Senate Foreign Relations Committee Report Confirms: SF Weekly Found Bin Laden in October 2001

Categories: Media
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He's on the right...
For shoppers wishing to give America the gift of national security, consider sending your favorite Pentagon staffer an SF Weekly. No offense to Jane's Defence Weekly, but a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report released Monday suggests the publication you're now reading produced the intelligence scoop of this century: We found Osama bin Laden.

The report criticized the George Bush, Jr. Administration for allowing the terrorist leader to slip from the grasp of U.S. soldiers in December of 2001 while hiding in the mountainous region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The report said Pentagon brass denied a request for 800 additional troops from the CIA officer leading the effort to capture bin Laden, just as bin Laden may have been cornered.

According to the report:

[General Tommy] Franks, Vice President Dick Cheney and others defended the decision, arguing that the intelligence was inconclusive about the Al Qaeda leader's location. But the review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants underlying this report removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora.

I'm not sure what lingering doubts the report may have been referring to, because SF Weekly readers knew bin Laden's location as of October of '01, thanks to a column that drew on video images from a bin Laden message released at the time. Note the unique-seeming mineral formation in the background.

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John McPhee's "The Gravel Page," which explores the science of forensic geology, is one of my favorite essays. And the mineral formations behind bin Laden seemed like they might reveal secrets about the terrorist's exact location.

As noted in the column:

I sent out dozens of messages to geologists specializing in Central Asia, and to mineral experts versed in the gemstones of Afghanistan. I made phone calls to authors of geological texts, to seismologists, and to emerald wholesalers. Recognizing the troubles that all editorialists now faced, experts immediately jumped to my aid. They pointed to a particular, forbidding part of a forbidding country.

The article ended with advice for the U.S. spooks:

So, putting the expert testimony together, here you have it, CIA analysts: Osama bin Laden recently filmed a propaganda video in an abandoned gemstone mine in the Jalalabad Basin, in the province of Nangarhar, east of Kabul, near Jalalabad.

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According to the Senate Foreign relations report, in hindsight, "CIA and Delta Force commanders who spent three weeks at Tora Bora as well as other intelligence and military sources are certain he was there."

Why wouldn't they be? Osama bin Laden's location was revealed within 20 miles in the pages of SF Weekly.

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