Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Smoking Gun: Bush Lied about Osama and Tora Bora during campaign

The AP got its hands on a very interesting document recently.:

The AP's Robert Burns reports:

A commander for Osama bin Laden during Afghanistan's war with the Soviet Union
who helped the al-Qaida leader escape American forces at Tora Bora is being held
by U.S. authorities, a government document says.
The document represents the
first definitive statement from the Pentagon that bin Laden, the mastermind of
the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was at Tora Bora and evaded his

Now this gets interesting because as you may recall:

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney asserted during the presidential
election that commanders did not know whether bin Laden was at Tora Bora in
December 2001. They dismissed assertions by Sen. Kerry, that the military had
missed a chance to capture or kill bin Laden while al-Qaida made a last stand in
the mountainous area along the Pakistan border.

Well it appears they DID know, since have been holding someone at Gitmo for helping him escape:

The document, provided to The Associated Press in response to a {FOIA} request,
says the detainee.. "assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora."
"The detainee was one of Osama bin Laden's commanders during the Soviet jihad,"
it says, referring to the holy war against Soviet occupiers in the 1980s."

Of course that was back when OBL and his buddies were the good guys.

Bang. Can you smell the cordite?
That ladies and gentleman is what we call a smoking gun. 6 months too late to mean anything, and more than likely about to be widely ignored by Big Media, but a smoking gun nonetheless. Proof positive that Kerry was right and we DID botch arguably the most important battle in the War on Terrorism.

The way this document came to light is a perfect illustration of why we have to keep fighting the good fight on ghost detainees, Gitmo prisoners, and people like Jose Padilla:

The document is what the Pentagon calls a "summary of evidence" and was
presented against one of 558 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay on Dec. 14 for a
hearing to determine whether the prisoner was correctly held as an "enemy
combatant." The assertion about his efforts and bin Laden's escape is made as a
statement of fact; it does not indicate how the information was obtained.

Now we know those hearings are a sham. They are designed by the Pentagon solely to flout the Supreme Court rulings requiring them to allow the detainees access to due process. But even these hearing lift the cloak of secrecy a little bit, create a paper trail, and go at least a little way towards holding the government accountable. Without the relentless efforts of the ACLU and its allies, we wouldn't even have had this much.

Now if only we'd had it earlier when these statements were being made:

Cheney said Oct. 26 that Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in
Afghanistan, had "stated repeatedly it was not at all certain that bin Laden was
in Tora Bora. He might have been there or in Pakistan or even Kashmir," the
Indian-controlled Himalayan region.
Franks, now retired, wrote in an opinion
column in The New York Times on Oct. 19, "We don't know to this day whether Mr.
bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001." He added that intelligence
assessments of his location varied, but bin Laden was "never within our grasp."
On several occasions Bush cited the column as evidence that bin Laden could
have been in any of several countries in December 2001. "That's what Tommy
Franks, who knew what he's talking about, said," Bush said on Oct. 27.


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