Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bill Richardson was everywhere

From Al Santoli's foreword to Dereliction of Duty:

The Clinton administration repeatedly rejected pleas by members of Congress to assist moderate Afghan groups resisting the extremist Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies. Instead, millions of dollars of U. S. humanitarian aid was sent into areas controlled by the Taliban, while the resistance communities-- who later became the backbone of the U. S. military campaign against the Taliban-- were ignored and their communities forced to accept Taliban control or perish.

Against all odds, in the spring of 1998, the Afghan Northern Alliance had gained the battlefield edge and the al-Qaeda /Taliban forces faced possible defeat. At that time, Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud offered to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden, who had headquarters near Massoud's territory. (Congressman Dana Rohrbacher of California and I discussed this issue with Commander Massoud and his deputies on a number of occasions between 1997 and 2001.) instead of responding affirmatively, the Clinton administration sent then- United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson to Afghanistan to ask the Northern Alliance leaders to conduct a cease-fire and to stop receiving new arms shipments (from friendly countries like India, Turkey, and Russia).

Tragically, the northern Alliance trusted Richardson. While the Northern Alliance waited for 'peace talks', offered by Richardson and Pakistan, the Pakistani government increased weapons shipments to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In the subsequent Taliban offensive, aided by Pakistani air strikes and soldiers, the Clinton administration sat idly by and watched as the Northern Alliance was routed. This gave the al-Qaeda/Taliban alliance new life, setting the stage for the 9/11 attack on the United States. [pp. 13-14

This isn't quite how the 9/11 Commission put it in their report:
"Though Secretary Albright made no secret of thinking the Taliban "despicable," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, led a delegation to South Asia-- including Afghanistan-- in April 1998. No U.S. official of such rank had been to Kabul in decades. Ambassador Richardson went primarily to urge negotiations to end the civil war. In view of Bin Ladin's recent public call for all Muslims to kill Americans, Richardson asked the Taliban to expel Bin Ladin. They answered that they did not know his whereabouts. In any case, the Taliban said, Bin Ladin was not a threat to the United States." [111]
The difference in tone becomes clear when you read the relevant footnote:

Footnote 4.15 For a description of the Richardson mission, see Bill Richardson interview (Dec. 15, 2003);
What i find more intriguing is that Richardson ended up in the middle of all sorts of Clinton messes-- he offered Monica a job when the WH was eager to make her happy and he also was Sec. of Energy during the continuing mess with security at the Nuclear Labs and the transfer of restricted data to China. Yet, somehow, nothing sticks to Teflon Bill.

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