news these last days of summer contains at least one story which—because key
elements of it remain unspoken, in other words, taboo—doesn't make
In the current furor over
the Justice Department’s opening of an investigation into the torture of
prisoners under the Bush Administration, during the same week that a federal
court found that John Ashcroft,
then-attorney general, violated the rights of U.S. citizens by ordering arrests
when the government lacked probable cause,
vociferously claimed that that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were
“absolutely essential” in stopping another terrorist attack on the United States
after Sept. 11, 2001.
If it is true, then
perhaps Mr. Cheney, Mr. Bush, and especially U.S. General Tommy Franks can tell
us why they let Osama bin Laden escape from Tora Bora two months after the
No tin foil hats needed
front page article in the New York Times (reprinted here under fair use)
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 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.
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. 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
"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.
Yet bringing Osama bin
Laden to justice, we thought, had been the U.S. objective in Afghanistan.
Apparently, we were mistaken.
President Bush's bravado
over catching bin Laden "dead or alive" was just words, and Bin laden was
inexplicably allowed to escape during the Battle of Tora Bora had largely been
The response from Gen.
Tommy Franks was to deny everything.
“President Bush never
"took his eye off the ball" when it came to Osama bin Laden,” Gen. Tommy 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.”
Gen. Tommy Franks
rationale, that the war on terrorism’s global focus offered the rationale for
why Bush could not be said to have taken his eye off the “bin Laden ball,” isn’t
And you didn't
need to put on your "tin foil hats" to find it.
Proof to the contrary
could be found in the New York Times.
zeal, No zest, no soap
When we first read of this
we were dumbfounded.
No explanation of this may
ever be forthcoming. But we think warlord Hajjii Zaher got one thing right at
It was crazy.
There will never be a
better time than now for the craziness to end.
If the Obama
Administration, with Democratic control of both Houses of Congress, cannot found
its way clear to re-opening the 9/11 investigation, then we will never know the