Simba Roars

3. Playing to (or Fighting with) the Base.
Chapter 3

Playing to (or Fighting with) the Base

President McCain felt compelled to have a good working relationship with Republicans, and so he got to work on passing tax cuts.

While President McCain and his administration battled with Congressional Republicans over campaign finance reform legislation, the president’s team was simultaneously working with Republicans to pass comprehensive tax legislation. When conversations began about a Republican trifecta and how to use it, Speaker Hastert, Leader Lott, and the president agreed that they could find common ground on the issue of tax cuts. The devil, or rather, the disagreement, was in the details, however. McCain presented much of his initial proposal at a press conference just before his Congressional address in February. He wanted to draw in a line in the sand on certain issues. Unlike many conservatives, he was not willing to support an outright repeal of the inheritance tax (though he supported cutting it), the majority of his cuts were for the bottom 99% of income-earners (those making less than $300k-$400k a year), and he included provisions that closed loopholes that allowed top income-earners to get away with paying less than their expected share. It quickly became clear that Congressional Republicans and the president were actually quite far apart on tax reform.

Hastert knew that the majority of his caucus wanted more, and he watched as McCain used the bully pulpit to advance his message on campaign finance reform. He sensed an opening. With presidential resources concentrated on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, Hastert felt he could work quietly with more conservative Republicans in the administration to get a favorable tax bill. His staff reached out to Kellyanne Conway who began making regular voyages to Capitol Hill to discuss tax cuts. They wanted the inheritance tax on the table. They insisted on reducing the top bracket from 39.6% to 34.5%. Conway explained that the president was prepared to veto any bill that cut the top bracket. Republicans were outraged.

Tax cuts gained a new passionate advocate in the form of House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas, a conservative legislator who was outraged by the president’s insistence on campaign finance reform and driven into a state of rebellion by his position on taxes. Shortly after a meeting with Conway that ended in few changes, DeLay took to the Capitol Rotunda for back-to-back interviews in which he blasted the president’s approach to taxes. “I have a great deal of respect for President McCain,” DeLay said in one interview, “but he seems to have forgotten everything we’ve learned about economics from President Reagan. These tax cuts that Congressional Republicans are going to pay for themselves. They will generate such an economic jolt that income to the government will actually increase.” Weaver laughed as he informed the president of DeLay’s comments.

News came in March that the economy was officially entering a recession, and McCain became more willing to play ball on tax rates, but he remained adamant that the top rate would go unchanged. While the majority of his efforts remained concentrated on the campaign finance reform bill, he knew that he had to juggle the tax debate as well or the conservatives would overtake his messaging. He agreed to a wide-ranging interview with Katie Couric in April that touched heavily on campaign finance reform but also made room for a discussion of taxes and other administration priorities. When Couric asked about taxes, the president outlined the differences as clearly as he could. “I think these two issues are related, Katie. Right now, you have some in my own party more worried about big breaks for their donors than they are about relief for hard-working Americans. That’s silly and it doesn’t make any sense, until you remember who has the power in this town and why. Donors have the power because they have the money. If you make their money count for less, then the people have more power,” the president said. In an effort to move the president to the right on taxes, Republicans had actually strengthened his hand on both key issues.

The president's popularity gave him leverage when negotiating with Congressional Republi

It soon became clear that Republicans lacked any real leverage against McCain. His approval rating was high, and they had to be able to deliver something on taxes. McCain was at least giving them that. They agreed on a cut to the inheritance tax, the creation of a new 10% bracket for single filers with taxable income up to $6,000, joint filers up to $12,000, and heads of households up to $10,000. Then, the 15% bracket's lower threshold was indexed to the new 10% bracket. The 28%, 31%, and 36% brackets were all reduced by 2.5% over 4 years. McCain got his way on the 39.6% bracket. It was smaller than Republicans wanted, but they joined the president and smiled gleefully behind him as he signed it into law in June.

The summer of 2001 was a complicated time for the administration. The beginning of John McCain’s presidency had been rocky for the president’s relationship with his own party. He had checked a number of boxes to please conservatives. On his second full day in office, McCain reinstated the Mexico City Policy, banning aid to international groups performing or counseling on abortion. Beginning in his third week, the president began submitting a number of conservative judicial nominations to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Lott was taking those requests and getting them through the Senate as quickly as possible. While his other colleagues bemoaned the tepidness of the new president, Senator Orrin Hatch, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was rather pleased with the president’s work. When some of the nominations became too moderate for most of the Party, McCain invited Ralph Reed over to dinner in the White House Residence where they discussed a number of issues, including the judicial branch. Reed left the White House and made calls to friends on the Hill. “John’s on our side,” he said. “Let him put through some people he likes, but he knows who to put on the Court.” The crisis was averted.

On February 6th, McCain flew to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley to speak on the former president’s 90th birthday. He praised Reagan’s record, applauded his willingness to be his own man, and praised his economic policy. “Ronald Reagan is the model president,” he told the crowds. And conservatives around the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe McCain wasn’t going to be so bad after all, they thought. After the speech, McCain headlined an expensive and well-attended fundraiser for the Republican National Committee. He was still doing his part as party leader.

Of course, there was plenty that upset them. The campaign finance reform legislation and the president’s aggressive campaign strategy around it was the most egregious misfire. Plenty of Republicans were also angered by McCain’s tax bill, which they insisted did not go far enough. Worst of all, he was popular! Their hands were tied. He had all of the political capital he needed, and they had none. For so many who longed for a Republican trifecta in government, this was not panning out how they’d imagined it. So, McCain, following the advice of Mike Murphy, threw conservatives a bone when he could. In April, McCain announced he was abandoning plans to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, saying that without involvement from China and India, the agreement was effectively useless.

Still, on too many issues for conservatives, McCain held firm. The White House refused to agree to a number of earmark requests when Republican congressmen demanded them. The lawmakers said they had to deliver for their constituents. The White House told them to support the president’s agenda and that would suffice. McCain’s budget included some increases to defense spending, which went appreciated by his party, and it included an expanded school voucher program, also appreciated by the right. The budget wasn’t the dream scenario for House and Senate Republicans, but it was enough. As it worked its way through Congress, it helped some on the right stay hopeful as other less conservative legislative priorities for the president gained support among the American people.

