Osama bin Laden: missed opportunities
March 16, 2004 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Osama bin Laden: missed opportunities The question for the 9/11 commission: If the CIA was able to get that close to bin Laden before 9/11, why wasn’t he captured or killed? The videotape has remained secret until now.
posted by Postroad (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe it wasn't prime time.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:54 PM on March 16, 2004

Hindsight -- even awful, terrible, vomit-inducing hindsight at the horror of 9/11 -- is always 20/20.

I do fault - to some degree, but certainly not to a large degree - the Clinton administration, but then again -- nobody *seriously* thought that something as horrific as 9/11 could happen here. Treating it as a "law enforcement" problem was the mistake that we made -- but we will not make that mistake again. Ever.
posted by davidmsc at 7:00 PM on March 16, 2004

Y'know, not to be a devil's advocate or anything, but pre-9/11 it was a bit of a faux pas for the CIA to sneak into another country and go around willy-nilly killing folks (not that it stopped them). Granted, Afghanistan is a fairly loose definition of a country. I imagine Pakistan, however, would've been furious.

It's nice to know he was under observation at the very least, but I don't think the political climate at the time would've allowed trans-national CIA head-hunting.
posted by fatbobsmith at 7:29 PM on March 16, 2004

also, Clinton would never have gotten congressional approval to do anything, what with all the monica shit and everything.

Treating it as a "law enforcement" problem was the mistake that we made -- but we will not make that mistake again. Ever.
How should it be treated? This is a stateless, everywhere, shadowy organization, with endless splinter groups who-knows-where. As evidenced by Madrid, they're able to attack anywhere--whenever they choose. It's certainly not a military problem, unless we're going into Brooklyn, and Madrid, and London, and Paris, etc.....
posted by amberglow at 7:40 PM on March 16, 2004

This criticism is fucking horseshit. When Clinton fired cruise missiles he was criticized for "wagging the dog" to distract attention from the Lewinski scandal. It wasn't politically possible for Clinton to kill bin Laden. It also might not have been possible, period.
even if a target could ever be found, the missiles might take too long to hit it. The Pentagon thought it could dump a Tomahawk missile on bin Laden's camp within six hours of a decision to attack, but the experts in the White House thought that was impossibly long. Any missiles fired at Afghanistan would have to fly over Pakistan, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) was close to the Taliban. White House aides were sure bin Laden would be tipped off as soon as the Pakistanis detected the missiles. (Time, August 4, 2002)
Now MSNBC shows footage from "unmanned, unarmed spy planes called Predators" (my emphasis) and implies that Clinton should have killed him when he had the chance. Bush also missed several chances when "Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000," and had armed Predators available after early 2001. Can't wait for MSNBC's shocking expose on that. Richard Clarke "urged National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to resume the drone flights to track down bin Laden, citing the successes of late 2000 " in briefings in early 2001, but the Bush administration blew it off.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:01 PM on March 16, 2004

what with all the monica shit and everything.

ya, thats it.
As evidenced by Madrid, they're able to attack anywhere--whenever they choose.
Uh-Huh, if this where the case, havoc would be average concerning political instability.
It's certainly not a military problem

In 1994, after an attempt to assassinate bin Laden, I went to the Sudan in 1994 to train bin Laden's bodyguards, security detail. I trained those conducting the security of the interior of his compound, and coordinated with the Sudanese intelligence agents who were responsible for the exterior security. . . .

The ISI has put in place a detailed plan for bin Laden's assassination that is dependent on specific members from inside the Taliban movement, one of the sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told IslamOnline in an exclusive interview.

