Toward an Index of the 9/11 Comission Report

Originally published September 2004.

[The government report is admirably lucid and bears a formidable textual apparatus, including 115 pages of endnotes. But it lacks an index. The result is a volume that repeats the very compartmentalization it's been charged with analyzing. To remedy this, and following the cue of n+1 friend Caleb Crain, we have assembled a team of indexers. Our approach has varied—sometimes tending toward the "zone defense" style of the CIA, elsewhere favoring the "man-to-man" coverage practiced by the FBI.]

Day One: Approximately Cabinet-Level Edition

Ashcroft, John
before 9/11
— acknowledges “steep learning curve” on taking his job, 209
— receives warnings about al Qaeda, 255, 258
— doesn’t want to hear about threats anymore, 265
— assumes FBI is doing fine, 265
— takes no action, 265
— seeks new, explicit authorities for killing, 512
— bad relationship with acting FBI director Thomas Pickard, 536
— complains to Pickard that “nothing ever happens,” 536
— 9/10/01: quashes FBI request for increased counterterrorism funding, 210

after 9/11
— unreachable on morning of 9/11, 9
— vows to take every conceivable action, 327-328
— calls detaining aliens “risk minimization,” 327
— joins George W. Bush’s “war council,” 330-332
— charged with spearheading homeland defense, 333


Clarke, Richard

— retained by Bill Clinton to coordinate counterterrorism, 100
— 1998 promotion, 101
— prods, pushes, to little effect, 108, 116, 125, 141, 186, 201-202, 402
— chairs counterterrorism meeting with “dearth of bright ideas,” 115
— admits obsession with Osama Bin Ladin, 119
— draws up “Political-Military Plan Delenda” to eliminate Bin Ladin threat, 120
— takes up “gauntlet international terrorists have thrown at our feet,” 121

and Bush administration
— kept on by despite reputation as one who “broke china,” 200
— disappointed at perceived demotion, 200
— demands administration decide whether al Qaeda is “first order threat” or worry of “chicken little” alarmists, 200
— requests to be reassigned from counterterrorism to cybersecurity, 205
— considers them not “serious about al Qaeda,” 205

and CIA
— reviews and gives go-ahead to “embryonic” 1998 CIA Bin Ladin capture plan, 112
— but calls plan “half-assed,” 114
— asks George Tenet, “You thinking what I’m thinking [let's bomb Bin Ladin]?” 116
— insists with, that Sudan plant manufactured nerve gas, 118
— says agency has “shown no inclination to engage in direct action,” 133
— frustrated with, 122, 184
— says giving them more funds is throwing “good money after bad,” 184
— expresses belief that they are holding back on USS Cole investigation, 194
— urges Dick Cheney to demand what they need to know before declaring Al Qaeda responsible for Cole, 202
— calls “bi-polar,” 212
— calls “passive-aggressive,” 213

and Cole investigation
— 11/11/00: expresses belief to Clinton that CIA’s case against Bin Laden is strong, 194
— 11/25/00: writes Clinton that CIA investigation will soon conclude Al Qaeda behind attack, 194
— but also urges patience and restraint, 201-202
— urges Cheney to demand what CIA needs to know before declaring Al Qaeda responsible, 202
— 9/4/01: “The fact that the USS Cole was attacked during the last Administration does not absolve us of responding for the attack,” 212
— vents, “One might have thought with a $250m hole in a destroyer and 17 dead sailors the Pentagon might have wanted to respond,” 212-213

dire warnings by
— asks, “Is there a threat to civilian aircraft?” 179
— says US has “not put too much of a dent” in al Qaeda and calls for “markedly different tempo,” 182
— 12/4/99: “We need to make some decisions NOW,” 176
— 12/22/00: “Foreign terrorist sleeper cells are in the US and attacks in the US are likely,” 179
— 1/25/01: Al Qaeda “not some narrow, little terrorist issue,” 201
— 3/23/01: warns of attacks on White House, 204
— spring 2001: says delay will lead to final victory of Taliban over Northern Alliance, 206
— 5/29/01: says Bin Ladin can only be eliminated, not deterred, 204
— 5/29/01: “when these attacks occur, as they likely will, we will wonder what more we could have done to stop them,” 256
— 6/28/01: tells Condoleeza Rice al Qaeda activity “has reached a crescendo,” 257
— 7/27/01: tells Rice intelligence spike has stopped, 260
— 9/4/01: “are we serious about dealing with Al-Qida threat? Is al Qida a bid deal?… Decision makers should imagine themselves on a future day when the CSG has not succeeded in stopping al Qida attacks and hundred of Americans lay dead in several countries, including the US… What would those decision makers wish that they had done earlier?” 212

friends of
— Office of Management and Budget leaks him CIA spending figures, 184
— Predator sends “truly astonishing” video of Afghanitan, 189-190
— Army gives Predator Hellfire missile, 210-212

and Iraq
— doubts Bin Ladin would trust Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qadhafi, 125, 127
— sees Khartoum chemical operation as “probably a direct result of the Iraq-al Qida agreement,” 128
— becomes nervous Bin Ladin might escape, possibly to Iraq, 134
— fears it would be “virtually impossible” to find Bin Ladin if he served Saddam Hussein, 134
— asked by Bush, “See if Saddam did this. See if he’s linked in any way,” 334
— writes skeptical report, asserting there is no “compelling case” for link with Iraq, but does pass along Czech report, 334

and Pentagon
— calls the military “very, very, very reluctant,” 137
— complains that Pentagon thinks there is “nothing worth hitting in Afghanistan” and that “cruise missiles cost more than jungle gyms and mud huts,” 213
— fails to understand “why we continue to allow the existence of large scale al Qida bases where we know people are being trained to kill Americans,” 213

— finds Tom Clancy novels more useful than the intelligence community, 347
— deemed “most incisive official” by 9/11 commission, 348
— ultimate ineffectuality of, 187

excellence
— of English spoken by one American 11 hijacker, 6
— of FBI investigation of WTC1, 72, 329
— of Justice Department investigation of WTC1, 72
— unfortunate consequences of, 72
— of example of state-sponsored terrorism at 1986 Berlin disco bombing by Lybia, 97-98
— of Mohamed Atta”s command of the German language, 160
— of 1941 intelligence that a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was coming, 344

