jarrah rents an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90] The landlords later identify his photograph as being that of the 9/11 hijacker. A Brooklyn apartment lease bears Ziad Jarrah's name. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] "Another man named Ihassan Jarrah lived with Ziad, drove a livery cab and paid the eight-hundred-dollar monthly rent. The men were quiet, well-mannered, said hello and good-bye. Ziad Jarrah carried a camera and told his landlords that he was a photographer. He would disappear for a few days on occasion, then reappear. Sometimes a woman who appeared to be a prostitute arrived with one of the men. 'Me and my brother used to crack jokes that they were terrorists,' said Jason Matos, a construction worker who lived in a basement there, and whose mother owned the house." [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90] However, Ziad Jarrah is actually still in his home country of Lebanon at this time. He is studying in a Catholic school in Beirut, and is in frequent contact with the rest of his family. His parents drive him home to be with the family nearly every weekend, and they are in frequent contact by telephone as well. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Not until April 1996 does Jarrah leave Lebanon for the first time, to study in Germany. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] His family believes that the New York lease proves that there were two Jarrahs. [CNN, 9/18/01] This is not the only example of their Jarrah being in two places at the same time - see Late November 2000-January 30, 2001. Could Jarrah have had a doppelganger?
1996 (C): The Saudi Arabian government starts paying huge amounts of money to al-Qaeda, becoming its largest financial backer. It also gives money to other extremist groups throughout Asia. This money vastly increases the capability of al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 10/16/01] Saudis agree to continue sponsoring bin Laden's network (see also May 1996 and July 1998). Says one US official, "'96 is the key year... Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys - it's like the Grand Alliance - and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations." The Saudi regime, he says, had "gone to the dark side." Electronic intercepts by the NSA "depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it." US officials later privately complain "that the Bush Administration, like the Clinton Administration, is refusing to confront this reality, even in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks." [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
Thirteen of the hijackers disappeared for significant periods of time before
the end of 2000:
1) Nawaf Alhazmi: The CIA says he was in the Bosnia conflict in the mid-1990s [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] He fought in Chechnya in 1996 [Observer, 9/23/01] and/or 1998. [Arab News, 9/20/01, ABC News, 1/9/02] He also visited Afghanistan before 1998 and swore loyalty to bin Laden. [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02]
2) Khalid Almihdhar: The CIA says he was in the Bosnia conflict in the mid-1990s [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] His family claims he left to fight in Chechnya in 1997. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
3) Salem Alhazmi: spent time in Chechnya with his brother Nawaf Alhazmi. [ABC News, 1/9/02]
4) Ahmed Alhaznawi: left for Chechnya in 1999 [ABC News, 1/9/02], lost family contact in late 2000. [Arab News, 9/22/01]
5) Hamza Alghamdi: left for Chechnya in early 2000. [Independent, 9/27/01, [Washington Post, 9/25/01] Another report says he went there around January 2001. He called home several times until about June 2001, saying he was in Chechnya. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
6) Mohand Alshehri: went to fight in Chechnya in early 2000. [Arab News, 9/22/01]
7) Ahmed Alnami: left home in June 2000, called home once in June 2001 from an unnamed location. [Arab News, 9/19/01, Washington Post, 9/25/01]
8) Fayez Ahmed Banihammad: left home in July 2000 saying he wanted to participate in a holy war or do relief work. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, Washington Post, 9/25/01] He called his parents one time since. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
9) Ahmed Alghamdi: left his studies to fight in Chechnya in 2000, last seen by his family in December 2000. He last called his parents in July 2001 but didn't mention being in the US. [Arab News, 9/18/01, Arab News, 9/20/01]
10) Waleed Alshehri: disappeared with Wail Alshehri in December 2000, spoke of fighting in Chechnya. [Washington Post, 9/25/01, Arab News, 9/18/01]
11) Wail Alshehri: had psychological problems, went with his brother to Mecca to seek help and both disappeared, spoke of fighting in Chechnya. [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
12) Majed Moqed: last seen by a friend in 2000 in Saudi Arabia, who said, "he had a plan to visit the United States to learn English." [Arab News, 9/22/01]
Clearly there is a pattern: 11 appear likely to have fought in Chechnya, and two others are known to have gone missing. It's possible that others have similar histories, but it's hard to tell because "almost nothing [is] known about some." [New York Times, 9/21/01] Furthermore, a colleague claims hijackers Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah and would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh wanted to fight in Chechnya but were told in early 2000 that they were needed elsewhere. [Washington Post, 10/23/02, Reuters, 10/29/02] Reuters has reported: "Western diplomats play down any Chechen involvement by al-Qaeda." [Reuters, 10/24/02] The Chechnya connection to the 9/11 plot has been hardly discussed; could this be because of political implications with Russia? Many of the FBI hijackers photos appear to be incorrect (see September 16-23, 2001). Could some hijackers have died fighting in Chechnya and had their identities used by someone else? If so, it might not be the first time this technique was used: former CIA director James Woolsey claims bin Laden agents murdered 12 men during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, stole their paperwork, then used their identities for later plots such as the WTC bombing in 1993. [MSNBC, 9/27/01]
March 1996: The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is based in that country. Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's Minister of Defense engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. The US decides not to take him because they apparently don't have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime. Saudi Arabia is discussed as a possibility, but the Saudi Arabian government doesn't want him, even though bin Laden has pledged to bring down the Saudi Arabian government. US officials turn down the offer, but insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: "We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen." [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01] Bin Laden leaves under pressure two months later (see May 18, 1996). CIA Director Tenet later denies Sudan made any offers to hand over bin Laden. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
1997 or 1998: The Spanish newspaper El Mundo later reports, "According to several professors at the Valencia School of Medicine, some of whom are forensic experts, [Atta] was a student there in 1997 or 1998. Although he used another name then, they remember his face among the students that attended anatomy classes." It is also suggested that "years before, as a student he went to Tarragona. That would explain his last visit to Salou [(see July 8-19, 2001)], where he could have made contact with dormant cells..." [El Mundo, 9/30/01] If this is true, it would contradict Atta's presence as a student in Hamburg, Germany during this entire period. But there are other accounts of Atta seemingly being in two places at once (see 1998-2000, September 1999, Late April-Mid-May 2000, and Spring 2000).
1998 (F): An American Muslim named Aukai Collins later says he was an FBI informant between 1996 and 1999, informing on the Muslim community in Phoenix, Arizona. For six months in 1998, he is a casual acquaintance of hijacker Hani Hanjour while Hanjour is taking flying lessons. [AP, 5/24/02] Collins sees nothing suspicious about Hanjour as an individual, but he tells the FBI about him because Hanjour appears to be part of a larger, organized group of Arabs taking flying lessons. [Fox News, 5/24/02] He says the FBI "knew everything about the guy," including his exact address, phone number and even what car he drove. The FBI denies Collins told them anything about Hanjour, and denies knowing about Hanjour before 9/11, though they acknowledge that they paid Collins to monitor the Islamic and Arab communities in Phoenix. [ABC News, 5/23/02] Collins later calls Hanjour a "hanky panky" hijacker: "He wasn't even moderately religious, let alone fanatically religious. And I knew for a fact that he wasn't part of al-Qaeda or any other Islamic organization; he couldn't even spell jihad in Arabic." [My Jihad: The True Story of an American Mujahid's Amazing Journey from Usama Bin Laden's Training Camps to Counterterrorism with the FBI and CIA, Aukai Collins, 6/02, p. 248]
1998-2000: Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi live periodically in the town of Mabalacat, Philippines. They stay in the Woodland Resort hotel and apparently learn to fly planes at a nearby flight school. Philippine and US investigators have looked into these visits but haven't confirmed the hijackers' presence there. Locals, however, are certain they saw them frequently partying, drinking alcohol, sleeping with local women, and consorting with many other, unknown Arabs (most of whom disappear shortly before 9/11). For instance, according to a former waitress at the hotel, Alshehhi throws a party in December 1999 with six or seven Arab friends: "They rented the open area by the swimming pool for 1,000 pesos. They drank Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey ... They came in big vehicles, and they had a lot of money. They all had girlfriends." Several employees recall Atta staying at the hotel during the summer of 1999, acting unfriendly and cheap. One hotel employee claims that most of the guests were Arab, and many took flying lessons at the nearby school. These witnesses claim the two used aliases, but the other Arabs referred to Atta as "Mohamed." [Manila Times, 10/2/01, International Herald Tribune, 10/5/01, AP, 9/28/01] Apparently, other hijackers and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed visit the Philippines during this time (see Early 1994-January 1995 and 2000-September 10, 2001). However, according to the official version of events, Atta and Alshehhi are in Hamburg, Germany during this time. Atta is still working on his thesis, which he completes in late 1999. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01]
April 1998: Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, later claims that he writes a letter at this time to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife, Majeda Dweikat, needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, University of California at San Diego hospital records say Basnan's wife wasn't treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego at the end of 1999 (see November 1999 (B), September 22, 2001, November 22, 2002).
August 1998 (B): A CIA intelligence report asserts that Arab terrorists are planning to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from a foreign country into the WTC. The FBI and the FAA don't take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in that unnamed country. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 9/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] An FBI spokesman says the report "was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies" and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02] The New York Times says the group is now believed to have "had ties to al-Qaeda." [New York Times, 9/18/02]
September 20, 1998: Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an al-Qaeda terrorist from the United Arab Emirates connected to the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), is arrested near Munich, Germany. [PBS Newshour, 9/30/98] In retrospect, it appears he was making one of many visits to the al-Qaeda cells in Germany. [The Base, Jane Corbin, 8/02, p. 147] US investigators later call him bin Laden's "right hand man." [New York Times, 9/29/01] However, the FBI is unwilling to brief their German counterparts on what they know about Salim and al-Qaeda, despite learning much that could have been useful as part of their investigation into the US embassy bombings. [The Base, Jane Corbin, 8/02, pp. 148-149] By the end of the year, German investigators learn that Salim had a Hamburg bank account. [New York Times, 9/29/01] The cosignatory on the account is businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001), whose home number had been programmed into Salim's cell phone. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] German authorities had begun to suspect Darkazanli of terrorist money laundering in 1996. Wadih El-Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, is also arrested in the wake of the embassy bombings. El-Hage had created a number of shell companies as fronts for al-Qaeda terrorist activities, and one of these uses the address of Darkazanli's apartment. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkazanli's phone number and Deutschebank account number are also found in El-Hage's address book. [CNN, 10/16/01] Based on these new connections, investigators ask a federal prosecutor for permission to open a formal investigation against Darkazanli. An investigation begins, at the insistence of the US, though Germany has claimed the request for the investigation was rejected (see December 1999). [AFP, 10/28/01, [New York Times, 1/18/03] German investigators also learn of a connection between Salim and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who is already identified by police as a suspected extremist (see March 1997). [AP, 6/22/02, New York Times, 1/18/03]
October 8, 1998: The FAA issues the first of three warnings to the nation's airports and airlines urging a ''high degree of vigilance'' against threats to US civil aviation from al-Qaeda. It specifically warns against a possible terrorist hijacking ''at a metropolitan airport in the Eastern United States.'' The information is based on statements made by bin Laden and other Islamic leaders and intelligence information following the US cruise missile attacks in August. All three warnings came in late 1998, well before 9/11. [Boston Globe, 5/26/02] This report contradicts numerous later statements by US officials that the US never had any pre-9/11 specific threats inside the US or involving hijackings (for instance, see September 12, 2001 or May 16, 2002).
November 1, 1998-February 2001: Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda terrorists Said Bahaji and Ramzi bin al-Shibh move into a four bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse, in Hamburg, Germany and stay there until February 2001 (Atta is already mainly living in the US well before this time). Investigators believe this move marks the formation of their Hamburg al-Qaeda terrorist cell. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02, New York Times, 9/10/02] Up to six men at a time live at the apartment, including other al-Qaeda agents such as hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and cell member Zakariya Essabar. [New York Times, 9/15/01] During the 28 months Atta's name is on the apartment lease, 29 ethnically Middle Eastern or North African men register the apartment as their home address. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 256] From the very beginning, the apartment was officially under surveillance by German intelligence, because of investigations into businessman Mamoun Darkazanli that connect to Said Bahaji (see September 20, 1998 and December 1999). [Washington Post, 10/23/01] They also suspect connections between Bahaji and al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997 and February 17, 1999). [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Germans surveil the apartment off and on for months, and also wiretap Mounir El Motassadeq (see August 1998), an associate of the apartment-mates who is later put on trial for assisting the 9/11 plot (see August 29, 2002), but they don't find any indication of suspicious activity. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] Bahaji is directly surveilled at least for part of 1998, but German officials have not disclosed when the probe began or ended. That investigation is dropped for lack of evidence. [AP, 6/22/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] However, certainly investigators would have found evidence if they looked more thoroughly. For instance, Zammar, a talkative man who has trouble keeping secrets, is a frequent visitor to the many late night meetings there. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, pp. 259-260] Another visitor later recalls Atta and others discussing attacking the US. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is in Hamburg several times in 1999, and comes to the apartment (see 1999 (K)). But although there was a $2 million reward for Mohammed since 1998 (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001), the US apparently fails to tell Germany what it knows about him. [New York Times, 11/4/02, Newsweek, 9/4/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri also apparently stays there "at times." [Washington Post, 9/14/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01] The CIA also starts monitoring Atta while he is living at this apartment, and doesn't tell Germany of the surveillance (see January-May 2000). The German government originally claimed they knew little about the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell before 9/11, and said nothing directed them towards the Marienstrasse apartment, which is clearly incorrect. [Telegraph, 11/24/01]
1999 (H): Diane and John Albritton later say they call the CIA and police this year several times to report suspicious activity at a neighbor's home, but authorities fail to respond. [MSNBC, 9/23/01, New York Daily News, 9/15/01] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri is renting the house on Orrin Street in Vienna, Virginia at the time (three blocks from a CIA headquarters). [AP, 9/15/01] He makes his neighbors nervous. "There were always people coming and going," said Diane Albritton. "Arabic people. Some of them never uttered a word; I don't know if they spoke English. But they looked very focused. We thought they might be dealing drugs, or illegal immigrants." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Ahmed Alghamdi lived at the same address until July 2000. [Fox News, 6/6/02, World Net Daily, 9/14/01] Waleed Alshehri lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Albritton says they observed a van parked outside the home at all hours of the day and night. A Middle-Eastern man appeared to be monitoring a scanner or radio inside the van. Another neighbor says, "We thought it was a drug house. All the cars parked on the street were new BMWs, new Mercedes. People were always walking around out front with cellphones." There were frequent wild parties, numerous complaints to authorities, and even a police report about a woman shooting a gun into the air during a party. [World Net Daily, 9/14/01, note that this is a highly partisan publication] Other neighbors also called the police about the house. [AP, 9/14/01] "Critics say [the case] could have made a difference [in stopping 9/11] had it been handled differently." Standard procedures require CIA to notify FBI of such domestic information. But FBI officials have not been able to find any record that the CIA shared the information. [Fox News, 6/6/02] FBI Director Mueller has said "the hijackers did all they could to stay below our radar." [Senate Judiciary Statement, 5/8/02] Does this sound like extremely religious "sleepers" successfully blending in?
February 1999: A classified report discusses responses to an anthrax attack through the mail. The report, precipitated by a series of false anthrax mailings, is written by William Patrick, inventor of the US anthrax weaponization process, under a CIA contract. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The report was commissioned by Steven Hatfill, a good friend of Patrick. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] The report describes what the US military could do and what a terrorist might be able to achieve. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The similarities between what the report predicted and the anthrax attacks that eventually happen after 9/11 are startling. The BBC later suggests the "possibility that there was a secret CIA project to investigate methods of sending anthrax through the mail which went madly out of control" and that the anthrax attacker knew of this study or took part in it. The CIA and William Patrick deny the existence of this report, even though copies have been leaked to the media. [BBC, 3/14/02, Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02]
April 1, 1999: Ziad Jarrah has an unofficial wedding with his girlfriend, Aisel Senguen. What's interesting is a photo apparently taken by Jarrah at the wedding, shown here. German intelligence found the photo several days after 9/11. An undercover agent was able to immediately identify 10 of the 18 men in the photo, as well as where it was taken: the prayer room of Hamburg's Al-Quds mosque. The informant was also able to identify which of them attended Mohamed Atta's study group. This informant knew even "seemingly trivial details" of some of the men, showing that "probably almost all members of the Hamburg terror cell" had been watched by German state intelligence since this time, if not before. The head of the state intelligence had previously maintained that they knew nothing of any of these men, and had no informant. [FAZ, 2/2/03]
September 1999: BJ's Wholesale Club, a store in Hollywood, Florida, later tells the FBI that Atta may have held a BJ's membership card since at least this time ("more than two years"). Several cashiers at the store vaguely remember seeing Atta there. [Miami Herald, 9/18/01] According to the official story, Atta doesn't arrive in the US until June 3, 2000. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01]
September 1999 (C): A report prepared for US intelligence entitled the "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism" is completed. It states: "Al-Qaeda's expected retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way." The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the President and US intelligence on emerging threats. [AP, 4/18/02, read the complete report on-line] The Bush administration later claims to have never heard of this report until May 2002, despite the fact that it had been publicly posted on the internet since 1999, and "widely shared within the government" according to the New York Times. [CNN, 5/18/02, New York Times, 5/18/02]
September 21, 1999: German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone (see also March 1997 and February 17, 1999), and on this day investigators hear Zammar call hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Officials initially claim that the call also mentions hijacker Mohamed Atta, but only his first name. [Telegraph, 11/24/01, New York Times, 1/18/03] But in fact, his full name, "Mohammed Atta Al Amir," is mentioned in this call and in another recorded call. [FAZ, 2/2/03] Alshehhi, living in the United Arab Emirates at the time, calls Zammar frequently. German intelligence asks the United Arab Emirates to identify the number and the caller, but the request is not answered. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
October 1999: The ANSER Institute for Homeland Security is founded. This institute claims to be "leading the [homeland security] debate through executive-level education, public awareness programs, workshops for policy makers and online publications: a weekly newsletter and the Journal of Homeland Security, which features articles by senior government leaders and leading homeland security experts." As their webpage makes clear, the first mention of the phrase "homeland security" in a US context came only one month earlier. This institute, which has deep roots in the Air Force, has received tens of millions of government dollars in support. [Online Journal, 6/29/02] They talked about a "second Pearl Harbor" long before 9/11. Doesn't this institute indicate the Department of Homeland Security was planned long before 9/11? Their own website touts their role in the creation of this department, but the media has completely failed to cover the story. [Institute for Homeland Security website, Institute for Homeland Security website FAQ, and, though it's a partisan website, the only reporting on this has been at the Online Journal, 6/29/02]
November 1999: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US and begin living in San Diego [Washington Post, 9/30/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/5/01, Newsweek, 6/2/02] (some reports have them in the US even earlier [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01]). Alhazmi's name is on an apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [Washington Post, 10/01] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two first arrived on January 15, 2000 after an important meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), and many news reports concur. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] It has been reported however, that shortly before 9/11 the CIA determined the two were in Los Angeles around Jan 1, 2000, before the meeting. [AP, 9/21/02 (B)] In early 1999, the NSA intercepted communications mentioning the name Nawaf Alhazmi. [AP, 9/25/02] The NSA Director later states that by the time of the Malaysia meeting, the hijackers Nawaf, his brother Salem and Almihdhar were all to al-Qaeda, "in our sights," known to be associated with al-Qaeda "and we shared this information with the (intelligence) community." [Copley News, 10/17/02, NSA Director Congressional Testimony, 10/17/02] Shouldn't all three have been put on a terrorist watch list even before two of them first arrived in the US in November 1999?
