It feels like it was just a few months ago. I was at my desk at KTLA in Hollywood, and was about to receive one of the strangest calls of my life. It was from my friend and former colleague Bob Campi. A news photographer, Bob, was calling from a spot somewhere near Tora Bora, in eastern Afghanistan, where the U.S. military was attempting to “take out” Osama bin Laden, following the attacks of 9-11. “They think they’ve got him,” Campi said, adding that the military thought bin Laden, was trapped in a cave somewhere not far from where he was talking to me via satellite phone. I could hear explosions going off in the distance, as Campi, did an excited play-by-play, telling me that it wouldn’t be long before Osama, was no more.
We, of course, had no idea at the time that President George W. Bush, would pull our troops back from the attack on bin Laden, sending them over to assist with an invasion of Iraq, something Bush’s Veep Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had reportedly been longing to do for years
I’ve been thinking about that call a lot lately. Almost every time I see a network news show slamming Joe Biden, for what they claim is his botched job of getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan. Almost never is there adequate context provided, alluding to the fact that it was the Administration of George W. Bush that got us into Afghanistan in the first place, only to pull back our troops just as they were about to capture or kill bin Laden.
I recall wondering at the time, why we were even still waging old-fashioned conventional warfare when so much brand new hi-tech stuff was available, with drones, cruise missiles and undoubtedly several other top-secret implements we know nothing about at our military’s fingertips. Hadn’t Bill Clinton nearly taken out Osama with a cruise missile strike just months earlier? Wouldn’t we have that same opportunity again, and without sending tens of thousands of Americans overseas in a massive deployment with any number of experts warning that our incursion had the potential for turning into another Vietnam? Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and company refused to listen. They knew better and went in with a massive military force, anyway. And then, when they were on the verge of killing bin Laden, they pulled back and went after Saddam Hussein instead.
But that’s not why we went into Afghanistan. We went there to get Osama, not Saddam. At least, that’s what we were told.
Now, here we are, twenty years later, with network newscasters landing all over Joe Biden, for not being clairvoyant enough to envision a future not seen by his intelligence people, whereby some 300-thousand American-trained Afghans, would throw down their weapons and melt away into the countryside at the Taliban’s advance.
It’s so easy to forget who got us into this mess, screwed it up royally at the beginning and then refused to pull our troops out for so many years with the declared purpose of “democratizing the Middle East!” That’s what George W. Bush, said he was going to do, even though it was not why we were there and it would, over the long-haul, prove to be impossible.
It was Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, who got us into this mess and then failed to get us out, not Joe Biden. Why we were there in the first place has all but been forgotten. A little context would be nice.