The Year in Review - Part Four
by Smokey Sojac
One - January, February, March
Two - April, May, June
Three - July, August, September
Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef,
announces October 3 that the Taliban will hand over Osama
Bin Laden if it is shown evidence of his involvement in terrorism.
"There's no negotiations. There's no calendar. We'll act on
our time. And we'll do it in a manner that not only secures
the United States as best as possible but makes freedom in
the world more likely to exist in the future," replies Bush.
The US bombardment of Afghanistan begins October 7. The initial
bombardments include yellow clusterbombs, which function as
landmines. US forces also drop food packets, which are also
yellow. News outlets are asked to minimize reports of Afghan
civilian casualties, and most comply. Fox News pundits wonder
aloud why civilian casualties should be covered at all. By
December 15, one estimate in British papers has the total
of Afghan civilian casualties surpassing the civilian casualties
in the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
The Bush Justice Department quickly announces that a Tennessee
incident in which a passenger on a speeding Greyhound bus
slashes the throat of the driver, killing six and injuring
30, is not terrorism.
On October 2, the Fed makes its ninth rate cut of the year.
On October 2, ancient Strom Thurmond collapses and is rushed
to Walter Reed hospital. It is the seventh time in the past
two years he has been hospitalized. The old race-baiter, who
ran for president in 1948 charging Harry Truman was a communist
for wanting to integrate the armed forces, is hanging on grimly
while unfit to keep South Carolina's Democratic governor from
appointing a Democratic successor. He is unable even to perform
the simple duty of gaveling the Senate to order and has to
be prompted by aides for each vote. So great is his hatred
of blacks that in 1962 he wrestled fellow Sen. Ralph Yarborough
of Texas to the floor to keep him from voting for a civil
rights bill. He holds the record for filibustering, 24 hours
and 18 minutes, again in opposition to civil rights.
The employees of American Media Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida,
are given blood tests the week after a photo editor for The
Sun, one of the company's newspapers, dies from inhalation
anthrax on October 5. Two other employees were exposed to
the spores but did not develop the disease. HHS Secretary
Tommy Thompson initially suggests the photo editor may have
contracted anthrax from drinking water from a contaminated
stream. He also assures America that anthrax is not contagious
and that the incident is not a terrorist attack.
On October 21 Washington, DC, postal worker Thomas Morris
dies. In his final hours, he calls 911 from his home to say
he had been nearby when a co-worker handled an envelope filled
with powder the previous Saturday. Asked by the dispatcher
if he thought he had anthrax, Morris said, "I don't know anything.
I don't know anything. I couldn't even find out if the stuff
was or wasn't. I was told that it wasn't. But I have a tendency
not to believe these people." Morris had worked in the Brentwood
distribution center that the Daschle letter had passed through.
Postal workers there had been assured by the administration
that they were in no danger. A day after Morris's death, his
co-worker Joseph Curseen Jr. also dies of inhalation anthrax.
On October 23, Bush makes a bizarre televised appearance
in which he mentions three different times to reporters that
he does not have anthrax. No one has asked him if he has anthrax.
On October 29, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI
Director Robert Mueller hold a press conference and tell Americans
to be on the alert for a "credible threat" within the next
week. They offer no details of what might occur, where it
might occur, when it might occur, or how Americans can respond
should they detect one.
A pamphlet, "How Can I Train Myself for Jihad," found in
Kabul, Afghanistan, advises terrorists to take advantage of
the U.S. weak gun laws. "One should try to join a shooting
club if possible and make regular visits to the firing range.
There are many firearms courses available to the public in
USA, ranging from one day to two weeks or more. These courses
are good but expensive. Some of them are only meant for security
personnel but generally they will teach anyone. It is also
better to attend these courses in pairs or by yourself, no
more. Do not make public announcements when going on such
a course. Find one, book your place, go there, learn, come
back home and keep it [to] yourself. Whilst on the course,
keep your opinions to yourself, do not argue or debate with
anyone, do not preach about Islam....You are going there to
train for Jihad, not call people to Islam."
A bill creating a Federal Airport Security force to screen
passengers and luggage and improve airport safety passes the
Senate, 100 to 0. Tom DeLay and Dick Armey block passage of
the bill in the House, forecasting that the proposed employees
will vote Democratic. After first supporting the Senate bill,
Bush denounces it as "inflexible" evidently preferring flexible
screening for terrorists.
Drug Enforcement Administration head Asa Hutchinson testifies
on October 3 before a congressional committee on criminal
justice and drug policy that the drug trade is the primary
source of income for the Taliban. The Administration had sent
them $43 million in May supposedly to reward them for their
anti-drug efforts. James P. Callahan, director of the State
Department's Asian anti-drug program, had noted then that
the Taliban justified the ban on drugs "in very religious
The worst oil spill in Alaska since the infamous Exxon Valdez
occurs when a drunk shoots a hole in the Trans-Alaska Oil
Pipeline, spilling about 7,000 barrels of crude. It marks
the 50th time someone in the state has taken a shot at the
pipeline for recreation. Clean-up will cost millions and last
through next summer.