The new evidence that Clinton knew about Sudan's offers to arrest bin Laden -- but ignored them in order to focus on the 1996 presidential election

Why Clinton even refused to receive Sudan's vital intelligence files on bin Laden's network

How Clinton scuttled a secret offer from the United Arab Emirates to arrest bin Laden -- and also rejected a plea from Yemen for help in capturing the terrorist

Revealed for the first time: how Clinton and a Democratic Senator stopped the CIA from hiring Arabic translators -- while phone intercepts from bin Laden remained untranslated

Drawn from secret Sudanese intelligence files: bin Laden's role in shooting down America's Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu, Somalia -- and how Clinton manipulated the news media to keep the worst off America's TV screens

The warning that Clinton missed -- a week before the deadly shoot-out in Somalia

How Clinton's top officials first learned about bin Laden -- but did nothing

The-never-before told story of the Saudi government attempt to assassinate bin Laden

The real reason Clinton refused to meet with his first CIA director

The untold story of bin Laden's five declarations of war on the U.S. from October 1996 to May 1998 -- threats Clinton ignored

How Clinton ignored intelligence and offers of cooperation against bin Laden from Afghanistan's Northern Alliance

The 1993 World Trade Center attack: Why Clinton refused to believe it had been bombed; why the CIA was kept out of the investigation; and how one of the FBI's most trusted informants was actually a double agent working for bin Laden

Disproved, once and for all: the liberal myth that the CIA funded bin Laden

The untold story of a respected Congressman who repeatedly warned Clinton officials about bin Laden in 1993 -- and why he was ignored
How the Predator spy plane -- which spotted bin Laden three times -- was grounded by bureaucratic infighting

"We can't do it," said Robert Bear, a former CIA agent. "Our intelligence is not good enough. And that's the problem with assassinations. They usually don't work. You usually end up killing the wrong people."
posted by clavdivs at 8:13 PM on March 16, 2004

Who warned the incoming Bush team about Osama?
Who set up briefings specifically about Osama to educate the Bush team?
Who was ignored?
posted by amberglow at 8:27 PM on March 16, 2004

How Clinton met with Saddam Hussein to trade prostitutes for WMD instructions.

How John Kerry, furious at the success of the War on Terror, used his private yacht to secretly ferry Osama bin Laden across the border from Iraq to Afghanistan.

How UN black helicopters rescued Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora.

How Al Gore, disguised as Hans Blix, tried to protect Uday and Qusay Hussein.

Disproved, once and for all: the liberal myth that G. W. Bush is imperfect.

My sources can all be found here.
posted by crazy finger at 8:35 PM on March 16, 2004

sandy "the asshat" berger. That is who.

anymore obvious questions?
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 PM on March 16, 2004

crazy finger...
how quaint and fitting
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 PM on March 16, 2004

just for fun, I googled "Disproved, once and for all: the liberal myth that the CIA funded bin Laden" and found it attributed to this gem: liberalscum.com

I can't find my copy at the moment, but there's a memorable passage in Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them that reads something like this (maybe someone with a copy can confirm how off I am): "In the wake of such a terrible tragedy as 9/11, many republicans soothed themselves by doing what most familiar to them: blaming Clinton."
posted by mcsweetie at 9:08 PM on March 16, 2004

If the CIA was able to get that close to bin Laden before 9/11, why wasn’t he captured or killed?

Losing Bin Laden by Richard Miniter
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:49 PM on March 16, 2004

more on this from Truthout
posted by amberglow at 5:48 AM on March 17, 2004

Thanks for the link to the book cover Steve.

That picture on the cover says it all. He's like all: "oh my god. I forgot to press the 'kill Bin Laden' button. My presidential duties have become secondary to my love of sweet sweet blowjobs. What kind of sick monster have I become!"

I bet it was taken just as the second plane hit.
posted by Tuatara at 6:26 AM on March 17, 2004

If the CIA was able to get that close to bin Laden before 9/11, why wasn’t he captured or killed?

