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July 08, 2005

Open Source Book - How Bush Lost the War on Terror

As I was driving home from CENTCOM, I recalled a lesson from ancient history, when the tragic blunders of Athens in the Peloponnesian War ultimately led to its destruction. Upon looking it up again, I was struck by how trenchant the analogy was: In 413 BC, Athens, in the midst of a war with Sparta, decided to attempt to expand its empire by taking over Sicily. The campaign was disastrous. It led to the destruction of the Athenian navy and it weakened Athens to the point that Sparta was able to defeat it, effectively ending the Athenian empire and the classical age. As General Franks explained to me how America was shifting its efforts from Afghanistan to Iraq, I understood how Pericles must have felt when he said, "I am more afraid of our own mistakes than of our enemy's designs." -Senator Bob Graham, Intelligence Matters, Page 127

Click here for a timeline graphic with detailed references

9.11.2001 As dusk fell on the roof, I heard a strange sound, more like an electronic chime than anything animate. It was the sunset call of the owls of Athena, the tiny birds with huge eyes whose image first appeared on Greek coins 2500 years ago. Those little owls had sent their haunting calls across Aegean hills during centuries of peace and war. Now they announced the arrival of nightfall, on the first day of a war that might well last for decades. -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 244

9.12.2001 Before the attacks, the Pentagon had been working for months on developing a military option for Iraq. Everyone at the table believed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a menace, a leader bent on acquiring and perhaps using weapons of mass destruction. Any serious, full-scale war against terrorism would have to make Iraq a target - eventually. Rumsfeld was raising the possibility that they could take advantage of the opportunity offered by the terrorist attacks to go after Saddam immediately. -Bob Woodward, Bush at War, Page 49

9.15.2001 Though the U.S. military claims to be designed and equipped to fight two full-scale conflicts simultaneously, Powell thought the Defense Department was overestimating its ability to do two things at the same time from the same command, with the same commander and staff. Military attacks on both Afghanistan and Iraq would be under the jurisdiction of CENTCOM.

He hadn't articulated that point, but he figured it was his ace in the hole. No military plan had been presented for Iraq. No one, neither Rumsfeld nor Wolfowitz, had told the president precisely what should be done in Iraq and how it might be done. Nobody had taken it to the next step and said, This is what we're talking about. The absence of a plan was a gaping hole. -Bob Woodward, Bush at War, Page 87

9.30.2001 "By the way, General," Rumsfeld had said at the end of one of our video conferences in late September, "don't forget about Iraq."

"I won't, Mr. Secretary," I'd said. "We've got aircrews flying in harm's way over Iraq every day." -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 268

10.7.2001 U.S. and British forces attacked Taliban military targets throughout Afghanistan with bombers and cruise missiles. The thirty targets included airfields, air defense systems, terrorist training camps, and troop concentrations facing Northern Alliance forces. President Bush announced the strikes from the White House Treaty Room at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, and said that he had consulted with Congressional leaders the day before. He said that over 40 countries had provided air transit or landing rights and that even more had shared information. Canada, Britain, Australia, France, and Germany had pledged military support. -U.S. State Department

10.29.2001 When I summarized the tactical picture for Musharraf, he predicted that the Taliban regime "must soon collapse - hopefully before Ramadan."

"I hope so, Mr. President," I said. "The Afghan people have suffered under the Taliban and al Qaeda long enough."

"Do you know where Osama bin Laden is?" he asked.

"No, Sir. Do you?"

Musharraf smiled. "We think he is still in Afghanistan, in the east - Tora Bora. My intelligence officers would know if he had crossed into Pakistan." -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 308

11.13.2001 American and British military planners are trying to suppress feelings of triumphalism, but they are ready to admit to a sense of satisfaction.

The rapid fall of Kabul has, they feel, proved the effectiveness of a bombing campaign which only a week ago was being questioned for its effectiveness and criticised for its brutal impact on civilians.

All the while, the Taleban was being taken apart and is now "scattered to the four winds", said one senior official in London. -BBC News, 11/13/2001

11.15.2001 "The Arab fighters are withdrawing to mountain redoubts just south of the city of Jalalabad, where they have stocks of supplies that can hold for weeks," says Pir Sayed Ishaq Gailani, an ethnic Pashtun, who warns the US against trusting too many of his own former anti-Soviet fighting colleagues. A former reporter for the Kabul Times, now inside Afghanistan, said yesterday in a phone interview that Taliban and Arab fighters are massing near the Logar River about 35 miles south of Kabul. -Christian Science Monitor, 11/15/2001

11.19.2001 Defense Department strategists are building a case for a massive bombing of Iraq as a new phase of President Bush's war against terrorism, congressional and Pentagon sources say. Proponents of attacking Iraq, spearheaded by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, are now arguing privately that still-elusive evidence linking Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime to the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 is not necessary to trigger a military strike. -USA Today, 11/19/2001

11.21.2001 "Hey," Newbold said in his best take-notice voice, "I've got a real tough problem for you. The secretary's going to ask you to start looking at your Iraq planning in great detail - and give him a new commander's estimate."