Rumsfeld, Donald
before 9/11
— chairs 1999 panel to discuss limited ability to assess ballistic missile threat to US, 91
— selected to be secretary of defense for the second time, 198
— chats with Rice daily over the phone, 200
— agrees that “tit-for-tat” responses are counterproductive, 202
— thinks too much time had passed to respond to USS Cole bombing, 202
— focuses on creating a 21st century military, 208
— notes his own interest in terrorism, 208
— receives order to “develop contingency plans” for attacking al Qaeda and Taliban targets, 208
— doesn’t “particularly want this mission,” 208
— stalls al Qaeda and Taliban attack plans, waiting for Bush’s signature to give order, 208
— gives principal attention to other challenges, 352

after 9/11
— goes to parking lot to assist with rescue after Pentagon is struck, 37
— unreachable by NORAD, Bush, 38, 40
— speaks to Bush but does not discuss shootdown, 43
— talks to Cheney about shootdown, 43
— gains situational awareness, 44
— joins “war council,” 330
— urges Bush to “think broadly” about attacking Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, and Iran, 330
— tapped to develop military plan against Taliban, 331
— attends disappointing briefings about attacking Afghanistan, 332
— told by Bush to ensure that robust counterterrorism measures be taken by US troops worldwide, 333
— has instinct to hit Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein at the same time, 335
— pushed by Wolfowitz to attack Iraq, 336
— exclaims, “The cost-benefit ratio is against us!” 374
— calls executive branch “stove-piped” and requests “wide joint effort,” 403

Tenet, George
anti-Bin Ladin plots of
— tribal stealth mission to kidnap Bin Ladin, 110-115
— cruise missiles to Khwost, Afghanistan, on CIA intelligence, 116
— when asked by Clarke, “You thinking what I’m thinking?” (about bombing Bin Ladin), nods yes, 116
— tells tribals they can kill Bin Ladin, 132
— pins down Bin Ladin location at “desert camp,” February 1999, 137-138
— pins down Bin Ladin location at Kandahar, May 1999. Excellent intelligence, described as “fat pitch, home run,” 140

chickening out of
— nixes kidnapping plan after becoming concerned that it might accidentally kill Bin Ladin, 113-114
— told by field agent to “Hit him tonight— we may not get another chance,” doubts reliability of source, spends some time discussing it with top officials, then complains intelligence is hours old. Field operative “Mike” characterizes hesitation as “worry that some stray shrapnel might hit the Habash mosque and ‘offend’ Muslims,” 130
— calls off desert camp strike plan to avoid upsetting UAE by possibly killing one of their princes, 138
— backs off Kandahar strikes in May 1999— partly in wake of criticism over bombing of Chinese embassy in Belgrade, 140-141
— claims not to make policy, 402

— commission’s patent lack of regard for, 105-106, 357, 358, 402

confusion of
— insists that al Shifa plant in Sudan produced nerve gas, 118
— thinks it’s only OK to kill Bin Ladin in context of capture op, 133
— surprised that Clinton wanted definitive conclusion on who was responsible for USS Cole attack, 196
— after receiving briefing on late-August arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui(“Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly”), discusses it with no one of import, 275
— fails to see connection of Moussaoui arrest to extremely high level of threat warning, 275
— tells President-elect Bush that killing Bin Ladin would have an effect, but would not end the threat, 199

Wolfowitz, Paul
before 9/11
— considers Cole attack too “stale” for response, 202
— confirmed as Deputy Defense Secretary, 207
— says CIA should pick up bill for Predator flights over Afghanistan, CIA disagrees, 209
— told to hurry up and deploy Predators, 211
— questions US ability to capture Bin Ladin, suggests bombing Afghanistan instead, 214
— doubts accuracy of “Bin Ladin Threats Are Real” memo, June 2001, 259

after 9/11
— makes case for striking Iraq during “this round” of war on terrorism, 335
— propagates theory that Iraq is ultimate terror source, 335
— unable to justify belief that Iraq was behind 9/11, 335
— not given “much weight” by Bush, 335
— suggests 10 percent chance that Iraq was behind 9/11, 335
— insists the chance is much higher than 10 percent and demands attack, 336
— calls freelance terrorist Ramzi Yousef an Iraqi agent, 336
— blames Iraq for Yousef’s 1993 WTC bombing, 336
— imagining things, chastises colleagues for “failure of imagination,” 336
— absence of evidence for his theories, 559

Day Two: Bin Ladin, Girlfriends, Hussein

Albania
— capital city, Tirana, site of al Qaeda forgery operation broken up by CIA, 127
— possible disruption of attack on US embassy there, 127

al Khifa
— recruiting office for mujahideen and al Qaeda with branches in Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Tuscon, 58

al Qaeda
— “point of the spear of radical Islam,” 343
— omnipotent, unslayable hydra of destruction, 364

al Qida
— Richard Clarke’s preferred spelling of al Qaeda, 47, 128, 197, 201, 204, 212, 213, 263, 343

al Shifa
— Khartoum, Sudan, pharmaceutical plant reported to be manufacturing nerve gas ingredients for al Qaeda, 116
— targeted in American retaliation for 1998 al Qaeda embassy bombings, 116
— nearby soil sample tests positive for EMPTA, precursor for VX nerve gas, 117
— link to al Qaeda classified as “rather uncertain” by NSC staffer Mary McCarthy, 117
— Clinton refuses to be distracted by Lewinsky affair and “wag the dog” factor, 117
— nerve gas production denied by Sudan, which invites journalists to bombed-out medicine plant, 118
— bad pr has cumulative effect on al Qaeda policy, 118
— VX traces near site identified as “exact formula used by Iraq,” 128

Brooklyn
— Farouq Mosque on Atlantic Ave. site of mujahideen recruiting, 58, 62
— site of training for first WTC bombing, 68
— along with Jersey City, headquarters of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, aka the “Blind Sheikh,” 72
— home of possible al Qaeda sleeper cell, 179
— headquarters of FDNY, 289
— dispatch point for fire engines after strike of WTC South Tower, 289-290, 300-301

