The One That Got Away


From the Associated Press:

The CIA is squelching publication of a new book detailing events leading up to Osama bin Laden's escape from his Tora Bora mountain stronghold during the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, says a former CIA officer who led much of the fighting.

In a story he says he resigned from the agency to tell, Gary Berntsen recounts the attacks he coordinated at the peak of the fighting in eastern Afghanistan in late 2001, including how U.S. commanders knew bin Laden was in the rugged mountains near the Pakistani border and the al Qaeda leader's much-discussed getaway. […]

"When I watched the presidential debates, it was clear to me … the debate and discussions on Tora Bora were -- from both sides completely incorrect," said Berntsen, who won't provide details until the agency finishes declassifying his book. "It did not represent the reality of what happened on the ground."

Link via Sploid.

NEXT: Terrorists Call it Quits!

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  1. But if squelching the book keeps one Langley desk jockey from being outed, its all good!

    Right, joe?

  2. Desk jockey, desk jockey, maybe if I repeat it like a mantra, the whole thing will go away...

    You're sounding desperate, RC.

  3. Government secrecy is the last refuge of scoundrels and despots.

  4. I think that he once bought a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band LP in the mid-70s, so we're right to have our freakin' eyes protected from his objectively pro-terrorist scribblings.

  5. I don't know if the CIA is pulling a CYA or what, but even if they are, what option do we have other than to give them the benefit of the doubt?

  6. To me it is obvious that the government needs some ability to keep things secrets. I know some disagree, but in this world, it should be taken as a given that that need will be met. From there, though, there are different things we can do. Joe swrites "what option do we have other than to give them the benefit of the doubt?"
    The answer is to come up with proper checks and balances. The CIA should not be the arbiter, it should go to an independent place for review. It should be difficult for the state to keep secrets, and they should be required to make a case, and a timeframe for when something must be secret, and seperate entity needs to be able to judge that, with records about how often certain people or panels disagreed.
    To go a little tangential on you, this approach applies to all sorts of surveilance as well. You might not like video cameras everywhere, but they are increasing, and we need to codify when and who has access to this information. The answer is not to ban the collection of information, but to come up with processes that protect our interests.

  7. Government secrecy is the last refuge of scoundrels and despots.

    With all due respect to paraphrase Ambrose Bierce, I beg to submit that it is the first.

  8. I wonder whether it might be possible to put classification, especially in cases where the need for classification is disputed by someone who knows the information, under the purview of the judicial branch. The judges could be vetted for the necessary clearances to review the materials, and then could hear arguments from Berntsen and from the CIA on the necessity of suppressing the information. I'm not sure how it would work in cases where there is no one on the other side, arguing against classification, but in a case like this, it would essentially be the same procedure as a FOIA lawsuit, except with the purveyor of the information instead of the recipient as the plaintiff.

  9. To follow up on Amy's post, let there be a "secrecy warrant" or "secrecy injunction" or whatever term is applicable. It exists for a fixed period, say 2 years. It must be sought within 90 days of the beginning of an operation/investigation/project and materially list the things that are to be kept secret. This means any project/operation/investigation can be conducted in secret for 90 days before the lid comes off. This would be useful in the planning stage of an operation, in which they can decide just how much secrecy is actually required.

    Anyone who successfully challenges items that are illegally kept secret not only gets access to those items, but all other items under the challenged warrant/injunction are opened up too. That's the stick for keeping things from running away. Sure, the original warrant/injunction might have wording like "and anything else we deem necessary", but the issuing judge would have to agree, and the judge at the challenging hearing would have to agree.

    The warrant/injunction could be renewed every 2 years, but they would have to convince a judge that the exact terms of the original warrant/injunction still hold. As time passes, items are bound to be struck from the warrant/injunction.

    Anyone want to refine this idea further?

  10. Why are they picking on Gary Berntsen? He's just a soccer mom!

  11. Osama Bin Laden is DEAD.
    There is no video of him alive since that video of him holding court with a bunch of Tailiban and bragging about a fast one he pulled on a couple of the hijackers by keeping them ignortant of the suicide part. Funny guy.
    The video that came out a week before the US November election PROVES THAT HE IS DEAD.
    The video is week, short, the osma in it never acknowledges the camera, doesn't use his normally langeage, no close ups and the audio lousy.

  12. So, the 2004 video of UBL, the one that proved he was still alive, actually proved that he was dead? Feigning certainty on this matter just makes you look foolish.

    PS, your post PROVES YOU ARE DEAD! Be gone, ye zombie!

  13. Things that happened in 2001-02 should not still be kept secret now. Its 2005.

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