Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.
The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says...
The report states categorically that bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora when the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault with several thousand troops at least. It says that a review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants "removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora."
On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards "walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area," where he is still believed to be based, the report says.
Instead of a massive attack, fewer than 100 U.S. commandos, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down their prey.
"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," the report said.
But if we'd captured Bin Laden, Bush and Cheney may have lacked the ability to scare and cajole enought cowards in the Senate and House to allow them to have their splendidly bankrupting war in Iraq...we might have been able to leave Afghanistan. He'd have to run on his record in 2004 instead of sharing the shit out of us, and in 2009 Republicans would not have been able to make bullshit arguments like this...
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) suggested on CNN's State of the Union this morning that the Senate's health care debate -- set to begin tomorrow -- ought to be delayed until next year so the Senate can focus on the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. economy.
And Lugar is one of the relatively sane Republicans.