Research Compiled by Paul Thompson
9/11 was one of the most pivotal days in world history. Its impact will be felt for years to come. You owe it to yourself to go beyond the sound bites and the simplified official story. This is an extremely complicated story with many players and motives. Not everything makes sense or fits neatly together. It’s a story full of espionage, deceit, and lies. But if there are forces out there tricking us, they can only succeed if we, the general public, remain ignorant and passive.
We are limiting our sources in this 9/11 research to those one might call “mainstream.” It’s not that one can only trust the mainstream media. In fact, much of the best reporting today is coming from alternative media. But many people are initially very skeptical. Some of the 9/11 research below may seem very hard to believe. Yet remember that each entry below is reported by respected major media sources and can easily be verified by clicking on the links provided to the original source.
A number of foreign media sources are used in this 9/11 research summary, especially since these stories have often received much more attention in Europe than in the US. But we’ve tried to use common sense. For instance, a story in a Pakistani newspaper that reflects poorly on Pakistan would be much less likely to be propaganda than the same story coming from an Indian newspaper. In a few cases we’ve used partisan sources to add more detail. Information or comments from partisan sources (including our own comments) is either italicized, or noted as such. After seeing the importance of what’s being hidden, you will very likely want to join in working together to build a brighter future.
Important Note: To skip directly to research for the day of 9/11, click here. And for any link not active on the 9/11 research summary, you can use the Internet archive to search for the original article. For instructions on how to do this, click here.
America’s top military leaders drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in US cities to trick the public into supporting a war against Cuba in the early 1960s. Approved in writing by the Pentagon Joint Chiefs, Operation Northwoods even proposed blowing up a US ship and hijacking planes as a false pretext for war. [ABC News, 5/1/01, Pentagon Documents]
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. [Star Tribune, 9/30/01]
1984: Bin Laden moves to Peshawar, a Pakistani town bordering Afghanistan, and is running a front organization for the mujaheddin known as MAK, which funnels money, arms and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] “MAK was nurtured by Pakistan’s state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow’s occupation.” [MSNBC, 8/24/98] He becomes closely tied to the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and greatly strengthens Hekmatyar’s opium smuggling operations. [Le Monde, 9/14/01] Hekmatyar had ties with bin Laden, the CIA and drug running, and has also been called “an ISI stooge and creation” by the Wall Street Journal. [Atlantic, 5/96, Asia Times, 11/15/01]
Mid-1980’s: The ISI starts a special cell of agents who use profits from heroin production for covert actions “at the insistence of the CIA.” This cell promotes the cultivation of opium and extraction of heroin in Pakistani territory as well as in the Afghan territory under mujaheddin control for being smuggled into Soviet controlled areas, in order to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the ISI’s heroin cell started using its network of refineries and smugglers for smuggling heroin to Western countries and using the money as a supplement to its legitimate economy. [Financial Times, Asian edition, 8/10/01] The ISI grows so powerful on this money, that Time magazine later states, “Even by the shadowy standards of spy agencies, the ISI is notorious. It is commonly branded ‘a state within the state,’ or Pakistan’s ‘invisible government.'” [Time, 5/6/02]
March 1985: The US decides to escalate the war in Afghanistan. The CIA, British MI6 and the ISI agree to launch guerrilla attacks from Afghanistan into then Soviet-controlled Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, attacking military installations, factories and storage depots within Soviet territory until the end of the war. The CIA also begins supporting the ISI in recruiting radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan mujaheddin. The CIA gives subversive literature and Korans to the ISI, who carry them into the Soviet Union. Eventually, around 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries will fight with the Afghan mujaheddin. Tens of thousands more will study in the hundreds of new radical Islamic schools funded by the ISI and CIA in Pakistan. [Washington Post, 7/19/92, 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] In the late 1980’s, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, feeling the mujaheddin network has grown too strong, tells President George Bush Sr., “You are creating a Frankenstein.” But the warning goes unheeded. [Newsweek, 10/1/01]
1991: Future National Security Advisor Rice joins Chevron’s board of directors, and works with Chevron until being picked as Bush’s National Security Advisor in 2001. Chevron even names an oil tanker after her. Rice is hired for her expertise in Central Asia, and much of her job is spent arranging oil deals in the Central Asian region. Chevron also has massive investments there. [Salon, 11/19/01]
March 1991: 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]
July 5, 1991: The Bank of England shuts down the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the largest Muslim bank in the world. This bank based in Pakistan financed numerous Muslim terrorist organizations and laundered money generated by illicit drug trafficking and other illegal activities, including arms trafficking. Bin Laden and many other terrorists had accounts there. American and British governments knew about all this yet kept the bank open for years. The ISI had major connections to the bank. But, as later State Department reports indicate, Pakistan remains a major drug trafficking and money laundering center despite the bank’s closing. [Detroit News, 9/30/01] The Washington Post claims, “The CIA used BCCI to funnel millions of dollars to the fighters battling the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.” A French intelligence report in 2001 will state, “The financial network of bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants oil merchants, Saudi investors).” A senior US investigator will say US agencies were looking into these ties because “they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail.” [Washington Post, 2/17/02]
1993 (A): Canadian police arrest Ali Mohamed, a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure. However, they release him when the FBI says he is a US agent. [Globe and Mail, 11/22/01] Mohamed, a former US Army sergeant, then will continue to work for al-Qaeda for a number of years. He trains bin Laden’s personal bodyguards and trains a terrorist cell in Kenya that later blows up the US embassy there. Meanwhile, at least between 1993 and 1997 he tells secrets to the FBI about al-Qaeda’s operations. He is arrested in late 1998 and subsequently convicted of his role in the 1998 US embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN, 10/30/98, Independent, 11/1/98] Says a former Egyptian intelligence officer: “For five years he was moving back and forth between the US and Afghanistan. It’s impossible the CIA thought he was going there as a tourist. If the CIA hadn’t caught on to him, it should be dissolved and its budget used for something worthwhile.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/26/01]
1993 (B): One of bin Laden’s men buys a jet from the US military–and it was the Pentagon which unwittingly gave permission for the aircraft to leave the base. This aircraft is later used to transport missiles from Pakistan that kill US special forces in Somalia. Bin Laden also has some of his followers begin training as pilots in US flight schools. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
1993 (C): An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks. But the panel decides not to publish this idea in their report, Terror 2000, partly in fear of inspiring terrorists. However, in 1994 one of the panel’s experts will write in Futurist magazine: “Targets such as the World Trade Center not only provide the requisite casualties but, because of their symbolic nature, provide more bang for the buck. In order to maximize their odds for success, terrorist groups will likely consider mounting multiple, simultaneous operations with the aim of overtaxing a government’s ability to respond.” [Washington Post, 10/2/01]
February 26, 1993: An attempt to blow up the WTC fails. Six people are killed in the misfired blast. Analysts later determine that had the terrorists not made a minor error in the placement of the bomb, both towers could have fallen and up to 50,000 people could have been killed. The attempt is organized by Ramzi Yousef, who has close ties to bin Laden. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The New York Times later reports on Emad Salem, an undercover agent who ends up being the key government witness in the trial against the bomber. Salem testifies that the FBI knew about the attack beforehand and told him they would thwart it by substituting a harmless powder for the explosives. However, this plan was called off by an FBI supervisor, and the bombing was not stopped. [New York Times, 10/28/93] Why did the FBI seemingly let the terrorists go ahead with the bombing? Several of the bombers were trained by the CIA to fight in the Afghan war – the CIA later concludes in internal documents that it was “partly culpable” for this bombing attempt. [Independent, 11/1/98] One of the attackers left a message found by investigators stating, “Next time, it will be very precise.” 9/11 can be seen as a completion of this failed attack. [AP, 9/30/01]
1994 (A): Mohammed al-Khilewi, the First Secretary at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations, defects and seeks political asylum in the US. He brings with him 14,000 internal government documents depicting the Saudi royal family’s corruption, human-rights abuses, and financial support for terrorists. He meets with two FBI agents and an Assistant US Attorney. “We gave them a sampling of the documents and put them on the table,” says his lawyer, “but the agents refused to accept them.” [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
1994 (B): Coincidentally, three separate attacks this year involve hijacking airplanes to crash them into buildings. A disgruntled Federal Express worker tries to crash a DC-10 into a company building in Memphis but is overpowered by the crew. A lone pilot crashes a small plane onto the White House grounds, just missing the President’s bedroom. An Air France flight is hijacked by a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda, with the aim of crashing it into the Eiffel Tower, but French Special Forces storm the plane before it takes off. [New York Times, 10/3/01]
September 1994: Starting as Afghani exiles in Pakistan religious schools, the Taliban begin their conquest of Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 10/2/01] “The Taliban are widely alleged to be the creation of Pakistan’s military intelligence [the ISI]. Experts say that explains the Taliban’s swift military successes.” [CNN, 10/5/96] Less often reported is that the CIA worked with the ISI to create the Taliban. A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties says: “I warned them that we were creating a monster.” He adds that even years later, “The Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI.” [Times of India, 3/7/01] The same claim is made on CNN in February 2002. [CNN, 2/27/02] The Wall Street Journal will state in November 2001: “Despite their clean chins and pressed uniforms, the ISI men are as deeply fundamentalist as any bearded fanatic; the ISI created the Taliban as their own instrument and still supports it.” [Asia Times, 11/15/01]
1995: For the first time, though not the last, the government of Sudan offers the US all of its files on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The US turns down the offer. Bin Laden had been living in Sudan since 1991, because there were no visa requirements to live there. Sudan was surveilling him, collecting a “vast intelligence database on Osama bin Laden and more than 200 leading members of his al-Qaeda terrorist network… [The US was] offered thick files, with photographs and detailed biographies of many of his principal cadres, and vital information about al-Qaeda’s financial interests in many parts of the globe.” [Guardian, 9/30/01]
January 6, 1995: One pilot, Abdul Hakim Murad, who learned to fly in US flight schools, confesses that his role was to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters as part of this phase of attacks. [Washington Post, 9/23/01, CNN, 9/18/01]
April 3, 1995: Time magazine’s cover story reports on the potential for terrorists to kill thousands in highly destructive acts. Senator Sam Nunn outlines a scenario in which terrorists destroy the US Capitol Building by crashing a radio-controlled airplane into it. [Time, 4/3/95] High-ranking al-Qaeda leaders later claim that Flight 93’s target was the Capitol Building. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
October 21, 1995: The oil company Unocal signs a contract with Turkmenistan to export $8 billion worth of natural gas through a $3 billion pipeline which would go from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Political considerations and pressures allow Unocal to edge out a more experienced Argentinean company for the contract. Henry Kissinger, a Unocal consultant, calls it “the triumph of hope over experience.” [Washington Post, 10/5/98]
1996 (A): FBI investigators are prevented from carrying out an investigation into two relatives of bin Laden. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, “because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] – a suspected terrorist organization.” Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a town just outside Washington. WAMY has its offices at 5613 Leesburg Pike. Remarkably, it is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. A high-placed intelligence official tells the Guardian: “there were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed.” An unnamed US source says to the BBC, “There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.” [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01, Guardian, 11/7/01]
1996 (B): An Israeli think tank publishes a paper entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The paper isn’t much different from other Israeli right-wing papers at the time, except the authors: the lead writer is Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Policy Board in the US, and very influential with President Bush. Several of the other authors now hold key positions in Washington. The paper advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism …” The first step would be the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. A war with Iraq would destabilize the entire Middle East, allowing governments in Syria, Iran, Lebanon and other countries to be replaced. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them,” the paper concludes. [Guardian, 9/3/02, see the original paper here]
1996 (C): The Saudi Arabian government starts paying huge amounts of money to al-Qaeda, becoming its largest financial backer. They also give money to other extremist groups throughout Asia. This money vastly increases the capability of al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 10/22/01] A legal team involved in a 9/11 lawsuit later claims they have a transcript made by French intelligence of a meeting of Saudi princes and business leaders in Paris this year in which the Saudis agree to continue sponsoring bin Laden’s network. There is a similar follow up meeting two years later. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] 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, 10/22/01]
1996 (D): The CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center creates a special unit to focus specifically on bin Laden. About 10-15 individuals are assigned to the unit initially. This grows to about 35-40 by 9/11. [Newsweek, 10/1/01, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
1996-2000: The CIA officer in charge of running operations against Al Qaeda from Washington writes, “I speak with firsthand experience (and for several score of CIA officers) when I state categorically that during this time senior White House officials repeatedly refused to act on sound intelligence that provided multiple chances to eliminate Osama bin Laden.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/5/04] In late 1998, President Clinton signs a directive authorizing the CIA to plan an assassination of bin Laden. The CIA draws up detailed profiles of bin Laden’s daily routines, where he sleeps, and his travel arrangements. The assassination never happens, supposedly because of inadequate intelligence. An officer who helped draw up the plans says, “We were ready to move” but “we were not allowed to do it because of this stubborn policy of risk avoidance… It is a disgrace.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/16/01] From 1998 to 2000, the US permanently stations two submarines in the Indian Ocean to hit al-Qaeda with cruise missiles on short notice. Six to ten hours advance warning is needed to review the decision, program the cruise missiles and have them reach their target. On at least three occasions, spies in Afghanistan report bin Laden’s location with information suggesting he would remain there for some time. Each time, Clinton approves the strike. Each time, CIA Director Tenet says the information is not reliable enough, and the attack cannot go forward. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
1996-2001: Federal authorities are aware for years before 9/11 that suspected terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden are receiving flight training at schools in the US and abroad. In 1996, FBI agents visit two flight school operators to obtain information about several Arab pilots who are eventually convicted of plotting to bomb U.S. airliners. In 1998, FBI agents question officials from Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla., about a graduate later identified in court testimony as a pilot for bin Laden. One convicted terrorist even confesses that his planned role in a terror attack was to crash a plane into CIA headquarters. Three days after 9/11, FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as news. A senior government official later acknowledges that law enforcement officials were aware that up to a dozen people with links to bin Laden had attended U.S. flight schools. [Washington Post, 9/23/01, CBS, 5/30/02, Time, 6/10/02]
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. US officials turn down the offer, but insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01] Bin Laden leaves under pressure two months later. CIA Director Tenet later denies Sudan made any offers to hand over bin Laden. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
April 1996: In continuing negotiations between the US and Sudan, the US again rejects Sudan’s offer to turn over voluminous files about bin Laden and al-Qaeda (See also 1995 and May 2000). Another American involved in the secret negotiations later says that the US could have used Sudan’s offer to keep an eye on bin Laden, but that the efforts were blocked by another arm of the federal government. “I’ve never seen a brick wall like that before. Somebody let this slip up,” he says. “We could have dismantled his operations and put a cage on top. That’s the story, and that’s what could have prevented September 11. I knew it would come back to haunt us.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01] Around this time Sudan also offers their al-Qaeda intelligence to MI6, the British intelligence agency, and are also rebuffed. A Sudanese government source later adds, “We have been saying this for years.” The offer is not taken up until after 9/11. [Guardian, 9/30/01]
May 18, 1996: Sudan expels bin Laden at the request of the US and Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda then move to Afghanistan, taking all of their money, resources and personnel. Bin Laden flies there in a C-130 transport plane with an entourage of about 150 men, women and children. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] The US knows in advance that bin Laden is going to Afghanistan, but does nothing to stop him. Elfatih Erwa, Sudan’s minister of state for defense at the time, later says in an interview: “We warned [the US]. In Sudan, bin Laden and his money were under our control. But we knew that if he went to Afghanistan, no one could control him. The US didn’t care. It’s crazy.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01]
June 25, 1996: Explosions destroy the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding 500. [CNN, 6/26/96] Bin Laden admitted instigating the attacks in a 1998 interview. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Ironically, the bin Laden family is later awarded the contract to rebuild the installation. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
July 6-August 11, 1996: US officials identify crop-dusters and suicide flights as potential terrorist weapons that could threaten the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take steps to prevent any air attacks. Planes are banned from getting too close to Olympic events. [Chicago Tribune, 11/18/01]
August 13, 1996: Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia come to agreement with state companies in Turkmenistan and Russia to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan, the agreement is finalized the next year. [Unocal website, 8/13/96] The Boston Herald later reports that, “The prime force behind Delta Oil appears to be Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi” and that his business interests are “enmeshed” with those of Khalid bin Mahfouz. [Boston Herald, 12/10/01] The two are later included in a secret United Nations list of financiers funding al-Qaeda. [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02, UN report, 12/19/02 or here]
September 27, 1996: The Taliban conquer Kabul [AP, 8/19/02], establishing control over much of Afghanistan. A surge in military success of the Taliban at this time is later attributed to an increase in direct military assistance from Pakistan’s ISI. [New York Times, 12/8/01] The oil company Unocal is hopeful that the Taliban will stabilize Afghanistan, and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. In fact, “preliminary agreement [on the pipeline] was reached between the [Taliban and Unocal] long before the fall of Kabul.” [Telegraph, 10/11/96]
1997: Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski publishes a book in which he portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia with its vast oil reserves as the key to domination of Eurasia. He states that for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must prevent any possible adversary from controlling that region. He notes that because of popular resistance to US military expansionism, his ambitious strategy could not be implemented “except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” [The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives]
December 1997: CIA agent Robert Baer, newly retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism consultant, meets a former police chief from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns how 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was sheltered from the FBI by the Qatari government. He passes this information to the CIA in early 1998. The ex-police chief also tells him that Mohammed is a key aide to bin Laden, and that based on Qatari intelligence, Mohammed “is going to hijack some planes.” He passes this information to the CIA as well, but again the CIA doesn’t seem interested, even when he tries again after 9/11. [UPI, 9/30/02, Vanity Fair, 2/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271]