After the passage of McCain’s Law and the Republican tax bill, the conservatives in the Party had largely forgotten the judicial nominations, defense increases, school vouchers, and other acts of good will. They were stewing. As if on purpose, Mississippi Congressman Ronnie Shows decided it was time to cause further disagreement on the other side of the aisle. Over the summer, he introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment, which quickly gained more than 20 co-sponsors. He had a press conference and demanded it be referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. It was, and then it was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution. Everyone in Washington knew that the votes did not exist to pass it, but Karl Rove knew that gay marriage was a wedge issue, one that voters instinctively aligned with Republicans on. Rove was now working with a Political Action Committee to elect more conservatives to Congress, and he believed gay marriage was part of the equation.

Despite George W. Bush's loss in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, Karl Rove was still considered a top Republican strategist in conservative circles.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution was chaired by Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot, who was elected comfortably during the 1994 Republican Wave and had no problem being reelected afterwards. He was a backbencher. He minded his own business. He voted how his Party asked. Then, one day, Karl Rove knocked on his door and told him that he could guarantee the Republicans a permanent majority in the House, Senate, and Congress with one decision. Chabot’s ears perked up. Here was a top Republican operative and Jim Sensenbrenner, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, promising Chabot the chance of a lifetime. He could be part of the next 1994 Wave, and not only would he be responsible for making it happen, he could be star of it on cable news.

During an otherwise sleepy summer, Chabot announced that when Congress returned in the fall, he would bring the Federal Marriage Amendment up for a hearing. The White House was blindsided. Speaker Hastert played dumb, insisting that Sensenbrenner and Chabot acted on their own, but the McCain team knew that was a lie because they received no punishment from the Speaker. No one went rogue in the House without repercussions. Internally, McCain’s inner circle was divided.

The president was against the amendment. He always said he opposed same-sex marriage but that it was fundamentally a state’s rights issue. He didn’t want a Constitutional amendment. Weaver thought this might be a good bone to throw to the right. “I’m hearing from Kellyanne that they’re fired up about this,” he said, “and it’s only going to get worse. This whole summer Fox News has nothing else to talk about. Plus, Kellyanne said she met with Karl Rove. They think this is a winning issue for us in the Midterms and it could keep some seats from flipping. That would be huge.”

Salter disagreed, as did Schmidt. They argued that this was exactly the kind of issue that McCain should avoid altogether. If he got involved, it would only anger people – the base or those in the middle who viewed him as a voice of reason. As Salter said, “Your popularity comes from the fact that people trust you to do the right thing. They believe you when you say you have their best interests at heart. If you start pushing for a Constitutional amendment on a non-issue, you’re going to lose that credibility.” Schmidt agreed.

Murphy was torn, but mostly he was just angry. Of course, the president had to oppose the amendment. It was a bad law, but it was another issue that would unnecessarily rile the right. Unfortunately for the White House, it didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. The president’s silence was taken as opposition to the amendment by the right and support of the amendment by the left. Pastors in the Bible Belt told their parishioners that Washington was on the verge of “destroying family values.” Activists on the left found unlikely bedfellows with libertarian Republicans and they began calling the phones of every member of Congress. Not to be outdone, Jerry Falwell energized the right to do the same thing. Somehow, a sleepy summer turned into a battleground over same-sex marriage.

The issue got worse. Talk radio talked about the president’s betrayal of the right. Democratic lawmakers demanded that the president take a stand. Every day at the press briefing, Howard Opinsky, the White House Press Secretary, had to issue the same statement: “President McCain will comment on the legislation if his opinion becomes necessary, but as presidents do not sign Constitutional amendments, he feels this matter is best left to the House Judiciary Committee.” It was a weak non-answer, but it was all they had.

Finally, in early September, as the amendment moved towards a hearing, the president went into the press room and made a brief statement. The debate was becoming too much of a distraction for him, and he certainly didn’t want the amendment to pass out of committee and further fuel tensions. He wanted to give Republicans cover to say no. “A lot has been made about this Federal Marriage Amendment,” McCain told the press. “In reality, I think everyday Americans are more worried about the economy than they are some Constitutional amendment that will take years to pass if it makes it out of Congress. That said, I owe the American people the clarity of my convictions. If I were a member of the House, I would oppose this amendment. It is a gross intrusion of the federal government into an issue that should be decided state-by-state. That said, if the state of Arizona proposed a similar amendment to its own constitution, I would support that.” The president didn’t take any questions.

Conservatives were outraged, and Kellyanne Conway went to Mike Murphy’s office to express just how tense relationships with the Hill were. “We need to do something,” she said, “to mend this relationship. We’re losing our own party, and honestly, Mike, I’m about to walk.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Let’s have the president take Hastert, Lott, and some of the other top conservatives on a retreat to talk things through and find issues they can agree on.”

Murphy liked the idea. “Where and when should we do it?”

“I’ve talked with their staffs. We all agree that they should head out to the president’s in Arizona. They’re willing to extend recess another week to figure this all out, and we all agree that would be best. They’d leave on Friday and get back on Tuesday.”

“The 11th?

I feel like narrative timelines like these have many advantages, but one draw back is they prevent subplots that don't directly relate to main narrative details. Before the highly-anticipated update coming next, I want to add in some short updates in the style of the VP announcements. "Real-time" news articles and the like that I think will overall enhance our understanding of the Simba Roars world. Most will be political right now, but as we get going, I hope to touch on more and more popular culture and other-than-politics events to give this alternate universe a fuller feel
Where Are They Now? Bush, Gore, and Kerry Adjust to Post-Campaign Life

Where Are They Now? Bush, Gore, and Kerry Adjust to Post-Campaign Life

Yesterday marked the 100th day of John McCain's presidency. For the president, it was a joyous occasion. He is nearing passage of what will be his signature legislative achievement, campaign finance reform, and he is working with Congressional Republicans to pass a tax cut to boost the American economy. Lawmakers in Washington have been impressed with the new president's ability to fight more than one battle at once. He's avoided letting his White House be consumed by one issue at a time, as the Clinton's did during the HillaryCare debate of the 1990s. Democrats say that isn't fair, though, pointing out that the Clintons were forced to devote time and resources to fending off partisan Republican attacks and investigations. Nonetheless, McCain has demonstrated a keen ability to keep the ball rolling. Whether its a multi-state tour to use the bully pulpit or a conference call with legislators to make sure stakeholders are on board, John McCain's first 100 days have been busy, and the president shows no signs of slowing down.