November 3, 1999: The head of Australia's security services admits that the Echelon global surveillance system exists (see August 12, 1988); the US still denies its existence. The BBC describes Echelon's power as "astounding," and elaborates: "Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. They are looking for evidence of international crime, like terrorism." [BBC, 11/3/99]
November 30, 1999: Jordanian officials successfully uncover an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan and other sites on January 1, 2000 (see also 1989-May 2000). [PBS Frontline 10/3/02] A call between al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah and a suspected Jordanian terrorist exposes the plot. In the call, Zubaydah states, "The grooms are ready for the big wedding." [Seattle Times, 6/23/02] This call reflects an extremely poor code system, because the FBI already determined in the wake of the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) that "wedding" was the al-Qaeda code word for bomb. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 214] Furthermore, it appears al-Qaeda fails to later change their code system, because the codename for the 9/11 attack is also "The Big Wedding." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] US intelligence claims it failed to understand the code language for the 9/11 attacks.
Late November 1999: Investigators believe hijackers Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and Ziad Jarrah and associates Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Said Bahaji (all members of the same Hamburg, Germany cell) arrive separately in Afghanistan around this time. They meet with bin Laden and train for several months. [CBS, 10/9/02, New York Times, 9/10/02] In a 2002 interview with Al Jazeera, bin al-Shibh says "We had a meeting attended by all four pilots including Nawaf Alhazmi, Atta's right-hand man." The Guardian interprets this to mean that Alhazmi flew Flight 77, not Hani Hanjour as popularly believed. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
December 1999: The CIA begins "persistent" efforts to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001) as an informer. Darkazanli knows Atta and the other members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. In late 1998, German intelligence had begun an investigation into Darkazanli (see September 20, 1998). Agents occasionally followed him, but Darkazanli obviously noticed the trail on him at least once. More costly and time-consuming electronic surveillance is not done however, and by the end of 1999 the investigation has produced little of value. German law does not allow foreign governments to have informants in Germany. So, this month the CIA representative in Hamburg appears at the headquarters of the Hamburg state domestic intelligence agency, the LFV, responsible for tracking terrorists and domestic extremists. He tells them the CIA believes Darkazanli had knowledge of an unspecified terrorist plot and encourages that he be "turned" against his al-Qaeda comrades. A source later recalls he says, "Darkazanli knows a lot." Efforts to recruit him continue the next year (see Spring 2000). The CIA has not admitted this interest in Darkazanli. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
December 1999 (B): A Yemeni safe house telephone monitored by the FBI and CIA (see Late 1998), reveals that there will be an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000, and that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and an associate named Nawaf (hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi) will attend. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] During the next month, the CIA learns that Nawaf's last name is Alhazmi. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, New York Times, 9/21/02] On Almihdhar's way to Malaysia the CIA learns he has a multiple-entry visa for the US good until April 6, 2000. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, New York Times, 9/21/02] Through the safe house connection the CIA knows Almihdhar is tied to al-Qaeda, and they know he can enter and leave the US at will, but they don't attempt to find him. Had they tried, they would have learned he was already living in the US (see November 1999). Note that until June 2002, the CIA claimed they first learned about Almihdhar's connections to al-Qaeda in August 2001. [New York Times, 6/3/02]
December 14, 1999: Al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the US with components of explosive devices. 130 pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components are found inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 12/30/01] This would have been part of a wave of attacks against US targets over the New Year's weekend. Though he is later connected to al-Qaeda, he still hasn't been formally sentenced. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
January 2000: Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He had also met with them in 1998 (see November 1998 (B)), but it's not known if he met with them after this. Bush denied this meeting took place until a thank you note was found confirming it. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01, Guardian, 10/31/01] FTW
January-May 2000: 9/11 hijacker Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [AFP, 9/22/01, Focus, 9/24/01, Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] He is "reportedly observed buying large quantities of chemicals in Frankfurt, apparently for the production of explosives [and/or] for biological warfare. The US agents reported to have trailed Atta are said to have failed to inform the German authorities about their investigation," even as the Germans are investigating many of his associates (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). "The disclosure that Atta was being trailed by police long before 11 September raises the question why the attacks could not have been prevented with the man's arrest." [Observer, 9/30/01] A German newspaper adds that Atta was still able to get a visa into the US on May 18. The surveillance stopped when he left for the US at the start of June (see June 3, 2000). But "experts believe that the suspect remained under surveillance in the United States." [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] A German intelligence official also states, "We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the USA." [Focus, 9/24/01] This correlates with a Newsweek claim that US officials knew Atta was a "known [associate] of Islamic terrorists well before [9/11]." [Newsweek, 9/20/01] However, a Congressional inquiry later reports that the US "intelligence community possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information linking 16 of the 19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or terrorist groups." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Did the fact that the CIA started monitoring Atta in January 2000 have any connection to roommate Ramzi bin al-Shibh's participation in an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, that the CIA had ordered surveilled that same month (see January 5-8, 2000)?
January 15, 2000: Shortly after the al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] The CIA tracks Alhazmi, but apparently doesn't realize Almihdhar is also on the plane. The US keeps a watch list database known as TIPOFF, with over 80,000 names of suspected terrorists as of late 2002. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US. "The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low," and even a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is connected with a terrorist group, warrants being added to the database. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Almihdhar and Alhazmi are important enough to have been mentioned to the CIA Director several times this month, but are not added to the watch list. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Furthermore, "astonishingly, the CIA ... [didn't] notify the FBI, which could have covertly tracked them to find out their mission." [Newsweek, 6/2/02]
February 23, 2000: European Parliament hearings over Echelon, the global surveillance network, draw banner headlines across Europe. A report prepared for the European Parliament not only confirms that Echelon exists, but has found that Echelon had twice helped US companies gain an advantage over Europeans. The EU sets up a commission to determine if action should be taken against Britain for security breaches. [New York Times, 2/24/00] The US has denied and continues to deny the very existence of Echelon. But it exists, as Echelon partners Britain and Australia (see November 3, 1999) now admit. [BBC, 5/29/01]
March 2000: An FBI agent, reportedly angry over a glitch in an e-mail tracking program that has somehow mixed innocent non-targeted e-mails with those belonging to al-Qaeda, supposedly destroys all of the FBI's Denver-based intercepts of bin Laden's colleagues in a terrorist investigation. The tracking program is called Carnivore. But the story sounds dubious, and is flatly contradicted in the same article: "A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that the e-mails were not destroyed." [AP, 5/28/02] FTW
March 5, 2000: An unnamed nation tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles (see January 5-8, 2000). [New York Times, 10/17/02] This confirms what the CIA already knows. [CNN, 3/02] The CIA also learns that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar arrived in the US on the same flight. [Michael Rolince Testimony, 9/20/02] Yet again, CIA fails to put their names on a watch list, and fails to alert the FBI so they can be tracked. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims that "Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe." [New York Times, 10/17/02] Yet the Congressional inquiry report states that the day after the cable was received, "another overseas CIA station noted, in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had 'read with interest' the March cable, 'particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US...'" [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
Spring 2000 (D): Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, while living in San Diego, contacts a "terrorist facility" in the Middle East that is under US surveillance (see January 15-August 2000). Intelligence agencies are aware of the call but don't understand its significance. [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Apparently his location is not known from the call, and some but not all of the information about the call is reported to other intelligence agencies. The name of the terrorist facility or organization has not been released. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 12/11/01] Could it be the safe house in Yemen that Almihdhar may have already called a few months earlier (see December 1999 (B))?
April 2000: Spruce Whited, director of security for the Portland Public Library, later says Atta and possibly a second hijacker are regulars at the library and frequently use public Internet terminals at this time. He says four other employees recognize Atta as a library patron. "I remember seeing (Atta) in the spring of 2000,'' he says. "I have a vague memory of a second one who turned out to be (Atta's) cousin" (note: this is probably a reference to Marwan Alshehhi). Whited also says federal authorities have not inquired about the library sightings. [Boston Herald, 10/5/01, Portland Press Herald, 10/5/01] According to the official story, Atta doesn't arrive in the US until June 3, 2000. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01] Why does the FBI appear uninterested in these early sightings of Atta?
Late April-Mid-May 2000:
Atta reportedly has a very strange meeting with Johnelle Bryant of the US Department
of Agriculture (incidentally, one month before the official story claims he
arrived in the US for the first time). According to Bryant, in the meeting Atta
does all of the following:
1) He initially refuses to speak with one who is "but a female."
2) He asks her for a loan of $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane.
3) He mentions that he wants to "build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."
4) He uses his real name even as she takes notes, and makes sure she spells it correctly.
5) He says he has just arrived from Afghanistan.
6) He tells about his travel plans to Spain and Germany.
7) He expresses an interest in visiting New York.
8) He asks her about security at the WTC and other US landmarks.
9) He discusses al-Qaeda and its need for American membership.
10) He tells her bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."
11) He asks to buy the aerial photograph of Washington hanging on her Florida office wall, throwing increasingly large "wads of cash" at her when she refuses to sell it. [ABC News, 6/6/02]
12) After Bryant points out one of the buildings in the Washington photograph as her former place of employment, he asks her, "How would you like it if somebody flew an airplane into your friends' building?" [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 270]
13) He asks her, "What would prevent [me] from going behind [your] desk and cutting [your] throat and making off with the millions of dollars" in the safe behind her.
14) He asks, "How would America like it if another country destroyed [Washington] and some of the monuments in it like the cities in [my] country had been destroyed?" (Atta supposedly comes from Egypt - what cities have been destroyed there in recent decades?)
15) He gets "very agitated" when he isn't given the money in cash on the spot.
Atta later tries to get the loan again from the same woman, this time "slightly disguised" by wearing glasses. Three other terrorists also attempt to get the same loan from Bryant, but all of them fail. Bryant turns them down because they don't meet the loan requirements, and fails to notify anyone about these strange encounters until after 9/11. Government officials not only confirm the account and say that Bryant passed a lie detector test, but elaborate that the account jibes with other information they have received from interrogating prisoners. Supposedly, failing to get the loan, the terrorists switched plans from using crop dusters to hijacking aircraft. [ABC News, 6/6/02, London Times, 6/8/02] Compare Atta's meeting with FBI Director Mueller's later testimony about the hijackers: "There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about." [CNN, 9/28/02] Why would the terrorists have been depending on such a loan in the first place instead of just spending some of bin Laden's millions to buy the plane? Were the terrorists comically inept, and the US just as inept for not catching them, or is the story government propaganda? Could Atta (or someone impersonating him) have been trying to make himself conspicuous as part of a trail of false evidence? Why didn't Bryant report someone who threatened her with violence, and threatened terrorist acts?
June 2000 (B): Around this time, a number of very suspicious web domains are registered. Here's the list: "attackamerica.com," "attackonamerica.com," "attackontwintowers.com," "august11horror.com," "august11terror.com," "horrorinamerica.com," "horrorinnewyork.com," "nycterroriststrike.com," "pearlharborinmanhattan.com," "terrorattack2001.com," "towerofhorror.com," "tradetowerstrike.com," "worldtradecenter929.com," "worldtradecenterbombs.com," "worldtradetowerattack.com," "worldtradetowerstrike.com," "wterroristattack2001.com." A counter-terrorism expert says: "It's unbelievable that [the registration company] would register these domain names" and "if they did make a comment to the FBI, it's unbelievable that the FBI didn't react to it." Several of the names mention 2001 and apparently there were no other websites mentioning other years. Registering a site requires a credit card, so presumably this story could provide leads, but it's unclear what leads the FBI got from this, if any. None of the sites were being actively used on 9/11. [Cybercast News Service, 9/19/01] All had expired around June 2001. [Cybercast News Service, 9/20/01] This story is later called an "urban legend," but the debunkers are later themselves criticized. [Insight, 3/11/02] Perhaps someone heard of the terror plot, thought to capitalize on it, and then thought better of it? Were the two specific dates mentioned, August 11 and September 29, preliminary target strike dates?
June 3, 2000: Atta supposedly arrives in the US for the first time, flying from Prague to Newark on a tourist visa issued May 18 in Berlin. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01] Yet there's evidence someone using Atta's name and appearance was in the US before this (see September 1999, Late April-Mid-May 2000, and April 2000).
June 10, 2000: Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar flies from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Authorities later believe that Almihdhar visits Ramzi bin al-Shibh and bin al-Shibh's roommate Atta and other al-Qaeda members in bin al-Shibh's terrorist cell. But since the CIA fails to notify Germany about their suspicions of either Almihdhar or bin al-Shibh, both of whom were seen attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), German police fail to surveil them and a chance to uncover the 9/11 plot is missed. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02] Note that FBI Director Mueller and the Congressional inquiry into 9/11 claim that Almihdhar doesn't return to the US for over a year, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, even the claims of a landlord who lived with him for six weeks (see September-December 2000) [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01], presumably because there are no INS records of his reentry. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
August-September 2000: An unmanned spy plane called the Predator begins flying over Afghanistan, showing incomparably detailed real-time video and photographs of the movements of what appears to be bin Laden and his aides. Clinton is impressed by a two-minute video of bin Laden crossing a street heading toward a mosque. Bin Laden is surrounded by a team of a dozen armed men creating a professional forward security perimeter as he moves. The Predator had been used since 1996 in the Balkans, but its use is stopped in Afghanistan after a few trials when a Predator crashes. The White House presses ahead with a program to arm the Predator with a missile, but the effort is slowed by bureaucratic infighting between the Pentagon and the CIA over who would pay for the craft and who would have ultimate authority over its use. Officials say the dispute is not resolved until after 9/11. [New York Times, 12/30/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01] However, it is later reported that by May 2001, the Predator "proved ... that it could find and kill individuals." [Washington Post, 3/13/03] On September 15, 2001, CIA Director Tenet tells Bush, "The unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft that was now armed with Hellfire missiles had been operating for more than a year out of Uzbekistan to provide real-time video of Afghanistan." [Washington Post, 1/29/02] So someone is lying or mistaken about when the Predator was used and when it was armed.
September 2000: The neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century writes a "blueprint" for the "creation of a 'global Pax Americana'" (see also June 3, 1997). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a "blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." The plan shows Bush intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The report calls for the control of space through a new "US Space Forces," the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates "regime change" in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that "advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool." A British Member of Parliament says of the report, "This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world" (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02, click here to download the think tank report] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though "we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments." [Washington Post, 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
September-December 2000: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to the house of Abdussattar Shaikh in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Almihdhar leaves at the beginning of October to go overseas; Alhazmi stays till December. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Shaikh, a local Muslim leader, is later revealed to be a "tested" undercover "asset" working with the local FBI. Supposedly, he never told the FBI the hijackers' names. But the FBI concedes that a San Diego case agent appears to have been at least aware that Saudi visitors were renting rooms in the informants house, and on one occasion the case agent called the informant and was told he couldn't talk because "Khalid" was in the room. Newsweek says the connection between these two and the informant "has stunned some top counterterrorism officials." [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Neighbors claim that Atta is a frequent visitor, and Hani Hanjour visits as well. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01, AP, 9/29/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/27/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/11/01] But Shaikh denies Atta's visits, the FBI never mentions them, and the media appears to have forgotten about them. [AP, 9/29/01] Echoing reports from their first apartment (see January 15-August 2000), neighbors witness strange late night visits with Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [AP, 9/16/01] For instance, one neighbor says, "There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes." [Time, 9/24/01]
October 24-26, 2000: Pentagon officials carry out a "detailed" emergency drill based upon the crashing of a hijacked airliner into the Pentagon. [MDW News Service, 11/3/00, Mirror, 5/24/02] The Pentagon is such an obvious target that, "For years, staff at the Pentagon joked that they worked at "Ground Zero", the spot at which an incoming nuclear missile aimed at America's defenses would explode. There is even a snack bar of that name in the central courtyard of the five-sided building, America's most obvious military bullseye." [Telegraph, 9/16/01] After 9/11, a Pentagon spokesman will claim: "The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way, and I doubt prior to Tuesday's event, anyone would have expected anything like that here." [Newsday, 9/23/01] FTW
Late November 2000-January 30, 2001: When Ziad Jarrah is questioned at Dubai, United Arab Emirates on January 30, 2001 (see January 30, 2001), he reveals that he has been in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the previous two months and five days, and that he is returning to Florida. [Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01] Investigators also later confirm that "Jarrah had spent at least three weeks in January 2001 at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan." [CNN, 8/1/02] However, the Florida Flight Training Center where Jarrah has been studying for the previous six months, later says he is in school there until January 15, 2001. His family later reports he arrives in Lebanon to visit them on January 26, five days before he supposedly passes through Dubai. His father had just undergone open heart surgery, and Jarrah visits him every day in the hospital until after January 30. Pointing out this incident, his uncle Jamal Jarrah later asks, "How could he be in two places at one time?" [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 101-102] This is not the only example of Jarrah being in two places at the same time - see March 1995-February 1996. Could Jarrah have had a doppelganger? Also, compare these two photos the government says are of Jarrah. Though the faces are similar, note the different shapes of the heads - are these photos be of the same person?
January 2001 (B): Hijackers Hamza Alghamdi and Mohand Alshehri rent a post office box in Delray Beach, Florida, according to the Washington Post. Yet FBI Director Mueller later claims they don't enter the country until May 28, 2001. [Washington Post, 9/30/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
January-June 2001: 11 of the 9/11 hijackers stay in or pass through Britain, according to the British Home Secretary and top investigators. Most come between April and June, just passing through from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. But investigators suspect some stay in Britain for training and fundraising (see June 2001 (H)). Not all 11 names are given, but one can deduce from the press accounts that Ahmed Alghamdi, Salem Alhazmi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami, and Saeed Alghamdi were definitely in Britain. Ahmed Alghamdi was one of several that should have been "instantly 'red-flagged' by British intelligence," because of his links to Raed Hijazi, a suspected ally of bin Laden being held in Jordan on charges of conspiring to destroy holy sites (see Spring 2001 (B)). Two of the following three also were in Britain: Wail Alshehri, Fayez Banihammad, and Abdulaziz Alomari. All or almost all appear to be the "muscle" (see April 23-June 29, 2001) and specific leaders like Atta and Alshehhi are ruled out as having passed through. [London Times, 9/26/01, Washington Post, 9/27/01, BBC, 9/28/01, Sunday Herald, 9/30/01] However, police are investigating if Mohamed Atta visited Britain in 1999 and 2000 together with some Algerians. [Telegraph, 9/30/01] The London Times also writes, "Officials hope that the inquiries in Britain will disclose the true identities of the suicide team. Some are known to have arrived in Britain using false passports and fake identities that they kept for the hijack." This contradicts assertions by FBI Director Mueller that all the hijackers used their own, real names (see September 16-23, 2001).
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001.
January 30, 2001: Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is questioned for several hours at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, at the request of the CIA for "suspected involvement in terrorist activities," then let go. This is according to United Arab Emirates, US and European officials, but the CIA denies the story. The CIA notified local officials that he would be arriving from Pakistan on his way back to Europe, and they wanted to know where he had been in Afghanistan and how long he had been there. US officials were informed of the results of the interrogation before Jarrah left the airport. Jarrah had already been in the US for six months learning to fly. "UAE and European intelligence sources told CNN that the questioning of Jarrah fits a pattern of a CIA operation begun in 1999 to track suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were traveling through the United Arab Emirates." He was then permitted to leave, eventually going to the US. [CNN, 8/1/02] Why the US would flag him now but not when he entered the US or after is unclear (see September 9, 2001).
