told German newspaper Handelsblatt that using Afghans was the key mistake in the hunt for Bin Laden.John Kerry, October 29, 2004:
He said Bin Laden paid "a lot of money" to buy a safe passage from the Tora Bora caves, which he had retreated to during the US assault in 2001.
The US has said it used Afghan fighters to reduce casualties among its troops.
Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida were cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, and it was wrong to outsource the job of capturing them to Afghan warlords who a week earlier were fighting against us.President Bush, October 29, 2004:
"My opponent continues to say things he knows are not true." He said, "It's especially shameful in light of the new tape from America's enemy."The Washington Post, April 17, 2002:
Kerry's account "does not square with reality," Bush said.
"It's the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking."
The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.UPDATE: Dick Cheney:
"He was equipped to go to ground there," Cheney told ABC News in late November 2001. "He's got what he believes to be fairly secure facilities, caves underground. It's an area he's familiar with."UPDATE: General Tommy Franks, in his book American Soldier (as reported by NY Daily News):
Franks reports that on Nov. 27, 2001, he and Gen. Gene Renuart were working on the air support for the Afghan proxies moving into Tora Bora. He was interrupted by a phone call from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"Gen. Franks, the President wants us to look for options for Iraq," Rumsfeld said, by Frank's account. "What is the status of your planning?"
Franks said they had something called OPLAN 1003, but it was "out of date."
"Please dust it off and get back to me next week," Rumsfeld directed.
The book recounts Franks saying to himself, "Son of a bitch. No rest for the weary." He turned to the general with whom he had been planning air support at Tora Bora.
"Gene ... new work to be done," Franks said.