With the insane, wall-to-wall coverage of the Terri Schiavo situation, the media has apparently been too busy to alert the American public to what should be one of the biggest stories of the moment. Throughout last year's Presidential campaign, John Kerry repeatedly made the claim that the Pentagon 'outsourced' the assault on Tora Bora in late 2001 by putting Afghan warlords in charge and in doing so, allowed Osama bin Laden to essentially escape out the back door.
The Bush campaign enlisted none other than General Tommy Franks, who was in charge of the Tora Bora operation, to publicly denounce the charge, most notably in an opinion piece for The New York Times. (Emphasis mine...)
President Bush and Senator John Kerry have very different views of the war on terrorism, and those differences ought to be debated in this presidential campaign. But the debate should focus on facts, not distortions of history.
On more than one occasion, Senator Kerry has referred to the fight at Tora Bora in Afghanistan during late 2001 as a missed opportunity for America. He claims that our forces had Osama bin Laden cornered and allowed him to escape. How did it happen? According to Mr. Kerry, we "outsourced" the job to Afghan warlords. As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator's understanding of events doesn't square with reality.
First, 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.
And of course both Bush and Cheney hit back at the charge as well. Bush used it in his stock stump speech to make it sound as if Kerry was both lying and criticizing American troops, rather than the Pentagon planners. And Cheney just flat out called Kerry a liar:
John Kerry harps away at phony charges. He says we took our eye off the ball at Tora Bora, a charge that General Tommy Franks, who commanded our forces, has totally refuted. Given a choice between John Kerry's opinion and General Tommy Franks, I'll go with General Franks every time.
But as for me, rather than taking either man at his word, I'll trust the recently declassified Pentagon report that clearly states that Osama bin Laden did, in fact, escape from Tora Bora.
A terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, was a commander for Osama bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and helped the al-Qaida leader escape his mountain hide-out at Tora Bora in 2001, according to a U.S. government document.
The document, provided to The Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information request, says the unidentified detainee "assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora." It is the first definitive statement from the Pentagon that bin Laden was at Tora Bora and evaded U.S. pursuers.
Essentially, if the U.S. government is willing to use as evidence against an enemy combatant in a court of law the statement that he "assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora," you'd better believe Osama bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora.
Am I surprised by any of this? No. If you go back and look at numerous transcripts from the time right before the assault on Tora Bora, you'll find Cheney, Bush, and Franks talking about bin Laden being cornered in the mountains, and likely days away from capture. About mid-way though the operation, there's some obvious 'oh, we don't know exactly where he is' backpedaling. And then when the hunt in Tora Bora ended with no bin Laden, the story quickly shifted to that being one of many places he could have been.
What does bother me, however, is the vitriol aimed at Kerry for making a criticism that has since turned out to be right on the money. All three men -- Bush, Cheney, and Franks -- knew they were lying about Kerry, bin Laden, and Tora Bora. But of course that didn't stop them. They had an election to win.
posted by Scott |
| Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Seeing as how I'm neither a doctor nor a member of Terri Schiavo's family, I don't really feel that I'm entitled to speak about this topic with any authority. That hasn't stopped any other faux expert of medicine or morality of course, but that's just not me. The media circus and political opportunism that this horrible situation has birthed are absolutely outrageous.
The fact of the matter is that this is a bad situation being made far worse by the political games being played by some people in Washington who think they can score points with the electorate. It would help if the media was thoughtfully reporting on the reality of the situation, rather than swallowing whole a bizarre, one-sided agenda and regurgitating it as 'news'. Unfortunately, that seems to be too much to ask at the moment.
posted by Scott |