February 2001: At least six unconnected people later claim they recognize hijackers Satam Al Suqami and Salem Alhazmi living in San Antonio, Texas, until this month. The management of an apartment building says the two men abandoned their leases at about this time, and some apartment residents recognize them. However, all the witnesses say that Suqami was going by Alhazmi's name, and vice versa! [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/1/01] One pilot shop employee recognizes Alhazmi as a frequent visitor to the store and interested in a 757 or 767 handbook, though he also says Alhazmi used Suqami's name. [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/3/01] The apartment leasing agent also recalls a Ziad Jarrah who once lived there in June 2001 and looked the same as the hijacker. [San Antonio Express-News, 9/22/01, AP, 9/22/01] Local FBI confirm that a Salem Alhazmi attended the nearby Alpha Tango Flight School and lived in that apartment building, but they say he is a different Salem Alhazmi who is still alive and living in Saudi Arabia. [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/4/01] However, that Salem Alhazmi (see September 16-23, 2001) says he's never been to the US and has proved to the authorities he didn't leave Saudi Arabia in the two years prior to 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/20/01] The FBI gave no explanation for Satam Al Suqami's presence. Neither hijacker is supposed to have arrived in the US before April, 2001 (see April 23-June 29, 2001). Is the FBI covering up sightings of hijackers that don't fit into their storyline? Why did they apparently switch names, and what does this say about the veracity of the names of other hijackers?
February 2001 (C): Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, convinces Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser under President Reagan, that Haq and about 50 fellow commanders could lead a force to start a revolt against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. However, Haq wants to do this under the authority of Zahir Shah, the popular former king of Afghanistan, whom the US doesn't support. The CIA fails to give any support to this revolt idea. Says one CIA official to McFarlane a few months later, "We don't yet have our marching orders concerning US policy; it may be that we will end up dealing with the Taliban." Haq goes ahead with his plans without US support, and is later betrayed and killed (see Mid-August 2001 (B) and October 25, 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B), Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01]
March-August 2001: In March and August, Atta visits a small airport in South Florida and asks detailed questions about how to start and fly a crop-duster plane. People there easily recall him because he was so persistent. After explaining his abilities, Atta is told he is not skilled enough to fly a crop-duster. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Employees at South Florida Crop Care in Belle Glade, Florida later tell the FBI that Atta was among the men who in groups of two or three visited the crop dusting firm nearly every weekend for six or eight weeks before the attacks. Says employee James Lester: "I recognized him because he stayed on my feet all the time. I just about had to push him away from me." [AP, 9/15/01] Yet, according to US investigators, Atta and the other hijackers gave up on the crop-duster idea back in 2000. (see Late April-Mid-May 2000).
March 4, 2001: Contradicting the later claim that no one could have envisioned the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived Fox TV program called The Lone Gunmen airs a pilot episode in which terrorists try to fly an airplane into the WTC. The heroes save the day and the airplane narrowly misses the building. There are no terrorists on board the aircraft; remote control technology is used to steer the plane. Ratings were good for the show, yet the eerie coincidence is barely mentioned after 9/11. Says one media columnist, "This seems to be collective amnesia of the highest order." [TV Guide, 6/21/02] The heroes also determine, "The terrorist group responsible was actually a faction of our own government. These malefactors were seeking to stimulate arms manufacturing in the lean years following the end of the Cold War by bringing down a plane in New York City and fomenting fears of terrorism." [Myers Report, 6/20/02]
Mid-March 2001: Hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, Hani Hanjour, and Nawaf Alhazmi stay four days in the Fairfield Motor Inn, Fairfield, Connecticut. They meet with Eyad M. Alrababah, a Jordanian living in Bridgeport who has been charged with providing false identification to at least 50 illegal aliens. This meeting takes place about six weeks before the FBI says Moqed and Alghamdi enter the US. [AP, 3/6/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
March 26, 2001: The Washington Post reports on a major improvements of the CIA's intelligence gathering capability "in recent years." A new program called Oasis uses "automated speech recognition" technology to turn audio feeds into formatted, searchable text. It can distinguish one voice from another and differentiates "speaker 1" from "speaker 2" in transcripts. Software called Fluent performs "cross lingual" searches, even translating difficult languages like Chinese and Japanese (apparently such software is much better than similar publicly available software) as well as automatically assessing their importance. There's also software that can turn a suspect's "life story into a three-dimensional diagram of linked phone calls, bank deposits and plane trips," and other software to efficiently and quickly process vast amounts of video, audio and written data. [Washington Post, 3/26/01] However, the government will later report that a number of messages about the 9/11 attacks, such as one stating "tomorrow is the zero hour" weren't translated until after 9/11 because analysts were "too swamped." [ABC News, 6/7/02] Doesn't that contradict the automated aspect of much translation?
Spring 2001: The Sydney Morning Herald later reports, "The months preceding September 11 [see] a shifting of the US military's focus ... Over several months beginning in April  a series of military and governmental policy documents [are] released that [seek] to legitimize the use of US military force in the pursuit of oil and gas." Michael Klare, an international security expert and author of Resource Wars, says the military has increasingly come to "define resource security as their primary mission." An article in the Army War College's journal by Jeffrey Record, a former staff member of the Senate armed services committee, argues for the legitimacy of "shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices." He also "advocate[s] the acceptability of presidential subterfuge in the promotion of a conflict" and "explicitly urge[s] painting over the US's actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high-minded veneer, seeing such as a necessity for mobilizing public support for a conflict." In April, Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf/South Asia area, testifies to Congress in April that his command's key mission is "access to [the region's] energy resources." The next month US Central Command begins planning for war with Afghanistan, plans that are later used in the real war (see May 2001 (F)). [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02] Other little noticed but influential documents reflect similar thinking (see September 2000 and April 2001 (D)).
Spring 2001 (B): A US Customs Service investigation finds evidence that Nabil al-Marabh (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001 and 2001 (C)) has funneled money to hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam Al Suqami. [Cox News, 10/16/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] By summer, Customs uncovers a series of financial transactions between al-Marabh and al-Qaeda agent Raed Hijazi. [New York Times, 9/21/01, AP, 11/17/01] It is later reported that "some of the 11 hijackers who passed through" Britain in spring 2001 on their way to the US (see April 23-June 29, 2001) "should have been instantly 'red-flagged' by British intelligence. One was Ahmed Alghamdi" because of his connection to Raed Hijazi (see January-June 2001). [Sunday Herald, 9/30/01] Presumably another would be Satam Al Suqami. If they should have been flagged by Britain in spring 2001 because of a US investigation, isn't it likely that they should have been flagged by the US as well? Despite all of these al-Qaeda connections and more, the US later decides al-Marabh is not a terrorist (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002). A Congressional 9/11 inquiry later concludes that US intelligence "possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information" before 9/11 on any of the hijackers except for Khalid Almihdhar and Salem and Nawaf Alhazmi. The inquiry suggests the other hijackers may have been selected "because they did not have previously established ties to terrorist organizations." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] This seems to completely ignore all evidence of the Customs investigation.
April-May 2001: National Security Advisor Rice later says US intelligence sources start to learn of specific threats regarding al-Qaeda attacks against US targets or interests around this time. [CNN, 3/02, Reuters, 5/16/02] While its true that intelligence warnings were increasing at this time, what about the many specific warnings from before this (for instance, see March 2000 (B) and March 2001 (B))?
April 8, 2001: Supposedly, Atta flies from the US to Prague, Czech Republic, and meets with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, an Iraqi spy. He returns on April 9 or 10. [New York Times, 10/27/01] But did he actually fly to Prague? A US official later states, "Neither we nor the Czechs nor anybody else has any information [Atta] was coming or going [to Prague] at that time." [Newsweek, 4/28/02] FBI Director Mueller states, "We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts," yet no evidence that he left the country was found. [Washington Post, 5/1/02] Investigators believe Atta was in Florida the whole time, and the Czech government eventually agrees. [BBC, 5/1/02, UPI, 10/20/02, New York Times, 10/21/02] But assuming al-Ani met with someone, could it be someone other than Atta, perhaps someone impersonating him? "After months of investigation, the Czechs [say] they [are] no longer certain that Atta was the person who met al-Ani, saying 'he may be different from Atta.'" [Washington Post, 5/1/02] "Some in Prague who knew the diplomat say he met with a used car salesman named Saleh from Nuremberg, Germany, who looked like Mr. Atta. 'He is a perfect double for Atta,' said a Syrian businessman who has lived in Prague for 35 years and says he knew the diplomat and the car salesman. 'I saw him several times with [al-Ani].' ... Czech intelligence officials offered still another theory: the Mohamed Atta who came to Prague last April was not the hijacker but a Pakistani of the same name. 'He didn't have the same identity card number,' an unidentified Interior Ministry official told the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. 'There was a great difference in their ages, their nationalities didn't match, basically nothing it was someone else.'" [New York Times, 12/16/01] Could the use of an impersonator explain why some Czech officials remained convinced so long that Atta came to this meeting [AP, 12/17/01], while FBI investigators remained convinced that he never left Florida? [Washington Post, 5/1/02] See September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002 for the remarkable way coverage of this story has changed over time.
April 18, 2001 (B): The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should "demonstrate a high degree of alertness." The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [AP, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines between January and August (the airlines have been getting an average of more than one warning a month for a long time), but this one is slightly more specific. [CNN, 3/02, CNN, 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, "there were so many that airline officials grew numb to them." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] The Bush administration officials have said the threats were so vague that they did not require tighter security. [AP, 5/18/02]
April 23-June 29, 2001: The 13 hijackers
commonly known as the "muscle" first arrive in the US. The muscle
provides the brute force meant to control the hijacked passengers and protect
the pilots. [Washington
Post, 9/30/01] According to FBI Director Mueller, they all pass through
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and their travel was probably coordinated from
abroad by Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional
Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] But some information
contradicts their official arrival dates:
April 23: Waleed Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami arrive in Orlando, Florida. Suqami in fact arrived before February 2001 (see February 2001). Alshehri was leasing a house near Washington in 1999 and 2000 with Ahmed Alghamdi (see 1999 (H)). He also lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Alshehri appears quite Americanized in the summer of 2001, frequently talking with an apartment mate about football and baseball, even identifying himself a fan of the Florida Marlins baseball team. [AP, 9/21/01]
May 2: Majed Moqed and Ahmed Alghamdi arrive in Washington. Both actually arrived by mid-March 2001 (see Mid-March 2001). Ahmed Alghamdi was living with Waleed Alshehri near Washington until July 2000 (see 1999 (H)). He also lived with Waleed Alshehri in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01]
May 28: Mohand Alshehri, Hamza Alghamdi, and Ahmed Alnami arrive in Miami, Florida. Both Mohand Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi arrived by January 2001 (see January 2001 (B)).
June 8: Ahmed Alhaznawi and Wail Alshehri arrive in Miami, Florida.
June 27: Fayez Banihammad and Saeed Alghamdi arrive in Orlando, Florida.
June 29: Salem Alhazmi and Abdulaziz Alomari arrive in New York. Alhazmi in fact arrived before February 2001 (see February 2001).
After entering the US (perhaps reentering for some), the hijackers arriving at Miami and Orlando airports settle in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area along with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. The hijackers, arriving in New York and Virginia, settle in the Paterson, New Jersey, area along with Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Note that the FBI's early conclusion that 11 of these muscle men "did not know they were on a suicide mission," [Observer, 10/14/01] is contradicted by video confessions made by all of them in Afghanistan (see March 2001), and CIA Director Tenet later says they "probably were told little more than that they were headed for a suicide mission inside the United States." [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] They didn't know the exact details of the 9/11 plot until shortly before the attack. [CBS, 10/9/02]
May 29, 2001: A European Union committee investigating the Echelon spy surveillance network advises all people using e-mail to encrypt their e-mails if they want to avoid being spied on by Echelon. Echelon can sift through up to 90% of all internet traffic, as well as monitor phone conversations, mobile phone calls, fax transmissions, net browsing history, satellite transmissions and so on. Even encryption may not help much - the BBC suggests that "it is likely that the intelligence agencies can crack open most commercially available encryption software." [BBC, 5/29/01, BBC, 5/29/01] Given all this data capture capability, isn't it likely they had the data to break the 9/11 plot? The question is were they able to sift through all their data? Certainly any leads connected to al-Qaeda must have had the highest analysis priority for years.
June 2001 (I): US intelligence learns that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is interested in "sending terrorists to the United States" and planning to assist their activities once they arrive. The 9/11 Congressional inquiry says the significance of this is not understood at the time, and data collection efforts are not subsequently "targeted on information about [Mohammed] that might have helped understand al-Qaeda's plans and intentions." [Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, USA Today, 12/12/02] The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). That summer, the NSA intercepts phone calls between Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently fails to pay attention (see Summer 2001), and on September 10, 2001, the US monitors a call from Atta to Mohammed in which Atta gets final approval for the 9/11 attacks, but this also doesn't lead to action (see September 10, 2001 (F)). In mid-2002, it is reported that "officials believe that given the warning signals available to the FBI in the summer of 2001, investigators correctly concentrated on the [USS] Cole investigation, rather than turning their attention to the possibility of a domestic attack." [New York Times, 6/9/02]
June 3, 2001: This is one of only two dates that Bush's national security leadership meets formally to discuss terrorism. This group, made up of the National Security Adviser, CIA Director, Defense Secretary, Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others, met around 100 times before 9/11 to discuss a variety of topics, but apparently rarely terrorism. In wake of these reports, the White House "aggressively defended the level of attention, given only scattered hints of al-Qaeda activity." This lack of discussion stands in sharp contrast to the Clinton administration and public comments by the Bush administration. For instance, in January 2001 Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told his replacement Rice: "I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject." [Time, 8/4/02] Bush said in February 2001: "I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil." A few weeks earlier, Tenet had told Congress, "The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving." [AP, 6/28/02]
June 9, 2001: Robert Wright, an FBI agent who spent ten years investigating terrorist funding, writes a memo that slams the FBI. He states, "Knowing what I know, I can confidently say that until the investigative responsibilities for terrorism are transferred from the FBI, I will not feel safe... The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected international terrorists living in the United States." [Cybercast News Service, 5/30/02] He claims "FBI was merely gathering intelligence so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred" rather than actually trying to stop the attacks. [UPI, 5/30/02] Wright's shocking allegations are largely ignored. He is asked on CNN's Crossfire, one of the few outlets to cover the story at all, "Mr. Wright, your charges against the FBI are really more disturbing, more serious, than [Coleen] Rowley's (see August 28, 2001). Why is it, do you think, that you have been ignored by the media, ignored by the congressional committees, and no attention has been paid to your allegations?" The Village Voice says the problem is partly because he went to the FBI and asked permission to speak publicly instead of going straight to the media as Rowley did. The FBI put severe limits on what details Wright can divulge. He is now suing them (see also May 30, 2002). [Village Voice, 6/19/02]
June 11, 2001: FBI agents from the New York office and Washington headquarters meet with CIA officials to discuss the USS Cole investigation. The FBI agents are shown photographs from the Malaysia meeting, including pictures of hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, but are not given copies (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 4, 2001). "The FBI agents recognized the men from the Cole investigation, but when they asked the CIA what they knew about the men, they were told that they didn't have clearance to share that information. It ended up in a shouting match." [ABC News, 8/16/02] A CIA official later admits that he knew more about Alhazmi and Almihdhar that he was willing to tell the FBI. The FBI agents don't receive the information they want about these two until after 9/11. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Two days after this meeting, Almihdhar has no trouble getting a new multiple reentry US visa. [US News and World Report, 12/12/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims, "Almihdhar was not who they were talking about in this meeting." When Senator Carl Levin (D) reads the following to Tenet, "The CIA analyst who attended the New York meeting acknowledged to the joint inquiry staff that he had seen the information regarding Almihdhar's US visa and Alhazmi's travel to the United States but he stated that he would not share information outside of the CIA unless he had authority to do so," Tenet claims that he talked to the same analyst and was told something completely different. [New York Times, 10/17/02]
June 28, 2001: CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary for National Security Adviser Rice: "It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." Rice will later claim that everyone was taken by complete surprise by the 9/11 attack (see May 16, 2002 (B)). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] This comes several days after a reporter visits bin Laden, and is given the impression that an attack will occur in the next two weeks. He isn't actually told that by anyone, but he is told by at least one bin Laden follower that "a severe blow is expected against USA and Israeli interests worldwide." [Pravda, 6/26/01]
Summer 2001 (B): A confidential informant tells an FBI field office agent that he has been invited to a commando training course at a camp operated by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The information is passed up to FBI headquarters, which rejects the idea of infiltrating the camp. An "asset validation" of the informant, a routine but critical exercise to determine whether information from the source was reliable, is also not done. The FBI later has no comment on the story. [US News and World Report, 6/10/02]
July 2001: The CIA hears an individual who had recently been in Afghanistan say, "Everyone is talking about an impending attack." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02] The Telegraph later reports that "the idea of an attack on a skyscraper was discussed among [bin Laden's] supporters in Kabul." At some unspecified point before 9/11, a neighbor in Kabul saw diagrams showing a skyscraper attack in a house known as a "nerve center" for al-Qaeda activity. [Telegraph, 11/16/01] US soldiers will later find forged visas, altered passports, listings of Florida flight schools and registration papers for a flight simulator in al-Qaeda houses in Afghanistan. [New York Times, 12/6/01] Bin Laden bodyguard later claims that in May 2001 he hears bin Laden tell people in Afghanistan that the US would be hit with a terrorist attack, and thousands would die. [Guardian, 11/28/01] CIA Director Tenet later claims that the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of three or four people." [USA Today, 2/7/02] How many people in Afghanistan really knew of the 9/11 attack plans?
July 4-14, 2001: Bin Laden, America's most wanted criminal with a $5 million bounty on his head, supposedly receives lifesaving treatment for renal failure from American surgeon specialist Dr. Callaway at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is possibly accompanied by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (who is said to be bin Laden's personal physician, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, and leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad), plus several bodyguards. Callaway supposedly treated bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, also in Dubai. Callaway later refuses to answer any questions on this matter. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01, Agence France-Presse, 11/1/01, London Times, 11/01/01] During his stay, bin Laden is visited by "several members of his family and Saudi personalities," including Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, as well as two CIA officers (see also July 12, 2001). [Guardian, 11/1/01] FTW The explosive story is widely reported in Europe, but barely at all in the US (possibly only by UPI [UPI, 11/1/01]).
July 10, 2001: Phoenix, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams sends a memorandum warning about suspicious activities involving a group of Middle Eastern men taking flight training lessons in Arizona. The memorandum specifically suggests that bin Laden's followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil-aviation system as pilots, security guards or other personnel, and recommends a national program to track suspicious flight-school students. The memo is sent to the counterterrorism division at FBI headquarters in Washington and to two field offices, including the counterterrorism section in New York, which has had extensive experience in al-Qaeda investigations. The memo is ignored in all three places, not passed on to others, and no action is taken. [New York Times, 5/20/02, Fortune, 5/22/02] Williams mentioned 10 flight students as particularly suspicious, but the list didn't include hijacker Hani Hanjour, who was training in Arizona at the time and drew suspicion from others (see January 2001). However, the prime target of the list was Bandar Alhazmi, another Saudi who had roomed and trained with Hanjour off and on for several years (and has been missing since 9/11). Had Alhazmi been investigated, Hanjour might have been discovered as well (see also December 2001). [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/24/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02, Washington Post, 9/10/02] Vice President Cheney states in May 2002 that the memo should never be released to the media or public. [CNN, 5/20/02] FTW
July 12, 2001: While in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to receive lifesaving medical treatment (see July 4-14, 2001), Bin Laden supposedly meets with CIA agent Larry Mitchell in the Dubai hospital on this day, and possibly others. Mitchell reportedly lives in Dubai as an Arab specialist under the cover of being a consular agent. The CIA, the Dubai hospital and even bin Laden deny the story. Le Figaro and Radio France International stand by it. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01, Radio France International, 11/1/01, Reuters, 11/10/01] The Guardian claims that the two news organizations that broke the story, Le Figaro and Radio France International, got their information from French intelligence, "which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere." The Guardian adds that during his stay bin Laden is also visited by a second CIA officer. [Guardian, 11/1/01] On July 15, Larry Mitchell supposedly returns to CIA headquarters to report on his meeting with bin Laden. [Radio France International, 11/1/01] If this meeting did happen, then does it show the US was not serious about wanting bin Laden dead?
