Timeline to War
Timeline for War
by: John F. Mahoney
This Timeline was written by AMEU executive director John Mahoney, with considerable input and editing from AMEU board members and staff.
March, 1992: The Pentagon. Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defense for policy for President Bush, drafts an update of America's overall military strategy called the "Defense Planning Guidance." In it he argues that the U.S. might be faced with taking preemptive military action to prevent the use or development of WMD. The official ultimately responsible for the document is Bush's defense secretary Dick Cheney. The draft is actually written by Wolfowitz's protégé and top assistant Lewis Libby.
Sept. 1, 1992: New York. Ramzi Yousef, the nephew of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, arrives at JFK Airport. Born of a Palestinian mother, his goal is to punish the United States for its support of Israel, knowing that the U.S. government every year sends military and financial aid worth billions of dollars to Israel. Ramzi says that he and his uncle, an engineer who had studied higher mathematics and jet propulsion in the U.S., have been planning to bring down the towers of the World Trade Center, the ultimate symbol of America's worldwide financial muscle.
Feb. 26, 1993: New York. Ramzi Yousef, with others, sets off explosives at the World Trade Center. Later in the day he flies out of JFK for Karachi, disappointed that both towers were still standing and determined to bring them down at another time.
Feb. 27, 1993: New York. A group calling itself the "Liberation Army" sends a letter to The New York Times saying the World Trade Center bombing was in retaliation for American support for Israel, and warning that if America did not change its Middle East policy, more terrorist missions would be carried out, some by suicide bombers.
April 15, 1993: Kuwait. Kuwaiti police say they have prevented an assassination attempt on former President George H. W. Bush, his wife, two sons, and daughter-in-law Laura. Most in the CIA promptly point the finger at Saddam Hussein; others, including investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, doubt the Iraqi president had any involvement in the plot.
Jan. 7, 1995: Manila. Ramzi Yousef and a colleague, Abdul Hakim Murad, accidentally set off an explosion in their apartment. Murad is captured and, under torture, tells the Philippine police of a plan to board an American commercial aircraft, hijack it, control the cockpit, and dive the plane into the CIA headquarters. The Chief of Intelligence Command for the Philippine National Police tells the Associated Press that its office shared the information immediately with FBI agents in Manila, along with the message they found on Yousef's laptop explaining why they were doing it: "If the U.S. government keeps supporting Israel … then we will continue to carry out operations inside and outside the United States."
April 18, 1996: Lebanon. Israel attacks a U.N. refugee camp at Qana, killing women and children. Israel says it was a mistake. The U.N. and Amnesty International say it was intentional. Shortly afterwards, Osama bin Laden moves to the mountains of Afghanistan, where he uses the Qana massacre to recruit fighters in a war against the U.S. and Israel.
July 9, 1996: Washington, DC. Douglas Feith, the Washington, DC partner of an Israeli firm soliciting American business for Israel's right-wing settler movement, joins with other pro-settlement supporters Richard Perle, David Wurmser and Wurmser's wife, Meryav, to develop a foreign-policy position paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," it calls for Israel to overthrow Saddam Hussein and put a pro-Israel regime in his place. Netanyahu rejects it.
July 25, 1996: Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. A truck bomb rams a high-rise complex housing U.S. airmen. Nineteen are killed. The bombing is blamed on Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors, although the U.S. commission investigating the 9/11 attacks will later conclude that Osama bin Laden may have had an involvement--but not Saddam Hussein.
Aug. 23, 1996: Afghanistan. Bin Laden, with his new mastermind for worldwide operations, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, issues a call to action: "My Muslim Brothers of the world…Your brothers in Palestine and in the land of the two Holy Places [Saudi Arabia] are calling upon your help and asking you to take part in fighting against the enemy -- your enemy and their enemy -- the Americans and the Israelis…The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory...They [Americans] are not exonerated from responsibility, because they chose this [their] government and voted for it despite their knowledge of its crimes in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and in other places."
Jan. 26, 1998: Washington, DC. Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Armitage, and 14 others send letter to President Clinton urging regime change in Iraq and a more aggressive Middle East policy. The letter is sponsored by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), founded by William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard.
