Truth starting to come out
Over the past several years, numerous statement made by President Bush and his administration have proven to be false, including statements about WMD, the Iraq war, the events preceding 9/11 and issues like torture and domestic spying. We can now add another one to the list – the failure to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001.
During last year’s presidential campaign, President Bush and John Kerry argued over whether Osama bin Laden had escaped from Tora Bora in the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Kerry charged that Bush let bin Laden get away by not choosing to “use American forces to hunt down and kill” him. Bush asserted that U.S. commanders on the ground did not know if bin Laden was at the mountain hideaway along the Afghan border.
Now we have the CIA commander on the ground telling his side of the story in a new book to be released. Newsweek breaks the story:
But in a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency’s Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught. “He was there,” Berntsen tells NEWSWEEK. Asked to comment on Berntsen’s remarks, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones passed on 2004 statements from former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks. “We don’t know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001,” Franks wrote in an Oct. 19 New York Times op-ed. “Bin Laden was never within our grasp.” Berntsen says Franks is “a great American. But he was not on the ground out there. I was.”
I just saw Bernsten interviewed on MSNBC. The man is very credible. Again, we have incompetence from the Bush administration, and then they try to cover it up by denying the truth. Pathetic.
Murtha blasts Lieberman
From Think Pogress:
Lieberman yesterday: “It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” Murtha today: “Undermining his credibility? What has he said that would give him credibility?”
This sums up the entire issue, and Democrats need to pay attention. These arguments that criticism is undermining the troops needs to be addressed. The troops are being undermined not by criticism, but by the fiasco this administration has created.
Murtha is correct. Bush has no credibility. His entire team has no credibility. Rumsfeld and the rest of the war architects have made numerous miscalculations in Iraq, yet the he and the others are still in charge! How can we trust them to get us out of this mess?
Lindsay Graham argues for American standards
Lindsay Graham is becoming one of my favorite Republicans (there aren’t many). I don’t agree with him very often, but he has a knack for taking principled stands, many of which contradict GOP orthodoxy and GOP talking points. This independent streak has made him one of our most interesting and important Senators.
Graham is currently pushing two amendments that are critical to our fight against Islamist jihadists. In support of the McCain amendment agaist torture, Graham writes in the Washington Post:
Even during a time of war, we have chosen to be a nation of laws, with a different, higher set of values than the terrorists. We should always remember that we are Americans, possessing values superior to those of our enemy, and that there is a proper balance between the protection of our troops and the humane treatment of detainees. This value system is our national strength, not a weakness.
He also argues that Congress has been “AWOL on the status of enemy combatants.” He’s right,though it should also be pointed out that the Bush administration has offered no leadership whatsoever on this issue, instead arguing for virtual unlimited power on the part of the executive branch to hold these combatants. The result is a mess in the courts, so Graham is arguing for passage of the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment.
These actions make sense and it’s time to get serious about these matters.
Soboring analysis from former Reagan advisor William Odom
Former Reagan advisor and Nationa Security Agency Director Lt. Gen William Odom gave a sobering assessment of the situation in Iraq last night on Hardball. Responding to a question from Chris Matthews on whether we should leave Iraq, Odom responded as follows:
The longer we stay, the bigger mess we create. Once we invaded, we set in motion a group of forces that inexplicably has taken us to this point. We can‘t change that by staying longer. We can make it worse.
We essentially invaded for other peoples‘ interests without understanding it. We made Iraq safe for al Qaeda, therefore, we really encouraged or pleased Osama bin Laden.
The Iranians detested Saddam‘s regime. He had invaded them and fought them for eight years. Therefore, seeing Saddam and his regime overthrown greatly pleased the Iranians.
It has also created a situation inside Iraq, fragmentation, that‘s leading to the creation of a regime that will almost inexplicably will be an Islamic republic much closer to Iran than to the U.S. or anyone in the Arab world.
Odom aslo challenged the administration’s claims that withdrawel would result in handing over Iraq to al Qaeda:
It may not be so bad for us. One of the things you can almost be certain would happen if we leave, al Qaeda will be thrown out. Al Qaeda does not operate in Kurdistan today. The Kurds don‘t like them and won‘t let them in.
The Shiites barely tolerate them because they are helping the Sunnis. And the minute we‘re out, you can bet the Sunnis will find al Qaeda uncomfortable bedfellows and they will be facing the Shiites in a very serious deadly confrontation.
And so when that is settled, al Qaeda has no place in Iraq. So it will be—we will get rid of al Qaeda that way. It might be a better solution than what we had with Saddam. We just don‘t know. We have to wait and see how that government works out.
Odom is not a dove and he’s not a liberal. He’s just one of many foreign policy experts, conservative and liberal, who recognize the mess that this president has created b invading Iraq. He does not have a political axe to grind. He’s simply giving his honest assessment, which is consistent with John Murtha’s argument that we have to withdraw.