January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President,
replacing Bill Clinton.
January 31, 2001: The final bipartisan report of the US Commission on
National Security/21st Century, launched in 1998 by then-President Bill
Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is issued. The report has 50
recommendations on how to combat terrorism in the US, but all of them are
ignored by the Bush Administration. Instead, the White House announces in
May that it will have Vice President Cheney study the potential problem of
domestic terrorism, despite the fact that this commission had just studied
the issue for 2 1/2 years. According to Senator Hart, Congress was taking
the commission's suggestions seriously, but then, "Frankly, the White
House shut it down..."
Late January 2001: The BBC later reports, "After the elections, [US
intelligence] agencies [are] told to 'back off' investigating the Bin Ladens
and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents."
February 9, 2001: US intelligence tells Vice President Cheney that it has
been conclusively proven bin Laden was behind the October 2000 attack on the
USS Cole. However, fearful of ending secret pipeline negotiations begun just
days after Bush took office, the US does not retaliate against known
al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan as Clinton did in 1998. The US also
discontinues the covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships
on six-hour alert near Afghanistan's borders that gave President Clinton the
option of assassinating bin Laden.
March 2001: A Taliban envoy meets with US officials in Washington and
discusses turning bin Laden over. But the US wants to be handed bin Laden
directly, and the Taliban want to turn him over for trial in some third
country. About 20 more meetings on giving up bin Laden take place up till
9/11, all fruitless.
April 23-June 29, 2001: The 13 hijackers commonly known as the "muscle" -
the brute force to protect the hijacker pilots - first arrive in the US.
May 2001: Around this time, intercepts from Afghanistan warn that al-Qaeda
could attack an American target in late June or on the July 4 holiday.
However, The White House's Counterterrorism Security Group does not meet to
discuss this prospect. This group also fails to meet after intelligence
analysts overhear conversations from an al-Qaeda cell in Milan suggesting
that bin Laden's agents might be plotting to kill Bush at the European
summit in Genoa, Italy, in late July. In fact, under Bush, the group only
meets twice before 9/11 (June 3 and September 4). Under Clinton, the group
met two or three times a week between 1998 and 2000. The White House later
"aggressively defend[s] the level of attention, given only scattered hints
of al-Qaeda activity."
May 31, 2001: The Wall Street Journal summarizes tens of thousands of pages
of evidence disclosed in a recently concluded trial of al-Qaeda terrorists.
They are called "a riveting view onto the shadowy world of al-Qaeda." The
documents reveal numerous connections between al-Qaeda and specific front
companies and charities. They even detail a "tightly organized system of
cells in an array of American cities, including Brooklyn, N.Y.; Orlando,
Fla.; Dallas; Santa Clara, Calif.; Columbia, Mo., and Herndon, Va."
Apparently nothing is done. The 9/11 hijackers had ties to many of these
same cities and charities.
June 2001: German intelligence warns the CIA, Britain's MI6, and Israel's
Mossad that Middle Eastern terrorists are planning to hijack commercial
aircraft to use as weapons to attack "American and Israeli symbols, which
stand out." German intelligence sources later state the information came
from Echelon surveillance.
June 4 , 2001: Three Afghan or Pakistani men living in the Cayman Islands
are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City. These men are
already being investigated by Cayman and British investigators. On this day,
they are taken into custody, questioned and released some time later. This
information is forwarded to US intelligence. In late August, an anonymous
letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of
bin Laden "organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or
airlines." The letter is forwarded to the Cayman government, but it is
unknown what they did with it.
June 9, 2001: Robert Wright, an FBI agent who spent ten years investigating
terrorist funding, writes a memo that slams the FBI. He states, "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." 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. Wright claims the FBI shut down his 1998 criminal probe
into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City. He says
his superiors repeatedly blocked his attempts to shut off money flows to
al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Yet his story is largely ignored
by the media because the FBI will not allow Wright to provide details. He is
now suing the FBI so he can tell his story.