July 31, 1998: New York. David Wurmser meets with Israel's permanent representative to the U.N., Dore Gold, in an effort to get Israel to put pressure on the American Congress to approve a $10 million grant to Ahmed Chalabi 's Iraqi National Congress, an exile group based in London with a guerilla army based in northern Iraq, whose purpose is the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Aug. 7, 1998: Tanzania and Kenya. Suspected Al Qaeda cells bomb U.S. embassies in both countries, killing 258, including 12 Americans.
Aug. 20, 1998: Afghanistan and Sudan. President Clinton orders missile attack against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan said to produce nerve gas and to be linked to bin Laden. Bin Laden survives and doubts are raised about the pharmaceutical plant, which Sudanese say produced infant formula. Shortly after, bin Laden tells ABC News that, if the liberation of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the Ka'aba in Saudi Arabia is a crime, he indeed is a criminal.
Feb.-March, 1999: Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden summons Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to tell him that his proposal to use aircraft as terror weapons against the U.S. has the full support of Al Qaeda.
Sept. 28, 2000: Jerusalem. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, flanked by 1,000 armed police, visits site of the Al Aqsa Mosque. Bin Laden reacts by asking that the planned attacks against the U.S. be moved up.
Oct. 12, 2000: Yemen. The USS Cole is attacked; 17 sailors are killed and 39 wounded. Bin Laden, the suspected mastermind, praises the suicide attackers, then reads a poem he wrote in honor of Palestinian children killed in their struggle against Israel's occupation of their land.
Jan. 1, 2001: Washington, DC. David Wurmser recommends to President-elect Bush that America and Israel join forces to "strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region--the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza," and he suggests that "crises can be opportunities" to implement this plan.
Jan. 30, 2001: The White House. President Bush holds his first high-level National Security Council meeting. Two topics are on the agenda: Israel and Iraq. He says he plans to "tilt it [U.S. policy] back toward Israel" and--in what turns out to be the prime focus of the meeting--he says he wants to remove Saddam Hussein. Condoleezza Rice explains: "Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region."
Feb. 5, 2001: The White House. Rice chairs a principals' committee meeting to review Iraq policy. All agree that the sanctions were only hurting the Iraqi people, not Saddam. Powell proposes stricter U.N. sanctions on Saddam's military programs.
April, 2001: The White House. Cabinet deputies meet to review terrorism policy. Richard Clarke warns that the network of terrorist organizations called Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, presents an immediate and serious threat to the U.S., and that the U.S. had to target bin Laden and his leadership by reinitiating flights of the Predator drone. Wolfowitz replies that Iraq is just as much a terrorist threat. Clarke says he is unaware of any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism directed at the U.S. Deputy CIA director John McLaughlin backs up Clarke. Wolfowitz tells Clarke he gives bin Laden too much credit and that he had to have a state sponsor. Clarke replies that bin Laden has made plain his terrorist aims and, as with Hitler in Mein Kampf, you have to believe these people will actually do what they say. Wolfowitz responds that he resents comparing the Holocaust to "this little terrorist in Afghanistan." Clarke replies: "I wasn't comparing the Holocaust to anything. I was saying that like Hitler, bin Laden has told us in advance what he plans to do and we would make a big mistake to ignore it."
June 21, 2001: Afghanistan. Bin Laden aide Ayman al-Zawahiri announces over the Middle East Broadcasting Company that, "The coming weeks will hold important surprises that will target American and Israeli interests in the world."
Aug. 6, 2001: Crawford, Texas. President Bush receives a President's Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." It warns that the FBI has intelligence indicating that terrorists might be preparing for an airline hijacking in the U.S. and might be targeting a building in lower Manhattan. No action is taken.
Sept. 4, 2001: The White House. Counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke meets with the President to walk him through a proposed National Security Presidential Directive, whose goal is to eliminate bin Laden and Al Qaeda leaders. Clarke had asked for the meeting, calling it "urgent," back in January, but only now is allowed to see him. He tells Bush that the use of minimum-wage rent-a-cops to screen passengers and carry-on at airports has got to stop. The President agrees.
Sept. 11, 2001: New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania. Nineteen Middle Eastern hijackers, 15 from Saudi Arabia, commandeer four commercial airplanes, crashing two into the World Trade Towers in Manhattan, one into the Pentagon in Washington, and one in a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 are killed. Rumsfeld directs Pentagon lawyer to talk to Wolfowitz about Iraq's connection to the attacks.