Afghan opposition leader Abdul Haq is captured and killed
by the Taliban, as his supporters here and there charge that
he was betrayed by the CIA. Convicted Iran/contra figure Robert
McFarlane seems to have some official role in the event, serving
as liaison between Haq and the CIA. (McFarlane was national
security adviser to president Ronald Reagan, Oliver North's
Iran-Contra supervisor, and he was convicted on criminal charges
of withholding information from Congress about secret aid
to the Nicaraguan contras. He is best known for his secret
diplomatic mission to Iran in which he delivered a Bible and
a cake, and offered US weapons in exchange for the release
of US hostages.) Haq, in his last recorded interview with
the Guardian says, "We have been trying to create a revolt
within the Taliban, but the US hasn't given us the chance.
They seem to have been determined to attack, even if someone
came up with the best proposal in the world to avoid this.
But the US is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and
scare everyone in the world. They don't care about the suffering
of the Afghans or how many people we will lose. And we don't
like that. Because Afghans are now being made to suffer for
these Arab fanatics, but all know who brought these Arabs
to Afghanistan in the 1980s, armed them, and gave them a base.
It was the Americans and the CIA. And the Americans who did
this got medals and good careers, while all these years Afghans
suffered from these Arabs and their allies. Now when America
is attacked, instead of punishing the Americans who did this,
it punishes the Afghans."
On October 21, Haji Mohammad Zeman, a leading opposition
commander challenging the Taliban near Jalalabad, says the
world could face further attacks like the September 11 suicide
crashes in the United States if the United Nations does not
send peacekeeping troops to pacify Afghanistan soon. "Afghanistan
needs -- and I need -- United Nations peacekeeping forces
to come and bring peace to Afghanistan," Zeman tells Reuters.
The Bush Administration opposes UN peacekeepers.
Two weeks after anthrax contaminated mail was received in
the Senate and a week after two postal workers died of anthrax,
Federal authorities begin testing postal workers and treating
them for anthrax.
After consulting with Bush's FBI, Iowa State University in
Ames destroyed anthrax spores collected over more than seven
decades and kept in more than 100 vials. A variant of the
so-called Ames strain had been implicated in the death of
a Florida man, and the university was nervous about security.
Scientists in and out of government said the rush to destroy
the spores may have eliminated crucial evidence about the
anthrax in the letters sent to Congress and the media.
Right wing real estate tycoon George Argyros is named America's
next ambassador to Spain. He speaks no Spanish, and his company
has been ordered to pay $ 1.1 million to tenants from whom
he illegally withheld millions of dollars in security deposits.
Some of those tenants are still suing for millions more. In
1999, Argyros and several other defendants were fined $1.75
million for using improperly mixed concrete while building
a development of luxury homes in Yorba Linda, Calif. Within
a few years of their construction, the homes' cement foundations
began disintegrating. Federal prosecutors are also negotiating
a fine against Apria Healthcare Group Inc. for allegedly cheating
Medicare out of at least $103 million while Argyros served
as the company's chairman.
Drug czar Asa Hutchinson publishes a rule in the Federal
Register making it illegal to sell or import foods containing
hemp oil after February, 2002. Hemp oil is a common additive
in beers, cheeses, coffees, corn chips, energy drinks, flours,
ice creams, snack bars, salad oils, sodas and veggie burgers,
among other products and has no narcotic properties whatsoever.
Hemp seed oil contains a variety of heart-healthy essential
fatty acids not found in other food products.
During a photo-op, Bush tells employees at the Labor Department,
"And we'll be tough and resolute as we unite, to make sure
freedom stands, to rout out evil, to say to our children and
grandchildren, we were bold enough to act, without tiring,
so that you can live in a great land and in a peaceful world.
And there's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind,
that we will fail."
Interior Secretary Gale Norton testifies to Congress in support
of oil drilling in ANWR, omitting data from the Wildlife Service
showing that drilling would affect the caribou that migrate
through the area. She also lies about the calving habits of
Dick Cheney's Halliburton Co. is said to be in financial
trouble after a Lexington, MS jury delivers a $150 million
verdict against it in an asbestos case. The verdict involves
Dresser Industries, acquired in 1998 by Cheney. Warburg Dillon
Reed, now known as UBS Warburg, and Goldman Sachs both charge
Halliburton did not adequately warn of the asbestos liability.
