The Irony of Tora Bora

Picture 160Understand that–for better or worse–the new report released by John Kerry on how Osama bin Laden escaped at Tora Bora is a designed to be a political document. It offers the following “irony” to the chattering classes the weekend before Obama announces his new Afghanistan strategy,

Ironically, one of the guiding principles of the Afghan model was to avoid immersing the United States in a protracted insurgency by sending in too many troops and stirring up anti-American sentiment. In the end, the unwillingness to bend the operational plan to deploy the troops required to take advantage of solid intelligence and unique circumstances to kill or capture bin Laden paved the way for exactly what we had hoped to avoid—a protracted insurgency that has cost more lives than anyone estimates would have been lost in a full-blown assault on Tora Bora. Further, the dangerous contagion of rising violence and instability in Afghanistan has spread to Pakistan, a nuclear-armed ally of the United States which is now wracked by deadly terrorist bombings as it conducts its own costly military campaign against a domestic, Taliban-related insurgency.

The report relies on just a few interviews, but mostly on existing histories (including a Special Ops Command history included as an appendix) and even an extended column from Michael O’Hanlon (also included as an appendix)–not exactly the kind of guy I’m thrilled to see at the center of a taxpayer funded report. I view the report as the logical endpoint of Kerry’s decision to hire journalist Douglas Frantz (whose biography of AQ Khan is cited once) to head investigations.

Which is not to say the research isn’t valid. Rather, that the timing and format of the report seems designed to emphasize the irony, noted above, and other little ironies such as the way our desire to get the corrupt Hamid Karzai installed as leader of Afghanistan affected our willingness to commit troops at Tora Bora.

[Franks’ second-in-command during the war, General Michael DeLong] amplified the reasons for not sending American troops after bin Laden. ‘‘The real reason we didn’t go in with U.S. troops was that we hadn’t had the election yet,’’ he said in the staff interview, a reference to the installation of Hamid Karzai as the interim leader of Afghanistan. ‘‘We didn’t want to have U.S. forces fighting before Karzai was in power. We wanted to create a stable country and that was more important than going after bin Laden at the time.’’

And the conclusion (less well supported by the facts presented in the report) that the same unwillingness to commit troops to Afghanistan in 2001 led to Mullah Omar’s escape.

The same shortage of U.S. troops allowed Mullah Mohammed Omar and other Taliban leaders to escape. A semi-literate leader who fled Kandahar on a motorbike, Mullah Omar has re-emerged at the helm of the Taliban-led insurgency, which has grown more sophisticated and lethal in recent years and now controls swaths of Afghanistan. The Taliban, which is aligned with a loose network of other militant groups and maintains ties to Al Qaeda, has established shadow governments in many of Afghanistan’s provinces and is capable of mounting increasingly complex attacks on American and NATO forces. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who helped develop the Obama administration’s Afghan policy, recently referred to the mullah’s return to power ‘‘one of the most remarkable military comebacks in modern history.’’

All these ironies, delivered just in time to play into the debate that will intensify next week.

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182 replies
  1. fatster says:

    Thanks so much for highlighting this, EW. I haven’t read the report yet, but I did note the two last sentences in the news summary, Senate Democratic report says US missed chance to chase down Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora
    :

    ‘”The vast array of American military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of the Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines,” the report said.

    “At the time, Rumsfeld expressed concern that a large U.S. troop presence might fuel a backlash and he and some others said the evidence was not conclusive about bin Laden’s location.”

    Struck me that Rumsfeld’s “expressed concern” was mighty curious, since they had OBL within their grasp, even though General DeLong agreed in the quote you provided from the report itself. But, then, I’m suspicious about anything Rummy says.

  2. ThingsComeUndone says:

    I am not buying this

    Ironically, one of the guiding principles of the Afghan model was to avoid immersing the United States in a protracted insurgency by sending in too many troops and stirring up anti-American sentiment.

    Bombing Civilians would also then be a concern. Also we were massing tons of troops that could have gone to Tora Bora for an invasion of Iraq. Somehow this not sending tons of troops to Afghanistan excuse seems like cover for the Bushies if this report is a political document then its a GOP one.

  3. Ruth Calvo says:

    If we had caught Osama bin Laden, that would have ended the wars. Is anyone surprised we didn’t jump in, under the war criminals, and make an end to contractor opportunities along with the endless graft and corruption opportunity for war related industry?

    • ratfood says:

      Common sense might suggest that capturing Bin Laden would have allowed the U.S. to declare victory and exit. I am doubtful that would have happened. Once the military industrial complex sets it’s heart (aka profit) on a protracted conflict it nearly always gets it’s way and there is no evidence that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. had any inclination to impinge on the earnings of defense industry shareholders.

    • Cynthia Kouril says:

      I don’t know it it would have ended the wars, but it certainly would have severely crippled Al Q, which seems to have some aspects of a cult of personality for Osama.

      Remember how it started. Ronald Reagan trained and armed the afgahns to be a thorn i the side of Russia. Then he abanodoned the “Afgan Freedom Fighters” and left thema nd their families to starve. they had no farms or jobs or businesses, they had lived off pay from the US.

      Osama stepped in when these families were desperate and the children were starving and called the “verterans” and provided money, food and shelter for their families.

      THAT is how he got his US trained and armed army of jihadis.They loved Osama becasue he recognized that they were human beings, not just chess pieces on a board.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        OBL’s role in the mujahideen is vastly exaggerated. He never had contact with more than a couple of thousand of them, and by the late 1990s, had none of his fortune left. It’s his fabulously spectacular attack on the U.S. that draws Islamists to him.

        • Cynthia Kouril says:

          He didn’t need to have contact with them personally. Ronald Reagen benefitted from a cult of personality invovling hundreds of thosuand of people he never had direct contact with.

          And even after OSama’s personal fortune was gone, the network of Islamic charites was kicking in. The point is, he came riding to their rescue when these men were abononed and desperate. He gave them back their dignity and fed their families until a longer term solution could be found.

          it’s like something out of a Western Movie. So, yeah, he gets credit for a lot of things he didn’t actually do, but that’s how hero myths happen

          • eCAHNomics says:

            I think it’s important to distinguish between what OBL actually did vs. what he got credit for. Ditto Reagan.

            (Q: What do Ronald Reagan, OBL, and the Pope have in common?
            A: They all take personal credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union.)

            • ratfood says:

              I think Papa Bush tried to horn in on that too since the crumble happened on his watch.

              There may or may not have been some calculation by the Reagan admin that profligate defense spending would bankrupt the Soviets before it bankrupted us. I kind of doubt it though, I think they just liked spending tax money on big weapons systems.

          • mattcarmody says:

            If I remember my history correctly it was national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski who initially sought to arm to mujahideen so that the Soviets would have their own little Vietnam. So it was Carter who started us down this road although Saint Ronnie and his boys developed it into an art form that helped their off-budget funding for the contras.

            Much as we financially supported the French in their fight with the Viet Minh and Ho Chi Minh and supplanted them after the defeat at Dien Bien Phu, down to violating the Geneva Accords signed in 1954 for elections (even then we considered the Geneva Convention quaint), we have been hit in the face with karma in Afghanistan.

            The same warnings that were given to LBJ regarding Vietnam apply to Afghanistan: Eventually, we are going to leave. The Afghans and various tribes know this, the Taliban knows this, the whole fucking world knows this. Why are we going to spend billions of dollars trying to create a system of government that is as foreign to Afghanistan and its people as the landscape of Mars is to those of us on earth when there are far more important things to be spending the money on right here at home.

            Hell, if we don’t have the desire to spend the money here how about throwing some at the starving people in Sudan or Kenya or Ethiopia or Romania or the Uzbekis, Tajiks, Kurds, or millions of Iraqis our illegal invasion and occupation created or millions of other people who could use it in the world?

            I just finished Gordon Goldstein’s “Lessons in Despair” followed by Howard Zinn’s “Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal” ending with Dr. King’s April, 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam” given at Riverside Church here in New York. Nothing has changed, absolutely nothing. The hubris of McGeorge Bundy and the best and the brightest was replaced by the hubris of Oliver North and Poindexter and Negroponte and Bush Sr. to be replaced by that of the Clinton junta followed by the uber-hubris of Cheney/Bush right into that of Rahm Emanuel.

            Of all the people mentioned going back to LBJ’s administration, the one constant in almost every administration (with the interregnum of Clinton) is Robert Gates. Robert Gates, NSC staffer during the Carter administration, CIA Soviet specialist who doctored the info to make it fit the Cold War orhtodoxy of the Raygun regime, Bush Sr.’s CIA director, Bush the Idiot Son’s SecDef, and our “progressive” president’s SecDef.

            Time for some serious housecleaning in this administration, clean out the stay behind moles in every agency and especially the influential warmongers who can actually affect policy.

            Enough is enough already. When will we ever learn?

            • eCAHNomics says:

              I’ve recently read Charlie Wilson’s War and reread Ghost Wars. Don’t think Carter did much of anything concrete. Brez was delighted at the Soviet invasion and saw right away that it could become the Soviet’s VN. But as for doing anything real, not so much.

              • ratfood says:

                Carter suspended grain exports and nixed U.S. participation in the Moscow Olympics. If putting the squeeze on American farmers and athletes isn’t substantive action, I don’t know what is… /s

                • eCAHNomics says:

                  I’d forgotten about that. Yes, quite substantial, heh? I was thinking about the direct support for the muj, that came a lot after the invasion. Didn’t amount to a shit hill of beans until around 84, 85.

            • knowbuddhau says:

              I just finished Gordon Goldstein’s “Lessons in Despair” followed by Howard Zinn’s “Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal” ending with Dr. King’s April, 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam” given at Riverside Church here in New York. Nothing has changed, absolutely nothing. The hubris of McGeorge Bundy and the best and the brightest was replaced by the hubris of Oliver North and Poindexter and Negroponte and Bush Sr. to be replaced by that of the Clinton junta followed by the uber-hubris of Cheney/Bush right into that of Rahm Emanuel.

              That right there is the power of myth. Besides having Robert Gates in common, what else is shared by our so-called “best and brightest?” What assumptions about the composition and functioning of the cosmos do they hold in common?

              It’s the mythology! Almost to a person, these are people who believe life is a holy war, that war is the way the world was made by a male war god to favor males in a holy war of conquest over all things feminine, esp. Mother Nature.

              That’s the basic operating system: cosmos as artifact of male war god, governed by force and fiat according to Newton’s laws of mechanics. That makes of society a perpetual motion bogus holy war cash machine. “Onward Christian soldiers, marching off to war” is the epitome of the good life, in their hearts and minds. War is simply the way the world is believed to work, by divine intent, thus making Peace with the absolute Other is unthinkable. War is just what we do.

              But of course, we’re organisms, not mechanisms. Machining the planet as if she and us together actually were the automata assumed by Newton has disrupted the global climate.

              Industrialized nations need to have the epiphany Neo had, in the movie The Matrix, when he awoke to find himself reduced to a “human resource” in a hypermechanized world.

              That’s the kind of profound change of heart we need, to end the cycle of perpetual bogus holy wars. We’re not going to machine our way out of the hell we’ve made with our mechanical mentality. We have to become what we’ve always been.

              All the beings of earth are exactly one thing. One word answer, three letter word. Give up?