Losing Bin Laden by Richard Miniter
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:49 AM CET on March 17

Losing Bin Laden by Richard Miniter (Regnery Publishing)

hhmmm... let's see:
other books by Regnery Publishing:

Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years
by Rich Lowry
Hardcover - (October 2003) - $27.95

The fight over the Clinton legacy has just begun. Bill will spend the rest of his days defending it and Hillary will run for president on it.
In this shattering indictment, National Review editor Rich Lowry exposes the Clinton legacy for what it is—spin, lies, and failure.
Lowry tells the story of how a politician with grandiose ambitions became a cautious, poll-driven placeholder, of how a president who yearned to confront a great international crisis cringed and shrank from one—the threat of Islamic terrorism—when it arrived..

Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power
by David Aikman
Hardcover - (October 2003) - $27.95
The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
by Mark W. Smith
Paperback - (March 2004) - $14.95

Arm yourself for the 2004 election year!
The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has all the ammunition you need to help you win every argument against loony liberals. Shoot down their biggest myths and expose their blatant hypocrisy!

Shut Up & Sing
by Laura Ingraham

Hardcover - (September 2003) - $27.95

Meet the elites.
They think you’re stupid. They think all freedom loving Americans are stupid. They think patriotism is stupid. They think churchgoing is stupid. They think flag-flying is stupid. They despise families with more than two children. They think your SUV is evil — although theirs is absolutely necessary. But in this refreshing and blisteringly insightful look at the elites, Laura Ingraham reveals that it is they, not us, who are pickled in prejudice, morally blind, and outrageously hypocritical. In a word, it is they who are stupid. Ingraham exposes the outrageous howlers and muddled thinking peddled by a rogue’s gallery of Hollywood celebs, media yuppies, trial lawyers, multiculturalists, God-haters, and race-relations bullies who are exalted as heroes by the elite.


Mugged by the State
by Randall Fitzgerald
Hardcover - (December 2003) - $27.95

Your own government is set to rob you. Scare story? Hardly.
Investigative reporter Randall Fitzgerald has traveled the country meeting ordinary, innocent Americans with horrifying stories of how they have lost their homes, land, businesses, bank accounts, cars, and other assets to federal, state, and local government.
Thanks to out-of-control regulations, property can be seized, impounded, and sold without recompense to the rightful and innocent owner. And as Randall Fitzgerald points out, it could happen to you


and my favorite:

Madame Hillary
by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. with Mark Davis
Hardcover - (February 2004) - $27.95
Prepare the way for President Hillary! Her Dark Road to the White House Revealed at Last… No one knows Hillary Clinton the way R. Emmett Tyrrell and Mark Davis know her. Tyrrell’s American Spectator was the magazine of record for breaking stories on the Clinton administration. For eight solid years it was the administration’s most formidable journalistic opponent—a persistent (as well as a devastatingly perceptive and witty) obstacle to the Clintons’ attempts to hoodwink the public and whitewash their own corruption. Former White House speechwriter and longtime Clinton watcher and chronicler Mark Davis has compiled devastating files of research on Hillary.
New book presents secret documents that reveal the hero behind the war on terror!
Donald Rumsfeld is leading the war on terror—and winning. Washington Times defense reporter Rowan Scarborough details the battle being fought by the defense secretary both in the public arena and behind the scenes. (...)

Rumsfeld's War
by Rowan Scarborough
Hardcover - (March 2004) - $27.95
The man in the cockpit fighting the war on terror.
When terrorists crashed a plane into the Pentagon, he was there—helping carry the wounded to safety. And he’s been there—leading the war on terror, directing its operations around the world in both open and covert missions, and bluntly focusing on one primary goal: killing terrorists. He is Donald Rumsfeld. His great fear was a second Pearl Harbor. When it happened on September 11, 2001, he led the charge to make sure it never happens again.


wanna see past titles?

Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, David Limbaugh, 2001, 0-89526-237-1, cloth, $27.95, "In this stunning exposé Limbaugh shows how politics determines who gets hammered with the mailed fists of the federal government and who can operate with complete legal immunity"


After the Internet: Alien Intelligence, James Martin, 2000, 0-89526-280-0, hardcover, $27.95, "Internationally known high-tech computer consultant, James Martin, taker the reader on a fascinating tour through computer intelligence that will change the way we live and the way businesses compete and grow"

*shakes fost at damn liberal media*

got any other fair and balanced books to feed to the MeFi liberals, Steve?
posted by matteo at 6:38 AM on March 17, 2004

fost = fist
posted by matteo at 6:43 AM on March 17, 2004

ah those Clinton-era mistakes...

O'Neill complained about the inability of U.S. diplomacy to obtain anything from King Fahd. He told the Frenchman that "every answer, every key to dismantling the Osama bin Laden organizations are in Saudi Arabia."

He ran into another diplomatic barrier last year in Yemen, after the Cole bombing. Within days of arriving, he'd knocked heads with the ambassador, Barbara Bodine. While the FBI was interrogating witnesses, the State Department was trying to coax Yemeni diplomats into pledging not to support terror. The conflicting agendas, combined with O'Neill's determination, were explosive. He wanted his agents to carry automatic weapons, like their Yemeni counterparts; she insisted they carry smaller arms, like diplomats. By the time Barry Mawn arrived, Bodine was calling O'Neill an outright liar. O'Neill's comments about the ambassador, friends say, weren't printable.

"He always had a singular focus on the people he sent into harm's way," says Freeh, who wouldn't comment directly about Bodine. "I'm sure he ruffled a couple of feathers doing that. In Yemen, he would call me literally in the middle of the night and say, 'Boss, I'm not comfortable with our situation here.' "

Barbara Bodine of course was awarded a big prize from the Bush administration: US postwar coordinator for central Iraq.
she was promptly fired.
too bad O'Neill, killed on 9-11-2001, wasn't here to enjoy the moment
posted by matteo at 6:51 AM on March 17, 2004

...I asked a dozen people last week—some intimate with the commission's thinking, some members of the intelligence community, some members of Congress who have investigated 9/11—what they would ask the President if they could. Their questions fell into three broad categories.

Why didn't you respond to the al-Qaeda attack on the U.S.S. Cole? The attack occurred on Oct. 12, 2000; 17 American sailors were killed. The Clinton Administration wanted to declare war on al-Qaeda. An aggressive military response was prepared, including special-forces attacks on al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. But Clinton decided that it was inappropriate to take such dramatic action during the transition to the Bush presidency. As first reported in this magazine in 2002, Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and counterterrorism deputy Richard Clarke presented their plan to Condoleezza Rice and her staff in the first week of January 2001.

Berger believed al-Qaeda was the greatest threat facing the U.S. as Clinton left office. Rice thought China was. What were President Bush's priorities? Was he aware of the Berger briefing? Did he consider an aggressive response to the bombing of the Cole or to the al-Qaeda millennium plot directed at Los Angeles International Airport—which was foiled on Dec. 14, 1999? Did he have any al-Qaeda strategy at all? Rice, who has not yet testified under oath, decided to review counterterrorism policy; the review wasn't completed until Sept. 4. A related question along the same lines: Why didn't you deploy the armed Predator drones in Afghanistan? The technology, which might have provided the clearest shot at Osama bin Laden before 9/11, was available early in 2001. But the CIA and the Pentagon squabbled about which agency would be in charge of pulling the trigger. The dispute wasn't resolved until after 9/11. Were you aware of this dispute, Mr. President? Why weren't you able to resolve it?

Indeed, the second category of questions revolves around the President's interest in and awareness of the al-Qaeda threat. As late as Sept. 10, after the assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, Bush was asking in his national-security briefing about the possibility of negotiating with the Taliban for the head of bin Laden. "If he had studied the problem at all," an intelligence expert told me, "he would have known that was preposterous." As early as Aug. 6, Bush had been told that al-Qaeda was planning to strike the U.S., perhaps using airplanes. What was his response to that? How closely was he following the intelligence reports about al-Qaeda activity, which had taken an extremely urgent tone by late spring? Another intelligence expert proposed this question: "Did he ever ask about the quality of the relationship between the CIA and the FBI?"

