Report Released on Bush’s Failure To Capture Bin Laden At Tora Bora

I’ve mentioned the failure of the Bush administration to capture bin Laden when they had an excellent chance  at Tora Bora multiple times in the past.  The New York Daily News reports on a Senate report on this failure. John Kerry, who criticized Bush for his mistakes at Tora Bora when running against him in 2004, requested this report:

Osama Bin Laden was within military reach when the Bush administration allowed him to disappear into the mountains of Afghanistan rather than pursue him with a massive military force, a new Senate report says.

The report asserts that the failure to get the terrorist leader when he was at his most vulnerable in December 2001 – three months after the 9/11 attacks – led to today’s reinvigorated insurgency in Afghanistan.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, requested the report, which came as President Obama prepares to send as many as 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Kerry has long argued the Bush administration botched an opportunity to capture the Al Qaeda leader and his top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of Tora Bora.

The report calls then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks, the top military commander at the time, to the carpet and asserts the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault on Bin Laden with several thousand troops.

Instead, fewer than 100 commandoes, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down the ragged band of terrorists.

That “Kerry was Right” file sure is getting big.


  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘That “Kerry was Right” file sure is getting big.’
    At the risk of sounding elitist, when someone as smart as John Kerry has John Kerry’s practical experience then they are going to be right an awful lot.
    At the risk of getting a bit grandiose and to toss a partisan shot at the same time, John Kerry is a lot more like the myth of John McCain (hero, military expery, foreign policy expert, Last Honourable Senator) than, well, John McCain.

  2. 2
    Molly says:

    I absolutely agree with John Kerry. If we capture Bin Laden, that will lead us to more terrorist, and the sooner we can destroy the terrorism, the sooner we can get our U.S. troops out.

    Although Bush may have made a mistake, we need to look tot the future and focus on capturing Bin Laden rather than worry over whose mistake it was that we haven’t captured him, already.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:


    The most important thing is the ultimate result, but it is also important to look back at the incompetence of the Bush administration and the many mistakes made by Republicans in handling terrorism. Republicans have messed up the response to terrorism for years but have tried to position themselves as being the stronger party for those who are afraid of terrorism. We need to make it clear that Republican policies themselves were failures and they are not the ones to listen to with regards to national security.

  4. 4
    Fritz says:

    I question the link between bin Laden’s continued existence and the resurgent Taliban.    Afghanistan is not kind to occupiers.
    If bin Laden had been killed or captured at Tora Bora, what would have happened?  IMO Western forces would have largely left soon thereafter and, yeah, the Taliban would have re-emerged.    I’m not sure that there was a reasonably-clear path to an Afghanistan that is integrated with the world.

  5. 5
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Ah, but Fritz, if we had gotten Bin Laden and really taken care of Al Qaeda and never invaded Iraq or gotten bogged down in ‘pipe dreams’, if you will forgive the pun, about Afghan access to Central Asian oil to cut the Russian middle man out of the equation then no one would really care whether the Taliban came back or not. The whole point would have been accomplished.
    I am not exactly pro-Taliban, but the issue is that we turned a search-and-destroy for Al Qaeda into a major nation building effort based on the idea that Central Asian oil would make Americans richer without enriching Russians in the process.
    If we had nailed Bin Laden and then gone our way, the situation might be very much like it is now… but there would be one big difference. We wouldn’t be investing American lives and American money in the place.

  6. 6
    Fritz says:

    Eclectic — true, and I have a bit of conspiracy-think wondering if the hunt was screwed up to make sure we stayed in Afghanistan to “finish the job” of making it a normal country.  And to have American troops on both sides of Iran.

  7. 7
    Eclectic Radical says:

    ‘Eclectic — true, and I have a bit of conspiracy-think wondering if the hunt was screwed up to make sure we stayed in Afghanistan to “finish the job” of making it a normal country.  And to have American troops on both sides of Iran.’
    Well, this was pretty much the fundamental purpose of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq if one is to believe the ‘liberal’ interpretations of neoconservative statements. The idea was that with military presences in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq we would have the necessary pressure to give us a diplomatic advantage on energy and ideological disputes with Iran.
    That and, well, the whole neoconservative school of a universal American planet. I tend to take that less seriously, even if I know the Boltons, Cheneys and Wolfowitzes of the world take it seriously. That’s why I tend not to take them seriously. Except as threats.

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