A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

'Gore Wins in 2000' by Guest Historian Eric Lipps
Guest Historian Guest Historian Eric Lipps says, in this scenario, we imagine that Al Gore wins the US Presidential Election 2000. If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit My AOL site.

January 20

In 2001, Albert A. Gore Jr. of Tennessee is inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut is sworn in as Vice-President, becoming the first Jew (indeed, the first non-Christian of any faith) to hold that office.


Republican protesters line the inaugural parade route, hurling insults and, in some cases, rotten fruit at the presidential procession. Security is even tighter than is usual for such events: there have been an unprecedented number of death threats directed against both Gore and Lieberman.

October 7

In 2001, in a meeting with his closest military and foreign-affairs advisers, President Al Gore discusses the need to "prepare to employ other options" in the event that diplomatic efforts to press the Afghans and the Saudis to aid the U.S. against the Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 downing of TWA Flight 93 fail.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

The President explains that the Afghans' walkout from the United Nations following the UN sanctions resolution of Sept. 28, and the Saudis' hostile reaction to American requests for their cooperation against bin Laden, have obliged him to consider the possibility that the United States may have to act alone sand "forcefully". Gore confides to his advisers that the one bright spot in the situation is that the additional attacks the terrorists had planned, which might have killed thousands more and potentially even crippled the U.S. government, were thwarted as a result of the intelligence warnings contained in the Presidential Daily Brief he had received on August 6.

Secretary of State Powell suggests that the President consider assembling a coalition of nations in support of any military action, as President George H. W. Bush did prior to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He emphasizes that although the United States is more than capable of defeating the Afghan army and any likely Al Qaeda resistance in open battle, enlisting international support will be politically useful, particularly if long-term sanctions or an extended occupation are deemed necessary.

Defense Secretary Webb concurs, and stresses in addition that preparations for possible military action in Afghanistan must be kept from leaking to the media.

October 13

In 2001, President Al Gore confers with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez al-Musharraf. The two discuss a number of issues, including Indian-Pakistani relations and Pakistan's nuclear program, but the bulk of their conversation concerns issues related to Gore's effort to bring to justice those responsible for the Flight 93 attack.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

President Gore presses Musharraf to end his government's support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which continues to shelter Al Qaeda in defiance of both the U.S. and the United Nations Security Council.

March 13

In 2001, U.S. President Albert A. Gore presents the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which focuses on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, to the U.S. Senate for ratification. The Protocol is fiercely opposed by virtually all Republican senators and some Democrats, including Zell Miller of Georgia.


After a bitter week-long battle, it will be defeated by two votes. Pundits draw comparisons with the defeat on health care suffered by the Clinton Administration in 1993, and predict that Gore, like Clinton, will have a hard time bridging the partisan gap between his administration and a GOP-controlled Congress both politically and personally hostile to him.

November 25
US President

In 2001, syndicated columnist William Safire writes a scathing op-ed piece accusing the Gore Administration of "sitting on its hands while the murderers of the innocent passengers of Flight 93 run free and plot more attacks on America".

President Gore can say nothing in response without jeopardizing the secrecy of the CIA mission codenamed Operation Kipling currently underway in Afghanistan, which is aimed at rooting out Al Qaeda. Privately, however, he fumes at the conservative pundit's words.

US President - Al Gore
Al Gore

December 2

In 2001, with Osama bin Laden still at large following the terrorist downing of United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, which resulted in dozens of deaths, another William Safire column accuses President Gore of "weakness" in response to terrorism.

A frustrated Gore asks CIA Director Turner why more progress has not been made by his operatives pursuing bin Laden the ground inside Afghanistan and warns that "unless things change" he will be forced to move on to open invasion to root out the terrorists, despite the political costs involved.

US President
US President - Al Gore
Al Gore

In New York City, where Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has learned from government contacts that the World Trade Center had been unsuccessfully targeted for attack the same day Flight 93 went down, City Hall announces the formation of a new anti-terror police squad intended to "coordinate" with the National Guard, the U.S. Army and the FBI. In an editorial the following day, the New York Times will express concern about the possible abuse of police powers by the new squad.

