Journal: Tora Bora Revisited by Peter Bergen

08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, Collective Intelligence

Full Story Online
Full Story Online

The Battle for Tora Bora

How Osama bin Laden slipped from our grasp: The definitive account.


I am convinced that Tora Bora constitutes one of the greatest military blunders in recent U.S. history. It is worth revisiting now not just in the interest of historical accuracy, but also because the story contains valuable lessons as we renew our push against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Phi Beta Iota: This is NOT the definitive account, although it does add a few tid-bits not previously published in other works.  Below are the three books that capture vastly more than this account, which is merely a summary.  By one account, Bin Laden was tracked with “eyes on” for four days from Tora Bora to Jalalabad.  By other accounts, General Tommy Franks was certain Bin Laden had been killed and was correct to not put a bigger footprint into the area.  Still other accoiunts–completely speculative–suggest that Bin Laden was allowed to escape in order to justify the occupation of Afghanistan.  The reality is that we do not know because we cannot trust any single account, and there is no truly objective means of sifting through all the possible contributions to our public understanding.

Reference: Senate on Losing Bin Laden & Tora Bora

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