MSNBC discovers that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the
September 11 attacks got their visas to come to this country
from Saudi Arabia. It also finds only 3% of Saudi visa holders
are ever turned down by Consular officials, compared to over
25% from other countries. Only a tiny percentage of Saudi
visa applicants are even interviewed by US officials before
More than 100 children are removed from a school for troubled
youths run by millionaire Charles Sharpe, a long-time friend
of John Ashcroft, after three staff members beating a boy
burst his eardrum. A friend of the injured boy fled the facility
and informed authorities. It marks the third abuse allegation
involving Heartland Christian Academy in the past five months.
On November 2, Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge issues
an "indefinite" high alert against an undefined terrorist
On election day, Democrats win both Gubernatorial races at
play and 32 of 34 Mayoral races. One of the two mayoral victories
for the Republicans is pro-gun control, pro-choice, pro-affirmative
action liberal Mike Bloomberg in New York City, who switched
parties to avoid a crowded primary; by year's end New York
Republicans will complain bitterly that he has chosen mostly
Democrats for his incoming administration.
Republican National Committee chairman Jim Gilmore resigns
after the election debacle, citing "family reasons."
On November 8, Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that
he will no longer enforce civil rights laws or prosecute environmental
polluters, as he is reorganizing the Justice Department to
thwart future terrorist strikes. He then begins a crackdown
on the use of medical marijuana in California, where voters
approved it in 1996. He also announces he will revoke the
license of any physician detected helping termnailly ill patients
die with dignity in Oregon, where voters have approved a physician-assisted
suicide initiative not once but twice.
The Taliban flee Kabul and the Northern Alliance forces occupy
the city on November 13, despite Bush's request that they
not do so. Mobs take to the streets to chant "Death to Pakistan."
Neither Osama Bin Laden or Mullah Omar are there.
During late November, Pakistani air force planes haul hundreds
of people out of Kunduz, which is under seige by Northern
Alliance forces. The Pentagon denies any knowledge of what's
going on. "Oh, you mean 'Operation Evil Airlift'?" one military
source jokes to MSNBC. "Look, I can't confirm anything about
those reports. As far as I know, they just aren't happening."
Says one Northern Alliance spokesperson "We had decided to
kill all of them, and we are not happy with America for letting
the planes come."
Kunduz finally falls to the Northern Alliance on November
26 after a series of deals is struck. Neither Osama Bin Laden
or Mullah Omar are there.
On November 2nd, the Fed makes its tenth rate cut of the
President Bush tours the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
in Atlanta, and in a nationally televised speech he urges
Americans to volunteer. Much of what they will volunteer for
is to replace necessary government services he has cut back
or eliminated, such as aid to the homeless. He closes with,
"My fellow Americans, let's roll." Not even GOP sugar daddy
Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network carries the speech, preferring
instead to show the premiere episode of "The Tick."
After receiving a scolding from Saudi Arabia, Bush continues
to reject a meeting with Yasser Arafat while the two are in
New York for Bush's UN address. Former South African President
Nelson Mandela meets with Bush and expresses "grave concern"
that the President will not meet with Arafat.
Bush draws up an executive order to block the release of
68,000 pages of confidential communications between President
Ronald Reagan and his advisers that were due to be public
under the Presidential Records Act of 1978. The papers cover
the period when Osama Bin Laden was recruited and trained
by the Reagan Administration, as well as the period when arms
were being sold secretly in the Middle East to finance the
terrorist campaigns of the Contras.
Ali Mohamed, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen and longtime Silicon
Valley resident who pled guilty in 2000 to terrorism charges
involving the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi,
in which more than 200 people died, is discovered to have
been an FBI informant at the time. He had been a CIA informant
in the 1980's but was dismissed for being "unreliable."
Ken Starr tells the Washington Post that he believes the
torture of terrorism suspects is a swell idea, and that five
members of the Supreme Court agree with him.
Attorney General John Ashcroft asks police departments to
detain and question people of Middle Eastern descent who are
not suspected of any crimes. Portland, OR police, among others,
Bush and Putin conclude three days of talks at Bush's Texas
ranch without an agreement on reducing nuclear stockpiles
or the future of missile defense systems and the ABM treaty.
Putin wants to reduce the stockpile; Bush wants to jettison
the treaty, over the objections of the entire rest of the
Budget director Mitch Daniels tells Congress that the Federal
budget is in deficit and will remain so until at least 2005.
Coincidentally, Bush's term will expire that January. The
administration refuses to consider scaling back the massive
tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans.
On November 16, Iranian radio reports Osama Bin Laden has
slipped into Pakistan. Pakistani officials say this claim
is "preposterous" and "mischievous", and Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld says Bin Laden is still in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in United
States v. Emerson. reverses a lower district court ruling,
rejecting the argument that the Second Amendment guarantees
domestic abusers an individual right to keep and bear arms
and that the plaintiff, Timothy Joe Emerson, was denied due
process when arrested for possessing firearms under 1994's
federal Protective Order Gun Ban.