December 4, 1997: Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President Bush Jr. is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials, and the Telegraph reports that “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban’s policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” [BBC, 12/4/97, Telegraph, 12/14/97]
1998 (A): A military report describes a program called “Joint Vision 2010.” The article mentions that the military is working on a “variety of new imaging and signals intelligence sensors deployed aboard the Global Hawk, DarkStar, and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)…” [Department of Defense Annual Report, 1998] Global Hawk is a technology that enables pilotless flight and has been functioning since at least early 1997. [Department of Defense, 2/20/97]
1998 (B): 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]
1998: (C) The FBI office in Oklahoma City sends a memo warning that “large numbers of Middle Eastern males” are getting flight training in Oklahoma and could be planning terrorist attacks. [Time, 6/10/02, CBS, 5/30/02, AP, 9/26/01, CNN, 9/18/01]
February 12, 1998: Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca – later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan – testifies before the House of Representatives that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan the trans-Afghani pipeline will not be built. He suggests that with a pipeline through Afghanistan, the Caspian basin could produce 20 percent of all the non-OPEC oil in the world by 2010. [House International Relations Committee testimony, 2/12/98]
Early 1998: Bill Richardson, the US Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul (all such meetings are technically illegal, because the US still officially recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan). US officials at the time call the pipeline project a “fabulous opportunity” and are especially motivated by the “prospect of circumventing Iran, which offered another route for the pipeline.” [Boston Globe, 9/20/01]
June 1998: US intelligence obtains information from several sources that bin Laden is considering attacks in the US, including Washington and New York. This information is given to senior US officials in July 1998. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 1998 (A): 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, 9/19/02, 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]
August 1998 (B): Within minutes of each other, truck bombs blow up the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, killing more than 220. For some of the time that bin Laden’s men were plotting to blow up the two embassies, US intelligence was tapping their phones. [Newsweek, 10/1/01]
August 9, 1998: The Northern Alliance capital of Afghanistan, Mazar-i-Sharif, is conquered by the Taliban. Military support of Pakistan’s ISI plays a large role; there is even an intercept of an ISI officer stating, “My boys and I are riding into Mazar-i-Sharif.” [New York Times, 12/8/01] This victory gives the Taliban control of 90% of Afghanistan, including the entire pipeline route. CentGas, the consortium behind the gas pipeline that would run through Afghanistan, is now “ready to proceed. Its main partners are the American oil firm Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, plus Hyundai of South Korea, two Japanese companies, a Pakistani conglomerate and the Turkmen government.” [Telegraph, 8/13/98]
September 1998: US intelligence finds information that bin Laden’s next operation could possibly involve crashing an aircraft loaded with explosives into a US airport. This information is provided to senior US officials. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
October 1998: FBI agents Robert Wright and John Vincent are tracking a terrorist cell in Chicago, but are told to simply follow suspects around town and file reports. The two agents believe some of the money used to finance the 1998 US embassy bombings leads back to Chicago and Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi. Supervisors try, but temporarily fail, to halt the investigation into al-Qadi’s possible terrorist connections. However, at this time, a supervisor prohibits Wright and Vincent from making any arrests connected to the bombings, or opening new criminal investigations. Even though they believe their case is growing stronger, in January 2001 Wright is told that the Chicago case is being closed and that “it’s just better to let sleeping dogs lie.” Wright tells ABC: “Those dogs weren’t sleeping, they were training, they were getting ready. … September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit. … Absolutely no doubt about that.” Chicago federal prosecutor Mark Flessner, also working on the case, says there “were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let [the building of a criminal case] happen [ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 12/19/02, ABC, 12/19/02]
Autumn 1998: US intelligence hears of a bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington areas. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02]
November 4, 1998: The US charges bin Laden with the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and announces a record $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. [PBS Frontline, 2001]
December 4, 1998: CIA Director Tenet issues a “declaration of war” on al-Qaeda, in a memorandum circulated in the intelligence community. Tenet says, “We are at war… I want no resources or people spared in this effort, either inside CIA or the [larger intelligence] community.” Yet a Congressional joint committee later finds that few FBI agents had ever heard of the declaration. There is no massive shift in budget or personnel until after 9/11. The number of CTC (Counter-Terrorism Center) analysts focusing on al-Qaeda rises from three in 1999 to five by 9/11. [New York Times, 9/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
December 5, 1998: In the wake of the al-Qaeda US embassy attacks, the US gives up on putting a pipeline through Afghanistan. Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. [New York Times, 12/5/98]
December 21, 1998: In a Time magazine cover story entitled “The Hunt for Osama,” it is reported intelligence sources have evidence that bin Laden may be planning his boldest move yet – a strike on Washington or possibly New York City in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation. [Time, 12/21/98]
1999 (A): MI6, the British intelligence agency, gives a secret report to liaison staff at the US embassy in London. The reports states that al-Qaeda has plans to use “commercial aircraft” in “unconventional ways”, “possibly as flying bombs.” [Sunday Times, 6/9/02]
1999 (B): Secretary of State Madeleine Albright repeatedly asks about having a “boots on the ground” option to kill bin Laden, using the elite Delta Force. Joint Chiefs of Staff head Shelton says he wants “nothing to do” with such an idea. He calls it naive, and ridicules it as “going Hollywood.” [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
April 1999: A Saudi government audit shows that five of Saudi Arabia’s billionaires have been giving tens of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda. The audit shows that these businessmen transferred money from the National Commercial Bank to accounts of Islamic charities in London and New York banks that serve as fronts for bin Laden. [USA Today, 10/29/99] $2 billion of the bank’s $21 billion is also found to be missing. The only action taken is that the founder of National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest bank, is placed under house arrest and majority control in the bank is bought out by the Saudi government. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/29/01]
July 4, 1999: With the chances of a pipeline deal with the Taliban looking increasingly unlikely, the US government finally issues an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. [Executive Order, 7/4/99]
July 14, 1999: US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation between some illegal arms dealers and ISI agents, held at a restaurant within view of the WTC. An ISI agent points to the WTC and says, “Those towers are coming down.” Glass passes these warnings on, but he claims “The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government.” [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, New York Observer, 10/1/01, Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02]
September 1999: 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.” The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the President and US intelligence on emerging threats. [AP, 5/18/02, read the complete report on-line] The Bush administration later claims to never have 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.” [CNN, 5/18/02, New York Times, 5/18/02]
October 1999: The CIA readies an operation to capture or kill bin Laden, secretly training and equipping approximately 60 commandos from the ISI. Pakistan supposedly agrees to this plan in return for the lifting of economic sanctions and more economic aid. The plan is ready to go by October, but it is aborted because on October 12, General Musharraf takes control of Pakistan in a coup. Musharraf refuses to continue the operation despite the promise of substantial rewards. [Washington Post, 10/3/01]
November 1999: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US for the first time. They are met at the Los Angeles International Airport by a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoumi. Al-Bayoumi drives them to San Diego, arranges for them to live in an apartment a few doors away in the same apartment building, guarantees the lease and pays $1,550 in cash to cover the first two months rent. He also helps them open a bank account, obtain car insurance, get Social Security cards and call flight schools in Florida. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Washington Post, 12/29/01, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Al-Bayoumi is arrested after 9/11, but released after one week. Some FBI officials later suggest that al-Bayoumi was an al-Qaeda agent. The possibility that the Saudi government may have funded him creates headlines in November 2002. [Washington Post, 10/01]
November 3, 1999: The head of Australia’s security services admits that the Echelon global surveillance system exists; 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]
2000: At some point during this year, an FBI internal memo states that a Middle Eastern nation has been trying to purchase a flight simulator in violation of US restrictions. The FBI refuses to disclose the date or details. [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02]
January 2000 (A): Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He also met with them in 1998. Bush’s chief of staff could not remember that this meeting took place until shown a thank you note confirming the meeting. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01, Guardian, 10/31/01]
January 2000 (B): A DEA government document later leaked to the press [DEA report, 6/01] suggests that a large Israeli spy ring starts penetrating the US from at least this time, if not earlier. This ring, which will later become popularly known as the “art student spy ring,” is later shown to have strange connections to the events of 9/11. [Insight, 3/11/02]
January-May 2000: Lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [AFP, 9/22/01, 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. “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. “Experts believe that the suspect remained under surveillance in the United States.” [Berliner Zeitung, 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 information linking 16 of the 19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or terrorist groups.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
January 5-8, 2000: About a dozen of bin Laden’s trusted followers hold a secret, “top-level al-Qaeda summit” in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. [CNN, 8/30/02, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] Plans for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks are discussed. [USA Today, 2/12/02, CNN, 8/30/02] At the request of the CIA, the Malaysian secret service follows, photographs, and even videotapes these men, and then passes the information on to the US. However, the meeting is not wiretapped. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01, Observer, 10/7/01, CNN, 3/14/02, New Yorker, 1/14/02]
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 continues to deny the very existence of Echelon. But it exists, as Echelon partners Britain and Australia 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 accidentally 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]
March 5, 2000: An unnamed nation tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles. [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: Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden’s mother has a second meeting with her son Osama in Afghanistan. The trip is approved by the Saudi royal family. The Saudis pass the message to him that “‘they wouldn’t crack down on his followers in Saudi Arabia as long as he set his sights on targets outside the desert kingdom.” In late 1999, the Saudi government had told the CIA about the upcoming trip, and suggested placing a homing beacon on her luggage. This doesn’t happen – Saudis later claim they weren’t taken seriously, and Americans claim they never received specific information on her travel plans. [New Yorker, 11/5/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01]
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. 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?
May 2000: The CIA and FBI send a joint investigative team to Sudan to investigate if that country is a sponsor of terrorism. Sudan offers again to hand over their voluminous files on al-Qaeda, and the offer is again turned down. [Guardian, 9/30/01]
January-June 2000: Pakistani ISI Director General Ahmad orders an aide to wire transfer about $100,000 to hijacker Atta. [Dawn, 10/8/01, Times of India, 10/9/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01, AFP, 10/10/01] The individual who makes the wire transfer at Ahmad’s direction is Saeed Sheikh, later convicted for kidnapping and murdering reporter Daniel Pearl in February 2002. ABC News later reports, “federal authorities have told ABC News they’ve now tracked more than $100,000 from banks in Pakistan to two banks in Florida to accounts held by suspected hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta.” [ABC News, 9/30/01]
July 2000: The Taliban ban poppy growing in Afghanistan. As a result, the opium yield drops dramatically in 2001, from 3,656 tons to 185 tons. [Guardian, 2/21/02, Reuters, 3/3/02, Observer, 11/25/01]
Summer 2000: A secret military operation named Able Danger identifies four future 9/11 hijackers, including lead hijacker Mohamed Atta, as a potential threat and members of Al Qaeda. Yet none of this is mentioned later in the 9/11 Commissions’ final report .When questioned, the 9/11 commission’s chief spokesman initially says that staff members briefed about Able Danger did not remember hearing anything about Atta. Days later, however, after provided detailed information, he says the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members had indeed mentioned Atta. Officials say that the information was not included in the report because the account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about Atta. [New York Times, 8/11/05]
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 appeared to be bin Laden and his aides. Clinton is impressed by a two-minute video of bin Laden crossing a street heading towards 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. [New York Times, 12/30/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01]
September 2000: A neo-conservative think-tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC), writes a blueprint for the creation of a global “Pax Americana.” Titled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century, the document 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 the Persian Gulf whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power, and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. The report calls for the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies. 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.” The report advocates the transformation of the US military. But, the authors acknowledge: “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbour”. [BBC, 2/14/07, Sunday Herald, 9/7/02, click here to download report]
September 15-October 1, 2000: Olympics officials later reveal that “A fully loaded, fueled airliner crashing into the opening ceremony before a worldwide television audience at the Sydney Olympics was one of the greatest security fears for the Games.” In fact, “IOC officials said the scenario of a plane crash during the opening ceremony was uppermost in their security planning at every Olympics since terrorists struck in Munich in 1972.” Bin Laden was considered the number one threat. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/20/01]
October 24-26, 2000: Pentagon officials carry out a “detailed” emergency drill based upon the crashing of a hijacked airliner into the Pentagon. [Military District of Washington 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 bulls eye.” [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]
December 19, 2000: The Washington Post reports that “the United States has quietly begun to align itself with those in the Russian government calling for military action against Afghanistan, and has toyed with the idea of a new raid to wipe out Osama bin Laden. [Washington Post, 12/19/00]
December 20, 2000: Counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke submits a plan to “roll back” al-Qaeda in response to the USS Cole bombing. The main component is a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to “eliminate the sanctuary” for bin Laden there. However, since there are only a few weeks left before the Bush administration takes over, it is decided to defer the decision to the new administration. One month later, the plan is rejected and no action is taken. Russia’s President Putin later claims he “tried to egg on the previous Clinton administration” – without success – to act militarily against the whole Taliban regime: “Washington’s reaction at the time really amazed me. They shrugged their shoulders and said matter-of-factly: ‘We can’t do anything because the Taliban does not want to turn him over.'” [Guardian, 9/22/01]
2000 – 2001: The military conducts exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. One imagined target is the World Trade Center. [USA Today, 4/19/04]
2001: At some point during the year, Julie Sirrs, a Defense Intelligence Agency agent, travels twice to Afghanistan. She claims DIA officials knew in advance about both trips. Sirrs sees a terrorist training center, and meets with Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Massoud, who is later assassinated by the Taliban on September 9. On her second trip, she returns with what she later claims is a treasure trove of information, including evidence that bin Laden is planning to assassinate Massoud. However, upon returning, a security officer meets her flight and confiscates her material. The DIA and the FBI investigate her. She says no higher-ups want to hear what she had learned in Afghanistan. Ultimately, Sirrs’ security clearance is pulled and she resigned. She eventually quits the DIA in frustration. [ABC News, 2/18/02]
January 2001 (A): An Arizona flight school alerts the FAA that hijacker Hani Hanjour lacks the English and flying skills necessary for the commercial pilot’s license he has. The flight school manager: “I couldn’t believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had.” An FAA official actually sits next to Hanjour in class to observe his skills. This official offers a translator to help Hanjour pass, but the flight school points out “that went against the rules that require a pilot to be able to write and speak English fluently before they even get their license.” [AP, 5/10/02, New York Times, 6/19/02] FAA “records show [Hanjour] obtained a commercial pilot’s license in April 1999, but how and where he did so remains a lingering question that FAA officials refuse to discuss.” [Cape Cod Times, 10/21/01] Yet despite his poor flying skills, official reports later state Hanjour executes a 330 to 360 degree turn of AA Flight 77 over Washington on 9/11 in under four minutes and manages a precision hit on the Pentagon. [New York Times, 10/16/01, NTSB Report, 2/19/02]
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 4, 2001: The FBI’s investigation into the USS Cole bombing learns that terrorist Khallad bin Atash had been a principal planner of the bombing. [AP, 9/21/02] The FBI shares this information with the CIA. When CIA analysts reexamine pictures from the Malaysian meeting to learn more about this, they find a picture of him standing next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA is aware that Almihdhar entered the US a year earlier, yet they don’t attempt to find him. CNN later notes that at this point the CIA at least “could have put Alhazmi and Almihdhar and all others who attended the meeting in Malaysia on a watch list to be kept out of this country. It was not done.” [CNN, 6/4/02] More incredibly, even bin Atash is not placed on the watch list at this time, despite being labeled as the principal planner of the Cole bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02]
January 31, 2001: The final report of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D), and Warren Rudman (R) is issued. The bipartisan report was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. 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.” Interestingly, both this commission and the Bush Administration were already assuming a new cabinet level National Homeland Security Agency would be enacted eventually even as the general public remained unaware of the term and the concept. [Salon, 9/12/01, download the complete report here: USCNS Reports]
Late January 2001: An analyst on BBC’s Newsnight later reports that he received a phone call from a high-placed member of a US intelligence agency telling him that “while there’s always been constraints on investigating Saudis…after the elections, the [US intelligence] agencies were told to ‘back off’ investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that angered agents.” A secret document obtained by the BBC shows that the FBI was hot on the trail of members of the Bin Laden family for links to terrorist organisations before September 11th, but the agents involved were not permitted to continue the investigation. [BBC, 11/6/01]
February 2001: A former CIA anti-terror expert later claims that an allied intelligence agency sees “two of Osama’s sisters apparently taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates], where they are suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization.” This is cited as one of many incidents showing an “interconnectedness” between Osama bin Laden and the rest of his family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
February-July 2001: A trial is held in New York City for four defendants charged with involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings. Testimony reveals that two bin Laden operatives had received pilot training in Texas and Oklahoma, and another had been asked to take lessons. One bin Laden aide becomes a government witness and gives the FBI detailed information about a pilot training scheme. This new information does not lead to any new FBI investigations into the matter. [Washington Post, 9/23/01]
February 26, 2001: Bin Laden attends the wedding of his son Mohammad in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Although bin Laden is supposedly long estranged from his family, bin Laden’s mother, two brothers and sister are also said to have attended, according to the only journalist who was invited. [Reuters, 3/1/01]
