The top military commander in Afghanistan - Stanley McChrystal - says that getting Bin Laden is the key to defeating Al Qaida.
Getting Bin Laden sounds fine to me. But apparently the Bush administration couldn't have cared less about him.
The oldest - and second-largest - French newspaper claims that CIA agents met with Bin Laden two months before 9/11, when he was already wanted for the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. If true, the CIA could have nabbed him then.
Of course, Sibel Edmonds claims that Bin Laden worked for the CIA right up until 9/11. Edmonds is a former FBI translator, who the Department of Justice's Inspector General and several senators have called extremely credible (free subscription required). And some of Edmonds allegations' have already been confirmed by the British press.
On October 14, 2001, the Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the US halted bombing gave the Taliban evidence of Bin Laden's involvement in 9/11. As the Guardian writes:
Returning to the White House after a weekend at Camp David, the president said the bombing would not stop, unless the ruling Taliban "turn [bin Laden] over, turn his cohorts over, turn any hostages they hold over." He added, "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty" ...
Afghanistan's deputy prime minister, Haji Abdul Kabir, told reporters that the Taliban would require evidence that Bin Laden was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.
"If the Taliban is given evidence that Osama bin Laden is involved" and the bombing campaign stopped, "we would be ready to hand him over to a third country", Mr Kabir added.
The Guardian subsequently points out:
So the U.S. could have had Bin Laden led away in handcuffs in October 2001.
A senior Taliban minister has offered a last-minute deal to hand over Osama bin Laden during a secret visit to Islamabad, senior sources in Pakistan told the Guardian last night.
For the first time, the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden for trial in a country other than the US without asking to see evidence first in return for a halt to the bombing, a source close to Pakistan's military leadership said.
According to the U.S. Senate - Bin Laden was "within the grasp" of the U.S. military in Afghanistan in December 2001, but that then-secretary of defense Rumsfeld refused to provide the soldiers necessary to capture him.
This story was disclosed years ago. It was confirmed in 2005 by the CIA field commander for the area in Afghanistan where Bin Laden was holed up.
In addition, French soldiers allegedly say that they easily could have captured or killed Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but that the American commanders stopped them.In 2005, Cenk Uygur pointed out:
The New York Times reported this weekend that we sent in 36 U.S. Special Forces troops to get Osama bin Laden when we knew he was in Tora Bora. By contrast, we sent nearly 150,000 soldiers to get Saddam Hussein. In case you're keeping count at home, we got Saddam and we didn't get Osama. What does that tell you about this administration's priorities? This goes beyond incompetence. If you send only 36 soldiers to get somebody in the middle of Afghanistan, it means you don't want to get him...
Osama had about 1,500-2,000 well-armed, well-trained men in the region. 36 guys to get 2,000? Why would we let ourselves be outgunned like that?...
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