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Andrew Cockburn

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How Bin Laden Got Away in 2001

Posted on May 3, 2011
Flickr / visionshare

In 2001, Afghan fighters allied with the United States advance tanks along the White Mountains, where Osama bin Laden is believed to have escaped into Pakistan.

In all the excitement surrounding Osama bin Laden’s death almost 10 years after the attacks on the Twin Towers, history reminds us that he was hardly a target for the Bush administration when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld rejected an offer by the Taliban to try the world’s most wanted terrorist one month after the World Trade Center attacks and failed to make the military and diplomatic arrangements necessary for his capture in the months that followed. —ARK

Inter Press Service:

The Bush refusal to negotiate with the Taliban was in effect a free pass for bin Laden and his lieutenants, because the Bush administration had no plan of its own for apprehending bin Laden in Afghanistan. It did not even know what level of military effort would have been required for the United States to be able to block bin Laden’s exit routes from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

The absence of any military planning to catch bin Laden was a function of Bush’s national security team, led by Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, which had firmly opposed any military operation in Afghanistan that would have had any possibility of catching bin Laden and his lieutenants.

... Cheney and Rumsfeld were determined not to allow a focus on bin Laden to interfere with their plan for a U.S. invasion of Iraq to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime.

Even after Bush decided in favour of an Afghan campaign, CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks, who was responsible for the war in Afghanistan, was not directed to have a plan for bin Laden’s capture or to block his escape to Pakistan.

When the CIA received intelligence on Nov. 12, 2001 that bin Laden had left Kandahar and was headed for a cave complex in the Tora Bora Mountains close to the Pakistani border, Franks had no assets in place to do anything about it. He asked Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek, commander of Army Central Command (ARCENT), if he could provide a blocking force between al Qaeda and the Pakistani border, according to Col. David W. Lamm, who was then commander of ARCENT Kuwait.

But that was impossible, because ARCENT had neither the troops nor the strategic lift in Kuwait required to put such a force in place.

Franks then had to ask for Pakistani military help in blocking bin Laden’s exit into Pakistan, as Rumsfeld told a National Security Council meeting, according to the meeting transcript in Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War”.

But Rumsfeld and other key advisers knew it would a charade, because bin Laden was a long-time ally of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, and the Pakistani military was not about to help capture him.

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By diamond, May 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment

What are you talking about? The entire bin Laden family got away. Airlifted out of America on 9/11 at public expense while no other aircraft was permitted to fly. Smell a rat, yet?

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, May 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment

I have read that Osama bin Laden and W. Bush were childhood
friends, perhaps this is why Bush refused Obama’s invitation to
attend the Ground Zero ceremony on the death of Osama bin Laden.

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By redipen, May 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

limited hangout - more honesty here

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By samosamo, May 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment


It amazing how blind, how incredibly stupid or knowingly
dismissive of the truth when staring straight at it and how easily
duped the people in this country are.

It very well settles the idea of how lies printed and repeated
enough become the ostensible truth.

Just this case in point, video of wtc7 falling into its own foot
print indicating a classic ‘implosive’ demolition which have been
seen more times than can be counted but some how in the case
of the attack on the wtc complex it is nothing extraordinary.

Then the confiscation of the videos around the pentagon of what
hit the pentagon are still held by the fbi without even the FOIA
able to release them. And again there is no question, no
curiosity at all about that.

The wealthy and elite have surely rigged the whole system where
education means empty minds, information means that you pay
attention to what the ‘official story’ is and law means people who
create plots and carry out the agendas are absolutely not
accountable or they are renditioned into thin air.

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