March 2001: Taliban envoy Rahmatullah Hashimi meets with reporters, middle-ranking State Department bureaucrats and private Afghanistan experts in Washington. He discusses turning bin Laden over, but the US wants to be handed bin Laden directly, and the Taliban want to turn him over to some third country. About 20 more meetings on giving up bin Laden take place up till 9/11, all fruitless. [Washington Post, 10/29/01] Hashimi also proposes that the Taliban would hold bin Laden in one location long enough for the US to locate and destroy him. However, this offer is refused. This is according to Laila Helms, daughter of former CIA director Richard Helms, who is doing public relations for the Taliban at the time [Village Voice, 6/6/01]
March 7, 2001: The Russian Permanent Mission at the United Nations secretly submits “an unprecedentedly detailed report” to the UN Security Council about bin Laden, his whereabouts, details of his al-Qaeda network, Afghan drug running, and Taliban connections in Pakistan. The report provides “a listing of all bin Laden’s bases, his government contacts and foreign advisors,” and enough information to potentially kill him. The US fails to act. Alex Standish, the editor of the highly respected Jane’s Intelligence Review, concludes that the attacks of 9/11 were less of an American intelligence failure and more the result of “a political decision not to act against bin Laden.” [Jane’s Intelligence Review, 10/5/01]
March 26, 2001: The Washington Post reports on 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]
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.” An article in the Army War College’s journal by 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 as a necessity for mobilising public support for a conflict.” In April, the commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf/South Asia area, testifies to Congress 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. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02]
April 2001: A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations warns that the US is running out of oil, with a painful end to cheap fuel already in sight. It argues that “the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma,” and that one of the “consequences” of this is a “need for military intervention” to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil. [Sunday Herald, 10/5/02, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02]
April 12-September 7, 2001: At least six hijackers get more than one Florida driver’s license. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01] Additionally, some hijackers got licenses in multiple states. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Newsday, 9/21/01, Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02] Why would they need duplicates of even the exact same license, unless it was, as an article put it, to “[allow] two or more people to use the same identity”? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01]
April 23, 2001: A Global Hawk plane flies 22 hours from the US to Australia without pilot or passengers. A Global Hawk manager says, “The aircraft essentially flies itself, right from takeoff, right through to landing, and even taxiing off the runway”. [ITN, 4/24/01]
May 2001 (A): The White House’s Counter-terrorism Security Group 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, the group hardly meets at all. By comparison, the Counter-terrorism Security Group met two or three times a week between 1998 and 2000 under Clinton. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
May 2001 (B): Secretary of State Powell gives $43 million in aid to Afghanistan’s Taliban government, purportedly to assist hungry farmers who are starving since the destruction of their opium crop in January on orders of the Taliban. [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/01] This follows $113 million given by the US in 2000 for humanitarian aid. [State Department Fact Sheet, 12/11/01]
May 2001 (C): The US introduces the “Visa Express” program in Saudi Arabia, which allows any Saudi Arabian to obtain visas through their travel agent instead of appearing at a consulate in person. An official later states, “The issuing officer has no idea whether the person applying for the visa is actually the person in the documents and application.” [US News and World Report, 12/12/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] At the time, warnings of an attack against the US led by the Saudi Osama bin Laden are higher than they had ever been before – “off the charts” as one Senator later puts it. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Five hijackers – Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad – use Visa Express over the next month to enter the US. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
May-August 2001: A number of the hijackers make at least six trips to Las Vegas. At least Atta, Alshehhi, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Almihdhar and Hani Hanjour were involved. These “fundamentalist” Muslims drink alcohol, gamble, and frequent strip clubs. They even have strippers perform lap dances for them. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4/01, Newsweek, 10/15/01]
June 2001 (A): 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.” A later article quotes unnamed German intelligence sources who state the information was coming from Echelon surveillance technology, and that British intelligence had access to the same warnings. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9/11/01, Washington Post, 9/14/01, Fox News, 5/17/02]
June 2001 (B): A 60-page internal memo on the Israeli “art student” spy ring is prepared by the DEA’s Office of Security Programs. [Read the memo here: DEA report, 6/01] The memo is a compilation of dozens of field reports, and was meant only for the eyes of senior officials at the Justice Department, but it is leaked to the press around December 2001. The report connects the spies to efforts to foil investigations into Israeli organized crime activity involving the importation of the drug Ecstasy. The spies also appear to be snooping on top-secret military bases. For instance, on April 30, 2001, an Air Force alert was issued from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City concerning “possible intelligence collection being conducted by Israeli art students.” By the time of the report, the US has “apprehended or expelled close to 120 Israeli nationals,” but many remain at large. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Salon, 5/7/02]
June 1-2, 2001: A multi-agency planning exercise sponsored by NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command, in charge of defending US airspace) involves the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile launched from a barge off the East Coast. Bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [American Forces Press Service, 6/4/02] After 9/11, the government claims that this type of an attack was completely unexpected, and as a result it had only 14 fighters on standby to defend the entire US. [Newsday, 9/23/01]
June 4, 2001: At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports enter the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01] In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators begin a yearlong probe of these men which lasts until 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. [Fox News, 5/17/02]
June 9, 2001: Robert Wright, an FBI agent who spent ten years investigating terrorist funding, writes a memo that slams the FBI. He claims the “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 when they first become public a year later. 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. [Village Voice, 6/19/02]
June 13, 2001: Egyptian President Mubarak claims that Egyptian intelligence discovers a “communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate George W. Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Italy.” The communiqué specifically mentions this would be done via “an airplane stuffed with explosives.” The US and Italy are sent urgent warnings of this and the attack is apparently aborted. [New York Times, 9/26/01]
June 28, 2001: CIA Director George J. Tenet has been “nearly frantic” with concern. A written intelligence summary for national security adviser Condoleezza Rice says: “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. By late summer, one senior political appointee says, Tenet had repeated this threat “so often that people got tired of hearing it.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02]
Late June 2001: White House National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke, gives a direct warning to the FAA to increase security measures in light of an impending terrorist attack. The FAA refuses to take such measures. [New Yorker, 1/14/02]
Summer 2001 (A): Around this time, the NSA intercepts telephone conversations between al-Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Atta, but does not share the information with any other agencies. Mohammed is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, and is later considered the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, while Atta was in charge of operations inside the US. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/6/02, Independent, 6/6/02]
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 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]
Summer 2001 (C): Intelligence officials know that al Qaeda both hopes to use planes as weapons and seeks to strike a violent blow within the US, despite government claims following 9/11 that the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks came “like bolts from the blue.” [Wall Street Journal, 09/19/02]
July 1, 2001: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Richard Shelby (R), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appear on CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer”, and warn of potential attacks by bin Laden. Says Feinstein: “One of the things that has begun to concern me very much as to whether we really have our house in order, intelligence staff have told me that there is a major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months.” [CNN, 3/02]
July 3, 2001: James Hatfield, author of an unflattering book on Bush called Fortunate Son, claims he has evidence al-Qaeda will try to assassinate Bush at the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, possibly through a suicidal plane crash. This is the first public mention of the plot. Intelligence reports later confirm that such an attack was planned but aborted due to high security. What’s unusual is that Hatfield adds: “German intelligence services have stated that bin Laden is covertly financing neo-Nazi skinhead groups throughout Europe to launch another terrorist attack at a high-profile American target.” [Online Journal, 7/3/01] Two weeks later, Hatfield apparently commits suicide. However, there is widespread speculation that his death was payback for his revelation of Bush’s cocaine use in the 1970’s. [Salon, 7/20/01]
July 4-14, 2001: Bin Laden, America’s most wanted criminal with a $5 million bounty on his head, allegedly receives kidney treatment from Canadian-trained Dr. Callaway at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is accompanied by Dr. Ayman 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, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/31/01, Times of London, 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. [Guardian, 11/1/01] 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 counter-terrorism division at FBI headquarters in Washington and to two field offices, including the counter-terrorism 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, 5/21/02, Fortune, 5/22/02] Vice President Cheney states in May 2002 that the memo should never be released to the media or public. [CNN, 5/20/02]
July 12, 2001: While in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to receive lifesaving medical treatment, 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]
July 13, 2001: With the threat of a new terrorist attack on the rise, the CIA has agents reexamine records in the search for new leads. A CIA cable is rediscovered showing that Khallad bin Atash had attended the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia. The CIA official who finds it immediately e-mails the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), saying bin Atash “is a major league killer who orchestrated the Cole attack and possibly the Africa bombings.” Yet bin Atash is still not put on a terrorist watch list. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
Mid-July 2001: John O’Neill, FBI counter-terrorism expert, privately discusses White House obstruction in his bin Laden investigation. O’Neill says: “The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.” He adds: “All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden’s organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia.” [CNN, 1/8/02, CNN, 1/9/02, Irish Times, 11/19/01, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)]
July 21, 2001: Three American officials, including a former US Ambassador to Pakistan meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. [Salon, 8/16/02, Guardian, 9/22/01] At the meeting, a former US State Department official passes on a message from Bush officials. He later says, “I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action.” [Guardian, 9/26/01] Accounts vary, but former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik later says he is told by senior American officials at the meeting that military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan is planned to “take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” The goal is to kill or capture both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place. Uzbekistan and Russia would also participate. Naik also says “it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan, even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.” [BBC, 9/18/01]
July 24, 2001: Larry Silverstein’s $3.2 billion lease of the WTC is finalized. [NY Times, 02/16/03, Ireizine, 7/26/01] It’s the only time the WTC has ever changed hands. It was previously owned by the New York Port Authority, a bi-state government agency. [ICSC, 4/27/01] Silverstein may get $7 billion in insurance from the 9/11 destruction of the WTC towers. [Guardian, 10/24/01]
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, 7/26/01] “Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity when asked if he knew anything about the threat. ‘Frankly, I don’t,’ he told reporters.” [San 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, it’s 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.” [San 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 Post, 5/27/02]
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 July 2001 (A): The Taliban Foreign Minister 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 Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is allied with al-Qaeda at the time. He sends an emissary to pass this information on to the US consul general, and another US official, “possibly from the intelligence services,” also attends the meeting. The message is not taken very seriously. The emissary then takes the message to the Kabul offices of UNSMA, the political wing of the UN. They also fail to take the warning seriously. [Independent, 9/7/02, Reuters, 9/7/02] Isn’t it ironic the US destroyed the Taliban, who tried to warn them of the attacks?
Late July 2001 (B): 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. [Judicial Watch, 11/14/01, World Net Daily, 10/21/01, Alex Jones Show, 10/10/01, note the sources are partisan, Schipper’s claims are being reported nowhere else]
Late July 2001 (C): CBS later has a brief mention in a long story on another topic: “Just days after Atta return[s] to the US from Spain, Egyptian intelligence in Cairo says it received a report from one of its operatives in Afghanistan that 20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the US and four of them had received flight training on Cessnas. To the Egyptians, pilots of small planes didn’t sound terribly alarming, but they [pass] on the message to the CIA anyway, fully expecting Washington to request information. The request never [comes].” [CBS, 10/9/02] This appears to be one of several accurate Egyptian warnings based on informants (see June 13, 2001and August 30, 2001).
Late summer 2001: Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah’s men relay it to Washington. 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]
August 2001 (A): The 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]
August 2001 (B): At least six 9/11 hijackers, including all of those that boarded Flight 77, live in Laurel, Maryland from about this time. NSA expert James Bamford later states, “the terrorist cell that eventually took over the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon ended up living, working, planning and developing all their activities in Laurel, Maryland, which happens to be the home of the NSA. So they were actually living alongside NSA employees as they were plotting all these things.” [Washington Post, 9/19/01, BBC, 6/21/02]
August 2001 (C): The French magazine Maximale and the Moroccan newspaper al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki later simultaneously report that a Moroccan agent named Hassan Dabou had penetrated al-Qaeda to the point of getting close to bin Laden by this time. Dabou claims he 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.” Dabou is called to the US to report this information directly, and in so doing blows his cover, losing his ability to gather more intelligence. [Agence France Presse, 11/22/01, International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, Times of London, 6/12/02]
August 2001 (D): Russian President Putin later states that suicide pilots are training for attacks on US targets. [Fox News, 5/17/02] The head of Russian intelligence also 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)]
August 2001 (E): Former CIA agent Robert Baer 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, 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). 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, Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58, 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]
Early August 2001: Britain gives the US another warning about an al-Qaeda attack.The previous British warning was vague as to method, but this warning specifies multiple airplane hijackings. This warning is included in Bush’s briefing on August 6. [Sunday Herald, 5/19/02]
August 6, 2001: President Bush receives a classified intelligence briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. Titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” the memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US, with the WTC specifically mentioned. Yet Bush later states the briefing “said nothing about an attack on America.” [CNN, 4/12/04, Washington Post, 4/12/04, White House, 4/11/04] National Security Advisor Rice claims the memo was “fuzzy and thin.” [Newsweek, 5/27/02, New York Times, 5/16/02, Die Zeit, 10/1/02] A Congressional report later describes this memo mentioning “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 bin Laden wanted to hijack airplanes to gain the release of US-held extremists. It also described FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, and a number of bin Laden-related investigations underway.” [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.” [New York Times, 5/25/02] The existence of this memo is kept secret until May 2002. [New York Times, 5/16/02, Washington Post, 5/16/02, Intelligence Briefing, 8/6/01 posted on George Washington University’s National Security Archives]
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 could have had this information.
August 13-15, 2001: Zacarias Moussaoui trains at the Pan Am International Flight School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he pays $8,300 ($1500 by credit card and the remainder in cash) to use a Boeing 474 Model 400 aircraft simulator. After just one day of training, most of the staff is suspicious that he’s a terrorist. They discuss “how much fuel [is] on board a 747-400, and how much damage that could cause if it hit[s] anything.” They call the FBI with their concerns later that day. [New York Times, 2/8/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] Failing to get much initial interest from the FBI, the flight instructor tells the FBI agents, “Do you realize how serious this is? This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon!” [New York Times, 2/8/02]
August 15, 2001: Based on the concerns of flight school staff, Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested and detained in Minnesota on the excuse of an immigration violation. [Time, 5/27/02, some reports say the 16th because the arrest happened late at night] The FBI confiscates his possessions, including a computer laptop, but don’t have a search warrant to search through them. But when arresting him, they note he possesses two knives, fighting gloves and shin guards, and had prepared “through physical training for violent confrontation.” An FBI interview of him adds more concerns. For example, he is supposedly in the US working as a “marketing consultant” for a computer company, but is unable to provide any details of his employment. Nor can he convincingly explain his $32,000 bank balance. [MSNBC, 12/11/01, Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] An FBI report states that when asked about his trips to Pakistan, the gateway to Afghanistan, “the questioning caused him to become extremely agitated, and he refused to discuss the matter further.” The report also notes “Moussaoui was extremely evasive in many of his answers.” [CNN, 9/28/02] His roommate is interviewed on the same day, and tells agents that Moussaoui believes it is “acceptable to kill civilians who harm Muslims,” that Moussaoui approves of Muslims who die as “martyrs”, and says Moussaoui might be willing to act on his beliefs. [Washington Post, 5/24/02] But Minnesota FBI agents quickly become frustrated at the lack of interest in the case from higher ups. [New York Times, 2/8/02] For instance, on August 21, they e-mail FBI headquarters saying it’s “imperative” that the Secret Service be warned of the danger a plot involving Moussaoui might pose to the President’s safety. But no such warning is ever sent. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02, New York Times, 10/18/02]
August 22, 2001 (A): 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. 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 22, 2001 (B): Counter-terrorism expert John O’Neill quits the FBI. He says it’s partly because of a recent power play against him, but also because of repeated obstruction of his investigations into al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] In his last act, he signs papers ordering FBI investigators back to Yemen to resume the USS Cole investigation, now that Barbara Bodine is leaving as ambassador (they arrive a couple days before 9/11). He never hears the CIA warning about hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar sent out just one day later. Because he fell out of favor a few months earlier, he also is never told about Ken Williams’ flight school memo, nor about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02], nor is he at a June meeting when the CIA revealed some of what it knew about Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] The FBI New York office is eventually told of Walid Arkeh’s warning that the WTC would be attacked, but presumably not in time for O’Neill to hear it. One can only wonder what the government’s “most committed tracker of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network of terrorists” [New Yorker, 1/14/02] could have accomplished if he was aware of these things.
August 23, 2001 (A): 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 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, Ha’aretz, 10/3/02] 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. Nor are they 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. [Ha’aretz, 10/3/02] The US has denied knowing about Atta before 9/11, despite other media reports to the contrary.
