November 29th, 2009
10:25 AM ET
8 years ago

Report: 'Bin Laden was within our grasp'

Washington (CNN) - President Obama got some political cover Sunday for his upcoming announcement on sending more troops to Afghanistan.

A report released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blamed the Bush administration for failing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden when the al Qaeda leader was cornered in Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountain region in December 2001.

Bin Laden had written his will, apparently sensing he was trapped, but the lack of sufficient forces to close in for the kill allowed him to escape to tribal areas in Pakistan, according to the report.

It said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks held back the necessary forces for a "classic sweep-and-block maneuver" that could have prevented bin Laden's escape.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Popular Posts
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Dixon

    To Jane: Republicans are still blaming Jimming Carter for stuff from the 70's and Clinton from the 90's. You are a great example of the core of the Republican party. ME, ME, ME...who cares about the country. If Bush would have had his big boy pants on we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today.

    November 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Jenn, Philadelphia

    And Clinton could have gotten him from the Sudanese, and the Democrats could have not voted with the Republicans to authorize and/or fund the war, and so on and so on. We can spend our time laying blame for how we got there or why we're there for so long, or we can spend our time devising a plan to get out sooner rather than later. Which is more productive?

    November 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Reformed Republican

    Hey SOL! They are in office less than 12 months and you're calling Obama and the dems for "inept leadership"?

    What do you call what Bushie and his cronies did for 8 years – Excellence in governance, foreign policy and deficit control? Moron...

    Remember, the rethugs run on the bumpersticker slogan "Government can't solve problems government is the problem" and every time they get elected to office those GOP village idiots prove it in spades!

    November 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    End the war, 11:32 am ET, I believe the answer to your question about why Bush wasn't interested in Bin Laden is that he was totally in the thrall of Dick Cheney, who declared Saddam Hussein responsible for 9/11.

    And Sol, 11:46 am ET, sorry, but it seems a stretch that you voted for Obama. Could you please tell us what it was about the President that inspired you to vote for him?

    November 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    Wouldn't it be a coup then for the military under the current administration to capture Bin Laden? It would certainly be a more lasting legacy than passing a poorly constructed national health care bureaucracy ( under the guise of reform ) and would not cost $1 trillion. Bin Laden would be a political bargain.

    November 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Nurse

    Hey Dixon , It takes years to screw things up so It does go back to Carter and clinton ( fannie may , freddy) Bush warned us , Mcain warned us , Barney is on tape belittling the regulator and screaming nothings wrong , The dems in congress chearing when they blocked bush from trying to fix so security and Teddy screaming there is nothing wrong with it its solid , How soon we forget .

    November 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. bennie new york

    This is one of those things where someone is saying what you already know, but you appreciate the acknoledgement. I've seen two other instances very recently: TIME's cover on the Decade From Hell, and Rolling Stone's story "Obama's Wall Street Sellout." I don't think any informed person didn't know we could've had Osama. I'll spare the conspiracy theories, but I will say that Afghanistan is essentially a lost cause and we cannot send Americans there to die any longer. It's time to break out the old signs: "Support the troops-bring them home now!"

    November 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Justsayin

    Whatever justification Obama needs to get more troops to help our men and women in Afghanistan is fine with me. Let us get on with it and bring this war to an end!

    November 29, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. independent Jim

    independents are really getting tired of "politics as usual". This is old news, put out specifically to give the Administration cover for its decision to deploy more troops. The US military had most of Tora Bora surrounded, but had assistance from Afghan tribal "allies" on part of the encirclement. The 9/11 Commission believed that Bin Laden slipped out through the Afghan part of the perimeter.

    The real question is whether the Administration will provide the forces requested by Generals Petraeus and McChrystal? Or will they get only part of what they requested, filtered in over a period of months/years? Military power may only be an extension of diplomacy, according to Clausiwitz, but you don't win a war with jhadists using diplomacy.

    November 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Black Viper

    Bravo Eric you've made the point. Any intelligent person know that.
    In addition to your point I will say:
    1. Bush need to be reelected in 2004 and the only way to pull it off is to keep americans in fear of terrorism since most dead brain people think only republicans can keep the country safe.
    2. They need a way to keep stealing tax payers money by keeping their investment in Haliburton, blackwater and all this contractors in business.
    That is the all mighty truth and CNN will not post it.

    November 29, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. voter

    not suprising considering the incomptency of the past administration. too late to worry about the past. we can only worry about the present and fix the problem.