Bin Ladin, Osama
affair of, unconsummated, with Iraq
— willing to explore possibilities, agrees in 1991 to stop supporting anti-Saddam activities, 61
— but still supports Islamist extremists operating in Kurdistan, 61
— helps them re-form as Ansar al Islam to fight Kurds, 61
— requests space for training camps from Saddam, and help getting weapons, gets no response, 61
— sends feelers to unresponsive Saddam, then cozying up to Saudis, 66
— some years later, offered safe haven in Iraq in 1999, declines, 66
— urged to go to Iraq by Taliban leaders, though not Mullah Omar, 134
— resents Saddam Hussein’s secularism, 334

affair of, pleasant, with Iran
— Iran makes overtures after Cole bombing, 240
— rebuffs Iranians to avoid alienating Saudi donors, 240
— but clearly friendly with Iran-sponsored Hezbollah, 61, 240
— apparent complicity of Iran in movement of 9/11 hijackers, 241

appearance of, in the titles of official US morning briefings
— “Bin Laden Threatening to Attack US Aircraft” (June 1998), 342
— “Strains Surface between Bin Ladin and Taliban” (January 1999), 342
— “Bin Ladin to Exploit Looser Security during Holidays” (December 1999), 342
— “Bin Ladin Evading Sanctions” (March 2001), 342
— “Bin Ladin’s Interest in Biological, Radiological Weapons” (February 2001), 342
— “Taliban Holding Firm on Bin Ladin for Now” (March 2001), 342
— “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US” (August 2001), 342

brushes with law of
— betrayed by employee whose wife he denied money for a cesarian section, 62
— former finance chief Maddani al Tayyib turns himself in to Saudi government, 68
— Nairobi on-site manager Wadi al Hage’s phone tapped, 68
— Hage appears before US grand jury, 69
— indicted by US grand jury, 74
— sold out by Jamal Ahmed al Fadl, who hands CIA major breakthrough, 109
— becomes subject of CIA’s Bin Ladin unit’s scrutiny, 108-143
— targeted by CIA-Afghan tribal kidnapping plan, 111-115
— wives’ houses identified by CIA, 112
— object of Richard Clarke’s “Political-Military Plan Delenda,” delenda being Latin for “must be destroyed,” 120
— estranged family cooperates with US law enforcement, informing them that his inheritance is not his source of finance, 122
— known to be planning hijackings of US aircraft, 128-129
— permitted to be killed by CIA, Afghan tribals, and Northern Alliance by presidential memos, 132-133
— President Clinton clearly wants dead, 133
— subject to sanctions under International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 185

escapes, narrow, of
— eludes by a few hours US bombing of his camps in 1998, possibly thanks to Pakistani intelligence, 117
— CIA drops plan to strike him despite agent “Mike” saying, “Hit him tonight—we may not get another chance,” 130
— angry, agent “Mike” characterizes hesitation as “worry that some stray shrapnel might hit the Habash mosque and ‘offend’ Muslims,” 130
— CIA drops plan to strike him for fear of killing his Emirati hunting buddies, 138
— CIA drops plan to strike him in Kandahar in May 1999, an opportunity called “a fat pitch, a home run” by the Pentagon, 140
— from Pakistani army’s encroachments on the Afghan border, 368

fatwas of
— to kill all Americans in 1998, 47, 69
— to just get Americans out of Saudi Arabia in 1996, 48

friendships of
— with Mullah Omar, tense but with a deep and personal foundation, 125
— with Emiratis from the UAE, his hunting buddies, 137-138
— with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, reunited in Tora Bora in 1996,

frustrations of
— rebuffed by Saudis in 1990 request to repel Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 57
— stripped of passport by Saudis, no longer has coutry to call his own, 57
— assets frozen by Saudis, 57
— purchases cylinder of bogus enriched uranium from ex-Sudanese government official, conned out of $1.5 million, 60
— loses base in Sudan in 1996, 62
— has serious money problems, 62
— suffers embezzlement by disgruntled employees, 62
— escapes assassination attempt by Egyptian or Saudi secret services, “or both,” 63
— leaves Sudan weakened, his possessions seized, 63-64
— nearly handed over to US by Mullah Omar, 116
— failure of Millennium timed USS The Sullivans bombing scheme, 180 (see plots, failed or foiled, below)
— worries about having too many operatives at large in US, 244
— unable to hasten “planes operation” to coincide with 7-month anniversary of Cole bombing in May or visit of Ariel Sharon to White House in summer of 2001, 250
— faces internal dissension over timing of 9/11 attacks, 252
— now, possibly, confined to a cave, 377

fundraising of
— receives annual allowance of $1 million from 1970 to 1994: nice, but not enough for global jihad, 170
— taps into Golden Chain system for mujahideen, 55
— no assistance for his mujahideen from US, 56
— after Sudanese debacle, cultivates Golden Chain again from Afghanistan in late 1990s to become rich man of jihad movement, 67
— $30 million annual budget, 170
— draws on wealthy Saudi individuals sympathetic to jihad, 170
— relies on ancient trust-based halawa system for transferring funds, 171
— avoids banks, 171

metaphors of
— America as “head of the snake,” 54, 59, 67, 63
— “the walls of oppression and humiliation cannot be demolished except in a rain of bullets,” 50-51

physical characteristics of
— picture of, with shaggy beard, shrunken cheeks, thick lips, 49
— athletic in running and soccer despite scrawny build, 55
— spotted, probably, as “man in white” by Predator drone spyplane, 190

professionalism of
— sets up complex intertwined network of businesses and NGOs with many bank accounts from Sudan, 57
— builds highway from Khartoum, 57
— branches out to Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Subsaharan Africa, 58
— cuts back on spending during Sudan slump and appoints miserly finance director, 62
— circumvents restrictions by paying off Taliban, 66
— trains 10,000 to 20,000 recruits between 1996 and 2001, 67
— implements top-down hierarchical business structure with well-defined positions, tasks, and salaries, 67
— demands bayat oath of fealty from operatives, 67
— merges with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, making its leader his deputy, 67
— micromanages terror ops, 68
— listens to proposals without comment, like Don Corleone, 149
— inspiring public speaker, 152
— cultivates proteges like USS Cole bomber Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 152-153
— assists disabled employees in obtaining prosthetic limbs, 155
— handpicks operatives, 155-157, 251
— bails employees out of jail, 156
— requires rigorous commando training of operatives, 157
— feeds operatives well to boost morale, 157
— recognizes talent, promotes meritocracy, 166
— avoids association with failed schemes, 177
— replaces unproductive employees, 191
— anticipates retaliation, 191<b
r /> — personally guides pr campaigns, 191
— judiciously practices nepotism, 232
— able to assess trainees in 10 minutes, 235
— maintains loyalty when instincts demand it, 237
— keeps eye on big picture, 250
— matches ambition with determination, 250
— creates buzz, 251

rule-bending of
— views killing of Muslims in the course of killing Americans as “permissible under Islam,” 70

tactics of
— exploits Arab malaise with clever Qur’an quotations, 48
— ignites flammable Muslim societies with match of fundamentalism, 54
— uses legitimate businesses to acquire weapons, 57
— sets up charitable NGOs as covers for terrorism, 58
— focuses on “far enemy” US while other jihadis fight local battles, 59
— willing to welcome almost every corner of the Muslim world in his network, 60-61
— learns science of truck-bombing from Hezbollah, 61
— invests, reportedly, in nerve gas manufacturing, 116-117
— hires many bodyguards and moves sleeping place frequently, 127
— prefers targeting White House to Capitol, 243
— draws on long tradition of intolerance within minority tradition of Islam, 362
— sees acquisition of nuclear bombs as “religious obligation,” 380

