January 8, 2004
In response to a question at a news conference, Secretary of State Colin Powell says, "I have not seen a smoking gun, concrete evidence about the connection [between the Saddam regime and al Qaeda], but I think the possibility of such connections did exist and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did."
January 11, 2004
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq, says that members of the country's interim government must be selected by direct vote rather than in regional caucuses as the U.S. wants.
January 15, 2004
Tens of thousands of Shiites hold a peaceful demonstration in Basra in support of direct elections.
January 17, 2004
The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the war reaches 500. Of those, 346 soldiers were killed in combat and 154 died from accidents.
January 19, 2004
The United States asks the U.N. to intercede in the dispute over the elections process in Iraq. Shiite leader Ayatollah al-Sistani, at the center of the debate, has refused to meet with American officials. About 100,000 Shiites march in Baghdad and other cities in support of Ayatollah al-Sistani's demand for direct elections. It is the largest protest since the occupation of Iraq.
January 28, 2004
David Kay, the former head of the U.S. weapons inspection teams in Iraq, informs a Senate committee that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and that prewar intelligence was "almost all wrong" about Saddam Hussein's arsenal.
February 2, 2004
President Bush calls for an independent commission to study the country's intelligence failures.
February 12, 2004
U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, on a fact finding mission to Iraq to assess the feasibility of direct elections, meets with Ayatollah al-Sistani.
February 18, 2004
In an interview with the London Telegraph, Iraqi National Congress (INC) president Ahmed Chalabi says he has no regrets about passing faulty intelligence about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction programs to the U.S. government: "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful.... That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants."
February 19, 2004
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan concludes that "elections cannot be held before the end of June, that the June 30 date for the handover of sovereignty must be respected, and that we need to find a mechanism to create the caretaker government and then prepare the elections sometime later in the future."
February 23, 2004
U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi issues a report to the Security Council concluding that the earliest that credible, direct elections could be held in Iraq would be late 2004 or early 2005, and recommends that Iraqis themselves draw up a plan for the makeup of this provisional government.
March 2, 2004
Suicide attacks in Karbala on Shiite Islam's holiest feast day kill more than 85 and wound 233 others.
March 8, 2004
The Iraqi Governing Council approves the Transitional Interim Law, an interim constitution that sets up the framework for a transitional government.
April 1, 2004
Four American private security contractors, all former members of the U.S. Special Forces, are shot and burned in their cars in Fallujah. A cheering crowd dismembers the corpses and hangs two of them from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
April 4, 2004
Militias led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr begin coordinated attacks in the southern Iraqi cities of Kufa, Karbala, Najaf, al-Kut, and Sadr City.
U.S. troops begin an assault on Fallujah.
April 9, 2004
A fuel convoy driving through a suburb of Baghdad is ambushed by insurgents. Three employees of Kellogg, Brown & Root (a subsidiary of the energy services firm Halliburton) and a U.S. soldier are killed. A fourth KBR contractor, Thomas Hamill, and U.S. Army Pfc. Matt Maupin are abducted. Hamill later escapes from his captors and is recovered by U.S. troops in early May. A videotape purporting to show the killing of Maupin is shown on the al Jazeera television network on June 28.
April 11, 2004
The U.S. orders a cease-fire in Fallujah to give political discussions a chance to break the cycle of violence. Two members of the Iraqi Governing Council resign in protest of the American offensive.
April 15, 2004
The Bush administration agrees to a U.N. proposal to replace the Iraqi Governing Council with a caretaker government when the U.S. returns sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30.
April 22, 2004
In a shift of policy, the U.S. announces that some Iraqi Ba'ath Party officials who had been forced out of their jobs after the fall of Saddam Hussein will be allowed to resume their positions.
April 30, 2004
Photographs published in U.S. media outlets bring to light the physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
May 5, 2004
George Bush appears on two Arab television stations to condemn the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.
May 8, 2004
American contractor Nicholas Berg is beheaded by Iraqi militants, who claim the grisly murder was in retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
May 17, 2004
A suicide bomber kills the President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Izzedin Salim, and six other people.
May 20, 2004
Iraqi police and U.S. military personnel raid the offices of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and the home of Ahmed Chalabi, head of the INC and a member of the Iraqi Governing Council member who was once the Pentagon's pick to run postwar Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority says that the raids are in support of an investigation of corruption within the U.N. oil-for-food program. Chalabi says that the raids are retribution for his increasingly vocal opposition of the Bush administration's management of Iraq. Two weeks earlier, the Pentagon had ended a program in which it had funnelled millions of dollars to the INC in return for intelligence about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction programs.
May 26, 2004
Attorney General John Ashcroft warns that "credible intelligence, from multiple sources, indicates that al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months.... This disturbing intelligence indicates al Qaeda's specific intention is to hit the U.S. hard." The Justice Department does not coordinate the announcement with the Department of Homeland Security, which under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 is the only agency that can issue threat warnings. Media reports cite unnamed administration sources that say a rift between Ashcroft and Ridge is widening.
