"Osama Bin Laden was within military reach when the Bush administration allowed him to disappear into the mountains of Afghanistan rather than pursue him with a massive military force, a new Senate report says.
The report asserts that the failure to get the terrorist leader when he was at his most vulnerable in December 2001 - three months after the 9/11 attacks - led to today's reinvigorated insurgency in Afghanistan.
Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, requested the report, which came as President Obama prepares to send as many as 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Kerry has long argued the Bush administration botched an opportunity to capture the Al Qaeda leader and his top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of Tora Bora.
The report calls then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks, the top military commander at the time, to the carpet and asserts the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault on Bin Laden with several thousand troops. Instead, fewer than 100 commandoes, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down the ragged band of terrorists."
Again, old news.
Interestingly enough, "adequate troops" is one of Obama's excuses for delaying his "decision" on how many more to send. (Ed. Just in case it's missed, Obama is scheduling a "light deployment" exactly what this 'report' accuses Bush of doing).
Didn't need a "Senate Report", most of this was known a long time ago, which makes Kerry an opportunistic idiot. He's been talking up the "Obama lost in Tora Bora" crap since the 2004 election, and this "staffer report" is as transparent as his marriage to Teresa.
Just ahead of Obama's "What I'm going to do about Afghanistan" speech this week, he's giving Obama an opportunity to bash Bush once more. Here's the script. We didn't get Bin Laden, thus, Al Qaeda was able to reconstitute, thus we have a problem in Afghanistan that only - of course - Obama can fix!
Brilliant! Except that it's not exactly so.
(Ed. But he did go to the Vietnam for four months!)
Nevertheless there would have been no "missed chance" in 2001, if there wouldn't have been many more missed chances in the 10 years before.
So without further ado, here's a reposting.
"June 1995: The CIA concluded that Osama bin Laden authorized the failed assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The CIA also concluded that Hassan al-Turabi, Sudan's leader, knew where bin Laden was living and aided the plot. The United States weighed options for attacking bin Laden and al-Turabi's headquarters in Sudan's capital, but retaliation plans were ultimately rejected - as tantamount to staging war with Sudan.
February 1996 to October 1998: The United States targeted bin Laden's satellite phone calls. After a U.S. missile strike against bin Laden's camps on Aug. 20, 1998, however, an official leaked that the United States could track his movements through the use of the phone - nixing this key intelligence coup.
March to May 1996: Varying unverified reports indicated that bin Laden's sanctuary, Sudan, offered to hand over bin Laden directly to the United States, but U.S. officials decided not to take him because there was not enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime. (The 9/11 Commission later concluded that there was no evidence that Sudan offered bin Laden directly to the United States, but it does find substantiation that Saudi Arabia was discussed as an option.) Note a Glowing issue with the 9/11 Omission Commission. Clinton admitted to turning down the offer.
March 1996 to April 1996: Eager to get from beneath sanctions, Sudan advised the United States that it had a vast intelligence database on bin Laden and more than 200 leading members of his al-Qaida terrorist network. Although FBI officials wanted to parley with the Sudanese and get their files, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pressed to continue to box the country in economically. No deal was made for the files.
May 1996: When Sudan finally expelled bin Laden, the terror chieftain left in the company of many other key al-Qaida members, carrying cash. Flying to Afghanistan in a transport plane with his entourage, he made the trip unscathed - even though the United States reportedly knew of the particulars of the journey.
June 1996 to October 2001: Al-Qaida took control of Ariana Airlines, which transported illegal drugs and arms and became the main conduit of militants traveling incognito as airline employees. The United States failed to act swiftly against the airline.
1997: Although the CIA ramped up its Afghanistan operations and recruited some Taliban military leaders, none gets close to bin Laden.
February 1998: The United States rejected yet another offer of the Sudanese al-Qaida files. Although the FBI remained eager to accept the offer, the official posture was that Sudan's offers were not credible - owing to Sudanese leader al-Turabi's ideologically bond with bin Laden.
May 1998: The United States developed a plan to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan, using a CIA-owned aircraft that would swoop in from a nearby country, set down on a remote landing strip, and haul him aboard. Involved in the complex scenario that evolved over time was a team of Afghan informants who would kidnap bin Laden from his Tarnak Farm complex. CIA chief George Tenet, however, nixed the operation on grounds that, in his judgment, the impromptu Afghan allies were unreliable.
August 1998: After the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, President Clinton, in writing, authorized the CIA to arrange the capture of bin Laden, using force. Despite a lot of preliminary groundwork by the CIA, the plan never unfolded - reportedly owing to inadequate intelligence.
August 1998 to 2000: After the embassy bombings, the United States placed two submarines on station - likely in the Indian Ocean. They were poised to launch cruise missiles at al-Qaida targets, including bin Laden. However, by the time the drone Predator spy plane soared over Afghanistan in late 2000 and famously pinpointed bin Laden on the ground, the submarines had been redeployed elsewhere. Bin Laden escaped unscathed - since the Predator model used at that time was not armed with a missile.
August 1998: The United States fired about 60 missiles at various al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan, as well as a dozen missiles at a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan. No key al-Qaida cadre was killed.
December 1998: The United States once again pinpointed bin Laden in Afghanistan. Although missiles were readied, the strike was called off over fears of collateral damage.
February 1999: Intelligence put bin Laden at a desert hunting camp in Afghanistan. Cruise missiles are prepped, but royals from the United Arab Emirates are present and the strike is called off.
May 1999: Bin Laden was reportedly pinpointed again. Tenet nixed attack owing to usual concerns about collateral damage.
October 1999: A reportedly joint Pakistani Interservices Intelligence/U.S. commando strike to kill bin Laden is waylaid when Gen. Pervez Musharraf took over Pakistan in a coup and subsequently decided to abort the operation."
Fact is that opportunities to capture/kill Bin Laden were many before 9/11 and Tora Bora. Sure had we had sufficient troops to go after him there we might have been successful. might, had he even been there, and that in itself is a little fact that