Sept. 12, 2001: Germany. Seven members of Rumsfeld's brain trust meet at an airport in Frankfurt and board an Air Force refueling plane sent to ferry them back to Washington. Group includes Douglas Feith, now undersecretary of defense for policy. On the flight back they sketch out a plan for the defense secretary according to which the U.S. would first topple the Taliban government of Afghanistan, then go after other terror states, including Iraq. Feith appoints David Wurmser to put together a secret intelligence unit in his Pentagon office that will bypass the normal channels and report directly to him; called the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, its purpose is to find loose ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda in order to counter the CIA, whose analysts had found no credible links between the two. Later in the day, counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke attends White House meetings of the inner circle of Bush's war cabinet and is stunned to learn that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to take advantage of the national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Rumsfeld specifically asks if the attacks did not present an "opportunity" to launch war against Iraq.
Sept. 15, 2001: Camp David. Bush gathers closest advisers. Much discussion is on Afghanistan, but Wolfowitz advocates attacking Iraq, maybe even before Afghanistan. He says there's a 10 to 50 percent chance Iraq was involved in 9/11. Bush sends note to Wolfowitz saying he doesn't want to hear more on Iraq that day. Cheney, Powell, Wolfowitz, and Rice vote against hitting Iraq first; Rumsfeld abstains. Powell, who is appalled at the idea of hitting Iraq, finds Rumsfeld abstention interesting. Richard Perle, who is also present, says Wolfowitz planted the seed.
Sept. 16, 2001: Washington, DC. Richard Perle and other neoconservatives send letter to Bush urging him to focus immediately on a war with Iraq, whether or not a connection with 9/11 can be shown.
Sept. 17, 2001: The White House. Bush signs a Top Secret order that lays out his plan for going to war in Afghanistan and directs the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq.
Sept. 19, 2001: The Pentagon. Perle convenes a two-day meeting of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises the Pentagon. He introduces two guest speakers: Prof. Bernard Lewis of Princeton, a longtime friend of Cheney and Wolfowitz, who says U.S. must respond to 9/11 with a show of strength, and must support such democratic reformers in the Middle East as Ahmad Chalabi. The second speaker, in fact, is Ahmad Chalabi, who tells the group that Iraq does possess WMD, although, as yet, there is no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11.
Oct. 7, 2001: Afghanistan. U.S. and U.K. planes bomb Taliban bases; the war against Al Qaeda begins.
Nov. 13, 2001: Afghanistan. The capital, Kabul, falls. Most of the Taliban leaders flee.
Nov. 21, 2001: The White House. At the end of a National Security Council meeting, President Bush secretly directs Rumsfeld to prepare for war on Iraq.
Nov. 27, 2001: Florida. Rumsfeld flies to see General Franks at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa and tells him to update the Top Secret Operation Plan on attacking and invading Iraq.
Dec. 4, 2001: The Pentagon. Franks presents a slightly revised plan on invading Iraq. Estimated force level is reduced from 500,000 to 400,000. Rumsfeld thinks fewer forces will be needed in light of the Afghanistan success. Franks agrees.
Dec. 12, 2002: The Pentagon. Franks returns with updated plan. Rumsfeld tells him he has to look at a plan that he could do "as early as April or May."
Dec. 20, 2001: New York. The New York Times reporter Judith Miller has front-page interview with Iraqi defector Adnan Ishan Saeed al-Haidere, who says he has recently been working in Baghdad in secret facilities for biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Miller secures the interview through Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, which has close contacts with Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith. Miller will later say that it is Chalabi who provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to The New York Times.
Dec. 28, 2002: The White House. Franks tells Bush that, with support from other Muslim countries, Iraq could be invaded with an initial 105,000 U.S. forces, but 230,000 eventually would be needed.
Jan. 2002: The White House. Bush's top speechwriter, Michael Gerson, gives instructions to David Frum, a Canadian, to write a speech making the best case for war in Iraq.
Feb. 1, 2002: The Pentagon. Franks tells Rumsfeld a unilateral U.S.-only invasion of Iraq could be readied in 45 days with an initial force of 105,000; ultimately, 300,000 would be needed to stabilize Iraq after it fell.