For others, however, the 100-day mark is a chance to be reflective. For George W. Bush and Al Gore, McCain's two chief rivals for the White House, April 29th may have been more about missed opportunities than optimism for the future. And what about John Kerry? The Massachusetts senator who Al Gore selected as his running mate. What is he up to these days?

First and foremost, George W. Bush is said to still be in shock at the demise of his presidential operation. Sources close to the Texas governor say he can't wrap his head around what went wrong. Honestly, neither can most Republicans. Bush out-raised McCain, ran to his right (and therefore was more in line with the majority of the electorate on the issues), and he had far greater name recognition heading into the primary battle. Consensus seems to be that Bush underestimated how much his name could hurt him. Voters tired of the Clintons and Washington seemed to have associated the Bush name with the same partisan era. It is also difficult to overstate the negative reaction to Bush's South Carolina primary campaign - a negative strategy that seems to have backfired spectacularly. Bush blames Karl Rove, his chief strategist, for that miscalculation, but is said to remain in close contact with Rove. He believes McCain's victory was more the work of outside events than mismanagement of the campaign he ran. He's also said to be looking for a way to launch a political comeback.

Back in Texas, Bush's approval rating is just as high as it was before he embarked on his presidential campaign, but that's not enough for the governor who is said to be considering leaving his job in 2002 when he will be up for a third term. Bush's decision to appoint recently-retired Congressman Bill Archer to the Senate was seen by many as a chance to keep the seat open should he decide to run. Archer has not yet announced if he will be a candidate in the special election in November, and Texas politics are at a standstill as Bush weighs jumping into the race. Time is quickly running out for the governor to make up his mind. The seat is also up in 2002, and the consensus seems to be that Bush will punt making a decision until then and encourage Archer to seek the seat in the November 2001 special election. Attorney General John Cornyn is preparing to run for the Senate or for governor, whichever opens up. Lt. Governor Rick Perry is also looking to advance his career. Both seem to be waiting for Bush to make the first strike.

According to a source close to the Bush family, "W." as he's known to some has little interest in serving in the Senate, but he views it as a way to stay nationally relevant in advance of a 2008 run for the presidency. It could help him gain foreign policy experience, which he admits may have hurt him against McCain and could hurt him against Vice President Frist. Rove has cautioned agains the move, however, believing that it will corner Bush into taking uncomfortable stands on a number of issues. Others in the family want W. to step aside so that his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, can make his own run for the White House in 2008. For now, Bush seems unwilling to make a decision, and some say that's because he's considering giving up politics altogether. He misses the Rangers and knows there's more to life than the back-and forth of campaigns, but coming so close to the presidency once makes it hard not to try again - as his father knows all too well.

Meanwhile, in Nashville, a tired Al Gore is also reflecting on a failed presidential bid, though he's given no indication to family or former aides that he's weighing another one. After a thank you party for donors in December, Gore has largely retreated from the political scene. He remained in Washington through McCain's inauguration and then headed home. He and his wife Tipper are debating their next steps, but it does not seem to include any mention of elected office. He has been largely quiet on his rival's presidency, turning down interviews and choosing not to lend his voice to the Democrats. Sources say this is a conscious decision by the former vice president, who is hoping to let someone new take the mantle in an otherwise rudderless party. Privately, Gore hopes it is his chosen running mate, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, with whom he developed a close relationship on the campaign trail. Gore believes that Kerry was an asset to him and helped undercut McCain's talk about his foreign policy credentials and military service. Whether or not Kerry had any real influence on the results is anyone's guess, but at the very least Gore appreciates how hard he worked to get the ticket to the finish line.

He's called Kerry a couple of times since their defeat, and the two had lunch together at a Washington hotspot before the vice president left town in January.

Kerry is relishing his role as the most-talked about presidential candidate heading into 2004, and he is doing everything one could to gear up for a presidential campaign that is still three years away. As Kerry sees it, his announcement is only a year-and-a-half away, and so he's been working hard to further his national profile. He's been on most of the Sunday shows since McCain's inauguration and has drawn a careful line of applauding the president's bipartisan work, like campaign finance reform, while raising questions about the Republican tax cut proposal. He plans to fundraise and campaign aggressively for Senate and House Democrats during the 2002 Midterms to gain favor with more elected officials. He knows that any 2004 campaign will be a more protracted primary than Gore's 2000 effort, but he believes that he can wrap it up quickly enough to concentrate efforts on McCain and bring him down. One Kerry aide said that the senator is still locating the president's weakness, but that he has "plenty of time" to discover it and accentuate it.

Others close to Kerry say he is less focused on the presidency than some want him to be. In reality, they argue, he's enjoying a bit of a rest. The senator was recently vacationing on Nantucket with his wife, Theresa, and has been going back-and-forth from Washington to Boston more than usual. He's "intently focused on the difference he can make for Massachusetts," said a Kerry spokesman, who also denied that he was actively weighing a presidential campaign. "We are a long ways away from the 2004 election. John Kerry's immediate focus is on passing good legislation this Congress and campaigning for Democrats across the country in 2002 so that the Party can flip Congress and enact more of its agenda. He's ready to work," the aide continued.

While John McCain may be the one currently in the Oval Office, it seems that more than one of his former rivals have yet to take their eyes off it.
This is all good work. It feels like this idea gets kicked around so much in the forum, but it never seems to make it into a realistic-feeling TL.

One possible pop culture POD, Jon Stewart did several interviews with McCain over the years. McCain . If he’s got a small window open to the administration, that could lead to a very different para-social relationship with the audience for pretty much the chief mainstream liberal media personality of the OTL Bush years.

