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September 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16-17 | 18-20 | Epilogue

About This Series
On Sept. 11, President Bush and his advisers started America on the road to war, but they did it without a map. In the days afterward, they deliberated, debated and ultimately settled on a strategy that is still emerging to fight worldwide terrorism.

This series, by Post reporters Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other key officials. Interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security Council meetings made available, along with notes taken by several participants.

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Excerpts from a Washington Post interview with President George W. Bush on the aftermath of Sept. 11.
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PART 1: Sept. 11
A Chaotic Road to War
On the night of Sept. 11, the president and his advisers started America on the road to war that night without a map. In the days afterwards the strategy would begin to emerge.

PART 2: Sept. 12
'We Will Rally the World'
President Bush was anxious to strike back against the Taliban, but didn't want to "pound sand with millions of dollars in weapons."

PART 3: Sept. 13
The Blueprint Emerges
Stepped-up threats added a sense of urgency to the deliberations underway among the president and his war cabinet. They knew they were under pressure to strengthen defenses at home and develop a plan to go after the terrorists.

PART 4: Sept. 14
Day of Anger and Grief
On Sept. 14, the most gut-wrenching day of his young presidency, George W. Bush had to find a way to move the nation from consolation to war.

PART 5: Sept. 15
At Camp David, Advise and Dissent
When President Bush assembled his advisers at Camp David to talk about a response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the day-long summit was sometimes brief, sometimes lengthy, other times focused - and in many cases, quite unfocused.

PART 6: Sept. 16-17
Combating Terrorism: 'It Starts Today'
At 9:35 a.m. on Sept. 17 - after a weekend of deliberation - the war cabinet reconvened. "The purpose of this meeting is to assign tasks for the first wave of the war against terrorism," the president announced. "It starts today."

PART 7: Sept. 18-20
A Presidency Defined in One Speech
In just three short days, President Bush, with his advisers and speechwriters, crafted the historic Sept. 20 address to Congress that would set the course for Bush's presidency.

PART 8: Epilogue
Bush Awaits History's Judgment
President Bush steadfastly has committed his administration and the nation to a complex campaign of undefined scope or duration, in which he sees "winning" as the ability to "rout terror wherever it exists."

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