I wonder – will those on the right, who are so rabid that President Barack Obama “listen to the generals” and give all the troops asked without caveat – I wonder, will they accept that Bush and company failed miserably to do just that?
And not in a broad sense, not in a context of what will or will not win a war, but in a very specific action to kill or capture virtually the whole of al- Qaeda?
“Tora Bora revisited: how we failed to get bin Ladin and why it matters today” is the name of the Senate report, coming from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It notes that the failure to kill or capture bin Ladin in December 2001 had disastrous and lasting consequences that still resonate sharply as President Obama is deciding what policies to follow in Afghanistan.
If you wish to read it, the entire report is available online (here). It is scathing in it’s appraisal of the actions taken by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld – presumably with the consent of President Bush.
The Senate report points to negligence that could have been easily prevented. Less than 100 special forces personnel were assigned to assist Afghan militias and Pakistani border guards attempting to keep Osama bin Ladin, al-Qaeda members, and Taliban leadership from escaping into tribal areas of Pakistan.
And now a new president is forced to make decisions about what to do in Afghanistan that will be based in large part on how to deal with the aftermath of that huge failure. If Osama bin Ladin and cohorts had been killed or captured definitively back in December of 2001, the logic used to escalate matters in Afghanistan might have never been able to gain traction.
And more importantly, the biggest piece of false intelligence used to foment the Iraq War – that Iraq was aiding and abetting al-Qaeda – would have been rendered mute. And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Without the bogeyman, what’s to be afraid of under the bed?
Am I saying that Donald Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, and their drive to invade Iraq led them to ignore the pleas of “commanders on the ground” who desperately wanted Osama bin Ladin? Exactly. I’m not indicating they sent limousines to drive him to the border, but they didn’t do that much to stop him either.
The same thought process can be applied to the events of 9/11. No, I’m not saying they planned the attacks, or even knew what would happen. I do think, however, that they knew something was about to happen. And knowing they wanted political capital to move their agenda and provide a reason for an invasion of Iraq, they did nothing to stop it.
And they damn sure weren’t going to let the biggest piece of capital get taken down before they even got a chance to spend some of it.