T Nation

The Tora Bora Claim

So the Kerry campaign wants to float the idea that we didn’t get OBL in Tora Bora because Bush “outsourced” his capture to the Afghans instead of sending in the Americans to do the job. Hmmmm… Sorry, no dice.

Then again, I suppose maybe Kerry and Edwards were there for the intel brief on OBL’s presence, which the Special Forces Commander never got, while they missed all the intel briefs on Iraq, terrorism, and 9/11?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/campaign/ground/torabora.html

Col. John Mulholland, Commander of 5th Special Forces Group:

[When did Tora Bora emerge as an operational focus?]

After the fall of Kandahar, Tora Bora emerged very quickly on the radar screen, at least from my headquarters, as there was the potential for Al Qaeda presence and possibly other personnel could be hiding. One of the main questions early on was how these forces could actually muster to go into this massive mountainous area, to really go after and seal this area, search it in detail and prosecute an operation up there.

There has been a lot of discussion since about [whether] American forces [should have been on the ground in Tora Bora]. I would be a liar if I didn’t say that certainly … [with] American forces on the ground, we would have had a more conventionally confident force to do conventional search, seizure, isolate, cordon and search operations. But that search force wasn’t available yet, and there was great impetus to do something to move up into these mountains. So we were asked to supply an A-team up in there to assist with [Afghan forces – 2,000 or 3,000 totally, as I remember] you could muster to go up there and take on any Al Qaeda forces who we knew were there. … Our function was to work with [anti-Taliban Afghan] forces and increase their capability as much as possible to move into the mountains, and then re-apply air power up there to destroy these caves and to kill as many Al Qaeda as possible. [Al Qaeda] wasn’t interested in surrendering, by and large.

It would have been a difficult task for any military to go up in these mountains, search them out and take prisoners. This is incredible terrain, incredible elevations, and truthfully, very difficult with the force available to decisively search every nook and cranny, because there are no shortages of caves in Afghanistan. They probably number in the hundreds of thousands, if not 50 million. They just seem [to be] everywhere, and [they are] natural granite, not man-made. …

[Did you believe bin Laden was in the caves?]

… It was as good a place for him to be as anywhere. It had … access to a cross-border sanctuary of Pakistan … very defendable terrain, known strongholds within the framework of the mountains. So in terms of an analytical perspective, certainly it met the criteria for a place he could likely be. Kandahar [was] no longer available to him. Whether or not he was there or not, I truly never had the level of intelligence to say he was or wasn’t. But I think it was a reasonable expectation that it was a place he could be, and therefore we would prosecute an operation to try to determine whether he was there or not. …

The mission was to try to destroy and eliminate the Al Qaeda presence there, and capture Osama bin Laden or any of his senior deputies that were there. We certainly did the former with the Al Qaeda fighters up there. We knew it would be a hard fight. Everywhere we had encountered … the Taliban, they tended to recognize when the day was done; they would either surrender or make deals. The Al-Qaeda would fight pretty much to the death or look for avenues to escape to fight another day. We knew it would be a hard fight up there, no question about that. And it was. They fought very hard, until we killed them. …

If terms of the mission were to try and go find and show the world that we had captured and killed Osama bin Laden – even though we didn’t do that – that’s a very difficult task. Some folks underestimated how difficult the task is to find somebody in his own backyard. … At any rate …we certainly accomplished a significant proportion of the mission which was to go up there and destroy Al Qaeda in his backyard, in his stronghold.

Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t perfect. … In hindsight maybe would we have liked to have done more? Absolutely, we would like to walk out of the mountains with bin Laden and his cronies in hand, certainly, but it didn’t happen. I think it’s a mistake for people to cast too glaring an indictment of that operation not understanding fully the context of what was going on with the battlefield at the time, what was available, and the urgency of when people wanted to see things happen.