June 23, 2001: Reuters reports that "Followers of exiled Saudi dissident
Osama bin Laden are planning a major attack on US and Israeli interests in
the next two weeks." The report is based on the personal impression of a
reporter who interviewed bin Laden and some of his followers two days
earlier. This reporter is quoted as saying: "There is a major state of
mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It seems that there is a race
of who will strike first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin Laden?"
Summer, 2001: Around this time, the NSA intercepts telephone conversations
between al-Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and lead hijacker Mohamed
Atta, but does not share the information with any other agencies. Mohammed
is on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List at the time, and is later
considered the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Supposedly, however, the NSA
either fails to translate important messages in a timely fashion, or fails
to understand the significance of what was translated. The NSA Director
later contradicts other senior US officials and claims no calls involving
any of the hijackers have been found.
Summer, 2001: An 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.
July 4-14, 2001: Bin Laden, the US's most wanted criminal with a $5 million
bounty on his head, supposedly receives lifesaving treatment for renal
failure from American surgeon at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab
Emirates. Witnesses claim that on July 12, bin Laden meets with CIA agent
Larry Mitchell and possibly another agent. The CIA, the Dubai hospital and
even bin Laden deny the story; the doctor named refuses to comment. Le
Figaro and Radio France International, who broke the story from French
intelligence sources, stand by it. The explosive story is prominently and
widely reported in Europe, but barely at all in the US.
July 10, 2001: Phoenix, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams sends a memo to FBI
headquarters and several other FBI offices, warning about suspicious
activities of 10 Middle Eastern men taking flight training lessons in
Arizona. The memo 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 ignored and no action is taken, not even
surveillance of the 10 suspected students. One of the students mentioned
periodically roomed and trained with hijacker Hani Hanjour for several years
in Arizona. In May 2002, Vice President Cheney states that the memo should
never be released to the media or public.
[ Yet the public had an immediate, urgent: "right to know" about
grand jury testimony involving the minutia of Clinton's (harmless) sexual
Mid-July 2001: FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill privately tell an
investigator:"The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US
oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it ... All
the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization,
can be found in Saudi Arabia." O'Neill also believes the White House is
obstructing his investigation of bin Laden because they are still keeping
the idea of a pipeline deal with the Taliban open.
July 16, 2001: British spy agencies warn that al-Qaeda is in "the final
stages" of preparing a terrorist attack in the West. The report states there
is "an acute awareness" that the attack is "a very serious threat." In early
August, the British add that the attack will involve multiple airplane
hijackings. This warning is included in Bush's briefing on August 6.
July 21, 2001: Three former US officials meet with Pakistani and Russian
intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. It is the third of a series of
back-channel conferences using ex-officials called "brainstorming on
Afghanistan." Department official Lee Coldren passes on a message from Bush
officials. He later says, "I think there was some discussion of the fact
that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be
considering some military action." One specific threat made at this meeting
is that the Taliban can choose between "carpets of bombs" - an invasion - or
"carpets of gold" - the oil and gas pipelines.
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." The San Francisco Chronicle later
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." CBS's Dan Rather later says of this warning: "Why wasn't
it shared with the public at large?"
Late July 2001: The Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil learns
that bin Laden is planning a "huge attack" on targets inside America. The
attack is imminent, and will kill thousands. He learns this from the leader
of the rebel movement in Uzbekistan, which is allied with al-Qaeda.
Muttawakil sends an emissary to pass this information on to the US consul
general, and another US official, "possibly from the intelligence services,"
as well as a United Nations office. The message is not taken very seriously;
one source blames this on "warning fatigue" from too many warnings.
Late July 2001: David Schippers, noted conservative Chicago lawyer and the
House Judiciary Committee's chief investigator in the Clinton impeachment
trial, later claims that FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota contact him
around this time and tell him that a terrorist attack is going to occur in
lower Manhattan. According to Schippers, the agents had been developing
extensive information on the planned attack for many months. However, the
FBI soon pulls them off the terrorist investigation and threatens them with
prosecution under the National Security Act if they go public with the
information. As a result, they contact Schippers hoping he can persuade the
government to take action. Schippers tries to pass the information on to
high government officials but apparently his efforts are ignored. Partly in
conjunction with Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm, Schippers is
now representing at least ten FBI agents in a suit against the US government
in an attempt to have their testimony subpoenaed, which would enable them to
legally tell what they know without going to jail.