taunts of
— tells ABC-TV interviewer that US left Mogadishu “carrying disappointment, defeat, and your dead with you,” 48
— wants “Hiroshima” of 10,000 casualties, 116, 380
— tugs beard and says emotionally, “By Allah, by God, the Americans will be amazed. The so-called United States will suffer the same fate as the Russians. Their state will collapse, too,” 123
— says, “I will make it happen even if I do it by myself,” 250

terrorist attacks masterminded or directed by
— Nairobi US embassy bombing, 69
— Dar es Salam US embassy bombing, 69
— French tanker Limburg bombing, 153
— USS Cole bombing, 153
— 9/11, 154, 193

terrorist attacks tangentially associated with
— “Black Hawk down” episode in Mogadishu, 60, 97, 130, 341
— Khobar Towers bombing, 60, 108, 118, 120, 209, 259

travels of
— to Afghanistan in 1980 to take up jihad, earn celebrity and respect, 55
— to Saudi Arabia to be silenced and stripped of his passport, 57
— to Sudan in 1991 to fight African Christians and build roads, 57
— to Afghanistan with Pakistan’s approval, 63-64
— still at large, 338

underestimations of
— by Congress, 104
— by the Pentagon, who thought of his training camps as so many “rope ladders” and “jungle gyms,” 120
— by American public, who did not consider him a major issue in the 2000 presidential election, 341
— by 1997 national intelligence estimate, which tucked him into a clause with Iran, 342
— by Bush, Clinton, and their top advisers, admittedly, 342
— by New York Times, 343

cabdrivers
— Raed Hijazi, working in Boston, sent money back to fellow plotters in Jordan, 175
— Qualid Benomrane, working in LA, may have taken two hijackers to Sea World, 515

CD-ROMs
Encylcopedia of Jihad, training guide for hijackers, 175
— security manual warning of hijacking threat provided by FAA to airlines, 264

cesarian section
— funding for, denied by Bin Ladin to wife of al Qaeda operative, who then turns US informant, 62

Clancy, Tom
— his novels more useful than the intelligence community in anticipating terror attacks, 347

Costco
— membership card presented by Millennium plotter Ahmed Ressam as ID to Customs official, resulting in pat-down, from which plotter tried to run away, leading to his arrest, 178

cough drops
— used to salve sore throats by Ressam and friends during bomb preparation, 177

dolls
— weaponization of in Manila plot, 488

girlfriends
— in Greifswald, Germany, Aysel Senguen becomes intimate with hijacker Ziad Jarrah, 163
— he tells her of a childhood interest in aviation, 163
— she enrolls in dental school, 163
— he condemns her provocative dress, 163
— her refusal to become more religious embarrasses him, 163
— he confesses to her his plan to wage jihad, 163
— after training in Afghanistan he acts more like he did when they first met, 167
— relationship causes him to have doubts about jihad, 168
— their trip to Paris, 224
— their hundreds of phone calls and frequent emails, 225
— she visits him in Florida, tags along to flight training school, 227
— in summer 2001, buys him one-way ticket back to Germany! 246
— but jihadist friend meets Jarrah at airport, and he returns to States, 246
— his sentimental September 10 farewell letter to her, 249

Hussein, Saddam
collaboration, qualifications for
— Iraqi dictator, 47
— poses as defender of faithful against “Crusaders” in 1991 Gulf War, 47
— obstructs UN weapons inspectors, 119
— US officials think his help would make Bin Ladin “virtually impossible” to find, 134

drawbacks, possible of
— lack of Islamist agenda, 47
— faces anti-Saddam jihadists sponsored by Bin Ladin in Iraqi Kurdistan, 47
— later tolerates and perhaps helps them, reformed as Ansar al Islam, against common Kurdish enemy, 47
— seems like someone Bin Ladin wouldn’t trust, 125
— considered by Bin Ladin an American stooge, 161
— resented by Bin Ladin for his secularism, 334
— angers Bin Ladin with his atrocities against Iraqi Muslims, 523

missed connections
— doesn’t call back when Bin Ladin requests space for training camps, 47
— stays clear of Bin Ladin to cozy up with Saudis and other Arab regimes, 66
— offers Bin Ladin safe haven, Bin Ladin declines, 66
— US officials worry “old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”; he doesn’t, 134
— absence of evidence for their collaboration on WMD, 334
— lack of real links to al Qaeda, 559

misunderstandings
— blamed immediately and mistakenly by George W. “See if Saddam did this” Bush for 9/11, 334
— target of Rumsfeld’s post-9/11 instinct, 335
— viewed by Wolfowitz as 9/11 mastermind at more than 10 percent chance, 335-336
— feared to be making moves against his internal enemies by General Tommy Franks at CENTCOM, whose request to strike him after 9/11 is denied, 336

summary, by Commission
—”to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States,” 66 —”we have seen no evidence that any foreign government—or foreign government official—supplied any funding,” to 9/11 hijackers, 172

hydra of destruction, omnipotent, unslayable
— American public’s misperception of al Qaeda, 364

intelligence, past failures of
Beirut, 1983
— withdrawal cited as example of American weakness by jihadists, 96
— “force protection” from then on saps U.S. Defense resources, 97

Black Hawk down
— bragged about by al Qaeda trainers, 60
— 18 US soldiers killed, 73 wounded, 1 corpse dragged through Mogadishu, 97
— reason not to try to capture Bin Ladin for General Hugh Shelton in 1999, 130

Chinese embassy bombing in Belgrade
— discredits CIA at time of last, best opportunity to target Bin Ladin with missiles, 141

myths, debunked
— Saudi hijackers were chosen because they could more easily obtain visas, not because al Qaeda wished to destabilize American-Saudi relations, 156
— Bin Ladin did not receive a $300 million inheritance, 170
— hijackers never used fake social security numbers to open bank accounts; they simply used their actual names, 237
— the majority of the hijackers were not wealthy alienated university graduates, 245
— no NYPD helicopter predicted the collapse of the WTC towers, 321
— flights carrying Saudi nationals out of the country did not take off until after national airspace was reopened, 329
— no banks filed Suspicious Activity Reports about the hijackers before 9/11, 528

ninjas, black
— Clinton says in 1999 to General Hugh Shelton, “You know, it would scare the shit out of al-Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of a helicopter into the middle of their camp,” 189

plots, foiled or failed
Manila Air plot
— Bin Ladin involvement cloudy, 60
— discovered by Philippines police, 73
— envisioned 12 simultaneous explosions on trans Pacific flights, 73
— plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammad evades capture, remaining free to plot 9/11, 73
— aka “Bojinka” plot, 147, 153, 436, 438, 488-489
— plotter Ramzi Yousef, also responsible for first World Trade Center attack, betrayed by accomplice, apprehended in Islamabad, 148
— inspires planes as weapons concept, 153, 345
— model for dropped Pacific leg of 9/11 plot, 156
— cited by Wolfowitz as reason to attack Iraq, 356
— was to use dolls clothed in nitrocellulose, 488