I find myself wanting to yell at the TV every time Kerry or Edwards repeats this lie. Where are they getting it from and why are they not being called on it? It has been said by numerous military officials that the Tora Bora operation was run by US Special Forces and control was never turned over to anyone else. Yes…the force was primarily Afghan troops…but that is not what the Democrats keep saying. At least be truthful in your criticisms.

Do you even read yoir own articles? This fellow says that the forces to search for Bin Laden weren’t available:

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
So the Kerry campaign wants to float the idea that we didn’t get OBL in Tora Bora because Bush “outsourced” his capture to the Afghans instead of sending in the Americans to do the job. Hmmmm… Sorry, no dice.[/quote]

Frome your article:

[quote]Col. John Mulholland, Commander of 5th Special Forces Group:

"One of the main questions early on was how these forces could actually muster to go into this massive mountainous area, to really go after and seal this area, search it in detail and prosecute an operation up there.

There has been a lot of discussion since about [whether] American forces [should have been on the ground in Tora Bora]. I would be a liar if I didn’t say that certainly … [with] American forces on the ground, we would have had a more conventionally confident force to do conventional search, seizure, isolate, cordon and search operations. But that search force wasn’t available yet, and there was great impetus to do something to move up into these mountains. So we were asked to supply an A-team up in there to assist with [Afghan forces – 2,000 or 3,000 totally, as I remember] [/quote]

Team Bush would not commit the necessary ground forces to Tora Bora, allowing Bin Laden and scores of top Al Qaeda leaders to escape.

This would be the last “best” time to knock out top leaders of Al Qaeda while they were all together at the same time.

Try this Christian Science Monitor article, a source for some consistently good reporting on the war on terror:

“How bin Laden Got Away”:
A day-by-day account of how Osama bin Laden eluded the world’s most powerful military machine.

(excerpt):In retrospect, it becomes clear that the battle’s underlying story is of how scant intelligence, poorly chosen allies, and dubious military tactics fumbled a golden opportunity to capture bin Laden as well as many senior Al Qaeda commanders.

Well, that sounds damned near like incompetent decision making.

Bzzzt, arrrgh! How about Iraq?

We definitely needed more guys in Afghanistan at that time. Thing is, would a bigger force have been politically acceptable? The anti- alqaeda Afghan chiefs were already bristling at the forces we mustered in that region. I would have loved to get OBL and his little bitches, but maybe there was a reason besides “Bush is an idiot” for us having a smaller force in Afghanistan at the time.

Lumpy:

Let me break this down for you:

  1. We didn’t know OBL was in Tora Bora, but out best guess after the fact is that he may have been there.

"[Did you believe bin Laden was in the caves?]

… It was as good a place for him to be as anywhere. It had … access to a cross-border sanctuary of Pakistan … very defendable terrain, known strongholds within the framework of the mountains. So in terms of an analytical perspective, certainly it met the criteria for a place he could likely be. Kandahar [was] no longer available to him. Whether or not he was there or not, I truly never had the level of intelligence to say he was or wasn’t. But I think it was a reasonable expectation that it was a place he could be, and therefore we would prosecute an operation to try to determine whether he was there or not. …

The mission was to try to destroy and eliminate the Al Qaeda presence there, and capture Osama bin Laden or any of his senior deputies that were there. We certainly did the former with the Al Qaeda fighters up there. We knew it would be a hard fight. Everywhere we had encountered … the Taliban, they tended to recognize when the day was done; they would either surrender or make deals. The Al-Qaeda would fight pretty much to the death or look for avenues to escape to fight another day. We knew it would be a hard fight up there, no question about that. And it was. They fought very hard, until we killed them. …"

  1. What was the date of the Tora Bora mission again? Oh yeah: April 2002. [UPDATE: I was wrong on the date – I can’t find the exact date, but the earliest it could have been is mid-January 2002, which actually buttresses the point] There weren’t any military resources being devoted to Iraq at that time. The focus was completely on Afghanistan. WHile it would always be nice to have more troops to put in place for a given operation, the commanders said they weren’t available at that time:

“There has been a lot of discussion since about [whether] American forces [should have been on the ground in Tora Bora]. I would be a liar if I didn’t say that certainly … [with] American forces on the ground, we would have had a more conventionally confident force to do conventional search, seizure, isolate, cordon and search operations. But that search force wasn’t available yet, and there was great impetus to do something to move up into these mountains. So we were asked to supply an A-team up in there to assist with [Afghan forces – 2,000 or 3,000 totally, as I remember] you could muster to go up there and take on any Al Qaeda forces who we knew were there. … Our function was to work with [anti-Taliban Afghan] forces and increase their capability as much as possible to move into the mountains, and then re-apply air power up there to destroy these caves and to kill as many Al Qaeda as possible. [Al Qaeda] wasn’t interested in surrendering, by and large.”

  1. The Bush administration handled the war in Afghanistan exactly as it should have: it defined goals and left it to the commanders on the ground to choose strategy and execute missions. Bush isn’t LBJ sitting in front of a map going “You stupid generals need to bomb here, here, and over here.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/campaign/ground/torabora.html

General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command:

What was your assessment of the Tora Bora [operation]?

"Tora Bora, in my view, was a successful operation. There was much speculation about who was in Tora Bora – all of the speculation [was] after the fact. Looking back, I think that we had a sense that there were enemy formations in the Tora Bora complex. Historically, in Afghanistan, there are about a half-dozen places where outsiders, non-Afghanis, aggregate. …

In early December … it became obvious that the opposition forces with whom we were working in the vicinity of Jalalabad and down toward Tora Bora themselves don’t like Al Qaeda at all, didn’t like the Taliban at all. [They] had a desire to take their forces, which were substantial at that time, and move them on a sweep operation through Tora Bora. [They] put together an operation. We supported that operation.

I think it was a good operation. Many people have said, “Well, gosh, you know bin Laden got away.” I have yet to see anything that proves bin Laden or whomever was there. That’s not to say they weren’t, but I’ve not seen proof that they were there. A great many Taliban and Al Qaeda [may have] lost their lives in Tora Bora. Some have said, “You just ran all of them over into Pakistan.” At that particular time, our work with President Musharraf and with his forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was also another very positive piece of this operation.

In my view, the Pakistanis did a whale of a job supporting our operations, and in fact providing what we would call in military parlance “an amble” along that border, so that these forces were being policed up as they would try to exfiltrate from Tora Bora. …

Those who would enlarge the story to indicate that there were some operational issues – shouldn’t have been done, or could have been done differently – those who would argue that don’t have a very great appreciation of the factors of mission and what an enemy force can look like, and what role terrain has to play in that the timing of an operation. Knowing that, at the end of the day, this is Afghanistan, and the Afghans wanted to move on this operation, I look at Tora Bora as a favorable operation.

As we speak now, some few weeks ago, we placed forces back in there to continue or not continue, but to move through some of the areas we’d been through before, to be sure we hadn’t missed anything, and to be sure that Al Qaeda had not reintroduced themselves back into that area. So that area remains a concern to us. But Tora Bora was a good operation."

So, let’s recap for a moment:

  1. We didn’t know at the time that OBL was in Tora Bora, although that “was as good a place as any for him to be”; and while subsequently it is our best guess that he was there, we still aren’t sure of that.

  2. In April 2002 we were committing full resources requested by theater commanders to Afghanistan, and NO resources were committed to Iraq.

  3. The administration officials were not involved in planning the strategy or the execution of the Tora Bora mission - they wisely left that to the commanders on the ground, as they should. You generally don’t want micromanagement of military ops by the administration – they set goals, the military executes.

Note that #3 is not to blame the military, as from #1 one should infer that the operation was well planned and executed to achieve the stated goals, given the resources and the situation.

