DICK CLARKE: But what they did was slow and small. They put only 11,000 troops into Afghanistan -- there are more police here in Manhattan, more police here in Manhattan than there are US troops in Afghanistan. Basically the President botched the response to 9/11. He should have gone right after bin Laden. The US Special Forces didn't get into the area where bin Laden was for two months.
NARRATOR: Two months? A mass murderer who attacked the United States was given a two month head start? Who in their right mind would do that? (video of Bush)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Anybody say "nice shot?"
RANDOM PERSON: Nice shot. Hell of a shot.
NARRATOR: Or was the war in Afghanistan really about something else?
How do you lie (or at least present distortions) in a documentary that has been screened by a bank of fact-checkers? Easy! You just show a clip of someone else making a false or misleading statement. You are in the clear - it was the other guy who said it.
In this case, Moore uses a quote from Dick Clarke showing that Bush didn't react properly to 9/11. From there, Moore postulates that the whole invasion of Afghanistan must not have been about bin Laden at all.
Let's examine Clarke's statement that the response was slow and small. From the way that this is presented, it sounds like Bush should have jumped on a horse and personally rode off to Afghanistan on September 12, leading a massive army bent on capturing bin Laden.
The thing is, as of September 12, we didn't know for sure who the attackers were. Clarke's intuition told him that it was bin Laden (so did mine for that matter) but you don't invade a foreign country based on a security advisor's hunch (the invasion of Iraq had a lot more evidence behind it and it was still opposed).
While Clarke was convinced that bin Laden was the culprit, much of the rest of the world was unsure. Many on the far Left thought that it was their own who had done it. Michael Moore was convinced that 9/11 was an election protest that got out of hand.
So, the FBI had to investigate. They had to come up with a list of likely passengers, then they had to find out the real identity of the ones using stolen passports.
At the same time, we had to give the Taliban a last chance to turn bin Laden over and we had to get international permission to act. Finally, we had to get permission from Pakistan to establish military bases to run an operation from and we had to make local contacts in the Northern Alliance.
This only took four weeks.
So there we were with an air war and ground allies, fighting in Afghanistan. The experts pointed out that the Soviets had failed to take Afghanistan and that we were likely to fail, also.
Four weeks later (eight weeks after 9/11) we had conquered Afghanistan.
If, on September 10, you had asked military experts how long it would take the United States to conquer Afghanistan, their answers would have ranged between a year to never.
Why didn't we just send in the special forces? A small group could not have fought its way in and back out. Any group large enough to do this would end up being an invasion and having to overthrow the Taliban anyway.
How large should the force sent to Afghanistan have been? There are huge tradeoffs. The larger the force, the longer it takes to assemble them, transport them, and supply them. Should be have held off for another month or two in order to have a force large enough to satisfy Dick Clarke? No. The harshness of the Afghan winter meant that we either invaded with a small light force or we waited until Spring.
Could things have been handled better? Yes. We possibly missed bin Laden at Tora Bora and we might have caught if we had not allowed the Afghans to lead the attack.
Does any of this prove that the invasion of Afghanistan was really about an oil line?
Transcript of F911 from Red Line Rants.