Because this is from page eight of the new Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation into how bin Laden and al-Qaeda escaped from the U.S. and Afghan militia assault on Tora Bora in December 2001:

The decision not to deploy American forces to go after bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, the architects of the unconventional Afghan battle plan known as Operation Enduring Freedom. Rumsfeld said at the time that he was concerned that too many U.S. troops in Afghanistan would create an anti-American backlash and fuel a widespread insurgency. Reversing the recent American military orthodoxy known as the Powell doctrine, the Afghan model emphasized minimizing the U.S. presence by relying on small, highly mobile teams of special operations troops and CIA paramilitary operatives working with the Afghan opposition. Even when his own commanders and senior intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Washington argued for dispatching more U.S. troops, Franks refused to deviate from the plan.

I’m one of the unfortunate souls who’s read Franks’ memoir, American Soldier, released when the newly-retired general appeared like he was going to emerge as a new GOP superstar. (He spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention.) This is from a 2004 piece of mine reviewing what Franks thought about Tora Bora and its aftermath:

Franks, however, was unfazed. As he flew to a Northern Alliance meeting on December 22, he reflected, “I knew that there was still hard fighting ahead in Afghanistan. But the main resistance had been shattered. The remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda were hiding in the snowy mountains of the southeast, subjected to relentless bombing.” And, because of his optimism, Franks saw no need for the robust counterinsurgency envisioned in Phase IV. Only 8,500 American troops were deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, and Franks limited their activity to hunting Al Qaeda on the country’s southeastern border rather than establishing security and fighting militants around the country. The Pentagon, evidently with Franks’s consent, blocked the expansion of international peacekeeping forces from their Kabul base of operations. And no American forces were used for stability operations.

As a result, over the last two and a half years, the fundamentalists have grown in strength, mounting increasing attacks on American forces, assassinating foreign aid workers, and terrorizing the Afghan population. Last September, a Taliban spokesman explained their strategy to David Rohde of The New York Times: Bog the United States down in a guerrilla campaign for “ten or twenty years” that it showed no ability to adapt to. Warlords now control the country, not Karzai. Yet, to Franks, reviewing the Afghan campaign in 2002, “We had accomplished our mission.”

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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