"You got to be shitting me," Renuart said. "We're only kind of busy on some other things right now. Are you sure?"

"Well, yeah. It's coming. So stand by."

The current Iraq war plan, Op Plan 1003, was some 200 pages with 20-plus annexes numbering another 600 pages on logistics, intelligence, air, land and sea operations. According to this plan, it would take the United States roughly seven months to move a force of 500,000 to the Middle East before launching military operations. Renuart went to see General Franks, who had received only a vague indication there had been discussion in Washington about the Iraq war plan. Renuart now had more detail.

"Hey, boss," Renuart said, reporting that a formal request of a commander's estimate was coming. "So we'd better get on it."

Franks was incredulous. They were in the midst of one war, Afghanistan, and now they wanted detailed planning for another, Iraq? "Goddamn," Franks said, "what the fuck are they talking about?" -Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, Page 8

11.23.2001 Commander Ghamsharik said in his interview: "I'm absolutely sure that Osama bin Laden was in Jalalabad and that he dined with Pakistanis from the town of Paracinar."

He added that two important Taliban officials were now acting as a liaison between the Arabs in Tora Bora and the newly-appointed, Western-backed government in Jalalabad.

He said: "I am 70 per cent sure that Osama is still there in Tora Bora, though he could have fled further south." -Daily Telegraph, 11/23/2001

11.25.2001 Well the "New York Times" has a quote that I think I want you to see. And it says, quote: "We have some people who told us that three or four days ago Osama bin Laden was in Tora Bora. I trust them like my mother or father." And that was Hazarat Ali, the law and order minister in Eastern Shura. -CNN Sunday Morning, 11/25/2001

11.26.2001 "Saddam is evil," said Mr Bush, the first time he had applied that adjective to the Iraqi dictator. "I think he's got weapons of mass destruction, and I think he needs to open up his country to let us inspect."

Mr Bush said it was obvious from Saddam's previous use of chemical weapons that he was a threat and harboured ambitions towards mass terrorism. "It's up to him to prove he's not," said Mr Bush, reversing the onus of proof.

Mr Bush used an interview with Newsweek magazine to identify Saddam as a target, and appeared to relish the prospect of finishing the job of neutralising the Iraqi dictator, which his father did not achieve after the Gulf war 10 years ago.

In effect, under a policy known within the administration as "coercive diplomacy", the Iraqi leadership will be told to readmit the expelled United Nations weapons inspectors or face military attack. -Daily Telegraph, 11/26/2001

11.27.2001 That morning, six days after the president's request on the Iraq war plan, Rumsfeld flew to see General Franks at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa. After greeting everyone, he kicked Franks's staff as well as his own aides out of the room, even telling his military assistant, Vice Admiral Giambastiani, "Ed, I need you to step outside."

"Pull the Iraq planning out and let's see where we are," Rumsfeld told Franks when they were alone. -Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, Page 36

11.28.2001 Between two and four days later, somewhere between Nov. 28 to Nov. 30 - according to detailed interviews with Arabs and Afghans in eastern Afghanistan afterward - the world's most-wanted man escaped the world's most-powerful military machine, walking - with four of his loyalists - in the direction of Pakistan. -Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/2002

11.29.2001 SAWYER: Do you believe he's in Tora Bora?

CHENEY: I think he's still in Afghanistan. I think he's probably in that general area.

SAWYER: Why do you think he's still there?

CHENEY: Because I think he was equipped to go to ground there. He's got what he believes to be fairly secure facilities, caves underground. It's an area he's familiar with. He operated there back during the war against the Soviets in the '80s. He's got a large number of fighters with him probably, a fairly secure personal security force that he has some degree of confidence in, and he'll have to he may try to leave, that is, he may depart for other territory, but that's not quite as easy as it would have been a few months ago. Anybody who contemplates providing sanctuary for bin Laden at this point has to keep in mind what happened to the Taliban when they did that. -ABC Primetime Live, 11/29/2001

12.1.2001 Four days later, December 1, a Saturday, Rumsfeld sent through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a Top Secret planning order to Franks asking him to come up with the commander's estimate to build the base of a new Iraq war plan. In two pages the order said Rumsfeld wanted to know how Franks would conduct military operations to remove Saddam from power, eliminate the threat of any possible weapons of mass destruction, and choke off his suspected support of terrorism. This was the formal order for thinking outside the box.