THe net: Big, fat, non-issue, just like most of what comes from the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

I agree with what has been said about Tora Bora in the first article, but why have Bush and Cheney not defended the actions taken better? First, Kerry mentioned it a couple of times and than Edwards repeats the same damn line a couple of times in his debate. Maybe I’ll pardon Bush for not taking it head on (since he was obviously off his game that night), but Cheney should have buried Edwards when he brought it up the other night.
We all know Kerry will mention it again tomorrow, so I hope Bush will be ready and take it head on. The statement, though false on many grounds, just has too much power to go unanswered.

[quote]mjagiels wrote:
I agree with what has been said about Tora Bora in the first article, but why have Bush and Cheney not defended the actions taken better? [/quote]

Short answer: because they can’t defend them. There weren’t enough troops in Afghanistan to seal off the exit routes because Bush was already planning to invade Iraq, and he needed to have forces available to do that. Bob Woodward made this clear in his book, “Plan of Attack.”

A good summary from Peter Robinson over at NRO:

http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_10_03_corner-archive.asp#041765

TORA BORA ROUNDUP [Peter Robinson]
Now that I?ve read a lot of emails on Tora Bora (I?ll say it again: the people who read this happy Corner are astonishingly well-informed), this much seems clear:

  1. No one is able to make any sense at all of the Kerry/Edwards claim that the administration ?outsourced? the job of capturing Osama bin Laden to Afghan warlords. Afghan forces participated in the action. But they were there to cut off certain escape routes, not to seize or kill Osama.

  2. There is indeed some evidence that Americans permitted Osama to slip through their fingers?but not, be it noted, the president or secretary of defense, and not the forces on the ground. Instead, it was American commanders who failed, hesitating for fear casualties.

You?ll find this account in a 2002 article in the London Spectator. Registration is required, so I won?t bother posting the link, but here are the crucial few sentences:

[Begin Spectator excerpt] By the end of the battle, the SAS [the elite British force] was certain that it knew where bin Laden was: in a mountain valley, where he could have been trapped. The men of the SAS would have been happy to move in for the kill?.

It did not get the chance. The SAS was under overall US command, and the American generals faltered. Understandably enough, they wanted Delta Force [an elite American unit] to be in at the death?.

It seems unlikely that bin Laden could have been bagged without casualties. The men on the ground did not quail at that prospect; the generals on the radio did. They wanted Delta Force to kill bin Laden; they were not prepared to allow their men to be killed in the process. They would not even allow USAF ground-attack aircraft to operate below 12,000 feet.[End Spectator excerpt] 

For what it?s worth, this view seems to be widely accepted in Britain. From my friend Clive Davis, London correspondent of the Washington Times:

"[In] David Hare's dreary documentary-play "Stuff Happens", which just opened at the National Theatre?.Tony Blair is shown pleading with Bush over the phone to allow British special forces to go into the cave to slip on the handcuffs. I've been waiting for some authoritative Westminster figure to stomp all over this, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has, so no doubt it will soon become the conventional wisdom."
  1. Maybe the American commanders made some mistakes?but maybe they didn?t. Every knowledgeable correspondent has insisted that the operation proved fraught with difficulties and imponderables in any event. From an officer in the Canadian armed forces, on Operation Anaconda, which took place at Shak-i-kot a few months after the assault on Tora Bora:

    "Like Tora Bora, the concept of Op Anaconda was to catch AQ [al Qaeda] as they were retreating into Pakistan. There were a couple of problems with the op that resulted in a number of AQ being able to escape.

    Item: the op was launched prematurely, having been triggered by a Chinook being downed. This meant that not all of the cut-off teams were in place on all of the known escape routes at h-hour. They were generally replaced by massive air bombing, but in the mountainous terrain of the region this was much less effective.

    Item: the Afghan allies used as clearing force were not as effective as desired, coming in slower than anticipated in the plan.

    Item: being subjected to effective enemy fire limited the ability of the cut-off teams to call in indirect fire and air/ aviation?.

