Intelligence officials think that bin Laden is hiding in the northern reaches of the autonomous tribal region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This calculation is based largely on a lack of activity elsewhere and on other intelligence, including a videotape, obtained exclusively by the CIA and not previously reported, that shows bin Laden walking on a trail toward Pakistan at the end of the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, when U.S. forces came close but failed to capture him.
That was December 2001. Only two months later, Bush decided to pull out most of the special operations troops and their CIA counterparts in the paramilitary division that were leading the hunt for bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for war in Iraq, said Flynt L. Leverett, then an expert on the Middle East at the National Security Council.
"I was appalled when I learned about it," said Leverett, who has become an outspoken critic of the administration's counterterrorism policy. "I don't know of anyone who thought it was a good idea. It's very likely that bin Laden would be dead or in American custody if we hadn't done that."
Hot on bin Laden's trail, when his basic whereabouts were still known, and just months after bin Laden engineered the most devestating foreign attack on American soil in our history, this president gives up the chase to fight a bogeyman in Iraq who had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks. The basic reality of the situation was that George W. Bush just wasn't all that interested in seeing bin Laden brought to justice, either in December 2001, or a few months later when he shifted focus to Iraq, or a year later on March 13, 2003 when he said these infamous words:
And, again, I don't know where he [bin Laden] is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.
As DemFromCT points out, this disregard, this cutting and running from the job in Afghanistan, has been paid for dearly in terms of coalition troop losses, a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, making that nation even more unstable, and of course, the escape of bin Laden. Not to mention the havoc his Iraq Debacle has wreaked in the Middle East. In combination, these factors make the world a far more dangerous place than it was five years ago.
What I want to know is, did any of these choice scenes make "The Path to 9/11," or are they all the made-up ones about that other president who didn't get bin Laden? I mean, here's the opportunity for some great, dramatic scenes of loss of presidential will and nerve that they wouldn't even have had to fake. Here's the president who really did decide he didn't want to get bin Laden. Suppose ABC has any of that footage in their movie? I suspect not, or we'd be hearing the shrieking of the 900 wing-nuts who got advanced review copies from shore to shore.
Update: Blutodog points out that Tora Bora was after September 11, so the screenwriters didn't have to deal with any of the messy facts of the BushCo response. Maybe they were so appalled by the incompetence, the willful disregard, the cutting and running by Bush that they had to write it in, and so attributed it all to Clinton. Yeah, I'm sure that's what happened. Was that a pig that just flew by?