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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not getting Bin Laden when we could have

Everybody's talking about the new 49 page report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Tora Bora Revisited: How we failed to get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today) on the eve of President Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden was within US reach in 2001, says Senate report
Although limited to a review of military operations eight years old, the report could be read as a cautionary note for those resisting an increased troop presence there now. More pointedly, it seeks to affix a measure of blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under George Bush, specifically Donald Rumsfeld, as defence secretary, and his senior military commander, Tommy Franks.
"Removing the al-Qaida leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," the report says. "But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed Bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism."


Report: Tora Bora Revisited: How we failed to get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today (49 page PDF)


Posted by Marie at November 29, 2009 12:21 PM


Why? Because Bush had a personal score to settle with Saddam in Iraq. Because within hours of the 9/11 attacks, Bush was eager to pin the blame on Iraq. Because Bush believed that no presidency is judged as successful by history without winning a war. Because Bush is a small-minded simpleton who got off playing Commander in Chief. That's why.

Posted by: Pete at November 29, 2009 1:03 PM

Thank you, Pete.

Posted by: Marie Carnes Author Profile Page at November 29, 2009 8:28 PM

It is highly debatable that we ever could have prevented bin Laden from crossing over into Pakistan from the Tora Bora area. The senior military commander on scene told committee staffers this:

‘‘My opinion is that bin Laden would have left even earlier as soon as he received word that the U.S. troops were surrounding him,’’ Fury told the committee staff. ‘‘I think he only stayed as long as he did because he thought the mujahedin would not aggressively pursue him.’’

Page 16 of the committee report:


Given the terrain, the logistical and medevac issues, and the fact that our only available local allies were poorly trained and shaky at best, even if we had inserted the 1000 to 3000 troops that one planned called for it was still likely that bin Laden would have been able to sneak through the rugged terrain. We just would have gotten a bunch of troops killed for nothing.

It's certainly debatable, but anyone who says they could have gotten bin Laden with the right resources is being way too positive in my opinion.

Posted by: Dave E. at December 1, 2009 8:43 PM

Possibly the US military wouldn't have captured Bin Laden, but it sure did seem as if they didn't even bother to try because Iraq was already on the agenda. Oil corporation executives had been made promises after all…

Posted by: swanksalot Author Profile Page at December 1, 2009 9:04 PM

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