              Q: What one thing are all the beings of earth?
              A: We are kin!

              • knowbuddhau says:

                Speaking of the power of myth, to jack electorates, earlier today Scott Horton mentioned Monday’s appearance by Jeff Sharlett on The Rachel Maddow Show, discussing the role of everybody’s favorite Christianist cult, The Family, in jacking electorates in Uganda:

                U.S. ties to Ugandan anti-gay bill

                For background on Rick Warren and attempts to jack Ugandans with myths of witches and gays coming to kill civilians in their sleep, Max Blumenthal has been on this for a long time now:

                Excerpted from Rick Warren’s Africa Problem
                By Max Blumenthal

                01/07/09

                Warren, in his effort to dispel criticism, has denied harboring homophobic sentiments. “I could give you a hundred gay friends,” he told MSNBC’s Ann Curry on December 18. “I have always treated them with respect. When they come and want to talk to me, I talk to them.”

                But when Uganda’s Anglican bishops threatened to bolt from the Church of England because of its tolerant stance towards homosexuals, Warren parachuted into Kampala to confer international legitimacy on their protest. “The Church of England is wrong and I support the Church of Uganda on the boycott,” Warren proclaimed in March 2008. Declaring homosexuality an unnatural way of life, Warren flatly stated, “We shall not tolerate this aspect [homosexuality in the church] at all.”

                Days later, Warren emerged so enthusiastic after a meeting with First Lady Museveni, he announced a plan to make Uganda a “Purpose Driven Nation.” “The future of Christianity is not Europe or North America, but Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” he told a cheering throng at Makerere University. Then, Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi rose and predicted, “Someday, we will have a purpose driven continent!”

                Obama, it will be remembered, chose Rick Warren for his inaugural invocation. WTF is up with that?

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          He never had contact with more than a couple of thousand of them, and by the late 1990s, had none of his fortune left.

          Well, from my view in the peanut gallery, one of the few things that I have sussed out beyond any shadow of doubt is that unless and until the nations of the world clean up black money, we’re all going to see a lot more crime, and the blurring of terrorism and criminal activity.

          • eCAHNomics says:

            Good luck with that.

            All these insurmountable problems (terrorism, crime, black money, drugs, etc.) can be damped down to a manageable uproar with attention to detail, hard work, and sensible measures. None of which are in evidence.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            Ironies, indeed…how’s about Rummy announcing there was $2.3 TRILLION $$$ missing-on September 10,2001?

            Think Progress » Rumsfeld honored for ‘public service.’Feb 13, 2008 … Rumsfeld Buries Admission of Missing 2+ Trillion Dollars in 9/10/01 Press Conference … Before becoming the Pentagon’s money-manager, …
            thinkprogress.org/2008/02/13/rumsfeld-honored-for-public-service/ – Cached

      • Ishmael says:

        Another legacy of Reagan’s Afghanistan policy was nuclear proliferation – In exchange for its support for the anti-Soviet mujahedin, Pakistan was able to get waivers of US anti-proliferation penalties and U.S. military assistance. Instead of strongly opposing a Pakistan nuclear program, the Reagan administration was content to rely on assurances from Pakistan’s military dictatorship that they would not enrich uranium to a level suitable for making nuclear weapons. The result was a nuclear Pakistan and AQ Khan’s nuclear exchanges with other countries.

        • fatster says:

          And this doesn’t instill much confidence, does it?

          Pakistani PM takes charge of nuclear weapons

          Link.

          (Apologies if it’s already been linked.)

    • fatster says:

      I always figured OBL was much more valuable to them dead, though unofficially so, of course. Some of those videos that appeared during BushCo were quite strange, particularly the one with the “fat Osama.” Who knows? And will we ever know for sure? They’ve got all the secrets. Thanks to their attempts to thrash the Fourth Amendment, we have none.

  4. Cynthia Kouril says:

    So, if I read it correctly, we had 100 US troops, special Ops, CIA, etc. vs. 1,000 Al Queda and Taliban fighters and the latter presumably knew the terrain much better than we did.

    And we relied on the PAKISTANIS?!?? to bottle up the rear escape route.

    Gee, who could have predicted that would fail.

    Or maybe Rummy wasn’t in a hurry to get Osama, b/c he needed a boogey man to scare us into war with Iraq?

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      This seems to be the consensus, i.e., the U.S. needed an at-large bin Laden in order to stoke the fires of the war machine.

      But will we ever know for sure. We could, but here’s one reason we won’t, in today’s Boston Globe (article by Bryan Bender): Release of secret reports delayed – Spy agencies foil Obama plan for transparency

      WASHINGTON – President Obama will maintain a lid of secrecy on millions of pages of military and intelligence documents that were scheduled to be declassified by the end of the year, according to administration officials.

      The missed deadline spells trouble for the White House’s promises to introduce an era of government openness, say advocates, who believe that releasing historical information enforces a key check on government behavior. They cite as an example the abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War, including domestic spying and assassinations of foreign officials, that were publicly outlined in a set of agency documents known as the “family jewels.’’

  5. ThingsComeUndone says:

    General Michael DeLong] amplified the reasons for not sending American troops after bin Laden. ‘‘The real reason we didn’t go in with U.S. troops was that we hadn’t had the election yet

    We wanted to create a stable country and that was more important than going after bin Laden at the time.’’

    I fail to see any facts backing up General Delong’s assertion that we wanted to create a stable country.

    • Mary says:

      You mean you don’t know about the AUMF to “Go into Afghanistan and create a stable country and only use military force to go after Bin Laden and people who engaged in planning and executing terrorist acts on the US AFTER we stabilize Afghanistan well enough to complete pipelines through it?”

  6. LarryMo says:

    The next time either of the Cheney Twins opens their pie hole, the response needs to simply be “Tora Bora”.

    The failing of BushCo continues to drag down America.

    Did a heckuva job, Rummy. Heckuva job.

  7. i4u2bi says:

    Sorry but it’s just not possible for me to link to the USA story but it says in plain english that Bush/Rumsfeld let BinLaden go. It’s no mystery here Bush and Osama worked as a team.

  8. eCAHNomics says:

    I’ve never understood the Tora Bora decision, and anything that is expressed in this report is a complete non sequitor of contentless talking points. My only hypothesis is the opposite to what they said: they wanted endless war so W could have a long run as a war prez and all the power usurpation that involves.

    • ratfood says:

      Been a long time since I read it and I don’t recall details but Rumsfeld had extensive investments in the defense industry, I think Cheney did as well or at the very least, with the contractors that provide support services.

      While I believe they have to place their investments in some sort of blind trust while in office, there was certainly a conflict of interest. There is no profit in making peace.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Around 05 I was eintroduced to an Army major who had served as a Rumsfeld gofer for awhile. He (the major) insisted that Rumsfeld, on Iraq, was dead set for a 30-day involvement. So I think you can take it as pretty much certain that’s what Rummy was saying. However, his behavior belied his words.

  9. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who helped develop the Obama administration’s Afghan policy, recently referred to the mullah’s return to power ‘‘one of the most remarkable military comebacks in modern history.’’

    Sure keep on excusing Bush’s mistakes nobody could have foreseen one of the most remarkable military comebacks in modern history.

  10. Gitcheegumee says:

    It is said that the Rothschilds have stated thatt there are only three real forms of currency in the world:

    Gold,Oil,and Narcotics.

    Hmm, the Middle East has two out of three-especially Afghanistan with the opium and Iran with the oil.

    • human says:

      Ah yes…god (gold, oil and drugs) and why do so many commenters here continue to repeat the falsely accepted truism that OBL was involved in the event that shall not be named.

      He is innocent of any charge until proven guilty. Even the FBI has explicitly stated that there is not enough hard evidence to indict him, nevermind anything other than bluster from the previous administration.

      • Sara says:

        “He is innocent of any charge until proven guilty. Even the FBI has explicitly stated that there is not enough hard evidence to indict him, nevermind anything other than bluster from the previous administration.”

        In case you forgot, Janet Reno had a Grand Jury in 1998 that returned an indictment on bin Laden. Still stands.

        • human says:

          No…I haven’t forgotten the embassy bombings. What else I remember is that, in addition to that little event in September of ’01 which I poorly intended to reference, is that there remains no conviction.

          • Sara says:

            “Janet Reno? I think you mean Mary Jo White.”

            Mary Jo White (and Fitzgerald) supervised the presentation to the Grand Jury, but it was Reno’s call to make the presentment and ask for the indictments. Then, she kept them secret throughout the Clinton Administration. It was very closely held, and Janet was responsible for the knowledge such an indictment existed.

            I have long asked, Why the Secrecy? My guess is the usual pattern of not doing anything unnecessary to embarass the Saudi’s. But that is just a guess. I suppose having a secret indictment in your back pocket does give you a little more negotiating latitude. The indictment probably came about when Clinton’s people were trying to negotiate with the Sharif Government to form some sort of posse to go into Afghanistan and snatch bin Laden, or when Richard Clarke was drawing up plans with the CIA to use Afghan tribals to snatch bin Laden, and hold him for pick-up. Janet Reno probably insisted on an indictment as a condition for signing off on the legitimacy of the Covert Plans. But when Musharaff made his Coup, he dropped any support for the special posse to capture bin Laden. So Reno was left holding the secret indictment.

  11. Ishmael says:

    Absolutely true that the Kerry report and the Dec 1 speech are political exercises, with Obama facing very poor political and strategic choices. The truth is that rather than “finishing the job” against OSL, or building schools for Afghan girl, or preventing Afghanistan from becoming a base for international terrorism, the US and NATO forces are backing one side in an Afghan civil war. In 2001, the US allied itself with the Tajiks and Uzbeks in order to drive the Taliban, which was predominantly Pashtun, from power in 2001. However, the Taliban never controlled northern Afghanistan from 1996-2001 while they were in power in Kabul. The US-backed “Northern Alliance” victory drove the Taliban/Pashtun from power. Ever since then they have been in revolt – the area where western troops are fighting “the Taliban” and “Al Qaeda” are all the areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan where Pashtuns are in the majority, and nowhere else. In practice, the US and NATO are fighting Pashtun nationalism. Which 80-100,000 troops (or any number) cannot win. This war cannot end in a decisive victory, it must end in a negotiated peace that is acceptable to both sides. But politics, Pakistan, and 8 years of a catastrophically inept Afghan policy will prevent Obama from pursuing such a peace.

      • Ishmael says:

        And in addition to having to clean up Bush and Cheney’s Afghan disaster, Obama has to deal with the legacy of Reagan’s tacit approval of Pakistan’s nuclear program, which is a far graver threat than AQ trainees on monkey bars in the middle of the Afghan desert. Which followed India’s “peaceful” nuclear device made with Canadian nuclear technology – there are many hands in the current disaster.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Yep.
        His comments on this thread alone definitely ‘cut to the chase’ and distill some key issues going back before Dubya.

        And then add on today’s reports of the Pakistani nuclear controls passing officially to the military (I left a link on bottom of previous thread).

        Mamma mia!

      • Larue says:

        You add that comment at #19 with Cheney and Rummy and others heavily invested into military based and oil/gas based developments and it tells the complete story.

        Ishmael, truly a simple, concise and full explanation of the reality at hand and how we came to it.