July 20-22, 2001: The G8 summit is held in Genoa, Italy. Acting on previous warnings that al-Qaeda would attempt to kill Bush and other leaders (see Mid-July 2001), Italy surrounds the summit with antiaircraft guns, keeps fighters in the air, and closes off local airspace to all planes. No attack occurs. US officials at the time state that the warnings were "unsubstantiated" but after 9/11 claim success in preventing an attack. Lying about Genoa keeps the public and the airlines uninformed about the seriousness of the current terrorist threat. [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01] FTW
July 26, 2001: CBS
News reports that Attorney General Ashcroft has stopped flying commercial airlines
due to a threat assessment, but "neither the FBI
nor the Justice Department ... would identify [to CBS] what the threat was,
when it was detected or who made it." [CBS,
"Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity
when asked if he knew anything about the threat. 'Frankly, I don't,' he told
Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] It is later reported that he stopped
flying in July based on threat assessments made on May 8 and June 19. In May
2002 its claimed the threat assessment had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, but
Ashcroft walked out of his office rather than answer questions about it. [AP,
5/16/02] The San Francisco Chronicle concludes, "The FBI obviously
knew something was in the wind ... The FBI did advise Ashcroft to stay off commercial
aircraft. The rest of us just had to take our chances."
Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] CBS's Dan Rather later says of this warning:
"Why wasn't it shared with the public at large?" [Washington
July 31, 2001: The FAA issues another warning to US airlines, citing no specific targets but saying "terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution." These alerts had expired by 9/11. Note that pilots and flight attendants later claim they were never told about warnings such as these. The airlines also disagree about the content of pre-9/11 warnings generally. For instance, American Airlines states these warnings were "extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements." The text of these warnings remain classified. [CNN, 3/02, Ananova, 5/17/02]
Late summer 2001: Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code named The Big Wedding, is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. "When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush Administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations." Christian Science Monitor calls the story "confidently authenticated" even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/02] FTW
August 2001 (D): Russian President Putin warns the US that suicide pilots are training for attacks on US targets. [Fox News, 5/17/02] The head of Russian intelligence also later states, "We had clearly warned them" on several occasions, but they "did not pay the necessary attention." [Agence France-Presse, 9/16/01] A Russian newspaper on September 12, 2001 claims that "Russian Intelligence agents know the organizers and executors of these terrorist attacks. More than that, Moscow warned Washington about preparation to these actions a couple of weeks before they happened." Interestingly, the article claims that at least two of the terrorists were Muslim radicals from Uzbekistan. [Izvestia, 9/12/01, (the story currently on the Izvestia web site has been edited to delete a key paragraph, the link is to a translation of the original article from From the Wilderness)] FTW
August 2001 (G): Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and January 23, 2002) is advising a prince in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military associate of this prince passes information to him about a "spectacular terrorist operation" that will take place shortly. He is also given a computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list includes 10 names that will be placed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant family had funded the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and that the Yemeni government is covering up information related to that bombing. At the military officer's request, he offers all this information to the Saudi Arabian government. But an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his complicity in the 9/11 plot, see August 15, 2002). Baer also passes the information on to a senior CIA official and the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, but there is no response or action. Large sections of Baer's book are blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. [Financial Times, 1/12/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271, Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58]
August 2001: German newspaper Der Spiegel later reports that this month the US company Raytheon landed a 727 six times in a military base in New Mexico without any pilots on board. This was done to test equipment making future hijackings more difficult, by allowing ground control to take over the flying of a hijacked plane. [Der Spiegel, 10/28/01] Even though Der Spiegel got their information directly from Raytheon, most media reports after 9/11 suggest such technology is currently impossible. For instance, the Observer quotes an expert who says "the technology is pretty much there" but still untried. [Observer, 9/16/01] The New York Times reports on a Bush speech in which he mentioned that the government would give grants to research "new technology, probably far in the future, allowing air traffic controllers to land distressed planes by remote control." [New York Times, 9/28/01] In the wrong hands, couldn't such a technology have caused the 9/11 attacks, without needing any hijackers on the planes (see 1998 (D) and September 25, 2001)?
Early August 2001: Randy Glass, a former jewel thief turned government informant, later claims that he contacts the staff of Senator Bob Graham and Representative Robert Wexler and warns them of a plan to attack the WTC, but his warnings are ignored. Glass was a key informant in a sting operation involving ISI agents trying to illegally purchase sophisticated US military weaponry in return for cash and heroin (see June 12, 2001). Glass claims that before the sting operation ended in June 2001, one Pakistani operative named R. G. Abbas made three references to imminent plans to attack the WTC. In one meeting held in New York City in 1999, Abbas pointed to the WTC and said, "Those towers are coming down." Glass caught this meeting on tape (see July 14, 1999). In October 2002, Glass testifies under oath before a private session of the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. He states, "I told [the inquiry] I have specific evidence, and I can document it." Florida State Senator Ron Klein, who had dealings with Glass before 9/11, says he is surprised it took so many months for the US to listen to Glass: "Shame on us." [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Glass also told the media in early August that the case has "far greater ramifications than have so far been revealed," and "potentially, thousands of lives [are] at risk." [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/7/01] Senator Graham acknowledged that his office had contact with Glass before 9/11, and was told about a WTC attack: "I was concerned about that and a dozen other pieces of information which emanated from the summer of 2001." But Graham later says he was unaware of Glass's information until after 9/11. [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Why hasn't the US tried to extradite Abbas from Pakistan?
Early August 2001 (B): AP later reports that the "CIA had developed general information a month before the attacks that heightened concerns that bin Laden and his followers were increasingly determined to strike on US soil." A CIA official affirmed that: "There was something specific in early August that said to us that [bin Laden] was determined in striking on US soil." A major excuse given since 9/11 is that the Bush administration was focused on overseas attacks, and didn't expect a domestic attack (for instance see May 16, 2002). [AP, 10/3/01]
August 1, 2001 (C): A motel owner in Oklahoma City later claims that Zacarias Moussaoui and hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi all come to his motel on this day. Although the FBI has investigated this lead, they have not commented on it, and prosecutors have not attempted to use the incident as evidence in their case against Moussaoui. It is widely admitted the case against Moussaoui is not strong (for instance, Newsweek states: "there's nothing that shows Moussaoui ever had contact with any of the 9/11 hijackers" [Newsweek, 8/5/02]). The LA Weekly speculates the FBI may want to ignore this lead because it "could force the FBI to reopen its investigation of Middle Eastern connections to the 1995 Oklahoma City blast, because convicted bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols reportedly stayed at the same motel, interacting with a group of Iraqis during the weeks before the bombing." [LA Weekly, 8/2/02]
August 6, 2001: President Bush receives classified intelligence briefings at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo read to him is titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US", and the entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. National Security Advisor Rice later claims the memo was "fuzzy and thin" and only 1 and a half pages long (his normal daily security briefings run two or three pages) but other accounts state it was 11 pages long. [Newsweek, 5/27/02, New York Times, 5/15/02, Die Zeit, 10/1/02] The contents have never been made public. However, a Congressional report later describes what is likely this memo (they call it "a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials" presented in early August 2001): it mentions "that members of al-Qaeda, including some US citizens, had resided in or traveled to the US for years and that the group apparently maintained a support structure here. The report cited uncorroborated information obtained in 1998 that Osama bin Laden wanted to hijack airplanes to gain the release of US-held extremists; FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks and the number of bin Laden-related investigations underway; as well as information acquired in May 2001 that indicated a group of bin Laden supporters was planning attacks in the US with explosives." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush "broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing" (see also August 4-30, 2001). [New York Times, 5/25/02] FTW The existence of this memo is kept secret until May 2002 (see May 15, 2002). Could the exact timing of this memo be related to the British warning from a few days before (see Early August 2001 (C))?
August 8-15, 2001: At some point between these dates, Israel warns the US that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Two high ranking agents from the Mossad come to Washington and warn the FBI and CIA that from 50 to 200 terrorists have slipped into the US and are planning "a major assault on the United States." They say indications point to a "large scale target", and that Americans would be "very vulnerable." They add there could be Iraqi connections to the al-Qaeda attack. [Telegraph, 9/16/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01] The Los Angeles Times later retracts the story after a CIA spokesman says, "There was no such warning. Allegations that there was are complete and utter nonsense." [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] In light of later revelations of a Mossad spy ring trailing numerous Muslim terrorists in the US, it is easy to see that Mossad would have known this info. Could this be later disinformation by the Mossad to spin the spy ring story and blame Iraq for 9/11, or it is another smoking gun showing extensive US foreknowledge?
August 16, 2001: The FAA issues a warning to airlines concerning disguised weapons. According to later testimony by National Security Advisor Rice, the FAA is concerned about reports that the terrorists have made breakthroughs in disguising weapons as cell phones, key chains and pens (if this is true, why are all of these items still allowed on planes after 9/11, yet fingernail scissors and tweezers are not?). [CNN, 3/02, Reuters, 5/16/02] However, the major airlines later deny receiving such notification. For instance, a Delta spokesperson states: "We were not aware of any warnings or notifications of any specific threats." [Fox News, 5/16/02]
August 21, 2001: Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents after warning the government of an impending terrorist attack. He had been in a British jail from September 2000 to July 2001, and while there had befriended three inmates, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Eidarous. US prosecutors charge that "the three men ran a London storefront that served as a cover for al-Qaeda operations and acted as a conduit for communications between bin Laden and his network." [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Al-Fawwaz was bin Laden's press agent in London, and bin Laden had called him over 200 times before al-Fawwaz was arrested in 1998. [Financial Times, 11/29/01, Sunday Times, 3/24/02] The other two had worked in the same office as al-Fawwaz. All three have been indicted as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). Arkeh tells the FBI that he had learned from these three that "something big was going to happen in New York City," and that they had called the 1993 attack on the WTC "unfinished business." Tampa FBI agents determine that he had associated with these al-Qaeda agents, but nonetheless they don't believe him. According to Arkeh, one agent responds to his "something big" warning by saying: "Is that all you have? That's old news." The agents fail to learn more from him. On September 9, concerned that time is running out, a fellow prisoner tried to arrange a meeting, but nothing happens before 9/11. The Tampa FBI agents have a second interview with him hours after the 9/11 attacks, but even long after 9/11 they claim he cannot be believed. On January 6, 2002, the Tampa FBI issued a statement: "The information [was] vetted to FBI New York, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Division and the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. All agreed the information provided by this individual was vague and unsubstantiated... Mr. Arkeh did not provide information that had any bearing on the FBI preventing September 11." [Orlando Sentinel, 1/6/02, Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] However, a different group of FBI agents interviews him later and finds his information is credible (see May 21-22, 2002). Click here for more on this topic.
August 22, 2001: The French give the FBI information requested about Zacarias Moussaoui. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] The French say Moussaoui has ties with radical Islamic groups and recruits men to fight in Chechnya. They believe he spent time in Afghanistan (see 1999). He had been on a French watch list for several years, preventing him from entering France. A French justice official later says "the government gave the FBI 'everything we had" on Moussaoui, "enough to make you want to check this guy out every way you can. Anyone paying attention would have seen he was not only operational in the militant Islamist world but had some autonomy and authority as well." [Time, 5/27/02] A senior French investigator later says "Even a neophyte working in some remote corner of Florida, would have understood the threat based on what was sent." [Time, 8/4/02] The French Interior Minister also emphasizes, "We did not hold back any information." [ABC News, 9/5/02] But senior officials at FBI headquarters still maintain that the information "was too sketchy to justify a search warrant for his computer." [Time, 8/4/02]
August 23, 2001: According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives the CIA a list of terrorists living in the US and say that they appear to be planning to carry out an attack in the near future. It is unknown if these are the 19 9/11 hijackers or if the number is a coincidence. However, four names on the list are known and are names of the 9/11 hijackers: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, and Mohamed Atta. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Der Spiegel, 10/1/02, BBC, 10/2/02, Haaretz, 10/3/02] The Mossad appears to have learned about this through its "art student" spy ring (see for instance, March 5, 2002). Yet apparently this warning and list are not treated as particularly urgent by the CIA and also not passed on to the FBI. It's not clear if this warning influenced the adding of Alhazmi and Almihdhar to a terrorism watch list on this same day, and if so, why only those two. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Israel has denied that there were any Mossad agents in the US. [Haaretz, 10/3/02] The US has denied knowing about Atta before 9/11, despite other media reports to the contrary (see January-May 2000).
August 23, 2001 (C): The CIA sends a cable to the State Department, INS, Customs Service, and FBI requesting that future hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar be put on the terrorism watch list. Since March 2000, if not earlier, the CIA had good reason to believe these two were al-Qaeda terrorists living in the US, but strangely did nothing and told no other agency about it until now (see March 2000). They cannot be found at this late date, and both die in the 9/11 attacks. FBI agents later state that had they been told about Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner, "There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together" given the frequent contact between these two and the other hijackers. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA also requests that Khallad bin Atash be added to the watch list - eight months after he was determined to have been the main planner of the Cole bombing. One other attendee of the Malaysian meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) is also included, but that name remains confidential (could it be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11?). [New York Times, 9/21/02] The CIA later claims the request was labeled "immediate," the second most urgent category (the highest is reserved for things like declarations of war). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] But the FBI denies that it was marked "immediate" and other agencies treated the request as a routine matter. [Los Angeles Times, 10/18/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
August 23, 2001 (D): The FBI begins a search for hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in response to the CIA cable about them. The FBI later claims that they responded aggressively. An internal review after 9/11 found that "everything was done that could have been done" to find them. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] However, even aside from a failed attempt to start a criminal investigation (see August 28, 2001) the search is halfhearted at best. As the Wall Street Journal later explains, the search "consisted of little more than entering their names in a nationwide law enforcement database that would have triggered red flags if they were taken into custody for some other reason." [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01] A speeding ticket issued to Alhazmi the previous April is not detected. [Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02]; nor is a recorded interaction between Alhazmi and local police in Fairfax, Virginia in May that could have led investigators to Alhazmi's East Coast apartment. [San Diego Union-Tribune,9/27/02] Even though the two were known to have entered the US through Los Angeles, drivers’ license records in California are not checked. The FBI also fails to check national credit card or bank account databases, and car registration. All of these would had positive results. Alhazmi's name was even in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book, listing the address where he and Almihdhar may have been living off and on until about September 9, 2001 (see Early September 2001). [Newsweek, 6/2/02, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01]
August 30-September 4, 2001: According to Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak, Egyptian intelligence warns American officials that bin Laden's network is in the advanced stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, probably within the US. [AP, 12/7/01, New York Times, 6/4/02] He says he learned this information from an agent working inside al-Qaeda. US officials deny receiving any such warning from Egypt. [ABC News, 6/4/02]
Late August 2001: French authorities tell US officials that the French-born Moussaoui is a suspected Islamic extremist and may have traveled to Afghanistan. These warnings are ignored, and Minneapolis FBI agents are still unable to get a warrant to search Moussaoui's laptop computer. [Time, 5/21/02, Washington Post, 5/24/02] A senior French investigator later tells Time magazine that the US was "given 'everything they needed' to understand that Moussaoui was associated with Islamic terrorist groups. 'Even a neophyte,' says this source, 'working in some remote corner of Florida, would have understood the threat based on what was sent.'" But the FBI until present maintain that the information "was too sketchy to justify a search warrant for his computer." [Time, 8/4/02]
Early September 2001: The standard accounts place hijackers Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on the East Coast without interruption in the weeks before the attacks. [New York Times, 11/6/01, CNN, 9/26/01, New York Times, 9/21/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, AP, 9/21/01, Newsday, 9/23/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] However, neighbors at the San Diego apartment complex where the three lived are clear in their assertions that all three were there until days before 9/11. For instance, one article states, "Authorities believe Almihdhar, Hanjour and Alhazmi ... moved out a couple of days before the East Coast attacks." [San Diego Channel 10, 11/1/01] Ed Murray, a resident at the complex, said that all three "started moving out Saturday night -- and Sunday [September 9] they were gone." [San Diego Channel 10, 9/14/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/20/01] This is the same day that Alhazmi is seen in an East Coast shopping mall. [CNN, 9/26/01] As with previous reports (see January 15-August 2000 and September-December 2000), neighbors also see them getting into strange cars late at night. A neighbor interviewed shortly after 9/11 said, "A week ago, I was coming home between 12 and 1 a.m. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It wasn't the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times." [Time, 9/24/01] Is one or the other account wrong, or could the identities of these hijackers have been used by more than one person simultaneously? If so, what happened to the ones that didn't board the hijacked planes? To add to the confusion, there have been reports that investigators think Almihdhar is still alive (see September 16-23, 2001) and the Chicago Tribune says of Alhazmi, Almihdhar and Hanjour: "The most basic of facts - the very names of the men - are uncertain. The FBI has said each used at least three aliases. 'It's not going to be a terrible surprise down the line if these are not their true names,' said Jeff Thurman, an FBI spokesman in San Diego." [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01]
Early September 2001 (B): The NSA intercepts "multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the United States." The timing and information contained in these intercepted phone calls has not been disclosed. [ABC News, 2/18/02] Shouldn't the US government have been able to determine who was being called, and find those people?
Early September 2001: Numerous other overseas investigations into insider trading before 9/11 are later established. There are investigations in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, Cyprus and other countries. There are particularly strong suspicions British markets were manipulated. Italy is investigating suspicious share movements on the day of the attack, as well as the previous day. Japan as well is looking into trading of futures contracts. [Fox News, 9/22/01, CNN, 9/24/01, BBC, 9/18/01] Like all the other 9/11 insider trading investigations, over one year later, where are the results?
September 4, 2001 (C): Bush's Cabinet-rank advisers have their second ever meeting on terrorism (see June 3, 2001). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] Back in January, terrorism "czar" Richard Clarke had proposed an ambitious plan to "roll back" al-Qaeda's operations around the world. The plan was strengthened and finally approved at this meeting. It no longer plans a "roll back" of al-Qaeda but aims to "eliminate" it altogether. The plan calls for significant support to the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US military would launch air strikes on training camps and special-operations missions in Afghanistan. In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11." The plan was awaiting Bush's signature on 9/11. Clinton's limited missile attack in 1998 faced a lot of controversy - this new ambitious plan would have faced much more opposition had it not been for 9/11. [Time, 8/4/02] A senior Bush administration official dismisses the allegations: "This idea that there was somehow a kind of -- some sort of full-blown plan for going after al-Qaeda is just incorrect." [CNN, 8/5/02]
September 5, 2001 (B): Two men, believed to be Hani Hanjour and Majed Moqed, are captured on camera at an ATM in Maryland. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] A picture of this is later released, which appears to be the only picture released of any of the hijackers in the US, except for those on identification cards and some of Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari in Portland, Maine in the 24 hours before the 9/11 attacks. Are there no other pictures of any hijackers anywhere?
September 7, 2001 (D): One of the first and most frequently told stories about the hijackers is their visit to Shuckums, a sports bar in Hollywood, Florida on this day. What's particularly interesting about this story is how it has changed over time. In the original story, first reported on September 12 [AP, 9/12/01], Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and an unidentified man come into the restaurant already drunk. "They were wasted," says bartender Patricia Idrissi, who directs them to a nearby Chinese restaurant. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/13/01] Later they return and drink - Atta having five vodka and orange juices, and Alshehhi five rum and Cokes. [Time, 9/24/01] Says manager Tony Amos: "The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent." Idrissi says they argue about the bill, and when she asks if there was a problem, "Mohamed said he worked for American Airlines and he could pay his bill." [AP, 9/12/01] This story was widely reported through much of September (for instance, see [New York Times, 9/13/01, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/15/01, Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Newsweek, 9/17/01, Time, 9/24/01]). But starting on September 15, a second story appears. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01] It's the same as the first, except Atta is playing video games and drinking cranberry juice instead of vodka, and Alshehhi is the one who argues over the bill and pays. After some coexistence, the second story seems to have become predominant in later September (for instance, see [Washington Post, 9/16/01, Washington Post, 9/22/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01, Sunday Times, 2/3/02]). Given that at least three restaurant employees all said the same story in numerous interviews, why did that story change? Could the FBI have put pressure on the witnesses to change their story so that Atta's behavior was more in line with his extremely religious image?