Of course we have to see what happens in September first. And if it does happen, we have to see how McCain responds. I don’t think Stewart’s going to change his tune on torture and the like just because the administration takes his bookings.
This is all good work. It feels like this idea gets kicked around so much in the forum, but it never seems to make it into a realistic-feeling TL.

One possible pop culture POD, Jon Stewart did several interviews with McCain over the years. McCain . If he’s got a small window open to the administration, that could lead to a very different para-social relationship with the audience for pretty much the chief mainstream liberal media personality of the OTL Bush years.

Of course we have to see what happens in September first. And if it does happen, we have to see how McCain responds. I don’t think Stewart’s going to change his tune on torture and the like just because the administration takes his bookings.
+1. Stewart could certainly be placed in a sub-plot in this TL. It'd be a nice touch.
4. Hell on Earth
Chapter 4

Hell on Earth

The president’s wake-up call came at 4:15 am. He headed to the shower and got dressed, and then he went downstairs where breakfast was waiting for him. He turned on the television and watched the headlines as Matt Lauer and Katie Couric reported on the day’s events. He called his wife, Cindy, back home at the White House. She was doing well and going over her remarks. She was slated to speak with employees at the Pentagon later that morning. Secretary of Defense Colin Powell had asked her to come, thinking it would be a good morale boost for the employees. As First Lady, Cindy had been hesitant about consuming the national spotlight – afraid to be branded as another Hillary. Now, as the second year of her husband’s presidency was in sight, she was stepping more into the public eye. This speech was one of those early steps.

Around 5:00 am in Phoenix, the president entered his motorcade on the way to the airport. Speaker Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Lott, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, and Republican Senate Conference Chair Rick Santorum were waiting for him on the tarmac when they arrived. Some weren’t pleased with the early departure time, but McCain didn’t want to waste the whole day in the air. Air Force One was scheduled to be wheels down in Washington at 2:00pm Eastern time. At 8:12 am Eastern time, White House Chief of Staff Mike Murphy received a phone call from Mark Salter, “Air Force One is wheels up.”

Moments later, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked by Waleed and Wail al-Shehri. They rose from their seats and stabbed two flight attendants. Mohamed Atta takes control of the plane shortly thereafter. At 8:19 am, Betty Ong, who is a flight attendant on the flight, calls American Airlines to inform them of the stabbings and the fact that the cockpit is not answering. The FAA’s Boston Center makes the determination that the flight has likely been hijacked. Then, the flight’s transponder signal is turned off. Air traffic control is only able to keep track by primary radar at Boston Center. Several times, the hijackers mistakenly communicate with air traffic controllers. When a third transmission comes through at 8:30 am, Dan Bueno from Boston Center notifies the tower controller at Otis Air National Guard Base of Flight 11’s hijacking. The controller directs Bueno to contact the appropriate sector of NORAD and two F-15 pilots begin suiting up. At around 8:43 am, two F-15 fighter jets scramble to intercept Flight 11. They are too late, however. About four minutes later, the plane crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center between floors 90 and 96.

After scrambling the F-15 pilots, the notified personnel at NORAD sends word up the chain of command. The news reaches Secretary of Defense Colin Powell a minute or two after Flight 11’s impact. The Defense Secretary asks to be kept advised of the situation. At around 8:47, Boston and New York Center infer that the fire at the North Tower and the disappearance of Flight 11 are related. The news is again sent up the chain of command and Secretary of Defense phones Air Force One to notify the president.

“Good morning, Mr. President.”

“Good morning, Colin. You have some news for me?”

“I’m afraid I do, Mr. President. We have reason to believe that American Airlines Flight 11 has crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. There’s a large fire there now, as you might expect. We don’t have too much more information than that. I’m informing you because we have reason to believe that the flight had been hijacked. Boston air traffic control received some messages we believe were intended for the passengers. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more, Mr. President.”

“What did the messages say?”

“That people should remain calm and stay in their seats.”

“Alright. I want updates as soon as you get them. Thank you.”

Shortly after Secretary Powell and President McCain hung up the phone, the news broke on CNN first and was quickly followed by the other stations. Most carried live shots of the burning tower. Americans turned to their beloved morning anchors, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer on GMA, and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric on the Today Show, for clarity. They had little information to report. They weren’t even sure that what caused the explosion. Gradually, on-the-ground witnesses began to call in saying it was an airplane. Some said it was a large aircraft, some said it looked like a small plane.

By 9:00, air traffic controllers have lost two additional flights. American Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and a United flight were all missing. In a few minutes, hijackers will overtake another plane, United Flight 93, which departed from Newark about 20 minutes behind schedule because of delays on the tarmac. New York Center tells the Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Herndon, Virginia that the situation requires military assistance. Around the same time, an order comes in to evacuate both the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center.

At approximately 9:04 am, American Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Many Americans witnessed this second explosion live as cameras were already fixated on the North Tower. Stunned news anchors attempted to contextualize what Americans had just seen. Most were speechless. While many initially speculated that the attacks were due to a failure of navigational equipment, others noted that the plane had to make a dramatic turn in order to hit the tower. It had to be intentional. It had to be a coordinated terrorist attack.

At around 9:05 am, First Lady Cindy McCain enters her motorcade to head to the Pentagon and address staff members there. She is notified of the second plane’s explosion while en route and attempts to reach her husband, but the call does not go through. She tries Secretary of Defense Colin Powell’s office, but an assistant to the secretary says he is on a call. When Cindy McCain’s aide asks whether or not they are still planning to have the First Lady speak, Powell’s assistant replies, “As far as I know.” They continue on their way to the Pentagon.

About ten minutes later, Katie Couric interrupts her colleague, Matt Lauer. “Matt,” she says, “I have Katherine Jackson, the mother of singer Michael Jackson, on the phone. She has some news that she wants to share. Katherine? Go ahead, you’re on live with me, it’s Katie Couric, and with Matt.”

“Katie,” a frantic Katherine says. “My son is up there. Michael is up there. He’s in one of the towers,” she says. Katherine informs Katie and Matt and their viewers that she has tried to reach her son by phone but has been unable to do so. After a minute or so, Katie thanks Jackson for calling-in. They continue their broadcast. Other networks begin reporting on “unconfirmed reports” that Michael Jackson is among those trapped in the tops of the towers.