    Something that people forget, particularly because the US army is so good, is that the other side does fight back, and that plans often do not go off without a hitch because the enemy invariably reacts to what you’re doing. This is particularly true when dealing with an experienced enemy working on his turf, and amplified by the fact that the terrain in question is complex."

Just how hard is it, exactly, to catch someone in difficult terrain? From another correspondent, a note that Mssrs. Kerry and Edwards ought to ponder:

"[R]emember that Eric Rudolph [who was being sought for the murder of an abortionist] hid in the back woods of North Carolina for nine years [emphasis mine] despite massive searches by government officers. He was caught only when he ran out of food."

Okay, so the US decided not to risk casualties, that is what we are being told in this article BB.

Several opportunities were presented to capture or kill Osama, the super duper prime target and justification for action, but the US did not have the assets present due to planning another war or the will to use those assets due to possible casualties.

Okay, this isn’t a poor reflection on the Bush administration how? Too busy planning another war, for trumped up reasons, and unable or unwilling to pursue Osama.

Casualties are okay in Iraq but not in Afghanistan?

[quote]vroom wrote:
Item: the Afghan allies used as clearing force were not as effective as desired, coming in slower than anticipated in the plan.

Okay, so the US decided not to risk casualties, that is what we are being told in this article BB.

Several opportunities were presented to capture or kill Osama, the super duper prime target and justification for action, but the US did not have the assets present due to planning another war or the will to use those assets due to possible casualties.

Okay, this isn’t a poor reflection on the Bush administration how? Too busy planning another war, for trumped up reasons, and unable or unwilling to pursue Osama.

Casualties are okay in Iraq but not in Afghanistan?[/quote]

Because Bush wasn’t the one doing the military planning or making the decision to wait. That was central command. To the extent you’re critical of this, you are critical of the military planners.

The timing of this incident precludes the idea that resources were being moved to Iraq. It was, at the latest, mid-January 2002. We were not in to Iraq for almost another year and a half.

BTW, I think that nicely explains why Bush and Cheney were ignoring this criticism in the debates – they don’t want to criticize their military commanders, who overall did a hell of a job in Afghanistan.

Oh yeah – John Kerry thought so too, back in the day before he decided he needed another issue to demogogue:

http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_10_03_corner-archive.asp#041747

KERRY FLIP-FLOPPED ON TORA BORA [Rich Lowry]
Should we be surprised? He used to have a realistic appreciation of the difficulties of operating in those mountains and of how hard it is to hunt down one man. Here is what he said on CNN’s ?Late Edition? on January 20, 2002:

"The bottom line is that the closest we came was in Tora Bora. I do think some people have asked some questions about how that particular component of the mission sort of played out. But the fact is that it is a difficult place. He is elusive.

I think they are doing the maximum amount right now possible to try to track him down. And it is an extraordinarily hard thing for him to hide somewhere. I mean, over a period of time, I think, he is in trouble."
Posted at 11:56 AM

You would have us believe Bush and Cheney are not involved in any decision making at all.

How many little disasters are the leaders of this administration going to blame on their underlings?

I don’t think it is appropriate to put all the decision making and all the responsibility on underlings. At some point somebody needs to get direction from the top.

Either the direction isn’t there or the Bush administration pretends it is someone elses fault when things go wrong.

Neither option is impressive.

As a leader, from time to time, you’ll have to sack up and take responsibility. If the administration can’t do this, they will be out the door on election day.

After all, if they aren’t calling the shots, what the hell are they doing in office anyway?

[quote]vroom wrote:

You would have us believe Bush and Cheney are not involved in any decision making at all.[/quote]

No, this is a straw man. I said they weren’t involved in the military planning. They defined goals, and made the decision to go in to Iran. The military people, starting with Gen. Franks, the commander in chief at U.S. Central command, were in charge of the operational plans. THis is how it is supposed to work.

It wasn’t a disaster. They still aren’t even sure he was there. They killed and captured lots of al Queda.