Amman hotel bombing plot
— Jordanian intelligence intercepts “The time for training is over” call, 174
— plotter Raed Hijazi works as cabdriver in Boston, 175
— 16 arrested, 71 tubs of acid seized, 6 put to death, 175
— motto: “The season is coming, and bodies will pile up in sacks,” 175

Millennium plot
— salad days of plotter Ahmed Ressam supporting himself through petty crime in Montreal 176-177
— chemicals smuggled from Afghanistan in toiletry bottles, 177
— LAX targeted for its vulnerability to surreptitious activity, 177
— his colleagues barred from Canada, plotter resolves to act alone, 177
— Bin Ladin, offered chance to take credit, doesn’t call back, 177
— cough drops relieve sore throats during prep of chemicals, 177
— explosives elude inspectors at US-Canada border, 178
— but Ressam too nervous, 179
—chemicals found by ferry inspectors at US port, assumed to be drug-related, 179
— Ressam arrested, 179
— FBI spurred to request record number of wiretaps, 179
— contributes to national edginess about looming millennium, 180, 359
— reveals for the first time al Qaeda presence in America, as well as Canada, 263
— missed opportunity to mobilize US for action, 348

U.S.S. The Sullivans
— difficulty of locating US vessels off the coast of Yemen, 153
— Bin Ladin suggests Aden, 153
— small boat loaded with explosives sinks before reaching U.S.S. The Sullivans, 180
— identified as precursor to attack on U.S.S. Cole, 195

reptiles
— America called “head of the snake” by Bin Ladin, 54, 59, 67, 63
— American misperception of al Qaeda as omnipotent, unslayable hydra of destruction, 364

takfiri
— nickname for Bin Ladin’s followers, “those who define other Muslims as unbelievers,” 54

*—Correction: This edition initially included, under myths, debunked (following, we are sad to say, the lead of the New York Times) the famous “Let’s roll,” writing that the Report replaces it with “Roll it!” In fact, as has been pointed out to us by an alert indexer, while Todd Beamer was heard to say, “Let’s roll,” as the passengers prepared to storm the cockpit, the “Roll it!” is heard later, as the passengers are trying to break down the cockpit door. The Report does not mention the conversation between Beamer and his wife, and there is no reason to doubt Lisa Beamer’s account of it. The Report does however include one other, in our opinion more moving, bit of conversation, from a woman calling home. As the assault began, she ended her call so she could join it: “Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” (p. 13)

 

Day Three: Training Camps, Dollars, Email


anthrax
— attempts by al Qaeda to cultivate over several months, 151

bayat
— fealty oath sworn by al Qaeda members to Osama Bin Ladin, 67
— refused by freelancer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), 149
— as commitment to do anything Bin Ladin orders, 175
— secret rite, thus making the total number of al Qaeda operatives speculative, 470
— possibly sworn by Bin Ladin to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, 532

Camp David
— meeting place of Bush “war council,” 332
— development there of Afghanistan attack plan, 333
— discussion there of attacking Iraq, if anything, 335
— Paul Wolfowitz’s pressing there to hit Iraq during “this round” of the war on terrorism, 335
— settling there on three prime targets: al Qaeda, Taliban, Iraq, 335

camps, training
al Faruq camp, near Kandahar
— basic training school for 9/11 muscle hijackers, 234

alumni
— 10,000-20,000 terrorists trained in Afghanistan between 1996 and 9/11, 67
— thousands flow through, only select hundreds become al Qaeda members, 67

Bill Clinton’s obsession with
— his repeated mentions of, 176
— his idea to “scare the shit out of al Qaeda” by suddenly having “a bunch of black ninjas rappel out of helicopters into the middle of their camps,” 189

Derunta camp, southern Afghanistan
— possible development of chemical weapons at, 128

diverse student body of
— 70 percent Saudi, 232
— 20 percent Yemeni, 232
— 10 percent from elsewhere, 232

elimination, total, of
— object of Richard Clarke’s “Political Military Plan Delenda,” 141

Heart camp, western Afghanistan
— possible site of nuclear development program,

in Sudan
— breeding ground of “Black Hawk down” guerillas, 60

Khalden camp, on Afghan-Pakistani border
— bomb-making instruction, 73
— fundamental guerilla warfare instruction, 175
— alumni recruiting, 177
— architectural ventilation cyanide poisoning instruction, 177

Khowst camps, Afghanistan
— site of 1998 terrorist convention headed by Bin Ladin, 116
— “You thinking what I’m thinking [bomb Khowst]?” asks Richard Clarke, 116
— bombed, 20-30 killed, Bin Ladin missed by a few hours, 117
— training site for Pakistani-Kashmiri jihadists, 123

Mes Aynak camp, Afghanistan
— offers elite advanced commando training course for planes operation, 156, 158
— erected in ex-Soviet copper mine after Khowst bombing, 157
— provides best food and amenities, 158
— curriculum includes physical fitness, firearms, shooting from a motorcycle, night operations, 158

nonexistent
— Bin Ladin’s short-lived and unrequited desire to establish them in Iraq, 61