Moments before Cindy McCain arrives at the Pentagon, the Secret Service instructs the agents driving her to turn the car around and return to the White House. They also decide to evacuate the White House when they receive news that a commercial airliner is heading towards Washington. Vice President Bill Frist is moved into an underground bunker. His wife and Cindy McCain join him later. They are followed closely by National Security Advisor William Ball. Around 9:35, Secretary of Defense Colin Powell and Secretary of State Joe Lieberman enter the bunker as well.

After moving into the bunker, Vice President Frist phones the president aboard Air Force One and updates him about the situation on the ground. “We’re not sure how far this thing goes,” Frist tells the president. The president agrees and stays on the line. Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Lott join him in his private office aboard the plane and are conferenced into the room. The connection goes in and out, but they are all on the phone around 9:38 when they receive word that Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, causing a major explosion. News networks break the story a few minutes later.

At about 9:42 am, a fourth plane, United Flight ##*, crashes into the Empire State Building. When President McCain is informed moments later, he demands that all air travel be grounded. “I don’t care who is supposed to make this decision, I’m the damn Commander-in-Chief. Get every plan on the ground,” he tells those on the other line. The order commences Operation Yellow Ribbon, an unprecedented effort to redirect all international flights to Canada and ground domestic flights.

At 9:45 am, United Flight 93 enters Washington airspace. Evacuations had already been ordered of the White House and the Capitol Building a few minutes before after confirmation that a plane had struck the Pentagon. Despite Congressional Republican leadership being with McCain on Air Force One, Congress convened that morning with votes planned later that day, after the entourage landed in Washington. The Senate was in morning business and Dick Durbin of Illinois was on the floor addressing the chamber. He expressed sympathy for those lost in the “horrible accidents” in New York and then proceeded to speak about a constituent who had sent a letter. His speech was interrupted around 9:45, and he left the floor. Durbin was one of three senators and 11 members of the House of Representatives who lost their lives when Flight 93 crashed into the Capitol Building. The plane hit between the Senate chamber and the Dome, causing that half of the building and the Dome to collapse instantly. Jet fuel from the explosion gave the fire quick life and it spread throughout the building. As the Dome toppled, it crashed into the House side of the building, completely destroying the Capitol. The surrounding House and Senate office buildings were evacuated as black smoke rose onto the National Mall.

Word came to the White House bunker shortly thereafter. Vice President Frist phoned Air Force One and informed the president of the news. “Mr. President,” he said, “I don’t know that you should return home.” McCain agreed. On this call, McCain authorizes any additional planes suspected of being hijacked to be shot down. Military personnel on the ground decided to re-route Air Force One to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The president would be on the ground for a few hours, deliver brief remarks to the American people, and then get back in the air and head to another military base somewhere else in the country. The plan was to return the president to Washington the next morning. While staff debated these details, Frist and others in the White House bunker were trying to get as much information as they could.

They ordered the immediate evacuation of everywhere on the National Mall, including the museums and federal departments in the vicinity. First responders rushed to the Capitol Building as air traffic controllers across the country scrambled to ground all aircraft still in the sky. There were no additional planes suspected of being hijacked, but the fallout was not over. As the clock turned to 9:59 am, the South Tower of the World Trade Center rumbled and collapsed, less than an hour after Flight 175 flew into the side of the building.

Colin Powell orders the U.S. Military placed at DEFCON 2, readying the armed forces for deployment and engagement in less than six hours. Aboard Air Force One, President McCain notifies Hastert, Lott, and the rest of the members on board that the Capitol Building has been struck. On the ground, the news media continues to frantically report. Some networks carry erroneous reports about explosions at the White House and the Sears Tower. These are not true. Americans across the country remained glued to their television screens. By 10:30, most places of business have sent their employees home. Schools in New York and Connecticut are dismissed early and soon most schools across the country receive similar instructions.

The North Tower collapses around 10:30 am.

When President McCain lands in South Dakota a short while later, he and Mark Salter prepare remarks for when the president goes live at 12:30 pm ET. The networks cut to carry the president live from an “undisclosed location.” His remarks are brief, saying, in part, “We do not know how many of our courageous brothers and sisters we have lost today, but we know that too many were gone too soon. Freedom was attacked today. Liberty was attacked today. Make no mistake, this was an act of war. As soon as we can, we will identify the culprit and we will respond, but for now I encourage all Americans to reach out to friends and family, check-in on them, and make sure we do what we can to get through today.”

After his remarks, McCain boards Air Force One along with his staff and heads to a U.S. Strategic Command bunker located at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The members of Congress who were traveling with him board a separate military plane and head back to Washington. As soon as the president lands in Nebraska, the intelligence community reports that they “highly suspect” that the attacks have been orchestrated by Osama bin laden. McCain orders the intelligence agencies to start locating suspected Al Qaeda training camps for an “immediate response.”

With the attacks over and the fallout just beginning, Americans remain attached to their television sets. At approximately 2:00 in the afternoon, NBC news confirms that Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware are among the casualties at the U.S. Capitol Building. About thirty minutes later, they also become the first to report confirmation that Michael Jackson is among those dead at the World Trade Center. Jackson’s family confirms he has been found among the dead in a statement issued a few hours later.

At 4:30 pm, the president decides that he does not want to address the nation from Nebraska, believing it would send a signal that Al Qaeda (or whoever is found to be responsible) had won and successfully sent the president on the run. Vice President Frist agrees, encouraging the president to return to Washington. Around 5:00, Air Force One is wheels up and en route to Washington. Fighter jets circle Washington ahead of the president’s arrival at Andrews Air Force Base to ensure that he lands safely. On his flight home, the president phones a number of elected officials, including Governor Pataki, Mayor Giuliani, and Senators Clinton and Schumer. He also phones former Presidents Bush, Carter, and Clinton as well as former First Lady Nancy Reagan. He asks that the former presidents join him in Washington the next day to survey the damage at the Capitol Building. Military planes are sent to Houston, New York, and Atlanta to retrieve the presidents and bring them to Washington.