Hmmm. “Underlings.” These aren’t secretaries or junior associates. The military is in charge of military plans – the President defines overall objectives, and leaves it to commanders in the field to make the military decisions. This is how it is supposed to work, and that is how it worked.

And besides, it wasn’t a failed mission.

[quote] Either the direction isn’t there or the Bush administration pretends it is someone elses fault when things go wrong.

Neither option is impressive.[/quote]

False dichotomy. Direction is given as it is appropriate. It isn’t appropriate for a President who wasn’t a General like Eisenhower to get involved in military planning. Really, even Eisenhower would likely leave decisions in the field to his commanders, although he would be in a position to offer informed criticism of tactics. Good leaders don’t micromanage, as the Jimmy Carter presidency showed.

Afghanistan was a great military victory overall, and here these losers are trying to nitpick one operation, which was successful, because UBL may have escaped.

Kerry’s not stupid – he’s demogoguing this issue, and it’s rather disturbing.

[quote] As a leader, from time to time, you’ll have to sack up and take responsibility. If the administration can’t do this, they will be out the door on election day.

After all, if they aren’t calling the shots, what the hell are they doing in office anyway?[/quote]

Yeah, and every battle we lost in WWII was Roosevelt’s fault. In fact, when some of the Nazis committed suicide in Nuremburg before they got to trial, that was Truman’s fault – how could he have let security be so lax? The first Battle of Bull Run? Lincoln’s fault.

Give me a break.

Good column on the Tora Bora claims from Rich Lowry, editor in chief at The National Review – note the article says the Tora Bora action occurred in December 2001 – how can all these demogogues keep saying with a straight face that we were diverting resources to Iraq in December 2001?

http://www.nationalreview.com/lowry/lowry200410080840.asp

October 08, 2004, 8:40 a.m.
Tora Bora Bull
Don?t buy what Kedwards is selling

When we had Osama bin Laden, we let him walk away. That is the criticism that John Kerry and John Edwards have repeatedly leveled at the Bush administration, with ? amazingly ? not one word of rebuttal from President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney during the first two debates.

The charge has to do with the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, when al Qaeda and Taliban die-hards were making a last stand in the Tora Bora redoubt in the White Mountains along the border with Pakistan. Kerry alleges that bin Laden was there and was allowed to escape by the kind of Afghan proxy forces that the United States had relied on throughout its Afghan campaign.

This line of attack gains power only with serious oversimplification. Kerry said in the first debate, “We had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora.” Kerry doesn’t know that. Some intelligence indeed suggests that bin Laden was there. But the U.S. commander on the ground, Gen. Tommy Franks, also had reports that bin Laden was in Kashmir, in southern Baluchistan and northwest of Khandahar near a lake.

Kerry also said, “We didn’t use American forces.” That is false. The United States expended massive amounts of ordnance at Tora Bora, both laser-guided bombs and the devastating fire of AC-130 gunships. Video feeds from Predator drone planes provided real-time intelligence. American special-forces troops were present on the ground, if in small numbers.

They weren’t there in force on the basis of a strategic choice that Kerry supported. The United States wanted to avoid the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. We could have flooded Afghanistan with roughly 150,000 troops like the Soviets, but at the risk of causing a nationalist reaction. So, the United States instead used special-forces troops, precision-guided bombs and indigenous forces.

At the time, Kerry was all for it. He told an interviewer in late 2001 that the United States could avoid making Afghanistan into another Vietnam, “as long as we make smart decisions, and we don’t go in and repeat what the British or the Russians tried to do. And I don’t think we will; I think we’re on a different footing.” In mid-December 2001, right in the middle of the battle of Tora Bora, he supported the administration’s strategy: “I think we have been smart. I think the administration leadership has done it well, and we are right on track.” Kerry only cautioned against using too much force: “I am not for a prolonged bombing campaign,” he said.