Feb. 7, 2002: White House Situation Room. Rumsfeld introduces notion of shock and awe, i.e., building up such a carrier force and bombing onslaught that it might, by itself, trigger regime change.
Feb. 12, 2002: Washington, DC. Powell tells the Senate Budget Committee there are no plans to go to war with Iran or North Korea, but U.S. is looking into ways of bringing about regime change in Iraq.
Feb. 16, 2002: White House. The National Security Council ratifies Policy Directive on Iraq, committing the U.S. to examining ways of bringing about a CIA-backed coup and providing military support for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
Feb. 20, 2002: Iraq. CIA survey team secretly enters northern Iraq to prepare for deployment of CIA paramilitary teams.
Feb. 28, 2002: Pentagon. Franks brings Rumsfeld a list of nearly 4,000 possible bombing targets in Iraq. Rumsfeld tells him to prioritize the list.
March 6, 2002: The White House. In preparation of his upcoming visit to the Middle East, Cheney is briefed by Franks, who tells him what the U.S. will need in its invasion of Iraq from other Arab and Muslim countries. When he does go to the Middle East, the vice president is surprised to learn that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is seen by Arab leaders as a greater threat to the region than Saddam Hussein.
March 9, 2002: Washington, DC. CIA tells the White House reports that Niger was supplying Iraq with uranium were investigated by Ambassador Joseph Wilson and were found not to be credible.
March 14, 2002: The White House. The Joint Chiefs of Staff report that an invasion of Iraq "would place severe strains on personnel and cause deep shortages of certain critical weapons."
April 20, 2002: Camp David. Bush tell Franks he wants the invasion of Iraq done "right and quickly."
April 24, 2002: Doha, Qatar. Franks tells his major commanders to do whatever it takes to prepare for an invasion, no matter the costs.
May 11, 2002: Camp David. Franks presents a five-front war plan to Bush.
June 19, 2002: The White House. Franks tells Bush he could do the invasion within 30 days with a little over 100,000 ground assault troops.
Late Aug. 2002: The Pentagon. Office of Special Plans is set up at the Pentagon to plan for the war and its aftermath. Picked to head the OSP is longtime protégé of Richard Perle, Abram Shulsky. As part of its mission, the OSP forges close ties to a parallel intelligence unit within Ariel Sharon's office in Israel, whose job is to provide key Bush administration people with cooked intelligence on Saddam's Iraq. One Pentagon official, Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, later relates how she had escorted six or seven Israeli generals to Feith's OSP office. The generals surged ahead of her, waved aside the required sign-in book, and entered the OSP office; seeing Feith's office door closed, the generals demanded to know from his secretary who Feith was talking to.
Sept. 7, 2002: The White House. Bush tells reporters that an International Atomic Energy Agency report estimates that the Iraqis are six months away from developing a nuclear weapon. The new report, however, turns out to be an old IAEA document from 1996 that described a weapons program that the inspectors had long ago destroyed.
Sept. 12, 2002: New York. Bush addresses U.N. General Assembly, saying the U.S. will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions to go to war with Iraq.
Sept. 16, 2002: New York. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says he has received a letter from Iraqi authorities allowing inspectors access "without conditions." Bush administration is livid because it did not say "unfettered access," meaning "anytime, anyplace."
Sept. 19, 2002: Washington, DC. Rumsfeld, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, says current U.N. inspection team is weak. At the White House, Bush says if U.N. Security Council won't deal with Iraq, "the U.S. and some of our friends will." Bush also meets with 11 House members, telling them the biggest threat is that Saddam, with his WMD, "can blow up Israel and that would trigger an international incident."
Oct. 1, 2002: Langley, Virginia. CIA prepares secret National Intelligence Estimate on the case for war with Iraq. NIE claims Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, including mobile labs, and that it is building nuclear weapons. Bush wants condensed version for the public in the form of a White Paper. The White Paper, however, distorts the facts to make the strongest possible case for war. (See the Vanity Fair article for specific examples of distortions.)
Nov. 8, 2002: New York. U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 1441, which gives Iraq a "final opportunity" to come clean on its WMD, adding that the council would meet again, following the inspectors' report, to "consider the situation." The French, who oppose war with Iraq, say off the record that they understand the resolution is enough to give America and Britain legal cover for going it alone, if they felt Iraq hadn't complied to their satisfaction.
