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Timeline of counterterrorism planning

(CNN) -- The Bush administration disputes reports that it did not act in a timely manner to implement a plan to dismantle al Qaeda.

A White House official gave CNN a timeline of counterterrorism planning that took place before September 11.

  • Presidential transition time: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice gets a briefing about terrorism from Clinton administration officials. Samuel "Sandy" Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, drops by the meeting and talks about the importance of fighting terror.
  • January 2001: In the first few days of the new administration, Rice asks the National Security Council and Cabinet agencies for proposals for "major presidential policy initiatives," including one focusing on counterterrorism.
  • January 2001: A few days later, Rice receives a memo from Richard Clarke, the Clinton administration's counterterrorism chief. Based on that memo, she orders a "comprehensive policy strategy review on al Qaeda."
  • January-March 2001: Policy coordination meetings take place to "review issues and prioritize actions needed to counter the al Qaeda threat."
  • March 2001: Work begins on the National Security Presidential Directive on al Qaeda.
  • April 2001: The administration's "deputies," including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy National Security Council Adviser Stephen Hadley, meet to discuss U.S. policy against al Qaeda, approve "immediate actions" against al Qaeda and review the draft of the security directive.
  • May-July 2001: The deputies' committee develops a strategy to enlist Pakistan's support for pressing the Taliban to shut down al Qaeda in Afghanistan and a strategy for dealing with the Afghan regime.
  • August 14, 2001: The security directive draft goes to Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other national security principals.
  • September 4, 2001: These principals sign off on the directive.
  • September 9 or 10, 2001: The directive, ready for the president's final approval, arrives on Rice's desk.
  • September 11, 2001: The directive is sitting on Rice's desk waiting to go to the president.




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