US Saw Chance at bin Laden in 2007

Osama was expected at Taliban, al-Qaeda rally in Afghanistan
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 6, 2011 9:52 AM CDT
Former president George W. Bush speaks at The 4% Project Conference on April 12, 2011 at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Four years ago, the US believed it had a chance to capture or kill Osama bin Laden: Militants would be gathering in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan for suicide attack training, and there were whispers that bin Laden would attend. A secret raid on the site resulted in the death of dozens of militants—but the al-Qaeda leader wasn't there, the New York Times reports. Senior aides to George Bush describe a scene of intense disappointment at the White House, as the administration saw its last chance to nab bin Laden evaporate. “We thought we had ‘No. 1’ on this side of the border,” in Afghanistan rather than Pakistan, said a US officer. “It was the best intelligence we’d had on him in a long time.”

Intelligence from both Afghans and US Special Ops had pointed to the meeting of Taliban and al-Qaeda figures. But there was dissent among US analysts as to how to address the situation. If bin Laden “had been there, it would have been just luck,” said one. A bombing raid was planned, but when six B-2 Stealth bombers had traveled 1,500 miles toward the region, commanders called the mission off, concerned about civilian casualties and that bin Laden might not be there; the commandos entered instead. Click through for the full story and what Obama learned from it.

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