November 11

In 2001, President Al Gore confers with British prime minister Tony Blair in the first of a series of meetings aimed at assembling a Desert Storm-style international coalition to support the U.S. in the event that a full-fledged military intervention in Afghanistan becomes necessary.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

Such intervention, if undertaken, is sure to be controversial, since there are many who will argue that invading a sovereign country is a disproportionate response even to a terrorist attack like the Sept. 11 downing of United Airlines Flight 93 by agents of the terror group Al Qaeda.

However, intelligence reports indicating that the Flight 93 attack was part of a larger, mostly unsuccessful strike at multiple targets including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have persuaded the President that drastic measures must be considered to deal with bin Laden's organization before it can pull off a successful mass-casualty strike.

December 10

In 2001, following a third hostile column by conservative pundit Wiliam Safire regarding his alleged lack of action against Al Qaeda, President Gore learns that the columnist was apparently tipped off about the CIA's Afghan operation by someone within his administration shortly after his November 27 column appeared.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

The President is livid, not only at the security breach but at the implication that columnist Safire, who had been outspokenly in favor of his Republican opponent George W. Bush during the 2000 election, has deliberately chosen to rake him for inaction while knowing that his accusation was false.

Gore immediately orders a hunt for the columnist's source. In addition, he asks the White House counsel to determine whether legal action can be taken against Safire himself.

November 23

In 2001, CIA covert-ops teams enter Afghanistan and fan out in search of Al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers in 'Operation Kipling.'

They are guided by aerial and orbital photography which appears to identify possible Al Qaeda bases.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

October 5

In 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell informs President Al Gore that the Saudis have refused to freeze bin Laden's bank accounts in their country, and in fact have protested that the impoundment of bin Laden's funds in U.S. banks is 'persecution of a Saudi national.'

The Saudi response angers the President, who points out to Powell that bin Laden is hostile not only to the U.S. but to the Saudi government, which he considers corrupt and 'un-Islamic.' He urges Secretary Powell to keep pressing Riyadh on this issue.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

December 15

In 2001, President Gore summons CIA Director Stansfield Turner to the White House for an update on the progress of Operation Kipling in Afghanistan. He is disappointed when Turner informs him that the Agency's operatives have so far managed to net only a few low-level Qaeda operatives.

His mood is not improved by the fact that another bin Laden videotape taunting the United States and him personally has surfaced.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

December 20

In 2001, with Osama bin Laden still at large, public pressure for military action has grown tremendously.

Even some liberals normally opposed to the use of force have come out for invading Afghanistan in pursuit of the terrorist leader and his followers. President Gore, unable to offer the nation any positive results from the CIA?s Operation Kipling, feels he has little choice but to send in troops.

 - Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden

Nevertheless, he is determined to offer the Afghan government a final chance to cooperate wit the U.S. against Al Qaeda. Contacting the major television networks, the President requests an hour's air time for 9:00 the following evening.

October 15

In 2001, Pakistani president Pervez al-Musharraf decides not to remove Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed as head of his country's secret police, the Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, despite the fact that the general is a hard-line Islamist.

Ahmed has been an ally of Musharraf's for years, and the Pakistani leader does not wish to antagonize him or his considerable following.

 - Pervez al-Musharraf
Pervez al-Musharraf

It will prove to have been a fateful mistake. The following May, Ahmed will lead a coup which will overthrow Musharraf and install a government dedicated to 'Islamic law' and hostile to the ousted leader's patrons in the U.S.

December 31

In 2001, as the ball drops in Times Square to mark the arrival of the new year, U.S. troops enter Afghanistan from their forward bases along that country's border with Pakistan.

The CIA's operative in-country have provided them with the locations of several possible Al Qaeda bases. Their orders are to destroy those bases and take Osama bin Laden alive if possible, along with as many of his top lieutenants as they can, to be tried for mass murder.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

January 5

In 2002, first confrontation between U.S. and Afghan troops.

News of the confrontation ignites fury in Kabul. Afghanistan's prime minister issues a fiery declaration: "The Americans have chosen war when we offered them peace. So be it! We will resist the invaders to the last ditch, to the last drop of blood. And in the name of Allah the Merciful, the All-Powerful, we shall prevail!"

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

January 6

In 2002, intensive aerial bombardment of Taliban military bases begins.