        1) Greed.
        2) Stupidity.

        Just like before, and before then, and again and again . . . . war for profits, stupidity to make things worse.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      In practice, the US and NATO are fighting Pashtun nationalism. Which 80-100,000 troops (or any number) cannot win.

      Well, I shudder to think what will happen.
      But within the past year or so, the Guardian did a multimedia video where they showed a US patrol group out in a village in Afghanistan.

      The Guardian reporter actually speaks the local language (not sure that it was Pashtun, but whatever it was, he seemed fairly fluent in it — and he’s a Scotsman, IIRC). So after footage showing the Afghan interpreter’s commentary in subtitles, the Guardian reporter showed how many mistranslations occurred.

      The Afghan translator had not correctly translated what the American intended to say to the local Afghans.
      Then, he also mistranslated what the Afghans actually told the Americans.

      At which point, I thought: either the US needs to teach these Afghan languages, OR ELSE, we need to get out.

      (I wonder what Rory Stewart, who speaks multiple languages of that region, makes of it all.)

      • EdwardTeller says:

        I agree, and emptywheel’s look at the Kerry report is eye-opening. All this is indeed – politics.

        Is there any credible evidence whatsoever that OBL is alive or has been since years ago? If I hear one high-level Democrat state that OBL is alive this coming week, I’m going to puke.

        • Petrocelli says:

          How are you, ET ?

          Keep the sick bag at the ready … I think that a few Dems/spokespersons will run with that line …

          • EdwardTeller says:

            & petrocelli,

            I’m not concerned with who “thinks” OBL is alive.

            I’m just wondering if there has been any credible evidence he survived past early 2002. Not necessarily a picture of him holding that day’s Kabul Gazette or Houston Chronicle, but anything unassailable that clinches his mug to a date post-Tora Bora.

            • eCAHNomics says:

              I was just advancing his wife & son as potentially credible witnesses. They are no longer living with him, but must have some contact.

            • ratfood says:

              Some of the recordings purportedly confirmed to be in his voice referenced events post 2002.

              I think the reliability of voice prints might be a tad overstated, particularly when taken from inferior recordings but I can’t rule out the possibility.

            • Petrocelli says:

              Oh I know … Politicians have problems coming with original thoughts, so I feel they will use the “Kill Bill OBL” meme to galvanize public support in America.

    • bobschacht says:

      This is why Obama must not identify the Taliban as the “enemy,” but should instead focus on Al Qaeda as the enemy (despite our past support for them).

      Bob in AZ

  12. masaccio says:

    I found the following ironical:

    After bin Laden’s escape, some military and intelligence analysts and the press criticized the Pentagon’s failure to mount a full-scale attack despite the tough rhetoric by President Bush. Franks, Vice President Dick Cheney and others defended the decision, arguing that the intelligence was inconclusive about the Al Qaeda leader’s location. But the review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants underlying this report removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora.

  13. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    All these ironies, delivered just in time to play into the debate that will intensify next week.

    And it relies on ‘a few interviews’.

    Nevertheless, I’ve sometimes wondered what the military guys who were told to ‘hold off’ on capturing Bin Ladin must feel about all this, because how could you stand to work for a President who: (1) said we were going to ‘get’ Bin Ladin, and then (2) told you to cool your heels so that you couldn’t go after that fiend?

    But then, reading this:

    ‘‘We didn’t want to have U.S. forces fighting before Karzai was in power. We wanted to create a stable country and that was more important than going after bin Laden at the time.’’

    Just makes me think, “hmmmm… if I were an oil corporation, I’d want contracts. To get contracts, I’d need a ‘stable government’. To get a stable government, I’d need [put name of political person here].”

    So… ‘stable government’ was going to happen in a couple months?
    Really?!

    So the Special Ops who were told to get Bin Laden were then told to sit on their hands?!!
    Now THAT really makes me deeply indignant.

    Whatever Pres. Obama does, or does not do, I’d hope for the following: if he tells people to go do their jobs, I hope that he actually lets them DO their jobs.
    Instead of pulling some BushCheney bullshit aimed more for P.R. than for actual outcomes.

    Whether I disagree with Obama, or not, is beside the point.
    If you place troops in a position to do a job, then you let them DO their jobs.

    BUT if you give military troops ‘mixed messages’, and then jerk them around – a la BushCheney – you should be utterly despised, ignored, ridiculed, mocked, and otherwise absolutely exposed as dangerously cynical frauds.

        • eCAHNomics says:

          Here’s wiki on that subject

          There’s been much debate over Karzai’s alleged consultant work with Unocal (Union Oil Company of California since acquired by Chevron in 2005). In 2002 when Karzai became the subject of heavy media coverage as one of the front runners to lead Afghanistan, it was reported that he was a former consultant for them.[56][57][58] Spokesmen for both Unocal and Karzai have denied any such relationship, although Unocal could not speak for all companies involved in the consortium.[59] The original claim that Karzai worked for Unocal originates from a December 6, 2001 issue of the French newspaper Le Monde,[59] Barry Lane UNOCAL’s manager for public relations states that, “He was never a consultant, never an employee. We’ve exhaustively searched through all our records.”[60][61] Lane however did say that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, was a Unocal consultant in the mid-1990s.[62]

          In any event, my point was just that in 12/01 there was no way of knowing that the U.S. could pull off having puppet Karzai installed, and I’m not sure if W et al had given much thought to it yet. They were functioning in panic mode after 9/11. All I’m trying to argue is that it’s ridiculous to aver that the U.S. didn’t attempt to get OBL in Tora Bora in 12/01 because they were waiting on formation of an Afghan govt.

          Oops. The last paragraph is mine, and should not be inside the quote.

          • mattcarmody says:

            Do you really think they were in panic mode? Seems to me the planning for the invasion of iraq proceeded apace and the actors who could influence events were determined and on point about where they wanted to go and what they wanted to accomplish.

            An administration that can produce something as odious as the USA PATRIOT Act in such a short period of time along with bailouts for struggling airline companies and immunities for pharmaceutical companies intent on profiting from the anthrax attacks is far from operating in panic mode.

            • eCAHNomics says:

              Planning for a U.S. invasion of a hapless country is quite different from reacting to 9/11. I just remember the look on W’s face, plus news reports that they were all panicked.

      • bobschacht says:

        Not so.
        Tora Bora: December 2001.

        Hamid Karzai:

        He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban government in late 2001. During the Bonn Conference in Germany, on December 5, 2001, Karzai was selected by prominent Afghan political figures to serve a six months term as Chairman of the Transitional Administration.

        Bob in AZ

      • Nell says:

        I think Karzai wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of anyone at the time of Tora Bora.

        No, he was in full view. He accompanied/led a group of U.S. special forces fighters in Afg in October (surviving but injured in friendly fire incident). Tora Bora battle was early December to mid-December. At donor/political conference in Bonn on 22 December Karzai was elected leader of the political transition, well positioned for the loya jirga several months later that elected him president.

        He was our guy from early on.

  14. fuckno says:

    Catching Bin Laden would have made the case for GWOT and further troop presence in Afghanistan a bit harder of a sale. But they would have sold it, no matter what and how. Maybe sending eye balls to Senators via UPS as a reminder of Mullah Omar inhumanity, would have done the trick.

  15. eCAHNomics says:

    From Juan Cole:

    Meanwhile, the ethnic mix of Afghanistan’s National Army is less than ideal for the purposes of national reconciliation. Gareth Porter writes:

    ‘ The latest report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, issued Oct. 30, shows that Tajiks, which represent 25 percent of the population, now account for 41 percent of all ANA troops who have been trained, and that only 30 percent of the ANA trainees are now Pashtuns.’

    • Hugh says:

      I wrote yesterday in Jacob Freeze’s diary:

      http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/16537/

      that essentially all the terms we use to describe the war in Afghanistan are wrong. We talk about the assemblage of opportunists, puppets, warlords, and drug traffickers as the Afghan government as if this somehow conferred on it an institutional solidity and legitimacy it obviously otherwise would not enjoy. And we talk about the Afghan army totally ignoring the problems of its ethnic makeup or its general lack of effectiveness.

      And as I said both there and here, none of this gets to the core point that we have no policy consideration to remain in Afghanistan.

      As for this Kerry report, I have no idea why he is coming out with something that was blazingly obvious shortly after it happened. But if you want irony, it is including a neocon like O’Hanlon in it.

  16. Frank33 says:

    I will cite Daily Kos. Sibel Edmonds said that Bin Laden and the Taliban worked for the United States until 9-11. They were needed by neo-cons because they were seeking many wars especially the “long wars”. There was a plan for Irak but it was not for 30 days. It was a plan to deconstruct Iraq then steal the Oil.

    Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds dropped a bombshell on the Mike Malloy radio show, guest-hosted by Brad Friedman (audio, partial transcript).

    In the interview, Sibel says that the US maintained ‘intimate relations’ with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, “all the way until that day of September 11.”

    These ‘intimate relations’ included using Bin Laden for ‘operations’ in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China. These ‘operations’ involved using al Qaeda and the Taliban in the same manner “as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict,” that is, fighting ‘enemies’ via proxies…

    As Sibel has previously described, and as she reiterates in this latest interview, this process involved using Turkey (with assistance from ‘actors from Pakistan, and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia’) as a proxy, which in turn used Bin Laden and the Taliban and others as a proxy terrorist army.

    Control of Central Asia
    The goals of the American ‘statesmen’ directing these activities included control of Central Asia’s vast energy supplies and new markets for military products.

      • Frank33 says:

        That would be Paul Wolfowitz whose bloody hands are all over this mass murder. Wolfie’s mistress Shaha Raza, worked for SAIC. SAIC created the Iraki government and promoted the myth of Saddam’s nukes. An SAIC vice president Christopher “Ryan” Henry became Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He worked for Doug Feith. Henry’s wife was Rumsfeld secretary and wrote his “snowflakes”.

        These people will continue their murder and treason.

        • Twain says:

          The connections among these people looks like a pile of spaghetti which we may never untangle. It’s very scary that they were able to work this out and have each one doing their own bit for the “cause.”

          • ratfood says:

            Emptywheel and others have done an excellent job of connecting the dots. There will likely never be any interest by our elected officials in holding the perps accountable but I think a pretty clear picture exists (for those willing to look) of who the guilty parties are.

            • Twain says:

              We know the “big” ones but all this ‘someone’s mistress and this one was married to the head of the something-or-other’ makes the thing like a snake ball. A lot of them are buried way deep and what is most scary is that they may stay in their positions.

              • ratfood says:

                Not like Obama has made an effort to root out embedded Bushies… it wouldn’t be bipartisan.

                Anyone he appointed as a replacement probably wouldn’t get confirmed by the Senate before he leaves office anyway.

              • Frank33 says:

                I should add that Marc Grossman shows up anywhere neo-cons are committing war crimes. Grossman even told Scooter Libby that Valerie Plame was a spy. Sibel Edmonds says Grossman told the Turkish government and Q Khan the same thing-in 2001. Then there is the smuggling nukes to Al Qaeda thing…

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Irrespective of whether I do, or don’t, agree with the information that you’ve posted, given your comment it might be a good moment to re-check Liz Cheney’s Wikipedia page.

