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October 22, 2015

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Pre-9/11 Warnings about Al-Qaeda, Cheney’s Military Aide on 9/11, and More

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — Matt @ 5:26 am
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New entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, which cover various events relating to the 9/11 attacks. Many of them describe warnings about the danger posed by al-Qaeda that were given in the 12 months leading up to 9/11 and some describe events from the day of September 11, 2001, itself.

Donald Rumsfeld Was Concerned about a Possible ‘Modern-Day Version’ of Pearl Harbor

A couple of new timeline entries deal with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s preoccupation, in the months before 9/11, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941 that led America to enter World War II. In March 2001, Rumsfeld sent members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a copy of the foreword to a book, which discussed the US government failures that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor. And in July that year, he wrote a note to himself in which he expressed his fear of the United States experiencing a “modern-day version” of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Other senior officials talked, in the months before 9/11, about the possibility of a Pearl Harbor-like event happening in the future. In June 2001, Army General Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the US Central Command, gave a speech in which he said the US needed to prepare for an “asymmetric” attack resembling the attack on Pearl Harbor. And on the day before 9/11, Charles Nemfakos, deputy under secretary of the Navy, said during a briefing that the US would have to suffer an attack comparable to the attack on Pearl Harbor before it would address the problems with its defense policy.

Officials Warned about the Danger Posed by Al-Qaeda

A number of new entries describe warnings that were made, in the 12 months before 9/11, about al-Qaeda and the possibility that it would carry out an attack in the United States.

In September 2000, CIA officer Ben Bonk warned Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush of the threat posed by Islamic extremist groups and said that, in the next four years, Americans would be sure to die in a terrorist attack. At the end of May 2001, terrorism experts Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in which they stated that al-Qaeda was “planning new attacks on the US.”

In the summer of 2001, Tommy Franks raised concerns that al-Qaeda would attack Western facilities in the Middle East using planes loaded with explosives. Four days before 9/11, Franks actually told his intelligence officers his greatest fear was that terrorists would attack the World Trade Center.

One week before 9/11, White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke wrote a memo in which he warned that “hundreds of Americans” could die in an al-Qaeda attack. And on the day before 9/11, a report was issued to Congress, which stated that al-Qaeda “wants to strike within the United States.”

There were also concerns that the Pentagon could be the target of an attack. At some time in the year 2000, a software system commissioned by the Department of Defense determined that the building was vulnerable to a terrorist attack. And, prior to 9/11, some Pentagon Renovation Program workers were concerned about the possibility of a “crazy pilot” deliberately crashing a plane into the Pentagon. And yet, at some unspecified time before 9/11, senior FBI agent John O’Neill told Senate Intelligence Committee staffers there were no threats to aviation in the United States.

Air Defense Exercise Was Based on Bin Laden Attacking Washington

A couple of entries reveal how personnel at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector, who were responsible for protecting the airspace in which the hijackings occurred on September 11, were made aware of the al-Qaeda threat. They were briefed about the danger posed by Osama bin Laden in July 2001, and on August 4, 2001, they participated in a training exercise based around the scenario of bin Laden using a drone aircraft to attack a prominent target in the Washington, DC, area.

An entry describes three “economic security exercises” held between 1997 and 1999 by the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and Wall Street bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald, in which participants considered scenarios such as terrorists attacking the US financial community with bombings using aircraft. The Naval War College and Cantor Fitzgerald subsequently held three “war game workshops” at the World Trade Center, which apparently served as good preparation for the challenges of the post-9/11 world.

NORAD Didn’t Tell the Pentagon about the Hijackings on September 11

Other new timeline entries describe events from the day of September 11.

For more than 50 minutes after it learned a plane had been hijacked, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) failed to inform the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon about the hijacking. And for at least 50 minutes after its fighter jets set up a combat air patrol (CAP) over Washington, NORAD failed to tell the Pentagon’s air threat conference call that the CAP had been established.

Several entries describe the actions of Douglas Cochrane, Vice President Dick Cheney’s military aide, in response to the terrorist attacks. After he learned a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, Cochrane went from his office to the White House Situation Room and then, briefly, to Cheney’s office. After he saw the second crash at the World Trade Center live on television, he returned to his office to fetch the “nuclear football”–a briefcase that holds the codes necessary for the vice president to initiate a nuclear attack. He subsequently joined Cheney in an underground tunnel that leads to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center below the White House, where he was told that an aircraft had hit the Pentagon.

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November 27, 2013

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Aborted Plan to Assassinate Bin Laden, Dick Cheney and Family on Sept. 11, Secret Service Response to Attacks, and More


A large number of new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, including many that reveal details about the events of September 11, 2001, and others that describe important events from the years preceding the 9/11 attacks.

