The fight at Tora Bora
In the September 30, 2004, presidential debate, John F. Kerry continued a long-standing Democrat tradition of distorting classified information for political ends — and counting on the Republican opponent to be too principled to give away classified information in rebuttal -- when he intoned in his best Lurch impression:There is more. Little has been written about the Delta Force operations at Tora Bora, so this narrative adds something to the story. The Democrats have always demagogued the issue. They probably still will. It is their nature. This comes from a review of Kill bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man by Dalton Fury. The authors name is a pseudonym for the Delta Force leader.
"(W)hen we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, [he had] 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn't use the best-trained troops in the world to go kill the world's number one criminal and terrorist. They outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who only a week earlier had been on the other side fighting against us, neither of whom trusted each other."
Now, for the first time, we have the details that directly refute Kerry and the Democrats' Big Lie about Tora Bora. In Kill bin Laden, the commander of the Delta Force unit that pulverized thousands of terrorists -- using a pseudonym, Dalton Fury — tells the real story of one of recent history's most misrepresented battles.
In December 2001, after much of Afghanistan was liberated from the Taliban, thousands of al Qaeda, most likely including bin Laden, fled to the Tora Bora cave complex in the Hindu Kush mountains, a sub-range of the Himalayas. Bin Laden had been developing fortified positions in the caves there since the days of the Soviet occupation.
Fury commanded about 40 members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment, popularly known as Delta Force, and called "the Unit" by its members (and whose existence is not formally acknowledged by the U.S. government). They were given the job of rooting out al Qaeda and killing bin Laden. Delta was joined by a few CIA paramilitaries, a Green Beret A Team, some Air Force Special Forces targeting specialists and a few British commandos.
The force's presence, however, was played down, denied and kept as hidden as possible from the press. The official story was that the Afghan Eastern Alliance was taking it to al Qaeda — along with more than a little help from high-flying friends with smart bombs and daisy cutters.
This was difficult, as the press was all over the rear of the battlefield, and Fury shares some amusing anecdotes of the lengths the operators would go to avoid being caught on camera or in front of a microphone. The Afghan "generals," however, were garrulous, indeed.
The tale the Democrats peddled about "outsourcing" the battle seems to be based on an April 17, 2002, story by a Washington Post reporter who apparently fell for the "official line" on the battle at Tora Bora. That'ss no excuse for speading falsehoods, however -- plenty of Democrats on congressional intelligence and military committees knew the truth but were content to fan the flames for partisan ends.
For years, it was considered better than even money that bin Laden was dead. Fury relates the frantic radio transmissions of battered al Qaeda terrorists and bin Laden himself that were used to track movements and target positions; it's very likely Osama's position was hit, and he was severely injured.
It's very possible that closing the mountain passes with mines -- as Fury's boss, Lt. Commander Jake Ashley had requested -- or troops stationed at the Pakistan border would have netted bin Laden. Or it might not have. It certainly would have led to more al Qaeda deaths. The political or diplomatic reasons behind this denial have not been made public.