A Newsweek exclusive gives us yet another instance of “Kerry Was Right.” In an new book by Gary Berntsen, a CIA field commander for the agency’s Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Berntsen discloses that the CIA did know where bin Laden was. Contrary to the Bush administration’s assertions that they did not, Kerry the “worst-kind of Monday-morning quarterback” as Bush called him, obviously knew the plays better than Bush…
During the 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush and John Kerry battled about whether Osama bin Laden had escaped from Tora Bora in the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Bush, Kerry charged, “didn’t choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill” the leader of Al Qaeda. The president called his opponent’s allegation “the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking.” Bush asserted that U.S. commanders on the ground did not know if bin Laden was at the mountain hideaway along the Afghan border.
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.
Berntsen’s book “backs up other recent accounts, including that of military author Sean Naylor, who calls Tora Bora a “strategic disaster” because the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping Qaeda and Taliban members.”
Maj. Todd Vician, a Defense Department spokesman, says the problem at Tora Bora “was not necessarily just the number of troops.”
Berntsen’s book gives, by contrast, a heroic portrayal of CIA activities at Tora Bora and in the war on terror.