Security Chief Predicted Attacks on the WTC

Several entries relate to the actions of Rick Rescorla, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s vice president for security at the World Trade Center, and his friend and former Army colleague Dan Hill. In 1990, the two men wrote a report that predicted a terrorist attack at the WTC closely resembling the 1993 bombing, involving a truck bomb in the underground garage. In the aftermath of the 1993 WTC bombing, Hill and Rescorla conducted an analysis of security and predicted that terrorists would attack the towers again, probably by crashing a plane into them. Rescorla consulted his friend Fred McBee, who, by using a flight simulator program on his computer, concluded that such a scenario was “very viable.”

In 1998, Hill came up with a plan to go to Afghanistan and kill Osama bin Laden. In spring 2000, he met with an FBI agent to discuss the plan and request US military assistance. But a year later, after she consulted FBI headquarters, the agent informed Hill that his request had been rejected and so he had to drop his plan.

Some entries relate to training exercises held at the World Trade Center. In one drill, conducted in 1982, the Port Authority and other agencies actually practiced for the scenario of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers. In March 1993, during public hearings that examined the security aspects of the recent WTC bombing, Guy Tozzoli, a former director of the World Trade Department, said the Port Authority should again train for the possibility of a plane hitting the WTC, but his recommendation was ignored. However, in June 1999, September 2000, and summer 2001, the Port Authority and the New York City Fire Department held realistic exercises that simulated a major fire on an upper floor of the WTC.

Vice President Cheney Evacuated to the White House Bunker

Many new entries describe events from the day of 9/11, especially looking at the actions of Vice President Dick Cheney, his wife, Lynne Cheney, and their Secret Service agents.

James Scott, Dick Cheney’s lead Secret Service agent, learned of the first crash at the World Trade Center from television and then alerted the other members of Cheney’s Secret Service detail to the news. After the second crash, he discussed what to do in response with a supervisor. He headed to the West Wing of the White House and joined Cheney’s other agents there at 9:30 a.m.

At around 9:35 a.m., the agents learned that a suspicious aircraft was approaching Washington, DC, and consequently evacuated Cheney from his office at around 9:36 a.m., according to some accounts. (However, other accounts have suggested that Cheney was evacuated at around 9:03 a.m.) About a minute after leaving his office, Cheney reached an underground tunnel leading to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), a bunker below the White House.

Lynne Cheney Evacuated from Hair Salon to the White House

Lynne Cheney, meanwhile, was at a hair salon near the White House when the planes hit the WTC and was told what had happened by one of her Secret Service agents. But she was only evacuated from the hair salon shortly after 9:33 a.m., when the Secret Service learned of the unidentified plane approaching Washington. Furthermore, when she reached the White House, guards initially tried to prevent her car from entering the grounds. And after Cheney entered the White House, the Secret Service agent who accompanied her was initially confused about where he should take her.

Lynne Cheney finally joined her husband in the tunnel leading to the PEOC at around 9:55 a.m., and the couple went into the PEOC at around 9:58 a.m.

Liz Cheney, the eldest daughter of Dick and Lynne Cheney, phoned her father after the second crash at the WTC to tell him what was happening. Around late morning to early afternoon, Secret Service agents took her and her children to a secure government facility in rural Virginia, where she was soon joined by her husband. Later in the afternoon, the Secret Service moved Cheney, her husband, and their children to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

The Secret Service’s Response to the Attacks

Some timeline entries describe other aspects of the Secret Service’s response to the 9/11 attacks. For example, following the crashes at the World Trade Center, a Secret Service agent contacted a “structural collapse team” at an Army base just outside Washington, to let it know that the Secret Service might need its assistance. And Brian Stafford, the director of the Secret Service, activated the Director’s Crisis Center (DCC) at Secret Service headquarters to manage the Secret Service’s response to the attacks. Another agent, Danny Spriggs, joined Stafford in the DCC at 9:35 a.m., but found his agency’s ability to respond was hindered by the poor quality of the information they received in the center.

Furthermore, Secret Service executives only implemented an “emergency call-up” of all agency personnel after the Pentagon attack. And members of the Secret Service emergency response team who were on the ground when President Bush’s helicopter arrived at the White House early in the evening were ordered to pull back out of camera range, which meant they were too far from the president to respond effectively if something bad had happened.

After he learned of the events in New York, Carl Truscott, the Secret Service special agent in charge of the presidential protective division, called three colleagues to his office for a meeting. During the meeting, the agents discussed “security enhancements” at the White House, and the Secret Service subsequently began implementing those security enhancements.

Sometime before 9:45 a.m., Truscott was alerted to the suspicious aircraft approaching Washington and he consequently ordered the evacuation of the White House. The Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, was, like the White House, evacuated at 9:45 a.m.

Following his meeting, Truscott headed to the PEOC, but he stopped on the way to take National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with him. Before going, Rice briefly spoke on the phone with President Bush. She entered the PEOC shortly before 10:00 a.m.