Late summer 2001: The Guardian later reports, "Reliable western military
sources say a US contingency plan existed on paper by the end of the summer
to attack Afghanistan from the north."
August 2001: A Moroccan informant learns that bin Laden is "very
disappointed" that the 1993 bombing had not toppled the WTC, and plans
"large scale operations in New York in the summer or fall of 2001." The
International Herald Tribune later calls the story "not proved beyond a
doubt" but intriguing.
August 2001: Russian President Putin later states that during this month, "I
ordered my intelligence to warn President Bush in the strongest terms that
25 terrorists were getting ready to attack the US, including important
government buildings like the Pentagon." He states that suicide pilots are
training for attacks on US targets. The head of Russian intelligence also
states, "We had clearly warned them" on several occasions, but they "did not
pay the necessary attention." 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."
August 2, 2001: The last secret meeting between US officials and the Taliban
is held, apparently in a last ditch attempt to secure a pipeline deal. Talks
break off, and the US prepares plans to invade and occupy Afghanistan.
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 11 page memo focuses on the
possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. The contents have never been
made public. The existence of this memo is kept secret until May 2002. Vice
President Cheney later calls the memo just a "rehash" containing nothing new
or interesting. But he says Congress and the public should not see it,
"because it contains the most sensitive sources and methods. It's the family
August 6, 2001-September 11, 2001: Inside trading based on advanced
knowledge of the 9/11 attacks between August 6, if not earlier, and the day
of the attack later lead to investigations around the world. The Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) later announces that they are investigating
the trading of shares of 38 companies in the days just before 9/11. Both the
SEC and the Secret Service announce probes into an unusually high volume
trade of five-year US Treasury note purchases (considered good investments
in a world crisis) around this time. These transactions included a single $5
billion trade. German central bank president Ernst Welteke later says his
researchers have found "almost irrefutable proof of insider trading," not
only in shares of heavily affected industries such as airlines and insurance
companies, but also in gold and oil. Unusual stock transactions of Munich
Re, the world's largest reinsurer, is also noted by German investigators. US
investigators reports that salvaged computers from within the WTC show that
over $100 million was rushed through computers even as the disaster
unfolded. Investigators say, "There is a suspicion that some people had
advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes... [and]
thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the
main frames were destroyed." There are ongoing investigations in Belgium,
France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, Cyprus, Japan, Italy, Britain
and other countries. Apparently all of these investigations are still
continuing, except one in Britain which found no evidence of inside trading.
August 8-15, 2001: At some point between these dates, Israel warns the US
that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. 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." Later in the month, France gives a
warning that apparently "echoes" this one.
August 15, 2001: After only a few days training to fly a 747 at a Minnesota
flight school, terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested and detained in
Minnesota on the excuse of an immigration violation. The FBI confiscates his
possessions, including a computer laptop, but doesn't have a search warrant
to search through them. Moussaoui acted so suspiciously that a flight school
staffer warned the FBI about Moussaoui, saying, "A 747 fully loaded with
fuel could be used as a weapon!" One local FBI agent speculates that
Moussaoui might "fly something into the World Trade Center." But Minnesota
FBI agents quickly become frustrated at the lack of interest in the case
from higher ups, who refuse to allow the agents to ask for a search warrant
from a secret court that, in over 10,000 cases from the FBI, that had never
turned down a warrant request. French intelligence then gives evidence
clearly tying Moussaoui to al-Qaeda, including evidence that he had trained
in Afghanistan on several occasions. But an official at FBI headquarters
edits out all the information tying Moussaoui to terrorism, and another
attempt to apply for the warrant is rejected. One Minneapolis agent warns
that FBI headquarters is "setting this up for failure," and another agent
later asks: "Why would an FBI agent deliberately sabotage a case?" A few
weeks earlier, the headquarters official handling the Moussaoui case was
also sent a copy of the Ken Williams memo warning that al-Qaeda terrorists
might be training in US flight schools, but he apparently fails to see the
connection. The search warrant is not approved until after the 9/11 attacks.
Too late, evidence is found suggesting Moussaoui could be involved in a
hijacking involving New York City. One newspaper claims that information on
his computer "might have been enough to expose the Hamburg cell, which
investigators believe was the key planning unit for 11 September." FBI agent
Coleen Rowley later suggests that if they would had received the search
warrant sooner, "There is at least some chance that ... may have limited the
Sept. 11th attacks and resulting loss of life."
August 21, 2001: Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison,
warns FBI agents of an impending terrorist attack. He had befriended three
important al-Qaeda figures in a British jail from September 2000 to July
2001. Bin Laden had telephoned one of them over 200 times prior to 1998.
Arkeh tells the FBI that he had learned from these three that "something big
was going to happen in New York City," and 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 don't believe him
then or even after 9/11. One agent responds to his warning by saying: "Is
that all you have? That's old news." The agents fail to learn more from him,
but they do pass his warning to the FBI office in New York that is in charge
of investigating al-Qaeda. In May 2002 he tells his story to different FBI
agents. They are stunned, and later officially deem his warning valid. 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."
August 22, 2001: Counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill, the government's
"most committed tracker of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network of
terrorists," quits the FBI. He says it's partly because of the recent power
play against him apparently led by Tom Pickard, then interim director of the
FBI, but also because of repeated obstruction of his investigations into
al-Qaeda. He never hears the CIA warning about hijackers Alhazmi and
Almihdhar sent out just one day later nor Ken Williams' flight school memo,
nor of Walid Arkeh's warning, nor about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui,
nor is he at a June meeting when the CIA revealed some of what it knew about
Alhazmi and Almihdhar. The next day he begins a new job as head of security
at the WTC. He dies in the 9/11 attack, one day after moving into his office
inside the WTC.
August 23, 2001: According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives the CIA a
list of 19 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. The Mossad
appears to have learned about this through its "art student" spy ring. Yet
apparently this warning and list are not treated as particularly urgent by
the CIA and also not passed on to the FBI.
August 24-29, 2001: The 19 hijackers book their flights for 9/11, all use
their real names. Most pay using credit cards on the internet. An official
later states that had the FAA been properly warned about the watchlist on
hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, "they should have been picked
up in the reservation process." Almihdhar in turn was in charge of
arrangements for 13 other hijackers, and Alhazmi met regularly with Mohamed
August 28, 2001: The FBI's New York office recommends that an investigation
be launched "to determine if [Khalid] Almihdhar is still in the United
States," but FBI headquarters immediately turns the idea down on the grounds
that there should be a wall between criminal investigations and intelligence
work. One FBI agent expresses his frustration in an e-mail the next day,
saying, "Whatever has happened to this - someday someone will die - and wall
or not - the public will not understand why we were not more effective and
throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems.' Let's hope the [FBI's]
National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then,
especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Usama bin Laden], is
getting the most 'protection."'
Early September 2001: According to British inside sources, "shortly before
September 11," bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Pakistan.
The conversation refers to an incident that will take place in the US on, or
around 9/11, and discusses possible repercussions. In another conversation,
bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Afghanistan. They discuss
the scale and effect of a forthcoming operation; bin Laden praises his
colleague for his part in the planning. Neither conversation specifically
mentions the WTC or Pentagon, but investigators have no doubt the 9/11
attacks were being discussed.
Early September 2001: Bin Laden moves his training bases in Afghanistan "in
the days before the attacks." Presumably this is noticed by US spy
Early September 2001: Attendees of a New York mosque are warned to stay out
of lower Manhattan on 9/11. The FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force interviews
dozens of members of the mosque, who confirm the story. An agent in the 9/11
investigation later claims the news "had been out on the street" and the
number of leads turning up later is so "overwhelming" that it is difficult
to tell who knows about the attacks from secondhand sources and who knows
about it from someone who may have been a participant. On September 6, a
child in a class of Pakistani immigrants points towards the WTC, and says:
"Do you see those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week."