Bombing of sites identified as Al Qaeda camps is intensified. Additional U.S. troops enter Afghanistan. Unlike their predecessors, they are under explicit orders to consider the Afghan military an enemy force and not to wait until fired upon to attack.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

At a meeting of the National Security Council, President Gore discusses U.S. military and political options. He is advised that once Kabul is captured, which is considered to be a matter of weeks at the most, he must move quickly to establish a new government purged of Taliban and pro-Taliban elements.

Conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly, on his syndicated radio show, condemns the Afghan intervention as "a pathetic effort on the part of a weakling Whiten House to look tough on terrorists like the ones who took down Flight 93 on his watch". Echoing a comparison making the rounds on the Web, O'Reilly accuses the President of 'wagging the dog,' a reference to a popular movie in which a beleaguered administration starts a war to divert attention from its problems.

March 21

In 2002, the full membership of the Cannon Committee has now been named, and as Democrats feared, it is heavy with congressmen known for their hostility to the Gore administration.

Several major newspapers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe, run editorials and op-eds critical of the Committee?s makeup. Conservatives dismiss such criticism as 'bias' on the part of the 'liberal media elite.'

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

May 26

In 2002, in Pakistan, military and internal-security officers loyal to hard-line Islamist Lt. General Mehmood Ahmed, head of the country's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, launch a coup against President Pervez al-Musharraf.

Four days later, Musharraf will flee the country. That evening, Gen. Mehmood Ahmed will go on Pakistani national television to proclaim himself president of a newly declared 'Islamic Republic of Pakistan.'

 - Pervez al-Musharraf
Pervez al-Musharraf

He will announce that new laws will be drafted to bring the country's legal and political systems 'into line with the will of Allah as expressed through the Holy Koran,' and will warn that dissent will be punished as an offense not only against the state but against the faith.

In Washington, the news of the coup in Islamabad could hardly come at a worse time for the embattled Gore administration, which is being battered by the Cannon Committee's investigation of the alleged 'Tora Bora coverup.'

March 12
House Leader

In 2002, over the strident objections of Democrats, House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey formally calls for an investigation to determine "what really happened at Tora Bora". Democrats manage to hold off a similar move in the Senate with the Vice-President's tie-breaking vote, and are vilified on talk radio for doing so. "What are they afraid of?" demands popular talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

House Leader - Richard K. Armey
Richard K. Armey

March 14

In 2002, House Majority Leader Richard Armey names Rep. Christopher Cannon of Utah to head the committee investigating the events at Tora Bora. Democrats are appalled, accusing Army of trying to rig the investigation: in 1999, Cannon had been one of the thirteen House members who had prosecuted President Bill Clinton at his impeachment trial before the Senate.

They fear Rep. Cannon will turn the new investigation into a witch hunt intended to conclude that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was not killed in Afghanistan and that the Gore administration has deliberately covered up his survival.

House Leader
House Leader - Richard K. Armey
Richard K. Armey

A disturbing aspect of the controversy is the House investigator's embrace of the so-called 'bin Laden tape' of March 7, which appears to show the terrorist chieftain alive, despite repeated warnings that it has so far been impossible to authenticate the tape. As Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy puts it, 'Our Republican colleagues in the House seem more willing to trust in the honesty of the people who brought down Flight 93 in Sept. 11, 2001 and who wanted to destroy the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon and other targets than to believe their own president.'

Rep. Cannon's response later that day speaks volumes. 'He's not my president,' the Utah congressmen will say. 'As far as I'm concerned, we haven't had a legally elected president since January 20, 2001, no matter what the Supreme Court said in Bush v. Gore.'

June 16

In 2002, a sensational story in the Washington Post exposes President Gore's secret efforts to ready a military strike against the newly installed Islamic fundamentalist r?gime in Pakistan.

The President and Vice-President both publicly claim the story is false. Privately, Gore is furious at the leak, which has undermined security for the operation and may have made it impossible to go forward.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

December 13

In 2000, News of the Supreme Court's ruling sparks jubilation among supporters of Democratic contender Vice-President Al Gore and his running-mate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, and fury among Republicans.


Riots erupt in Miami-Dade County, and an armed mob descends on the courthouse where the recount is taking place. Screaming "Cheaters! Cheaters!" and "Stop the fraud! Stop the fraud!" the crowd attempts to force its way into the building. Police are summoned and manage to disperse the crowd, although several people are injured in the process.

