“As I say, we hadn’t heard much from him (Osama bin Laden). And I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don’t know where he is.
“I’ll repeat what I said: I am truly not concerned about him…”
That was from a press conference by George Bush on March 13, 2002, three months after allowing Osama bin Laden and his small force to escape to Pakistan. He was more interested in how to justify his planned invasion of Iraq.
I remember watching the news as U.S. forces attacked Osama bin Laden and his small force in Afghanistan’s mountain caves on Tora Bora (December 2001). The reporter said that the al Qaeda leader was trapped and his escape route to Pakistan was blocked by local tribesmen. When I heard that, I knew it was all over. These tribes can not be trusted. Their allegiance could have been to bin Laden or they simply went with the highest bidder. Osama was on his way to freedom and all that bombing was a waste of taxpayers’ money. And he did escape.
The U.S. Senate foreign relations committee report on Tora Bora “…states that as a result of allowing the al Qaeda leader to flee from his Tora Bora stronghold into Pakistan, Americans were left more vulnerable to terrorism, and the foundations were laid for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency.”
What started out as a mission to capture or kill bin Laden and his associates somehow morphed into nation building and bringing democracy to Afghanistan. Under President Obama, it could include winning over the Taliban, giving those sharia-loving 9th century Muslims the opportunity to turn away from their non-productive behavior.
The Taliban, who welcomed al Qaeda to Afghanistan, never attacked America. But bin Laden and the Taliban both now enjoy a safe haven in neighboring Pakistan (as the North Vietnamese had a safe haven in Laos and Cambodia).
George Bush, however, never had any intention of going after Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That included his first 9 months in office and on 9/11. He repeatedly refused to have an urgent cabinet meeting on the immediate threat from bin Laden, starting in January of 2001. He dismissed any threat from that terrorist group. And immediately after the attack on New York and the Pentagon, Bush wanted to attack Iraq.
Bush and members of his administration, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were trying to find a reason to invade Iraq as soon as they got into office. It didn’t happen right after 9/11 because the heads of the FBI, the CIA and Bush’s top anti-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke told him , with emphasis, that Iraq had nothing to do with it. With only one option, the Decider-in-Chief invaded Afghanistan.
While Bush continued the less than enthusiastic effort against al-Qaeda, he kept busy manufacturing reasons to invade Iraq, such as Iraq’s alleged link to al Qaeda, and its weapons of mass destruction. There was no link and, after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, no WMDs were found. But the Iraq War did produce a lot of pointless deaths and suffering, including tens of thousands of young American men and women.
Ron Suskind wrote ‘The Price of Loyalty,’ utilizing Bush’s former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, a permanent member of the National Security Council, as his main source. O’Neill described the first meeting:
“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddan Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.” Saddam was the number one subject, “10 days after the inauguration-eight months before 9/11.”
“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we could do to change the regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”
“It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’ For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really big leap.”
At the next National Security Council meeting two days later, briefing materials were provided. “There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, ‘Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.’ The Council “discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001.”
“He (O’Neill) obtained one Pentagon document, dated March 5, 2001,…’Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts,’ which includes a map of potential areas for exploration.”
Richard Clarke had tried to warn the administration about al Qaeda days after Bush had assumed office. He said, “…on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently-underlined urgently-a cabinet -level meeting to deal with the impending al-Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo wasn’t acted on.”
Clarke got a cabinet meeting on al-Qaeda in April of 2001, but with underlings in each department. His briefing of Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, illustrates the administration’s only target.
“I began saying, ‘We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.’ Paul Wolfowitz…said, ‘No,no,no. We don’t have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'”
“And I said, Paul, there hasn’t been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years! And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, Isn’t that right? And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'”
Clarke got his urgent cabinet meeting one week before 9/11. According to CBS he “proposed a plan to bomb al Qaeda’s sanctuary in Afghanistan” and take out bin Laden.
On September 11th and after, Bush “and his advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings” on a response to the attacks. Clarke said the conversation “quickly turned to Iraq.”
“Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq.” (Clarke now had to correct the Defense Secretary).
“Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. And I said, Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.”
Bush puts the pressure on Clarke:
“The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, Make it up. But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.
“I said, Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.
“He came at me and said, ‘Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there’s a connection.’ And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.”
“It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, Will you sign this report? They all cleared the report. And we sent the report up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer…Do it again.'”
Bush didn’t get the report he wanted and he attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. By December of 2001, bin Laden and several hundred of his men were cornered in caves in the mountains of Tora Bora. American commanders on the ground asked for reinforcements to block al Qaeda’s escape to Pakistan.
“The decision not to deploy American forces to go after bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, General Tommy Franks…
“Rumsfeld said at the time that he was concerned that too many U.S. Troops in Afghanistan would create an anti-American backlash and fuel a widepread insurgency.”
Remember that Rumsfeld never wanted to go into Afghanistan. But that aside, I wonder in what universe that statement makes sense.
Let’s see. We were there to capture or kill bin Laden and members of al Qaeda for attacking America and killing nearly 3,000 people. And Rumsfeld didn’t want to make a bad impression on the Afghan people, thus we moderated our battle plan in this critical mission because he didn’t want to upset anyone.
So bin Laden and his men simply walked away to the safety of Pakistan. Outrageous. After his escape, we never made any serious effort to get him.
Now President Obama has a plan to hunt down al Qaeda, using armed drones and other unconventional methods in Pakistan. But the plan for Afghanistan is to train an Afghan army to defend against a return of al Qaeda and the Taliban. This new army will be responsible for maintaining order. The increase in American troop strength will also be for the purpose of keeping these two groups from returning to Afghanistan while the Afghans get their act together. Instant democracy, a unified nation and a new, peaceful and kind Islamic society. Si se puede? I don’t think so.
But since the Taliban and al Qaeda have a sanctuary in Pakistan American forces will continue to stop at the border. Yet President Obama says we may be able to start withdrawing troops in 18 months.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, however, in a press conference on December 8, 2009, said that:
“For a number of years, maybe another 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan would not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources.”
As for Afghan forces taking responsibility for national security, Karzai said they would “…hopefully, with maximum effort, add on the whole of the country to have this and…provide security to the whole of Afghanistan in five years time.”
When your enemy has sanctuary in a neighboring nation, you can never win a war-any war. Without surrender, the enemy will always be there and they can always strike at a time of their choosing.
We will soon have nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and a Muslim army, the Taliban, defending their land against an invading army of unbelievers, consisting of Americans and their allies.
That is unacceptable in a Muslim country. Muslims are bound by their religion to drive the crusaders from their land. The tactics and scale of the war may change but the Islamic jihadists will fight on. And there are around 1.3 billion potential jihadists in the world, including America.
There are jihadists and al Qaeda terrorists in other countries. Why not invade Yemen, the Sudan or Somalia? Remember “Black Hawk Down”?
These wars will only bring our nation closer to economic collapse and the deaths of many more Americans. We need to choose our wars with extreme care, rather than as part of some grandiose global scheme.
The real threat to our nation comes from south of our border, with invaders by the tens of millions declaring that they will defeat us and replace America with a Spanish-speaking region. We will become a failed nation, with no defined border or sovereignty. And nothing to unite us. Visit this site.
This is happening with the assistance and “blessings” of our leaders, Democrats and Republicans.