Obviously, the President couldn't be responsible for knowing that the FBI was tracking suspicious flight training in Arizona or that the CIA had an informant close to two of the hijackers, but was he aware of the friction between the two agencies? Was he aware that John Ashcroft had opposed increasing counterterrorism funding for the FBI?

Finally, there are the questions about the President's actions immediately after 9/11. Specifically, why did he allow planeloads of Saudi nationals, including members of the bin Laden family, out of the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks? Who asked him to give the Saudis special treatment? Was he aware that the Saudi Arabian government and members of the royal family gave money to charities that funded al-Qaeda?

It is easy to cast blame in hindsight. Even if Bush had been obsessed with the terrorist threat, 9/11 might not have been prevented. But the President's apparent lack of rigor—his incuriosity about an enemy that had attacked American targets overseas and had attempted an attack at home—raises a basic question about the nature and competence of this Administration. And that is not a question the Republicans want you to take to the polls in November.

Bush and 9/11: What We Need to Know
posted by y2karl at 7:32 AM on March 17, 2004

This morning Madeleine Albright spoke about this saying it's all wishes. Wish the drone was armed so the Clinton administration could have taken Bin Laden out back then and wishes Bush will.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2004

got any other fair and balanced books to feed to the MeFi liberals, Steve?

this way greaseball, i mentioned Minter first. You have anything to add accept questioning a source which is fine but you like to play and try and be funny
your so

nice take on Bodine, nice to see you'd think O'Neill would chuckle. nice to see your trolloish efforts fail and then we got backpedal karl posting someones version of something.

Clinton did not avenge the Cole because of his frikkin "legacy" he wanted to to do it stickily by the book....the civilian book. He should have let the Navy and CIA handle it so don't give me that transition shit.

Colonel, I have very good intel that matteo is not a real person but either a troll or Miguel or, believe or not Karl.
posted by clavdivs at 9:24 AM on March 17, 2004

When the Clinton team left office, their National Security group conducted three extensive briefings of the incoming Bush people. The attitude of the Bush people was, essentially, dismissive, that it was a "Clinton thing." Condoleezza Rice has admitted that the massive file on al Qaeda and bin Laden left for her by outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger went completely unread until the attacks had taken place.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:44 AM on March 17, 2004

Clav, do you have anything to add other than epithets like "greaseball" and "troll"?

oh theres always
your cool
writting style
posted by Skot at 10:08 AM on March 17, 2004

and I
I am beetle bailey.

ok, after a president is elected, the president-elect gets pretty much the same daily intel briefs as the lameduck president.
so there goes your who had a meeting and why and who.
if I where to speculate, the bush people already where cobbling together there own plan to deal with OBL.
(and that JFK guy used a CIA brief to sideswipe nixon during the debates....how did he know that, because he was briefed on the matter and spilled just enough to make tricky look sweaty and pale and confused and...)

remember, most of bin ladens major attacks towards the U.S. happened on Clintons watch. I do not think I would give much credence to Bergers little reports, hence the hey thanks don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out attitude.

skot, i tease with matteo, if he wants me to stop, i will, all he has to do is ask.
posted by clavdivs at 10:17 AM on March 17, 2004

and even before election the candidate gets a briefing though I'm not sure if this is done any longer.

(because giving sharpton something like a farm report may cause some serious comedy)
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 AM on March 17, 2004

University of Soldier Of Fortune Magazine Class of '72
posted by y2karl at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2004

Guess who's endorsing Bush?
The statement said it supported President Bush (news - web sites) in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry (news - web sites), as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."
posted by amberglow at 4:49 PM on March 17, 2004

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