Senate report: Bin Laden was 'within our grasp'

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    Nov 29, 2009 4:08 PM GMT
    By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer Calvin Woodward, Associated Press Writer
    2 hrs 4 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.

    The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

    Staff members for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Sen. John Kerry, as President Barack Obama prepares to boost U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

    The Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate has long argued the Bush administration missed a chance to get the al-Qaida leader and top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan only three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    Although limited to a review of military operations eight years old, the report could also be read as a cautionary note for those resisting an increased troop presence there now.

    More pointedly, it seeks to affix a measure of blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under former president George W. Bush, specifically Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary and his top military commander, Tommy Franks.

    "Removing the al-Qaida leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," the report says. "But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism."

    The report states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops at least. It says that a review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants "removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora."

    On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards "walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area," where he is still believed to be based, the report says.

    Instead of a massive attack, fewer than 100 U.S. commandos, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down their prey.

    "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.

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  • Mepark

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    Nov 29, 2009 5:48 PM GMT
    In other words, they "didn't" want to capture or kill him that quickly as that would have meant an end to the war, and a non-start to the Iraq one.
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    Nov 29, 2009 6:20 PM GMT
    This is old news
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    Nov 29, 2009 6:24 PM GMT
    ActiveAndFit saidThis is old news
    Yep. Two key paragraphs ...

    "Although limited to a review of military operations eight years old, the report could also be read as a cautionary note for those resisting an increased troop presence there now.

    More pointedly, it seeks to affix a measure of blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under former president George W. Bush, specifically Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary and his top military commander, Tommy Franks."

    This is more about the announcements coming this week about Afghanistan than it is about new information.

    The spin game is on.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Nov 29, 2009 6:42 PM GMT
    ^ Exactly. I read this "news" this morning and thought, "this is old news. we knew this already." But now it's spin to talk about the justification for new troops. How about a new strategy and a definition of success before we commit? In order to be objective, the goals have to be stated first. This is a disaster-to-be if the strategy isn't changed. And even if the strategy is changed, there is no guarantee that it will work. It's not because of our troop's capabilities, but because of limitations on international politics, especially in dealing with Pakistan.


    I think we will be going into Pakistan. I found it very coincidental and interesting that the Indian PM visited us the week before the announcement of the troop increase. I'm willing to bet he was told to not get involved should Pakistan's government collapses.
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    Nov 29, 2009 10:55 PM GMT
    This was highlighted years ago in "Bush's War" done by Frontline. Rumsfeld was a twat towards George Tenet and didn't want Tenet to claim results when Rummy wanted 'em...
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    Nov 29, 2009 11:44 PM GMT
    Old news indeed

    We had the chance for Osama before this when Clinton was president. Saudi Arabia asked us if we wanted him, and we turned him down because "we didn't have enough evidence". It was treated as criminal acts back then, and seems its going back to that mentality now.
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    Nov 30, 2009 6:59 AM GMT
    IHG84 saidOld news indeed

    We had the chance for Osama before this when Clinton was president. Saudi Arabia asked us if we wanted him, and we turned him down because "we didn't have enough evidence". It was treated as criminal acts back then, and seems its going back to that mentality now.


    Good riddance too. We're a foolish nation if we think this strategy of invading and bombing does anything but make the problem worse. Terrorism is, at its heart, a criminal act and should be treated as a police action. We do no one--not ourselves, not those countries we invade, not the world at large--a favor by maintaining an attitude of bellicosity towards terrorism.
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    Nov 30, 2009 7:36 AM GMT
    I think we will be going into Pakistan. I found it very coincidental and interesting that the Indian PM visited us the week before the announcement of the troop increase. I'm willing to bet he was told to not get involved should Pakistan's government collapses.

    And if the Pakistani government collapses -- once again -- who should be blame this on? Pakistan was a British creation de novo out of certain parts of "British India" also a country which never existed until the British left as it had been ruled in a variety of different ways until then, but not as a unified state, or one whith a shared history. The problems here are those created by British cartographers who found it easier to draw lines than solve the consequences of their indirect rule of "India".

    These are problems we can't solve for a variety of reasons, and problems we neither created nor have the capacity nor tools to solve. The Europeans who often created these problems have absolved themselves of any blame and cloaked themselves in a morality that denies any culpibility in the creation of the problems.

    Our best bet is to extract ourselves as soon as possible, and that will be before the resolution of any of the major issues inovlved.
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    Nov 30, 2009 2:09 PM GMT
    IHG84 saidOld news indeed

    We had the chance for Osama before this when Clinton was president. Saudi Arabia asked us if we wanted him, and we turned him down because "we didn't have enough evidence". It was treated as criminal acts back then, and seems its going back to that mentality now.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Going back even further, Carter by following the advice of Brezinski (spelling?) MADE Osama Bin Laden, He was funded through the CIA, (money from the poppy industry) it was their idea to form the Madrassa's, they were to educate and recurit fighters against the Russians to break them, once done and under the 1st Bush, we abandoned them all. We followed this act with all the efforts to put in pipe lines to get oil from the caspian sea basin, for our interests, and tramp on theirs, Hense the turn in allegience once they saw what we were all about. Bin Laden is a problem of our making, and it crosses party lines back and forth. The public should be made aware of all this and put the grips on this kind of bullshit our government pulls then covers it over, throws in some propaganda, and WALLA it our patriotic duty send our soldiers around the world to clean up their F---ING messes.
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    Dec 01, 2009 3:10 PM GMT
    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS !!!! Didn't mean to piss everyone off and stop the conversation, LOL !!! ya all come back and lets talk this over !!!!