At 8:45 pm, the camera goes live from the Oval Office and John McCain begins:

“My fellow Americans, earlier today, terrorists struck at our very way of life. Our freedom was under attack. Americans from all walks of life were among the victims: pilots and secretaries, members of Congress and businessmen and women, celebrities and pedestrians. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by an evil, the likes of which our country has never known.

“Americans will be haunted with the images of today for the rest of our lives. It is a day none of us will soon forget. I promise you tonight that my administration will do everything it can to ensure those who attacked us are found and brought to justice. We will not rest until that mission is complete.”

He continued by telling Americans that the United States was targeted because of the liberties it grants its citizens. He promised that even without a Capitol Building, the work of the government would continue on. At the end of his remarks, he cited Psalm 23, and closed simply: “The sun will rise tomorrow and from the rubble in New York and Washington a stronger American people will emerge Thank you. Good night, and God bless you, and may He continue to shed His magnificent grace on these united states.”

Nearly 5,000 Americans died on September the 11th. **

*I have decided not to designate a specific flight number for the fifth plane used in the hijacking.

**The Pentagon is hit in a different wing – literally any other side of the building and you have significantly more casualties because the side they hit IOTL was newly renovated. Plus, the Capitol Building and the Empire State Building.
The TODAY Show: Wednesday, September 12, 2001
The TODAY Show
Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Katie Couric: Good morning. America may never be the same, and this is why. A beautiful Tuesday turned tragic when American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center yesterday, September 11, 2001. It was the first of five hijacked airliners to wreak havoc over the New York and Washington skies. This morning, the heart of commerce and one of the city's leading tourist attractions - all three signatures of the New York skyline - are no more. Meanwhile, in Washington, the nerve center of our Defense Department and our entire government are crippled after planes crashed into the Pentagon and the Capitol Building. Among the dead: four United States Senators and 11 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The gruesomeness of these attacks has left America stunned today, Wednesday, September 12, 2001.

[Intro music]
Katie Couric: And welcome to TODAY on this Wednesday morning - a morning when people are waking up in disbelief, especially those who have lost loved ones or are waiting for word on those they care about. I'm Katie Couric.

Matt Lauer: And I'm Matt Lauer. There is a look on peoples' faces in this city - and it's been there for the last 20 hours - that I've never seen before, and I'm sure it's being repeated in Washington as well. Here was the scene about 20 hours ago. As disturbing as this footage is, we are still unsure of how high the human toll will climb.

Katie Couric: The early numbers are staggering and include 332 from the five hijacked aircraft. Two hit the Twin Towers, one hit the Empire State Building, another the Pentagon, and just after 9:45 yesterday morning, the finale plane struck the U.S. Capitol Building. At the Pentagon, at least 800 people are now feared dead. In New York City, Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said the number of deaths is "more than any of us can bear." Early estimates have it well beyond 3,000 people, including more than 300 firefighters and emergency personnel. Estimates say there were about 50,000 people working in the Twin Towers yesterday or there on business, including singer Michael Jackson, who has been confirmed dead by loved ones, his body pulled from the rubble yesterday evening.

Matt Lauer: ... and an address from President McCain last night:

John McCain: [excerpt from remarks] Americans will be haunted with the images of today for the rest of our lives. It is a day none of us will soon forget. I promise you tonight that my administration will do everything it can to ensure those who attacked us are found and brought to justice. We will not rest until that mission is complete.

Matt Lauer: I'm joined now by New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Mayor, good morning.

Rudy Giuliani: Good morning, Matt.

Matt Lauer: Mr. Mayor, can you update us on where things are in terms of the rescue and recovery efforts underway now at the World Trade Center and the site of the Empire State Building?

Rudy Giuliani: Sure. Right now, we have firefighters and other first responders at the scenes. I am so thankful that Americans have come together in this moment. Our neighbors in the Tristate area - and even from beyond - have come in to help us with finding as many survivors and recovering the casualties as quickly as possible. It's disturbing, Matt, but it's important work, and I am so thankful for all of them. We know, too, that hundreds of firefighters and about 40 New York police officers are among those missing. We are doing everything we can to find them as well.


Matt Lauer: Welcome back, we have Campbell Brown at the White House with us this morning. Campbell?

Campbell Brown: Matt, thank you. The lights were on well past night here at the White House as President McCain met with his national security team to understand the full extent of these attacks and, of course, to confirm those who orchestrated them. The White House is intently focused on getting aid to the people personally affected by the attacks. We are learning more today about the president's day and how he found out the news of the attacks. He boarded a flight early in Arizona with Congressional leaders after a retreat at his home in Sedona. While in the air, he was informed by Secretary of Defense Colin Powell about the first plane and the subsequent attacks. McCain kept in close contact with Powell, Secretary of State Joe Lieberman, and Vice President Bill Frist - all on the ground in a secret White House bunker to stay safe. The president redirected Air Force One and landed in South Dakota to address the American people briefly before flying to Nebraska, where he received a briefing on the events and communicated with Washington. White House Officials are telling us it was President McCain himself who decided he would return to Washington at night to address the American people again from the Oval Office. Today, the president plans to be at the White House for much of the day. He will be hosting some members of Congress for a unity meeting to discuss paths forward. Around 11:00 in the morning, he will join former presidents Clinton, Bush, and Carter for a trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to survey the damage at the Capitol Building. He will deliver some brief remarks and then participate in a prayer with the former presidents and some Congressional leaders. Back to you, Matt.

Matt Lauer: Thank you, Campbell. I'm going to turn it over to Katie right now.

Katie Couric: Thanks, Matt. We are joined now by Secretary of State Joe Lieberman who was in the bunker yesterday and briefed the president throughout the day. This morning, he's just across the Potomac at the State Department. Mr. Secretary, good morning.

Joe Lieberman: Katie, thank you. Good morning.

Katie Couric: On a human level, I just want to get your reaction to yesterday's events.

Joe Lieberman: Thanks, Katie. I'm shaken, like most Americans. I was meeting with Senator Joe Biden yesterday morning in his Senate office. We were discussing a number of issues, as you know Senator Biden is - I'm sorry. Senator Biden was the ranking Democrat on the foreign relations committee. I got word of the first plane, and I said, "Joe, something's happened, and I should head out," and I told him - I told him I would see him tomorrow, and we could finish our conversation. Katie, I'm sorry. This is a bit difficult for me. I'm sorry.