Of course, every strategic choice has its trade-offs. At Tora Bora, the local troops entered into surrender negotiations that let enemy fighters escape. Some critics suggest that the United States, instead of relying on Pakistani forces to catch al Qaeda escaping to Pakistan, should have done that job itself. But putting U.S. forces into Pakistan could have had the significant cost of destabilizing the relatively moderate government of President Pervez Musharraf.

Kerry warned about exactly this possibility. As the Afghan campaign got under way, the Boston Globe reported: “Kerry, the son of a foreign diplomat, said the greater challenge is managing Muslim unrest in neighboring Pakistan… ‘My judgment is people who think that Pakistan itself will be easily manageable are really misjudging the public sentiment there,’ Kerry said.”

At the time, Kerry even weighed in sympathetically on the battle of Tora Bora. On Jan. 20, 2002, Kerry said on CNN: “I do think some people have asked some questions about how that particular component of the mission sort of played out. But the fact is that it is a difficult place. He is elusive. I think they are doing the maximum amount right now possible to try to track him down.”

Kerry now says there’s no way he would have missed the opportunity the United States had at Tora Bora. What he said three years ago argues otherwise. This controversy is only more evidence that what the senator will never miss is an opportunity to be opportunistic.

? Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.

©2004 King Features Syndicate

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Bush wasn’t the one doing the military planning or making the decision to wait. That was central command. To the extent you’re critical of this, you are critical of the military planners.[/quote]

Bush is the Commander-in-Chief.

It’s really quite amazing to see just how far you Bushies will go to absolve the president of any responsibility for what happens under his command. You almost seem to think Bush is really just a figurehead, like the Queen of England.

As far as our military commanders not wanting any to take any causalties in Tora Bora, that also comes from the top down… from George Bush, with the assistance from the clowns working with him in his cabinet: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
BostonBarrister wrote:
Bush wasn’t the one doing the military planning or making the decision to wait. That was central command. To the extent you’re critical of this, you are critical of the military planners.

Bush is the Commander-in-Chief.

It’s really quite amazing to see just how far you Bushies will go to absolve the president of any responsibility for what happens under his command. You almost seem to think Bush is really just a figurehead, like the Queen of England.

As far as our military commanders not wanting any to take any causalties in Tora Bora, that also comes from the top down… from George Bush, with the assistance from the clowns working with him in his cabinet: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice

[/quote]

Lumpy:

What’s amazing is the extent of the myopia of those extending this charge.

  1. The operation was a success overall, and Afghanistan was a success overall.

  2. They didn’t know at the time, and they still aren’t sure now, whether OBL was there, and the idea “We had him surrounded” is simply absurd, in that implies they knew where he was and knew they had that whole area contained.

  3. There was no “outsourcing” of the job to Afghans – local troops were used as part of the containment forces.

  4. We didn’t have 150,000 troops there because of the overall strategy of the Afghanistan War – which worked exceedingly well, BTW.

  5. Tora Bora happened in December 2001, and it is patently absurd to claim there were assets being ciphoned from Afghanistan for Iraq at that time.

  6. The military commanders were making the military decisions – not orders from the top down. Unless you have evidence to the contrary? General Tommy Franks sure seems to think he was in charge.

  7. You blame the President for that which is his fault. When you disagree with the decision to go in to Iraq, you’re disagreeing with the decision the decision of the President. If you were to disagree with the decision on when the tanks were told to roll in to Baghdad, you would be disagreeing the the military commanders. Please note the difference between the two. And please refer to my historical analogies above for examples of what your ludicrous theory of “President is responsible for everything because he is Commander in Chief” would imply.

BB,

There is a middle ground here. The president has overall responsibility simply because he is in command. This does not mean he personally makes every decision.

However, when policies are enacted such as setting up prisons off of US territory to avoid US laws, then to use extraordinary means to extract information, we then get to point to the president or his cronies when the result is blatant prisoner abuse.

The way in which the president or his staff, while trying to please him, directs or pressures the CIA to determine that WMD’s in Iraq are a slam dunk when in fact there were none are a failing he can be held responsible for.