August 23, 2001 (B): John O’Neill begins his new job as head of security at the WTC. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] A friend says to him, “Well, that will be an easy job. They’re not going to bomb that place again.” O’Neill replies, “Well actually they’ve always wanted to finish that job. I think they’re going to try again.” On September 10, he moves into his new office on the 34th floor of the North Tower. That night, he tells colleague Jerry Hauer, “We’re due for something big. I don’t like the way things are lining up in Afghanistan” (a probable reference to the assassination of Afghan leader General Massoud on September 9). O’Neill is killed the next day in the 9/11 attack. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02]
August 23-27, 2001: In the wake of the French intelligence report on Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI agents in Minnesota are “in a frenzy” and “absolutely convinced he [is] planning to do something with a plane.” One agent writes notes speculating Moussaoui might “fly something into the World Trade Center.” [Newsweek, 5/20/02] Minnesota FBI agents become “desperate to search the computer lap top” and “conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects,” especially since Moussaoui acted as if he was hiding something important in the laptop when arrested. [Time, 5/21/02, Time, 5/27/02] They decide to apply for a search warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). “FISA allows the FBI to carry out wiretaps and searches that would otherwise be unconstitutional” because “the goal is to gather intelligence, not evidence.” [Washington Post, 11/4/01] Standards to get a warrant through FISA are so low that out of 10,000 requests over more than 20 years, not a single one was turned down. [New York Times, 8/27/02] However, as FBI agent Coleen Rowley later puts it, FBI headquarters “almost inexplicably, throw[s] up roadblocks” and undermines their efforts. Headquarters personnel bring up “almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause.” One Minneapolis agent’s e-mail says FBI headquarters is “setting this up for failure.” [Time, 5/21/02, Time, 5/27/02]
August 24, 2001 (A): Frustrated with lack of response from FBI headquarters about Zacarias Moussaoui, the Minnesota FBI contact an FBI agent working with the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center, and asks the CIA for help. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] On this day, the CIA sends messages to stations and bases overseas requesting information about Moussaoui. The message says that the FBI is investigating Moussaoui for possible involvement in the planning of a terrorist attack and mentions his efforts to obtain flight training. It also suggests he might be “involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] It calls him a “suspect 747 airline attacker” and a “suspect airline suicide hijacker” – showing that the form of the 9/11 attack isn’t a surprise, at least to the CIA. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] FBI headquarters responds by chastising the Minnesota FBI for notifying the CIA without approval. [Time, 5/21/02]
August 24, 2001 (B): Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar buys his 9/11 plane ticket on-line using a credit card. Nawaf Alhazmi does the same the next day. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Both men had been put on a terrorist watch list on August 23. Procedures are in place for law enforcement agencies to share watch list information with airlines and airports. Such sharing is common, but the FAA and the airlines are not notified, so the purchases raise no red flags. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] An official later states that had the FAA been properly warned, “they should have been picked up in the reservation process.” [Washington Post, 10/2/02]
August 24-29, 2001: The hijackers book their flights for 9/11, using their real names. Most pay using credit cards on the internet. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] So 9/11 must have been the confirmed date of the attack by August 24. Why would they pay using credit cards in their real names?
August 27, 2001: An agent at the FBI headquarters’ Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU) tells the FBI Minnesota office supervisor that the supervisor is getting people “spun up” over Moussaoui. The supervisor replies that he is trying to get people at FBI headquarters “spun up” because he is trying to make sure that Moussaoui does “not take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center.” He later alleges the headquarters agent replies, “[T]hat’s not going to happen. We don’t know he’s a terrorist. You don’t have enough to show he is a terrorist. You have a guy interested in this type of aircraft – that is it.” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, 10/17/02] Three weeks earlier, Dave Frasca, the head of the RFU unit, had received Ken Williams’ memo expressing concern about terrorists training in US flight schools, and he also knew all about the Moussaoui case, but he apparently wasn’t “spun up” enough to connect the two cases. [Time/CNN, 5/27/02] Neither he nor anyone else at FBI headquarters who saw Williams’s memo informed anyone at the FBI Minnesota office about it before 9/11. [Time, 5/21/02]
August 28, 2001 (A): A report is sent to the FBI’s New York office recommending that an investigation be launched “to determine if [Khalid] Almihdhar is still in the United States.” The New York office tries to convince FBI headquarters to open a criminal investigation, but are immediately turned down. The reason given is a “wall” between criminal and intelligence work – Almihdhar could not be tied to the Cole investigation without the inclusion of sensitive intelligence information. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] So instead of a criminal case, the New York office opens an “intelligence case,” excluding all the “criminal case” investigators from the search. [FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] 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.”‘ [New York Times, 9/21/02, FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02]
August 28, 2001 (B): A previously mentioned unnamed RFU agent edits the Minnesota FBI’s request for a FISA search warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s possessions. Minnesota is trying to prove that Moussaoui is connected to al-Qaeda through a rebel group in Chechnya, but the RFU agent removes information connecting the Chechnya rebels to al-Qaeda. The FBI Deputy General Counsel who receives the edited request decides on this day that there isn’t enough connection to al-Qaeda to allow an application for a search warrant through FISA, so FISA is never even asked. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] According to a later memo written by Minneapolis FBI legal officer Coleen Rowley (see an edited version of the memo here: Time, 5/21/02), FBI headquarters is to blame for not getting the FISA warrant because of this rewrite of the request. She says “I feel that certain facts … have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mis-characterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons.” She asks, “Why would an FBI agent deliberately sabotage a case?” The superiors acted so strangely that some agents in the Minneapolis office openly joked that these higher-ups “had to be spies or moles … working for Osama bin Laden.” Failing to approve the warrant through FISA, FBI headquarters also refuses to contact the Justice Department to try and get a search warrant through ordinary means. Rowley and others are unable to search Moussaoui’s computer until after the 9/11 attacks. Rowley later notes that the headquarters agents who blocked the Minnesota FBI were promoted after 9/11. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/28/02, Time, 5/21/02]
August 30-September 4, 2001: According to Egyptian President 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]
Early September 2001: An Iranian man known as Ali S. in a German jail awaiting deportation repeatedly phones US law enforcement to warn of an imminent attack on the WTC in the week of September 9-15. He calls it “an attack that will change the world.” After a month of badgering his prison guards, he is finally able to call the White House 14 times in the days before the attack. He then tries to send a fax to Bush, but is denied permission hours before the 9/11 attacks. German police later confirm the calls. Similar warnings also come from a Moroccan man being held in a Brazilian jail. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/13/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01, Ananova, 9/14/01, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
September 6, 2001: Antoinette DiLorenzo, teaching English to a class of Pakistani immigrants, asks a student gazing out the window, “What are you looking at?” The student points towards the WTC and says: “Do you see those two buildings? They won’t be standing there next week.” At the time, nothing was thought of it, but on September 13 the FBI interviews all the people in the classroom and confirms the event. The FBI later places the boy’s family under surveillance, but apparently are unable to find a connection to the 9/11 plot. An MSNBC reporter later sets out to disprove this “urban myth,” but to his surprise finds all the details of the story are confirmed. The fact that the family are recent immigrants from Pakistan might mean the information came from Pakistan. [MSNBC, 10/12/01] Supposedly, on November 9, 2001, the same student says there will be a plane crash on November 12. On that day, American Airlines Flight 587 crashes on takeoff from New York, killing 260 people. Investigators believe it was an accident. 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.” [Insight, 9/10/02]
September 6-10, 2001: Suspicious trading occurs on American and United (UAL), the two airlines used in the 9/11 attacks. Between 6 and 7 September, The Chicago Board Options Exchange saw purchases of 4,744 put option contracts [a speculation that the stock will go down] in UAL versus 396 call options [a speculation that stock will go up]. Holders of the put options would have netted a profit of $5 million once the carrier’s share price dived after September 11. On 10 September, more trading in Chicago saw the purchase of 4,516 put options in American Airlines, the other airline involved in the hijackings. This compares with a mere 748 call options in American purchased that day. No other airlines saw such trading in their put options. One analyst says: “I saw put-call numbers higher than I’ve ever seen in 10 years of following the markets, particularly the options markets.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/01, Associated Press, 9/18/01, AP article archived] “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.” [Independent, 10/14/01, Independent article archived] Why didn’t this cause a storm of media attention and further investigation?
September 9, 2001: 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, he already had been questioned in United Arab Emirates at the request of the CIA for “suspected involvement in terrorist activities.” 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 (A): 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 (B): CBS later reports that on this day, bin Laden is admitted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, for kidney dialysis treatment. Pakistani military forces guard bin Laden. They also move out all the regular staff in the urology department and send in a secret team to replace them. It is not known how long he stayed. [CBS News, 01/28/02]
September 10, 2001 (C): 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 (see July 26, 2001) and he told a Senate committee in May that counter-terrorism was his “highest priority.” [New York Times, 6/1/02, Guardian, 5/21/02]
September 10, 2001 (D): The trading ratio on United Airlines is 25 times greater than normal at the Pacific Exchange. Pacific Exchange officials later decline to state if this abnormality is being investigated. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/01]
September 10, 2001 (E): According to CBS News, in the afternoon before the attack, “alarm bells were sounding over unusual trading in the US stock options market.” It has been documented that the CIA, the Mossad and many other intelligence agencies monitor stock trading in real time using highly advanced programs such as Promis. Both the FBI and the Justice Department have confirmed the use of such programs for US intelligence gathering through at least this summer. This would confirm that CIA should have had additional advance warning of imminent attacks against American and United Airlines planes. [CBS, 9/19/01] There are even allegations that bin Laden was able to get a copy of Promis. [Fox News, 10/16/01]
September 10, 2001 (F): 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)
September 10, 2001 (G): Eight hours prior to the attacks, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown receives a warning from “my security people at the airport” advising him to be cautious in traveling. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/01] He was scheduled to fly to New York the next morning. [San Francisco Chronicle 9/14/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/01, US State Department, 9/7/01] This story may well be a red herring, but there’s been no investigation to provide a definitive answer.
September 10, 2001 (H): Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) with Senator Jon Kyl (R) sent a copy of draft legislation on counter-terrorism and national defense to Vice President Cheney’s office on July 20. She is told by Cheney’s top aide on this day “that it might be another six months before he would be able to review the material.” [Newsweek, 5/27/02]
September 10, 2001 (I): Two days after 9/11, Newsweek reports: “The state of alert had been high during the past two weeks, and a particularly urgent warning may have been received the night before the attacks, causing some top Pentagon brass to cancel a trip. Why that same information was not available to the 266 people who died aboard the four hijacked commercial aircraft may become a hot topic on the Hill.” [Newsweek, 9/13/01] Far from becoming a hot topic, the only additional media mention of this story is in the next issue of Newsweek: “a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns.” [Newsweek, 9/24/01]
September 10, 2001 (J): Former president Bush is with a brother of Osama bin Laden at a Carlyle business conference. The conference is interrupted the next day by the attacks. [Washington Post, 3/16/03]
September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001 (A): Warren Buffett, the second richest man on Earth [BBC, 6/22/01], schedules a morning charity event inside Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. At least one CEO who would otherwise have died in the WTC attends. 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, Forbes 10/15/01] Bush flies to this same base that day, where there is an underground command center. [CNN, 9/12/01, CBS, 9/11/02]
September 11, 2001 (B): 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, 8/22/02] The government has repeatedly claimed that no one imagined a plane deliberately crashing into a building. [New York Times, 10/3/01] Four wargames were also in progress at the time of the attacks. [C-SPAN Congressional Testimony, 3/11/05]
September 11, 2001 (C): Data recovery experts later looking at 32 hard drives salvaged from the 9/11 attacks discover a surge in credit card transactions from the WTC in the hours before and during the attacks. Unusually large sums of money were 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 in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million. They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed.” [Reuters, 12/18/01, CNN, 12/20/01]
September 11, 2001 (D): 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. 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]
Timeline for the Day of the Attacks
Department of Defense (6/1/01) and FAA (7/12/01) procedure: In the event of a hijacking, the FAA hijack coordinator on duty at Washington headquarters requests the military to provide escort aircraft. Normally, NORAD escort aircraft take the required action. The FAA notifies the National Military Command Center by the most expeditious means. [DOD/, 6/1/01, FAA, 7/12/01, FAA 7/12/01]
“Pilots are supposed to hit each fix with pinpoint accuracy. If a plane deviates by 15 degrees, or two miles from that course, the flight controllers will hit the panic button. They’ll call the plane, saying “American 11, you’re deviating from course.” It’s considered a real emergency, like a police car screeching down a highway at 100 miles an hour.” [MSNBC, 9/12/01]
If NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) hears of any difficulties in the skies, they begin the work to scramble jet fighters [take off and intercept aircraft that are off course]. Between Sep 2000 and June 2001 fighters were scrambled 67 times. [AP, 8/12/02] When the Lear jet of golfer Payne Stewart didn’t respond in 1999, F-16 interceptors were quickly dispatched. According to an Air Force timeline, a series of military planes provided an emergency escort to Payne’s stricken Lear about 20 minutes after ground controllers lost contact with his plane. [Dallas Morning News, 10/26/99]
(6:45 A.M.) Approximately two hours prior to the first attack, two workers in Israel at the instant messaging company Odigo receive messages warning of the WTC attack. This Israeli owned company has its headquarters two blocks from the WTC. The two employees claim not to know who sent the warnings. [Washington Post, 9/28/01, Ha’aretz, 9/26/01]
(8:13 A.M.) At the same time that flight controllers are asking Flight 11 to climb to 35,000 feet, the transponder stops transmitting. Air traffic manager Glenn Michael says later, “We considered it at that time to be a possible hijacking.” [“when given permission to climb to 35,000 feet,” AP, 8/12/02, “8:13:47 – 46R: AAL11, now climb maintain FL350,” New York Times, 10/16/01, shortly after trying emergency frequencies, Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01] The official story says NORAD is not notified the plane is hijacked until 8:40 – 27 minutes later. [NORAD, 9/18/01]
(8:20 A.M.) Flight 11 starts to veer dramatically off course around this time. [USA Today flight path image] Recall that if a plane goes two miles off course, it should be considered an emergency situation. [MSNBC, 9/12/01]
(8:20 A.M.) Boston flight control decides that Flight 11 has probably been hijacked, but they don’t notify other air traffic control centers for another five minutes, and don’t notify NORAD for about another 20 minutes. [“about 8:20,” Newsday, 9/23/01, “about 8:20,” NY Times, 9/15/01] ABC News will later say, “There doesn’t seem to have been alarm bells going off, traffic controllers getting on with law enforcement or the military. There’s a gap there that will have to be investigated.” [ABC News, 9/14/01]
(8:21 A.M.) Inside Flight 11, flight attendant Betty Ong calls Vanessa Minter at American Airlines reservations. Nydia Gonzales also listens in from 8:27. Ong talks for 25 minutes, until the plane crashes. The FBI says that only the first four minutes were recorded, but won’t release the tape. [“25 minute phone call until crash,” ABC News, 7/18/02, Boston Globe, 11/23/01]
8:24 A.M. The pilot of Flight 11, John Ogonowski, activates the talk-back button, enabling Boston air traffic controllers to hear a hijacker on Flight 11 say to the passengers: “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be OK. We are returning to the airport.” A controller responds, ”Who’s trying to call me?” The hijacker continues, “Everything will be OK. If you try to make any moves you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” [8:24:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:24:38, New York Times, 10/16/01, 8:24, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, 8:28, New York Times, 9/12/01, before 8:28, Channel 4 News, 9/13/01]
8:28 A.M. Boston Air Traffic Control radar sees Flight 11 making an unplanned 100-degree turn to the south (they’re already way off-course). Flight controllers say they never lost sight of the flight, though they could no longer determine altitude once the transponder was turned off. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/13/01] However, in other media reports, “Boston airport officials said they did not spot the plane’s course until it had crashed, and said the control tower had no unusual communication with the pilots or any crew members.” [Washington Post, 9/12/01] Before this turn, the FAA had tagged Flight 11’s radar dot for easy visibility, and at American Airlines headquarters at least, “all eyes watched as the plane headed south. On the screen, the plane showed a squiggly line after its turn near Albany, then it straightened.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01]
(8:40 A.M.) Boston Air Traffic Control supposedly notifies NORAD that Flight 11 has been hijacked. This is about 20 minutes after traffic control noticed the plane had its transponder beacon and radio turned off. [8:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:38, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:40, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:40, AP, 8/19/02, 8:40, Newsday, 9/10/02] Such a delay in notification would be in strict violation of regulations.
8:43 A.M. NORAD is notified that Flight 175 has been hijacked. [8:43, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:43, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:43, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:43, AP, 8/19/02, 8:43, Newsday, 9/10/02
(8:46 A.M.) Two F-15 fighters are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to find Flight 11, approximately 190 miles from the known location of the plane and 188 miles from New York City. Fighters in nearer bases are not scrambled. This is 6-8 minutes after NORAD has been told the plane was hijacked, approximately 26 minutes after losing contact with the plane. [8:39, Channel 4 News, 9/13/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:44, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:44, Washington Post, 9/15/01]
8:46 A.M. According to Robert Marr, commander of NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), NORAD is unable to find the location of Flight 11. Finally, someone sees a “green dot that’s not identified. Almost as soon as it’s discovered, it disappears. It’s 8:46 A.M.” At the time, “there are no other missing aircraft.” But then, at 9:02, they see a second unidentified aircraft on a screen, which is Flight 175 crashing into the WTC. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] In another account, the plane is rediscovered at 8:42. [Newsday, 9/10/02] Recall this from a previous entry: Before a turn at 8:28, the FAA had tagged Flight 11’s radar dot for easy visibility, and at American Airlines headquarters, “All eyes watched as the plane headed south. On the screen, the plane showed a squiggly line after its turn near Albany, then it straightened.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/01] So American Airlines says Flight 11 was never lost, and this corresponds with other reports. For instance, “Controllers scrambled to direct other planes out of the way of both United 175 and American Airlines Flight 11”, and several collisions were barely averted. [Washington Post, 9/17/01] The airlines would have no reason to lie about this, NORAD would have a very big reason to lie.
8:46 A.M. Flight 11 slams into the north tower, 1 World Trade Center. Investigators believe it still had about 10,000 gallons of fuel and was traveling 470 mph. [New York Times, 9/11/02] Approximately 2662 people are killed on the ground between this crash and the crash of Flight 175. [AP, 8/19/02, 8:45, CNN, 9/12/01, 8:45, New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 8:46, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:46, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:46, AP, 8/19/02, 8:46, USA Today, 9/3/02, 8:46, Newsday, 9/10/02, 8:47:00, Guardian, 10/17/01, 8:48, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 8:46:26, New York Times, 9/11/02, 8:46:26, seismic records]
8:46 – 9:00 A.M. Bush’s motorcade left for the school at 8:30. As it was arriving at the school, pagers and cell phones alerted White House aides that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Bush remembers senior adviser Karl Rove bringing him the news, saying it appeared to be an accident involving a small, twin-engine plane. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Bush: “I can remember noticing the press pool and the press corps beginning to get the calls and seeing the look on their face.” [CBS, 9/11/02]
8:46 A.M. At the time of the first WTC crash, three F-16’s assigned to Andrews Air Force Base 10 miles from Washington are flying an air-to-ground training mission on a range in North Carolina, 207 miles away. Eventually they are recalled to Andrews and land there at some point after Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] F-16’s can travel a maximum speed of 1500 mph. Traveling even at 1250 mph, at least one of the F-16’s could have returned to Washington within 10 minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00 A.M. Why were they recalled so late, and then ordered back to base (and then to take off again) instead of being sent straight to Washington?
(8:46 A.M.) Flight 77 from Washington goes severely off course. It heads due north for a while, then flies due south and gets back on course. [see USA Today’s Flight 77 flight path] It was off course by around 15 miles, and stayed off course for about five minutes. According to regulations a fighter should have scrambled to see what was going on.
(After 8:46 A.M.) “During the hour or so that American Airlines Flight 77 was under the control of hijackers, up to the moment it struck the west side of the Pentagon, military officials in a command center on the east side of the [Pentagon] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/01] Since the Pentagon was struck around 9:41, this means that shortly after the first signs of trouble, the military knew that Flight 77 was hijacked, even though, supposedly, NORAD is not notified until 9:24.
(Between 8:46 – 8:55 A.M.) A passenger on Flight 77, Barbara Olson, calls her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olson at the Justice Department. He is watching the WTC news on TV. She tells him, ”they had box cutters and knives. They rounded up the passengers at the back of the plane.” She asks him, “What should I tell the pilot to do?” She gets cuts off, he calls the Justice Department’s command center to alert them of the hijacking. She calls back and says the plane is turning around. [no time marker, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01, Boston Globe, 11/23/01, “by 9:25,” Washington Post, 9/21/01] She appears to have been the only person on this flight to have been able to call someone on the ground.
8:52 A.M. Two F-15’s take off from Otis ANG Base, six minutes after being ordered to go after Flight 11, which has already crashed. [8:52, NORAD, 9/18/01, 8:52, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:53, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 8:52, Washington Post, 9/15/01] This is 38 minutes after flight controllers lost contact with the plane. They go after Flight 175 instead. According to Maj. Gen. Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, “the pilots flew ‘like a scalded ape,’ topping 500 mph but were unable to catch up to the airliner.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/15/01] NORAD Major Gen. Larry Arnold says they were headed straight for New York City and traveling about 1100 to 1200 mph. [Slate, 1/16/02] “An F-15 departing from Otis can reach New York City in 10 to 12 minutes, according to an Otis spokeswoman.” [Cape Cod Times, 9/16/01] According to Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy, one of the pilots, before takeoff, a fellow officer had told him “This looks like the real thing.” He says, “It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way.” A NORAD commander has said the planes were stocked with extra fuel as well. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Full-blower is very rare – it means the fighters are going as fast as they can go. F-15’s can travel over 1875 mph. [Air Force News, 7/30/97] An at average speed of 1600 mph, they would have reached New York City in seven minutes – 8:59. An at average speed of 1125 mph, they would have reached it in 10 minutes – 9:02 – still before Flight 175 crashes. Yet according to the NORAD timeline, these planes take about 19 minutes to reach New York City – less than 600 mph. Why so slow??
(8:56 A.M.) According to the New York Times, by this time (if not earlier), it is clear Flight 77 has gone missing. Yet the same newspaper points out NORAD is not notified about it for another 28 minutes! [New York Times, 10/16/01]
(9:01 A.M.) Bush later makes the following statement. “And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower — the TV was obviously on, and I used to fly myself, and I said, ‘There’s one terrible pilot. It must have been a horrible accident.’ But I was whisked off there — I didn’t have much time to think about it.” [CNN, 12/4/01] “When we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building.” [White House, 1/5/02] Given that there actually was no film footage of the first attack on TV until much later (and no footage of the plane actually hitting the tower), isn’t this a clear lie to make it seem he didn’t know what was happening? By 8:38, NORAD knew that Flight 11 was hijacked, and by 8:43, they knew Flight 175 was hijacked. The New York Times points out that they also probably knew Flight 77 was hijacked a few minutes after 8:48. [New York Times, 9/15/01] He’s had time to think about it – he’s been briefed by his National Security Advisor on the situation. So by this time Bush certainly knew two planes were hijacked and headed towards New York City, and probably knew of a third hijacking. Yet he can only think “There’s one terrible pilot”?
9:03 A.M. Flight 175, hits the south tower, 2 World Trade Center. [AP, 8/19/02] F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base are still 71 miles or eight minutes away. [9:02, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:02, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:02, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:03, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03 (based on seismic data), New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:03, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:03, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:03, AP, 8/19/02, 9:03, Newsday, 9/10/02, 9:03, USA Today, 9/3/02, 9:05, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:05, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:02:54, New York Times, 9/11/02, 9:02:54, seismic records] This is about 23 minutes after NORAD notified, 43 minutes after air traffic control lost contact with pilots. The Otis Air National Guard Base is 188 miles from New York City. According to NORAD’s timeline, fighters left Otis 11 minutes earlier. If they were still 70 miles away, then that means they must have been traveling about 650 mph, when the top speed for an F-15 is 1875 mph! [BBC Fact Files]
(After 9:03 A.M.) A few minutes after 9:03, the Secret Service calls Andrews Air Force Base, located 10 miles from Washington. They are notified to get F-16’s armed and ready to fly. Missiles are still being loaded onto the F-16’s when the Pentagon is hit over half an hour later. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02] The problem with this account is that prior to 9/11, The District of Columbia Air National Guard (located at Andrews) had a publicly stated mission “to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness.” Shortly after 9/11 this mission statement on its website is changed, so it merely has a “vision” to “provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers and DCANG units in achieving the highest levels of readiness.” [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
(After 9:03 A.M.) Minutes after the second WTC crash at 9:03, military base commanders from all over the US are calling NORAD and volunteering to scramble planes. The commander at Syracuse, New York says he can get a plane in the air armed with cannon in ten minutes. Yet none of these planes are put in the air until after the last hijacked plane crashes over an hour later. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02
9:09 A.M. Supposedly, NORAD orders F-16’s at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, on battle stations alert. Yet the order to scramble won’t come till 9:27 or so, and they won’t take off until 9:30. Around this time, the FAA command center reports 11 aircraft either not in communication with FAA facilities, or flying unexpected routes. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] So why aren’t planes scrambled immediately, at 9:09 or even before, to find out what’s going on?
9:10 AM: Major General Paul Weaver states Flight 77 came back on the (radar) scope at 9:10 in West Virginia. [Dallas Morning News, 9/15/01] Another report states the military was notified of Flight 77 several minutes after 9:03. [Washington Post, 9/15/01]
9:16 A.M. The FAA informs NORAD that Flight 93 may have been hijacked. No fighters are scrambled in specific response, now or later (there is the possibility some fighters sent after Flight 77 later headed towards Flight 93). Although this is what CNN learned from NORAD, it’s not clear why NORAD claims it was hijacked at this time (NORAD’s own timeline inexplicably fails to say when the FAA told them about the hijack, the only flight they fail to provide this data for). [CNN, 9/17/01, NORAD, 9/18/01] Note that the crash of Flight 77 is still 25 minutes away. F-16 fighters from Langley Air Force Base could have reached Washington in six minutes if they traveled at 1300 mph (maximum speed for an F-16 is 1500 mph). Even if the fighters were traveling slower, and it took some minutes to get the plane off the ground, they still could easily have made it to Washington in those 25 minutes and prevented the Flight 77 crash.
9:24 A.M. The FAA notifies NORAD that Flight 77 “may” have been hijacked and appears to be headed towards Washington. [9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:24, AP, 8/19/02, 9:25, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:25, Guardian, 10/17/01] This notification is 34 MINUTES after flight control lost contact with the plane and well after two planes have crashed, and even then the FAA only says “may”? Is such a long delay believable, or has that information been doctored to cover the lack of any scrambling of fighters? Additionally, with the exception of Vice President Cheney and possibly a few others, no one is evacuated in Washington until after the Pentagon crash. A Pentagon spokesman says, “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.” Even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his top aides in the Pentagon remain unaware of any danger up to the moment of impact 17 minutes later. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Yet since at least the Flight 11 crash, “military officials in a command center [the National Military Command Center] on the east side of the [Pentagon] were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/01] Is it believable that everyone in the Pentagon outside of that command center, even the Secretary of Defense, would remain uninformed?
(9:27 A.M.) Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena and says, “I’m on United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco. The plane has been hijacked. We are in the air. They’ve already knifed a guy. There is a bomb on board. Call the FBI.” Deena connects to emergency 911. [9:27, “she scribbled down what Tom told her and noted the time,” The book Among the Heroes, 8/02, p. 107, ABC News, 9/12/01, “within minutes” of 9:28, MSNBC, 7/30/02, “She recalls it was around 6:20 A.M. — 9:20 Eastern time,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01, “shortly after” Jeremy Glick’s call, Toronto Sun, 9/16/01] His wife Deena wonders if the call might have been before the cockpit was taken over, because he spoke quickly and quietly as if he was being watched. He also had a headset like phone operators use, so he could have made the call unnoticed. Note that original versions of this conversation appear to have been censored. The most recent account has the phone call ending with, “We are in the air. The plane has been hijacked. They already knifed a guy. One of them has a gun. They’re saying there is a bomb onboard. Please call the authorities.” [The book Among the Heroes, 8/02, p. 107] The major difference from earlier accounts is the mention of a gun. The call wasn’t recorded, but Deena’s call immediately afterwards to 911 was, and she states on that, “They just knifed a passenger and there are guns on the plane.” [The book Among the Heroes, 8/02, p. 108] This is the first of over 30 additional phone calls by passengers inside the plane. [MSNBC, 7/30/02]
(9:27 A.M.) NORAD orders three F-16 fighters scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to intercept Flight 77. Langley is 129 miles from Washington. Ready aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base, 15 miles away, are not scrambled. [Newsday, 9/23/01, 9:24, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:27, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:25, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:35, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/15/01] Note that according to the official NORAD timeline, they ordered the F-16’s scrambled the same minute they were told about the hijacking. A rare example of competence. But earlier, according to their own timeline, they waited six minutes before scrambling fighters after Flight 11. Why? Flight 77 had supposedly been missing from the radar screen since 8:56. Why wait 31 minutes to send a plane and find out where it is?
(9:29 A.M.) Bush leaves the elementary school classroom, and as he leaves, makes a few brief comments to reporters, calling the crashes “an apparent terrorist attack on our country.” The talk occurs at exactly the time and place his publicly announced advance schedule planned they would – making Bush a possible terrorist target. [9:24, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:28, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:30, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:30, New York Times, 9/12/01, speech begins at 9:29:55 according to an ABC timing device, advanced schedule 9:30 in Federal News Service, 9/10/01]
9:30 A.M. The F-16’s scrambled towards Flight 77 get airborne. [9:30, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:35, Washington Post, 9/12/01] If the NORAD departure time is correct, the F-16’s would have to travel slightly over 700 mph to reach Washington before Flight 77 does. The maximum speed of an F-16 is 1500 mph. [AP, 6/16/00] Even at traveling 1300 mph, these planes could have reached Washington in six minutes – well before any claim of when Flight 77 crashed. Yet they obviously don’t.
(9:30 A.M.) The hijackers make an announcement to the passengers in Flight 77, telling them to phone their families as they are “all going to die”. They also told the passengers that they were going to hit the White House. [“When they took over the controls,” Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, “around 9:30,” Cox News, 10/21/01] Given this announcement, why are there almost no phone calls from this flight?
(9:32 A.M.) Secret Service agents burst into Vice President Cheney’s White House office. They carry him under his arms – nearly lifting him off the ground – and propel him down the steps into the White House basement and through a long tunnel towards an underground bunker. [9:32, Washington Post, 1/27/02, shortly after Bush’s speech at 9:30, CBS, 9/11/02] Why didn’t this happen to Bush? Was he meant to remain visibly out of the loop? Another article claims this happened to Cheney at 9:05, exactly when Bush was being told of the second WTC hit. [Telegraph, 12/16/01] If that’s true, the fact that Cheney gets moved to safety and Bush doesn’t is even stranger.
9:33 A.M. According to the New York Times, Flight 77 was lost at 8:56 when it turned off its transponder, and stayed lost until now. Washington air traffic control sees a fast moving blip on their radar at this time and sends a warning to Dulles Airport in Washington. [New York Times, 10/16/01] Is it conceivable that an airplane could be lost inside US air space for 37 minutes? One doesn’t need a transponder signal to get a radar signal!
(9:41 A.M.) Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. The section of the Pentagon hit consists mainly of newly renovated, unoccupied offices. Approximately 125 are later determined killed or missing. The surface to air missiles presumably surrounding the Pentagon are not fired in defense. Fighters are supposedly still 105 miles or 12 minutes away. [Newsday, 9/23/01, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9:37, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:38, CNN, 9/17/01, 9:38, Guardian, 10/17/01, 9:39, Washington Post, 1/27/02, 9:40, AP, 8/19/02, 9:43, CNN, 9/12/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:43, MSNBC, 9/3/02, 9:43, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:45, Boston Globe, 11/23/01] NORAD states the fighters took off from Langley at 9:30, 129 miles away, yet when Flight 77 crashes they are still 105 miles away. [NORAD, 9/18/01] So that means they must have been flying at an average of about 130 mph! Even if one uses the NORAD crash time of 9:37 (which we know is untrue), that still averages to only about 205 mph!
9:58 A.M. A man calls 911 from a bathroom on Flight 93, crying, “We’re being hijacked, we’re being hijacked!” [Toronto Sun, 9/16/01], then reports that “he heard some sort of explosion and saw white smoke coming from the plane and we lost contact with him.” [ABC News, 9/11/01, AP, 9/12/01] One minute after the call began, the line goes dead. [Pittsburgh Channel, 12/6/01] The mentions of smoke and explosions of the recording of his call are now denied. [The book Among the Heroes, 8/02, p. 264] The person who took Felt’s call is not allowed to speak to the media. [Mirror, 9/13/02] If that’s true, why is this important fact only denied now, when the FBI got a copy of the recording on 9/11, and let the media report the smoke and explosion story for months?
9:59 A.M. The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:02. [9:50, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 9:59, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 9:59, AP, 8/19/02, New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:05, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:05, New York Times, 9/12/01, 9:59:04, seismic records]
(Between 10:00-10:06 A.M.) During this time, there apparently are no calls from Flight 93. The only exception is Richard Makely, who was listening to the Jeremy Glick open phone line after Glick went to attack the hijackers. A reporter summarizes Makely explaining that, “The silence lasted two minutes, then there was screaming. More silence, followed by more screams. Finally, there was a mechanical sound, followed by nothing.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/17/01] Near the end of the cockpit voice recording, loud wind sounds can be heard. [CNN, 4/19/02, The book Among the Heroes, 8/02, p. 270-271]
(Before 10:06 A.M.) CBS television reports at some point before the crash that two F-16 fighters are tailing Flight 93. [Independent, 8/13/02] Shortly after 9/11, a flight controller in New Hampshire ignores a ban on controllers speaking to the media, and it is reported he claims “that an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93… 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. [AP, 9/13/01, Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01]
10:10 AM: Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania. [42 minutes after contact was lost][CNN, 9/12/02]
10:28 A.M. The World Trade Center’s north tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46. [10:28, MSNBC, 9/22/01, 10:28, CNN, 9/12/01, 10:28, New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:28, AP, 8/19/02, 10:28, New York Times, 9/12/01, 10:29, Washington Post, 9/12/01, 10:28:31, seismic records]
10:32 A.M. Cheney calls Bush and tells him of a threat to Air Force One. He is told it would take between 40 minutes and 90 minutes to get a protective fighter escort up to Air Force One. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] This event, if it happened at all, is highly bizarre. For one, why wouldn’t Air Force One already have a fighter escort, and why would it take so long for new planes to arrive? There already are fighters flying over Washington since well before 10:00.
