December 8th, 2009
04:16 PM ET
6 months ago

McChrystal: Finding bin Laden vital to beating al Qaeda

Gen. Stanley McChrystal spoke before members of Congress Tuesday about the outlook in Afghanistan.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal spoke before members of Congress Tuesday about the outlook in Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN) - Finding al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and rolling back a resurgent Taliban are necessary steps toward winning the war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. commander there told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Bin Laden remains at large more than eight years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that triggered the Afghan war, and is widely believed to be hiding along the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
said the world's most wanted terrorist is "an iconic figure" whose survival "emboldens al Qaeda as a franchising organization across the world."

"It would not defeat al Qaeda to have him captured or killed, but I don't think we can finally defeat al Qaeda until he is finally captured or killed," McChrystal told the Senate Armed Services Committee. But he said if bin Laden is hiding across the border, "It is outside of my mandate."

In addition, he said, pushing back the Taliban - which allowed al Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan before 9/11 - is a "prerequisite" for destroying the terrorist network.

"To pursue our core goal of defeating al Qaeda and preventing their return to Afghanistan, we must disrupt and degrade the Taliban's capacity, deny their access to the Afghan population, and strengthen the Afghan security forces," he said.

Full story

Updated: 4:16 p.m.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Stanley McChrystal
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. John

    We will never win in Afghanistan, we're spinning our war machine that's burning tax dollars for what? We lost bin Laden and his dust monkeys, the terror training camps have been wiped out, so what the hell are we doing. We are looking foolish, and while we're fighting a meaningless war, real enemies are becoming more powerful with ever tick of the second hand.

    December 8, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Jake

    Seems like we have a bunch of Generals commenting today. I agree with Big Ed, we'll see if this is the right move in three years when we are supposed to get out. If it's a failure, it's a failure and General McChrystal and the president need to take responsibility.

    December 8, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "And what exactly IS the mission?"

    Pay attention Beevis. Instead of skipping Obama's speach and all the coverage about it out of spite, you might want to look it up and note that there are 3 clearly defined goals and a clear 3-pronged strategy.

    December 8, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "he and the other Democrats need to get out of the way of the generals and let them fight it to win it."

    You know, you're sooo right. The Commander in Chief...Constitutional head of all military in the US (and a civilian for a reason)...should just let the military do whatever it wants willy-nilly.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. casper

    its all about the "VORTEX" of the cash flow into the pockets of the war profiteers..........just who are the ones who are benefiting from this 8+ year war?..... from the retired generals and now are the consukltants defense contractors. to tricky dick-[2] cheney and his pals at halliburton. to the backdoor deals these congress folks are making to line their pockets.... hell this reaches all the way to the oil barons in saudi arabi....... who have made so much money while breaking down this gov't its just don't make sense. go ahead - do it in the name of heaven you'll have to justify it in the end..... all this loot you've made off the lives of the young and old soldiers...... and this war.

    December 8, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. gary in OK

    Speaking as a Viet Nam vet, I experienced first hand how war is waged with senators in charge. That war could, and should have, been won if the military commanders did not have to wait, on a daily basis, for congress to approve enemy targets.

    The majority of congressmen and senators have not spent one day in uniform and believe they have the expertize to tell military experts how to fight a war.

    Let congress do what it is use to doing – nothing and talking to hear their heads rattle.

    Let the military fight and win the war.

    December 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. James, Ho. TX

    The General has no business making comments to the Media. His job is not to create opionons; His job is nothing more than Sir, Yes Sir; No Sir, Yes Sir ! Eight years in the Middle East is for the Afghans not American G.I.s. Osama, bring the boys home, NOW!
    This Country not not have the resources,Money, to support this so called "WAR".

    December 8, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Kevin B

    Ha ! Republicans have been out flanked again by Mr Obama, The general is right, we will succeed and it will be done right and with a clear mission.

    Watch the GOP slime machine go into over drive to try and discredit this fine officer.

    December 8, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. CA Dem

    The Republican Party is going to be so mad you said that! this is not good for their poll numbers!

