Here's a compelling passage from a new report prepared by the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Tora Bora Revisited: How We Failed To Get Bin Laden And Why It Matters Today:
Bin Laden expected to die. His last will and testament, written on December 14 (2001), reflected his fatalism.
''Allah commended to us that when death approaches any of us that we make a bequest to parents and next of kin and to Muslims as a whole,'' he wrote, according
to a copy of the will that surfaced later and is regarded as authentic. ''Allah bears witness that the love of jihad and death in the cause of Allah has dominated my life and the verses of the
sword permeated every cell in my heart, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together.' How many times did I wake up to find myself reciting this holy verse!''
He instructed his wives not to remarry and apologized to his children for devoting himself to jihad.
But the al-Qaida leader would live to fight another day.
The report puts most of the responsibility for the late 2001 decision not to pursue bin Laden in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan on then-Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks.
The full report is posted here. The Associated Press begins its story about the report with this:
Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.
The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.
Staff members for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Sen. John Kerry, as President Barack Obama prepares to boost U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The New York Times adds that "the report represents unfinished political business on the part of Mr. Kerry. Before and during his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign, he hammered on the failure to catch Mr. bin Laden."