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War Games, Blackwater, KSM - Updates to the 9/11 Timeline as of March 16, 2010

The largest group of entries added to the 9/11 Timeline over the last couple of weeks concerns military exercises and the day of 9/11. FAA training exercises in December 2000 included scenarios "close to the 9/11 plot," and there was a Boeing 767 FAA hijack exercise in the summer of 2001, as well as a simulated suicide terrorist attack against New York two days before 9/11, and a mock Cuban hijacking the next day. Early on the day of the attacks, numerous aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base were participating in a training exercise, and controllers at Reagan National Airport failed to notify the Pentagon of the approach of Flight 77. After the Pentagon was hit, a supervisor told DC Air National Guard pilots on training to hurry back to base and the Secret Service called the guard again after Flight 93 crashed to request fighters, but it launched his first planes with missiles over an hour after the final hijacked airliner hit the ground.

Another large group of new entries concerns the CIA/Blackwater assassination program that never killed anybody. The program was launched shortly after 9/11 and was not briefed to Congress at the instruction of Vice President Dick Cheney. Blackwater, which had won a CIA contract to provide security in Afghanistan in 2002, became involved, but this involvement was later terminated. CIA Director Leon Panetta was informed of the program in June 2009, cancelling it and immediately briefing Congress, which started an inquiry.

Elsewhere in counterterrorism, CIA Director George Tenet significantly expanded the agency's paramilitary capacity in the late '90s. The agency also built a network of "black stations" after 9/11, but later closed them down.

There is also more about alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), who, under interrogation, falsely claimed a key player in the Bojinka plot, Abdul Hakim Murad, only had a minor role in the conspiracy, and whose secret tortured confessions were leaked to the Sunday Times in March 2004. Last year, the administration famously announced that KSM and four other defendants would be tried in a real court (whereas five other detainees would remain in military commissions), and a lawyer for one of the five then said they would plead not guilty.

Some other new entries concern the family of Osama bin Laden, who may or may not be alive. His son Saad escaped from house arrest in Iran around late 2008, had his assets frozen by the US early next year, and was then assassinated by the CIA. Subsequently, bin Laden's daughter Iman also escaped from house arrest in Iran.

Finally, some of the members of the Hamburg cell worked at a local computer company, and a car rented by some of the other hijackers was repeatedly seen at Boston's Logan Airport in the days before 9/11.

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