Pentagon’s disparaging of, as not worth striking
— Defense Secretary William Cohen: “rope ladders,” 120
— General Hugh Shelton: “jungle gyms,” 120
— cruise missiles cost more than, 213

questionnaire upon entering
— What brought you to Afghanistan? How did you hear about us? What attracted you to the cause? What is your educational background? Are you prepared to serve in suicide missions? 234

route to
— customarily through Pakistan, 273

Sheikh Ali camp, in deserts near Kandahar
— complex used by UAE big shots adjacent to smaller Bin Ladin camp, 137
— desert location precludes collateral damage in bombing, 137
— Emiratis get in the way of possible cruise missile strike, 138
— CIA considers magnet for Bin Ladin as long as it remains standing, 138
— dismantled after Clarke calls UAE about Bin Ladin, 138

spying of, US proposed methods
— Predator drone planes (pursued), 189
— a really big telescope placed on a mountain (dismissed as impractical), 189

social aspects of
— popular meeting place for terrorists, 59
— Taliban’s open-door policy for aspiring trainees, 66
— Bin Ladin hobnobs with Emirati hunters, 138
— recruits hear inspiring speeches by Bin Ladin at, meet him personally, 233, 235
— chance to hear vague announcements about terror attacks weeks in advance, 251

dollars
allowances
— $1 million, annual income of Bin Ladin from family, 1970 to 1994, 170-171

bonuses
— $10,000, take-home of 9/11 plot facilitators, 172
— $700, monthly stipend promised by KSM to hijacker Nawaf al Hazmi if he married, 518

budgets
— $1.5 billion, supplemental budget for US intelligence in fiscal year 1999, 105
— $30 million, approximate annual budget of al Qaeda, 170
— $357 billion, US annual budget for defense, international affairs, and homeland security before 9/11, 361
— $547 billion, U.S. annual budget for defense, international affairs, and homeland security after 9/11, 361

cons
— $1.5 million, price of phony weapons-grade uranium sold to Bin Ladin by Sudanese, 60
— $110,000, skimmed from Bin Ladin by defector Jamal Ahmed al Fadl, 62

deposits
— $400, deposit on van used for 1993 WTC bombing, demanded returned by Mohammed Salameh, a complaint that leads to his arrest, 72-73
— $9,900, deposit used to open a bank account by hijackers Hazmi and Kahlid al Mihdhar, 219
$650, deposit Mihdhar forfeited on an apartment he refused to move into because he found it “too messy,” 219
— $30,000, deposit made in UAE bank accounts by a hijacker in June 2001, 237

maintenance
— $100 million, cost of improvements made to WTC by NY Port Authority after 1993 attacks, 280

mysteries
— $32,000, funds in Zacarias Moussaoui’s bank account he couldn’t plausibly explain, 273

on ice
— $34 million, Taliban assets frozen in U.S. banks in 1999, 185
— $215 million, Afghan gold frozen in 1999, 185
— $2 million, Afghan demand deposits frozen in 199, 185

paid vacations
— $5,000, stipend for Hamburg cell members for journey from Afghanistan to Germany, 172
— $12,000, cash carried by Millennium plotter Ahmed Ressam from Afghanistan to Canada, 177
— $2,000, stipend for muscle hijacker recruits to obtain U.S. visas in Saudi Arabia, 235
— $10,000, stipend hijackers received from KSM upon departing Pakistan, 256

phone calls
— $3 trillion, annual value of the international telecommunications industry, 88

pledges
— $20 billion, aid promised to New York City by George W. Bush eight days after 9/11, 327
— $20 billion, aid dedicated to the country as a whole immediately after 9/11, 327

prices
— $250 million, ransom for Bin Ladin suggested in 1999, 125
— $3 million, cost of one Predator spy plane, 211
— $400,000-$500,000, spent by plotters to execute 9/11, 169, 172, 499
— $10,000, cost of 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in Nairobi, 498

rebates
— $26,000, leftover funds returned by the hijackers to al Qaeda just before 9/11, 252

rent
— $10-20 million, fee paid to Taliban by Bin Ladin for safe haven, 171

rumors
— $300 million, falsely believed inheritance of Bin Ladin, 170

salaries
— $500, Fadl’s monthly al Qaeda salary, 62
— $1,200, monthly salary of some Egyptian al Qaeda operatives, 62
— $28,000, per capita income of Saudi Arabia at its height, 374
— $8,000, current per capita income of Saudi Arabia, 374

sprees
— $270,000, minimum amount spent in the US by 9/11 hijackers, 499
— $50,000, minimum amount spent by Moussaoui

toys
— $3 million, cost of a Predator drone, 211
— $250 million, damages to USS Cole, 212

traveler’s checks
— $4,000, amount in traveler’s checks purchased in Riyadh by Hazmi’s roommate, 222
— $1,900, amount in traveler’s checks deposited 6 days before the attacks by Hazmi, 222
— $1,900, amount Hazmi then withdrew in cash, 222
— $50,000, traveler’s checks used by the hijackers in the U.S., 257
tuition
— $1,500, deposit Moussaoui put down at a Minnesota flying school, 246
— $6,800, balance of flight tuition paid in cash by Moussaoui , 247

wire transfers
— $600, wired by KSM for 1993 WTC bombing, 147
— $5,000, wired by KSM’s nephew to Hazmi for 9/11, 220
— $114,500, total wired by KSM’s nephew to the Hamburg cell, 224
— $70,000, largest transfer wired from KSM’s nephew, 224
— $10,000, wired to Hamburg cell from a member denied a U.S. visa, 225
— $15,000, wired to Moussaoui for flight training, 246

email
— newfangled system regarded with deep suspicion by US intelligence after Cold War, 92
— 31 flight schools emailed by hijacker Mohamed Atta, 168
— contact maintained between hijackers in US and coordinators in Afghanistan, 222
— frequent communication of hijacker Ziad Jarrah and girlfriend Aysel Senguen, 225
— instant messaging in the final days before the attacks, 249
— from Richard Clarke, to Condoleezza Rice, insisting the FAA knew there was a hijacking threat, 264
— as medium of bureaucratic inertia among the intelligence community, 270-271
— need for more funding for email in the FBI, 427

Khallad (Tawfiq bin Attash)
career moves of
— Bin Ladin’s gofer, 151
— selected as suicide operative, 155
— shifts from being suicide operative to mission facilitator, 190
— directs USS Cole bombing, 192
— email coordinator of 9/11 operation, 222

education of
— learns of Western culture from Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), 157
— plays flight simulator video games, watches hijacking movies, 158
— studies airport security in Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur, 158
— sneaks box cutters on to planes, just to see if he can, 159

fortunes of, ironic
— jailed in Yemen in a case of mistaken identity; they were looking for a different terrorist, 155
— bailed out by Bin Ladin, 156

handicap of
— loses leg in battle with Northern Alliance at age 18, 155
— attempts to get US visa under cover of getting himself a better prosthetic leg, 155
— denied US visa, 155
— gets new leg in Kuala Lumpur, Bin Ladin chipping in for the bill, 158
— difficulty of maintaining
anonymity with a fake leg, 192
— rumor that leg was really lost in an accidental explosion at a training camp, 192

Malaysia
— its airport security’s openness to Islamist jihadists, 158

Newton, Massachusetts
— three of the muscle hijackers spend their last night in hotel in, 253