September 15

In 2001, President Gore asks General Henry H. "Hugh" Shelton to stay on for another term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The General agrees.


September 28

In 2001, the United Nations Security Council passes a resolution tightening existing sanctions against the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which date from the Clinton years, and demanding that Kabul move to arrest and detain "known terrorists operating from bases within the territory under its authority" as a price for the new restrictions' removal.


The Taliban response is defiant. Afghanistan's delegates walk out of the General Assembly, loudly protesting that the UN has become a forum for "American bullying".

February 12

In 2002, Battle for Mazari Sharif begins. U.S. forces, working with Kurdish rebels from northern Afghanistan, seize the city. Taliban resistance has been crippled by prior cluster bombing of troop positions and vehicle convoys. By nightfall, the city is in the hands of the U.S. and its Kurdish allies.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

February 15

In 2002, with U.S. and allied forces approaching Kabul Taliban forces flee the Afghan capital under cover of darkness after sunset.                                                                      

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

February 16

In 2002, with the Afghan capital in enemy hands, Taliban and Al Qaeda forces begin attempting to regroup, planning on concentrating their remaining forces in the Tora Bora cave complex on the Pakistani border.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

February 17

In 2002, the last Al Qaeda forces escape the city of Jalalabad as U.S. and allied forces approach the city. They head for the Tora Bora region, to join their comrades already there.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

February 21

In 2002, aerial bombing of the Tora Bora region intensifies. Reports of numerous civilian casualties begin circulating; they will be exploited by Al Qaeda sympathizers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by opponents of the Gore Administration on both left and right.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

March 1

In 2002, After a savage firefight inside the Tora Bora cave complex, a mangled body is recovered which U.S. forces identify as that of Osama bin Laden.                              


The death of Osama leads the network news that evening. Within hours, however, the Internet is buzzing with rumors that bin Laden's demise is a Gore administration hoax concocted for political gain. These speculations are encouraged by the fact that the condition of the body as seen in TV footage makes it difficult to recognize as that of the terror mastermind.

November 3

In 2002, in the midterm elections, Republicans maintain their hold on the House and Senate.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

October 15

In 2001, U.S. jets bomb a location in northern Afghanistan identified by the CIA as an Al Qaeda encampment.Afghan Bombing Fails by Eric Lipps
Intelligence reports had suggested that Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was present at the site, and there is briefly hope that he has been killed in the raid.
However, a videotape of bin Laden quickly surfaces in which he refers gloatingly to the attack as a failure on the part of America's "infidel" government.
Osama is hardly harsher on President Gore than are his domestic political opponents. On the right, Republicans point to the unsuccessful assault as evidence of the President's "incompetence". The left, led by Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, blasts Gore for "recklessness". Both right and left draw unpleasant comparisons with the earlier failed attack on bin Laden under President Bill Clinton, in 1998.

September 15

In 2001, at a National Security Council meeting, President Gore expresses frustration at the failure of the previous day's raid in Afghanistan.Afghan Options by Eric LippsDefense Secretary Webb observes that bombings of that sort are notoriously ineffective; even the massive air raids of World War II, he reminds the President, failed to knock out German industry, while the bombing raid on Tripoli during the Reagan years which had been intended to kill Libyan dictator Muammar Kaddafi failed to do so.
JCS chairman General Hugh Shelton insists that since the Kabul government has refused to cooperate with the U.S. in rooting out Al Qaeda, the only workable option is to immediately send in a large ground force to do the job. "We've discussed this already, at our meeting on October 7," he reminds the President.
President Gore is still reluctant to invade Afghanistan. Turning to CIA Director George J. Tenet, he asks whether the Agency can mount a covert operation to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Tenet responds that it is possible, but warns that if the operation is exposed the U.S. will be forced to move immediately to open military action. He advises that preparations for a full-scale invasion continue, and stresses the need to keep those preparations secret.