          In 2002, [Liz] Cheney was appointed to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
          …The appointment followed publicized policy divisions between the Vice President’s office and the State Department on Middle East policy. In that position, she was given control of the Middle East Partnership Initiative, designed to “foster increased democracy and economic progress in a troubled region.” The program spent $29 million in 2002, increased to $129 million in the following year. Cheney’s task was to channel money to pre-screened groups, some of which were not identified publicly for fear of retaliations from extant governments they sought to undermine. For the budget year 2004, the project sought $145 million. [8][9]

          Wolfie’s main squeeze worked for Liz Cheney.
          (And as Barton Gelllman has told us all, Liz Cheney was one of 3 people to assist her father in his efforts to locate a VP candidate, when he magically produced his very own resume, after collecting info on all other candidates so he could screw them.)

          Also, don’t take Wikipedia for ‘truth’.
          It’s quite likely to contain inaccurate info, but nevertheless, this info is consistent with other sources.

          • Frank33 says:

            Obviously Sibel Edmonds is under a “State Secrets” gag, which is so very neo-con and so very un-american. So Sibel’s claikms have not been confirmed.

            But Liz Cheney was part of “Iraqi Governance”. Liz also chose the Americans who would deconstruct Iraq. Liz helped write the Iraq Consitution.

            The Cheney’s certainly form the core of the neo-cons.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Personally, I have absolutely no clue about the ‘meaning’ of Sibel Edwards.
              Her claims make sense, but for all I know they’re clever disinformation.
              I have no clue how many of her claims are true; to me, the only thing to do is keep collecting many, many, many data points.
              Indeed, people say a lot of things, but in the end the business and commodity prices are the things that I most rely upon. (When I can keep up with them.)

              This much, I definitely agree with you on:

              The Cheney’s certainly form the core of the neo-cons.

              • iremember54 says:

                Ok! But Rummy, Cheney, and Bush weren’t there in Korea, Vietam, and in charge in in all the other wars.

                So how do You equate that.

                Our Military did the planing and set up for all those wars, deployed the troops on their plans, and failed in their objectives.

                The civilian control you want to blame were elected and re-elected by the people, and not held in any way to account for their mistakes.

                The military has been praised for sending our guys into the machine guns of the enemy needlessly, and using our troops as an expendable commodity to achieve a goal. The cost was hardly considered if they defeated the enemy. No one questioned if there had been a better way, or if many of those lives were needlessly waisted to do some Generals bidding. In these two most recent wars their was no real enemy until we made them, so those who died, did their dying for a useless cause, waisted effort, and to make the commanders look good. The Generals get medals while the dead troops get buried, and we praise the Military for how great they are.

                Their sworn duty is to protect and defend the United States of America, it is what they are paid for, and a job they have never done. They always have been used to protect others, fight for political reasons, and to suck the wealth of this Nation to promote and maintain our military.

                So our military is a lie in it’s whole make up and use. Those who defend it are just as guilty as those in it. We have become a Nation of militaristic war mongers who think our military can police the world, and is the greatest possession we have, when it is our largest liability.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Actually, that was Cheney.
        And it was Rummy who said they’d be strewing flowers at the feet of US soldiers in Baghdad, which was a tipoff that Rummy had mixed up the present with history of the Germans in their invasion of Eastern Europe in the late 1930s. Someone should have had a clue at that bit of delusion + naivete.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          You can buy a helluva lot of flowers for $2.3 trillion -the amount of $$ Rummy announced -on September 10-2001-that was missing from the Pentagon.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Or oil futures through AIG-FP.
            Or hog futures, completely out of regulatory oversight.
            Or munitions, drugs, planes, and heaven only shudders to think what else.

            • Gitcheegumee says:

              Ive been researching the Saudis and the BAE scandal.

              Definitely interesting when discussing missing money and off the books oil contracts.(Talk about dark liquidity.)

              The deal was entitled Al Yamamah(Arabic for dove).

              WHOA!

              The greatest story NEVER told….arms for oil involving Brits and US from Thatcher on down….

              Jeff Steinberg did an exceptional piece on this ,but Googling will return MANY links to choose from.

              ——————————————————————————–

              Will BAE Scandal of Century Bring Down Cheney?
              Posted: 2007/06/24
              From: Mathaba
              None of the British media have touched upon the full magnitude of this story by Jeffrey Steinberg

  17. tanbark says:

    Good to see you on THIS, Marcie. It’s the one that, along with Iraq, is a good bet to wreck us, and resuscitate the republicans. Or, at least increase the pace with which they’re crawling out from under the bridge.

    Obama’s choice of McChrystal was a major brainfart. There isn’t going to be a happy ending to this for us, and Obama knows that. The sooner he publicly cops to it, the fewer troops and gigabucks we’ll be pissing away trying to sustain Bush’s lunacy so that we can come in for a non-existent soft landing.

  18. tanbark says:

    [email protected]:

    “There will never be any interest by our elected officials in holding the perps accountable.”

    Prolly so. OTOH, I’m pretty sure that the interest by the voters in holding the PERPETUATORS of the twin lunacies (That would be Obama and the dems…) accountable, will be made manifest, starting with the mid-terms.

  19. tanbark says:

    [email protected]: Not to worry; with every month that passes, as this particular clusterfuck becomes more and more, their property, the democrats, as they try to sustain Bush’s adventures-in-nationbuilding, will be less and less likely to be discussing the health of Bin Laden.

  20. EdwardTeller says:

    They are no longer living with him, but must have some contact.

    That statement does not constitute proof of his existence.

    Some of the recordings purportedly confirmed to be in his voice referenced events post 2002

    Uh, we live in a pretty strange digital world.

    I’ve listened to almost all the purported tapes of OBL, looked at the easily debunked post-Tora Bora pics and read his “statements.”

    None of this stuff would be considered forensic-level proof that the guy is indeed alive.

    • ratfood says:

      I think he starred in a Broadway musical but it had a very short run (darn those critics!) so you might not find that credible either… “g”

      • EdwardTeller says:

        I think he starred in a Broadway musical

        Man from la Tora Bora?

        Dialisiser in the Cave?

        Le Miserable of the Hindsu Kush?

        Some say that if you’re not on twitter you don’t really exist.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      They are no longer living with him, but must have some contact.

      That statement does not constitute proof of his existence…

      Uh, we live in a pretty strange digital world.

      I dunno about forensics, because I don’t do them. But I’ve done enough digital imaging and video to know that you can make a pig look like Marilyn Monroe.

      Your point is extremely well-taken.

  21. tanbark says:

    It’s worth noting that David Dayen’s thread about the dems likely suffering a “crushing defeat” in 2010 is one thread down. I think he’s right, at this point, and if Obama continues in his rather successful effort to try to illustrate what George Bush’s 3rd term might been like, I think the GOP will be in a position to politically hamstring he and the democrats for the rest of his first and likely, only, term.

    The short of it: Obama and the dems aren’t so politically vulnerable because they got too far from Bush’s policies; they’re vulnerable because they’ve stayed too close.

    • EdwardTeller says:

      The short of it: Obama and the dems aren’t so politically vulnerable because they got too far from Bush’s policies; they’re vulnerable because they’ve stayed too close.

      the short of it, IMHO – fire Rahm and hire Howard Dean to replace him. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it just might work.

      • PJEvans says:

        Rahm as chief of staff – okay, but don’t let him near policy-making under any circumstances. He’s demonstrated a serious lack of competence there.

        Dean would do better in a policy position, getting things pointed in the right direction; I don’t want him as CoS, he’d be wasted at that level.

  22. iremember54 says:

    GEE! The American people become more of idiots by the day. We didn’t go into Afghanisten to make it into a great Country in our eye’s, we went there expressly to get the guys that caused nine eleven.

    Bin Laden was the guy, even the Taliban were not our objective.

    Our Military failed us again like it has in almost everything it touched since WII.

    Here we are years into a useless war, fighting an enemy we made, and not seeing any end to it, or a good result.

    The Country should be up in arms over the failure of our Military and Our Government, but instead we are debating how to continue making more mistakes.

    The Country continues on all the policies that will lead to our decline and eventual fall from the great nation status, becuse of our stupidity and political infighting.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Bin Laden was the guy, even the Taliban were not our objective.

      Our Military failed us again like it has in almost everything it touched since WII.

      Here we are years into a useless war, fighting an enemy we made, and not seeing any end to it, or a good result.

      The Country should be up in arms over the failure of our Military and Our Government, but instead we are debating how to continue making more mistakes.

      With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely (and not as snark), why on earth you would blame ‘the military’ for this disaster — rather than the policymakers who sent them there and who DELIBERATELY selected ‘yes men’ (like Tommy Frank) and fired the asses of people who stood up to them (like Shinseki) is a complete mystery to me.

      I recognize this situation is frustrating.

      We all know people.
      And we all know ‘people who know people’.
      Some of the people that I happen to be acquainted with have family or friends fighting, or dead, in these wars.

      One of them is the mother of four children.

      Please, when you want to rag on the military, take a deep breath and t-h-i-n-k before you blame US military members for the profligacy of George W Bush, his inept NSA Director Chevron Condalezza Rice, his venal Vice President (who basically appears to have overseen the construction of an ‘inside op’ within DoD, operating under Wolfowitz’s supervision).

      For God’s sake, please have some decency.

      • iremember54 says:

        Wake up and smell the roses, instead of those tea leaves. Our Military has failed in almost anything it has gotten into, and just because the civians give them the job doesn’t make up for their failure.

        Those that died were because of the Militaries failure, and making them the innocents to feel better about those deaths is foolish.

        Tommy Franks may have been a yes man, but He is only one of a Military full of Yes Men. A Military that is so intent on keeping itself viable that it doesn’t care about right or wrong or about soliers dying, just the mission and making themselves look good.

        I have the upmost respect for any loses, but there will only be many more by pretending our military, is not at fault, and it is the fault of civilians who we did not hold accountable.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I often find your comments insightful, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

          Nevertheless, read Sarah’s comment @114, and I think there’s a powerful case that Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush were venal. I don’t blame members of the military for that fact.

          Agree that people need to be made accountable. Starting with Cheney, please.

  23. Oval12345678akaJamesKSayre says:

    Osama bin Laden (OBL) passed away of natural causes in December 2001. His body is buried in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. See http://www.whatreallyhappened.com for more details. All of the audio and video OBL tapes that have surfaced since then were Made in USA. Belief in OBL being alive in Afghanistan or Pakistan is like belief in God being alive in the Heavens (the cold vacuum of outer space). Of course, everyone has their very own favorite fairy tales. President Pipeline Obama believes that he will get the pipeline-job done in Afghanistan… More Imperial America stupidity and arrogance.

    • bmaz says:

      Ah jeebus, just stop it with that conspiracy crap. Please. And no, I am not kidding. It is really tiresome having intelligent threads constantly consumed with absolute horsemanure.

  24. Gitcheegumee says:

    91

    Wouldn’t there be a will providing for his wife(s) and children?

    Or does Islamic law not require one be produced to obtain any inheritance?

  25. atillathebun says:

    We are on the wrong course, heading off to Reno when we should be on our way to Paris. We will never get bin laden and we will never “win” these wars. Never. They have only succeeded in becoming the money pit. Things may change in another 5 or 10 years. But that is what it will take, thousands more dead and wounded and billions more spent. The band plays on.