The Pentagon was supposed to give Franks 30 days to come up with his estimate - an overview and a concept for something new, a first rough cut. "He had a month and we took 27 days away," recalled Marine General Pete Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a Rumsfeld favorite. Franks was to report in person three days later. -Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, Page 38

12.3.2001 That's correct. General Franks has articulated he believes that the leadership of al Qaeda may be in the area south of Jalalabad, and that's why and where we've been concentrating our efforts there. -Admiral Stufflebeem, 12/3/2001

12.4.2001 That marked the end of the briefing. "Mr. Secretary, I know you are not fulfilled by what I've given you today. But it is a beginning, and I wanted to make sure we were on the same page on strategic assumptions and support options."

"Well, General, you have a lot of work ahead of you," he said, stacking the pages. "Today is Tuesday. Let's get together again next Wednesday, December 12. I want to hear more details at that time."

The screen went blank. Gene had been taking notes in his oversized journal; the staff called it the "Black Book of Death," because the workload it represented was enough to kill even the hardiest group of staff officers.

"Hey, Boss," Gene said. "Things are looking up. The Secretary just gave us eight whole days. Last time it was only a week." -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 335

12.5.2001 Afghan tanks supported by American bombers opened the long-heralded offensive against Osama bin Laden's suspected mountain-top fortress yesterday.

The earth quaked and the Afghan children cheered. Field Commander Halim Shah said: "The battle for Tora Bora has begun and will continue until we eradicate al-Qa'eda. We have already advanced and taken several caves." America and Britain have said bin Laden could be hiding in the maze of mountain tunnels, although there have been no sightings for a number of days. But it is known that hundreds of his foreign legionnaires, perhaps 2,000, are based in the complex. -Daily Telegraph, 12/6/2001

12.10.2001 Pir Baksh Bardiwal, the intelligence chief for the Eastern Shura, which controls eastern Afghanistan, says he was astounded that Pentagon planners didn't consider the most obvious exit routes and put down light US infantry to block them.

"The border with Pakistan was the key, but no one paid any attention to it," he said, leaning back in his swivel chair with a short list of the Al Qaeda fighters who were later taken prisoner. "And there were plenty of landing areas for helicopters, had the Americans acted decisively. Al Qaeda escaped right out from under their feet."

The intelligence chief contends that several thousand Pakistani troops who had been placed along the border about Dec. 10 never did their job, nor could they have been expected to, given that the exit routes were not being blocked inside Afghanistan. -Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/2002

12.12.2001 "General," Rumsfeld said, smiling, "this is a good beginning, but I need more detail before I take it to the President. I don't know what he will decide to do, but you need to work more quickly than the military usually works."

I glanced at Gene again. We were iterating this exercise in one-week bites; it was hard to imaging moving any faster. I explained that I was leaving in a week to attend Hamid Karzai's inauguration in Kabul. "Sir, I'd like some time to refine our assumptions and analyze the elements we've identified as necessary to execute this concept. I recommend we begin the inter-agency work that will be necessary with State and the intelligence community."

"Let's talk next week," Rumsfeld had said. "I want this to be worked by a very small group. There are still too many leakers and this must not be leaked. Thanks, everyone." The screen went blank. -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 344

12.14.2001 The -- it -- what would cause one to say either he is in the Tora Bora area, vicinity of Jalalabad, or he has left? And obviously we use all sorts of technical means to gain insights into where he may be. We also listen to what these opposition leaders on the ground have to say, because they each have their own intelligence capability. And so when one looks at all these sources, then what happens is, you see all sorts of conflicting information, and I think that's why we always say you just don't know what you don't know. And so it's probably not a good idea to say with some certainty where he is. But we know where our current fight is, and that's in the Tora Bora area. -General Tommy Franks, 12/14/2001

12.17.2001 The site of the world's biggest stakeout certainly has all the appearances of a siege. Heavily armed Afghans race up mountain valleys with anti-aircraft guns in tow.

A US Special Forces team, sometimes hiding behind tinted pickup truck windows, directs the operations of the Afghan fighters and target US bombing runs. Together, they have hammered Al Qaeda forces and cleared two major mountain valleys near the Tora Bora cave complex.