Katie Couric: I understand, Mr. Secretary. Take your time.

Joe Lieberman: Thank you. So I said goodbye to Joe, and I headed to the White House to talk with the vice president and Secretary Powell. We had no idea - we just had no idea at that time what we were facing. We weren't even immediately sure it was terrorism. I was in the White House bunker all day with the vice president and with Secretary Powell and eventually with the president. I've been in touch with world leaders all day yesterday and well into the night, and I've touched base with some of them today. I want to make sure people know our resolve is strong. I want them to know we are going to find who did this to us. I want them to know America is resolved. Make no mistake, Katie, this was an assault on liberty, on democracy, and on the world.

Katie Couric: Last night, the president said - and I am quoting - that we would "make no distinction between the terrorists who struck us and the nations that harbored them." Mr. Secretary, if we learn that this attack was indeed orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, what can we do as a nation to back-up the president's words?

Joe Lieberman: There are many options, Katie. Military options. Diplomatic options. This was an act of war, and the United States is going to respond accordingly. The president has said that, and I am simply echoing his sentiments. And we are not - at this time - prepared to confirm who is responsible for the attacks, but yes - the evidence is mounting. It is mounting.

Katie Couric: So you are not ready, this morning, to say that Osama bin Laden is responsible for this attack?

Joe Lieberman: Katie, I don't want to speculate until we are absolutely certain.

Katie Couric: Some Americans believe a diplomatic response, which you have mentioned, would seem meager. A flash poll this morning has 96% of Americans saying they believe a military response is in order and they would support it and 94% said they would support it, even if it meant entering a war. What is your response to that?

Joe Lieberman: Of course, Katie. I understand their anger. I lost friends yesterday - as did many Americans. Their anger is justified and their resolve to stand up is righteous. President McCain will make the determination he believes is necessary for the continued safety of the American people. I will be a part of those discussions, and I will be with him 100%. But I don't want to ignore the role diplomacy can play in creating a coalition of peace-loving and freedom-loving nations who are dedicated to rooting out this evil from the Middle East and from the world. Even if we enter into an armed conflict, diplomacy is going to play a role, and the State Department will lead that effort.

Katie Couric: Mr. Secretary, the country spends a lot of money on intelligence agencies and intelligence gathering. Was this, as some are saying, a massive failure of our intelligence agency?

Joe Lieberman: I don't know if that's fair, Katie. So many terrorist attacks never happen because of the hard work of the men and women in our intelligence communities. Certainly everyone at this level and in this work wishes we had known more so we could have prevented this attack, and at some point we will look into that, I'm sure, but right now my focus is not on looking back but instead on looking forward. We have a lot of work to do in the coming days, weeks, and months. We have to know with certainty who planned this attack. We have to do everything we can to help the people of New York, New Jersey, my home state of Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, and the district recover. We have to get our government restored and operating - they literally do not have a place to meet. We have lost so much, Katie, and so we need to focus on rebuilding before we start assigning blame.

Katie Couric: Mr. Secretary, thank you.

Joe Lieberman: Thank you, Katie.
So an even worse 9/11 with the fallout even hitting Washington. Hopefully McCain will avoid many of the mistakes of the Bush Administration past this point. Any particular reason why Michael Jackson was at the towers at that time?
Minnesota going for McCain is interesting, specially with Missouri flipping Democratic.
I created the map to reflect that McCain's advantages were with swing voters, not turning out traditionally conservative voters. He does better in Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin - states with more moderate swing voters and Gore is able to hold on to more conservative Democrats in Missouri and Tennessee who may have been inspired by Bush's "compassionate conservatism" and more traditionally Republican campaign.
So an even worse 9/11 with the fallout even hitting Washington. Hopefully McCain will avoid many of the mistakes of the Bush Administration past this point. Any particular reason why Michael Jackson was at the towers at that time?
I dont know actually, but I saw several articles that he was one of a few celebrities with near fatal experiences that day.

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5. Recovery & Retaliation
Chapter 5

Recovery & Retaliation

Mayor Rudy Giuliani with Governor Pataki and Senator Clinton in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
John McCain rose early on Wednesday morning, put on a dark suit with a gray tie, and walked down to the Oval Office, where he began his morning with National Security Advisor William Ball, Chief of Staff Mike Murphy, and some others. Mounting evidence all but confirmed the attacks were orchestrated by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. No one had really ever doubted this. McCain was enraged that the intelligence community had not known sooner, but he was entirely focused on moving ahead, as his Secretary of State would say on the Today show later that morning. After reviewing the latest details with his team, he phoned Rudy Giuliani and offered his condolences once more and asked what Giuliani needed from the federal government. He called Senators Schumer and Clinton.

Around 10:30 in the morning, former president Bill Clinton walked into the Oval Office. “John,” he said, “I cannot imagine what you’re facing right now.”

“It’s not all that different than what Hillary’s facing up there,” he said. Clinton nodded. His wife’s ambitious Senate career had also been dramatically changed overnight. The Clintons knew that their response – and McCain’s – could dramatically influence their political trajectories.

The two sat on a couch in the Oval Office and waited for George H.W. Bush to arrive. At 6’2”, Bush was a commanding presence. He smiled and shook hands with both men – the one who had defeated him and the one who had defeated his son. “Thank you for inviting me to come up here with you, Mr. President. I think this is going to be a really important display of unity for the country.”

McCain nodded. “I agree, Mr. President. We need to see that the country is coming together.”

Shortly thereafter, President Jimmy Carter arrived. None of the men in the room were particularly friendly with one another. Carter and Clinton’s rivalry within the Democratic Party was known. Carter and Bush had run against each other in 1980. Clinton and Bush had run against each other in 1992. Yet, here they were on the morning of September 12th coming together for the country’s benefit. When they were all convened, they posed for a quick photograph in the Oval Office and then loaded into the presidential motorcade. The streets of Washington were empty as they barreled toward the smoldering Capitol Building.

