- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

President Bush took a few putts on the White House practice green and walked his dogs on the south lawn before going on television to announce yesterday's military strikes against Afghanistan.
The contrast between Mr. Bush's public appearances and private deliberations had become commonplace in the past few days: The commander in chief was planning a massive military assault on Afghanistan's Taliban regime even as he mugged with schoolchildren in a New York classroom and talked budget numbers with congressional leaders last week.
The timing of the attack was in stark contrast with recent campaigns. Many experts expected the retaliatory strikes to begin after midnight under a moonless sky which wouldn't occur for at least two weeks.
Instead, the strikes began mid-evening just a few days after the full moon.
The day started with the president holed up for the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David in the Maryland mountains. He rose early and headed to nearby Emittsburg for a speech at an outdoor service at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in rural Maryland.
But the cool autumn day was unlike any other in his 10-month-old term, because the night before, Mr. Bush had told congressional leaders he had authorized strikes on Afghanistan.
"He called the congressional leadership last night. He notified them of impending military action," said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, who declined to specify when the president made the decision to order the attacks.
After the Emittsburg speech, the president returned to the White House instead of Camp David, as had been expected.
He arrived at the executive mansion at 10:35 a.m., an uncharacteristically early time.
Five minutes later, the president told his spokesman in the Oval Office: "I gave them fair warning." Mr. Fleischer recounted that Mr. Bush was "resolute and determined."
The spokesman refused to release the chronology of the decision to bomb targets in Afghanistan, instead saying a full account will be provided today, possibly by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
But some details emerged, including an all-out effort to secure support from world leaders as the military aimed Tomahawk cruise missiles at terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
By 11:27 a.m., Mr. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney were on the phone.
By 12:09 p.m., they had called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The president told Mr. Chirac that military action under "Operation Enduring Freedom" was "imminent," according to White House sources.
Shortly after noon, the president made last-minute preparations for his address to the nation.
A final version of the speech, which had gone through half a dozen drafts over the previous 36 hours, was delivered to the president at Camp David, where he reviewed it before returning to Washington.
The timing of Mr. Bush's television address appeared geared toward catching the largest audience.
His seven-minute speech began precisely at 1 p.m., just as sports fans across the country tuned in to watch National Football League games. Several stadiums showed the address live, drawing cheers from fans.
Mr. Fleischer said he didn't think the president had seen a tape of Osama bin Laden that aired after his speech announcing the strikes. Pressed on why Mr. Bush had not seen the widely aired tape, he said: "Because he was in the Roosevelt Room having lunch," sharing sandwiches with senior advisers.
Mr. Fleischer later said the bin Laden message is "a reminder of why the president has brought together the world to fight terrorism, so that freedom can prevail over fear."
Meanwhile, Mr. Cheney was moved sometime yesterday from his office to a secure location as a safety measure following the strikes.
"The vice president, just as we did a few weeks ago, has gone to a different location," Mr. Fleischer said, adding that "various security steps have been taken" since the attacks against Taliban targets began.

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