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Events Leading Up To Clinton's Order To Strike Back

Last 13 days extraordinary for a president facing personal crisis

By John King/CNN

WASHINGTON (Aug. 21) -- After the bombings of two U.S. embassies in east Africa, America would strike back just 13 days later -- not a one of them ordinary for President Bill Clinton.

The American president, leading the nation in voicing horror and grief, was also confronting an extraordinary personal and political crisis.

Here's the chronology of events leading to the Aug. 20 U.S. strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan:

Friday, Aug. 7: A predawn wake-up call for President Bill Clinton from National Security Adviser Sandy Berger: Deadly explosions in Kenya and Tanzania with America the target. Osama bin Laden is immediately the prime suspect.

Denouncing the violence, Clinton said "these acts of terrorist violence are abhorrent; they are inhuman."

Monday, Aug. 10: The president, traveling in California, is briefed on additional CIA evidence against bin Laden and orders the Pentagon to weigh military options.

Wednesday, Aug. 12: Clinton's political trip is cut short to meet with military advisers back in Washington, D.C. and review the strike plans.

Thursday, Aug. 13: Planning gives way to mourning as the bodies of Americans killed in the bombings are returned to U.S. soil.

At Andrews Air Force base, Clinton said, "America's memory is long, our reach is far, our resolve unwavering and our commitment to justice unshatterable."

Friday, Aug. 14: One week after the deadly attacks the CIA and Pentagon present what they call a convincing case that bin Laden is not only responsible for the Africa bombings but is planning additional terrorist attacks against Americans.

The president orders the Navy to deploy warships with cruise missiles.

Mon. Aug. 17: Berger updates the president on military planning, just before Clinton's testimony in the Monica Lewinsky investigation. Later that night, Clinton addresses the nation and admits to an inappropriate relationship with the former White House intern.

Wednesday, Aug. 19: The vacationing president takes a birthday stroll with his dog after being told the Pentagon was awaiting his orders. A group associated with bin Laden vows "strikes will continue from everywhere" against the United States.

Thursday, Aug. 20: After a series of overnight calls, the president gives the go ahead at 6 a.m. and America strikes back.

Speaking from Martha's Vineyard an hour after the attacks the president told the nation "our target was the terrorists' base of operation and infrastructure. Our objective was to damage their capacity to strike at Americans and other innocent people."

Interrupting his vacation, Clinton rushes back to Washington to attend a briefing on the operations and, shortly after 5:30 p.m., give the world an explanation.

In Other News

Friday, August 21, 1998

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Events Leading Up To Clinton's Order To Strike Back
Poll: Most Americans Support Sudan, Afghanistan Strikes
'Wag the Dog' Back In Spotlight

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