President Bush yesterday said that because of his leadership, “America and the world are safer.”1 But almost three years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden remains at large, while the U.S. government admits top al Qaeda leaders are planning attacks on America from the Afghan-Pakistan border region.2 And now a new book confirms the President actually shifted key resources away from the fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Knight-Ridder reports that in his upcoming book, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) disclosed that General Tommy Franks told him on Feb. 19, 2002, four months after the invasion of Afghanistan, that many important resources were being shifted to prepare for a war against Iraq. Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, said the administration moved things like the Predator drone aircraft out of Afghanistan even though it is “crucial to the search for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda leaders.”3
Graham’s account is consistent with reports from earlier this year. In March 2004, USA Today reported that the White House in 2002 shifted special forces off of the hunt for bin Laden in Afghanistan and into preparations for an Iraq invasion. The administration also took intelligence “specialists away from the Afghanistan effort to ensure Iraq was covered.”4
- “President’s Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Poplar Bluff, Missouri,” WhiteHouse.gov, 9/06/04.
- “Officials: Bin Laden guiding plots against U.S.,” CNN.com, 7/08/04.
- “9/11 hijackers tied to Saudi government, Graham says in book,” Boston Globe, 9/05/04.
- “Shifts from bin Laden hunt evoke questions,” USA Today, 3/28/04.