But yesterday, after tribal fighters said they captured the last of the Al Qaeda positions, killing more than 200 fighters and capturing 25, there was still no sign of the world's most wanted terrorist - Osama bin Laden. And there were far fewer fighters both captured and killed than were originally thought present. -Christian Science Monitor, 12/17/2001

12.19.2001 Franks got only another week before Rumsfeld summoned him back to the Pentagon on December 19 for the third iteration. Once again Rumsfeld indicated he was not satisfied – “not fulfilled,” as he occasionally termed his sense of dissatisfaction.

Later Rumsfeld recalled during an interview in his Pentagon office, “I tend to ask a lot of questions of the people I work with and I tend to give very few orders. This place is so big and so complicated and there’s so much that I don’t know, that I probe and probe and probe and push and ask, Well why wasn’t this done or shouldn’t this be done, but it’s generally with a question mark at the end.”

Rumsfeld, certainly had to be aware that when the secretary of defense asks, “Why wasn’t this done?” or “Shouldn’t this be done?” or shows even the slightest discontent, it has the force of an order, even if concluded with a sincere question mark. -Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, Page 43

12.22.2001 Combat operations had gone remarkably well. But I knew the war was not over. Hazrat Ali reported that a large group of Arabs had taken refuge in the redoubt of caves and tunnels southwest of the Kyber Pass. And Ali's Afghan troops had encountered fierce resistance from heavily armed fighters dug into concentric defensive rings. Tora Bora would be a "gunfight," and it would happen soon - before any al Qaeda leaders who might be holed up there could escape. -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 323

12.27.2001 On Thursday, December 27, we'd been airborne for about an hour, homeward bound after an overnight in Sicily, when I got down to work in the plane's small conference room. Cathy was resting, trying to catch up on lost sleep from the hectic leapfrog schedule around the AOR. In the past five days, we had visited Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, seven Coalition bases, and five U.S. Navy ships, spending Christmas with the sailors on two carriers in the northern Arabian Sea. We'd been on C-17s, C-130s, three kinds of helicopters, and a twin-turboprop Carrier Onboard Delivery plane (COD), which had given Cathy the thrill of her first flight-deck tailhook landing and catapult-launch takeoff.

Despite the pace of the trip, I was glad that Cathy and I had been able to spend Christmas together because I knew I wouldn't have much time at home in the coming weeks. With stability operations in Afghanistan moving ahead well, I would have to turn my attention to the task Secretary Rumsfeld had given me during the Thanksgiving holidays: bringing our Iraq planning up to date.

"Your homework, General," said Van Mauney, laying a stack of orange-bordered Top Secret file folders on the table before me.

The folders contained the latest "iteration" in the painstaking revision process that began in late November. In the four weeks since then, I had briefed Donald Rumsfeld several times, in person and via video conference. Hundreds of hours of work had gone into the effort. But as I opened the top folder, I knew we were just beginning a long, deliberate process. -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 329

1.29.2002 Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic. -President Bush, 1/29/2002

2.19.2002 At that point, General Franks asked for an additional word with me in his office. When I walked in, he closed the door. Looking troubled, he said, "Senator, we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan."

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq," he continued. "The Predators are being relocated. What we are doing is a manhunt. We have wrapped ourselves too much in trailing Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. We're better at being a meat ax than finding a needle in a haystack. That's not our mission, and that's not what we are trained or prepared to do."

It took me a while to digest what he had told me. General Franks's mission in Afghanistan - which, as a good soldier, he was loyally carrying out - was being downgraded from a war to a manhunt. What's more, the most important tools for a manhunt, the Predators, had been redeployed to Iraq at the moment they were most needed in Afghanistan.

I was stunned. This was the first time I had been informed that the decision to go to war with Iraq had not only been made but was being implemented, to the substantial disadvantage of the war in Afghanistan. -Senator Bob Graham, Intelligence Matters, Page 125

3.13.2002 Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban. -President Bush, 3/13/2002

7.7.2004 White egrets stand at the edge of the pond near the flight line - stately birds the move gracefully, but have a raucous croak. Passing them, I remember the small gray owls of Athena that called across the roof of the Kydon Hotel on September 11, 2001, the first night of this long war. Almost three years have passed since that September evening in Greece.

We have won important battles... Yet the war is far from over. -General Tommy Franks, American Soldier, Page 537

10.31.2004 All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.

This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.

All Praise is due to Allah.

So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.

That being said, those who say that al-Qaida has won against the administration in the White House or that the administration has lost in this war have not been precise, because when one scrutinises the results, one cannot say that al-Qaida is the sole factor in achieving those spectacular gains. -Osama bin Laden, 10/31/2004

Posted by Mike at July 8, 2005 11:06 AM

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