Yemenis
— lose martyrdom opportunities because of visa problems, 156

Zawahiri, Ayman al-
qualifications and publications
— surgeon by trade, unqualified to issue fatwa, 47
— issues fatwa with Bin Ladin for murder of all Americans everywhere, 47
— emir of Egyptian jihad and Bin Ladin’s deputy in al Qaeda, 57
— writes memoir Knights under the Prophet’s Banner, 467

travels and contacts
— arranges meetings with Iraqis that do not result in collaboration, 66
— meets US-educated anthrax doctor Yazid Sufaat, 151
— fearing US strike in retaliation for USS Cole bombing, ungallantly leaves Bin Ladin’s side for Kabul to avoid being killed with him; no US strike comes, 191
— US demands the Taliban hand him over, 332
— believed to be still at large, 338

Day Four: Clinton/Bush; KSM; rejecting protocol


Britani, Issa al (also, Abu Issa al Hindi; suspected author of the detailed al Qaeda surveillance photos whose recent seizure in Pakistan formed the basis for a heightened threat alert)
— sent by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) to case potential economic and “Jewish” targets in New York in early 2001, 150

careers
— in FBI, helped by arrests and convictions, not counterterrorism, 74
— in CIA, thought to be damaged by counterterrorism work, 90
— in CIA, advanced by accumulating (classified) publications, 90

Clinton vs. Bush
attitude toward Bin Ladin
— as of 1998, Clinton wants him dead, 133
— in early 2001, Clinton tells Bush he’s sorry he “didn’t get him for you, because I tried,” 199
— in 2004, Bush does not recall Clinton saying that, 199
— in 2001, Bushies not “serious about al Qaeda,” according to Richard Clarke, 205

distractions of
— in 1998, as al Qaeda carries out embassy bombings in Africa, Clinton fights impeachment, 118, 348
— in 2000-2001, vital transition period cut in half for Bush due to his not having actually won the election, 198

Iraq and
— in 1993, after intelligence reports of assassination plot against Bush Sr., Clinton orders targeted strike of Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. Building is destroyed. Commission: “No further intelligence came in about terrorist acts planned in Iraq,” 99
— on 9/12, in the face of overwhelming evidence about al Qaeda involvement, Bush nonetheless tells Clarke, “See if Saddam did this,” 334

probable lies before the Commission of
— Bush fabricates 9/11 conversation in which he gives Cheney order to tell fighter jets to shoot down commercial airliners. Commission: “there is no documentary evidence for this call,” 41
— Clinton claims to have said to Bush: “One of the great regrets of my presidency is that I didn’t get him [Bin Ladin] for you, because I tried to,” 199

tough talk of
— Bush to Cheney: “somebody’s going to pay,” 39
— Clinton to General Hugh Shelton: “scare the shit out of al Qaeda,” 189


drugs, war on
— soaks up twice as many FBI agents as does counterterrorism, 77
— raison d’etre of the 4,500 agents of the DEA, who once in a while passed counterterrorism leads to the FBI, 80
— not a significant source of income for al Qaeda, 171
— but a major source of income for the Taliban, 171
— and for the Northen Alliance, 139
— what customs agents thought Millennium plotter Ahmed Ressam was up to until they discovered the white powder in his trunk could explode, 179
— vast flows of US currency generated by, 186


failure
to respond, by American Flight 11, a sign of hijacking, 18
— to find a primary radar return on Flight 77, 25
— of any one layer of security, not fatal unless all the others fail too, which in this case they did, 83
— to foresee the nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan in 1998, by US intelligence, 91
— of Khowst camp strikes in 1998 and their cumulative effect on future decisions not to take action, 118
— by Pakistan, to take action against Bin Ladin and the Taliban, 126
— chance of, too great to strike when CIA agent “Mike” said “Hit [Bin Ladin] tonight-we may not get another chance,” 131
— chance of, high, for a commando raid against Bin Ladin during Clinton administration, 136
— structural, of World Trade Center, not thought to be imminent by FDNY chiefs on 9/11, 291
— technical, of FDNY radios, 323
— of imagination, policy, capabilities, and management, by the US government, 339
— to gain entry to the US, by some al Qaeda operatives, 354
— risk of, for terrorists, created by government defenses, 364
— odds of, for an attacker; the greater they are, the more likely he is to discard his plan, 383


Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh (KSM)
inventor and organizer of 9/11 plot
biography of
— growing up in Pakistan, learned jihad at desert youth camp, 147
— came to the US and studied mechanical engineering in North Carolina, 148
— looks like Arab John Belushi, 148
— went to Afghanistan after college to fight Soviets, 149
— traveled to China, the Philipines, Pakistan, Bosnia (twice), Brazil, Sudan, and Malaysia, looking for jihad, 488 n. 5
— in 1996, offered Bin Ladin several options for terrorist acts, including using planes as weapons, 149
— in late 1998, joined al Qaeda. 154
— shortly thereafter, received approval for “planes operation,” 156

clear sociopathic tendencies of
— says inspired to become globetrotting jihadist lunatic by American foreign policy, not anything he saw in actual US, 147
— brags to interrogators about inspiring Malaysian terrorists to target US, 151
— fantasy of self as superterrorist, killing all adult males on airplane and then giving big televised speech, 154
— plans for “second wave” of attacks, including shoe bombs, 156, 247, 527 n. 10, 531 n. 161,
— in mid-2000, gives future hijacker Hazmi permission to search internet for a wife, 222
— promises $700 monthly stipend if he finds her (not clear if payments were to continue after Hazmi’s death in mission), 518, n. 40
— lack of attention to other people evident, 493

fastidiousness of
— furious about hijacker Mihdhar’s departure from US in summer 2000, worried US intelligence will pick him up (overestimate), 222, 237
— original plan had four to six hijackers per plane, just in case, 235
— email addresses on a need-to-know basis only, 244
— all really vital communications done face-to-face, 245
— disapproves of careless Zacarias Moussaoui (with good reason), 247
— urged by Bin Ladin to move dates up in response to events in Israel, even if it means just crashing planes into the ground, KSM resists, 250; urged again in 2001, again resists, 250
— concerned about Bin Ladin’s lack of discretion viz plot, 532, n. 180

as father figure for hijackers, most of whom broke with their families upon becoming jihadists
— collects American aviation magazines, telephone directories, school brochures for his hijackers, 157
— purchases Hollywood movies about hijackings for them, 157
— teaches Hamburg pilots about life in the US, 167
— explains that careless Mihdhar bored in San Diego, 222
— teaches muscle hijackers some English phrases, 510, n. 108
— nephew Ali Adbul Aziz Ali allowed to help out with facilitating for 9/11, 168; then even allowed to volunteer for suicide mission (but denied visa to US), 527, n. 112