There are a lot of ways in which the members of the administration set the tone of implementation of policy. You would excuse him of everthing he did not personally order.

However, without getting into micromanagement, sometimes the person at the top is responsible for not getting into a situation and making sure the really important things were done correctly. To claim this never happens in the business world would be silly.

The American public are going to decide whether or not Bush should be held responsible for any of the screwups that happened on his watch. The fact that he admits no errors, ever, is likely to guarantee that he will be handed his walking papers.

[quote]vroom wrote:
BB,

There is a middle ground here. The president has overall responsibility simply because he is in command. This does not mean he personally makes every decision.

However, when policies are enacted such as setting up prisons off of US territory to avoid US laws, then to use extraordinary means to extract information, we then get to point to the president or his cronies when the result is blatant prisoner abuse.

The way in which the president or his staff, while trying to please him, directs or pressures the CIA to determine that WMD’s in Iraq are a slam dunk when in fact there were none are a failing he can be held responsible for.

There are a lot of ways in which the members of the administration set the tone of implementation of policy. You would excuse him of everthing he did not personally order.

However, without getting into micromanagement, sometimes the person at the top is responsible for not getting into a situation and making sure the really important things were done correctly. To claim this never happens in the business world would be silly.

The American public are going to decide whether or not Bush should be held responsible for any of the screwups that happened on his watch. The fact that he admits no errors, ever, is likely to guarantee that he will be handed his walking papers.[/quote]

Methinks you have wandered off the point. Probably because arguing this actual position on Tora Bora is too assinine. I guess this is practice for what you will see in the debate tonight, likely from both candidates: trying to answer your own question, rather than the issue posed. Hopefully I will watch on VHS later.

As for what you wrote above:

  1. There aren’t even any allegations of abuse concerning the prisoners at Guantanamo, so I don’t think this is relevant. There weren’t any memos directing anything untoward, as you recall. The investigation led to reprimand of the prison’s commanding officer for lax discipline, and I believe the other conclusion was some out-of-control prison guards. Certainly they weren’t ordered. And Seymour Hersh’s promised evidence never appeared.

Soooooo… doesn’t look like that was Bush’s fault. I would agree with you if what you wrote were true, but it’s not. I would agree with you if it went far enough up the chain of command, but “lax discipline” by a general in charge of prisons doesn’t strike me as something that involved Presidential attention. Just because you don’t like Guantanamo doesn’t make it related, and just because you don’t like certain things permitted by the Geneva convention doesn’t make them wrong.

  1. Do you recall anyone ever claiming anyone directed George Tenet to describe the WMD intelligence as a “slam dunk”? I don’t. In fact, it was described that way because Bush was questioning the strength of that intelligence, and wanted an answer. So while it is generally difficult to prove the negative, e.g. there was no pressure, perhaps you wouldn’t mind citing something that indicated there was pressure on Tenet to hard-sell the President on this WMD analysis?

I realize there were competing analyses from the State Department people – that is not the same thing. The CIA were hard-selling their info, and Bush chose to believe them. His responsibility is for making the wrong choice on which assessment to believe – it is NOT for lying, or pressuring, or whatever else you want to imply.

I’m off to catch a flight.

BTW: What does “likely to guarantee” mean?

BB,

You are up to your old tricks yet again aren’t you?

There are problems with the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo. So far, we haven’t seen anything like that which occured at Abu Ghraib though. The administration got their wrist slapped and were ordered to grant the prisoners hearings recently as well.

If Bush chooses to use the “it was just a few bad seeds” excuse, that is his right. If you choose to echo it, that is your right. However, many of us are expecting a more detailed accounting of the issues involved.

Also, yes, I do remember an investigation to determine whether or not the Bush administration applied pressure on the intelligence agencies to come up with a certain conclusion regarding Saddam Hussein. Some little bits of evidence were fairly damning as well.

You’ll find out what likely to guarantee means in November… :wink: