Yesterday was the third time in three debates that President Bush failed to address John Kerry’s argument that he let Osama bin Laden escape at Tora Bora because he “outsourced” the job to Afghan war lords. Kerry’s argument is a phony because there is no conclusive evidence (a) that bin Laden was even at Tora Bora or (b) that, if present, he escaped. However, given bin Laden’s symbolic importance, Bush’s failure to respond, even after hearing the charge twice from Kerry and once from Edwards, is disappointing and potentially costly.
As I explained in this post , Rich Lowry took on the Tora Bora slander before the second presidential debate, showing that Bush’s approach was consistent with the one Kerry advocated at the time. Today, Melanie Fitzpatrick of the Wall Street Journal provides a somewhat different line of response. She argues that “if the U.S. had sent in a massive force, it would have run the risks of clashing with local tribesmen, killing civilians and alerting al Qaeda to the impending attack.” Thus, as General Franks has said, working with the Afghans was “essential.”
Somewhere in all of this is a response that the president could have used to good effect.
HINDROCKET adds: A reader, whose name we’ll withhold in view of the content of his message, adds first-hand confirmation:
I can tell you that we absolutely did not “outsource” our pursuit of Bin Laden. I know because my special ops son, and his fellow warriors, were, and are, actively searching for the execrable Saudi and his henchmen. Mr. Kerry is hallucinating.