  26. fatster says:

    And then there’s this:

    Release of secret reports delayed

    “President Obama will maintain a lid of secrecy on millions of pages of military and intelligence documents that were scheduled to be declassified by the end of the year, according to administration officials.”

  27. Sara says:

    As EW pointed out, there is really little new in this report, but it does put all in one place much of the evidence long in print.

    I would particularly point to the 2005 book, by Gary Berntsen, “Jawbreaker” as a critical source. Berntsen was the CIA commander at Tora Bora — commanding his CIA personnel and the Special Forces assigned to him when it went into Afghanistan in late September, 2001 to work with the Northern Alliance on the ground.

    Berntsen points to the odd arrangement that existed at Tora Bora — CIA in command of the only US forces on site, and makes the case that Rummy was responsible for the decision not to send more troops in, largely because the DoD people were not in the catbird seat in that operation. This problem ran very deep. In the days after 9/11, Bush called a meeting at Camp David, and at that time the CIA was the only agency to come to the table with a real plan. What they had was the old Richard Clarke and CIA plan to support the Northern Alliance in the field, and Tenet adopted it, and offered it up at the meeting. Rumsfeld and Cheney still were talking about invading Iraq as there were no good bombing targets in Afghanistan, and Bush rejected that, accepted Tenet’s plan, and told him to execute. This cut Rumsfeld out of the initial action in Afghanistan.

    In later October and November, DoD did move Marines and a few more Army Rangers into Southern Afghanistan under DoD command, and supported Karzi’s forces in taking Kandahar. DoD also but two Battalions of the 10th Mountain Division up in the Stans, and they had everything necessary for insertion along the AfPac border. That was the state of things when Osama bin Laden was cornered in Tora Bora. Rumsfeld did not expect CIA’s Berntsen to successfully trap OBL and about a thousand al Quada, but they did — and the decision not to send forces in to block the border was Rummy and Cheney’s call.

    We need to look at another series of events to comprehend this. Bush asked Musharaff to send the Pakistani Army to reinforce the Frontier Corps on the Border, and initially Musharaff agreed to this. But then suddenly everything changed, one of the covert groups over which ISI had control, shot up the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, and both India and Pakistan prepared for war along their border regions. Pakistan withdrew all its Army forces four days before bin Laden and a company of his Arab fighters walked out of Afghanistan into Pakistan. I think it perfectly logical to consider the proposition that ISI directed the shoot up in New Delhi because it wanted to salvage bin Laden and his Arab fighters, and removing the Pak Army from its blocking position was necessary to this end.

    I also believe we have to consider something we know nothing about here, but how was Saudi Arabia calling all this at this time? We just don’t know. We do know that in 2001-02, the Saudi’s were not all that cooperative vis a vis al Quada, the Saudi 9/11 players, and bin Laden — they got much more serious after the bombings in Saudi Arabia by al Quada in 2003. But I can see all sorts of reasons why the Saudi’s at this point in time, were not all that interested in the US capturing bin Laden or any of his leading associates. ISI and the Saudi’s are very close, however, and one must calculate their involvement.

    So — two elements of the story not mentioned yet in commentary, the turf battle between Rummy and CIA vis a vis command of ground operations in Afghanistan which Berntsen believes was the reason why Tenth Mountain, the Marines, and the Army Rangers were not sent into the border region, and second element, the “real” positions of ISI and the Saudi’s on the developing military evolution in Afghanistan when Tora Bora occurred. I see the shoot up of the Indian Parliament as a nice distraction to a straight forward military operation where the Pak Army would have blocked the border.

    It should also be remembered that it was in the middle of this Tora Bora battle that General Franks was called in to receive orders to produce a plan to invade Iraq. I think that was Thanksgiving Weekend, 2001. Those orders would probably support keeping the 10th Mountain and its assets nice and safe up in the Stans.

    • Leen says:

      “But I can see all sorts of reasons why the Saudi’s at this point in time, were not all that interested in the US capturing bin Laden or any of his leading associates. ISI and the Saudi’s are very close, however, and one must calculate their involvement.”

      So not just Cheney and Rumsfeld who were not so focused on catching OBL.

      So if OBL had been caught at that point less reasons to bring in the forces to stir it all up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      What a fucking deadly and twisted game

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Leen, do you have any recollection of Bill Clinton passing on a chance to capture Bin Laden?

        For some reason I seem to think there was a missed opportunity.

        BTW, thanks for sharing your friend’s message.

        • PJEvans says:

          I think it was late in his administration, and was the incident that provoked the whole ‘wag the dog’ crap.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          He did not ‘pass’, to my recollection.
          Richard Clarke has spoken of Clinton’s willingness to go after Osama bin Laden, specifically as a contrast with GW Bush’s behavior.

          I clearly recall the fact that Clinton sent rockets off intended to kill bin Laden, because I’d been to the movie “Wag the Dog” that night.
          If you will recall, Clinton was being harrassed for the Lewinski thing (I was ignoring it, but friends talked about it after the movie).

          “Wag the Dog” was a movie about a president who is guilty of groping a ‘Girl Guide’, and uses a smoke-and-mirrors war, produced by a Hollywood producer (played ingeniously by Dustin Hoffman) to distract public attention from a sexual harrassment charge.

          That evening, after the movie, my friends brought me up to date on how ‘life imitates art’; none of us had heard of bin Laden IIRC. But after seeing the movie, we viewed Clinton’s actions with deep cynicism.

          In the ensuing years, it appears that Clinton looked ‘guilty’; however, he was certainly not wagging the dog. The movie happened to come out at a time when someone(s) had set Clinton up in a trap, and were coming in for the public relations kill in order to weaken his authority and his influence.
          It worked.
          In the years since then, it’s become clear that Clinton acted prudently to try and ‘take out’ bin Laden. The weapons did not reach their target.

          BushCheney were first-rate dog-waggers.
          And we all see the result today.

        • Mary says:

          It’s been reported that there was a time in Clinton’s admin (can’t remember the exact date but if you google key words you’ll find this I’m pretty sure) when the CIA had very good intell and satellite pics etc. re: Bin Laden’s location and wanted to bomb it, but there was one or more Saudi princes visiting him at the time (maybe doing falconing or some kind of bird of prey hunting?) and Tenet or someone else called off the strike bc of worry about the fallout on a range of issues – from the Saudi princes to the assassination issues.

          • Sara says:

            “It’s been reported that there was a time in Clinton’s admin (can’t remember the exact date but if you google key words you’ll find this I’m pretty sure) when the CIA had very good intell and satellite pics etc. re: Bin Laden’s location and wanted to bomb it, but there was one or more Saudi princes visiting him at the time (maybe doing falconing or some kind of bird of prey hunting?) and Tenet or someone else called off the strike bc of worry about the fallout on a range of issues – from the Saudi princes to the assassination issues.”

            There are many reports of this, including in the 9/11 Commission Report. It was not Saudi’s however, it was a princly Buzzard hunting party from the UAE, and bin Laden was clearly there, in a tent of his own, and the CIA Tribals had him in their sights.

            Problem was the UAE was in the last stages of negotiations to buy a pile of US Warplanes from Boeing I think, and objection was made in the Clinton WH to an attack on bin Laden, in fear that if the tribals messed up, and shot some of the princely types, the order for the stack of fighter planes might disappear. So what happened is CIA notified the UAE that they had noted the hunting party, and next time the satallite flew over, the Arabs had folded their tents and flown away.

            I believe the UAE prince who had organized the Buzzard Hunt with bin Landen as honored guest, was the same prince who told KSM to get out of the country quick when the FBI showed up in mass in Quetar in 1999 to execute the warrant for his arrest and removal to NYC and its famous court. He was, I believe, the Prince responsible for the religious establishment. At the time, KSM was working in a minor job in the Water Ministry, hiding out after his role in Bojinka became public during Ramzi Yousef’s trial.

            so the upshot, Clinton was handcuffed in taking out bin Laden while he was hunting Buzzards with the Princes, by a contract with Boeing for Fighter Planes. So he settled for disrupting the hunt instead of hunting bin Laden.

            But it was 1999, Clinton was still under the cloud of his impeachment mess, Kosovo was erupting and NATO was in line to deal with it. “Wag the Dog” still prevailed as the way all too many of us, and congresspersons, understood al-Quada. Truth is more a picture of Clinton handcuffed by the needs of the Military-industrial commercial establishment, unable to put the evidence for what al-Quada was all about clearly before the people and congress — all to the tune of the Right Wing Noise Machine singing tunes about Monica and Dog Wagging.

            • Mary says:

              That’s the incident. It may not be what Githchee was thinking of, but it’s the one I’ve seen most often used when someone makes the “Clinton could have …” argument.

  28. Leen says:

    Ambassador Eikenberry, Andrew Bacevich, and others all seem to be on similar pages. Engage the more moderate Taliban Get more humanitarian aid to the people, reduce the troop numbers.

    If you did not hear this discussion at blogging heads between Bill “bloody” Kristol and Andrew Bacevich about Afghanistan, Iran etc worth it

    http://crooksandliars.com/jason-sigger/debating-freedom-agenda

    In which Andrew Bacevich schools David Frum on strategic defense policy issues. David Frum asks Dr. Bacevich how he would advise Obama (just around 11 minutes in):

    What I would say is, Mr. President, you need to stop having meetings about Afghanistan. You need to start having meetings in which your national security team will help you identify what are the core principles that are informing US strategy that will deal with the problem of jihadism. And Mr. President, if you indeed give into this impulse to obsess about Afghanistan, … then your administration will continue to have no strategy. You’ll have a “Long War,” so-called, he certainly going to run for re-election based on his record in Afghanistan, assuming that he does some variant of the options that are on the table, but he won’t have a strategy. And I think that that’s a tragedy, for the United States of America, at this stage of the game, to not have a strategy.

    From his lips to Obama’s ears. Highly recommended, if not only to watch Bacevich calmly and confidently destroy Frum, as Frum wriggles uncomfortably in his seat.

  29. Leen says:

    I had the privilege of getting to know a wonderful young man (age of my oldest daughter) who was studying at Ohio University on a Fulbright Scholarship several years back. He is now back in Afghanistan and I have asked him if I can share some of his views. His new position is quite substantive, as well as the views of his father who is a retired Brigadier General in AFghanistan. Their views are very similar to Ambassador Eikenberry and Bacevichs. When Haroon was studying in Athens I was able to ask questions of his father who had fought against the Russians with the Mujahadeen. His father kept asking in 2004/2005..”do the Americans want to lose Afghanistan” “why have they allowed the Taliban to regain control?

    Both Haroon and his father have been saying for quite some time that the only way to deal with the Taliban is to engage the more moderate Taliban. Have also heard that the alleged involvement of U.S. forces or CIA in the “Convoy of Death” really cemented the anger and willingness to fight occupying forces…especially since there has not been any accountability for this horrendous slaughter of surrendered Taliban that took place in the fall of 2001

    Here is a segment of Haroons latest e-mail from Afghanistan.((permission to share)

    ‘The future administrative reform, and clear policy of the government for peace and security will be our last chance. If we utilize this opportunity, not only the Afghan but also the world will see effective progress to harness the current insurgence in Afghanistan and in the region. The rule of the US will be very important through putting pressures on the Afghan government to bring about all the positive changes in all sector.”