March 7

In 2002, a videotape of Osama bin Laden comes into the hands of Gulf media network Al-Jazeera and is broadcast.
Bin Laden Lives by Eric LippsCIA analysts are unable to determine from what appears on the tape exactly when it was made; its appearance therefore feeds rumors that bin Laden is still alive and at large despite the Gore Administration's claim that he was killed in the asault on Tora Bora several days earlier.
The Administration will swiftly denounce the tape as a fake. Gore's political enemies, however, will seize on it as proof that Gore lied to the American people about Allied forces having killed bin Laden. A Wall Street Journal editorial the folowing day will call the video "proof that this administration will say and do anything to deceive Americans for political gain".

May 31

In 2002, at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, President Gore and his advisers confront the Pakistani coup.
There is consensus that it is a disaster for U.S. interests. The authoritarian General Musharraf was far from an ideal American ally, but the emergence of an Islamist regime threatens to turn a nuclear-armed state into a staging ground for Islamic terrorism.
Bin Laden Lives by Eric LippsThe President's advisers are united in urging immediate action to unseat Ahmed and either restore Musharraf to power or install another secular-oriented figure. There is disagreement over how to do it, though, with Tenet calling for a covert operation and the rest opting for open military action. Gore notes that Tenet supposedly already has a covert op underway in Pakistan, Operation Mountain Strike, the aim of which is to capture or kill Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri. "Is it really feasible," he asks, "either to expand this operation to encompass regime change in Islamabad as well, or mount another covert effort for that purpose? How covert would it stay if we did? And if it isn't likely to stay covert anyway, why not simply intervene openly, as in Afghanistan?"

Tenet reluctantly acknowledges that secrecy may be impossible to maintain. Obviously unhappy, he admits that Mountain Strike itself is becoming an open secret in northern Pakistan.

Gore decides he has no choice but to order direct military intervention.

April 11

In 2002, with the Cannon Committee's investigation of what its chairman publicly brands the "Tora Bora hoax" now in full swing, the Gulf media network Al Jazeera broadcasts a communication from Ayman al-Zawahiri, previously identified as Osama bin Laden's Number Two in Al Qaeda. In his message, Zawahiri boasts that bin Laden is very much alive and "continues the holy struggle against the infidels, which can lead only to their defeat and subjugation to the will of Allah".Bin Laden Lives by Eric LippsRepublicans pounce gleefully, claiming that Zawahiri's words prove the Gore administration "faked" bin Laden?s death. Over the next week, there will be a torrent of tabloid stories repeating that line. Democrats, including the President, will insist that al-Zawahiri's claims are false and designed to harm Gore politically. Privately, the President will fume that that the GOP leadership is exploiting a false rumor spread by an enemy of the U.S. for political gain.

April 12

In 2002, the CIA informs President Gore that it believes al-Zawahiri is now in northern Pakistan, possibly under the protection of dissident elements of that country's military and secret police.

Bin Laden Lives by Eric LippsWhen the President asks what can be done to root him out, he is told that a covert operation within Pakistan is the best available option, but that it may take time, since the terrorist leader's exact location is not known.

A reluctant Gore authorizes such an operation, which will be codenamed Operation Mountain Strike.

October 6

In 2001, the first of a series of lawsuits is filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the hundreds of Arab men interned on suspicion of terrorist connections since Augus in response to government concerns in the wake of intelligence reports warning of a major attack on U.S. soil by Islamic terrorists.Civil Liberties by Eric Lipps
The Gore Administration will be forced to contest these lawsuits over the next several years, long after the last of the internees have been released. It will eventually be forced to pay substantial damages to the internees in a class-action civil suit, Hamdi et al v. U.S. Conservatives will denounce this judgment as proof of a 'runaway activist liberal judiciary.'