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January 10, 2010

Update: Iraq-Niger/Plame Wilson


As some of you are aware, I am working diligently to construct a complete and accurate timeline of events surrounding the Iraq-Niger uranium controversy — where Bush officials used forged documents to claim that Iraq had attempted to buy weapons-grade uranium from Niger, presumably to construct nuclear devices — and the subsequent outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, whose husband, Joseph Wilson, had played a key role in proving that claim false. It appears incontrovertible that the White House outed Plame Wilson to the press in an attempt to smear her husband’s credibility and to intimidate others from publicly criticizing the administration.

335 entries have been published so far, and more are in the “pipeline,” to be published within the next few days, but that steady flow will slow down for a while. There are numerous reasons for the upcoming slowdown, including my heavy (non-HC) work schedule, but it is largely because I am incorporating a tremendous amount of information that isn’t in the original entries. Much of it comes from Murray Waas’s invaluable series of articles printed in the National Journal, and quite a few other sources besides, including Scott McClellan’s book What Happened. I also want to get a copy of Marcy Wheeler’s book Anatomy of Deceit, but that may have to wait for a while. When I get it, I will use it to supplement and extend the existing entries. If you know of other reliable sources of information, link them in the comments, please.

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September 11, 2009

Former Powell Chief of Staff: Cheney Is a ‘Sith Lord’


There was a great interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, at a website called The Public Record yesterday. I’d never heard of the website before, but it seems pretty sound. The whole interview is worth reading and covers lots of interesting ground, but here are just a few of the key excerpts:

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August 29, 2009

Andrew Sullivan Provides a Perfect Example of the ‘Cheney Behind Torture’ Narrative

Filed under: Torture and Abuse — kevinfenton @ 9:08 am
Tags: ,

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post saying that a whole bunch of people seemed to think former Vice President Dick Cheney was the driving force behind the Bush administration’s torture programme. I summarised the mindset of these people like this:

Vice President Dick Cheney was both shocked by 9/11 and saw it as an opportunity to implement radical elements of his own agenda. Therefore, he got the CIA and other elements of the government to step up its already active rendition programme, add a detention and torture programme of its own and, we now find, go around the world assassinating people. He also arranged legal cover for all this by getting mid-level people at the Justice Department like John Yoo to sign off on it, under pressure from Cheney’s counsel David Addington.

Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan was one of the people I had in mind when I wrote this and, in response to the recent publication of the CIA inspector general’s report he wrote the following:

What we now know is that immediately after 9/11, Dick Cheney decided that torture was going to be his principal weapon in waging the intelligence war on al Qaeda.

He knew this was illegal but believed he was saving the country and also believed that the constitution empowers the president to assume total, dictatorial powers in war-time. So he sabotaged the usual institutional checks, told the president everything was legal and “not torture”, took the US out of the Geneva Conventions, hired freelance goons to devise torture techniques, and began torturing the prisoners as they came in. He realized all along that this was illegal by the lights of every sane legal professional, and so then directed pliable fanatics, like John Yoo, to create legal memos to grant retroactive immunity – a golden shield – for all those involved in the torture. He then used the crudest politicking to brow-beat all defenses of American honor, decency and real interrogation as abetters of the enemy.

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July 16, 2009

An Alternate Look at the Torture Narrative

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline,Torture and Abuse — kevinfenton @ 1:08 am
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Over the past few years, as the revelations about the torturing of detainees have built up, a narrative of what happens seems to have emerged. It goes something like this:

Vice President Dick Cheney was both shocked by 9/11 and saw it as an opportunity to implement radical elements of his own agenda. Therefore, he got the CIA and other elements of the government to step up its already active rendition programme, add a detention and torture programme of its own and, we now find, go around the world assassinating people. He also arranged legal cover for all this by getting mid-level people at the Justice Department like John Yoo to sign off on it, under pressure from Cheney’s counsel David Addington.

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July 15, 2009

The Origins of the CIA’s Assassination Program: Who Proposed It, What Its Code Name Was

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 12:13 am
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The CIA assassination programme that was recently in the media was actually first partially revealed by the Washington Post in 2005, when details enabling his originator to be identified were published. The programme made news in the last few days as CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted that the agency withheld information about it from Congress, although the CIA never actually used it to assassinate anybody. Nevertheless, the programme’s “duties” seem to have been taken over by something journalist Seymour Hersh called an “executive assassination wing” that was run out of the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney, and this grouping did go on missions and kill people.

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January 3, 2009

Books for 2009


Here’s some of the books I’m reading, and will post about, in the early weeks of 1999:

U.S. Vs. Them by J. Peter Scoblic (already being processed and included, largely in the US International Relations project);

Angler by Barton Gellman (another Cheney bio, probably will add to the two Iraq projects, the 9/11 project, the Propaganda project, and the International Relations project);

Torture Team by Phillipe Sands (mostly info for the Prisoner Abuse and Civil Liberties projects).

One of these days, I’d like to work on John Dean’s Watergate biography, Blind Ambition, but updating and extending the Watergate project isn’t one of my main priorities right now.

What are you reading this year?

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