Chicago police discover Subash Gurung about to board a plane
in Chicago's O'Hare airport carrying seven knives, a stun
gun and a can of Mace. He had been stopped at the security
checkpoint by private airport personnel, who had confiscated
two other knives and sent him through to board with the rest
of his arsenal. Eight employees of the private security firm
On November 16, a man running through security to catch a
flight, causes chaos and turmoil at Atlanta's Hartsfield International
Airport, and the world's busiest airport is shut down for
over three hours. Private airport security guards let him
run down an "up" escalator unhindered to the planes. Bush
and the GOP leadership in the House are still blocking the
Senate bill to beef up airport security.
Laura Bush gives the president's weekly radio address instead
of Bush, announcing that the Afghani war is "a fight for the
rights and dignity of women." Since the beginning of the year,
the Bush administration has blocked poor women's access to
health services, closed the White House Office on Women's
Issues, proposed dropping birth control from Federal employees'
health insurance, and cut funding for the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal laws
against discrimination and upholds equal pay. In weeks to
come it will propose closing the 10 regional offices of the
Department of Labor's Women's Bureau.
Afghan women march in Kabul on November 21, demanding their
rights. The Northen Alliance troops break up the march.
The Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives
pass a bill to reauthorize the Price Anderson Act, which limits
the liability of nuclear power plant owners for damage associated
with nuclear accidents at levels first set in 1957.
On November 12, 50 American Nobel laureates formally urge
Congress not to fund or build missile defense because it will
squander resources needed to protect Americans against terrorism.
The Nobel laureates are also critical of the Administration's
hostility towards the ABM Treaty and other important arms
control agreements, which they say risks undermining vital
non-proliferation efforts to keep weapons of mass destruction
out of terrorist hands.
After a dozen years of legal maneuvering, Exxon gets a judge
in San Francisco to agree that the $5 billion fine for the
Exxon Valdez oil spill is excessive. Exxon has yet to pay
a dime toward clean-up, and Alaska still has not recovered
from the damage. Complains Sierra Club Executive Director
Carl Pope. "Once again, when we match the promises of 'clean,
safe, environmentally responsible oil development' against
reality, the promises lose. The oil industry always has, and
apparently always will, cut corners, and take risks -- and
the courts will only slap them on the wrist."
Ten thousand people demonstrate at the School of the Americas,
where Central American terrorists were and still are being
trained by the US military. Eighty are arrested for trespassing.
On November 25, Taliban prisoners overpower their Northern
Alliance guards at a prison near Mazar-e-Sharif, triggering
a fierce gun battle that killed hundreds and was put down
only after U.S. air and ground forces were called in. An Alliance
spokesman said the prisoners "were all killed and very few
were arrested." The Bush Administration says only that a CIA
official was wounded in the jailbreak attempt. John Walker,
an American citizen who identified himself as Abdul Hamid,
emerges from the siege of the prison in Mazar-e-Sharif with
85 other Taliban fighters. It will turn out that a pair of
CIA operatives discussed killing all the captives within earshot
of Walker, that the prisoners had not been disarmed, and that
one of the CIA operatives has been killed.
On November 10, a test of the proposed anti-missile system
goes off course and has to be destroyed after 30 seconds of
flight. Cost is $100 million.
Total Services Inc., which is responsible for airport security
in Atlanta and 112 other airports, announces it is on the
verge of going bankrupt. It cites the number of fines it has
had to pay and the near 100% turnover of its 11,000 low-paid
employees. In 1997, Founder and former CEO Robert A. Weitzel
took ITS public at $11.25 a share and then embarked on an
acquisition spree during which the firm bought 14 companies.
Weitzel was forced to resign in 1999 after outside auditors
uncovered evidence that he manipulated company finances for
personal gain. ITS has more than $48 million in liabilities
and estimated assets of $23 million, according to bankruptcy
The Bush Justice Department quickly announces that the crash
of American Airlines flight 587 in Jamaica, Queens, NY, is
not terrorism. Eyewitnesses say that the engines and other
plane parts appeared to have exploded and then fell off prior
to the crash. 260 passengers and crew are killed. The cause
is still unknown. The crash occurs on November 12, the same
day that a consortium of newspapers release the findings of
their investigation into last November's Florida election
irregularities, showing that Al Gore would have won in all
scenarios where Florida votes were actually counted.
The Bush administration shuns negotiations in Marrakech (Morocco)
to revise the Kyoto accord, mainly by watering it down in
a vain attempt to gain US approval.
Fox News reporter Eric Leaf is arrested for assault and battery
in Detroit, MI. It emerges that under the name Charles Leaf,
he had assaulted two people in Mobile while reporting for
the Fox affiliate there.
Bush refuses to release $300 million in emergency aid to
help poor families and senior citizens pay their heating bills,
arguing that forecasts of a mild winter and an abundance of
fuel make aid unnecessary. Congress has already approved the
spending, but the President has to release the funds.