The FBI later confirms the event. One official at the school says many
Arab-American students have come forward with their own stories about having
prior knowledge before 9/11: "Kids are telling us that the attacks didn't
surprise them. This was a nicely protected little secret that circulated in
the community around here." Police say that on September 10, a sixth-grade
student of Middle Eastern descent in Jersey City, New Jersey, warns his
teacher to "to stay away from lower Manhattan because something bad was
going to happen." A few days before 9/11, a Seattle security guard of Middle
Eastern descent tells an East Coast friend on the phone that terrorists will
soon attack the US; the FBI later verifies the story. Three presumed
terrorists talk threateningly in a Florida bar the night before the attacks,
one saying: "Wait 'til tomorrow. America is going to see bloodshed." In June
2002, FBI Director Mueller will claim: "To this day we have found no one in
the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot..." In
February 2002, CIA Director Tenet claims the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of
three or four people" and even most of the hijackers didn't know the targets
or that it would be a suicide attack until just before the attack.
September 3, 2001: Author Salman Rushdie, the target of death threats from
radical Muslims for years, is banned by US authorities from taking internal
US flights. He says the FAA told his publisher the reason was because it had
"intelligence of something about to happen." One newspaper states, "The FAA
confirmed that it stepped up security measures concerning Mr. Rushdie but
refused to give a reason."
September 6-10, 2001: Suspicious trading occurs on American and United, the
two airlines used in the 9/11 attacks, but no other airlines. The New York
Stock Exchange sees "unusually heavy trading" in the stocks for these two
airlines "and related stocks." The Chicago Board Options Exchange sees a
drastic imbalance between purchases of put options (a speculation that the
stock will go down) versus call options (a speculation the stock will go
up). One analyst says: "I saw put-call numbers higher than I've ever seen in
10 years of following the markets..." On September 29, 2001, $2.5 million in
put option profits on American Airlines and United Airlines are reported
unclaimed, presumably to avoid being caught. "To the embarrassment of
investigators, it has also emerged that the firm used to buy many of the
'put' options ... on United Airlines stock was headed until 1998 by 'Buzzy'
Krongard, now executive director of the CIA." Krongard was chairman of Alex
Brown Inc., which was bought by Deutsche Bank. Krongard was head of the
Bankers Trust, a private client business handling investments of the
extremely wealthy. The Chicago Board Options Exchange also sees suspicious
trading on Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, two of the largest WTC tenants,
with numbers so unusual that one expert states,"This would be one of the
most extraordinary coincidences in the history of mankind if it was a
coincidence." On September 10, the trading ratio on United Airlines is 25
times greater than normal at the Pacific Exchange. According to CBS News, by
the afternoon of September 10, "alarm bells were sounding over unusual
trading in the US stock options market." It has been documented that the CIA
and many other intelligence agencies monitor stock trading in real time
using highly advanced programs to look for such warnings. So presumably CIA
should have had advance warning something unusual was happening with
American and United Airlines.
September 8-11, 2001: Saeed Sheikh, associated with both al-Qaeda and the
Pakistani ISI, transfers money from the United Arab Emirates to Mohamed Atta
in Florida on September 8 and 9. On September 9, three hijackers, Atta,
Walid Alshehri and Marwan Alshehhi, transfer about $15,000 back to Saeed's
account. Apparently the hijackers were giving money meant for the 9/11
attacks that they didn't use. Saeed then flies from the United Arab Emirates
to Karachi, Pakistan on 9/11. These last minute transfers are touted as the
"smoking gun" proving al-Qaeda involvement in the 9/11 attacks, because of
Saeed's al-Qaeda ties. But shouldn't it also be a "smoking gun" proving ISI
involvement in 9/11?
