Timeline: 2001

George W. Bush

The presidency of George W. Bush begins. He has promised to make no attempts at nation building abroad, to give tax breaks for everyone, and to help the challenged through compassionate conservatism.

Jan 11  President-elect Bush has a top-secret session with the US military Joint Chiefs of Staff, reviewing spots around world where he might have to send US forces. The focus is on Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Bush has been critical of the Clinton administration for allowing the international coalition against Iraq to erode and the sanctions against Iraq to loosen.

Jan 17  President Clinton's National Security Advisor meets with Bush's appointed National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice. An attack by terrorists within the United States is Berger's over-riding concern, and he tells Rice: "I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject."

Jan 20  President Clinton pardons 111 people, including Susan McDougal, Patricia Hearst Shaw, and his half-brother Roger Clinton. George W. Bush is sworn in as President of the United States.

Jan 25  Richard Clarke, member of the National Security Council, who had served three previous presidents, sends a memo to Rice suggesting a major presidential policy review to address the "challenge" to the US posed by the al Qaeda network.  

Jan 28  A defector from Saddam Hussein's Iraq tells the British newspaper, The Telegraph, that Hussein has two fully operational nuclear bombs and is working on others.

Jan 30  The Bush administration holds its first National Security Council meeting. Iraq gets attention and al Qaeda does not, or hardly any. At the meeting, CIA director George Tenet states that a factory in Iraq might be producing either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture. He admits that there is no confirming intelligence.

Feb 12  The Human Genome Project international consortium announces the publication of an analysis of the human genome: a blueprint of the sequence of the three billion chemical letters embodied in genetic heredity.

Feb 15  Former senators Hart and Rudman issue their final report on national security. It warns that the US is unprepared for a "catastrophic'' domestic terrorist attack.

Feb 15  President Bush tells the West Virginia National Guard that "over-deployments" strain troops, their families and the civilian employers of National Guardsmen.

Feb 16  Responding to Iraqi targeting of allied warplanes flying in the UN created "no fly zones," twenty-four US and British aircraft attack Iraqi radar stations and air command centers, including targets around Baghdad.

Feb 17  President Bush says that "Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm [1991].''

Feb 18  FBI agent Robert Hannsen is arrested and charged with having spied for Russia for the past fifteen years.

Mar 1 Mohamed Atta and a friend, Marwan al-Shehhi, are in Florida practicing flying with a small Piper Warrior aircraft.  Atta is 33, an Egyptian and former student of architecture in Hamburg, Germany. He is passionately opposed to Israel and US support for Israel. He believes that Jews centered in New York City control the finances and media of the world and that "Saddam Hussein is an American stooge set up to give Washington an excuse to intervene in the Middle East."

Mar 4  At an international conference in Trieste, Christine Todd Whitman, representing President Bush, declares that the US is committed to combating global warming and to pursuing mandatory emission controls.

Mar 29  President Bush has changed his mind about the mandatory emission controls that he spoke for during his campaign for the presidency. He announces that he will not give in to international pressure regarding his decision to shun the Kyoto Treaty on global warming. He says he "will not accept a plan that will harm our economy and hurt our workers."

Apr 1  A new law in the Netherlands legalizes same-sex marriages for the first time since the reign of Nero. 

Apr 2  A US spy aircraft has collided with a Chinese fighter jet and is forced to land in Hainan, China. The US crew is detained and the plane is confiscated. China blames the United States and the US blames China. President Bush insists on the return of the airplane's crew and the airplane, "without further damaging or tampering."  

Apr 11  Regarding China, President Bush has toned down the belligerent rhetoric and allowed quiet go-it-alone diplomacy. China returns the crew of the plane that landed in Hainan. The spy plane is to be cut into pieces and flown out of China in a Russian cargo plane.

Apr 11  A few Islamic young men join Atta in Florida.

Apr 27  D. Mark Wilson and William Beach of the The Heritage Foundation predict that the tax cuts planned by the Bush administration will result in the complete elimination of the US national debt by the fiscal year 2010.

May 1  President Bush describes the possible possession of missiles by rogue states as today's most urgent threat. Also today, the Bush White House is told by the CIA that "a group presently in the United States" is planning a terrorist attack.