    Haroon “Increasing the troops will not solve the problem. Working on our own security forces and peace talk with Taliban and Gulbudeen Hikmatyar and to gain the trust and confident of the ordinary people and villagers through the development process is the best option to tackle the current security problems.”
    .

    Haroons position
    Haroon Rashid Sherzad
    Director, Strategic Communications and Relations
    Ministry of Counter Narcotics
    Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

  30. fatster says:

    Let’s hope the 9th Circuit upholds our Bill of Rights!

    Following Bush-era argument, Obama attorneys push to weaken search protections

    “Even though a Bush-era request to conduct blanket searches of computer files was rebuked by judges, the Obama administration is now pushing to have the decision reversed, according to court documents filed the week of Thanksgiving.

    “U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, an Obama appointee, and twenty other government attorneys submitted a brief to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, making a very extraordinary request.”

    Link.

  31. skdadl says:

    For Sara @ 123:

    I don’t mean to be difficult, but this looks like a Nov 1998 press release to me.

    Googling around a little, I found a paragraph in an NYT story about White’s retirement that may explain the confusion:

    And in June 1998, after two years of investigation, her office secretly secured the indictment of Mr. bin Laden for terrorism conspiracy, two months before the bombing of the American embassies in Africa, in which he was also later indicted.

    So there was more than one indictment in 1998, and the later indictment in November for the embassy bombings was public. I pursue this only because I know I knew about it (vaguely) at the time, and I’m no kind of insider.

  32. WTFOver says:

    Release of secret reports delayed
    Spy agencies foil Obama plan for transparency

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/11/29/declassification_of_secret_documents_to_be_delayed/

    President Obama will maintain a lid of secrecy on millions of pages of military and intelligence documents that were scheduled to be declassified by the end of the year, according to administration officials.

    The missed deadline spells trouble for the White House’s promises to introduce an era of government openness, say advocates, who believe that releasing historical information enforces a key check on government behavior. They cite as an example the abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War, including domestic spying and assassinations of foreign officials, that were publicly outlined in a set of agency documents known as the “family jewels.’’

    The documents in question – all more than 25 years old – were scheduled to be declassified on Dec. 31 under an order originally signed by President Bill Clinton and amended by President George W. Bush.

    But now Obama finds himself in the awkward position of extending the secrecy, despite his repeated pledges of greater transparency, because his administration has been unable to prod spy agencies into conformance.

    Some of the agencies have thrown up roadblocks to disclosure, engaged in turf battles over how documents should be evaluated, and have reviewed only a fraction of the material to determine whether releasing them would jeopardize national security.

  33. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Time to review the actual post. EW began:

    Understand that–for better or worse–the new report released by John Kerry on how Osama bin Laden escaped at Tora Bora is a designed to be a political document.

    It’s a reasonable guess that readers at EW’s view it in those terms, but some may still read it.

    Rather, that the timing and format of the report seems designed to emphasize the irony, noted above, and other little ironies such as the way our desire to get the corrupt Hamid Karzai installed as leader of Afghanistan affected our willingness to commit troops at Tora Bora.

    IMVHO, this is actually new info that needs to come from a Senate source, backed up by evidence.
    It also needed to be collected into a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ because every American needs to understand that this is what **actually** happened. As opposed to, for instance, Commander Codpiece strutting in a flight suit beneath a “Mission Accomplished” sign in the lovely hues of pre-sunset off the coast of CA.

    And the conclusion (less well supported by the facts presented in the report) that the same unwillingness to commit troops to Afghanistan in 2001 led to Mullah Omar’s escape.

    Well, it should be supported by the facts.
    But if this is what happened, then Fox News and every other media outlet should be conveying it. Failure to do so raises questions about the quality and purpose of US media conglomerates.

    All these ironies, delivered just in time to play into the debate that will intensify next week.

    The timing is quite obvious to all of us.

    This is my last comment on this thread.

    The conversation about the nature, effectiveness, and uses of the US military are beyond what I think this post was intended to address. It’s an important issue.

    Arguably, the NSA and the DoD are actually the second and third branches of US government.
    Followed by Congress.

    But that discussion is for some other thread, some other time.

    • PJEvans says:

      And it’s missing the entire historical background of the various invasions of Afghanistan (or its predecessors), going back to Alexander the Great. He couldn’t beat the natives either, and they did exactly the same stuff that they’re doing to us. (He won, sort of, by marrying a warlord’s daughter. That isn’t an option that we have.)

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Ah, yes, Alexander and Roxanne, the girl whose dancing beguiled him. He didn’t win, actually. He holed up in the mountains for a winter, then moved on, but then had to backtrack and nearly died on the return to Egypt, IIRC.

        And since then, just in the last two centuries, the Brits and the Soviets have been humbled by the Afghan tribes.
        What a horrid muddle.

        • bobschacht says:

          Ah, yes, Alexander and Roxanne, the girl whose dancing beguiled him. He didn’t win, actually. He holed up in the mountains for a winter, then moved on, but then had to backtrack and nearly died on the return to Egypt, IIRC.

          Alexander died in what is now Iraq after some excessive partying to celebrate his victory over the East. Per the Wikipedia:

          Following his desire to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea”, he invaded India, but was eventually forced to turn back by the near-mutiny of his troops, who had tired of war.

          Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, before having the chance to realize a series of planned campaigns, beginning with an invasion of Arabia….
          Plutarch gives a lengthy account of the circumstances of his death, echoed (without firm dates) by Arrian.

          For details of his last 2 weeks, see the wikipedia article.

          Bob in AZ

    • bobschacht says:

      Rather, that the timing and format of the report seems designed to emphasize the irony, noted above, and other little ironies such as the way our desire to get the corrupt Hamid Karzai installed as leader of Afghanistan affected our willingness to commit troops at Tora Bora.

      IMVHO, this is actually new info that needs to come from a Senate source, backed up by evidence.

      rOTL,
      Thanks for your concise effort to get us back on track. But I want a clarification re “the corrupt Hamid Karzai.” Does this refer to our initial effort to install him as leader back in 2001, or to the current effort? I think that currently, the accusation of corruption probably does not need further support. However, it has not, to my knowledge, been established that Karzai was corrupt already back in 2001. Please clarify.

      Bob in AZ

      • Sara says:

        “Thanks for your concise effort to get us back on track. But I want a clarification re “the corrupt Hamid Karzai.” Does this refer to our initial effort to install him as leader back in 2001, or to the current effort? I think that currently, the accusation of corruption probably does not need further support. However, it has not, to my knowledge, been established that Karzai was corrupt already back in 2001. Please clarify.”

        Bob in AZ

        Bob, I think you are right. Karzia himself is not the target of anyone accusing him of corruption in 2001. He met the “criteria” — Pashtun, of the same tribe and clan as the former King, a supporter of Taliban during their first months, as they presented themselves as anti-corruption, his Father was executed by the Taliban, and thereafter he had lived in Quetta and organized against Taliban. During the War against the Soviets, he had briefly fought with the most moderate of the MUJ factions. His having been educated in India was considered a plus…less likely to be ISI connected. He came to be the best choice because of his particular Pashtun identity, but clear opposition to Taliban, and all factions in Bonn agreed to him.

        Problem is can he clean out his cabinet of those who are corrupt, and at the same time stay alive?

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I seem to recall reading about the really ugly aspects of some of the Northern Alliance leaders in the Christian Science Monitor, at some point in the 80s, and also early 2000s.

          Here’s one link, if anyone can figure a way behind a paywall of the archived copy at a third party. From CSM 6 October 2001 if anyone has Lexis-Nexis or other access.

          DASHTI QALAH, Afghanistan – Commander Mullah Omar, one of the local leaders of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, sat cross- legged yesterday on a Persian carpet inside the compound that is his home and military headquarters, while a young soldier poured green tea and offered a plate of candy.

          “You have come from America to meet our poor people, and we say thank you,” he said, smiling, to a visitor. “We very much want America to support us. Anyone who wants to fight against the terrorists is on our side.”

          But his polite demeanor quickly changed as he snapped an order to the acolytes who hovered around him: “Bring the prisoner!”

          Ooooh!! Then I landed on this:How bin Laden got away
          A day-by-day account of how Osama bin Laden eluded the world’s most powerful military machine. CSM, 4 March 2002:

          ….For the US, Tora Bora wasn’t about capturing caverns or destroying fortifications – it was about taking the world’s most wanted terrorist “dead or alive.”

          In retrospect, it becomes clear that the battle’s underlying story is of how scant intelligence, poorly chosen allies, and dubious military tactics fumbled a golden opportunity to capture bin Laden as well as many senior Al Qaeda commanders….

          …Ali is a short, cocky fighter who won control over most of Jalalabad when the Taliban vacated on Nov. 13. He then became security chief for the Eastern Shura, the self-proclaimed government here. With only a fourth-grade education, he can sign documents, but he has trouble reading them. As an anti-Taliban fighter allied to former Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Masood, who was assassinated just before Sept. 11, Ali and his band of hillbilly fighters fought against the Taliban in the north for six years. Local Pashtuns in Jalalabad complain that Ali’s men went on a looting spree during their first days in town.

          As a counterbalance to Ali, the US chose another powerful regional warlord, Ghamsharik, whom they had lured back from exile in Dijon, France, in late September. Known to many as a ruthless player in the regional smuggling business, Ghamsharik was given a rousing party on his return, including a 1,000-gun salute. He became the Jalalabad commander of the Eastern Shura. But he still didn’t have the support of his own Afghan tribesmen (Khugani). Many of them, in fact, were proud to admit that they worked for Al Qaeda inside the Tora Bora base as well as in several nearby bases

          …A key powerbroker, Maulvi Younus Khalis, a Jalalabad patriarch who supported bin Laden, had stacked the Shura with his own sympathizers. “The Americans can bomb all they want, they’ll never catch Osama,” he quipped to the Monitor on Nov. 25.

          While ceding some power to the two competing warlords – Ali and Ghamsharik – Khalis, who had been temporarily handed the key to Jalalabad when the Taliban vacated, made sure that his personal military commander, Awol Gul, retained the heavy fighting equipment. Mr. Gul and another Khalis man, Mohammed Amin, traveled into Tora Bora on several occasions beginning Nov. 13, according to Ghamsharik….

          Read the entire article — I’m bookmarking it.
          It’s excellent.

          This is one comment that I won’t have to be embarrassed about ;-))

        • bobschacht says:

          I seem to remember that back in Fall 2001 there was another Pashtun expatriot like Karzai whom the press was heralding as the savior of Afghanistan (slight exaggeration *g*). However, upon attempting to leave Afghanistan through the eastern border by horseback, his party was ambushed by a Taliban faction and he was killed. Karzai himself was nearly killed during his excursions into Afghanistan, but was spared, IIRC, by better security and the active intervention of Special Operations forces at critical moments.

          This is relevant to the current debate because the issue really is how do we leave either Iraq or Afghanistan with someone we trust in control, without that alliance being the kiss of death to the occupant of the leadership? Karzai’s government is corrupt because he’s making deals with the local power brokers who will still be there, in all likelihood, after we withdraw. And yes, this includes Dostum, who is likely a war criminal. We’re asking Karzai to clean up his corrupt government while telegraphing that we’re going to leave in a few years, at which time he’ll have to deal with Dostum and the others on his own.

