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Rumsfeld Dismisses Tora Bora Speculation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed as speculation assertions that U.S. forces should have captured al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden during the fighting around the Tora Bora cave complex in December.

Rumsfeld said he has no evidence then and none today that bin Laden was "in Tora Bora at the time or left Tora Bora at the time, nor where he is today."

Rumsfeld said he has seen "repeated speculation" about bin Laden's whereabouts, but nothing verifiable. "Had it been verifiable, one would have thought someone would have done something about it," he said.

News articles have criticized U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks for not acting on intelligence information and placing more American troops into the battle at Tora Bora. Anonymous sources in these articles maintain that U.S. reliance on friendly Afghans allowed bin Laden to escape.

Rumsfeld played down the criticism by armchair quarterbacks who have questioned Franks' decision. "My view of the whole thing is that until the lessons learned are known and have been developed I wouldn't be able to answer a question like that, and it impresses me that others can from their pinnacles of relatively modest knowledge," the secretary said.


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