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March 24, 2005

Now They Tell Us

Anybody remember this op-ed from Tommy Franks, attacking John Kerry during the election? The one where he said:

take Mr. Kerry's contention that we "had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden" and that "we had him surrounded." We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir. Tora Bora was teeming with Taliban and Qaeda operatives, many of whom were killed or captured, but Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.

Yeah, me neither. But this admission from the Pentagon (via The Stakeholder) brought it to mind:

A commander for Osama bin Laden during Afghanistan's war with the Soviet Union who helped the al-Qaida leader escape American forces at Tora Bora is being held by U.S. authorities, a government document says.

The document represents the first definitive statement from the Pentagon that bin Laden, the mastermind of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was at Tora Bora and evaded his pursuers.

So Kerry knew more than our generals did, huh? Or was the good general lying? Either way, this merits a great big "hmmmmmm".

March 24, 2005 in Terrorism | Permalink

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Comments

To be logically complete, Kerry could have been making up stuff that happened to be true. That said, with this administration I always lean towards malovelence with a dash of incompetence and a side of myopia.

Posted by: ptm | Mar 24, 2005 3:30:54 PM

The press suspected OBL was there. But we likely had more reporters in Tora Bora than US troops. Ahem.

Posted by: pgl | Mar 24, 2005 4:23:29 PM

It's possible that Kerry was asserting what was obviously the most plausible story, and Franks was responding "But we didn't know it was true." And now we do know. In my professional opinion [WARNING: irrelevant pdf link] this does more credit to Kerry than to Franks (or as the nameless Pandagon poster you linked said, Franks may have landed a blow on the certainty of Kerry's story but not on its plausibility).

Posted by: Matt Weiner | Mar 24, 2005 4:27:56 PM

Technically speaking, it may also be that this information came up within the last year. Note the paragraphs in the article:

"The document is what the Pentagon calls a "summary of evidence" and was presented against one of 558 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay on Dec. 14 for a hearing to determine whether the prisoner was correctly held as an "enemy combatant." The assertion about his efforts and bin Laden's escape is made as a statement of fact; it does not indicate how the information was obtained.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daryl Borgquist, a spokesman for the Combatant Status Review Board for which the document was prepared, said Tuesday he could not elaborate on the Tora Bora statement, or its sources, because the statement was derived from classified information."

More likely Franks was popping off what he thought was true in 2002 as opposed to what the Army knew to be true after they beat the crap out of this detainee... or however they get info these days. As Matt notes, more credit to Kerry for figuring it out than Franks for guessing.

Posted by: J. | Mar 25, 2005 8:02:33 AM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 4:18:12 AM

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