December 23

In 2001, for the second time this Christmas week, President Gore appears on nationwide television. In somber tones, he informs his audience that the Taliban government of Afghanistan has refused to comply with his demands.Final Warning by Eric Lipps
"Therefore", he continues, "in accordance with my responsibilities as President of the United States, I have decided to act, as I promised the American people I would do. I do not consider myself at liberty to divulge what measures are planned. I am sure that those who have made themselves the enemies of this nation are listening tonight along with the American people, and I do not intend to give them advance notice of our strategy. To the extent that our actions may involve the nation of Afghanistan, I again warn Kabul: do not attempt to obstruct our efforts to locate, capture and bring to justice the murderers of September 11. Any such action will be taken as indicating that the government of Afghanistan sides with the murderers, and we will respond accordingly. One final note, again to Kabul: we have chosen at this time not to sever relations with the government of Afghanistan, because despite its non-cooperation we do not now consider it an enemy of the United States. But if any action is taken against our embassy in Kabul, or against its personnel, by the Afghan government or anyone else, we shall consider ourselves to be at war not only with the terrorists of Al Qaeda but with the government of Afghanistan. We shall not allow our concern for the welfare of our diplomatic personnel to be used against us. There shall be no repetition of the nightmare of Iran".
The President's words are, if anything, even more controversial than those of two nights earlier. Many people had expected him to let his 48-hour deadline pass without comment, and without action, while he kept on pleading with Kabul for aid in rooting out Al Qaeda. His words this evening suggest he is not interested in further diplomatic maneuvering, but do not--quite--amount to a statement that he will use military force.

September 11

In 2001, a United Airlines Boeing 757 jetliner designated Flight 93, bound from Newark International Airport to Tokyo by way of San Francisco, is hijacked by several members of the terrorist group Al Qaeda and diverted toward Washington, D.C. Cell phone calls from the passengers to loved ones indicate that the terrorists plan to deliberately crash the plane into the White House or the Capitol. The plane never reaches Washington. Instead, it crashes in an empty field just outside the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 150 miles northwest of the U.S. capital. Investigators will later determine that the passengers and crew of the doomed plane had attempted to seize control of it from the terrorists, and that their captors had crashed the plane in Pennsylvania to prevent that from occurring. All 44 passengers are killed, along with the hijackers.Flight 93 by Eric LippsThe government will also learn, through interrogation of the Al Qaeda operatives arrested prior to the hijacking, that the seizure of Flight 93 was part of a much larger plan targeting not only the White House or Capitol but also the Pentagon and both towers of New York City's World Trade Center. The other planned hijackings had been aborted when airport security was tightened in August in response to warnings from intelligence operatives; the decision to proceed with what became the Flight 93 hijacking had been made only at the last minute, when Qaeda operatives found a hole in Newark International's newly tightened security screening.

President Gore, who had been visiting a school in Florida when news of the terrorist takeover and crash of Flight 93 reached him, cuts short his trip and returns immediately to Washington. FAA and FBI investigators are immediately dispatched to the crash site. Based on reports of what passengers had said via cell phone about the terrorists' objective, the Secret Service details of both the President and the Vice-President are placed on heightened alert, as part of a general security alert in Washington. Suggestions that the nation's two top elected officials go into hiding for their protection are, however, rejected. 'I cannot lead this nation from some fortress hidden in some undisclosed location,' explains the President. 'That's not how we do things in America. And if the day comes when that's how we have to do things, this country won't be America anymore.'

In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is not yet aware that his city was being targeted by the same people who brought down Flight 93. However, business operations in the World Trade Center and throughout the five boroughs slow down as distracted workers listen for fresh news of the tragedy.

January 1

In 2002, with American troops on the ground in Afghanistan, backed up by air support, President Gore goes on national television to inform the American people.

Gore Under Fire by Eric LippsHe continues to insist that the U.S. incursion is not aimed at Kabul, but only at Al Qaeda's operation within Afghanistan's borders. What he does not tell them is that there are troubling reports that Al Qaeda cells outside Afghanistan may be readying attacks against Gulf-region governments friendly to the U.S. Intelligence analysts warn that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are particularly at risk.

President Gore's revelation that U.S. military forces have entered Afghanistan is pursuit of Al Qaeda triggers fierce controversy.

Many in both parties in Congress are angered that he has taken this action without consulting them first. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts says, "I supported Al Gore in the 2000 election. When the dispute over its results was resolved in his favor, I was relieved, for I believed his would be a steadier hand than that of his opponent. His unilateral decision to launch a war, however--and make no mistake, that is what he was done--reveals a troubling recklessness which I fear will cost this nation dearly". The aging Democratic icon is applauded, even by some GOP colleagues who almost never agree with him.

In the media, Gore's action splits both conservatives and liberals, with some on each side approving and some condemning the Afghan intervention. Among opponents, liberals tend to agree with Kennedy's charge of recklessness, while on the right, fire-breathers such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter snarl that Gore is merely trying to 'look tough' and will find some way to 'surrender to the terrorists,' as Limbaugh puts it on an installment of his radio program.