    December 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Danny

    I don't really believe that we can succeed in Afghanistan or Iraq, any more than we succeeded in Vietnam or Korea, but Generals have to believe it or the plan won't have a chance. Politically Obama didn't really have a choice when it came to escalating the conflict. If he tried to leave or not escalate he and the Dems would be seen as weak on defense. Hopefully the troop surge will calm things down enough so America can get out and claim some level of success.

    December 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Rauwsdower

    Didn't any of these people yet figure out that the Taliban wants us there?
    They want us to stay for 2 big reasons:
    1] Make the US go bankrupt killing sheep herders...USSR senerio
    2] Give them the moral high ground with US occupation troops. The reason for existing.

    The Obama administration took the bait and ran with it.

    Notice that they instantly attacked Bagdad to force us to increase troop levels and make our mission more expensive.

    We proved our point to the terrorists..now lets cut out while we still have a shirt on our back.

    December 8, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. jacq

    I know General McChrystal will get the job done.Our troops kick ass and take names,this is the time to really rally behind them.As a Marine you follow orders no matter what you think of the war.Marines never die in vain we're just doing our job.I'm cheering for them as well as praying for them.This is the time as a country we knuckle up,you know we got a job to finish....Semper fi

    December 8, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Kevin B

    Watch the GOP slime machine go into over drive to try and discredit this fine officer. Republicans would eat their own children if they saw political gain in it.

    December 8, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Joy

    The lack of incivility in this country is unbelievable. When are we going to come together as Americans?

    Everything the president does is belittled and criticized. For the life of me I don't know why anyone would want the job of POTUS.

    Politics are absolutely brutal and downright mean.

    December 8, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Silence Dogoode

    Go get 'em Marines. Kill the Taliban. Come home safe.

    December 8, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. JonDie

    From 2002 to 2008, Bush and Cheney, supported by McCain and all the Republicans, left our troops in Afghanistan with no leadership and no strategy, and the media stopped reporting on Afghanistan, so the Taliban came back, like cancer the second time, much stronger.

    I can, therefore, NOT be optimistic about Afghanistan no matter who's in control on the ground or in the White House. And the fact that we are essentially propping a hopelessly corrupt and incompetent leader just like we did in Vietnam (Karzai is no longer even the legitimate president of Afghanistan) open deepens my pessisim.

    December 8, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Rauwsdower

    The worst thing the President and Stanley did was tell them our plan and time table. WHY would anyone say these things ?
    Now the Taliban can make a proper business plan to best screw with us. This will probably result in additional U.S. troop deaths.
    I am in shock & awe.

    December 8, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. NVa Native

    So what defines "successful", staging an aircraft carrier and crew with a banner stating "Mission Accomplished"? The radical neo-cons couldn't formulate a coherent deffinition of successful. Not that they even wanted one because that would mean cutting funding (profit) for their corporate and illegitamate mercenaries.
    Seriously – what the hell does "sucessful" mean – molding some fifth world country into our image whether they want it or not?
    No – success is leaving the fifth world country to evolve on it's on in it's own time – we need success now – get out now.

    December 8, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Dan, TX

    Of course it will be successful, if we are on the way out by 2012 it is a success.

    December 8, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. B

    I am old enough to say we have heard this all before!

    When the Generals are in control , and the Congress yields its oversight responsibility, you get unending Wars as we find ourselves in now.

    December 8, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. j

    What does he mean by "success"? We'll be successful in getting more Americans killed and possibly losing Pakistan to a more extreme and militant regime but other than that, I expect things will pretty much remain the same.

    What exactly does Afghanistan have to offer other than poppies and extremist?

    December 8, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Terry - Indiana

    Sorry, I believe you will be remembered as the creator of the Second Viet Nam.

    December 8, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Ronald J. Nelson II

    We need to do what the commanders on the ground say so we can help our people get home safe,to be there undermanned is nuts. I have a son on his 2nd tour and they need all the tools we can give !

    December 8, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Mark

    If the Marines lead the fight, you don't have to worry. Semper Fi!

    December 8, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Tim

    So Obama, do we have a deadline or don't we?

    You need to clear this up, all of your left wing loons are smoldering.

    December 8, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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