10.24.2004



Since the mainstream media won't fact-check it....


...re Kerry's charges made during the debates that the Bush-led military let Osama Bin Laden escape from Tora Bora, which Bush and Cheney have vehemently denied, I direct you, fair reader, to this Washington Post article from April 2002: "U.S. Concludes Bin Laden Escaped at Tora Bora Fight":

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.


Washington Post staff writers Barton Gellman and Thomas E. Ricks continue:

In the fight for Tora Bora, corrupt local militias did not live up to promises to seal off the mountain redoubt, and some colluded in the escape of fleeing al Qaeda fighters. [Army General Tommy R.] Franks did not perceive the setbacks soon enough, some officials said, because he ran the war from Tampa with no commander on the scene above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The first Americans did not arrive until three days into the fighting.. "No one had the big picture," one defense official said.

The Bush administration has never acknowledged that bin Laden slipped through the cordon ostensibly placed around Tora Bora as U.S. aircraft began bombing on Nov. 30. Until now it was not known publicly whether the al Qaeda leader was present on the battlefield.

But inside the government there is little controversy on the subject. Captured al Qaeda fighters, interviewed separately, gave consistent accounts describing an address by bin Laden around Dec. 3 to mujaheddin, or holy warriors, dug into the warren of caves and tunnels built as a redoubt against Soviet invaders in the 1980s. One official said "we had a good piece of sigint," or signals intelligence, confirming those reports.


Of course, the administration refused to admit any mistakes, even with 20/20 hindsight:

In public, the Bush administration acknowledges no regret about its prosecution of Tora Bora. One official spokesman, declining to be named, described questions about the battle as "navel-gazing" and said the national security team is "too busy for that." He added, "We leave that to you guys in the press."

But some policymakers and operational officers spoke in frustrated and even profane terms of what they called an opportunity missed.

"We [messed] up by not getting into Tora Bora sooner and letting the Afghans do all the work," said a senior official with direct responsibilities in counterterrorism. "Clearly a decision point came when we started bombing Tora Bora and we decided just to bomb, because that's when he escaped. . . . We didn't put U.S. forces on the ground, despite all the brave talk, and that is what we have had to change since then."

When al Qaeda forces began concentrating again in February, south of the town of Gardez, Franks moved in thousands of U.S. troops from the 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division. In the battle of Shahikot in early March -- also known as Operation Anaconda -- the United States let Afghan allies attack first. But when that offensive stalled, American infantry units took it up.

Another change since Tora Bora, with no immediate prospect of finding bin Laden, is that President Bush has stopped proclaiming the goal of taking him "dead or alive" and now avoids previous references to the al Qaeda founder as public enemy number one.

In an interview with The Washington Post in late December, Bush displayed a scorecard of al Qaeda leaders on which he had drawn the letter X through the faces of those thought dead. By last month, Bush began saying that continued public focus on individual terrorists, including bin Laden, meant that "people don't understand the scope of the mission."

"Terror is bigger than one person," Bush said March 14. "He's a person that's now been marginalized." The president said bin Laden had "met his match" and "may even be dead," and added: "I truly am not that concerned about him."


comments:

Is there any chance that Bush was misquoted? Otherwise the White House can use the argument that the Washington Post is some rinky-dink newspaper.
 
Apparently you haven't seen the videotape. He said it in a press conference, I believe. It was on all the news stations when he said it, since it was something of news that the man wanted "dead or alive" suddenly was not a concern.

It sounded sort of like sour grapes at the time. Now I wonder if he ever took Osama bin Laden seriously. Around the same time he said that, he was constantly making complaints in the press about Saddan Hussein, saying things like, "He's thumbing his nose at us!" Oh dear! Let's invade!!

BTW, did you know that we hold only Kabul and a small area around it in Afganistan? The rest of the country is under drug lords, warlords and, er, the Taliban.
 



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