Dec. 7, 2002: Baghdad. Iraqi government delivers a 12,000-page document in Arabic to UNMOVIC. It is intended to account for the state of its weapons programs. The U.S. takes possession of it, has it translated, submits it to the Security Council with large portions deleted, then dismisses it as a "material breach" of Resolution 1441.
Jan. 13, 2003: The White House. The French call for a meeting that is held in Rice's office. Attending are Chirac's top adviser, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, and French Ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte. Both explain their country's reasons for opposing the war, then Levitte says that if the U.S. was determined to go to war, it should not seek a second U.N. resolution, that 1441 arguably gave the White House enough cover, and that France would keep quiet if the U.S. went ahead. White House dismisses the offer because it has promised Tony Blair it would seek a second resolution. The French are angry. On the same day, Bush tells Powell in the Oval office, "I'm really going to do this." Powell asks if he understands the Pottery Barn principle: if he breaks Iraq, he'll own it. Bush says he understands.
Jan. 20, 2003: New York. French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin announces that France will not support military intervention in Iraq. The White House is irate.
Jan. 21, 2003: The White House. Franks delivers final war plan to Bush. He estimates fewer than 1,000 U.S. killed. No public pictures of returning coffins and no body count of Iraqis killed will be permitted, as both practices created bad PR during the Vietnam war.
Jan. 25, 2003: White House. Lewis Libby makes presentation on Saddam's WMD and ties him to bin Laden. Much of the material comes from Feith's Office of Special Plans. Richard Armitage, the second in authority at the State Department, sees it as drawing the worst conclusions from fragmentary threads; Wolfowitz finds it convincing. Bush aides Karen Hughes and Karl Rove think Powell should make the U.N. presentation. Powell agrees to do it.
Jan. 27, 2003: New York. Hans Blix delivers his first inspections report to U.N. He acknowledges that no WMD have been found but notes that Iraq has failed to account for undetermined quantities of the nerve agent VX and anthrax, and for 6,500 chemical bombs.
Jan. 28, 2003: Washington, DC. Bush gives State of the Union address in which he claims: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Jan. 29, 2003: The State Department. Powell gives his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, a 48-page dossier that the White House wants Powell to use in his U.N. speech making the case for war with Iraq. The dossier is prepared in Cheney's office by a team led by Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, and his deputy assistant for national security affairs, John Hannah.
Jan. 30, 2003: Langley, Virginia. Wilkerson, with several staff members and CIA analysts, sets up shop at CIA headquarters to prepare Powell's speech. Meanwhile the White House supplies 45 more pages on Iraq's links to terrorism and human rights violations.
Jan. 31, 2003: Langley, Virginia. Wilkerson throws out the White House dossier, suspecting much of it originated with the Iraqi National Congress and its chief, Ahmad Chalabi, whose information in the past often proved suspect or fabricated. Powell is convinced that much of the material had been funneled to Cheney by the separate OSP unit set up by Rumsfeld. "We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White house," says one staff member.
Feb. 5, 2003: New York. At 2 a.m., on the day of his U.N. speech, Powell receives a call from the CIA's George Tenet, who says he wants another look at the speech. Tenet is afraid Powell has cut too much about Saddam's supposed links to terrorism, especially the 9/11 attack. For days the White House and Cheney have pressed Powell to include a widely discredited Czech intelligence report that Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 ringleader, had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer. Powell had thrown out the Prague material as suspect and unverified. But Powell does keep much of what the White House wants, including mobile biological weapons labs, ties to Al Qaeda, and anthrax stockpiles. One of the sources for the mobile labs is an Iraqi major known to the CIA to be a liar. That morning, at the U.N., Powell insists that Tenet sit behind him as a signal that he is relying on the CIA to make the case for war.
Feb. 8, 2003: The White House. President Bush, in his weekly radio address, says: "Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990's. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document-forgery experts to work with Al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an Al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990's for help in acquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad."
Feb. 14, 2003: New York. Hans Blix goes before the U.N. Security Council. He contradicts Powell, saying the trucks Powell had described as being used for chemical decontamination could just as easily have been used for routine activity, and he contradicts Powell's statement that the Iraqis knew in advance when the inspectors would be arriving. And he adds that Iraq is finally taking steps toward real cooperation with the inspectors, allowing them to enter Iraqi presidential palaces, among other previously prohibited sites. Disarmament through inspections is still possible, he concludes.