September 9, 2001 (C): It is later reported that on this day, bin Laden calls his stepmother and says, "In two days, you're going to hear big news and you're not going to hear from me for a while." US officials later tell CNN that "in recent years they've been able to monitor some of bin Laden's telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded." [New York Times, 10/2/01] Stepmother Al-Khalifa bin Laden, who raised Osama bin Laden after his natural mother died, was apparently waiting in Damascus, Syria, to meet Osama there, so he called to cancel the meeting. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01] They had met periodically in recent years (see Spring 1998, Spring 2000 (C) and February 26, 2001). Before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother. [Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 4/02, p. 410] The next day government officials say about the call, "I would view those reports with skepticism." [CNN, 10/2/01]
September 9, 2001 (E): 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah is stopped in Maryland for speeding, ticketed and released. No red flags show up when his name is run through the computer by the state police. However, on January 30, 2001, he was questioned for several hours at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates at the request of the US government for "suspected involvement in terrorist activities", according to United Arab Emirates officials. He was then permitted to leave, eventually going to the US. Why the US would flag him in January in Dubai but not when he entered the US or in September is unclear. Baltimore's mayor has criticized the CIA for not informing them that Jarrah was on the CIA's watch list. [Chicago Tribune, 12/14/01, AP, 12/14/01] The CIA calls the whole story "flatly untrue." [CNN, 8/1/02]
September 10, 2001 (C): In a speech to the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announces that the Department of Defense "cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions." CBS later calculates that 25% of the yearly defense budget is unaccounted for, and quotes a long-time defense budget analyst: "[Their] numbers are pie in the sky. The books are cooked routinely year after year." Coverage of this rather shocking story is nearly nonexistent given the events of the next day. [Department of Defense speech, 9/10/01, CBS, 1/29/02]
September 10, 2001 (K): In a major post-9/11 speech, British Prime Minister Tony Blair claims that "shortly before September 11 bin Laden told associates that he had a major operation against America under preparation, a range of people were warned to return back to Afghanistan because of action on or around September 11." His claims come from a British document of telephone intercepts and interrogations revealing al-Qaeda orders to return to Afghanistan by September 10. [CNN 10/4/01, Time, 10/5/01] However, Blair may have the direction incorrect, since would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh later claims that he was the one who passed to bin Laden the date the attacks would happen and warned others to evacuate (see September 3-5, 2001 and September 6, 2001).
September 10, 2001 (L): At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the NSA. One states "The match is about to begin" (bin Laden apparently uses football metaphors in many messages) and the other states "Tomorrow is zero hour." Later reports [Reuters, 9/9/02] translate the first message as "The match begins tomorrow." They were sent between someone in Saudi Arabia and someone in Afghanistan. The NSA claims that they weren't translated until September 12, and that even if they were translated in time, "they gave no clues that authorities could have acted on." [ABC News, 6/7/02, Reuters, 6/19/02] These turn out to be only two of about 30 pre-9/11 communications from suspected al-Qaeda operatives or other militants referring to an imminent event. An anonymous official says of these messages, including the "Tomorrow is zero hour" message, "You can't dismiss any of them, but it doesn't tell you tomorrow is the day." [Reuters, 9/9/02] There is a later attempt to explain them away by suggesting they refer to the killing of Afghani opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud the day before (see September 9, 2001). [Reuters, 10/17/02] Couldn't they at least have issued an urgent security warning?
September 10, 2001 (M): US officials later admit American agents had infiltrated al-Qaeda cells in the US, though how many and how long they had been in al-Qaeda remains a mystery. On this day, electronic intercepts connected to these undercover agents hear messages such as: "Watch the news" and "Tomorrow will be a great day for us." As to why this didn't lead to boosted security or warnings the next day, officials call these leads "needles in a haystack." What other leads may have come from this prior to this day are not revealed. [USA Today, 6/4/02] At least until February 2002, the official story was that the "CIA failed to penetrate al-Qaeda with a single agent." [ABC News, 2/18/02] FBI Director Mueller later claims "To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot" (see June 18, 2002) but what about the people in these penetrated cells giving these messages?
September 10, 2001 (P): In a bar in Daytona Beach, Florida the night before the 9/11 attacks, three men make anti-American sentiments and talk of impending bloodshed. One says, "Wait 'til tomorrow. America is going to see bloodshed." These were not any of the hijackers, since they had all left Florida by this time. [MSNBC, 9/23/01, AP, 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller later claims "To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot" (see June 18, 2002), but what of these three?
September 10, 2001 (R): Just prior to 9/11, the CIA and FBI don't have enough staff working on al-Qaeda. 17-19 people are working in the FBI's special unit focusing on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The FBI has a $4.3 billion anti-terrorism budget, but of its 27,000 employees, just 153 are devoted to terrorism analysis. [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] The FBI's "analytic expertise had been 'gutted' by transfers to operational units" and only one strategic analyst is assigned full time to al-Qaeda. The FBI office in New York is very aware of the threat from bin Laden, but many branch offices remain largely unaware. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A senior FBI official later tells Congress that there are fewer FBI agents assigned to counter-terrorism on this day than in August 1998, when the US embassy bombings in Africa made bin Laden a household name. [New York Times, 9/22/02] The CIA has about 35-40 people assigned to their special Bin Laden unit. It has five strategic analysts working full time on al-Qaeda. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The CIA and FBI later say some of these figures are misleading. [New York Times, 9/18/02] "Individuals in both the CIA and FBI units... reported being seriously overwhelmed by the volume of information and workload prior to September 11, 2001." Despite numerous warnings that planes could be used as weapons, such a possibility was never studied, and a Congressional report later blames lack of staff as a major reason for this. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Senator Patrick Leahy (D) also notes: "Between the Department of Justice and the FBI, they had a whole task force working on finding a couple of houses of prostitution in New Orleans. They had one on al-Qaeda." [CBS, 9/25/02]
September 11, 2001: Warren Buffett, possibly the second richest man on Earth [Salon, 8/31/99], schedules a morning charity event inside Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. A number of CEOs who would otherwise have been in the WTC attend. Attendees had just arrived when the first WTC attack occurs. This base is the center of the nation's military defenses, and the same base that Bush will fly to later in the day. The timing, probable attendance, and location of the meeting is curious, to say the least, as is the total lack of any mention of the meeting anywhere, except for one aside by a business leader (Anne Tatlock, CEO and President of Fiduciary and Franklin) explaining why she survived the WTC attack. [San Francisco Business Times, 2/1/02]
September 11, 2001 (C): Two employees of Odigo, Inc., in Israel, receive warnings of an imminent attack in New York City around two hours before the first plane hits the WTC. Odigo, one of the world's largest instant messaging companies, has its headquarters two blocks from the WTC. The Odigo Research and Development offices where the warnings were received are located in Herzliyya, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Israeli security and the FBI were notified immediately after the 9/11 attacks began. The two employees claim not to know who sent the warnings. "Odigo service includes a feature called People Finder that allows users to seek out and contact others based on certain interests or demographics. [Alex] Diamandis [Odigo vice president of sales and marketing] said it was possible that the attack warning was broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company has not received reports of other recipients of the message." [Ha'aretz, 9/26/01, Washington Post, 9/27/01 (C)] FTW Odigo claims the warning did not specifically mention the WTC, but the company won't say what was specified, claiming, "Providing more details would only lead to more conjecture." [Washington Post, 9/28/01] Odigo gave the FBI the internet address of the message's sender so the name of the sender could be found. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/26/01] Two months later it is reported that the FBI is still investigating the matter, but there have been no reports since. [Courier Mail, 11/20/01] Could the message have been a mass e-mail sent to a large group? Could this be related to the "art student spy ring"? Did the original senders directly inform the FBI as well, and if not, why not?
September 11, 2001 (D): An advertisement for a "homeland security" event in 2002 will mention the following curious sentence: "On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. [John] Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building. Little did they know that the scenario would come true in a dramatic way that day." [National Law Enforcement Security Institute, 8/02] Fulton's team is part of the National Reconnaissance Office, which "operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA." The simulation was to start at 9:00 a.m., four miles from where one of the real hijacked planes took off. The government calls the simulation just a "bizarre coincidence." [AP, 8/21/02] The government has repeatedly claimed that no one imagined a plane deliberately crashing into a building (see May 16, 2002 (B)).
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page. According to officials, the entire US is defended by only 14 fighters (two planes each in seven military bases). [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] And "they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist targets - Washington, DC, and New York City." A defense official says: "I don't think any of us envisioned an internal air threat by big aircraft. I don't know of anybody that ever thought through that." [Newsday, 9/23/01]
September 11, 2001 (M): It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US "shadow government" is formed. Initially deployed "on the fly", executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle. When its existence is revealed, some controversy arises because of the exclusion of any Democrats from it. In fact, top Congressional Democrats had never even heard of it until journalists broke the story months later. [Washington Post, 3/1/02, CBS, 3/2/02]
September 11, 2001 (N): A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the terrorists refer to "the 30 people traveling for the operation." The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams that total as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About forty are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected terrorists received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks would have needed a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Even 50 may be a gross underestimate (see September 19, 2001). Yet so far, only one person, Moussaoui, has been identified and charged as an accomplice, and a report in October suggests no one else arrested has been connected to the 9/11 attacks (see October 20, 2001). What happened to the rest of the 40 or 50?
September 11, 2001 (O): A National Public Radio correspondent states: "I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton – a Democrat from Missouri and a member of the Armed Services Committee – who said that just recently the director of the CIA warned that there could be an attack – an imminent attack – on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected." [NPR, 9/11/01] This dramatically contradicts what CIA Director Tenet has told the American public.
September 11, 2001 (P): Senator Orrin Hatch (R) tells the Associated Press that the US government was monitoring bin Laden's communications electronically, and overheard two bin Laden aides celebrating the successful terrorist attack: "They have an intercept of some information that included people associated with bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit." [AP, 9/12/01, ABC News, 9/12/01] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld publicly denounces the report, not as untrue, but as an unauthorized release of classified information. [Department of Defense news briefing, 9/12/01] The head of the NSA explains the delay by saying bin Laden (living in a cave in Afghanistan) "has better technology" than the US ($30 billion annual intelligence budget). [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] Why has the mainstream media not explored the implications that the CIA and FBI could monitor the private communications of al-Qaeda on the days up to and including 9/11?
September 11, 2001 (R): Explosives expert Van Romero says: "My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse." The collapse of the buildings appears "too methodical" to be a chance result of airplanes colliding with the structures. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/11/01] However, Romero, who says he was on his way to the Pentagon to seek Pentagon research funding when the attack hit, reverses his stance 10 days later. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/21/01] Might his need for government funding have played a role in his change of heart?
September 11, 2001 (T): TV news coverage on 9/11 repeatedly shows images of Palestinians rejoicing over the 9/11 attack. According to Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Media Studies at New York University who investigated the issue, the footage was filmed during the funeral of nine people killed the day before by Israeli authorities. He said "to show it without explaining the background, and to show it over and over again is to make propaganda for the war machine and is irresponsible.'' [AFP, 9/18/01, Australian, 9/27/01]
September 11, 2001 (V): Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is given information that three of the names on the airplane passenger manifests are suspected al-Qaeda operatives. The notes he composes at the time are leaked nearly a year later. Rumsfeld writes he wants the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL. [Usama bin Laden] Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." [CBS, 9/4/02] He presents the idea to Bush the next day (see September 12, 2001 (F)). It is later revealed that shortly after 9/11, Rumsfeld sets up "a small team of defense officials outside regular intelligence channels to focus on unearthing details about Iraqi ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks." It has continued to sift "through much of the same databases available to government intelligence analysts but with the aim of spotlighting information the spy agencies have either overlooked or played down." [Washington Post, 10/25/02] Time will report in May 2002 that Defense Secretary "Rumsfeld has been so determined to find a rationale for an attack that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The intelligence agency repeatedly came back empty-handed." [Time, 5/6/02] Since the plan to defeat Iraq is planned despite a complete lack of evidence showing Iraqi involvement in 9/11 (see also September 17, 2001 (B)), how can any later evidence pointing to Iraq's complicity in 9/11 be trusted?
September 11 , 2001 (X): An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11 suggests a man on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashed into the WTC. [See the leaked FAA memo, originally posted at World Net Daily] The "Executive Summary," based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, stated "that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 A.M [since Flight 11 crashed at 8:46, the time must be a typo, probably meaning 8:20]. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami." The FAA claims that the document is a "first draft" and declines to release the final draft, calling it "protected information." A report in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on September 17 identifies Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel's most successful special-operations unit [UPI, 3/6/02]. Sayeret Matkal is a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals-intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. Sayeret Matkal is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] Officials later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin was probably stabbed to death instead (which would still be very interesting). [UPI, 3/6/02, Washington Post, 3/2/02] Note that Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Mat'kal remained hidden until the gun story came to light. [Guardian, 9/15/01] Perhaps Lewin just happened to be there, and, with his past training, tried to be a hero and stop the hijack? What are the odds that an Israeli counter-terrorist expert would not only be on this hijacked flight, but also have terrorists sitting in the seats directly in front and behind him?
September 11, 2001 (Y): Some White House personnel, including Vice President Cheney's staff, are given Cipro, the anti-anthrax drug, and told to take it regularly on the evening after the attacks. [AP, 10/24/01] Judicial Watch later sues the Bush Administration to release documents showing who knew what and when, and why Presidential staff were protected while Senators, Congresspeople and others were not. [AP, 6/9/02] FTW
September 11-16, 2001: Andrews
Air Force Base is 10 miles from Washington, DC, and Langley Air Force Base in
130 miles away. The official story is that there were no fighters at Andrews
so none took off from there to intercept the hijacked planes, but it takes a
few days for the media to come around to that point of view:
1) A few minutes after the Pentagon was hit, "fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base..." [Denver Post, 9/11/01]
2) "It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16's out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base..." [NBC Nightly News, 9/11/01]
3) "Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said. But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon..." [San Diego Union Tribune, 9/12/01]
4) "Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert - Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war - and F-16's from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01]
5) "Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
6) "The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
7) "... As part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency." "In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a 'few good men and women' support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB." [DC Military website]
8) The District of Columbia Air National Guard website is changed shortly after 9/11. Previously its mission was "to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness." Afterwards, it was changed to read that the Guard has a "vision" to "provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness." [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
The official story is that fighters from Langley didn't arrive over Washington until 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, but witnesses see fighters well before then. [Newsday, 9/23/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01] One year later, a new article writes about Andrews extensively: "Within minutes of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Air National Guard F-16's took off from [Andrews]." However, the article also claims that the Andrews fighters were not on alert, and so, of the first two to take off, one was partially armed and the other was unarmed. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
September 12, 2001: The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is there was no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US. "There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad," says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators have been searching through "mountains of information," "but the vast electronic 'take' on bin Laden, said officials who requested anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark and Washington." [Miami Herald, 9/12/01] These are obvious lies (for instance, see September 10, 2001 (K) and September 10, 2001 (L) for messages hinting at the attack). Recall also the title of Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (see May 15, 2002).
September 12, 2001 (B): Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that Bush went to Nebraska because "There was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets." [Fleischer Press Briefing transcript, 9/12/01] The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush's Political Strategist Karl Rove confirms, that the secret service believed "'Air Force One may be next,' and there was an ‘inside' threat which 'may have broken the secret codes [showing a knowledge of Presidential procedures].'" [New York Times, 9/13/01] By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the President and new stories flatly contradict it. [Washington Post, 9/27/01] Slate magazine gives their "Whopper of the Week" award to Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, and Vice President Cheney for the Air Force One threat story. [Slate, 9/28/01] If there was no threat, then why did Bush go to Nebraska on 9/11?
September 12, 2001 (E):
The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found
a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC
News, 9/12/01, AP,
News, 9/16/01] What are the odds that this passport became separated
from al Suqami or his luggage, and somehow escaped the fireball that consumed
the airplane, then the collapse of the buildings? The Guardian says, "the
idea that Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the
credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism."
3/19/02] Note the passport did not belong to Atta, as is sometimes claimed.
September 13, 2001: A Pentagon official, when asked if the US shot down Flight 93 (the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania), says "We have not ruled out that." This is one of many quotes from officials in the first days that fail to rule out that 93 was shot down. [ABC News, 9/13/01, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] On the same day, a flight controller in Nashua claims an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93 until it crashed in Pennsylvania. "Although controllers don't have complete details of the Air Force's chase of the Boeing 757, they have learned the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet. 'He must've seen the whole thing,' the employee said of the F-16 pilot's view of Flight 93's crash" (Flight controllers have been ordered not to speak publicly about 9/11, but somehow this slipped out). [AP, 9/13/01, Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01] Cheney later tells the Washington Post that he had ordered a plane to shoot down Flight 93, and confirmed that order two more times as the distance between the fighter and the airliner grew closer. So, supposedly, when Flight 93 crashed, Bush had to ask, "Did we shoot it down or did it crash?" [Washington Post, 1/27/02] If the plane was shot down after the passengers had taken it over, would that have looked so bad that one might want to cover it up?
September 13, 2001 (C): AP publishes a list of all the people on board the hijacked airlines. This follows an earlier list from CNN on 9/11. These lists are very curious, because the numbers don't appear to add up. Take for instance Flight 11. The list has 86 passengers on board, including five hijackers, plus 11 crew members, a total of 97. But there only were 92 people total on board the plane according to all accounts. The numbers only work if you subtract the five hijackers. The other plane lists all have too few names, by up to five people. [AP, 9/13/01 (B)] Too few can be explained by people who asked their names not to be released, but how does one explain too many? Another report suggests that several hijackers boarded Flight 11 with stolen crew uniforms. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
September 13, 2001 (D): Investigators say they've found debris from the Flight 93 crash far from the main crash site. A second debris field centers around Indian Lake about three miles from the crash scene. More debris is found in New Baltimore, some eight miles away. Later in the day the investigators say all that debris was blown there. [CNN, 9/13/01] Another debris field is found at Indian Lake, six miles away, and human remains are found miles away. After all this is discovered, the FBI still "stresses" that "no evidence had surfaced" to support the idea that the plane was shot down. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] A half-ton piece of one of the engines is found 2,000 yards away from the main crash site. This was the single heaviest piece recovered from the crash. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01, Independent, 8/13/02] Days later, the FBI says the wide debris field was probably the result of the explosion on impact. The Independent nevertheless later cites the wide debris field as one of many reasons why widespread rumors remain that the plane was shot down. [Independent, 9/20/01]
September 13-14, 2001: The two "black boxes" for Flight 93 are found. However, they are deemed severely damaged, and it isn't known if the data could be recovered. [Reuters, 9/13/01, BBC, 9/15/01] Months later, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes (see December 21, 2001). [CNN, 12/21/01]
September 13-19, 2001: Members of bin Laden's family and important Saudis are "driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks." The flights to Texas and Washington occur before the national air ban is lifted. [New York Times, 9/30/01] The Tampa Tribune reports that on September 13, a Lear jet takes off from Tampa, Florida, carrying a Saudi Arabian prince, the son of the Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan (see August 2001 (G), August 31, 2001, August 15, 2002), as well as the son of a Saudi army commander, and flies to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Saudis own racehorses. They then fly a private 747 out of the country. Multiple 747s with Arabic lettering on their sides are already there, suggesting another secret assembly point. The Tampa flight left from a private Raytheon hangar. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] (Raytheon's name keeps coming up in relation to 9/11 (for instance, see September 25, 2001).) Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, helps move the bin Laden family out of the US. [London Times, 11/25/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in a 9/11 lawsuit against many Saudis, points to the flights during the air ban as evidence that Saudis are "protected by the Bush administration" because of "oil." [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] There have been conflicting reports as to whether the FBI interviewed these people before they left the country. Osama bin Laden's half brother, Abdullah bin Laden, stated that even a month after 9/11 his only contact with the FBI was a brief phone call. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01, New Yorker, 11/5/01] The existence of these flights during the air travel ban is now usually referred to as an urban legend. [Snopes, 3/19/02]
September 14, 2001: Officials deny that Flight 93 was shot down (see September 13, 2001), but propose the theory that the hijackers had a bomb on board and blew up the plane. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] Later in the month, it is reported that the "FBI has determined from the on site investigation that no explosive was involved." [AP, 9/25/01] If there was a bomb, how did the hijackers get it through security? If there wasn't a bomb, how does one explain the eyewitness accounts?