Jun 1  In Nepal, Crown Prince Dipendra, not quite 30, has been denied his choice for a wife by his mother.  With an assault rifle he kills his mother, his father the king, other members of the royal family and he shoots himself. 

Jun 4  Crown Prince Dipendra dies. His uncle, Gyanendra, 53, the closest relative to the former king, ascends the throne.

Jun 6  German intelligence warns the US CIA and Israel that Middle Eastern terrorists are planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture."

Jun 7  President George W. Bush signs the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. The Clinton administration has left a budget surplus, and President Busha says, "The surplus is the people's money. And we ought to trust them with their own money."

Jun 11 The United States executes Timothy McVeigh for bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Jun 16  Speaking of President Putin of Russia, President Bush says, "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy... I was able to get a sense of his soul."

Jun 20  In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless military coup in 1999, declares himself President. 

Jun 22  The Bush White House is told an Al Qaeda attack could be "imminent."

Jul 2  The first self-contained artificial heart is implanted in Robert Tools. He is to live 151 days.

Jul 10  FBI agent Kenneth Williams sends a memo from Arizona warning that men suspected of ties to terrorist groups are training in Arizona flight schools. He mentions Osama bin Laden by name and speculates that bin Laden's organization might be attempting to infiltrate the US aviation industry with pilots, security guards and maintenance workers. 

Jul 16 China and Russia sign a Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation.

Jul 21 The Darfur Liberation Front is born as persons of the Fur and Zaghawa ethnicities meet and swear oaths on the Koran to combat the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

Aug 6  President Bush receives an intelligence memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"  The memo says that bin Laden may attempt to hijack airplanes. The report mentions the al Qaeda operative, Ahmed Ressam, who intended to bomb Los Angeles International Airport at the beginning of the year but was caught at the US-Canadian border.

Aug 9  The "Damascus Spring" comes to an end with the arrest of Mamun al Homsi, a legislator representing Damascus, after he launches a hunger strike in opposition to corruption. The so called Spring began after Bashar al-Assad came to power in July 2000 and promised reforms. Bashar's brother, Maher, will be described as having persuaded his brother to crack down. (Wikipedia on the Damascus Spring.)

The attack of September 11, 2001, New York City

September 11

Aug 10  British and US war planes attack air-defense sites in southern Iraq. The Pentagon says three Iraq air defense system targets are destroyed.

Sep 9  In Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Massoud, military commander of the Northern Alliance, an enemy of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, is  assassinated by a suicide bomber posing as a journalist.  

Sep 11  In the US nothing has been done to increase airport security.  Hijackers have no trouble boarding commercial airlines. They hijack four airliners. Two of the aircraft are flown into New York's Twin Towers. Still without adequate radios, more than 200 firefighters in the north tower do not receive an evacuation call. Almost 3,000 are killed in New York City. A hijacked airliner slams into the Pentagon, killing 125 people inside the Pentagon and the 54 people other than the five hijackers on board the aircraft. By phone, President Bush tells Vice President Dick Cheney, "We are at war, Dick."

Sep 11  Around noon New York time, the Taliban government in Afghanistan denounces the attacks. Around 6 PM, Iraq announces that the attacks are the fruit of "US crimes against humanity."  In the evening President Bush tells the American people that they have seen evil and that he will make no distinction between those responsible for the attacks and those who harbor them.

Sep 12  Regarding the attack on September 11, Bush tells Richard Clarke: "Go back over everything. Everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in anyway."

Sep 12  Crowds of Iranians hold candlelight marchs in sympathy with the victims of the attacks of September 11.

Sep 16  President Bush tells his Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice: " We won't do Iraq now, but it's a question we're gonna have to return to."

Sep 18  Iran's Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, says that Islam condemns the massacre of defenseless people. There is hope among Iranians that the US will acquire a more favorable attitude toward the government of Iran.

Sep 18  Talk for the past few days of terrorists using biological agents is followed on this day by five letters containing anthrax sent from Trenton, New Jersey, to ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the New York Post and the National Enquirer. By the year 2008 the FBI will conclude that the anthrax attacks are by someone at the heart of work with anthrax: Bruce Ivins, a mentally unstable civilian microbiologist hired by the US Army.

