Donald Rumsfeld’s (Lack of) Leadership Allowed Bin Laden to Escape

Sunday, November 29, 2009


In a skewering U.S. Senate report set for release tomorrow, Osama bin Laden was “within the grasp” of American forces in late 2001 but escaped because then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected calls for reinforcements.

The report is intended to help learn the lessons of the past just as President Obama prepares to announce a major escalation of the Afghanistan war — now lumbering into its ninth year, with up to 35,000 additional U.S. troops.

The report points the finger directly at Rumsfeld for turning down requests for reinforcements as Bin Laden was trapped in December 2001 inside caves and tunnels in a remote, mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora.

Entitled: “Tora Bora Revisited: How We Failed to Get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today,” the report — commissioned by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says Bin Laden expected to die and had even written a will.

The report says:

“But the Al-Qaeda leader would live to fight another day. Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected. Requests were also turned down for US troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan. The decision not to deploy American forces to go after Bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, General Tommy Franks.”

Rumsfeld’s argument at the time, the report says, was that deploying too many American troops could jeopardize the mission by creating an anti-US backlash among the local populace.

The report dismisses arguments at the time from Franks, Vice President Dick Cheney and others defending the decision and arguing that the intelligence was inconclusive about Bin Laden’s location.

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11 Responses to Donald Rumsfeld’s (Lack of) Leadership Allowed Bin Laden to Escape

  1. Idaho Librul says:

    Christopher – I think this may help to explain Cheney and his loose lips, criticizing President Obama for just about everything he does.

    Cheney has been around Washington more than 40 years and he knows the administration he ran as the de facto president completely failed the American people.

    He yaps and yaps and his daughter yaps and yaps to create a distraction and a smoke screen designed to hide the Bush administration’s shortcomings. I do hope this report helps to “out” the security failures of the past administration that Cheney ran.

  2. Rock says:

    From the moment Bin Laden got away, I knew Franks and Rumsfeld’s fingerprints were all over this. I can’t wait to hear the public’s reaction to this report, especially those zealots who criticized us for not supporting the troops all those years ago.

  3. Capt. Wysocki says:

    The thing everyone should think about it is, if OBL had been apprehended, the pretext for the Iraq war could not be argued to the Congress or sold to the American people, who were largely afraid and believed Bush and Cheney could keep them protected. Bush needed OBL. Cheney needed OBL and Rumsfeld needed OBL. OBL got a ‘Get out of Jail Free” pass.

  4. libhomo says:

    It’s interesting that you are writing about Rumsfeld. I’m in the middle of reading the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and I just found out that he was on the board of directors of a company that sold nuclear technology to North Korea.

  5. Fran says:

    The war, was never meant to be won.

  6. Joe in Colorado says:

    These wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, were the backdrop for larger foils. In Afghanistan, it was a place for the US to flex its massive, military muscle and justify the Pentagon taking 50% of the GDP. In Iraq, it was the oil under the sand that was the motivator. Of course, both gave George Bush something very valuable: the title of “Wartime President.” He was accorded a level of respect — at least for a while, as long as he could be a wartime president.

  7. feminazi says:

    I remember seeing a picture of Rummy the Dummy shaking hands with Saddam Hussein back when he worked for Reagan. These people used Middle East rulers like pawns in a neocon paradigm game. The nations were places on the neocon Monopoly board.

  8. Woodcliffe says:

    In 2001, the GOP controlled all branches of the government: the White House, the Senate and the House.

    So here we are, 8 years later and a new president is about to up the ante in Afghanistan but based on all accounts, Usama bin Laden isn’t in Afghanistan, he’s in northwest Pakistan, if he’s even alive. What a mess.

  9. Prairiedog says:

    It’s all about who writes the check to pay the tab for American, military adventurism.

    Sadly, many of the same men and women who were in the Congress in 2001 are still in the Congress today.

    People like Richard Lugar, Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer. It’s clear to me that these pols demonstrated extremely poor judgment in 2001 as they wrote blank checks to the Bush neocons so is it realistic to think anything will be different today?

    Obama will get his Afghanistan war surge and I’ll bet anyone $1,000 in ten years, Osama bin Laden will be as free as a bird.

  10. Estacada says:

    Osama bin Laden was useless jailed. The Bushites needed him on the loose to be their McGuffin.

    The American people like feeling afraid and looking to the all-powerful, nany government to save them from the boogieman.

  11. Richard in MN says:

    The same thought occurred to me that bin Laden captured would have ended plans for the festival in Baghdad. But I’m not sure Rumsfeld and Cheney are quite that evil (Bush, like Reagan, probably had no clue either way). Still, who knows? Look what else they did.

    One thing is clear: If Osama is ever put on trial any talk he gives about how the CIA financed his fight in the ’80s won’t look good (and who’s to say what else he knows?). He could also use it as a forum to present his views to the world. John Brown and Hitler (in 1923) both knew the power of such a platform.

    So maybe “shot while trying to escape” is the only way we’ll ever see him. If we ever do.

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