Democratic Underground

2001: The Year in Review - Part Four
January 7, 2002
by Smokey Sojac

Part One - January, February, March
Part Two - April, May, June
Part 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 terms."

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 those caribou.

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 being admitted.

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 attack.

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 year.

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, refuse.

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 world.

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 are suspended.

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 records.

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 press reports.

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 harm."

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 changed.

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 their shoes.

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 2001.

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 weapons.

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 an informant.

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 says.

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 battle.

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 no-stones-unturned investigation."

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 death penalty.

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."

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article