Vice-President Joseph I. Lieberman responds to the critics by asking, "What would you have us do? We were attacked on our home soil. Americans were killed, and many more would have died if our law-enforcement agencies had not managed to intercept some of the would-be attackers. We know where those who planned this slaughter are hiding, and we know they'll try again if we give them a chance". Privately, some of the invasion's harshest critics suggest that in defending the invasion the VP is more concerned with the interests of Israel, of which he has been an outspoken supporter, than with those of the United States.

December 10

In 2009, former U.S. President Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions in support of measures to combat global climate change, which include persuading a bitterly divided U.S. Senate to ratify the Kyoto Protocols in 2003 and directing tens of billions of dollars in federal money toward the development of so-called "green" energy technologies.

Gore Wins Nobel Peace PrizeConservatives in the United States are outraged, asserting that Gore is being rewarded for promoting "harmful solutions to a nonexistent problem".

A story by Eric LippsAmong the loudest critics is former Texas governor George W. Bush, whom Gore had defeated in the contested 2000 presidential election after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore which allowed manual recounting of disputed ballots in Florida to proceed. Mr. Bush had been a frequent critic of Gore Administration policies and had emerged as an outspoken skeptic on the subject of human-caused global warming.

March 10

In 2002, appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, Vice-President Joseph Lieberman is peppered with questions regarding the bin Laden video.
Lieberman meets the Press by Eric LippsThe VP insists that the Administration is certain the body found at Tora Bora is that of the terrorist leader, and, noting that intelligence analysts have still been unable to determine when the video was made, assures his questioners that it must have been assembled some time before the assault on the cave complex.
It does little good. Administration opponents demand a full congressional investigation of what they call the 'coverup' of how President Gore has "let Osama bin Laden get away"

October 14

In 2009, on this day US President John S. McCain issued a routine national security update that would in hindsight be widely viewed as the first step on the road to Gulf War 3.
Mixed SignalsSince the general election, McCain had made it clear that America had cut and run from Iraq during the Bush Presidencies.
Asked at a New Hampshire campaign stop about possibly staying in Iraq 50 years, McCain interrupted "Make it a hundred" -- then offered a precise analogy to what he envisioned:
"We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. It's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world".
Ironically, George W. Bush was the original source of the cut and run accusation ~ "Freedom will prevail, so long as the United States and allies don't give the people of Iraq mixed signals, so long as don't cower in the face of suiciders, or do what many Iraqs still suspect might happen, and that is cut and run early, like what happened in '91".
Yet, after the Fall of Baghdad it became clear that America had committed a minimum level of force to effect regime change.
In the midst of widespread looting, a rapidly deteriorating security situation led to a full scale insurgency.
Weapons of mass destruction had not been found, and all of the claims of Ahmad Chalabi proven false - neither was Saddam linked to al-qaeda, nor the 9/11 strikes. Chalabi simply wanted to topple Saddam to avenge his powerful father, who been thrown out of Iraq decades ago.
By the time McCain assumed office in 2009, Muqtada al-Sadr had assumed the Presidency and Iraq was in the grip of an Islamic dictatorship that made the Ayatollah's regime in Iran look positively benign.

February 24

In 2002, U.S. and allied ground troops enter the Tora Bora region. Heavy combat ensues, as the allied forces clash not only with an estimated 1,600 of bin Laden's best fighters but with pro-Qaeda guerrillas from the region as well.
Overreaction by Eric LippsIn Washington, tension escalates.
The Gore administration is aware that failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden now that he has apparently been cornered will be politically disastrous. However, the President is warned that even if the Qaeda mastermind is taken prisoner or slain, his organization is likely to remain a threat. Anticipating the elimination of bin Laden, the CIA has been preparing a list of Qaeda figures who could take his place.
Criticism of President Gore?s decision to ivade Afghanistan is mounting.
Liberals tend to regard the incursion as an overreaction to the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, arguing, in the words of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA),
"The United States has every right to pursue the cowards who brought down a civilian airliner full of innocent people, and who have been implicated in such other attacks as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This country, however, has no more right than any other to invade the sovereign territory of another nation because its government has refused to cooperate with our antiterrorism efforts. Such actions suggest we place ourselves above international law, and can only help to recruit more people to the terrorists' cause"..
Conservatives, on the other hand, blast the invasion as, Patrick Buchanan writes in his syndicated newspaper column, "an incompetently planned response to q bloody assult made possible by the bungling, if not worse, of this Democratic administration and that of Bill Clinton".

