A little stay-inside, dreary weather reading for you (it sure is here in Boston.) When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued it's report last week that Bush allowed bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora, they didn't say the half of it. We know bin Laden saw his situation and was ready to die and had written his will.
"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,"...
"Instead, the US command chose to rely on airstrikes and untrained Afghan militias to attack Bin Laden and on Pakistan's loosely organized Frontier Corps to seal his escape routes."
"the Al-Qaeda leader would live to fight another day. Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected.
"Requests were also turned down for US troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan."
That would be Special Ops Gary Bernten's request to lift the 800 Marines who were sitting at Kandahar to seal the passes into Pakistan, and Delta Forces "Dalton Fury's" (code name)request to mine the hell out the trails leading out of the caves.
Both Bush and Cheney said in interviews: "We don't know if bin Laden was at Tora Bora," in direct contraction to Berntsen, who said: "I have no doubt that he [bin Laden] was there [in Tora Bora]."
Dalton Fury's story is where it gets good. He told 60 Minutes that his men at one point had a firm fix on the cave in which bin Laden was hiding, and that he had relayed to his superiors an audacious plan to "get a drop on bin Laden from behind." Fury's plan was to come over the top of the steep mountain "with oxygen" in order to take bin Laden's position by surprise. The plan was nixed. Fury stated: "Whether that was Central Command all the way up to the president of the United States, I'm not sure."
The next day, forced into a difficult frontal assault on bin Laden's position, another remarkable thing happened. As Fury began his assault, his Northern Alliance allies drew weapons on the American team and forced them into 12 hours of negotiation at a critical moment. It was during this time that Fury believes bin Laden made his escape.
Ismail Khan, now the governor of Herat Province in Afghanistan and a key Northern Alliance warlord who was involved in the pursuit of bin Laden, told Newsweek that he had been restrained by the West from closing in on bin Laden.
One of Khan's men, Haji Mohammed Zaman, told the assembled press at Tora Bora in 2001: "If America wants to capture Osama, why aren't they trying?" A top aide to Zaman said: "I don't think the United States wants to capture Osama. We know where he is, we tell them and they do nothing. So they are not as serious as they say they are."
So the question becomes, what can be done about near-treasonous behavior, years later, which suggests that an American administration gave aid and comfort to the enemy? Imagine if Clinton had done this and the right-wingers gotten wind of it. Oh My God. The right-wingers would have had the White House surrounded and hauled him off in handcuffs. Let the soldiers and their families weigh in, since they are the ones who have and continue to pay the highest price for failing to break the back of Al Qaeda, and perhaps the War on Terror, many years ago. Hint: a retired British General is now bringing charges of war crimes against Tony Blair, on the basis that Blair lied blatantly about Iraq "weapons of mass destruction" and other grounds. The wheels turn slowly. But they turn.