          Same deal with Maliki in Iraq. How is he going to survive after we leave?

          BTW, the British had the same problem when they granted independence to Iraq in 1932. And the Soviets had the same problem when they pulled out of Afghanistan in the 1990s. As did we, in leaving Vietnam.

          Bob in AZ

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Karzai’s government is corrupt because he’s making deals with the local power brokers who will still be there, in all likelihood, after we withdraw. And yes, this includes Dostum, who is likely a war criminal.

            I was looking for the CSM article that I read years back that reported how the Afghan ‘civilians’ would hide their children when any Northern Alliance leaders came around. Pederasty.
            Those ‘leaders’ thugs would take whatever pretty child — boy or girl — aroused their bestial interest. And these are the people we were ‘dealing’ with under BushCheney.
            As if there’s never any blowback from doing ‘deals’ with people whose ‘appetites’ are so brazen they take a child right from its father’s household…

            • Sara says:

              “I was looking for the CSM article that I read years back that reported how the Afghan ‘civilians’ would hide their children when any Northern Alliance leaders came around. Pederasty.
              Those ‘leaders’ thugs would take whatever pretty child — boy or girl — aroused their bestial interest. And these are the people we were ‘dealing’ with under BushCheney.
              As if there’s never any blowback from doing ‘deals’ with people whose ‘appetites’ are so brazen they take a child right from its father’s household…”

              Oh but there are equally god awful stories about the behavior of the Mullahs in Kandahar. It is supposedly the pedophile Capital of the World, though I have heard claims about competition with Rome, but at least the stories are awful. Joke Story — Why does the young bird fly with just one wing when it flies over Kandahar? It uses the other wing to protect it’s ass.

              There is a gay (well special taste gay) hippy guide to Afghanistan from the 60’s that pretty much tells the same story. If you want a fresh young boy, ask a Mullah.

              I have a sense of humor…maybe the Obama solution is to send all the Afghani Mullahs to those specialized hospitals and treatment centers that convinced the RC Bishops that they could cure the Pedophile Priests. The come on could be we would allow them to build Minarats on site.

              No humor — the problems in Kandahar and Rome are very similar.

            • bobschacht says:

              Yes! That’s who I was thinking of. Thanks!

              Abdul Haq and Karzai were the only credible Pashtun leaders that would have had credibility both with Americans and within Afghanistan. I think Haq was double-crossed, perhaps because he was deemed unmanageable by some very short-sighted people.

              Bob in AZ

  34. Gitcheegumee says:

    @134 and @135

    Thank you both for the input…I have a “hazy” recollection of MUCH in that time period…

    I faintly recall something being said that there could be too much civilian ,collateral damage…..

    • Leen says:

      Richard Clarke wrote a fair amount about the Clinton Administrations efforts to nail OBL.

      161 And the neo cons moved onto Iran soon after the invasion of Iraq. Hell you can hear folks repeat the unsubstantiated claims about Iran all over the fucking place.

      You have those so called progressive Reps like Barney Frank pushing and passing legislation having to do with Iran filled with hogwash.

      Focus on Iran, U.S. officials visiting China telling them that Israel is more than likely going to strike Iran if they do not do as Israel tells them.

      Escalation in Afghanistan, Dennis Ross etc stirring it up with Iran.

  35. Sara says:

    I would agree, Kerry hired Frantz to put together this report, and probably others, to set a narrative for considering in the Foreign Relations Committee whatever Obama sends up as plans and policy. Remember, Kerry went to Pakistan about a month after the Tora Bora campaign and did his own field research over Xmas and New Years, 2001-02, and this has been his big issue ever since.

    I notice that Hillary is due to appear at Senate Foreign Relations on Wed. the day after Obama’s speech. Levin will be holding Armed Services Committee hearings too. It is part of a roll out. That doesn’t mean Obama’s yet unanounced plan is terribly flawed, or that it is best ever, or that it is just iffy. We have to wait and see. But I think it a little smart to put out elements in the narrative that most people agree is fairly well backed up by evidence, and actually have a legitimate debate based on a clear narrative. Obama needs some degree of political consensus to move forward — and taking the lead in shaping the debate is part of that.

    Reading through the Senate Report odd matters strike me as interesting and perhaps things to think about. First is the False Afghani promises to surrender. It happened twice in the Tora Bora Narrative — one of the proxy militias brought word of need of a cease fire so that al-Quada could surrender, but the cease fire was only a ploy to allow their safe excape. And Mullah Omar offers to surrender, and then absconds on his moterbike. I think the lesson is never be fooled by such an offer — surrender is when you march out, throw away your gun, hands in the air, with a white flag. Let’s put an end to the mind games.

    As I read through much of this stuff I have developed a huge desire to re-read Kipling’s Kim. Somehow or other in growing up and moving around, I lost my rather fancy illustrated version that my Grandfather gave me long years ago — and all I replaced it with was a cheapo paperback (says it cost .35 cents on the cover), with terribly small print, and pages that are coming unglued from the old paper binding. But there are more deceptions described in Kim than I think most folk in the CIA have ever thought up. I need to have my radar re-tuned, and one way you do that is take a trip with Kim down the Grand Trunk Road.

    Skdadi @ 123. I am depending for material on the indictments on Steve Simon and Daniel Benjamin’s book, The Age of Sacred Terror. They along with Richard Clarke have in my mind stood up well, given that there are things they could not discuss because of security censorship, and because in the Bush Administration, they could not reference their own files, as they were in Clinton’s NSA materials. All three of these authors note they were not informed about the indictments until well after they were filed secretly by the Grand Jury…and taken together they were Clinton’s key personnel on al-Quada and terrorism. None of the three particularly liked Janet Reno, they thought her evaluation of covert proposals terribly mechanistic. They also faulted her for inability to press Louis Freeh to move on things…share effectively with the NSC.

    • bobschacht says:

      As I read through much of this stuff I have developed a huge desire to re-read Kipling’s Kim. Somehow or other in growing up and moving around, I lost my rather fancy illustrated version that my Grandfather gave me long years ago — and all I replaced it with was a cheapo paperback (says it cost .35 cents on the cover), with terribly small print, and pages that are coming unglued from the old paper binding. But there are more deceptions described in Kim than I think most folk in the CIA have ever thought up. I need to have my radar re-tuned, and one way you do that is take a trip with Kim down the Grand Trunk Road.

      Sara,
      If you do re-read Kim, I would be very interested in your sense of Lessons Learned from the Great Game. I, too, have read Kim and much other of Kipling’s work.

      IIRC, Kipling was at first a willing agent of the Great Game, but later developed a more nuanced and subtle view. I think he began to appreciate the complexity of the situation, and the difficulty of human actors in finding their way through it.

      Bob in AZ

      • Sara says:

        “IIRC, Kipling was at first a willing agent of the Great Game, but later developed a more nuanced and subtle view. I think he began to appreciate the complexity of the situation, and the difficulty of human actors in finding their way through it.”

        I have never really found any detailed notes on these visits, but between the late 1920’s and through his first term as President, FDR and Kipling became fast friends, and several times a year Kipling was invited for weekends at Hyde Park. He was a favored guest. There are all sorts of notes on Kipling’s part about driving from Brattleboro Vermont to Hyde Park and back, (and notes on the awful food the Roosevelt’s served up), but there is little about what they talked about. We know he signed all of Roosevelt’s First Editions, and that much of FDR’s “education” about India came as a result of these visits — probably including his willingness to totally stonewall Churchill during WWII on the matter of Indian Independence as a necessary outcome of the war. (FDR never missed an opportunity to screw Churchill on this score.) FDR’s most favored hymn was “Recessional” and we know they discussed it at lenght. Eleanor tells us that they chopped up and discussed the Book of Common Prayer.

        But Kipling was essentially a Journalist who in “Kim” takes us on a tour of the Grand Trunk Road (The known Universe), and catalogues all the deceptions he can identify. Kim is the cross cultural kid, he can move back and forth across all the cultures he encounters, protect his mentor and at the same time reveal all the deceptions that await one who travels that road, as opposed to occupying a stall on the road. Kipling in a sense is the model investigative reporter, he pushes his avatar down the road to reveal the many things a reporter with a byline dare not put his name to.

        But I still want to understand more deeply what FDR derived from this friendship. FDR was famous for his many deceptions, and I am curious as to how many of them had some sort of Kipling origin.

  36. TheOracle says:

    By December 2001, the neo-cons in the Bush administration (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etal.) had already committed to regime change in Iraq (actually even before they stole the election in 2000), so why would they commit anymore U.S. forces to Afghanistan, or to any single battle like that at Tora Bora, than they felt were necessary?

    In the neo-con minds, any more-than-necessary troops sent to Afghanistan, even to get OBL, would detract from their Iraq War plans. We know that the neo-cons in early 2002, after OBL and the Taliban’s Mullah Omar escaped the trap at Tora Bora and fled into Pakistan, began diverting U.S. forces and materials from Afghanistan as part of their Iraq War preparations.

    Besides, having OBL on the loose in late 2002 and early 2003 played into the neo-cons Iraq War propaganda push, especially involving the claim that Saddam Hussein was somehow in league with OBL, not only in the 9/11 attacks but with the potential that some of Hussein’s WMD (if he had any) would end up in al Qaeda’s and OBL’s hands…even though OBL hated Saddam Hussein and wanted regime change in Iraq himself in order to setup a Taliban-like Islamic Republic.

    Rumsfeld (and Cheney) followed a certain pattern: too few troops for what needed to be done. This appeared both in their war plans for Iraq and at Tora Bora. Too few boots on the ground. In the case of Tora Bora, I believe that they resisted anymore boots being on the ground than they felt necessary because those U.S. military boots were planned for the Iraq invasion. In the case of their preparation for and execution of their Iraq invasion, the neo-cons didn’t want anymore boots on the ground in Iraq than they felt were necessary (troops sent primarily to provide a blunt instrument against Saddam Hussein’s regime while also securing U.S. control of Iraq’s oil resources), while having too many U.S. boots on the ground in post-invasion Iraq would interfere with all the money that the for-profit private contractors expected to make (spearheaded by VP Dick Cheney with all his “blind trust” Halliburton stock).

    War is hell, but definitely a profitable hell to some. Iraq was (and still is) a war profiteers heaven. Afghanistan presented nowhere near the same war profiteer potential, so it was given second billing in the war profiteers hell.

  37. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I don’t think that I have ever put remarks from the same article in two separate comments on a blog thread, but this CSM article from 2002 is ‘must read’. Kipling’s ‘Kim’ may be as good as this, but it certainly can’t be any better:

    Between two and four days later, somewhere between Nov. 28 to Nov. 30 – according to detailed interviews with Arabs and Afghans in eastern Afghanistan afterward – the world’s most-wanted man escaped the world’s most-powerful military machine, walking – with four of his loyalists – in the direction of Pakistan.

    …about the same day at end of November as bin Laden escaped. “We received a lot of Iranian currency, and the commanders distributed it to the soldiers,” he said, adding that he had received 700,000 ($1,400) rials for his own personal use. “Our own Chechens were killing people who tried to leave so we left at night and traveled into Paktia [the province to the south] near to Gardez and onto Zarmat.”