Feb. 24, 2003: New York. Claiming Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded it in Resolution 1441, the U.S., Britain, and Spain propose the second resolution Tony Blair has been seeking.
Feb. 27, 2003: The White House. Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel visits Bush and tells him Iraq is a terrorist state that should be invaded as a matter of morality, otherwise Saddam will unleash a weapon of mass destruction on Israel. Bush later remarks, "If Elie Wiesel feels that way, I am not alone."
March 1, 2003: Turkey. The Turkish government rejects U.S. request to move troops through its country.
March 3, 2003: The White House. Pope John Paul II's envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, visits Bush and tells him war with Iraq would be unjust and illegal because it would cause so many civilian casualties, create a wider gap between the Christian and Muslim world, and overall would not make things better. Bush replies it would absolutely make things better.
March 7, 2003: France. The French announce they will veto a second resolution to authorize the automatic use of force. The U.S. begins lobbying the six undecided members of the Security Council: Pakistan, Chile, Mexico, Cameroon, Guinea, and Angola, having first wiretapped their offices. Chile and Mexico say they will not support a second resolution.
March 10, 2003: France. French President Chirac goes on TV and announces, "My position is that, regardless of the circumstances, France will vote 'no'." U.S. and Britain blame France for the diplomatic breakdown, and use it as the reason for not seeking the second resolution.
March 14, 2003: The White House. As a concession to Blair, Bush announces agreement on a road map for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
March 16, 2003: The Azores. Bush, Blair and Spanish prime minister Aznar meet. Bush says they need to start the war soon because antiwar sentiment will only get worse if they delay. He says he is going to give Saddam a 48-hour ultimatum to leave Iraq.
March 17, 2003: The White House. Bush reneges on his commitment to seek U.N. approval, claiming 1441 provides ample authorization. In a TV announcement he gives Saddam the 48-hour ultimatum. Prior to the announcement he calls Australian prime minister Howard and Israeli prime minister Sharon to tell them of his decision. Meanwhile, Cheney tells congressional leaders of the decision, noting that Israel will not be part of the coalition, "but we are working closely with them on their reaction."
March 18: 2003: London. Blair wins a Commons vote for war, barely carrying his own party.
March 19, 2003: The White House. Bush gives Franks order to execute Operation Iraqi Freedom. Around 4 p.m., CIA information is received that Saddam and his two sons are or will be in a bunker in Baghdad. Cheney advises Bush to strike at the target, effectively beginning the war. Bush agrees. At 7:30 p.m., Rice phones Israeli finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling him the war had begun; he says he knows. Rice then summons Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar to come to the White House. Around 8:30 p.m. she tells him that, within a half-hour, all hell will break loose. At 10:10 p.m., Bush informs the nation the war has started.
April 7, 2003: Washington. Rumsfeld appoints Gen. Jay Garner to direct Pentagon's new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq. Garner, a JINSA advisor, says the first person he will invite to work with him is former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.
May 2, 2003: The USS Lincoln. President Bush tells nation, "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
May 6, 2003: Washington. L. Paul Bremer III is appointed administrator of Iraq, replacing Jay Garner.
June 5, 2003: Washington, DC. The Washington Post reports that VP Cheney and his aide Lewis Libby paid multiple visits to the CIA in the months leading up to the Iraq war. Later, former CIA Counterterrorism chief Vince Cannistraro will tell a congressional hearing that prior to the war, the White House exerted unprecedented pressure on the CIA and other intelligence agencies to come up with evidence linking Iraq to bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
June 8, 2003: Washington, DC. David Kay, former chief weapons inspector for the U.N., is asked to take over the search for WMD in Iraq.
July 6, 2003: New York. Former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson IV writes column in The New York Times saying he was sent on a fact-finding mission to Niger by the CIA and that, well before the president's State of the Union Address, he reported his finding that no uranium had been shipped to Iraq.
August 27, 2003: Washington. Newly available documents reveal that Halliburton, the company VP Cheney formerly headed, wins contracts for more than $1.7 billion out of Operation Iraqi Freedom and stands to receive hundreds of millions more under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Bechtel Group, George Shultz's company, wins contracts for one billion dollars.