May 28, 2004
The Iraqi Governing Council chooses Dr. Iyad Allawi to be Prime Minister when sovereignty begins on June 30.
May 30, 2004
Militants attack two oil industry office compounds in the Saudi Arabia town of Khobar, killing 22 and taking more than 50 hostage. After a 25-hour standoff, a raid by Saudi security forces frees the hostages and kills the operation's leader, said to be a senior al Qaeda operative. The other three gunmen escape.
June 2, 2004
In a major expansion of the military's "stop-loss" program, the Pentagon announces that thousands of soldiers in units less than 90 days from deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan will be forced to remain in the Army past the end of their service terms, for the duration of their units' deployment.
The New York Times reports that Ahmed Chalabi had leaked classified information to Iran, including telling Iran that the U.S. had cracked a code used by the country's intelligence service.
June 3, 2004
CIA Director George Tenet announces his resignation, effective July 11, 2004.
June 8, 2004
The U.N. Security Council unanimously passes a resolution [PDF; requires free Adobe Reader] endorsing the June 30 transfer of power to the Iraqi Interim Government, with security to be provided by a multi-national force led by American troops.
June 9, 2004
The U.S. State Department issues a revised version of its annual report on global terrorism, showing an increase in the number of terror attacks worldwide. The original version of the report, issued in April, had shown a sharp drop in terrorist activity. The State Department denies that the figures had been manipulated for political purposes.
June 10, 2004
U.S. Army Major Gen. George Fay asks to be replaced as head of the investigation of abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, saying that he cannot effectively investigate those who outrank him.
June 12, 2004
Bassam Kubba, Deputy Foreign Minister in the Iraqi Interim Government set to take control on June 30, is killed by gunmen while driving in the Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad. Two days earlier, Deputy Health Minister Ammar Al-Safar had narrowly avoided an assasination attempt.
June 15, 2004
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announces the appointment of General George W. Casey, Jr. to head U.S. forces in Iraq, replacing Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.
June 16, 2004
A report by the staff of the independent 9/11 commission finds "no credible evidence" that Iraq had cooperated with al Qaeda in staging the attacks. According to the report, Osama bin Laden had approached the Saddam Hussein regime, but had been rebuffed.
June 17, 2004
Two car bombings in and near Baghdad kill 35 people and injure over 100.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledges that at the request of the CIA he had ordered that an Iraqi prisoner be held in secret for more than seven months, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
President Bush, disputing the conclusions of the 9/11 commission that there was "no credible evidence" of Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks, insists that there was a connection: While speaking to reporters, Bush states, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."
David Passaro, a contractor working for the CIA, is indicted by a federal grand jury on assault charges in connection with the fatal beating of a prisoner in Afghanistan.
June 18, 2004
Paul Johnson, an employee of Lockheed Martin working on Apache attack helicopters in Saudi Arabia, who had been kidnapped in Riyadh on June 12, is beheaded by a group claiming ties to al Qaeda. Saudi security forces kill four suspected terrorists, including the man said to head the local al Qaeda organization.
In an interview with MSNBC, Vice President Dick Cheney repeats the administration's assertion of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda: "[T]here clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials." When asked if the administration knows things that the independent 9/11 commission does not know, Cheney replies "Probably." Two days later, the commission asks Vice Present Dick Cheney to provide any information the administration may have that supports its continuing claims of links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
June 24, 2004
In coordinated bombings across five Iraqi cities, insurgents kill nearly 100 people, including three U.S. troops.
President Bush is questioned by federal prosecutors investigating the leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to journalist Robert Novak.
June 27, 2004
On its opening weekend Michael Moore's controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11 is the number one film in the country, with $21.8 million in ticket sales instantly becoming the highest-grossing documentary of all time. The film, harshly critical of the Bush administration's response to the September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq, had earlier won the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival.
June 28, 2004
In an effort to forestall insurgent attacks to disrupt the event, the U.S. transfers political authority in Iraq to an interim government two days ahead of schedule. U.S administrator L. Paul Bremer leaves Iraq two hours after the hastily-arranged ceremony.
John Negroponte, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, arrives and reestablishes diplomatic ties that were severed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that suspected terrorists held by the U.S. as "enemy combatants" have the right to contest their detentions in federal courts.
The Al Jazeera television network broadcasts a portion of a videotape appearing to show a blindfolded American soldier being shot in the back of the head. A statement received by Al Jazeera along with the tape claimed responsibility for the killing on behalf of an Iraqi militant group, and identified the hostage as U.S. Army Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, who had been abducted on April 9.
June 29, 2004
Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announces that the Iraqi Interim Government will assume legal custody of Saddam Hussein and several other senior members of his regime the following day, and would be indicted on charges of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes the next day. The prisoners will remain in the physical custody of the U.S. until Iraq has a sufficient security infrastructure in place to hold them.
The Pentagon announces plans to involuntarily recall over 5,000 retired and discharged soldiers to active duty for possible service in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the first major activation of the Individual Ready Reserve since the 1991 Gulf War.
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