5:20 PM: Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapses. [CNN, 9/12/01] Though the media claims fires brought the building down, the building’s owner Larry Silverstein later recounts the story of the collapse of this 47-story skyscraper in a PBS documentary America Rebuilds, “I remember getting a call from the fire department commander…I said…maybe the smartest thing to do is to pull it. And they made that decision to pull, and then we watched the building collapse.” Over 2,000 architects and engineers later claim that contrary to the U.S. government’s official story, it must have been controlled demolition. [PBS Documentary, 2nd PBS Documentary, more]
September 11, 2001 (E): At about 9:00 A.M., a strange incident occurs aboard United Airlines Flight 23, scheduled to fly from New York to Los Angeles. After boarding, the crew tells the passengers that the flight has been canceled. Three Middle Eastern men on board refuse to get off the plane. They argue with a member of the flight crew. Security is called, but before security arrives, the men escape. [CBS, 9/14/01] It may not be the only aborted hijacking that day (see September 19, 2001).
September 11, 2001 (F): 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 mid-level 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. [Washington Post, 3/2/02, CBS, 3/2/02]
September 11, 2001 (G): 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]Yet 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 (H): 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 told the American public.
September 11, 2001 (I): 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. [AP, 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 says 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 (J): Two of Atta’s bags from an early flight from Portland are not loaded onto Flight 11 and are discovered. They contain a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to “air tours” of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta’s passport, his international driver’s license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, “education related documentation,” a note to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking, and Atta’s will (written in 1996). [AP, 10/5/01, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01, Independent, 9/29/01, (see also an FBI affidavit that omits certain items, like the uniforms and the how-to note)] A New Yorker reporter later writes, “many of the investigators believe that some of the initial clues that were uncovered about the terrorists’ identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found. A former high-level intelligence official told me, ‘Whatever trail was left was left deliberately–for the FBI to chase.'” [New Yorker, 10/1/01] Why would Atta have brought his will onto a plane he knew would be destroyed? Why would the airline uniforms be where they couldn’t be used in the hijacking? In fact, why bring anything at all unless it is to leave it behind and send a message?
September 11, 2001 (K): 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.” [Australian, 9/27/01]
September 11, 2001 (L): Five Israelis are arrested for “puzzling behavior” related to the WTC attacks. They are arrested around 4:30 P.M. after having filmed the burning WTC from the roof of their company’s building near Liberty State Park, then shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. They were spotted by a neighbor who called the police and the FBI. The police tracked them down in a van with the words “Urban Moving Systems” written on the side. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01, Ha’aretz, 9/17/01] 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. [ABC News, 6/21/02] 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.” [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] One of these Israelis later says, “Our purpose was to document the event.” [ABC News, 6/21/02] The FBI later concludes at least two are Mossad agents, and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [Forward, 3/15/02] They are held on immigration violation charges and released 71 days later. [ABC News, 6/21/02]
September 11, 2001 (M): Six air traffic controllers who dealt with two of the hijacked airliners make a tape recording describing the events, but the tape is later destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it. [Washington Post, 5/6/04, New York Times, 5/6/04]
September 11, 2001 (N): Did the Air Force send up planes after the hijacked aircraft? The Air Force won’t say. It says they keep about 20 F-15 and F-16 fighters on duty with Air National Guards along the nation’s coastline, ready to inspect unknown aircraft entering U.S. airspace. “We can scramble and be airborne in a matter of minutes,” said an Air Force spokesperson. Some airline pilots are wondering whether the FAA did enough to try to prevent the crashes. [Wall Street Journal, 09/14/01]
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 and DCANG units in achieving the highest levels of readiness.” [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
September 12, 2001: The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC News, 9/12/01, ABC 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.” [Guardian, 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 13-19, 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. Top White House officials personally approve these evacuations. [New York Times, 9/4/03, Boston Globe, 9/20/01, New York Times, 9/30/01, more] 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, 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). 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] An earlier FBI attempt to investigate Abdullah was obstructed by higher-ups (see 1996).
September 14, 2001 (A): 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 (B): 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. 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. 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 20 minutes. There are numerous other examples of fighter scramblings since 1997 that seem to contradict the “only seven bases” story. [ABC News, 10/25/99, Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01]
September 14, 2001 (C): Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC remains. 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 many months later, AP reports that “no remains have been linked to the 10 hijackers who crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center” contradicting the claim that a hijacker’s body was found. [AP, 8/16/02] 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]
September 14, 2001 (D): “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, there has been only one other US article questioning slow response times, which noted the strange lack of coverage. [Slate, 1/16/02] Why haven’t “more and more people” in the media questioned this?
September 15, 2001: CIA Director Tenet briefs Bush “with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism.” In his briefing, Tenet advocates “a strategy to create a northern front, closing the safe haven [of Afghanistan].” Tenet also explains that the CIA had begun working with a number of tribal leaders to stir up resistance in the south the previous year. Tenet then turns to a top secret document called the “Worldwide Attack Matrix,” which describes covert operations in 80 countries that are either underway or now recommended. The actions range from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks. By comparison, the military, which is the normal planner of military campaigns, is caught relatively unprepared and defers to the CIA plans. [Washington Post, 1/31/02]
September 15-17, 2001: A series of major media articles state that several of the 9/11 hijackers may have had training in US military bases. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, New York Times, 9/15/01, Newsweek, 9/15/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01] Ahmad Alnami, Ahmed Alghamdi, and Saeed Alghamdi even listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida as their permanent address on their driver’s licenses. [Newsweek, 9/15/01]. Hamza Alghamdi is also connected to the Pensacola base. [Washington Post, 9/16/01] Saeed Alghamdi also attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] “Air Force spokesman Col. Ken McClellan said a man named Mohamed Atta — which the FBI has identified as one of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 — had once attended the International Officer’s School at Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.” [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Atta graduated from the US International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Abdulaziz Alomari graduated from the Aerospace Medical School at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. 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 16-23, 2001: Reports appear in several news media that some of the people the US says were 9/11 hijackers are actually still alive. Pilot Waleed Al Shehri is one of the men the FBI said crashed a plane into the WTC. His photograph was released, and he acknowledges that he is indeed the Waleed Al Shehri named by the FBI. But, he says, he left the US last year and became a pilot with Saudi Arabian airlines. [BBC, 9/23/01] 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] Police have even determined who sold at least two of the hijackers their fake ID’s. [BBC, 8/1/02] On September 20, The Times of London reported, “Five of the alleged hijackers have emerged, alive, innocent and astonished to see their names and photographs appearing on satellite television…The hijackers were using stolen identities, and investigators are studying the possibility that the entire suicide squad consisted of impostors.” [Times of London, 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, 11/02/02] Yet while many of the names are known to be wrong, these are the same names that appear much later in the 2004 9/11 Commission Report. [9/11 Commission Report – see graphic slightly over half way down the page] Perhaps embarrassing facts might come out if we knew their real names, such as more terrorists who studied at military bases or were on watch lists.
September 17, 2001 (A): Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who claims to have made many secret trips into Afghanistan and even fought with the mujaheddin, describes to Congress a missed opportunity to capture bin Laden. He claims that “a few years ago,” he was contacted by someone he knew and trusted from the 1980’s Afghan war, who claimed he could pinpoint bin Laden’s location. Rohrabacher passed this information to the CIA, but found the informant wasn’t contacted. After some weeks, Rohrabacher used his influence to set up a meeting with agents in the CIA, NSA and FBI. Yet even then the informant wasn’t contacted, until weeks later in a “disinterested” way. Rohrabacher concludes “that our intelligence services knew about the location of bin Laden several times but were not permitted to attack him… because of decisions made by people higher up.” [Speech to the House of Representatives, 9/17/01]
September 17, 2001 (B): President Bush signs a document marked “TOP SECRET” that outlines a plan for going to war in Afghanistan. The document also directs the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq. Two days after Bush signs the document, the Defense Policy Board – with Rumsfeld in attendance – meets at the Pentagon and animatedly discusses the importance of ousting Saddam Hussein – a policy Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, had advocated in 1996 for the goal of “rebuilding Zionism” (see 1996 (B)). Iraq secretly becomes a “central focus” of the US’s counter-terrorism efforts over the next nine months, without much in the way of internal debate, public pronouncements or paper trail (see also September 2000 and April 2001). [Washington Post, 1/12/02]
September 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. [Independent, 9/25/01] Authorities have identified teams that total as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 of the men have been accounted for. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Yet only one person, Moussaoui, is later charged. Reports like those 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 and 3) Knives and box cutters were found on two separate cancelled 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]
4) 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. [New York Times, 9/19/01]
5) 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 (E)).
6) 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.” [Independent, 9/25/01]
September 21, 2001: 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 21 or 22, 2001: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi citizen studying at Aston University Business School in Birmingham, Britain, is taken into custody by British authorities working with the FBI. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, Washington Post, 12/29/01] It has been claimed al-Bayoumi befriended hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego, California, and helped them socially and financially until moving to Britain two months before 9/11. [MSNBC, 11/27/02] At the time of the questioning, the FBI strongly suspects al-Bayoumi has financial connections to the Saudi royal family and may have given some of that money to the hijackers. However, the FBI accepts his story that he met Alhazmi and Almihdhar by coincidence and he is “released after a week without charge.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02] British intelligence officials are frustrated that the FBI failed to give them information that would have enabled them to keep al-Bayoumi in custody longer than the seven days allowed under British anti-terrorism laws. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/25/01] Al-Bayoumi returns to his studies at Aston and is still there two months later, and yet still is not rearrested. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] Another report says al-Bayoumi is living in Britain as of October 2002, [Newsweek, 10/29/02] but he disappears by the time he reenters the news a month later. Al-Bayoumi’s quick release is in sharp contrast to that of hundreds of US Muslims who are held anonymously for many months after 9/11 despite having no connections to terrorism of any kind (see October 20, 2001).
September 24, 2001: Fox News claims that up to 12 other Middle Eastern men dressed in pilot uniforms were on other flights scheduled to take off on the morning of 9/11. Hijackings on all these flights were foiled when an unexpected ban on new flights prevented them from taking off. An FBI source says they had been invited into the cockpits under the impression that they were guest pilots from other airlines. It is standard practice to give guest pilots the spare seat in the cockpit known as the jump seat. [Fox News, 9/24/01] Flight 93’s cockpit voice recording has apparently shown that “one of the four hijackers had been invited into the cockpit area before the flight took off.” Many pilot uniforms had gone missing prior to 9/11. Atta was given a guided tour of Boston’s Logan Airport the week before 9/11 when he turned up in a pilot uniform saying he was with Saudi Airlines. [Herald Sun, 9/25/01]
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 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. [Chicago Tribune, 9/16/01] Could these Raytheon employees have known too much? Or is it possible they, along with others, were not even on the planes?
Late September 2001: Sibel Edmonds is hired as a Middle Eastern languages translator for the FBI. As she later tells CBS’s 60 Minutes, she immediately encounters a pattern of deliberate failure in her translation department. Her boss says, “Let the documents pile up so we can show it and say that we need more translators and expand the department.” She claims that if she wasn’t slowing down enough, her supervisor would delete her work. Meanwhile, FBI agents working on the 9/11 investigation would call and ask for urgently needed translations. Senator Charles Grassley (R) says of her charges, “She’s credible, and the reason I feel she’s very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.” He points out that the speed of such translation might make the difference between a terrorist bombing succeeding or failing. [CBS, 10/25/02, New York Post, 10/26/02] In January 2002, FBI officials tell government auditors that translator shortages have resulted in “the accumulation of thousands of hours of audio tapes and pages” of untranslated material. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] Edmonds has a whistleblower lawsuit against the FBI for these and other charges (see March 22, 2002).
October 2001-September 2002: Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, are dismissed from the military’s Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, because they are gay. The military claims it is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism. [AP, 11/15/02]
October 2, 2001 (A): The “anti-terrorism” USA Patriot Act is introduced in Congress, but is not well received by all. One day later, Senate Majority Leader and future anthrax target Tom Daschle (D) says he doubts the Senate will take up this bill in the one-week timetable the administration wants. As head of the Senate, Daschle has great power to block or slow passage of the bill. [Washington Post, 10/3/01] On October 4, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and future anthrax target Patrick Leahy (D) accuses the Bush administration of reneging on an agreement on the anti-terrorist bill. Leahy is in a key position to block or slow the bill. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] The anthrax letters to Daschle and Leahy are sent out on October 9.
October 2, 2001 (B): A newspaper reveals that Atta kept an e-mail list so he could send out identical e-mails to everyone on the list. [Sun and Weekly Herald, 10/2/01, NBC 2, 4/24/02] What’s intriguing is that several of the 40 or so names on the list appear to have been, or still are, employees of US defense contractors. [Online Journal, 4/24/02, note this is a very partisan website]
October 4, 2001: The first case of anthrax infection, in Florida, appears in the media. Letters containing anthrax continue to be received until October 19. Anthrax letters are sent to NBC, New York Post, Democratic Senator Daschle and Democratic Senator Leahy. There are a number of hoax letters, however, likely sent by the same person to all the recipients of the real anthrax letters, plus to CBS, Fox News, New York Times, and the St. Petersberg Times. Eleven people are infected, five people die. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 5, 2001: Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan “has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets’ decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan’s proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet, and production reached 275 million cubic feet per day in the mid-1970’s.” [Asia Times, 10/5/01] A later article suggests the country may also have as much copper as Chile, the world’s largest producer, and significant deposits of coal, emeralds, tungsten, lead, zinc, uranium ore and more. [Houston Chronicle, 12/23/01]
October 10-11, 2001: The FBI allows the original batch of the Ames strain of anthrax to be destroyed, making tracing the anthrax type more difficult. Suspicions that the anthrax used in the letters was the Ames strain are confirmed on October 17. [New York Times, 11/9/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] What possible excuse can the FBI have for allowing this destruction, especially when the Ames strain was already suspected?
October 15, 2001: According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia, with the control of oil as a prominent motive: “While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia – and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea.” [Moscow Times, 10/15/01]
October 16, 2001 (A): “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
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. 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 18, 2001: The Economist reports that the Taliban is dumping its stockpile of heroin into the market to pay for the war against the US. As a result, prices in Afghanistan have tumbled from $700 a kilo just before 9/11 to $100. This stockpile is worth about $1 billion in Pakistan, but between $40 billion and $80 billion on the streets of Europe. 70% of all the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan. [Economist, 10/18/01]
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 exceeds 1,200 [New York Times, 7/11/02]), 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 the all the people arrested, only four, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ayub Ali Khan and Mohammed Azmath, and Nabil al-Marabh, a former Boston cabdriver, are likely connected to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 10/21/01] After being kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months without seeing a judge or being assigned a lawyer, Nabil al-Marabh pled guilty to the minor charge of entering the United States illegally. The penalty was less than time already served, and he was deported. [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 let go with time served. [Village Voice, 9/25/02, New York Times, 12/31/02] By mid-June 2002, only 74 people are reportedly still in custody, and the number continues to fall. Though many were held for months, “the vast majority were never charged with anything other than overstaying a visa.” [New York Times, 7/11/02]
October 24, 2001: The House of Representatives passes the final version of the USA Patriot Act and other previously unpopular Bush projects: Alaska oil drilling, $25 billion in tax cuts for corporations, taps into Social Security funds and cuts in education. [CNN, 10/25/01] Republican Congressman Ron Paul states: “It’s my understanding the bill wasn’t printed before the vote – at least I couldn’t get it. They played all kinds of games, kept the House in session all night, and it was a very complicated bill. Maybe a handful of staffers actually read it, but the bill definitely was not available to members before the vote.” It is later found that only two copies of the bill were made available in the hours before its passage, and most House members admit they voted for the Act without actually reading it first. [Insight, 11/9/01]
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 lack of cooperation. [Boston Globe, 10/27/01]
Early November 2001 (A): Many locals in Afghanistan witness a remarkable escape of al-Qaeda forces from Kabul around this time. One local businessman says: “We don’t understand how they weren’t all killed the night before, because they came in a convoy of at least 1,000 cars and trucks. It was a very dark night, but it must have been easy for the American pilots to see the headlights. The main road was jammed from eight in the evening until three in the morning.” This convoy was thought to have contained al-Qaeda’s top officials. [Times of London, 7/22/02] With all of the satellite imagery and intense focus on the Kabul area at the time, how could such a force have escaped the city unobserved by the US?
