Before anyone breaks out the tin
foil hats, our source for this ‘wild conspiracy theory’ is America’s paper of
record: the very un-wacky NY Times.
A front page article in the New York
Times reported that people who were 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.
American forces in Afghanistan, the
Times reported, "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
"If (bin Laden) fled to Pakistan 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."
"Within 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.
Low-slung clouds? The snow was
"Similar 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. One Afghan commander told 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."
In a fight to capture the leader of
the forces that attacked America on Sept 11 and took 3000 innocent lives, it is
inconceivable that American Special Forces would back down or insist on
remaining absolutely safe.
So an order to 'stand down,' if one
was given, must have come from above.
Bringing Osama bin Laden to justice,
we thought, had been the U.S. objective in Afghanistan.
Apparently, we were mistaken.