McCain briefed the presidents on the way about what he knew. It was likely Al Qaeda. They think the original operation may have been bigger. There would need to be major changes to the intelligence community. At this early point, it was hard to say what nations had helped with certainty, but an invasion of Afghanistan seemed likely. As they arrived at the remains of the Capitol Building, Carter let out a stunned “wow.” The four men exited the limousine, where they were greeted by the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Anthony Williams, as well as a few first responders who had been working at the scene. The fire department was taking in reports of missing people, including a host of young Congressional staffers, and searching for them in the rubble. The presidents shook hands with first responders and thanked them for their work. After about 30 minutes at the scene, they got back in the limousine and headed to the Lincoln Memorial, where a gathering was planned. Secret Service was nervous and forced the presidents to stand inside the Memorial as opposed to being outside on the steps.

Each of the former presidents read Bible verses and then McCain spoke briefly. He reiterated his administration’s commitment to retaliation and promised the American people that those who attacked America would be brought to justice. Then, he joined with the former presidents and members of Congress in singing “God Bless America.” After the ceremony was over, McCain went back to the White House and continued a day full of intelligence briefings and meetings.

President McCain standing on a pile of rubble at Ground Zero days after the attack. It was here that he delivered his now famous "Mad as Hell" remark.

The next few days continued the fallout. First responders in Washington and New York pulled bodies from the ruble as the official death toll climbed. McCain went to Ground Zero in New York where he toured the site with Governor Pataki, Mayor Giuliani, and the state’s two senators. At one point, a New York firefighter asked McCain if he’d talk to those assembled. He said yes, climbed up onto a pile of rubble with a megaphone, and started: “I want to thank all of you for the hard work you’re doing. I thank you. Your country thanks you. This world thanks you. Right now, it’s important for all of us to come together –” at this point a firefighter in the audience yelled, “I’m angry, John! I’m angry!”

McCain put the bullhorn down and nodded his head in recognition. He paused for a moment and raised the bullhorn again, “I’m angry, too,” he said to cheers. “I’m mad as Hell. These terrorists – they got some of my friends. People I respect. And I know they killed some of yours. Well, we’re going to get them back!” Everyone around McCain started clapping. “And the people who knocked these buildings down are going to learn soon just how angry we all are!” He threw up a fist, passed off the bullhorn, and jumped down from the rubble. The clip got played over and over again on the news and even on the late-night shows. The next morning, the New York Times headline declared, “MAD AS HELL” with a picture of McCain on the rubble.

On September 20th, the president addressed a joint session of Congress – convened at the Eisenhower Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. While McCain had spoken to the nation many times in the aftermath of the tragedies on 9/11, this was his first real chance to outline a comprehensive response on behalf of the American people. It was also a stunning display of continuity. It was impossible to mistake the theater for the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, but Americans were comforted that less than 10 days after the Capitol was destroyed, Congress was convening to hear from the president. The message was unmistakable: The terrorists have not won.

The president opened by paying his respects to the senators and congressmen who had died, noting, “This room is emptier tonight without their wisdom, their leadership, and yes, even their humor. We will miss them, and we will not forget them.” He then led those assembled in a brief moment of silence for their fallen colleagues and all of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

“Normally, a president would come before this gathered body in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives. Tonight, no such chamber exists. And yet, here we are. Gathered as a government determined to focus on the path ahead. Tonight is proof that America is still standing.

“And while it is traditional for the president to report to you on the state of our Union, there is nothing I can tell you tonight about our country that the American people have not already demonstrated through their deeds. We have seen the courage and strength of the American people over the last nine days. It began shortly after the first plane hit the North Tower. While thousands of people rushed down to safety, the men and women of the Fire Department of New York and the NYPD and other personnel bravely rushed up to save as many lives as they could. And it has continued in the days since. We have seen kindergarten classes making cards and sending them to first responders. We have seen people of all faiths – Muslim, Jewish, Christian – come together and pray for those lost. We have seen the American Red Cross step up with blood drives in all 50 states to make sure that those in the hospital make it out alive. Flags have been hung on front porches. Candles have been lit. Songs have been sung.

President McCain exits the stage after giving an address to a joint session of Congress assembled at the Kennedy Center.

“My fellow Americans, it would be impossible for anyone to misinterpret the message being sent from sea to shining sea: that of our Union is strong and She can never – will never – be defeated.” It was an opening that brought about a standing ovation that lasted full minutes.

“This Congress has been undeterred. Without an official place of business, you have carried on with the important and necessary work of healing our nation. You have stood with me on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and sung. Your offices – and the extraordinary men and women on your staffs – have fielded questions from concerned Americans. And you have passed $55 billion in aid to help rebuild our communities and make sure our military is in a position to respond to these heinous attacks.”

Then, McCain transitioned to an indictment of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, explaining the organization’s history of terrorism, their motives, their connections to the Taliban and Afghanistan. Then, he made clear that radical jihadism should not be confused with Islam, which he described as a “peace-loving religion.” “We are not engaged in a fight against Islam. We are not engaged in a fight against Muslims. We have been summoned from a peaceful slumber to fight an enemy that loathes our freedoms and our democracy. We have been called to stop the spread of radical terrorists – not a radical religion,” the president said.

In closing, McCain paid homage to the space where the members of Congress gathered. “It is altogether fitting that we meet tonight at the John F. Kennedy Center. President Kennedy was a man who steered our nation through an unparalleled international that ended in a peaceful resolution. While we do not have the same option for a total peace that President Kennedy had during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we do share his mission: a stable and peaceful globe protected by common democratic values.” He continued, “As we go forward to avenge the deaths of those lost on September 11th, make clear that we will do so with the goal of restoring our planet to peace for we are gathered in the Eisenhower Theater tonight – named for a beloved president and general who knew all too well the price of war. As Americans wonder what our future holds, as we consider what world we will shape in the years ahead, allow us to turn to President Eisenhower’s words for the clarity of our convictions and our mission. He once said, ‘The peace we seek and need means much more than mere absence of war. It means the acceptance of law, and the fostering of justice, in all the world.’ We will build that world together, my fellow Americans – with a coalition of willing nations determined to make sure that our best days lie ahead. Thank you, good night, and God bless America.”

Operation Fostering Justice began just days later after the Taliban rejected the McCain Administration’s demands to hand bin Laden over.
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