take Mr. Kerry's contention that we "had an opportunity to capture or kill
Osama bin Laden" and that ‘we had him surrounded.’ We don't know
to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some
intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at
the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir,” Franks continued.
Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.”
"A lot of words meaning nothing
did not ‘outsource’ military action,” wrote Franks. “We did rely heavily
on Afghans because they knew Tora Bora, a mountainous, geographically difficult
region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan...Killing and capturing
Taliban and Qaeda fighters was best done by the Afghan fighters who already
knew the caves and tunnels.”
Afghans weren't left to do the job alone. Special forces from the United
States and several other countries were there, providing tactical leadership
and calling in air strikes. Pakistani troops also provided significant
help - as many as 100,000 sealed the border and rounded up hundreds of
Qaeda and Taliban fighters,” said Franks.
to Senator Kerry, President Bush never "took his eye off the ball" when
it came to Osama bin Laden,” Franks wrote. “The war on terrorism has a
global focus. It cannot be divided into separate and unrelated wars, one
in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. Both are part of the same effort to
capture and kill terrorists before they are able to strike America again.”
seems to be stating that the war on terrorism’s global focus
offered the rationale for why Bush cannot be said to have taken his eye
off the “bin Laden ball.” The sentence doesn’t parse…
only does it not make sense… It isn’t even true. Proof to the contrary
had already been reported by the very same N.Y. Times.
No zest, no zoap
actions of American military commanders in Afghanistan, reported the Times,
in a Sept. 30, 2002 front page article (10-month Afghan Mystery: Is Bin
Laden Dead or Alive?) did not reflect an emphasis on rigorous pursuit of
the Al Qaeda chieftain.
‘on the ground’ in Afghanistan during the siege of Tora Bora believe that
American commanders did not act with anything like the zeal you'd expect
from people whose mission was hunting down America's Most Wanted Man, said
forces in Afghanistan have not been helped by the suspicion here at Tora
Bora, where bin Laden was all but trapped, that indecisiveness on the part
of American commanders, or perhaps reluctance to risk casualties, may have
helped him (bin Laden) escape."
(bin Laden) fled to Pakistan," the Times reported, "he did so over snow-choked
mountain trails that were not blocked by American or other allied troops
until after the bombing—an oversight that some of the allies point to as
having squandered the best opportunity of the war to snare America's most
wanted man." (italics ours.)
we read this we were dumbfounded. Don't they teach that in General's
school? “Cut 'em off, then bomb them back to the Stone Age?”
weeks high-ranking British officers were saying privately that American
commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing
that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds and low-slung
clouds, were too high," said the article.
clouds? The snow was too deep?
accounts abound among Afghan commanders who provided the troops stationed
on the Tora Bora foothills—on the north side of the mountains, facing the
Afghan city of Jalalabad," continued the Times. “Those troops played
a blocking role that left the Qaeda fugitives only one escape route, to
the south, over the mountains to Pakistan."
Afghan commander told the Times of pleading with Special Forces officers
to block the trails to Pakistan. "Their attitude was, 'we must kill the
enemy, but we must remain absolutely safe," said warlord Hajji Zaher.
"This is crazy."
is inconceivable that U.S. Special Forces troops would insist on remaining
absolutely safe in a fight to capture the leader of the forces that murdered
3000 people on Sept 11.
order to 'stand down' must have come from above.
explanation of this may ever be forthcoming. But we think warlord Hajjii
Zaher got one thing right at least…
is crazy. And the craziness seems a long way from being over.