Bush proposes trying suspected terrorists with military tribunals.
A two thirds consensus of presiding officers would be required
for conviction, and the death penalty would apply. Proceedings
would be held in secret. Civil libertarians are outraged,
and Spain refuses to hand over suspects it has in custody
out of concern for their human rights.
In direct violation of the Sixth Amendment, the Justice Department
decides to listen in on the conversations of lawyers with
clients in federal custody, including people who have been
detained but not charged with any crime, whenever they feel
it is necessary. The monitoring will be conducted without
a court order whenever the attorney general certifies "that
reasonable suspicion exists to believe that an inmate may
use communications with attorneys or their agents to facilitate
acts of terrorism."
Since Sept. 11, the government has secretly detained nearly
1,200 people, many on immigration violations. All are of Middle
Eastern descent and none has been charged with terrorism.
No-one from the all white Army of God, which has publicly
taken credit for anthrax attacks, has been detained, and many
of those fanatics have yet to be questioned, according to
The GOP has for years limited spending on sex education to
"abstinence only" teaching. A study released this month finds
that compared with adolescents in other wealthy Western nations,
US teens have the highest birth rate, lowest contraceptive
use, least ease of access to reproductive health services
and least social support. US teen birthrates are double those
in Great Britain and Canada and five times as high as those
in Sweden and France. American teens lack both family-planning
support and the free, heavily subsidized, and easy-to-get
contraceptive devices routinely provided in the universal
health coverage programs in the other four countries.
Under a new regulation by the Bush Administration, the Interior
Department will lose its authority to deny permits on grounds
that a proposed mine could result in "substantial irreparable
Massachusetts State Police order Argenbright Security to
leave Logan Airport, saying the company can no longer be trusted
to protect the flying public.
Secretary of the Interior Gayle Norton is ordered to stand
trial for criminal contempt in the case of Cobell v Norton
regarding the Indian Trust Accounts. Judge Royce Lamberth
finds that Norton has had e-mails destroyed and has ignored
the rulings of appellate courts directing the Interior Department
to account for the trust fund. In response, Norton freezes
43,000 checks, most of which were to go to the nation's poorest
and most abused Americans, and removes the Department of Interior's
computer system from the Internet, citing security concerns.
The New York Times discovers that a right wing nut has self-published
a book called "Scientific Principles of Improvised Warfare
and Home Defense Volume 6-1: Advanced Biological Weapons Design
and Manufacture," a germ-warfare cookbook that bioterrorism
experts say is accurate enough to be dangerous. He has been
selling it at gun shows for several years. He has not been
contacted by the FBI since September 11th, but Federal authorities
tell the Times he is not a suspect in the anthrax attacks.
Bush's Department of Energy changes the rules for the proposed
Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in Nevada. The site,
which Bush has been pushing hard, has been discovered to have
some unforeseen problems, including an earthquake fault line
and areas of loose rock. Rather than reconsider the site,
the DOE decides to relax the requirements for geological suitability.
Bush and Ashcroft announce they wish to revive domestic spying
on religious and political groups by the FBI.
Bush's EPA announces it wants to allow the pesticide industry
to experiment on humans to determine pesticide safety levels.
Bush visits the Florida Everglades to promise that he will
protect America's natural resources. Bush's Interior Secretary,
Gale Norton, closes down the federal office whose job it is
to protect the Everglades.
The Mayor of Inglis, FL officially banishes Satan from town.
Proclamations are rolled and stuffed into hollowed-out fence
posts, painted with the words Repent, Request and Resist,
placed at the four entrances to the town.
Attoney General John Ashcroft holds a bizarre press conference
November 8 declaring that America has "emerged victorious
in the opening battle in the war against terrorism. We cannot
know with certainty what acts of terrorism our combined efforts
have thwarted or prevented," he says in remarks to Justice
Department employees. "But we have trusted the American people
to act responsible in the face of threats. And thanks to their
patience and to their vigilance, we know this: We have not
suffered another major terrorist attack." He is completely
ignoring anthrax attacks at more than 250 women's health clinics,
a host of media outlets, and two US senators.
Wisconsin's hunting season is the deadliest since 1987, with
19 accidents and seven fatalities.
Family members of victims of the September 11 attacks lead
a peace walk from Washington DC to New York City.
On December 5, U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and four
Afghan factions agree to create a post-Taliban government
in Afghanistan. Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai is the
interim administrator for the transitional government, which
will establish a 29-member interim cabinet representing the
range of Afghanistan's ethnic groups and regions, including
two women. The interim government wants UN peacekeeping forces
in Afghanistan as soon as possible. The US opposes the peacekeepers.