September 9, 2001: A "game plan to remove al-Qaeda from the face of the
Earth" is placed on Bush's desk for his signature. The plan deals with all
aspects of a war against al-Qaeda, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to a
military invasion in Afghanistan. According to NBC News reporter Jim
Miklaszewski, the "directive outlines essentially the same war plan ... put
into action after the Sept. 11 attacks. The administration most likely was
able to respond so quickly to the attacks because it simply had to pull the
plans 'off the shelf.'" Bush was expected to sign it but still hadn't done
so by 9/11. Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Advisor, has stated,
"You show me one reporter, one commentator, one member of Congress who
thought we should invade Afghanistan before September 11 and I'll buy you
dinner in the best restaurant in New York City." In July 2002, British Prime
Minister Tony Blair will state: "To be truthful about it, there was no way
we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on
Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11."
September 9-10, 2001: Donald Rumsfeld threatens to urge a veto if the Senate
proceeds with a plan to divert $600 million from missile defense to
counter-terrorism. The next day, Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a
proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau's
counter-terrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget
increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs, but none of them relate
to counter-terrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of
departments, stating his seven priorities - none of them relating to
counter-terrorism. This is more than a little strange, since Ashcroft
stopped flying public airplanes in July due to terrorist threats and he told
a Senate committee in May that counter-terrorism was his "highest priority."
September 10, 2001: Hijacker Mohamed Atta calls Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the
operational planner of the 9/11 attacks, in Afghanistan. Mohammed gives
final approval to launch the attacks. This call is monitored and translated
by the US, though it isn't known how quickly that takes and details of the
conversation haven't been released.
September 10, 2001: At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the
NSA:"The match begins tomorrow" and "Tomorrow is zero hour." 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." These are only two of about 30 pre-9/11 communications from suspected
al-Qaeda operatives or other militants referring to an imminent event,
including "There is a big thing coming," "They're going to pay the price"
and "We're ready to go." The NSA Director later claims the "NSA had no
[indications] that al-Qaeda was ... planning an attack on US soil."
September 11, 2001: The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash
into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania
countryside. More than 2,800 people are killed.
September 11, 2001: A CIA team at the National Reconnaissance Office, an
agency that runs many of the nation's spy satellites, runs "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." 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 a "bizarre coincidence."
September 11, 2001: Hours after the attacks, five Israelis are arrested for
"puzzling behavior" related to the WTC attacks. Neighbors alerted the police
after seeing them film the burning WTC from the roof of a building, then
shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. One man was
found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another had two passports on
him, and a box cutter was found in the van they were driving when arrested.
Investigators say that "There are maps of the city in the car with certain
places highlighted... It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked
like they knew what was going to happen." One of these Israelis later says,
"Our purpose was to document the event." ABC News later reports that the FBI
determined at least two are Mossad agents, and that all were on a Mossad
surveillance mission. The FBI holds them on immigration violations and
interrogates them for weeks. They are released on November 20, 2001 as part
of a deal with the Israeli government. The owner of the moving van company
they all worked for flees to Israel on September 13 and is still wanted by
US authorities. The FBI later claims that none of them had any advanced
knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
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."
September 12, 2001: The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few
blocks from the WTC. The Guardian says, "the idea that [this] passport had
escaped from that inferno unsinged tests the credulity of the staunchest
supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism." (Note the passport did not
belong to Atta, as is sometimes claimed.)
September 13-19, 2001: Members of bin Laden's family and important Saudis
are flown out of the US. The New York Times explains, "The young members of
the bin Laden clan were 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." A Tampa Tribune article describes a flight carrying Saudi
royalty from Tampa, Florida to Lexington, Kentucky on September 13, while
the ban on all nonmilitary flights in the US is still in effect. Witnesses
describe multiple 747's with Arabic lettering on their sides are already in
Lexington, suggesting another secret assembly point. It appears that the FBI
were able to only interview the bin Ladens and Saudis only briefly, if at
all. The existence of such flights during this ban is now unfortunately
often called an urban legend.
September 14, 2001: The Director of the Air National Guard claims that in
1997, the number of air forces bases defending the US with fighters on
24-hour alert is reduced from over 100 to only 7. This is done to reduce
expenses. On 9/11, supposedly there are only 14 fighters (2 at each base) in
the entire US ready to defend against an attack, and, as one newspaper puts
it, "they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist
targets - Washington, DC, and New York City." The Director explains this is
why jets failed to scramble towards the hijacked aircraft for so many
minutes. There is evidence suggesting additional bases on the East Coast had
fighters on 24-hour alert on 9/11. But if the story is even remotely
accurate, why didn't Bush increase the number of fighters on alert in
response to an increasing number of warnings of hijackings and suicide
attacks from the air?