Sept. 17, 2003: The White House. President Bush tells a reporter, "No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11."
Oct. 2, 2003: Washington, DC. Kay delivers interim report to Congress saying, "We have not yet found stocks of weapons."
Dec. 13, 2003: Iraq. Saddam Hussein is captured.
Jan. 23, 2004: David Kay resigns.
Jan. 28, 2004: Washington. Regarding the existence of WMD in Iraq, Kay tells Senate Armed Services Committee, "We were almost all wrong." His testimony forces White House to name a presidential commission to investigate the prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Feb. 5, 2004: Washington, DC. Tenet admits in a speech at Georgetown University that as far back as May 2002 the Defense Information Agency had issued a "fabrication notification" to steer clear of the Iraqi major who had attested to the mobile biological labs mentioned in Powell's U.N. speech. Somehow the CIA never saw it.
Feb. 24, 2004: Washington, DC. CIA director Tenet tells the Senate Select Committee that, despite our invasion of Afghanistan and occupation of Iraq, the worldwide threat from bin Laden and Al Qaeda has grown, not diminished.
March 11, 2004: Madrid. Train bombs kill 200 people. Search leads to a widening web of organizations that may have few ties to Al Qaeda but share its goals.
March 14, 2004: Madrid. Conservative prime minister José Aznar is defeated by Socialist challenger José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, who ran on a pledge to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq unless they were placed under U.N. sanction. The new prime minister calls the Iraq war an error, saying: "It divided more than it united, there were no reasons for it, time has shown that the arguments for it lacked credibility, and the occupation has been poorly managed."
April 18, 2004: Madrid. Spain withdraws all its troops from the Coalition of the Willing.
April 19, 2004: Nicaragua. President Maduro says Nicaragua will withdraw its forces from Iraq.
April 29, 2004: Santo Domingo. The Dominican Republic withdraws its troops from Iraq, citing security concerns. Wolfowitz tells a congressional hearing that Iraq is still a combat zone, "and until it becomes peacekeeping, a lot of countries are probably going to stay on the sidelines."
May 20, 2004: Baghdad. Iraqi police and U.S. military raid home of Iraqi National Council finance minister Ahmad Chalabi as part of an investigation into suspected fraud. CIA also charges him with informing Iran that the U.S. had cracked its secret codes and was eavesdropping on its intelligence messages. The Pentagon stops monthly payments of $340,000 to Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
May 26, 2004: New York. The New York Times acknowledges that its reporters, among them Judith Miller, used questionable sources in affirming the existence of WMD in Iraq, and that Ahmad Chalabi, the INC leader, was feeding bad information to journalists and the White House, information the White House eagerly received.
May 29, 2004: Baghdad. Iyad Alawi, a longtime CIA operative, is chosen interim prime minister of Iraq.
June 4, 2004: Langley, Va. CIA Director George Tenet resigns.
June 16, 2004: Washington, DC. The 9/11 Commission investigating the September 11 attacks reports that there did not appear to be a collaborative relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
June 22, 2004: Washington. Wolfowitz tells a House Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon had underestimated Iraq's postwar insurgency and that the U.S. may have to keep a significant number of troops in Iraq for years to come.
July 5, 2004: Former U.S. Army General Janis Karpinski, who had been in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison when Iraqi detainees were abused and humiliated, tells BBC radio that she knew of at least one Israeli involved in the prisoner interrogation.
July 9, 2004: Washington. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concludes in its report that the most pivotal assessments used to justify the war against Iraq were unfounded and unreasonable. Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the committee, concludes: "We in Congress would not have authorized that war -- we would NOT have authorized that war--with 75 votes if we knew what we know now." The second part of the report on whether the White House and Pentagon tried to influence intelligence agencies is postponed until after the November election.
July 12, 2004: The Philippines. President Arroyo announces that her country will withdraw from the Coalition of the Willing in order to save the life of a Filipino hostage held by Iraqi insurgents.
Aug. 1, 2004: Number of U.S. killed in the Iraq war reaches 910. The media is barred from showing their returning coffins. Number of Iraqi civilians killed is not available from official U.S. sources; independent sources estimate the number to be between 11,305 and 13,315. (For updates on Iraqis killed and wounded, see: www.iraqbodycount.org. Iraq Body Count)