On the afternoon of December 5, Karzai is almost killed by
a US B-52 which drops a 2,000 pound bomb on him. 5 Afghanis
and 3 American soldiers are killed and dozens are injured,
including Karzai. A Pentagon spoksperson says "In contrast
to the prevailing fantasies of the Clinton administration,
there is no question that casualties are a part of war."
On December 6, Attorney General John Ashcroft tells the Senate
that dissent against the administration is akin to treason.
"To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost
liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists."
he says. The senate discovers that although he has abridged
the Sixth Amendment rights of 1,200 detainees yet to be charged
with any crime, he has upheld their Second Amendment rights,
forbidding the FBI to check gun purchase records to see have
they have bought weapons. Ashcroft maintains that the law
prohibits the use of those records for investigative purposes,
but is oddly noncommittal when asked if that law should be
Reporters visiting a deserted Al Qaeda camp discover that
the terrorist group has been using paper targets from the
National Rifle Association for weapons practice.
On Dec. 11, the Federal Aviation Administration warns U.S.
airlines that there could be an attack on an airliner during
the Christmas holidays. The agency advises airlines to be
on alert for suspects smuggling weapons or bombs aboard in
On December 22, a man aboard a Paris to Miami American Airlines
flight attempts to ignite his shoes, which are found to contain
plastic explosive. He is subdued by passengers and crew and
the flight is diverted to Boston. The Bush administration
insists he is British citizen Richard C. Reid who acted alone.
French intelligence say he is from Sri Lanka and is named
Tariq Raja. Between 1996 and 1998, he belonged to the same
mosque as accused hijack conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, who
has been in custody since August after being turned in by
a suspicious flight instructor. The chairman of the mosque
had warned police about the pair then. European authorities
have evidence of contact between Moussaoui and Reid late last
year, and say the two spent time together in a training camp
in Afghanistan run by Osama Bin Laden.
Bush names former Montana Governor Marc Racicot to head the
Republican National Committee. Racicot announces he will accept
the position but will continue to serve as lobbyist. One of
his clients is Enron Corp., from whom he has earned $360,000
In the largest bankruptcy filing in US history, Enron Corp.
files Chapter 11. The firm is a rat's nest of interlocking
companies. Two days prior to the filing, Enron executives
pay themselves $55 million in bonuses. The company is subsequently
revealed to have been a massive swindle, with losses unreported
and profits wildly overstated to investors for at least FOUR
years. Between November 2000 and August, when the first hints
of trouble began, Enron executives have sold off every share
of stock they own while locking their employees' stock holdings,
part of their pensions, in. Between August and the filing
Enron shares declined from $45 per share to less than 60 cents
a share. Enron CEO Kenneth Lay has been a friend of Bush and
the Bush family for years. Since 1999, Enron and its executives
have given more than $2 million to the Bush campaign and other
GOP causes. Both Bush brothers steered millions in Florida
and Texas funds to the company, which helped keep the swindle
from being revealed earlier. Enron made billions by gouging
when Bush refused to cap prices in the California energy crisis.
Several government agencies launch investigations, several
suits are filed, and some Enron executives are said to have
fled the country. CEO Lay refuses to appear before Congress.
Democrat Lee Brown wins the Houston mayoral race, despite
the endorsement of his opponent by Bush.
Although he has urged others to go on with their routines,
Bush closes the White House to holiday tourists and will allow
only invited guests to view the White House Xmas tree. In
previous years, more than 3,000 tourists a day were admitted.
Pat Robertson resigns as head of the Christian Coalition.
His replacement is Roberta Combs, central figure in the bias
lawsuit against the group by its black employees.
Speaking of bias against blacks, Strom Thurmond Jr. is named
US attorney for South Carolina. Junior has tried 22 cases
in his entire life. Chris Christie, who has no criminal experience
but is a crackerjack fundraiser for the GOP, is named US attorney
for New Jersey.
Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that the Canada-U.S.A.
border will be patrolled by the U.S. National Guard
On December 3, U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge
tells Americans to brace for fresh terrorist attacks, and
puts the nation on a high state of alert, again with no details.
India is put on a full state of alert after gunmen storm
India's parliament in a 30-minute shootout that leaves twelve
dead. India accuses a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group
of carrying out the suicide attack on Parliament and demands
that Pakistan arrest the group's leaders. India and Pakistan
move warplanes, troops, and missiles to their border as the
talk of war between the countries intensifies. Indian Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee says, "We do not want war, but
war is being thrust on us and we will have to face it." The
Bush Administration ignores the situation and Bush goes on
yet another vacation. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear
Houston-based funeral home operation Service Corporation
International is discovered to have desecrated graves and
destroyed human remains at its Menorah Gardens Cemetery chain
in Jeb Bush's Florida. Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth
subpoenas all of SCI's Florida burial records dating back
to 1990 after a videotape surfaces showing SCI employees dumping
human bones in the woods in West Palm Beach. The general manager
of the cemetery chain is found mysteriously dead in his garage.
