Friday :: Oct 1, 2004

Powell Ignores Truth About Tora Bora

by Steve

Today, Colin Powell soiled himself again when he went to bat to bail out his boss over an assertion made last night by John Kerry that Bush botched a chance to get Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora in late 2001. Kerry asserted that Bush “outsourced” the job of tracking down and capturing Bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora in November and December of 2001 by assigning the job to Afghan war lords and local tribesmen instead of ordering Rummy to have our Special Forces do the job.

Today Powell told the Atlanta Press Club that "I think it's a stretch to say that they knew he (bin Laden) was there and they knew it at the time the battle was going on...I have no reason to believe that our commanders mishandled that."

Unfortunately Powell is either lying or terribly ignorant. Why? Because the Bush Administration has already admitted that they let Bin Laden get away at Tora Bora and admitted that they should have committed our troops to this effort.

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border. Though there remains a remote chance that he died there, the intelligence community is persuaded that bin Laden slipped away in the first 10 days of December.

After-action reviews, conducted privately inside and outside the military chain of command, describe the episode as a significant defeat for the United States. A common view among those interviewed outside the U.S. Central Command is that Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the war's operational commander, misjudged the interests of putative Afghan allies and let pass the best chance to capture or kill al Qaeda's leader. Without professing second thoughts about Tora Bora, Franks has changed his approach fundamentally in subsequent battles, using Americans on the ground as first-line combat units.

"I don't think you can ever say with certainty, but we did conclude he was there, and that conclusion has strengthened with time," said another official, giving an authoritative account of the intelligence consensus. "We have high confidence that he was there, and also high confidence, but not as high, that he got out. We have several accounts of that from people who are in detention, al Qaeda people who were free at the time and are not free now."

Powell, in an effort to help Bush from the battering he took last night, has decided to act as if the intelligence community’s findings as well as the military’s after action accounts didn’t exist. And once again his credibility suffers.

Steve :: 2:42 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!