September 15, 2001: CIA Director Tenet briefs Bush with a military plan to
conquer Afghanistan that was developed before 9/11 (mostly in May 2001), and
is nearly exactly the same as the plan eventually used to conquer
Afghanistan. In contrast, the Defense Department is caught relatively
unprepared and has to defer to the CIA plans. Tenet then divulges a top
secret document called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix," which describes covert
operations against al-Qaeda in 80 countries that are either underway or now
recommended. The actions range from routine propaganda to lethal covert
Late September-Early October, 2001: 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. 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."
October 7, 2001: The US begins bombing Afghanistan. Note that shortly after
9/11 former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik claimed that in July 2001
he was told by senior US officials that a military action to overthrow the
Taliban in Afghanistan would "take place before the snows started falling in
Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest."
October 27, 2001: 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's lack of
January 24, 2002: Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle 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."
February 6, 2002: 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."
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." Yet the Wall Street Journal previously reported, "A senior
FBI official says investigators have obtained hundreds of e-mails in English
and Arabic, reflecting discussions of the planned Sept. 11 hijackings," USA
Today reported investigators have recovered a ''substantial" number of
e-mails by the hijackers "coordinat[ing] their activities," a letter by a
hijacker discussing the plot has been found, and so on.
May 15 , 2002: CBS reveals that President Bush had been warned about
al-Qaeda domestic attacks in August 2001. Bush had repeatedly said that he
had "no warning" of any kind. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer had
stated 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." 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 ... '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."
May 16 , 2002: Vice President Dick 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.
May 17 , 2002: CBS anchorman Dan Rather claims that he and other journalists
haven't been properly investigating since 9/11: "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." Three months later, the executive vice-president and general
manager of CNN International states: "Anyone who claims the US media didn't
censor itself is kidding you ... And this isn't just a CNN issue - every
journalist who was in any way involved in 9/11 is partly responsible."
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. In September 2002 he changes his stance in the face of
overwhelming support for the idea, but in October he sabotages an agreement
that Congress had reached to establish the commission. The legislation is
then delayed until after the midterm elections in early November. After
Republicans win control of the Senate, a much weaker commission is finally
approved by Congress in mid-November. In contrast to the previous agreement,
Bush now appoints the committee head, and Democrats cannot issue subpoenas
without at least one consenting Republican.
June 7, 2002: President Bush states, "Based on everything I've seen, I do
not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of September the 11th."
Five days earlier, Newsweek reported that FBI agents had prepared a detailed
chart showing how they 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."
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. Senior fire officials want to material
released and say they were never told that their remarks would be kept
August 2, 2002: It is revealed that the FBI is questioning and investigating
the members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about
9/11-related information leaks. Members of these committees have been
investigating the FBI for its 9/11 failures. Congresspeople express "grave
concern" for this historically unprecedented and possibly unconstitutional
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." Senator John
McCain says, "What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on
people who are investigating the same organization." The FBI asks senators
to take lie detector tests, and turn over phone records, appointment
calendars and schedules. One senator says the FBI is "trying to put a damper
on our activities and I think they will be successful."
September 18-October 17, 2002: The Congressional joint committee 9/11
inquiry holds public hearings. The committee was formed in February 2002 but
suffered months of delays. The first head of the inquiry was forced to
resign after being caught trying to hire a CIA employee who had failed an
agency polygraph test as an inquiry staffer. The inquiry is widely seen to
be limited by political considerations, but the hearings lead to new
interest in an independent commission. 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..." The committee's director testifies that "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
October 17, 2002: The directors of the US's three most famous intelligence
agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, testify before a Congressional inquiry on
9/11. All three say no individual at their agencies has been punished or
fired for any of missteps connected to 9/11. Senator Carl Levin says "People
have to be held accountable."
What about .... George W. Bush and Dick Cheney -?