    November 29, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. John

    Maybe this will reach Fox News? On second thought...Nah

    November 29, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. glen in dallas

    So we got him? Then what? Someone would then come in to take his place ( as will always be the case) How many of our sons would have died to catch this one man? It's the system over there that is the main concern. There has never been peace amongst them since B.C. and there never will be.

    November 29, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Palin Power

    We need Sarah Palin as president for she is the only one who has the power to catch Bin-Laden and bring him to justice.

    November 29, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Michele

    I see. We can't blame poor George Bush because the whole thing was set in motion by the Peace President, Jimmy Carter. But we can sure blame President Obama, because according to some here, he's had a whole year to fix Afghanistan! Gee, I thought he wasn't sworn in until late January...I had no idea the GWB had handed over control of the military to him last November! And no, the President does not approve of every missive sent out by every office in Washington! HE is not blaming Bush. This report is. But by those standards, Bush must be responsible for every person wrongly arrested and detained during his administration, for every heinous crime committed at Abu Graib and Gitmo, and for every civilian killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, he told us "The buck stops with me." I know, no fair...he was "keeping us safe." And if you still believe that, you're probably looking forward to seeing Palin in person too.

    November 29, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    And the reason why Rumsfeld held back the troops is the same reason he didn't send in the recommended 400,000 troops for the initial invasion of Iraq: He arrogantly refused to listen to his military leaders.

    Rumsfeld is a Chickenhawk: a person who actively avoided military service, and yet is determined to go to war. Consequently, he lives in a fantasyland of what "should" work militarily, having no practical experience upon which to base his decisions. Top that off with an off-the-charts ego, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

    We've seen the results: bin Laden is still at large; Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess.

    Thank you – NOT – Chickenhawk Rumsfeld!

    November 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Gerry

    Some of you have a one way mind. Remember Saudia Arabia was going to give OBL to Bill Clinton but he did not take them up on it.

    November 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Bush and Cheney didn't capture bin Laden because they didn't want to capture him: How to you guarantee a second term if you're not the War President?

    And having an elusive enemy/boogyman around is a handy device to have when you need to frighten people into doing what you want.

    Psych 101 at its best!

    November 29, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Mike in Oahu

    Good Governance needs to focus on how to get things done and the path forward. Politics and poll numbers are concerned with making the other guys look worse to make yourself look better.

    Unfortunately our government has been hostage to politicians (and not leaders) for quite some time now. And I'm not talking about just this administration but previous ones as well. This political hostage crisis has paralyzed good governance.

    The founders of this nation were not career politicians, but were educated private citizens who ran their own businesses and looked at governance as a duty.

    November 29, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Indy

    This news release of old news is what any administration would do before sending more troops and there is nothing wrong with that, no matter who you support. It is important on many levels for the citizens to be reminded that the Bush government and Rumsy let Bin Laden go free. The fact is Obama has to send in more troops as the trigger happy Bush and Cheney dropped the ball to go after Iraq and now the job must be completed, and even though we know who to blame Obama is man enough to take it all and do the right hing. God Bless the Troops !!!

    November 29, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Seriously, Left

    Democratic Talking Points:

    1) Health care – it's Bush's fault
    2) Economy – its Bush's fault
    3) Wars in Iraq & Afghanastan – its Bush's fault
    4) Why its raining – its Bush's fault

    When will this administration stand on its own two feet? You won, get over it? How about you won now lead? And don't be mad when the president after Obama blames him for EVERYTHING. We'll use that play out of the dem playbook as well.

    November 29, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Indy

    I almost forgot that McCain and Palin acted like they knew where Bin Laden was and were going round up a posse and go get him. Whatever happened to that campaign strategy ? They ran on an assumption that McCain was the only person that could find him and would go in and get him.

    November 29, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Loup Garou 782

    Wiliam Jefferson Clinton had an opportunity to get Bin Laden but he had no reason to get him, he has said so. And, the present occupant of the White House has no desire to get Bin Laden or any of his followers. Those people and obama are all cut from the same cloth and have identical plans for world government.

    November 29, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. diridi

    I told you GOP is a part and parcel of this alquida, and bin is all drama by republican thugs...they know bin laden whereabouts even now...

    November 29, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Rose

    Good one, now Obama can blame Bush yet again. I guess the fact that he has been waiting so long to make a decision is now Bush's fault too. Obama needs to be a man and take responsibility and stop blaming Bush for everything. He knew what he was getting into when he ran for office.

    November 29, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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