September 14, 2001 (B): The two "black boxes" for Flight 77 are found. [PBS Newshour, 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes provided altitude, speed, headings and other information, but the voice recorder contained "nothing useful." [CBS, 2/23/02]
September 14, 2001 (C): Officials admit that two planes were near Flight 93 when it crashed, which matches numerous eyewitness accounts. For instance, Dennis Decker says that immediately after hearing an explosion, "We looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. If you were here to see it, you'd have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down... If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane." [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Later the same day, the military says it can "neither confirm nor deny" the nearby planes. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] Then, two days later, they again claim there were two planes near, but that they were a military cargo plane and business jet, and neither had anything to do with the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Supposedly, the business jet was requested to fly low over the crash site to help rescuers find the crash site, 25 minutes after all aircraft in the US had been ordered to land. But the story appears physically impossible since the FBI says this jet was at 37,000 feet and asked to descend to 5,000 feet. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] That would have taken many minutes for that kind of plane, and witnesses report seeing the plane flying very low even before the crash. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Another explanation of a farmer's plane 45 minutes later is put forth, but that also doesn't fit the time at all. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz states: "We responded awfully quickly, I might say, on Tuesday [9/11], and, in fact, we were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down. But the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to." [Department of Defense, 9/14/01] The next day, the Director of the Air National Guard denies that any plane was scrambled after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] That in turn contradicts what Vice President Cheney will say later. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
September 14, 2001 (D): It is initially reported that Flight 93 is traveling fairly slowly when it crashed. "It slammed into the ground at a speed law enforcement authorities said might have approached 300 mph" [New York Times, 9/14/01] "Flight 93 slammed into the earth nose-first at over 200 mph, according to estimates by the National Transportation Safety Board and other experts." [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] However, by 2002 it is being reported that the plane crashed going nearly 600 mph. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 212] "It could have even broken the sound barrier for a while," says Hank Krakowski, director of flight operations control at United's system control center on Sept. 11. [New York Times, 3/27/02] The design limits of the plane are 287 mph below 10,000 feet. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 208]
September 14, 2001 (E): CBS News announces a new revelation: airplanes were scrambled before the Pentagon was hit, but they were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base - too far away to catch the plane in time. [CBS, 9/14/01] This comes after numerous officials, from the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers in Congressional testimony to Vice President Cheney, state that the first planes were scrambled towards Washington only after the Pentagon was hit. [CBS News, 9/12/01, NBC Meet the Press, 9/16/01, General Myers' Senate confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] Four days later, the official NORAD timeline is changed to include this new discovery. [NORAD, 9/18/01] Which account is not true? Could the account have been changed to cover up embarrassing response delays?
September 14, 2001 (F): FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as "news, quite obviously," adding: "If we had understood that to be the case, we would have -- perhaps one could have averted this." It is later discovered that contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had interviewed various flight school staffs about Middle Eastern terrorists on numerous occasions, from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11 (see 1996, May 18, 1998, September 1999 (E), September 2000 (B), July 10, 2001, August 23, 2001). [Washington Post, 9/23/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Three days later he says, "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country." [Department of Justice transcript, 9/17/01] Slate magazine later contrasts this with numerous other contradictory statements and articles, and awards Mueller the "Whopper of the Week." [Slate, 5/17/02]
September 14, 2001 (G): The Director of the Air National Guard explains why jets failed to scramble towards the hijacked aircraft for so long. He says that before 1997, 100 bases defended the US, but since then the number was reduced to seven, with only two fighter planes at each base defending the entire country from external threats. [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] However, numerous air force bases on the East Coast alone, including bases in Westfield, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York, Hartford, Connecticut and Andrews, Virginia, claim they have battle ready fighters on alert 24 hours a day. All of these bases were better positioned to respond to the hijacker airplanes than the bases ultimately chosen. Some of these bases have websites that get changed after 9/11, erasing claims that they have battle-ready fighters on alert (for instance, see the [DCANG Home Page before and after the change]). In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart's plane went off course, fighters were scrambled from four different bases (none of the official seven) and reached his plane in under 10 minutes. [ABC News, 10/25/99] There are numerous other examples of fighter scramblings since 1997 that seem to contradict the "only seven bases" story.
September 14, 2001 (H): Mayo Shattuck III resigns, effective immediately, as head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutschebank. No reason is given. Some speculate later this could have to do with the role of Deutschebank in the pre-9/11 purchase of put options (see September 6-10, 2001). Deutschebank is also one of the four banks most used by the bin Laden family. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] FTW
September 14, 2001 (I): Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC ruins. Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a stewardess. [Newsday, 9/15/01] There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of one of the hijackers, and the body of another stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire. [Ananova, 9/13/01, New York Times, 9/15/01] Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker's body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified (see Late February 2003). While all these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, not one of the four black boxes for these two airplanes are ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman says: "It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders." [CBS, 2/23/02] The black boxes are considered "nearly indestructible," are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G's. [ABC News, 9/17/01] Phone calls from two stewardesses on Flight 11 contradict the idea that stewardesses or anyone else had their hands tied, on that flight at least.
September 14, 2001 (J): The Miami Herald reports, "Forty-five minutes. That's how long American Airlines Flight 77 meandered through the air headed for the White House, its flight plan abandoned, its radar beacon silent... Who was watching in those 45 minutes? 'That's a question that more and more people are going to ask,' said one controller in Miami. 'What the hell went on here? Was anyone doing anything about it? Just as a national defense thing, how are they able to fly around and no one go after them?''' [Miami Herald, 9/14/01] In the year since this article and a similar one in the Village Voice [Village Voice, 9/13/01], there has been only one other US article questioning slow fighter response times, and that article noted the strange lack of articles on the topic. [Slate, 1/16/02] However, some 9/11 victims' relatives continue to raise the issue (see August 13, 2002 and March 31, 2003). Why haven't "more and more people" in the media questioned this?
September 14, 2001 (N): Lawmakers emerging from briefings about the 9/11 attacks complain that they are being told virtually nothing. Says Senator John McCain (R), "We're learning more from CNN." Representative Neil Abercrombie (D), says, "You can't even begin to call these briefings." [Las Vegas Review Journal, 9/14/01] The Administration's obsession with 9/11 secrecy will lead to an FBI investigation into senators and congresspeople a year later (see August 2, 2002 (B)).
September 15, 2001 (B): The first reports of seat assignments for the hijackers on Flight 11 appear. But unlike other flights, accounts of where the hijackers sat vary widely. The first report says Wail Alshehri was in seat 2A, Waleed Alshehri in 2B, Mohamed Atta in 8D, Abdulaziz Alomari in 8G, and Satam Al Suqami in 10B. [ABC News, 9/15/01] The next day, it is reported Atta was in 8A and Alomari was in 8B. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01] The same day, it is reported that all five hijackers sat in row 8. [Portland Press Herald, 9/16/01] Flight attendant Amy Sweeney apparently telephoned the seat numbers of four of the hijackers before the plane crashed, but the exact numbers she gave have not been released. However, it is known the "numbers she gave were different from those registered in the hijackers' names." [BBC, 9/21/01] Another account suggests she said the hijackers were sitting in rows 9 and 10. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01] Another flight attendant, Betty Ong, also telephoned seat numbers, saying there were hijackers in seats 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. This is "slightly different" from Sweeney's numbers - with two hijackers in the second row instead of the 10th. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Why so much confusion, and why doesn't the US release the information needed to settle these discrepancies?
September 15-17, 2001: A series of articles suggest that at least seven of the 9/11 hijackers trained in US military bases. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Newsweek, 9/15/01] Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alghamdi, and Saeed Alghamdi even listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida as their permanent address on their driver's licenses. [Pensacola News Journal, 9/17/01]. Hamza Alghamdi was also connected to the Pensacola base. [Washington Post, 9/16/01] A defense official confirms that Saeed Alghamdi is a former Saudi fighter pilot who attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] A defense official confirms Atta is a former Saudi fighter pilot who graduated from the US International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01] The media drops the story after the Air Force makes a not-very-definitive statement, saying that while the names are similar, "we are probably not talking about the same people." [Washington Post, 9/16/01] However, the military fails to provide any information about the individuals whose names supposedly match those of the alleged hijackers, making it impossible to confirm or refute the story.
September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002: On September 15, 2001, President Bush says of bin Laden: "If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken." [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01] Two days later, he says, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" [ABC News, 9/17/01] On December 28, 2001, a few weeks after the Afghanistan war ends, Bush says, "Our objective is more than bin Laden." [AP, 8/19/02] Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" and fails to mention bin Laden (see January 29, 2002). On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: "We're going to find him." [Washington Post, 10/1/02] But only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, "He's a person who's now been marginalized.... I just don't spend that much time on him.... I truly am not that concerned about him." Instead, Bush is "deeply concerned about Iraq." [White House, 3/13/02] The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Myers states on April 6: "The goal has never been to get bin Laden." [Department of Defense, 4/6/02] In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden's name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden's death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, later points out: "There appears to be a real disconnect" between the US military's conquest of Afghanistan and "the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
September 16, 2001: A report suggests the crash site of Flight 93 is being searched and recorded in 60 square-foot grids. [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] That's what the two forensic scientists in charge of the crash site wanted. They said doing so could help determine who was where when the plane crashed, and possibly how it crashed. However, almost a year later it comes out that that's not what actually happened. "The FBI overruled them, instead dividing the site into five large sectors. It would be too time-consuming to mark tight grids, and would serve no real investigative purpose, the bureau decided. There was no mystery to solve about the crash. Everybody knew what happened to the plane." [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 8/02, pp. 262-263] While the military may suggest there is no mystery, some articles have suggested the plane was shot down (for instance, see November 15, 2001 and August 13, 2002). Also, at the time of this decision, investigators were still considering the possibility a bomb may have destroyed the plane (see September 14, 2001).
September 16, 2001 (B): President Bush says, "Never (in) anybodys thought processes ... about how to protect America did we ever think that the evil doers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets... never." [NATO, 9/16/01] A month later, Paul Pillar, the former deputy director of the CIA's counter-terrorist center, says, "The idea of commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into the ground and causing high casualties, sure we've thought of it." [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01]
September 16-23, 2001: Reports
appear in many newspapers suggesting that some of the people the US says were
9/11 hijackers are actually still alive:
1) Ahmed Alnami is still alive and working as an administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He had never lost his passport and found it "very worrying" that his identity appeared to have been stolen. [Telegraph, 9/23/01] However, there is another Ahmed Alnami who is ten years younger, and appears to be dead, according to his father. [ABC News, 3/15/02]
2) Saeed Alghamdi is alive and flying airplanes in Tunisia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He says he studied flight training in a Florida flight schools for parts of the years, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
3) Salem Alhazmi is alive and working at a petrochemical plant in Yanbou, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01] He says his passport was stolen by a pickpocket in Cairo three years ago and that pictures and details such as date of birth are of him. [Guardian, 9/21/01, Washington Post, 9/20/01, Saudi Gazette, 9/29/02]
4 and 5) The brothers Waleed M. Alshehri and Wail Alshehri are alive. A Saudi spokesman said, "This is a respectable family. I know his sons, and they're both alive." The father is a diplomat who has been stationed in the US and Bombay, India. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Arab News, 9/19/01] There is a second pair of Saudi brothers named Wail and Waleed M. who may have been the real hijackers. Their father says they've been missing since December 2000. [ABC News, 3/15/02, Arab News, 9/17/01] The still living Waleed M. Alshehri is a pilot with Saudi Airlines, studying in Morocco. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, AP, 9/22/01] He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States. [BBC, 9/23/01, Daily Trust, 9/24/01] He was interviewed by US officials in Morocco, and cleared of all charges against him (though apparently the FBI photos are still of him!). [Embry Riddle Aeronautical University press release, 9/21/01] The still living Wail Alshehri is also apparently a pilot. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] What are the odds that two Saudi terrorist brothers would find two other Saudi brothers with the same names who were pilots with one even training in Florida?
6) Abdulaziz Alomari is alive and working as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines. [New York Times, 9/16/01, Independent, 9/17/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He claims that his passport was stolen in 1995 while he was living in Denver, Colorado. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] "They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive." [Telegraph, 9/23/01, London Times, 9/20/01]
7) On September 19, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. distributes a "special alert" to its member banks asking for information about the attackers. The list includes "Al-Midhar, Khalid. Alive." The Justice Department later calls this a "typo." [AP, 9/20/01, Cox News, 10/21/01] The BBC says: "There are suggestions that another suspect, Khalid Almihdhar, may also be alive." [BBC, 9/23/01] The Guardian says Almihdhar is believed to be alive, but investigators are looking into three possibilities. Either his name was stolen for a hijacker alias, or he allowed his name to be used so that US officials would think he died, or he died in the crash. [Guardian, 9/21/01] Almihdhar is wanted for other terrorist acts (see January 15, 2000), so it's not surprising he's still hard to find. There are three official pictures of Almihdhar - one of them doesn't look at all like the other two (see photos on left).
8) Marwan Alshehhi may be alive in Morocco. [Saudi Gazette, 9/18/01, Khaleej Times, 9/20/01] Family and neighbors don't believe he took part in the attacks. [Reuters, 9/18/01]
9) Atta's father says he spoke to his son on the phone on September 12, 2001 (see September 19, 2001 (C)).
10) No one claims that Hamza Alghamdi is still alive, but his family says the FBI photo "has no resemblance to him at all" (on the other hand, Ahmed Alnami's family says his FBI picture is correct). [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
11) Majed Moqed was last seen by a friend in Saudi Arabia in 2000. This friend claims the FBI picture doesn't look like Moqed. [Arab News, 9/22/01] There are three official pictures of Majed Moqed - one of them doesn't look at all like the other two (see photos on below right).
12) The Saudi government has claimed Mohand Alshehri is alive and was not in the US on 9/11, but no more details are known. [AP, 9/29/01]
The Saudi government insists that five of the Saudis mentioned are still alive. [New York Times, 9/21/01] On September 20, FBI Director Mueller says: "We have several others that are still in question. The investigation is ongoing, and I am not certain as to several of the others." [Newsday, 9/21/01] On September 27, after all of these revelations, FBI Director Mueller states, "We are fairly certain of a number of them." [Sun Sentinel, 9/28/01] Could it be that the bodies (and sometimes faces) in question are correct, but the names were stolen? For instance, the Telegraph notes, "The FBI had published [Saeed Alghamdi's] personal details but with a photograph of somebody else, presumably a hijacker who had "stolen" his identity. CNN, however, showed a picture of the real Mr. Alghamdi." [Telegraph, 9/23/01] Police have even determined who sold at least two of the hijackers their fake ID's. [BBC, 8/1/02] On September 20, The London Times reported, "Five of the hijackers were using stolen identities, and investigators are studying the possibility that the entire suicide squad consisted of impostors." [London Times, 9/20/01] Briefly, the press took this story to heart. For instance, a story in the Observer on September 23 put the names of hijackers like Saeed Alghamdi in quotation marks. [Observer, 9/23/01] But the story died down after the initial reports, and it was hardly noticed when Mueller stated on November 2, 2001: "We at this point definitely know the 19 hijackers who were responsible,'' and claimed that they were sticking with the names and photos released in late September. [AP, 11/03/02] Yet many of the names and photos are known to be wrong. Perhaps embarrassing facts would come out if we knew their real names, such as more terrorists who studied at military bases or were on watch lists?
19, 2001: The FBI claims that there were six
hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. [New
York Times, 9/19/01, Guardian,
10/13/01] A different report claims investigators are privately saying eight.
9/25/01] But the reports below suggest there may have been as many as eight
aborted flights, leading to a potential total of 12 hijackings:
1) Knives of the same type used in the successful hijackings were found taped to the backs of fold-down trays on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark. [Guardian, 9/19/01]
2) The FBI is investigating American Airlines Flight 43 which left Newark International Airport about 8:10 a.m. bound for Los Angeles; it made an emergency landing in Cincinnati after the government ordered all flights grounded. [New York Times, 9/19/01] Other articles suggest the flight left from Boston and was canceled minutes before takeoff due to a mechanical problem. [Chicago Tribune, 9/18/01, Guardian, 9/19/01]
3 and 4) Knives and box cutters were found on two separate canceled Delta Airlines planes later that day, one leaving Atlanta for Brussels and the other leaving from Boston. [Time, 9/22/01, Independent, 9/25/01]
5) On September 14, two knives were found on an Air Canada flight that would have flown to New York on 9/11 if not for the air ban. [CNN, 10/15/01]
6) Two men arrested on 9/11 may have lost their nerve on American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50, and was later forced to land in St. Louis. Alternately, they may have been planning an attack for September 15 (see September 11, 2001) [New York Times, 9/19/01]
7) There may have been an attempt to hijack United Airlines Flight 23 flying from Boston to Los Angeles around 9:00 a.m. Three Middle Eastern men angrily refused to get off the plane when it was canceled, then escaped security (see September 11, 2001).
8) Knives were found stashed in the seats on a plane due to leave Boston that was delayed due to technical problems and then canceled. [Guardian, 10/13/01] Note this might be the same as one of the Delta flights.
9) A box cutter knife was found under a seat cushion on American Airlines Flight 160, a 767 that would have flown from San Diego to New York on the morning of 9/11 but for the air ban. [Chicago Tribune, 9/23/01]
The Independent points out suspicions have been fueled "that staff at US airports may have played an active role in the conspiracy and helped the hijackers to circumvent airport security." They also note, "It is possible that at least some of the flights that have come under scrutiny were used as decoys, or as fallback targets." [Independent, 9/25/01] Doesn't all of this contradict the official story that the hijackers walked on board with their weapons, which were chosen because they were technically legal?