The Palm Beach Post discovers state inspectors knew of the
problem three years ago but took SCI's word that the problem
would be resolved. SCI is owned by Bush family friend and
supporter Robert Waltrip. While governor of Texas, George
Bush testified under oath he never pressured state officials
to drop an investigation into SCI. Sworn statements by SCI's
own lawyer showed that to be a lie. SCI is still stonewalling
a $445,000 fine for violating Texas embalming laws, refusing
to comply with subpoenas and not informing consumers that
third-party embalmers were involved in the transaction.
On December 6, opposition forces take Kandahar from the Taliban.
Neither Osama Bin Laden or Mullah Omar are there. Looters
spread throughout the city, hitting relief agency warehouses
as well as private businesses and households.
The Pentagon announces on December 15 that Bin Laden is confirmed
to be in Tora Bora.
Bush mysteriously invokes executive privilege to protect
documents of prosecutors' decision-making in cases ranging
from decades-old Boston murders to the Clinton-era fund-raising
probe. The decision immediately affects a subpoena from the
House Government Reform Committee for documents related to
1960's murders in Boston. Joseph Salvati of Boston spent 30
years in prison for a murder he did not commit even though
the FBI had evidence of his innocence. Salvati was freed in
January after a judge concluded that FBI agents hid testimony
that would have cleared Salvati because they wanted to protect
On December 16, the last Al-Qaeda stronghold, Tora Bora,
is taken by Opposition forces. Neither Osama Bin Laden or
Mullah Omar are there.
On December 21, The UN Security Council agrees to send peacekeepers
after the US drops objections. U.S. Ambassador to the UN John
Negroponte says that Washington wanted to make sure its forces
are free to pursue suspected terrorist groups still in Afghanistan.
"It's just a question of keeping the missions of each of these
forces straight and to have a clear-cut division of labor
between the two sets of forces and to ensure that the peacekeeping
-- or the international security assistance force -- does
not in any way interfere with our efforts to continue to root
out the Al-Qaeda and to fight against any remnant Taliban
elements that might exist anywhere in Afghanistan," Negroponte
On December 22, 80 UN peacekeepers arrive in Kabul to lead
a multinational force of soldiers tasked with ensuring that
the country's interim government stays in power for six months.
That same day, US warplanes attack a vehicle convoy in the
Tora Bora region, killing 60 tribal elders on their way to
witness Hamid Karzai's swearing in as head of the new government.
The Pentagon insists the convoy members were Taliban leaders,
even after Karzai meets with the survivors.
The Times of London reports at years' end that U.S. special
forces are cutting off the fingers of dead Al Quaeda fighters
in Afghanistan. The fingers will be turned over to the FBI
for DNA analysis to clarify whether Bin Laden died in the
Children in South Korea are said to be singing a song that
goes Osama Bin Laden, the person I most respect. I will become
a terrorist when I grow up." Educators fear a ban on the song
will spread its popularity.
Bush, who was grounded by the Texas Air National Guard for
missing a drug test while AWOL, tells a hand-picked audience
of Republican supporters in Florida that he saw the first
plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11 on television,
and said to himself "Well, there's one terrible pilot." The
first plane crash was not televised, and private videos only
surfaced many hours after the crash.
A missile defense system test has to be delayed six days
because of bad weather. Finally launched in good weather,
it again hits a target with a radio homing beacon whose precise
time of launch, trajectory and speed was known.
Captain Charles Burlingame, pilot of doomed flight 77, is
buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The Bush administration
had initially denied his widow's request for burial there.
As part of Ashcroft's all-out anti-Terrorism investigation,
the FBI looks into the artwork at the Art Car Museum in the
Heights in Houston, harassing the Docent about her personal
life. In response to questions by reporters, an FBI spokesperson
says the agents determined the artwork was not dangerous.
Terrorist Clayton Lee Waagner is fingered by clerks at Kinko's
in Springdale, OH, a few days after Ashcroft adds him to the
list of America's most wanted. He has been wanted since February,
when he escaped jail. Waagner has publicly threatened to kill
doctors performing abortions and admits sending more than
500 anthrax threats to womens health clinics, but is only
added to the list after he threatens a fellow anti-choice
extremist with a gun. Waagner tells reporters he does not
blame Ashcroft for his arrest: "I understand he's anti-abortion
also. He's a good man."
On December 13, the United States officially withdrew from
the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, gutting the landmark
agreement--the first time in the nuclear era that the US renounced
a major arms control accord.
Virginia Circuit Judge Junius P. Fulton III dismisses "involuntary
manslaughter" and "shooting into an occupied home" charges
against Timothy W. Woods, who was fondling his gun in his
front yard when it fired, killing neighbor Scott H. Rein watching
the Super Bowl in his home next door.