Early November 2001 (B): Starting in late October, US intelligence reports begin noting that al-Qaeda fighters and leaders are moving into and around the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad. By early November, bin Laden is there. Knight-Ridder newspapers report: “American intelligence analysts concluded that bin Laden and his retreating fighters were preparing to flee across the border. But the US Central Command, which was running the war, made no move to block their escape. ‘It was obvious from at least early November that this area was to be the base for an exodus into Pakistan,’ said one intelligence official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. ‘All of this was known, and frankly we were amazed that nothing was done to prepare for it.'” The vast majority of leaders and fighters are eventually able to escape into Pakistan. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02]
November 10, 2001: Telegraph reporter Christina Lamb is arrested and expelled from Pakistan by the ISI. She had been investigating the connections between the ISI and the Taliban. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s investigation into the ISI will later result in his death. [Telegraph, 11/11/01]
Nov 12, 2001–Mar 25, 2002: 13 renowned microbiologists mysteriously die over the span of less than five months. All but one or two are killed or murdered under unusual circumstances. Some are world leaders in developing weapons-grade biological plagues. Others are the best in figuring out how to stop millions from dying because of biological weapons. Still others are experts in the theory of bioterrorism. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02, NY Times 08/11/02] Nov 12: Benito Que, 52, an expert in infectious diseases–killed in carjacking, later deemed possible stroke. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02] Nov. 16: Don Wiley, 57, one of the world’s leading researchers of deadly viruses–body found in Mississippi River. [CNN, 12/22/01] Nov 21: Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, an expert in adapting germs and viruses for military use–stroke. [NY Times, 11/23/01] Dec 10: Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, a leading researcher on DNA sequencing analysis–slain at home. [Washington Post, 12/12/01] Dec 14: Nguyen Van Set, 44, his research organization had just come to fame for discovering a virus which can be modified to affect smallpox–dies in an airlock in his lab. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/01] Jan 2002: Ivan Glebov (bandit attack) and Alexi Brushlinski (killed in Moscow), both world-renowned members of the Russian Academy of Science. [Pravda, 2/9/02] Feb 9: Victor Korshunov, 56, head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University–killed by cranial injury. [Pravda, 2/9/02] Feb 11: Ian Langford, 40, one of Europe’s leading experts on environmental risk–murdered in home. [Times of London, 2/13/02] Feb 28 (2): Tanya Holzmayer, 46, helped create drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS, and Guyang Huang, 38, a brilliant scholar highly regarded in genetics–murder/suicide. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/28/02] Mar 24: David Wynn-Williams, 55, an astrobiologist with NASA Ames Research Center–killed while jogging. [Times of London, 3/27/02] Mar 25: Steven Mostow, 63, an expert on the threat of bioterrorism–private plane crash. [KUSA TV/NBC, 3/26/02]
November 14, 2001: The Northern Alliance capture the Afghan city of Jalalabad. [Sydney Morning Herald, 11/14/01] That night, a convoy of 1,000 or more al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape from Jalalabad and reach the fortress of Tora Bora after hours of driving and then walking. Bin Laden is believed to be with them, riding in one of “several hundred cars” in the convoy. The US bombs the nearby Jalalabad airport, but apparently not the convoy. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
Mid-November 2001 (A): Ismail Khan, governor of Herat province and one of Afghanistan’s most successful militia leaders, later claims that his troops and other Northern Alliance fighters held back at the request of the US from sweeping into Kandahar at this time. Khan maintains “we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters.” [USA Today, 1/2/02] British newspapers at the time report bin Laden is surrounded in a 30-mile area, but the conquest of Kandahar takes weeks without the Northern Alliance and bin Laden slips away. [CNN, 11/18/01]
Mid-November 2001 (B): 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. [Independent, 11/26/01] 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.” The flights are denied by the US and generally ignored in the US media. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Pakistan denies that there were any Pakistani military in Afghanistan at all. 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. 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]
November 16, 2001 (A): Dead microbiologist: Dr. Don Wiley, 57, disappears during a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee. [Fox News, 11/24/01] “Wiley is seen as one of the world’s leading researchers of deadly viruses, including HIV and the Ebola virus.” [CNN, 12/22/01] Wiley worked at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, and was an expert on the immune system’s response to viral attacks. He was widely regarded as the nation’s foremost expert in using special X-ray cameras and mathematical formulas to make high-resolution images of viruses. [Boston Globe, 12/21/01]
November 16, 2001 (B): According to Newsweek, approximately 600 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape Afghanistan on this day. Many senior leaders are in the group. They had walked a long trek from bombing in the Tora Bora region. There are two main routes out of the Tora Bora cave complex to Pakistan. The US bombed only one route, so the 600 escaped unattacked using the other route. Hundreds continue to use the route to escape for weeks, generally unbothered by US bombing or Pakistani border guards. [Newsweek, 8/11/02]
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 20, 2001: The five Israelis arrested on 9/11 for videotaping the WTC attack and then cheering about it (see September 11, 2001) are released and return to Israel. Some of the men’s names appeared in a US national intelligence database, and the FBI concluded that at least two of the men were working for the Mossad, according to ABC News. But the FBI says that none of them had any advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and they were released as part of a deal between the US and the Israeli governments. [Forward, 3/15/02, ABC News, 6/21/02]
November 21, 2001 (A): The Independent runs a story with the title: “Opium Farmers Rejoice at the Defeat of the Taliban.” Massive opium planting is underway all across Afghanistan. [Independent, 11/21/01] Four days later, the Observer runs a story headlined, “Victorious Warlords Set To Open the Opium Floodgates.” It states that farmers are being encouraged by warlords allied with the US to plant “as much opium as possible.” [Observer, 11/25/01]
November 21, 2001 (B): Dead microbiologist: World-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, dies of a stroke. Pasechnik, who defected to Britain in 1989, had played a huge role in the development of Russian biowarfare, heading a lab of 400 “with an unlimited budget” and “the best staff available.” He was connected to Britain’s spy agency. “In the last few weeks of his life, he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the [British] Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism.” [Times of London, 11/30/01, New York Times, 11/23/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 21, 2001 (C): The remains of all but one of the people on board Flight 77, including the hijackers, are identified. [Washington Post, 11/21/01, Mercury, 1/11/02] The strange thing about this is that 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?
December 2001: James Hauswirth, a retired Phoenix, Arizona FBI agent, writes a letter to FBI Director Mueller, criticizing the priorities at the Phoenix FBI office. “[Counter-terrorism] has always been the lowest priority in the division; it still is the lowest priority in the division,” even though Arizona had been one of the first hubs for radical Muslim groups in the US. Hauswirth particularly criticizes that “[Ken] Williams, regarded as the best terrorism agent in the office, had to interrupt his pre-Sept. 11 investigation of Middle Eastern flight students in order to spend six months on a high-profile arson case. … ‘He fought it. … Why take your best terrorism investigator and put him on an arson case? He didn’t have a choice.'” Williams briefly began investigating Middle Eastern students at an Arizona flight school in early 2000, but a series of difficulties including the arson case, prevented him from continuing on that case until June 2001. A month later he wrote a now-famous memo suggesting that terrorists might be training at US flight schools (see July 10, 2001). [New York Times, 6/19/02, Los Angeles Times, 5/26/02]
December 4, 2001: Convicted drug lord and opium kingpin Ayub Afridi is released from prison and recruited by the US government to help establish control in Afghanistan by unifying various Pashtun warlords. The former opium smuggler was one of the CIA’s leading assets in the Afghan war against the Russians. [Asia Times, 12/4/01]
December 10, 2001: Dead microbiologist: “Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, was stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02] Schwartz worked at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology on DNA sequencing and pathogenic microorganisms. He was “a brilliant scientist who had a gift for explaining complex scientific subjects in simple language.” [Washington Post, 12/12/01]
December 12-15, 2001: Fox News broadcasts a remarkable series about the Israeli “art student” spy ring. The report mentions that at least 60 more Israelis have been detained or arrested since 9/11. “There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it.” When a government source is asked if the Israeli spies knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened, he responds, “The principal question is ‘how could they have not known?'” “Investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying … is considered career suicide.” A highly placed investigator says there are ‘tie-ins’ between the spy ring and 9/11. But when asked for details, he flatly refuses to describe them, saying, “evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified.” The report also reveals that Amdocs, an Israeli company, is recording virtually every phone call in the US and could be passing information on to the Israeli government (similar claims were first raised in 2000 [Insight, 5/29/00]). Fox News suggests they might be using this position to impede the 9/11 investigation. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
December 14, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Nguyen Van Set, 44, dies in an airlock filled with nitrogen in his lab in Geelong, Australia. The lab had just been written up in the journal Nature for its work in genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
December 22, 2001: Afghani Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and his transitional government takes power in Afghanistan. It was revealed a few weeks before that he had been a paid consultant for Unocal, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister for the Taliban. [Le Monde, 12/13/01, CNN, 12/22/01]
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, has frequently been 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]
December 30, 2001: The new Afghan Interior Minister Younis Qanooni claims that the ISI helped bin Laden escape from Afghanistan: “Undoubtedly they (ISI) knew what was going on.” [BBC, 12/30/01]
January 2002: Two dead microbiologists: Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski. Pravda reports that Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and reports without explanation that Brushlinski was killed in Moscow. Both were “well known around the world” and members of the Russian Academy of Science. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
January 1, 2002: Zalamy Khalilzad, already a Special Assistant to the President, is appointed by Bush as a special envoy to Afghanistan. [BBC, 1/1/02] Khalilzad, a former employee of Unocal, took part in negotiations with the Taliban to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. He also wrote op-eds in the Washington Post in 1997 supporting the Taliban regime, back when Unocal was hoping to work with the Taliban. [Independent, 1/10/02] Now the US envoy is a former Unocal employee consulting with a prime minister who is a former Unocal employee (see December 22, 2001) in a country where Unocal might build gas and oil pipelines (see May 13, 2002).
January 4, 2002: A firefighter trade magazine with ties to the New York Fire Department calls the investigation into the collapse of the WTC a “half-baked farce.” The article points out that the probe has not looked at all aspects of the disaster and has had limited access to documents and other evidence. “The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately.” It concludes that a growing number of fire protection engineers have theorized that “the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers.” [Fire Engineering, 1/02, New York Daily News, 1/4/02]
January 23, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Pakistan. [Guardian, 1/25/02, BBC, 7/5/02] He is later murdered. “At the time of his abduction, Pearl was investigating links between Pakistani extremists and Richard C. Reid, the British man accused of trying to blow up an American airliner with explosives hidden in his sneakers. As part of that probe, Pearl may have strayed into areas involving Pakistan’s secret intelligence organizations.” [Washington Post, 2/23/02]
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.” [CNN, 1/29/02, Newsweek, 2/4/02]
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.” He also states that the 9/11 plot was “in the heads of three or four people” and thus nearly impossible to prevent. [USA Today, 2/7/02]
February 9, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Victor Korshunov, 56, is bashed over the head and killed at the entrance of his home in Moscow, Russia. He was the head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 10, 2002: Katherine Smith is killed one day before her 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. [AP, 2/13/02, Reuters, 2/15/02, Go Memphis, 2/12/02, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/21/02]
February 11, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Ian Langford, 40, is found dead, partially naked and wedged under a chair in his home in Norwich, England. One of his colleagues states: “Ian was without doubt one of Europe’s leading experts on environmental risk. He was one of the most brilliant colleagues I have ever had.” [Times of London, 2/13/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 14, 2002: The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv astutely notes: “If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in the Afghan war], one is struck by the fact that they are identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.” Ma’ariv also states, “Osama bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests… If I were a believer in conspiracy theory, I would think that bin Laden is an American agent.”[Chicago Tribune, 3/18/02]
February 18, 2002: The Financial Times reports that the estimated opium harvest in Afghanistan in June 2002 will reach a record 4500 metric tons. Afghanistan is supplying 95% of the heroin in Europe, but the US shows “little interest” in stopping the production. [Financial Times, 2/18/02]
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]
February 21, 2002: Police and intelligence agencies in Britain predict “a potentially huge increase in heroin trafficking because of massive and unchecked replanting of the opium crop in Afghanistan.” This dovetails with a UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention report, which has detected massive opium planting that had mostly stopped under the Taliban. Afghanistan is the source of 75% of the world’s heroin. [Guardian, 2/21/02] How is it that the Taliban managed to cut opium production to almost nothing, yet under US occupation forces opium planting is virtually unchecked?
February 25, 2002: Time reports that the second highest Taliban official in US custody, Mullah Haji Abdul Samat Khaksar, has been waiting for months for the CIA to talk to him. Even two weeks after Time informed US officials that Khaksar wanted to talk, no one has properly interviewed him. He says he has useful information, and may be able to help locate former Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Time notes that “he claims to have information about al-Qaeda links to the ISI.” [Time, 2/25/02] “The little that Khaksar has divulged – to an American general and his intelligence aide – is tantalizing.” “He says that the ISI agents are still mixed up with the Taliban and al-Qaeda,” and that all three have formed a new group to get the US out of Afghanistan. [Time, 2/19/02]
February 28, 2002 (A): 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% believe that Arabs were responsible and 61% do not. [Guardian, 2/28/02]
February 28, 2002 (B): Two dead microbiologists in San Francisco: While taking delivery of a pizza, Tanya Holzmayer, 46, is shot and killed by a colleague, Guyang Huang, 38, who then apparently shoots himself. Holzmayer moved to the US from Russia in 1989. Her research focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine. Holzmayer was focusing on helping create new drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/28/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
Early March 2002: The book l’Effroyable Imposture (The Horrifying Fraud) is published in France. The book denies that a passenger airliner crashed in the Pentagon on 9/11. It is written by Thierry Meyssan, “president of the Voltaire Network, a respected independent think tank whose left-leaning research projects have until now been considered models of reasonableness and objectivity.” [Guardian, 4/1/02] The book is widely denounced by the media, but nonetheless sets a French publishing record for first-month sales. [Time, Europe version, 5/20/02] One of Meyssan’s theories is that people within the US government wanted to hit the Pentagon for its propaganda effect, but didn’t want to create a lot of damage or kill important people like Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. They note that the crash hit the one section under construction, thus greatly reducing the loss of life. Furthermore, the wall at point of impact was the first and only one to be reinforced and have blast-resistant windows installed as part of an upgrade plan. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01]
March 1, 2002: The ISI pressures an important Pakistani newspaper, The News, to fire four journalists. The editor also flees the country in response. These journalists had reported on connections between Saeed Sheikh, arrested for the murder of Daniel Pearl, and recent attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi and Kashmir. This information comes from an article titled, “There’s Much More To Daniel Pearl’s Murder Than Meets the Eye,” and that certainly seems to be the case. [Washington Post, 3/10/02]
March 2, 2002: A New York Times article theorizes that a diesel fuel tank was responsible for the collapse of WTC Building 7. 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 stored files for 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. [New York 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 Secret Service also lost investigative files. Says one agent: “All the evidence 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 5, 2002: It is reported that many spies in the uncovered Israeli spy ring seemed to have been trailing the 9/11 hijackers. For instance, five Israeli spies are intercepted in the tiny town of Hollywood, Florida, and four 9/11 hijackers are known to have spent time in Hollywood, Florida. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Reuters, 3/5/02, Jane’s Intelligence Digest, 3/15/02] In one case, some Israeli spies lived at 4220 Sheridan Street, only a few hundred feet from where Atta was living at 3389 Sheridan Street. Israeli spies appear to have been close to at least 10 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. [Salon, 5/7/02]
March 6, 2002: A Washington Post article completely denies the existence of any Israeli spy ring. A “wide array of US officials” supposedly deny it, and Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden says: “This seems to be an urban myth that has been circulating for months.” [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 9/11 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] 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 is hard to see, here is an enlarged version with the plane and its exhaust circled.