impressive low-budget technical ingenuity of
— doctors passports, 158
— as head of al Qaeda media committee, made “martyr videotapes,” 235
— produced post-Cole propaganda video, 490, n. 17
— edited Hollywood hijack films to cover up women before showing to trainees, 493, n. 54
— sends Arab-language emails to hijackers in with what Report calls “English alphabet,” 518, n. 39

propensity for boasting turns him into cooperative witness
— explains plot in great detail, 226, 232, 233, 234, 236, and ff.
— explains al Qaeda internal relations, 251-252
— says it was well known in summer 2001 that he was planning attack in US, 251
— admits lying to al Jazeera interviewer to expand scariness of 9/11 attacks, 492, n. 40
— claims he considered assassinating Rabbi Meir Kahane when latter lectured at Greensboro in 1980s, 488 n. 3
— explains that he assigned Hanjour, most experienced of the pilots, to target Pentagon, 530, n. 148

and US intelligence
— before 9/11, seen as just another freelance terrorist, not tied to al Qaeda, 276
— in April 2001, CIA learns that a senior al Qaeda figure named “Mukhtar” is planning attack, 277
— in June 2001, CIA learns that KSM (freelance terrorist) is recruiting people from Afghanistan to travel to US for attack, 277
— in late June, CIA asks whether the “real” KSM is meant, 533, n.12
— summer 2001, KSM overestimates US intelligence coordination, worries, 269
— in late July, source replies that yes, the “real” KSM is meant, 533, n. 12
— on August 28, CIA learns that Mukhtar is KSM, too late, 277

weird inadvertent humanization of by Report authors
—”concedes” superterrorist idea received lukewarm response from al Qaeda bigwigs, 154
— “explains” that careless hijacker Mihdhar was bored in San Diego, 222
— gives the “less than satisfactory explanation” that zip codes found in his notebook were to be used to open new email accounts, 514, n. 4


Moussaoui, Zacarias
code name “Sally,” 246
— Commission’s belief that he was prepared as spare fourth pilot in case Jarrah’s girlfriend convinced him to drop out, 246-247
— initially slated for “second wave” of attacks, 247

as perfect example of intelligence breakdown
carelessness of disapproved by KSM, 247
— August 13, 2001, begins flying course in Minnesota, 273
— acts funny, says he only wishes to learn how to “take off and land,” and tells school he wants training as an “ego boosting thing,” 273
— unexplained $32,000 in the bank, 273
— arrested, 273
— August 22, with help of French intelligence, he is connected to Chechen rebel leader with al Qaeda ties, 274
— Minneapolis FBI agent demands immediate action; is rebuffed by headquarters; says angrily that he is “trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center,” 275
— condescending reply from headquaters that this would not happen, 275
— FBI drops ball, 275
— George Tenet drops ball after “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly” briefing, 275
— Commission’s judgment: “publicity about Moussaoui’s arrest and a possible hijacking threat might have derailed the plot,” 276


newspapers
— Bin Ladin fatwa faxed to Arabic-language newspaper, Al Quds al Arabi, in 1998, 46, 47, 69
— leak to right-wing rag Washington Times tips al Qaeda off to surveillance, 127
— pre-millennial Jordanian al Qaeda arrests only make page 13 of New York Times, 359
— lack of attention to terrorism leading up to September 11, 359-360
New York Times doubts Bin Ladin is real terrorist leader, April 1999, 343

protocol, departing from
— hand-wanding at Dulles Airport on 9/11 “marginal at best,” 3
— American 11 flight attendant Betty Ong almost immediately makes call to American Airlines to tell them about hijacking, 5
— passenger Daniel Lewin, former Israeli army officer, attempts to stop hijackers on American 11, is stabbed in the back, 5
— Secret Service agent in effect orders non-NORAD fighter planes to defend White House by any means necessary, 44
— FBI agent investigating Cole bombing learns that Mihdhar, a Cole suspect, is in the US, asks for information from agent “Jane,” 277 (he is rebuffed)
— some 911 operators tell North Tower callers to evacuate building, break windows if necessary (this saves lives), 287
— South Tower deputy fire director tells people they should stay in their offices, 288
— fire chiefs did not yell “Mayday! Mayday!” over radio when ordering evacuation of North Tower, 307
— however, one fire chief went from floor to floor with a bullhorn yelling, “All FDNY, get the fuck out!” 307
— despite these orders, some firefighters refused to leave the building while there were still firefighters inside, 308
— and refused again when ordered to by police, 308

 

We began this index as a stunt. Here was a much-discussed, even much-reviewed, book of history that had been published without a necessary textual aid. DidnÌt this very useful book want to be of use? We would supply the aid, and, within the boundaries of some not terribly severe formal constraints, steal an opportunity to interpret the contents. We found that the language of the report, rightly or wrongly, turns the terrorists into imaginative technicians. We found that Paul Wolfowitz only appears in the text to beat the drums of the Iraqi war (also, at one point, to castigate his colleagues for lack of “imagination”). And we found that Richard ClarkeÌs dire warnings, arranged all together, took on a kind of hypnotic, even lulling effect: is this how it felt to those around him, too.

But the index is a minor genre, and it can only begin to indicate the strangeness, and the strange power, of the Report. Constructed like a novel, it can acknowledge othersÌ ideology (al Qaeda has a twisted, murderous one) but not its own, and has no truck with psychology, and only an occasional interest in politics. At times the scars of its bipartisan consensus become visible, as do the exact points where the Report stops short. Even leaving aside the invasion of Iraq, there is the fact that al Qaeda witnesses, sworn enemies of the United States, are cooperating so volubly with their interrogators. What is being done to them? Where are they even being kept?

Some conclusions are possible. The cumulative amount of information available to the FBI and CIA in the summer of 2001 was astonishing. Over and over again, agents passed leads onto their superiors; over and over again, these were abandoned somewhere in the chain of command. After the Clinton AdministrationÌs frenetic and somewhat uneven attempts to deal with al Qaeda, the Bush people appear merely uninterested. None of the concern felt by agents in the field was communicated to the public. For the media, Bin Ladin was allowed to become a celebrity terrorist, and capturing his threats on camera became a great journalistic coup.

Now we have threat levels, like a mood ring, but otherwise an administration obsessed with secrecy. As indexer Caleb Crain puts it on his blog, Steamboats are Ruining Everything:

secrecy impedes alerts 258, 359-360; impedes military planning 351; impedes management 410; impedes budgeting 416.

 

Index compiled by
with

Research by
Ben Austen
Chad Harbach
Nic Kovac
T.J. Kelleher
Caroline McCloskey
Allison Lorentzen
Ben Phelan
Emily Votruba
Wesley Yang

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