September 16

In 2001, President Gore praises Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Ashaikh (Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Senior Ulama) for his formal response to the downing of Flight 93. Respect by Eric Lipps
Delivered the previous day, al-Ashaikh's statement was a blistering condemnation of the attack: "Hijacking planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood constitute a form of injustice that can not be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts. "
"In these words," the President says, "we hear the answer to those who say that Islam is always and forever an enemy to the West, always and forever a religion of violence. Shocked as we are at the cruel act committed against defenseless people on September 11, we must remember these words when we are tempted to blame all Muslims for the acts of fanatics. " Gore is excoriated by conservative critics in America and in Israel for his "naive" view of Islam in the wake of the Flight 93 attack. His words are much better received, ironically, in Saudi Arabia, home of the leader of Al Qaeda, where his praise for a highly respected religious figure is appreciated.

September 9

In 2001, Fox News Network reports that U.S. military planes are secretly landing at night in the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Vice-President Joseph Lieberman, pressed to comment by reporters in the wake of the Fox report, will deny that President Al Gore is contemplating military action in Afghanistan. He goes on to say, "If we were planning an operation of that sort, Fox News would be irresponsible to report it. Doing so would compromise national security and risk American lives".
Rumours by Eric LippsIt is a neat reversal, since in the wake of the downing of Flight 93 and the subsequent revelations that the doomed plane had been hijacked as part of a much broader planned Al Qaeda attack the Fox network has been loudly berating the Gore Administration for its alleged failure to protect U.S. national security. However, the Vice-President's words do nothing to quash the rumors. Denials from Tashkent and Dushanbe are no more effective than those being issued in Washington.

President Gore will privately call Fox News president Roger Ailes to complain about the report. However, Ailes, a hard-line conservative Republican who publicly stated in the wake of the Supreme Court's controversial 5-to-4 decision in Gore's favor in Bush v. Gore that he believed the Court had allowed the Democrats to "steal the White House", informs him that he stands by his employees. "Our job is to report the news, not help the government cover it up", he says self-righteously.

Gore is in a weak position to continue the argument because the Fox report is essentially correct. However, he is determined to ensure that there will be no further leaks of this kind.

December 21

In 2001, in a nationally televised prime-time news conference, President Gore issues an ultimatum to the government of Afghanistan. Ultimatum by Eric Lipps
"We have given you every chance to behave as responsible members of the world community by turning over to us the terrorist murderers who have chosen to use your soil as a base," he informs the Taliban. "The limited measures we have undertaken so far have not been directed against your people or your government. However, we continue to insist that you cooperate with us in bringing to justice those responsible for the tragedy of Flight 93, and for planning the larger attack on our nation of which that was a part.
If you continue to refuse to do so, we will have no choice but to conclude that the butchers of Al Qaeda have your government's approval and protection. In that event, we shall have no option but to act forcefully without your aid.
If, once we have begun to take such further measures, any element of the government or military of Afghanistan attempts to obstruct us or to aid the terrorists in any way, we will be compelled to conclude that the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban as a political movement consider themselves at war with the United States of America. In that event, we will do what we deem necessary to protect and defend this nation and bring to account those who have chosen to kill innocent Americans. You have forty-eight hours to respond in good faith. If at the end of that time you have not done so, we will interpret that as a refusal".
The President avoids specifically mentioning the raids already undertaken inside Afghanistan, and says nothing about the CIA's Operation Kipling, so the great majority of Americans have no idea what 'limited measures' Gore might be talking about apart from his administration's actions in the United Nations aimed at tightening sanctions.
Gore's speech ignites and instant uproar, with conservatives variously delivering some version of 'It's about time' or deriding his remarks as political theater meant to disguise continued weakness and many liberals condemning him for seeming to bear out the departed Afghan UN delegation's charges of 'U.S. Bullying.'

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.