March 13, 2002: Bush says of bin Laden: “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.” What concerns Bush now? “I am deeply concerned about Iraq.” [White House, 3/13/02] On April 6, Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Myers states: “the goal has never been to get bin Laden.” [Department of Defense, 4/6/02]
May 15, 2002: For the first time, the White House admits that Bush was warned about bin Laden hijacking aircraft and wanting to attack the US in Aug 2001. It is unclear why they waited eight months to reveal this. The Press Secretary states that while Bush had been warned of possible hijackings, “the president did not receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers.” Yet the August memo left little doubt that the hijacked airliners were intended for use as missiles and that US targets were intended. [New York Times, 5/16/02, Washington Post, 5/16/02, Guardian, 5/19/02]
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. 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’ 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’ 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 24, 2002 (A): The Sunday Times reports that records of bin Laden’s satellite phone calls indicate that before 9/11 he and his most senior lieutenants made over 260 calls from their base in Afghanistan to 27 numbers in Britain. They included calls to suspected terrorist agents, sympathizers and companies. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02, Sunday Herald, 5/19/02]
March 24, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: David Wynn-Williams, 55, is hit by a car while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England. He was an astrobiologist with NASA Ames Research Center. He was studying the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming. [Times of London, 3/27/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 25, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Steven Mostow, 63, dies when the airplane he was piloting crashes near Denver, Colorado. He worked at the Colorado Health Sciences Centre and was known for his expertise in bioterrorism. Mostow was “one of the country’s leading infectious disease experts.” Mostow’s death bring the total number of leading microbiologists killed in a six-month period to at least 13. [KUSA TV, 3/26/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
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 ABC News 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]
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 and interviews with officials and relatives. New details of their struggle on board emerge, 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 that “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] These statements are clearly lies. 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. [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] The Wall Street Journal 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.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] The FBI claims numerous decrypts of al-Qaeda messages just prior to 9/11. Moussaoui’s laptop was found to contain important information, etc… In October 2001, USA Today reported many e-mails coordinating their plans written by the hijackers in internet cafes have been recovered by investigators, and the hijackers weren’t using encryption. [USA Today, 10/1/01]
May 7, 2002: Salon reports on the Israeli “art student” ring. All the “students” claim to have come from either Bezalel Academy, or the University of Jerusalem. A look in the Bezalel database shows that not a single one of them appear to have attended school there. There is no such thing as the University of Jerusalem. In fact, the article points out that the sheer sloppiness and brazenness of the spy operation appears to be a great mystery, especially since the Mossad is renowned as one of the best spy agencies in the world. One government source suggests a theory to Salon that the “art students” were actually a smoke screen. They were meant to be caught and connected to DEA surveillance so that a smaller number of spies also posing as art students could complete other missions. One such mission could have been the monitoring of al-Qaeda terrorists. [Salon, 5/7/02] Shortly afterwards, a major Israeli newspaper publishes a story about the spy ring, but doesn’t come to any conclusions. [Ha’aretz, 5/14/02]
May 8, 2002: FBI Director Mueller: “there was nothing the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the [9/11] attacks.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
May 13, 2002: The BBC reports that Afghanistan is about to close a deal for construction of the $2 billion gas pipeline to run from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. “Work on the project will start after an agreement is expected to be struck” at a summit scheduled for the end of the month. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal) calls Unocal the “lead company” in building the pipeline. [BBC, 5/13/02] The Los Angeles Times comments, “To some here, it looked like the fix was in for Unocal when President Bush named a former Unocal consultant, Zalmay Khalilzad, as his special envoy to Afghanistan late last year.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02]
May 15, 2002: The Bush Administration is embarrassed when the CBS Evening News reveals that Bush had been warned about al-Qaeda domestic attacks in August 2001 (see August 6, 2001). Bush had repeatedly said that he had “no warning” of any kind. White House 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 it’s 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.” [Guardian, 5/19/02]
May 17, 2002 (A): “Members of congressional committees investigating pre-September 11 warnings said yesterday that there is far more damaging information that has not yet been disclosed about the government’s knowledge of events leading up to September 11. ‘We’ve just scratched the surface,’ said Senator Richard C. Shelby, ranking Republican member of the Senate intelligence committee.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02]
May 17, 2002 (B): 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 21, 2002 (A): 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. [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.” [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.” 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 (B): Abdulla Noman, a former employee of the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers got their visas, says that he took money and gifts to provide fraudulent visas to foreigners. He pleads guilty and is convicted. About 50 to 100 visas were improperly issued by Noman from September 1996 until November 2001, when he was arrested. However, a former visa officer in Jeddah, Michael Springman, has claimed in the past that the Jeddah office was notorious for purposefully giving visas to terrorists to train in the US. [AP, 5/21/02] If this is true, then was Noman “the fall guy” to provide a cover story?
May 21-24, 2002: A New York Times editorial says it’s time to “light a fire under the FBI in its investigation of the anthrax case. Experts in the bioterror field are already buzzing about a handful of individuals who had the ability, access and motive to send the anthrax.” [New York Times, 5/24/02] Similarly, the Guardian suggests that the FBI investigation is moving deliberately slow because the federal authorities have something to hide, stating “there is surely a point after which incompetence becomes an insufficient explanation for failure.” [Guardian, 5/21/02]
May 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.
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/Reuters, 5/30/02] Wright claims the FBI shut down his 1998 criminal probe into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City (see October 1998). He uses words like “prevented,” “thwarted,” “obstructed,” “threatened,” “intimidated,” and “retaliation” to describe the actions of his superiors. He also alleges that for years the US was training Hamas terrorists to make car bombs to use against Israel, one of the US’s closest allies (see also June 9, 2001). [LA Weekly, 8/2/02]
May 31, 2002: At some point prior to this date, when asked why the August 6, 2001 memo read by Bush on al-Qaeda has not been released (see August 6, 2001),Vice President Cheney calls the CIA memo just a “rehash” containing nothing new or interesting. But why Congress should not see it, Cheney says, “because it contains the most sensitive sources and methods. It’s the family jewels.” [Christian Science Monitor, 5/31/02
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]
June 3, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy states: “Even in the 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]
June 4, 2002: 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.” [Times of London, 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 had told them what it knew about 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 18, 2002: FBI Director Mueller testifies before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. [Associated Press, 9/26/02] He claims that with the possible exception of Zacarias Moussaoui, “[t]o 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 9/11 Congressional 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]
June 20, 2002: The long-awaited loya jirga, or grand council, is concluded in Afghanistan. This council was supposed to be a traditional method for the Afghan people to select their leaders, but the council is clearly rigged (as an important think tank later concludes). [BBC, 8/1/02] Half of the delegates walk out in protest. [CNN, 6/18/02] One delegate states, “This is worse than our worst expectations. The warlords have been promoted and the professionals kicked out. Who calls this democracy?” Delegates complain, “This is interference by foreign countries”, obviously meaning the US. The New York Times publishes an article (“The Warlords Win in Kabul”) pointing out that the “very forces responsible for countless brutalities” in past governments are back in power. [New York Times, 6/21/02] These are the same warlords that have controlled the drug trade for years.
July 10, 2002: A briefing given to a top Pentagon advisory group states, “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader … Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies.” They are called “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent.” This position still runs counter to official US policy, but the Washington Post says it “represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration.” The briefing suggests that the Saudis be given an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States. [Washington Post, 8/6/02]
July 19, 2002: Faced with growing criticism of its Visa Express program (see May 2001), the State Department early in the month decides merely to change the name of the program. When that fails to satisfy critics, the program is abandoned altogether on July 19th. The Visa Express program allowed anyone in Saudi Arabia to apply for US visas through their travel agents instead of having to show up at a consulate in person. [Washington Post, 7/11/02]
July 21, 2002: In an article titled, “Anthrax: the Noose Widens,” Time magazine reports, “Despite recent claims by some in the bioterrorism community that the investigation should be homing in on one particular American bioweapons expert, the FBI appears to be moving in the opposite direction. US government officials say the investigation is still ranging far and wide and that the FBI has not ruled out a foreign connection.” [Time, 7/21/02]
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: Many soldiers in Kandahar state that 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 soldiers’ statements, 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]
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. Congress members 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 11, 2002 (A): 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 (B): In the past, Afghanistan had mostly exported raw opium, but now many new refineries are converting the opium into heroin. The British government has spent �20 million to eradicate opium, but the program is marred by corruption and largely seen as a failure. The new heroin factories are said to be “working in broad daylight.” There has been a rash of bombings and assassinations in Afghanistan as various factions fight over drug profits. The Observer was able to determine the precise location of some of these factories, but the US led forces in Afghanistan are doing nothing to stop them. [Observer, 8/11/02]
August 11, 2002 (C): The New York Times has an article on the mysterious deaths of numerous microbiologists, and strongly argues the entire thing is a coincidence. [New York Times, 8/11/02]
August 13, 2002: On the Donahue TV show, Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says the following about Bush’s behavior on 9/11: “It was clear that we were under attack. Why didn’t the Secret Service whisk [Bush] out of that school? He was on live local television in Florida. The terrorists, you know, had been in Florida. I mean, we find that out now. He was less than 10 miles from an airport. And I am concerned. I want to know why he sat there for 25 minutes.” She further states, “I don’t understand how a plane could hit our Defense Department, which is the Pentagon, an hour after the first plane hit the first tower. I don’t understand how that is possible. I’m a reasonable person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars on national defense and you’re telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon, our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th.” [Donahue, 8/13/02] Why have mainstream journalists largely continued to ignore these issues?
August 15, 2002: 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. 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 23, 2002: The government starts giving out large cash compensations to the relatives of the 9/11 attack victims. However, in order to qualify, the families have to promise not to sue anyone. There are many lawsuits in motion. [AP, 8/23/02]
August 27, 2002: The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has recently signed a treaty committing the US to respond to “any external threat” to the country. Uzbekistan’s foreign minister: “The logic of the situation suggests that the United States has come here with a serious purpose, and for a long time.” The other Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – have similar agreements with the US. The US claims it is supporting democracy in these nations, but experts say authoritarianism has been on the rise since 9/11. A new US military base in Uzbekistan currently holds about 1,000 US soldiers, but is being greatly enlarged. The Washington Post article makes the general point that the US is replacing Russia as the dominant power in Central Asia. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
August 29, 2002: German authorities charge a Moroccan man named Mounir El Motassadeq with complicity in the 9/11 attacks. He is a Moroccan who was arrested in Germany two months after 9/11. He is only the second person in the world to be charged with any crime related to the 9/11 attacks, after Moussaoui. [AFP, 8/29/02, New York Times, 8/29/02, Telegraph, 8/30/02]El Motassadeq is the only person in the world ever convicted of involvement in 2001, yet his conviction is overturned by an appellate court in March 2004 because the U.S. refuses to allow Ramzi bin al-Shibh to testify. [PBS, 1/25/2005] Why haven’t we heard more about this?
September 5, 2002: 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]
September 11, 2002: 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 18, 2002: 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). She cites a 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]
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 the Vice President made to try and stop it earlier in the year (see January 24, 2002).
Oct 5, 2002: Congressional investigators say the FBI’s efforts to block their inquiry makes them skeptical of FBI assertions. They also say the Justice Department has joined the FBI in fighting congressional requests for information, while the CIA has been antagonistic. [NY Times, 10/5/02]
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. [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. The FBI unsuccessfully tried to prevent Butler from testifying.
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. 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 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. [Washington Post, 10/22/02] The former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah states he was repeatedly ordered by high level State Dept officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants. He says he later complained to the State Department, the General Accounting Office, and to the Inspector General’s office, yet was met with silence. [BBC, 11/6/01] 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 23, 2002: Visa applications for the 15 Saudi Arabian hijackers are made public, and six separate experts agree: “All of them should have been denied entry [into the US].” Joel Mowbray, who first breaks the story for the conservative National Review, says he is shocked by what he saw: “I really was expecting al-Qaeda to have trained their operatives well, to beat the system. They didn’t have to beat the system. The system was rigged in their favor from the get-go.” A former US consular officer says the visas show a pattern of criminal negligence. Some examples: “Abdulaziz Alomari claimed to be a student but didn’t name a school; claimed to be married but didn’t name a spouse; under nationality and gender, he didn’t list anything.” “Khalid Almihdhar … simply listed ‘Hotel’ as his US destination – no name, no city, no state – but no problem getting a visa.” Only one actually gave a US destination, and one stated his destination as “no.” Only Hani Hanjour had a slight delay in acquiring his visa. His first application was flagged, because he wrote he wanted to visit for three years when the legal limit is two. When he returned two weeks later, he simply changed the form to read “one year” and was accepted. The experts agree that even allowing for chance, incompetence and human error, the odds were that only a few should have been approved. [ABC News, 10/23/02, National Review, 10/9/02]
October 27, 2002: The Los Angeles Times exposes a leaked August 16, 2002 report from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s influential Defense Science Board 2002. The board “recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization 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.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/27/02, Asia Times, 11/5/02]
October 29, 2002: MSNBC reports that of the “more than 800 people” rounded up since 9/11, “only 10 have been linked in any way to the hijackings” and “probably will turn out to be innocent.” [Newsweek, 10/29/02] Though many were held for months, the vast majority were never charged with anything other than overstaying a visa. [NY Times, 7/11/02]
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]
November 27, 2002: President Bush names Henry Kissinger as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. 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 [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 to assassinate thousands of political opponents.” He is also famous for an “obsession with secrecy.” [BBC, 4/26/02] It is 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 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]
December 4, 2002: Marion Bowman, the person who refused to seek a special warrant for a search of Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings before the 9/11 attacks, (see August 23-27, 2001 and August 28, 2001 (D)) is among nine recipients of bureau awards for “exceptional performance.” The award came shortly after a 9/11 Congressional inquiry report that said Bowman’s unit gave Minneapolis FBI agents “inexcusably confused and inaccurate information” that was ”patently false.” [Star Tribune, 12/22/02] Bowman’s unit also blocked an urgent request by FBI agents to begin searching for Khalid Almihdhar after his name was put on a watch list (see August 29, 2001). In early 2000, the FBI acknowledged serious blunders in surveillance Bowman’s unit conducted during sensitive terrorism and espionage investigations, including agents who illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission, and recorded the wrong phone conversations. [AP, 1/10/03] Mueller also promotes Pasquale D’Amuro, the FBI’s counter-terrorism chief in New York City before 9/11, to the bureau’s top counter-terrorism post. A former Justice Department official says Mueller has “promoted the exact same people who have presided over the … failure.” [Time, 12/30/02]
December 9, 2002: US commanders have rejected as too risky many special operations missions to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. After Army Green Beret A-Teams received good intelligence on the whereabouts of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, commanders turned down the missions as too dangerous. [Washington Times, 12/9/02]
December 11, 2002: A Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigating the performance of government agencies before the 9/11 attacks releases its final report. The committee accuses the Bush administration of refusing to declassify information, criticizes the FBI, 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.” 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] Senator 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, Committee Recommendations] Shelby says that Tenet should resign. “There have been more failures on his watch as far as massive intelligence failures than any CIA director in history. Yet he’s still there. It’s inexplicable to me.” [Reuters, 12/10/02, PBS Newshour, 12/11/02]
December 13, 2002: Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, copy of resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC, 12/13/02, Seattle Times, 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan. [Washington Post, 10/5/98, Salon, 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02]
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. [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] The mainstream media has barely mentioned Kean’s conflict of interest with Amerada Hess. [AP, 1/20/03]
Jan 13, 2003: The worldwide turmoil caused by US government policies goes not exactly unreported, but entirely de-emphasized. Guardian writers are inundated by e-mails from Americans asking why their own papers never print what is in UK papers. If there is a Watergate scandal lurking in this administration, it is unlikely to be [Washington Post’s 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]
March 26, 2003: Though the investigation into the space shuttle Columbia tragedy cost $50 million and the Ken Starr investigation of Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky ran $64 million, the White House balks at increasing funding beyond $3 million for the 9/11 Commission’s investigation into the worst terror attack ever. The latest effort to curtail funding has angered victims of the attacks. “The White House decision was another in a long line of efforts to water down or shrink the panel’s role.” [Time, 3/26/03, MSNBC, 9/20/06]
July 22, 2004: The 9/11 Commission Report is published. It fails to mention that a year before the attacks a secret Pentagon project named Able Danger had identified four 9/11 hijackers, including leader Mohamed Atta. The Commission spokesperson initially states members were not informed of this, but later acknowledges they were. [New York Times, 8/11/05]
Nov 19, 2004: The fear that Afghanistan might degenerate into a narco-state is becoming a reality. Afghanistan has surpassed Colombia as the world’s biggest gross producer of illicit narcotics, heroin being the “main engine of economic growth” and the “strongest bond” among tribes that previously fought constantly. What we have here now is a narco-economy where 40 to 50 percent of the GDP is from illicit drugs. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19/04] How does a country controlled by the US become the largest producer of illegal drugs? For a possible answer, click here.
Nov 17, 2005: Former FBI Director Louis Freeh: “The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it ‘was not historically significant.’ This astounding conclusion—in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings—raises serious challenges to the commission’s credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/17/05]
2004 – 2005: A growing number of top government officials and public leaders express disbelief in the official story of 9/11. Some even believe 9/11 may have been an inside job. 100 prominent leaders and forty 9/11 family members sign a statement calling for an unbiased inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the attacks to occur. [Various Publications]
August 9, 2006: A shocking new book by the 9/11 Commission co-chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton says we still don’t know the whole truth about 9/11. The book outlines repeated misstatements by the Pentagon and the FAA. Untrue–the military’s original timeline of United Flight 93. Equally untrue, the government’s timeline for American Flight 77 and details about fighter jets scrambled to intercept it. CNN News anchor Lou Dobbs: “The fact that the government would permit deception…and perpetuate the lie suggests that we need a full investigation of what is going on.” [CNN, 8/9/06 , MSNBC/AP, 8/4/06, more]
2006-2014: Over 50 senior government officials from the military, intelligence, Cabinet and Congress, and over 100 highly respected professors, including engineers, physicists, architects, philosophers and theologians publicly criticize The 9/11 Commission Report as flawed, and call for a new, independent investigation. Over 2,000 architects and engineers have created a website calling for a new investigation. Some even claim rogue elements of government were involved in the attacks. [Officials, Professors, Architects and Engineers]
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