BBC, September 18, 2001:
A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before [the 9/11] attacks.
Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.
The wider objective, according to Mr Naik, would be to topple the Taleban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place.
MSNBC, May 16, 2002:
President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-Qaida two days before Sept. 11 but did not have the chance before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, U.S. and foreign sources told NBC News.
The couching of the plans as a formal security directive is significant…because it indicates that the United States intended a full-scale assault on al-Qaida even if the Sept. 11 attacks had not occurred.