Sep 21  President Bush has demanded that the Taliban deliver to the US Osama bin Laden. The Taliban  replies that it would turn over bin Laden only if presented with evidence of his guilt and that he should be tried by Muslim clerics.

Sep 24  The Taliban calls for a jihad against America if US forces enter Afghanistan.

Sep 25  Saudi Arabia breaks relations with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, citing the Taliban with having made "its land a center to attract and train a number of misguided people of all nations... in order to carry out criminal acts that are against every tenet of Shariah."

Sep 28  Zayd Hassan Safarini, who led the murders aboard Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986, has been released from prison by the Pakistanis. US FBI agents grab him in Bangkok (Thailand) and will take him to the United States, where he is to be convicted of murdering US citizens and sentenced to 160 years in prison.

Oct 5  The first death occurs that is believed from the anthrax sent in letters postmarked September 18.

Oct 7  Operation Enduring Freedom begins – so named by the Bush administration. It is the beginning of what people in the US would call "the War in Afghanistan." The purpose is to oust the Taliban-led government in order to prevent future attacks by al Qaeda. The United States and Britain begin bombing targets in Afghanistan. Australia is a member of the new coalition. Osama bin Laden calls on all Muslims to wage a holy war against the United States. Pro-Taliban and anti-US demonstrations erupt in Pakistan.

Oct 9  Letters containing anthrax are sent again from Trenton, New Jersey, and are addressed to two Democratic senators: Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. These two are Roman Catholics. Bruce Ivins is also a Roman Catholic and will be described as opposed to abortion and perhaps hostile to the liberal positions on abortion by the two senators.

Oct 9  Pakistan troops fight the Taliban on the Pakistani-Afghan border. 

Oct 10  In the US, attempts have been made to tighten airport security. President Bush lets the public know that his administration now has a list of 22 terrorists that are most wanted. Government officials tell the public that bin Laden has a network that extends to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Nov 1  The US and British effort in Afghanistan has been mainly air strikes. The Pentagon announces that it is increasing the number of advisors working with anti-Taliban groups in Afghanistan.  

Nov 10  China is admitted to the World Trade Organization.

Nov 10  In Afghanistan, at the Jalalabad Islamic Studies Center, Osama bin Laden speaks to a crowd of about 1,000 and says: "The Americans had a plan to invade, but if we are united and believe in Allah, we will teach them a lesson, the same one we taught the Russians." His audience shouts, "God is great! Down with America! Down with Israel!" Bin Laden says, "God is with us, and we will win the war. Your Arab brothers will lead the way. We have the weapons and the technology."

Nov 14  In Afghanistan, the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, allied with the US, has sent a force into Kabul.

Nov 14  Germany sends to prison four who participated in the April 5, 1986, Berlin discotheque bombing. Three are convicted of aiding in murder. These are a Libyan diplomat and two Palestinians. The former wife of one of the Palestinians, a German, is convicted of murder.  

Dec 1  US Marines from three amphibious assault ships have established a base in southern Iraq after encountering no resistance.

Dec 2  Enron Corporation files for bankruptcy, the largest in US history.

Dec 9  US Vice President Cheney tells Meet the Press "It's been pretty well confirmed that he [Muhamed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service."

Dec 11  The Taliban has withdrawn from the city of Kandahar. The US Defense Department claims that the Taliban has been defeated but cautions that their military campaign is far from over.

Dec 17  Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Tora Bora mountains are overrun. The CIA operative, Gary Bernsten, in charge of the operation, has asked Washington for troops to block the one route of withdrawal for bin Laden, al Qaeda and Taliban forces, but these troops have been denied him.

Dec 17  Bin Laden, it is estimated, is on his way southward from Tora Bora on horseback, accompanied by bodyguards and aides, crossing through mountain passes and over smugglers' trails, with villages lighting  campfires along the way to guide the horsemen through the snow towards Pakistan's Pashtun area in Waziristan.

Dec 20  The UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1386, authorizing a NATO-led security mission in Afganistan to assist the Afghan Interim Administration in the maintenance of security in Kabul and surrounding areas.

Dec 22  Hamid Karzai is sworn-in as head of the Afghan Interim Adminstration. He would be viewed by some in Afghanistan as an agent of foreign forces.

Dec 27  China is granted permanent normal trade status with the United States.

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