"After more than six months, a $700,000 budget and far too
many secret meetings, the [Social Security Reform] commission
has died a quiet death,'' said Rep. Bob Matsui of California,
ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Social Security
subcommittee. All three of its proposals call for slashing
benefits and raising the retirement age.
Bush names administrators and venture capitalists to the
President's Advisory council on Science and Technology. The
only actual scientist among the 24 member group is Charles
Arntzen, a plant biologist from Arizona State University.
The Baltimore Sun discovers near the end of December that
months after the FBI mobilized hundreds of agents to investigate
the anthrax attacks, the bureau has still not interviewed
the only Americans with experience producing anthrax for use
as a weapon: aging veterans of the U.S. biological warfare
program based at Fort Detrick. Scientists and former federal
law enforcement officials tell the paper they are baffled
by the FBI's failure to contact the former Army biowarfare
specialists, who have rare technical expertise and might offer
useful leads on finding the perpetrator. In fact, as the biowarfare
veterans themselves admit, the perpetrator might be one of
them - investigators have yet to do the work necessary to
rule them out. "That is really, really surprising," says I.
Michael Greenberger, who was in charge of counterterrorism
at the U.S. Justice Department during the Clinton administration,
of the FBI's failure to interview the former bioweapons makers.
"That just takes my breath away. This is supposed to be a
The Pentagon reveals that it had manufactured Anthrax spores
in the recent past. Even then, the Army first claimed it had
created just a paste form of Anthrax, only to be forced, within
a day, to admit that it did process, in recent years, "weaponized"
airborne dry anthrax. Just two days later, it is leaked that
the spores in the terrorist anthrax letters matched the recent
military stocks. The Army and FBI both, apparently, knew about
the secret American anthrax stockpile and research shortly
after the Daschle letter was opened, but hid the information
from the public. The Army, it is important to remember, is
"assisting" in the investigation of the anthrax letters. The
CIA has also confessed that it has its own little anthrax
program, which, one report says, the FBI is focusing on. Of
course, the CIA says "no, it's not our anthrax."
A videotape of Osama Bin Laden talking about the Sept. 11
terror attacks is released by the United States government
on Dec. 13, administration officials crow at length about
the extensive effort to achieve a full and accurate transcript.
Says Bush "This is Bin Laden unedited. It's preposterous for
anybody to think that this tape is doctored. That's just a
feeble excuse to provide weak support for an incredibly evil
man." An independent translation however, reveals statements
that could be embarrassing to the government of Saudi Arabia,
a very important U.S. ally. Bin Laden's visitor, Khalid al
Harbi, a Saudi dissident, claimed that he was smuggled into
Afghanistan by a member of Saudi Arabia's religious police.
He also told Bin Laden that in Saudi Arabia, several prominent
clerics - some with connections to the Saudi government -
made speeches supporting the attacks on America. Many members
of the Administration, including the Bush family, have lucrative
ties to Saudi Arabia.
The Justice Department scraps plans to offer $500,000 in
federal grants to pay for DNA testing of some inmates so that
prosecutors could verify their convictions, law enforcement
sources say. Since the late 1980s, DNA tests have cast doubt
on 99 convictions, including at least 11 that carried the
Strom Thurmond celebrates his 99th birthday on the Senate
floor, the oldest Senator in history by almost six years.
The old race-baiter now lives in Walter Reed Hospital so his
health can be monitored full time. For more than a year, he
has been said to be less than alert.
Gun nuts in Utah are outraged when the Salt Lake City Olympics
announces guns will not be allowed on the premises and gun
lockers will not be provided.
At Christmas time, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News airs the views
of Cato Institute nutcase Steven Milloy, who urges the Bush
administration to further ignore the homeless, even though
the U.S. Conference of Mayors report hunger and homelessness
are on the rise. "The Bushies, however, should take a closer
look at the Conference of Mayors' report and homelessness
before they debase society with a "Memorial Day" for crack
heads, the lazy, the mentally ill and those down on their
luck. Free food and lodging are probably very popular in low
income areas," he jeers.
The new Afghan government demands an end to the US bombing
campaign. The Bush administration refuses.
Asked about Enron at year's end, Bush announces that he has
not heard from the swindle's executives in six weeks.
Bush complains publicly about leaked draft rules for possible
military tribunals, saying ''Whatever the procedures are for
the military tribunals, our system will be more fair than
the system of bin Laden and the Taliban.''
The US is on pace to record more job losses in 2001 than
it has in at least nine years, the job placement firm Challenger,
Gray & Christmas says. Some 1.8 million jobs have been lost
since the first of the year, three times the number lost for
all of 2000 and easily dwarfing the number in any year of
the Clinton Administration.
The Bush administration admits it has no idea where Osama
Bin Laden is. "You don't need to worry about whether or not
we're going to get him," Bush says, "because we are."