September 19, 2001-October
20, 2002: The coverage of whether a purported meeting between Atta and an
Iraqi spy named Ahmed al-Ani took place in Prague, Czech Republic (see April
8, 2001) has changed repeatedly over time (a Slate article also outlines
many of the twists and turns of this story [Slate,
1) September 19: It is first reported that a meeting took place; Atta is named later. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01, CNN, 10/11/01]
2) October 20: The story is denied. [New York Times, 10/20/01]
3) October 27: The story is confirmed. [New York Times, 10/27/01]
4) October 27: It is claimed Atta met with Iraqi agents four times in Prague, plus in Germany, Spain, and Italy. [London Times, 10/27/01]
5) November 12: Columnist William Safire calls the meeting an "undisputed fact." [New York Times, 11/12/01]
6) December 9: Vice President Cheney calls the meeting "pretty well confirmed." [Washington Post, 12/9/01]
7) December 16: The identities of both al-Ani and Atta are disputed. [New York Times, 12/16/01]
8) January 12, 2002: It is claimed at least two meetings took place, including one a year earlier. [Telegraph, 1/12/02]
9) February 6: It's reported that the meeting probably took place, but wasn't connected to the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 2/6/02]
10) March 15: Evidence for the meeting is considered between "slim" and "none." [Washington Post, 3/15/02]
11) March 18: William Safire strongly asserts the meeting took place. [New York Times, 3/18/02]
12) April 28 - May 2: The meeting is largely discredited. [Newsweek, 4/28/02, Washington Post, 5/1/02, New York Times, 5/2/02]
13) May 8: Some Czech officials continue to affirm the meeting took place. [Prague Post, 5/8/02]
14) May 9: William Safire refuses to give up the story, claiming a "protect-Saddam cabal" in the high levels of the US government is burying the story. [New York Times, 5/9/02]
15) July 15: The head of Czech foreign intelligence calls the meeting unproved and implausible. [Prague Post, 7/15/02]
16) August 2: With a war against Iraq growing more likely, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer suggests the meeting did happen, "despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI." [Los Angeles Times, 8/2/02]
17) August 19: Newsweek states: "The sole evidence for the alleged meeting is the uncorroborated claim of a Czech informant." It claims that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is nonetheless pushing the FBI to have the meeting accepted as fact. [Newsweek, 8/19/02]
18) September 10: The Bush administration is no longer pushing the meeting. [Washington Post, 9/10/02]
19) September 17: Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "accept reports from Czech diplomats" that the meeting took place. [USA Today, 9/17/02]
20) September 23: Newsweek reports that the CIA is resisting Pentagon demands to get pictures of the meeting from Iraqi exiles. One official says: "We do not shy away from evidence. But we also dont make it up." [Newsweek, 9/23/02]
21) October 6: Bush gives a big speech about why the US should attack Iraq. Slate notes if Bush had evidence linking Iraq to 9/11, "this was his last plausible chance to divulge it. He didn't." [Slate, 10/7/02]
22) A poll taken between October 2-6 shows 66% of Americans believe Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks (see also January 12, 2003). [Reuters, 10/10/02] On October 10, Congress passes a resolution authorizing Bush to declare war on Iraq. [AP, 10/11/02]
23) October 20: This story seemingly ends when Czech officials, including the President Vaclav Havel, conclusively deny the meeting, suggesting the entire story was made up by one unreliable source well after 9/11, and after stories in the press that Atta had traveled to Prague. It now appears Atta wasn't even in the Czech Republic during the month the meeting was supposed to have taken place. President Havel told Bush the meeting didn't happen "quietly some time earlier this year." [UPI, 10/20/02, New York Times, 10/21/02] Why did Bush wait to reveal this information until after the Congressional vote for war with Iraq? Considering the way this meeting has seemingly been used as a political football, how can other reporting on the 9/11 story be trusted? Even though the story is seemingly discredited, some "war hawks," such as Bush advisor Richard Perle, continue to maintain that the meeting took place. [CBS, 12/8/02]
September 20, 2001 (B): President Bush states: "Either you are with us, or you are against us. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." [White House, 9/20/01] Shortly thereafter, Bush says: "As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they've been nothing but cooperative," and "[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am." However, several experts continue to claim Saudi Arabia is being "completely unsupportive" and is giving "zero cooperation" to the 9/11 investigation. Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, "They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow.... It's better to shut it down right away." [Los Angeles Times, 10/13/01, New Yorker, 10/16/01] The Saudi government continues to be uncooperative, and the US government continues to downplay this (see Early December 2001 (B), November 2002 and November 26, 2002).
September 20, 2001 (D): Bush meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. [State Department, 12/26/01] According to a former British ambassador to Washington, Bush wants to attack Iraq immediately, but Blair convinces him that Afghanistan should be attacked first. [BBC, 4/3/03] While interesting in suggesting that Bush wanted to attack Iraq before there was any evidence connecting it to al-Qaeda, this account conflicts with evidence that the US had plans before 9/11 to attack Afghanistan by mid-October 2001 (see July 21, 2001 and September 9, 2001 (F)).
September 21, 2001: A secret report to NATO allies says the US privately wants to hear allied views on "post-Taliban Afghanistan after the liberation of the country." However, the US is publicly claiming it has no intentions to overthrow the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/21/01] For instance, four days later, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that military actions there are "designed to replace one regime with another." [State Department, 12/26/01]
September 21, 2001 (C): A published account of flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney's phone conversation from hijacked Flight 11 appears to contradict the official account. She reports four hijackers, not the official five, and the seat numbers she gave do not correspond with the ones in the official version. This discrepancy still has not been explained. A later, fuller account of her call adds even more curious details (see July 18, 2002). [BBC, 9/21/01]
September 21, 2001 (D): A report suggests: "Federal investigators may have video footage of the deadly terrorist attack on the Pentagon. A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon may have captured dramatic footage of the hijacked Boeing 757 airliner as it slammed into the western wall of the Pentagon. Hotel employees sat watching the film in shock and horror several times before the FBI confiscated the video as part of its investigation. It may be the only available video of the attack. The Pentagon has told broadcast news reporters that its security cameras did not capture the crash. The attack occurred close to the Pentagon's heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring." [Gertz File, 9/21/01] In a later report, an employee at a gas station across the street from the Pentagon that services only military personnel says the gas station's security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, "I've never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film." [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01] A later release of five tiny and grainy images of the crash from a Pentagon security camera shows the government's claim that no security cameras captured the crash was untrue (see March 7, 2002). If there is nothing to hide about the Pentagon crash, why don't they release the footage of it?
September 23, 2001 (B): The first of many mainstream articles ridiculing 9/11 "conspiracy theories" is published (see also September 12, 2002). [Independent, 9/23/01] Early articles of this type generally deride Middle Eastern views blaming Israel. [AP, 10/3/01 (C), Washington Post, 10/13/01, Dallas Morning News, 11/19/01] Later articles mostly deride Western theories blaming Bush, and criticize the internet and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see April 11, 2002) for spreading these ideas. [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/8/02, ABC News, 4/17/02, Orlando Sentinel, 5/18/02, Toronto Sun, 5/19/02] The title of one article, "Conspiracy Nuts Feed On Calamity," expresses the general tone of these articles. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 5/22/02] An Ottawa Citizen article mockingly includes a Do-It-Yourself Conspiracy Theory section, where you can fill in the blanks for your own personal 9/11 theory. The article calls 9/11 conspiracy theories "delirious," "dangerous," and "viruses," while admitting that "it's true that some of the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks are hard to explain." [Ottawa Citizen, 9/1/02] Another article discredits theories that oil was a motive for the US to attack Afghanistan by interspersing them with theories that space aliens were behind the 9/11 attacks. [Telegraph, 9/5/02]
September 25, 2001: As details of the passengers on the four hijacked flights emerge, some are shown to have curious connections to the defense company Raytheon, and possibly its Global Hawk pilotless aircraft program (see 1998 (D) and August 2001). Stanley Hall (Flight 77) was director of program management for Raytheon Electronics Warfare. One Raytheon colleague calls him "our dean of electronic warfare." [AP, 9/25/01] Peter Gay (Flight 11) was Raytheon's Vice President of Operations for Electronic Systems and had been on special assignment to a company office in El Segundo, Calif. [AP, 9/25/01] Raytheon's El Segundo's Electronic Systems division is one of two divisions making the Global Hawk. [ISR Journal, 3/02] Kenneth Waldie (Flight 11) was a senior quality control engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. David Kovalcin (Flight 11) was a senior mechanical engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. [CNN, 9/01] Herbert Homer (Flight 175) was a corporate executive working with the Department of Defense. [CNN, 9/01, Northeastern University Voice, 12/11/01] Raytheon employees with possible links to Global Hawk can be connected to three of the four flights? There may be more, since many of the passengers' jobs and personal information have remained anonymous. A surprising number of passengers, especially on Flight 77, have military connections. For instance, William E. Caswell was a Navy scientist whose work was so classified that his family knew very little about what he did each day. Says his mother, "You just learn not to ask questions." [Chicago Tribune, 9/16/01] Could these Raytheon employees have been on board to activate Global Hawk technology, or make sure it worked?
September 26, 2001: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani bans all photographs at the WTC site, unless explicitly approved by the Police Commissioner. A statement said the ban was because the ruins were a crime scene. [AP, 9/27/01] Why can't people take any pictures of piles of rubble? This ban is apparently repealed some point in 2002.
September 28, 2001: The text of a handwritten, five-page document found in Atta's luggage is made public. [Complete text here: Observer, 9/30/01] The next day, the Independent strongly questions if the note is genuine. It points out the "note suggests an almost Christian view of what the hijackers might have felt" and is filled with "weird" comments that Muslims would never say, such as "the time of fun and waste is gone." If the note "is genuine, then the [hijackers] believed in a very exclusive version of Islam - or were surprisingly unfamiliar with their religion." [Independent, 9/29/01] Another copy of the document was discovered in a vehicle parked by a Flight 77 hijacker at Washington's Dulles airport. A third copy of essentially the same document was found in the wreckage of Flight 93. So the letter neatly ties most of the hijackers together. [CBS, 9/28/01] The Guardian says, "The finds are certainly very fortunate, though some might think them a little too fortunate." [Guardian, 10/1/01] Interestingly, an FBI affidavit of the contents of Atta's baggage written on September 14 and released on October 4 completely fails to mention the how-to letter. Is this an oversight, or is the letter a forgery?
Late September-Early October 2001: According to a later Mirror article, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamic parties negotiate bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden would be held under house arrest in Peshawar and would face an international tribunal, which would decide whether to try him or hand him over to the US. According to reports in Pakistan (and the Telegraph), this plan has both bin Laden's approval and that of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. However, the plan is vetoed by Pakistan's president Musharraf who says he "could not guarantee bin Laden's safety." But it appears the US did not want the deal: a US official later says that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort [to overthrow the Taliban] if by some lucky chance Mr. bin Laden was captured." [Mirror, 7/8/02]
October 2001 (B): Reports this month indicate that many hijacker e-mails have been recovered. USA Today reports many unencrypted e-mails coordinating the 9/11 plans written by the hijackers in internet cafes have been recovered by investigators. [USA Today, 10/1/01] FBI sources say "hundreds of e-mails linked to the hijackers in English, Arabic and Urdu" have been recovered, with some messages including "operational details" of the attack. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] "A senior FBI official says investigators have obtained hundreds of e-mails in English and Arabic, reflecting discussions of the planned Sept. 11 hijackings." [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] However, in April 2002, FBI Director Mueller says no documentation of the 9/11 plot has been found (see April 19, 2002). By September 2002, the Chicago Tribune reports, "Of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of e-mails sent and received by the hijackers from public Internet terminals, none is known to have been recovered." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] The texts of some e-mails sent by Atta from Germany are published a few months later. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
October 2001: The US begins using the Shahbaz
air force base and other bases in Pakistan in their attacks against Afghanistan.
Times, 10/15/01] However, because of public opposition
in Pakistan to US support, it is falsely claimed the US is there for purely
logistical and defensive purposes. Even six months later, the US won't confirm
it is using the base for offensive operations. [Los
Angeles, 3/6/03] Such bases in Pakistan become a link in a chain
of US military outposts in Central Asia (see January
2002 (D)). Other countries also falsely maintain
that such bases are not being used for military operations in Afghanistan. [Reuters,
October 1, 2001: The New Yorker gives an inside look at the ongoing 9/11 investigation. "A number of intelligence officials have raised questions about Osama bin Laden's capabilities. 'This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he's running this operation?' one CIA official asked. 'It's so huge. He couldn't have done it alone' A senior military officer told me that because of the visas and other documentation needed to infiltrate team members into the United States a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved." [New Yorker, 10/1/01] These ideas run counter to the usual public statements by officials that bin Laden was the ultimate mastermind.
October 4, 2001 (B): British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. [Los Angeles Times, 10/5/01, see the paper here: Los Angeles Times, 10/4/01] Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/24/01] But the US paper is never released. Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] In the speech, Blair claims, "One of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization" and that "there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt" of al-Qaeda in the attacks. [CNN 10/4/01, Time, 10/5/01] There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo to Bush "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," are not included (see August 6, 2001). In fact, Blair's paper states, "incorrectly, that no such information had been available before the attacks: 'After 11 September we learned that, not long before, bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.'" [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
October 7, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is replaced in the face of US pressure after links are discovered between him, Saeed Sheikh, and the funding of the 9/11 attacks. Mahmood instructed Saeed to transfer $100,000 into hijacker Mohamed Atta's bank account prior to 9/11 (see Early August 2001 (D) or June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000; it hasn't been reported which $100,000 money transfer this refers to). This is according to Indian intelligence, which claims the FBI has privately confirmed the story. [Press Trust of India, 10/8/01, Times of India, 10/9/01, India Today, 10/15/01, Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] The story is not widely reported in Western countries, though it makes the Wall Street Journal. [Australian, 10/10/01, AFP, 10/10/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01] It is reported in Pakistan as well. [Dawn, 10/8/01] The Northern Alliance also repeats the claim in late October. [FNS, 10/31/01] In Western countries, the usual explanation is that Mahmood is fired for being too close to the Taliban. [London Times, 10/9/01, Guardian, 10/9/01] The Times of India reports that Indian intelligence helped the FBI discover the link, and says: "A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The US cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake US confidence in Pakistan's ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition." [Times of India, 10/9/01] There is evidence some ISI officers may have known of a plan to destroy the WTC as early as mid-1999 (see July 14, 1999). Two other ISI leaders, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Aziz Khan and Chief of General Staff Mohammed Yousuf, are sidelined on the same day as Mahmood. [Fox News, 10/8/01] Saeed had been working under Khan (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). The firings are said to have purged the ISI of its fundamentalists. But according to one diplomat: "To remove the top two or three doesn't matter at all. The philosophy remains.... [The ISI is] a parallel government of its own. If you go through the officer list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say, of the Taliban, 'They are my boys.'" [New Yorker, 10/29/01] It is believed Mahmood has been living under virtual house arrest in Pakistan ever since (which would seem to imply more than just a difference of opinion over the Taliban), but no charges have been brought against him, and there is no evidence the US has asked to question him. [Asia Times, 1/5/02] He also has refused to speak to reporters since being fired [AP, 2/21/02], and outside India and Pakistan, the story has only been mentioned a couple times in the media since (see [Sunday Herald, 2/24/02, London Times, 4/21/02]). If Mahmood helped fund the 9/11 attacks, what did President Musharraf know about it?
October 7, 2001 (C): On this day, Zeljko E., a Kosovar Serb, enters a Hamburg, Germany police station and says he wants to turn himself in. He tells the police that he has robbed a business and stolen piles of paper written in Arabic, with the hopes of selling them. A friend of his told him that they relate to the 9/11 attacks. The 44 pounds of papers are translated and prove to be a "treasure trove." The documents come from Mamoun Darkazanli's files (see September 24, 2001), which appeared to be missing when police raided his apartment two days after 9/11. "It makes for a great story. A petty thief pilfers files containing critical information about the largest terrorist attack in history and dutifully turns them over to the police. [But German] agents do not buy this story for a minute; they suspect that some other secret service was trying to find a way of getting evidence into [their] hands. The question is, whose secret service?" Some German investigators suggest the CIA was responsible; there are also reports that the FBI illegally surveilled Darkazanli after 9/11. [Der Spiegel, 10/27/01, Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02, Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, 2/02, pp. 166-67] Did the CIA surveil or recruit Darkazanli before 9/11 after failing to get German investigators to do so (see December 1999 and Spring 2000), and then use this method to get information to the Germans in order to keep their illegal surveillance secret?
October 7, 2001 (D): It is reported that Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama, is currently manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia branch of the bin Laden family company, the Binladin Group. In 1979, Binladin company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. The bin Laden family claims that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
October 10, 2001: Longtime Egyptian journalist and former government spokesman, called the "Arab world's foremost political commentator," Mohammed Heikal expresses disbelief that bin Laden and his al-Qaeda group could have conducted the 9/11 attack without the US knowing, stating, "Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by American intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication." [Guardian, 10/10/01]
October 10, 2001 (B): The US government asks the major US TV networks to refrain from showing unedited video messages taped by Osama bin Laden. They agree. A Newsweek article is critical of the decision, pointing out "all but one [of these networks] are controlled by major conglomerates that have important pending business with the government." The article openly questions if the media is "doing too much of the government's bidding" in reporting on 9/11. Says one expert, "I'm not saying that everything is a horrible paranoid fantasy, but my sense is there's an implicit quid pro quo here. The industry seems to be saying to the administration, 'we're patriotic, we're supporting the war, we lost all of this advertising, now free us from [business] constraints.'" [Newsweek, 10/13/01]
October 11, 2001 (B): The
Ashcroft-led Justice Department takes over all terrorist prosecutions from the
US Attorneys office in New York which has had a highly successful track record
in prosecuting terrorist cases connected to bin Laden. [New
York Times, 10/11/01] FTW
October 11, 2001: "FBI investigators have officially concluded that 11 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked the aircraft on September 11 did not know they were on a suicide mission." "Unlike the eight 'lead' attackers, who were all trained pilots, they did not leave messages for friends and family indicating they knew their lives were over" nor did they have copies of Atta's final prayer note. Personal items found suggest the men thought they were taking part in a conventional hijacking and were preparing for the possibility of prison. [Observer, 10/14/01] This is later contradicted by video filmed in Afghanistan in March 2001 showing the 13 non-lead hijackers proclaiming their willingness to die on an upcoming suicide mission (see March 2001).
October 16, 2001: "The Financial Services Authority - Britain's main financial regulator - has cleared bin Laden and his henchmen of insider trading. There has been a widespread suspicion that members of the al-Qaeda organization had cashed in on the US attacks, dumping airline, aerospace and insurance company shares before September 11th. The Authority says that after a thorough investigation it has found no hard evidence of any such deals in London." [Marketplace radio report, 10/17/01] On September 24, Belgium's Financial Minister claimed there were strong suspicions that British markets may have been used for 9/11-related inside trading (see Early September 2001 (L)). Similar investigations are apparently continuing over a year later in many other countries - how was Britain able to conclusively dispel the strong suspicions in only two weeks?
October 16, 2001 (B): The government releases flight control transcripts of three of the four hijacked planes (see the transcripts here: [New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01]). Strangely, Flight 93 is left out. Could it be to hide embarrassing details? For instance, are reports true that a hijacker was in the cockpit of Flight 93 before it even took off (see September 24, 2001 (B))? Yet even the three released transcripts are incomplete (for instance, Flight 77's ends at least 20 minutes before it crashes), and certain events that are part of the official story don't show up on these transcripts. What's the reason for secrecy?
October 20, 2001: The New York Times reports that, although 830 people have been arrested in the 9/11 terrorism investigation (a number that eventually reaches between 1,200 and 2,000 (see November 5, 2001 (B)), there is no evidence that anyone now in custody was a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, "none of the nearly 100 people still being sought by the [FBI] is seen as a major suspect." Of all the people arrested, only four, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ayub Ali Khan, Mohammed Azmath, and Nabil al-Marabh, are likely connected to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 10/21/01] Three of those are later cleared of ties to al-Qaeda. After being kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months without seeing a judge or being assigned a lawyer, al-Marabh pleads guilty to the minor charge of entering the United States illegally (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002). [CBC, 8/27/02, Washington Post, 6/12/02] On September 12, 2002, after a year in solitary confinement and four months before he was able to contact a lawyer, Mohammed Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud, and is released with time served. Ayub Ali Khan, whose real name is apparently Syed Gul Mohammad Shah, is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud, but is released and deported by the end of 2002 (see September 11, 2001 (K)). [Village Voice, 9/25/02, New York Times, 12/31/02] By December 2002, only 6 are known to still be in custody, and none have been charged with any terrorist acts (see December 11, 2002 (D)). On September 24, 2001, Newsweek reported that "the FBI has privately estimated that more than 1,000 individuals - most of them foreign nationals - with suspected terrorist ties are currently living in the United States." [Newsweek, 9/24/01] With the exception of Moussaoui, who was arrested before 9/11, it appears not one person of the 1,200 arrested has been connected to al-Qaeda. What happened to the 1,000 or more terrorists?
