From CBS’s 60 Minutes, comes a Delta Force Officer’s account of how the highest levels of the Bush administration allowed the escape of Osama bin Laden in the mountainous Afghan/Pakistan border region. This highly corroborated account of bin Laden’s Tora Bora escape begs the question, “Why would the U.S. administration allow bin Laden to escape?”
As found in the previous freshrant blog post, “How Bush Ignored Bin Laden Before 9/11”, one must ask, as the next blog post will reveal in greater detail, why Bush ignored Bin Laden after 9/11?
There are uncomfortably difficult answers to this question leading to more questions. Why did Bush and Rumsfeld finger their National Security Adviser, Richard Clarke, immediately following September 11, 2001, for him to find links between Iraq and 9/11? Why did Rumsfeld famously say there were no good targets to bomb in Afghanistan like there would be in Iraq? Finally, how would Bush be able to fire up the American public to invade Iraq if he couldn’t find some al-Qaeda-Iraq link as he long claimed, especially if the leader of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 were captured or dead? A colossal blunder of the Bush command structure or benign disregard and neglect of an urgent request by America’s most elite troops on the ground to capture America’s Most Wanted criminal?
(CBS) The ofﬁcer who led the Delta Force mission to kill Osama bin Laden after 9/11
reveals what really happened in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, when the al-Qaeda leader
narrowly escaped. Scott Pelley reports.
“Dalton Fury” is the pseudonym of this former Army major who led the secret Delta Force mission to try to kill Osama bin Laden nine weeks after 9/11. This story was ﬁrst published on Oct. 5,2008. It was updated on July 11, 2009.
Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon ordered a top secret team of American commandos into Afghanistan with a single, simple order: kill Osama bin Laden. It was America’s best chance to eliminate the leader of al Qaeda.
The inside story of exactly what happened in that mission, and how close it came to its objective has never been told until 60 Minutes and correspondent Scott Pelley reported this story.
The man you are about to meet was the ofﬁcer in command, leading a team from the U.S. Army’s mysterious Delta Force – a unit so secret, it’s often said Delta doesn’t exist. But you are about to see Delta’s operators in action.
Why did the mission commander break his silence after seven years? He told 60 Minutes that most everything he’d read in the media about his mission is wrong and he wants to set the record straight.
“Our job was to go ﬁnd him, capture or kill him, and we knew the writing on the wall was to kill him.”
In 2001, just 10 weeks after 9/11, he was a 37-year-old Army major leading a team of America’s most elite commandos. Even now, 60 Minutes can’t tell you his name or show you his face. 60 Minutes hired a theatrical make up artist to take this former Delta ofﬁcer through a series of transformations to disguise him.
He calls himself “Dalton Fury,” and is the author of “Kill Bin Laden,” a book out this week. Dalton Fury is used to disguises. In fact in 2001, his entire team transformed themselves in Afghanistan. “Everybody has their beard grown. Everybody’s wearing local Afghan clothing, sometimes carrying the same weapons as them,” he explains.
“The idea was that if this all worked out Osama bin Laden would be dead, and no one would ever know that Delta Force was there?” Pelley asks.
“That’s right,” Fury says. “That’s the plan. And that always is when you’re talking about Delta Force.”
And there was no mission more important to the United States. “We’ll smoke him out of his cave and we’ll get him eventually,” President Bush had vowed.
But the administration’s strategy was to let Afghans do most of the ﬁghting. Using radio intercepts and other intelligence, the CIA pinpointed bin Laden in the mountains near the border of Pakistan.
Following the strategy of keeping an Afghan face on the war, Fury’s Delta team
joined the CIA and Afghan ﬁghters and piled into pickup trucks. They videotaped their journey to a place called Tora Bora.
Fury told 60 Minutes his orders were to kill bin Laden and leave the body with the Afghans.
“Right here you’re looking at basically the battleﬁeld from the last location that we had a ﬁrm on Osama bin Laden’s location,” Fury explains to Pelley, looking at a ridgeline with an elevation of about 14,000 feet.
Asked how tough it would be to attack such a position on a scale of one to ten, Fury tells Pelley, “In my experience it’s a ten.”
Delta developed an audacious plan to come at bin Laden from the one direction he would never expect.
“We want to come in on the back door,” Fury explains. “The original plan that we sent up through our higher headquarters, Delta Force wants to come in over the mountain with oxygen, coming from the Pakistan side, over the mountains and come in and get a drop on bin Laden from behind.”
But they didn’t take that route, because Fury says they didn’t get approval from a higher level.
“Whether that was Central Command all the way up to the president of the United States, I’m not sure,” he says.
The next option that Delta wanted to employ was to drop hundreds of landmines in the mountain passes that led to Pakistan, which was bin Laden’s escape route.
“First guy blows his leg off, everybody else stops. That allows aircraft overhead to ﬁnd them. They see all these heat sources out there. Okay, there a big large group of Al Qaeda moving south. They can engage that,” Fury explains.
But they didn’t do that either, because Fury says that plan was also disapproved. He says he has “no idea” why.
“How often does Delta come up with a tactical plan that’s disapproved by higher headquarters?” Pelley asks.
“In my experience, in my ﬁve years at Delta, never before,” Fury says.
After the 60 Minutes interview with Fury, the New Republic published an article in December 2009 titled “The Battle for Tora Bora” by Peter Bergen, CNN analyst and author of “Holy War, Inc: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden”. In the article, Bergen recounts that the failure to capture bin Laden allowed the Taliban to regroup stronger as the Bush administration diverted focus, troops and military assets to Iraq.
Bergen’s account has been corroborated by former CIA head officer, Gary Berntsen, who was charged to get bin Laden in the fall of 2001, as outlined in his 2005 book Jawbreaker. He describes how he and the CIA special forces in his charge had located Osama bin Laden. Berntsen states bin Laden would have been captured if the U.S. Central Command had allowed the troops that Berntsen requested.
Another CIA officer, Gary Schroen, also has backed Berntsen’s account along with Andy McNab, a former SAS trooper stating Coalition forces were, “within a whisker” of capturing bin Laden at Tora Bora. Al-Qaeda captives later confirmed that bin Laden had escaped out of Tora Bora and into Pakistan.
General Tommy Franks claims, “We don’t know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time…but Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.” CYA.
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