    As panic overtook the fighters inside the enclave, local villagers who had been regularly paid off by bin Laden’s men were available to help.

    Malik Habib Gul, who had attended bin Laden’s Nov. 10 speech in Jalalabad, says he was happy to arrange mule trains. He says the Al Qaeda fighters paid between 5,000 and 50,000 Pakistani rupees for mules and Afghan guides, which moved stealthily along the base of the White Mountains, over a major highway, and into the remote tribal areas of Pakistan.

    Perhaps the Senate Committee should call the CSM author of this article.
    Or else Steve Coll.

    People really do have to see the ‘story’, because it’s so bizarre that no one could make it up.
    It’s the telling little details, like ‘he has a fourth grade education… can sign documents, but not read them’ that makes this reporting so stellar.

  38. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    So while Rumsfeld was screwing the CIA group, and about the time that Larry Franklin was getting set to go meet Ghorbanifar in Paris (with Ledeen), and right around the time that Cheney and his neocons were getting quietly ready to ramp up to Iraq, we have illiterate tribesmen using mules to walk AQ members (and Chechens) over the passes to Pakistan.

    But it gets better —

    The battle was joined, but anything approaching a “siege” of Tora Bora never materialized. Ghamsharik says today that he offered the US military the use his forces in a “siege of Tora Bora,” but that the US opted in favor of his rival, Hazret Ali.

    Indeed, Mr. Ali paid a lieutenant named Ilyas Khel to block the main escape routes into Pakistan. Mr. Khel had come to him three weeks earlier from the ranks of Taliban commander Awol Gul.

    “I paid him 300,000 Pakistani rupees [$5,000] and gave him a satellite phone to keep us informed,” says Mohammed Musa, an Ali deputy, who says Ali had firmly “trusted” Khel.

    “Our problem was that the Arabs had paid him more, and so Ilyas Khel just showed the Arabs the way out of the country into Pakistan,” Mr. Musa adds.

    Afghan fighters from villages on the border confirmed in interviews last week in Jalalabad that they had later been engaged in firefights with Khel’s fighters, who they said were “firing cover for escaping Al Qaeda.”

    Oh, those gunshots you heard?
    It was just us and our goatherds, covering so the AQ guys could scramble over the pass.

    ‘Roll out’ or not, Kerry’s Committee absolutely has to get this story to the US public.
    All our fancy air power and high tech weaponry, and a bunch of mules prevail.

  39. azportsider says:

    Irony? It isn’t ironic at all that Cheney and Rumsfeld let Osama been Forgotten get away at Tora Bora. Rather, it was their plan all along. They needed the fear factor of a live Osama to terrify the American sheeple into accepting all of their hideous subsequent actions. It worked like a charm too.

  40. alinaustex says:

    Sara @ 145
    Another Kipling piece worth rereading would be “Tommy ”
    To paraphrase
    “And its Tommy this and Tommy that and toss him out the brute
    But its our thin Red Line of Heroes when the guns begin to shoot .”
    OT -but Sara many of us have come to rely on your insights-wanted also to thank you for keeping us updated on the Coleman / Franken contest as it was decided.

  41. Leen says:

    This is an informative interview

    http://i4.democracynow.org/2009/11/12/taliban

    As US Ambassador Casts Doubt on Troop Increase in Afghanistan, New Report Reveals US Indirectly Funding the Taliban

    AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us what you found. How does the US fund the Taliban?

    ARAM ROSTON: Well, it’s bizarre, but the US has to maintain, obviously, all these bases, these forward operating bases and combat outposts throughout Afghanistan. They have to supply them. The way they supply them is trucking convoys, civilian trucking convoys. They call it “Host Nation Trucking,” and what they mean is that Afghan-owned trucks and Afghan drivers drive everything. They drive all the supplies, the guns, the MRAPs, the ammunition. Just everything needs to get to these—every part of Afghanistan. And they’ve issued these large contracts, but they don’t protect the convoys. By definition, these convoys are driving through some very tough terrain, controlled by warlords, by the Taliban, by insurgents.

    And what they’ve ended up doing—and this is apparently unanimous, with some small exceptions—is the security companies reach arrangements with the local Taliban, the local warlords and various insiders to pay them off for protection. It’s very much like an extortion racket and very much like a protection racket, and it amounts to huge amounts of money. Some say ten percent, some say far more than ten percent, of the convoys. Some say that most of the security budgets are going towards these payments to the Taliban and to the tribal leaders and the warlords. The fact is the US often doesn’t even know who they’re paying off. These contractors don’t necessarily know who they’re paying off. They just know they’re bad guys. So they’ve ended up with this bizarre situation, and there’s nothing they can really do about it.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, your article goes into the shadowy—the network of companies, and specifying several of the companies that are involved. And you point how many of them have—are headed by relatives of people who are high up in the Karzai government. Could you talk about, for instance, Watan Risk, is it?

    ARAM ROSTON: Yeah.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: And NCL Holdings?

    ARAM ROSTON: Yeah, that was—the original mission I was doing was—original story I was doing was this sort of web of nepotism and corruption, inside deals, in security contracts and logistics contracts. And it expanded when I—people all started trying to tell me, “You should do this story, as well.”

    Watan Risk is an extraordinary company. It’s run by the—by two brothers, the Popal brothers. They’re relatives of the President of the country. They’re also convicted felons here in the United States for drug offenses. And one of them was an interpreter and basically a spokesman for the Taliban at the end of the Taliban regime in 2001. And yet, here he is now. He runs, and his brother—he and his brother run this very lucrative, very important, very big security company, Watan Risk Group. According to many people I spoke to, it runs this very important corridor. It controls it, because it has a relationship with the key warlord and commands who controls that.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: And that corridor is Highway 1, is it?

  42. nextstopchicago says:

    For want of a more relevant place to post my own reasons for frustration and pessismism:

    1) The Diehl columnin the Wash Post describing Sec of State Clinton’s Middle East policy, in which “entrepreneurship, science and technology and education are priorities over democracy:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/29/AR2009112902011.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    2) The Clinton State Department’s failure to support democracy in Honduras, as blogged best here:
    hondurascoup2009.blogspot.com

    I was hoping for much better. Even her husband managed to get Aristide back in. We’ve actually got a less democratic foreign policy under Obama than we had in the 90’s.

  43. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    But it was 1999, Clinton was still under the cloud of his impeachment mess, Kosovo was erupting and NATO was in line to deal with it. “Wag the Dog” still prevailed as the way all too many of us, and congresspersons, understood al-Quada. Truth is more a picture of Clinton handcuffed by the needs of the Military-industrial commercial establishment, unable to put the evidence for what al-Quada was all about clearly before the people and congress — all to the tune of the Right Wing Noise Machine singing tunes about Monica and Dog Wagging.

    I’d be surprised to ever come across a finer synopsis.

  44. robspierre says:

    The real irony is that the one, indisputable lesson of history is once again being discounted: every historical event happens exactly once. The fact that the neocon Bushistas got dazzled with visions of conquest in Iraq and missed the chance to catch Osama in Afghanistan (if it is indeed a fact) says nothing about the wisdom of throwing tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan now, some 7 years and zillions of events later.

    Every decision has to be made on its merits, once and once only, using one’s best assessment of the contemporary facts. Using Kerry’s article to drive contemporary decision making is no less than an attempt at evading responsibility–by spreading same across years and other deciderers. Pathetic, really.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Using Kerry’s article to drive contemporary decision making is no less than an attempt at evading responsibility–by spreading same across years and other deciderers.

      Disagree.
      Some decisions are relatively repetitive.
      Others are not.

      But those ‘others’ that are not need to be made within some understanding of a larger timeline and historical context.

      Kerry’s just doing his job.

    • bobschacht says:

      So, this means we can’t learn anything from history?
      I don’t happen to agree with your premise, if that’s what you mean.

      Each incident is unique, in a tautological sense. But incidents can form patterns, and we would do well to learn the patterns.

      Bob in AZ

      • 1boringoldman says:

        and speaking of those patterns:
        * Ignoring the loud warnings of an al Qaeda attack: I suspect a small al Qaeda attack would’ve been fine with BushCo as an excuse to invade Iraq. While what they got [9/11] was unanticipated, they were looking for something – something more like the U.S.S. Cole.
        * Allowing bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora: With bin Laden still in play, the War on Terror was living and well. Had we snagged bin Laden, I doubt they could’ve ever sold their Iraq invasion.
        * Misinterpreting the Iraq prewar intelligence: That one is easy. They were combing the world for a reason to hit Iraq. What they found was super-flimsy, but you go with what you’ve got.
        * Not paying attention to the war in Afghanistan: Afghanistan was never the point in the first place. There’s no oil in Afghanistan to speak of. And there weren’t many ‘superpower points’ awarded for Afghanistan.

        It was always about Iraqan ally in the Middle East, a place for our Bases, and access to the third largest oil fields in the world.

  45. Mary says:

    I thought Jawbreaker already had pretty clearly laid out that we let Bin Laden escape and that Bush was being warned about relying on the Pakistanis and the CIA was pleading for additional support and got spurned.

    I hope Kerry sleeps well, playing his role in sending Americans over to Afghanistan to kill more and die more.

  46. Sara says:

    Neil, I think the notion “our guy” does not really convey the assets Karzi had that led to his election.

    First, the anti-Taliban forces were mostly Northern Alliance, which was largely a Tajik movement. Afghanistan’s majority is Pashtun, about 40%, and the Tajik’s are only about 19% of the population. For this reason, and for the rough acceptance of Afghani leadership by Pakistan, the new leader needed to be Pashtun.

    Second, Karzi’s tribal identity is the same as the former King of Afghanistan, who was displaced in the coup of 1972. One very large faction of the Afghan dispora was the King’s faction, who indeed wanted to bring back the monarchy. Karzi was acceptable to them as a second choice after the King, and on taking office, Karzi brought back the old King (who has since died), gave him a voice in starting the Loya Jurga, offered him a large villa in Kabul — in otherwords he absorbed in part the interests of this part of the dispora.

    Third, Karzi had respectable internationally recognized credentials for the job. He had studied Political Science at the very selective college in India where the leading Civil Servants have been trained since back in British Days — he went to school with Rajiv Gandhi for instance, and subsequently he studied in Lebanon, Business and Economics. In essence, he spoke enough of the international language of governance that gave donors a sense of confidence.

    Finally, his Father had been something of a minor figure in the war against the Soviets, part of one of the Mujahedin factions that was less favored by the way Pakistan’s ISI divided up the money and arms donated for that fight largely because he was a moderate as opposed to radical islamist. His father had initially supported the rise of the Taliban, but as he became disillusioned with their governance, had spoken out, and had been assassinated as a result. It was this mix the UN and all the donor countries were looking for in 2001.

    One of the best sources on Karzi’s career, before 2001, and since as President is Pakistani Journalist Ahmed Rashid’s recent book, “Descent into Chaos.” Rashid was an early supporter of Karzi, they had been close friends for some years, Karzi had been a valued source for Rashid in researching and writing his previous books on the Taliban. But over the past three years or so he became quite critical of his performance as President. He spends a good deal of time in this book offering an analysis of Karzi’s errors, only some of which are related to his relationships with the west.

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