October 2001 (B): Reports this month indicate that many hijacker e-mails have been recovered. USA Today reports many unencrypted e-mails coordinating the 9/11 plans written by the hijackers in internet cafes have been recovered by investigators. [USA Today, 10/1/01] FBI sources say "hundreds of e-mails linked to the hijackers in English, Arabic and Urdu" have been recovered, with some messages including "operational details" of the attack. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] "A senior FBI official says investigators have obtained hundreds of e-mails in English and Arabic, reflecting discussions of the planned Sept. 11 hijackings." [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] However, in April 2002, FBI Director Mueller says no documentation of the 9/11 plot has been found (see April 19, 2002). By September 2002, the Chicago Tribune reports, "Of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of e-mails sent and received by the hijackers from public Internet terminals, none is known to have been recovered." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02]
October 26, 2001:
Bush signs the Patriot Act into law. Here are some of its provisions:
1) Non-citizens can be detained and deported if they provide "assistance" for lawful activities of any group the government chooses to call a terrorist organization. Under this provision the secretary of state can designate any group that has ever engaged in violent activity as a terrorist organization. Representative Patsy Mink notes that in theory supporters of Greenpeace could now be convicted for supporting terrorism. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/01]
2) Immigrants can be detained indefinitely, even if they are found to not have any links to terrorism. They can be detained indefinitely for immigration violations or if the attorney general decides their activities pose a danger to national security. They never need to be given a trial or even a hearing on their status. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/0]
3) Internet service providers can be ordered to reveal the web sites and e-mail addresses that a suspect has communicated to or visited. The FBI need only inform a judge that the information is relevant to an investigation. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02, Village Voice, 11/26/01]
4) It "lays the foundation for a domestic intelligence-gathering system of unprecedented scale and technological prowess." [Washington Post, 11/4/01] It allows the government to access confidential credit reports, school records, and other records, without consent or notification. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02] All of this information can now be given to the CIA, in violation of the CIA's mandate prohibiting it from spying within the US. [Village Voice, 11/26/01]
5) Financial institutions are encouraged to disclose possible violations of law or "suspicious activities" by any client. The institution is prohibited from notifying the person involved that it made such a report. The term "suspicious" is not defined, so it is up to the financial institutions to determine when to send such a report.
6) Federal agents can easily obtain warrants to review a library patron's reading and computer habits (see also January 2002 (E)). [Village Voice, 2/22/02]
7) The government can refuse to reveal how evidence is collected against a suspected terrorist defendant. [Tampa Tribune, 4/6/03]
The law passes without public debate. [Village Voice, 11/9/01, Village Voice, 11/26/01] Even though it ultimately took six weeks to pass the law, there was no hearing or congressional debate. [Salon, 3/24/03] Congressman Barney Frank (D) says, "This was the least democratic process for debating questions fundamental to democracy I have ever seen. A bill drafted by a handful of people in secret, subject to no committee process, comes before us immune from amendment." [Village Voice, 11/9/01] Only 66 congresspeople, and one senator, Russell Feingold (D), vote against it. Few in Congress are able to read summaries, let alone the fine print, before voting on it. [Los Angeles Times, 10/30/01] Feingold says, "The new law goes into a lot of areas that have nothing to do with terrorism and have a lot to do with the government and the FBI having a wish list of things they want to do...." [Village Voice, 11/9/01] Supporters point out that some provisions will expire in four years, but in fact most provisions will not expire. [Chicago Tribune, 11/1/01] One year later, criticism of the law grows. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02] Dozens of cities later pass resolutions criticizing the Patriot Act (see January 12, 2003).
October 27, 2001: Suspected terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997) travels to Morocco. Not long after, perhaps in December, he is arrested by Moroccan police with US assistance. Though he is a German citizen and under investigation by Germany, German intelligence remain unaware of his arrest, and only learn about it from the newspapers in June 2002. He is sent to Syria, where there are formal charges against him. Supposedly, Zammar now claims he recruited Atta and others into the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] It is widely suspected that the US arranged that Zammar be sent to Syria so he could be more thoroughly interrogated using torture. The Germans are angry that the US has been submitting questions for Zammar and learning answers from Syria, and haven't informed Germany of what they've learned. [Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/02, Telegraph, 6/20/02] Months after the story of Zammar's detention is made public, the Germans are still complaining that the US is not telling them much (see October 25, 2002).
October 27, 2001 (C): Furious government intelligence officials accuse the NSA of destroying data pertinent to the 9/11 investigation. They claim that possible leads aren't being followed because of the NSA lack of cooperation. [Boston Globe, 10/27/01]
November 14-November 25, 2001: At the request of the Pakistani government, the US secretly allows rescue flights into the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, in Northern Afghanistan, to save Pakistanis fighting for the Taliban and bring them back to Pakistan. Pakistan's President "Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds - and perhaps thousands - of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival." [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Dozens of senior Pakistani military officers, including two generals, are flown out. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] In addition, it is reported that the Pakistani government assists 50 trucks of foreign fighters to escape the town. [New York Times, 11/24/01] Many news articles at the time suggest an airlift is occurring (for instance, [Independent, 11/16/01, New York Times, 11/24/01, BBC, 11/26/01, Independent, 11/26/01, Guardian, 11/27/01, MSNBC, 11/29/01]), but a media controversy and wide coverage fails to develop. The US and Pakistani governments deny the existence of the airlift. [State Department, 11/16/01, New Yorker, 1/21/02] On December 2, when asked to assure that the US didn't allow such an airlift, Rumsfeld says, "Oh, you can be certain of that. We have not seen a single - to my knowledge, we have not seen a single airplane or helicopter go into Afghanistan in recent days or weeks and extract people and take them out of Afghanistan to any country, let alone Pakistan." [MSNBC, 12/2/01] Reporter Seymour Hersh believes that Rumsfeld must have given approval for the airlift. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] But New Yorker magazine reports, "What was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus." A CIA analyst says, "Many of the people they spirited away were in the Taliban leadership" who Pakistan wanted for future political negotiations. US intelligence was "supposed to have access to them, but it didn't happen," he says. According to Indian intelligence, airlifts grow particularly intense in the last three days before the city falls on November 25. Of the 8,000 remaining al-Qaeda, Pakistani, and Taliban, about 5,000 are airlifted out and 3,000 surrender. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Hersh later claims that "maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations." [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] Was the escape of al-Qaeda deliberate so the war against terrorism wouldn't end too soon?
November 15, 2001: For the first time, a major newspaper publishes an article strongly suggesting Flight 93 was shot down. The Philadelphia Daily News quotes numerous eyewitnesses who believe the plane was shot down. The FBI reported a half-ton piece of an engine was found "a considerable distance" from the main crash site. "That information is intriguing to shoot-down theory proponents, since the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16 would likely target one of the Boeing 757's two large engines." The article concludes, "No one has fully explained why the plane went down, or what exactly happened during an eight-minute gap from the time all cell phone calls from the plane stopped and the time it crashed." [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
November 18, 2001: Hijacker Ziad Jarrah wrote a letter to his girlfriend shortly before 9/11, but made a mistake in the address, allowing investigators to find it around this time. He writes, "I did what I had to do, and you should be very proud of that... It is a great honor and you will see the result, and everyone will be celebrating." [Observer, 11/18/01] Jarrah's relatives claim the letter is a fake designed to frame him, and that he wouldn't have mistaken the address of the woman he'd been dating for five years. [BBC, 11/19/01] At some point, part of Jarrah's passport was found in the wreckage of Flight 93. [CNN, 8/1/02] This image of the burnt passport has been released, which you can see here. However, it bears only a vague resemblance to other pictures of Jarrah. Could someone who looked vaguely like him have stolen his identity (for other stolen identities, see September 16-23, 2001)?
November 21, 2001 (C): The remains of all but one of the people on board Flight 77, including the hijackers, are identified. But the identities of the hijackers have still not been confirmed through their remains. [Washington Post, 11/21/01, Mercury, 1/11/02] Over a year later, the FBI still has not given DNA profiles to medical examiners so the hijacker remains can be identified (see Late February 2003). Strangely, the official story states there was a giant fireball on impact that not only destroyed the airplane but actually vaporized the metal. A rescue worker states: "The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. The devastation was horrific." [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01] Yet remains of every passenger but one was found?
November 23, 2001: The Boston Globe writes a story that strongly suggests at least one hijacker was inside the cockpits on every flight before the 9/11 hijackings began. An airplane captain theorizes how they took control: ''The most likely scenarios are something that was swift, where the pilots couldn't have changed their transponder code and called the controllers. You think four times in one morning one of those crews would have done that. That means they had to be upon them before they could react.'' On practice flights before 9/11, the hijackers were able to repeatedly get into cockpits by various methods. Perhaps the most important method was jumpseating, which allows certified airline pilots to use a spare seat in the cockpit when none is available in the passenger cabin. Airlines reciprocate to help pilots get home or to the city of their originating flight. Officials say they do not believe any of the hijackers were jumpseating on 9/11 despite media reports to the contrary (see September 24, 2001 (B)). However, since 9/11 the FAA has banned the practice unless a pilot works for the airline in whose cockpit that person wants to ride. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Could jumpseating be ignored by investigators to save the airlines from losing large lawsuits?
November 28, 2001: A US Special Forces soldier stationed in Fayetteville, North Carolina later (anonymously) claims that the US has bin Laden pinned in a certain Tora Bora cave on this day, but fails to act. Special Forces soldiers sit by waiting for orders and watch two helicopters fly into the area where bin Laden was believed to be, load up passengers, and fly toward Pakistan. No other soldiers have come forward to corroborate the story, but bin Laden is widely believed to have been in the Tora Bora area at the time. [Fayetteville Observer, 8/2/02] Newsweek separately reports that many locals "claim that mysterious black helicopters swept in, flying low over the mountains at night, and scooped up al-Qaeda's top leaders." [Newsweek, 8/11/02] More incompetence, or a pattern of letting bin Laden escape? Perhaps just coincidentally, on the same day this story is reported, the media also reports a recent spate of strange deaths at the same military base in Fayetteville. Five soldiers and their wives have all died since June 2002 in apparent murder-suicides. At least three were Special Forces soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan. [Independent, 8/2/02] Could it be these soldiers knew too much about escapes and/or human rights atrocities?
Late November, 2001: Ironically, it appears that even as the US is allowing some Taliban to secretly fly out of Afghanistan (see November 14-25, 2001) it is allowing a brutal massacre of others. The Sunday Herald says, "It seems established, almost beyond doubt, that US soldiers oversaw and took part in horrific crimes against humanity," which resulted in the death of thousands of Taliban supporters who surrendered after Kunduz fell to the Northern Alliance. The documentary Massacre at Mazar exposes this news widely in Europe, but the massacre remains virtually unreported in the US. [Sunday Herald, 7/16/02]
Early December 2001 (C): Al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada disappears, despite being under surveillance in Britain. He has been "described by some justice officials as the spiritual leader and possible puppet master of al-Qaeda's European networks." [Time, 7/7/02] Qatada had already been sentenced to death in abstentia in Jordan, and is wanted at the time by the US, Spain, France, and Algeria as well. [Guardian, 2/14/02] In October 2001, it was strongly suggested in the media that Qatada would soon be arrested for his known roles in al-Qaeda plots, but he was not. [London Times, 10/21/01] In November, while Qatada was still living openly in Britain, a Spanish judge expressed disbelief that Qatada hadn't been arrested already. Qatada has been connected to a Spanish al-Qaeda cell that may have met with Atta (see July 8-19, 2001). [Observer, 11/25/01] Time magazine will later claim that just before new anti-terrorism laws go into effect in Britain, Abu Qatada and his family are secretly moved to a safe house by the British government, where he is lodged, fed, and clothed by the government. "The deal is that Abu Qatada is deprived of contact with extremists in London and Europe but can't be arrested or expelled because no one officially knows where he is," says a source, whose claims were corroborated by French authorities. The British are doing this to avoid a "hot potato" trial. [Time, 7/7/02] A British official says, "We wouldn't give an awful lot of credence [to the story]." [Guardian, 7/8/02] Some French officials tell the press that Qatada was allowed to disappear because he is actually a British intelligence agent. [Observer, 2/24/02] Qatada is later arrested on October 23, 2002, in London. [London Times, 10/25/02] Was he on the run until his arrest or did the British secretly hold him until they were ready for a trial?
December 13, 2001: The US Army responds to a journalistic investigation and confirms that it has been making weapons grade anthrax in recent years, in violation of an international treaty. The US offensive biological weapons program was supposedly closed in 1969 when the US signed a biological weapons treaty. In 1998 scientists at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah turned small quantities of wet anthrax into powder. This weaponized anthrax appears to be very similar or identical to the anthrax used in the recent attacks. [Baltimore Sun, 12/13/01, New York Times, 12/13/01]
December 13, 2001 (B): The US releases a video of bin Laden that seems to confirm his role in the 9/11 attack. [Guardian, 12/13/01] However, a number of strange facts about this video soon emerge. For one, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera. This video was supposedly recorded without his knowledge, found in a house in Afghanistan, and then passed to the CIA by an unknown person or group. Experts point out that it would be possible to fake such a video. So many people doubt the video's authenticity that Bush soon makes a statement, saying it was "preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored. Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man." Some observers point out that bin Laden is wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous films, he had worn no jewelry apart from a watch. [Guardian, 12/15/01] The German television show Monitor does an independent translation that questions the translation given by the Pentagon. Says Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Hamburg, "This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can't use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places." [Monitor, 12/20/01] But perhaps the best reason to think the video is not of bin Laden is to look at the video. The person in the video just plain doesn't look like him, especially in the nose. See the comparison on the right. Here also are comparisons of videos from before, during, and after: Al Jazeera, 10/01, Al Jazeera, 10/11/01, Dawn interview, 11/8/01, controversial video, late 11/01, Al Jazeera, 12/27/01. One answer may be that the video was of one of bin Laden's doubles. There are reports that he had from four to ten look-alike doubles at the time. [AFP, 10/7/01, London Times, 11/19/01]
December 21, 2001: The FBI reveals that it knows what's on the Flight 93 black boxes (see September 13-14, 2001), but they won't release the transcript or audio recording. Families of the victims had requested to hear the cockpit voice recording, but the FBI says, "we do not believe that the horror captured on the cockpit voice recording will console them in any way." [CNN, 12/21/01] Accuracy in Media immediately submits a Freedom of Information Act request to have the transcript released, but the FBI turns it down because a release "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings." The Philadelphia Daily News asks, "What enforcement proceedings?" and suggests the FBI may be covering up a shoot down of the plane. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01]
December 21, 2001 (B): The FBI is now investigating "whether potential profit from the sale of anthrax medications or cleanup efforts may have motivated" the anthrax attacks. Battelle, a company doing anthrax work for the CIA, is the one company most discussed in the article and is strongly featured in another. [Washington Post, 12/21/01, ABC, 12/20/01] The same day, the FBI says it is not investigating a former Battelle scientist in relation to an anthrax scare, contrary to national broadcast news reports. A US Senator further claims FBI Director Mueller told him "no one with or formerly with Battelle is a suspect." [Columbus Dispatch, 12/21/01] Is Bayer also under investigation (see October 21, 2001)?
December 25, 2001: The New York Times reports that "some of the nation's leading structural engineers and fire-safety experts" believe the investigation into the collapse of the WTC is "inadequate", and "are calling for a new, independent and better-financed inquiry that could produce the kinds of conclusions vital for skyscrapers and future buildings nationwide." Experts critical of the investigation include "some of those people who are actually conducting it." They point out that the current team of 20 or so investigators has no subpoena power, inadequate financial support, little staff support, has been prevented from interviewing witnesses and frequently prevented from examining the disaster site, and has even been unable to obtain basic information like detailed blueprints of the buildings that collapsed. The decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses from the WTC in the days immediately after 9/11 means definitive answers may never be known. [New York Times, 12/25/01] (Incredibly, some of the steel is being reforged into commemorative medallions selling for $30 apiece) [AP, 1/30/02]
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 10, 2002: Attorney General Ashcroft recluses himself from the Enron investigation because Enron had been a major campaign donor in his 2000 Senate race. [CNN, 1/10/02] However, he fails to recluse himself from involvement in two sitting Federal Grand Juries investigating bribery and corruption charges against ExxonMobil and BP-Amoco massive oil interests in Central Asia. [Reuters, 9/25/00, New Yorker, 7/9/02] Both were major Ashcroft donors in 2000 and before. FTW
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]
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
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 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 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]
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] A few days later, the head of the WTC collapse investigation says he "would possibly consider examining" the collapse of Building 7 (however, all the rubble has been removed and destroyed). [Committee on Science, House of Representatives testimony, 3/6/02]
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 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 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 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 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?
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 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 11, 2002: In a speech, Jim Pavitt, the CIA Deputy Director of Operations emphasizes how prepared the CIA was to launch subversive actions in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. "With a small logistical footprint they came with lightning speed. We were on the ground within days of that terrible attack. They also came with something else. They came with knowledge of local languages, whatever you heard to the contrary notwithstanding, terrain, and politics... In those few days that it took us to get there after that terrible, terrible attack, my officers stood on Afghan soil, side by side with Afghan friends that we had developed over a long period of time, and we launched America's war against al-Qaeda... Quite simply, we were there well before the 11th of September." [CIA, 4/11/02] This is in stark contrast to the usual story reported in the media that the US overly relied on satellites and other high technologies, and had no agents on the ground.
April 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]
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 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 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, 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 9/11 hijackers got their visas, says that he took money and gifts to provide fraudulent visas to foreigners. He pleads guilty and is later convicted for this offense. 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 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 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. 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. [LA Weekly, 8/2/02] FTW
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?
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? d?
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,
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 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 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 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 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 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]
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 such conversations. [ABC
News, 7/18/02] Note that a detailed article about 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 new details emerging? How could the hijackers get through security with so
many weapons, and why does the government insist on box-cutters only?
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]
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 2, 2002: 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 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 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."
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
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 June 9, 2001). 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]
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 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]
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,
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 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 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 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 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, Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76, 222] This new account states that after the Pentagon crash, "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 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 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 11-16, 2001 (B): Andrews
Air Force Base is 10 miles from Washington, DC, and Langley Air Force Base in
130 miles away. The official story is that there were no fighters at Andrews
so none took off from there to intercept the hijacked planes, but it takes a
few days for the media to come around to that point of view:
1) A few minutes after the Pentagon was hit, "fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base..." [Denver Post, 9/11/01]
2) "It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16's out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base..." [NBC Nightly News, 9/11/01]
3) "Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said. But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon..." [San Diego Union Tribune, 9/12/01]
4) "Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert - Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war - and F-16's from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01]
5) "Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
6) "The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
7) "... As part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency." "In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a 'few good men and women' support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB." [DC Military website]
8) The District of Columbia Air National Guard website is changed shortly after 9/11. Previously its mission was "to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness." Afterwards, it was changed to read that the Guard has a "vision" to "provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness." [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
The official story is that fighters from Langley didn't arrive over Washington until 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, but witnesses see fighters well before then. [Newsday, 9/23/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01] One year later, a new article writes about Andrews extensively: "Within minutes of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Air National Guard F-16's took off from [Andrews]." However, the article also claims that the Andrews fighters were not on alert, and so, of the first two to take off, one was partially armed and the other was unarmed. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
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 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 once called that number. It was not explained what the number is, who's 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 the Flight 93 cockpit voice recordings played 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 (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 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 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.
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 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 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. [PBS Newshour, 10/25/02] For instance, the Germans helped capture terrorist Mohamed Heidar Zammar (see October 27, 2001) 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]
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 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 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 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 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).
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 (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 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]
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 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 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]
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)]
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 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 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]