Tuesday, February 25, 2003
••Seymour Hersh: Rumsfeld authorized evacuation of al Qaeda••
On PBS television's Now With Bill Moyers,this past Friday Feb. 21, 2003, Jane Wallace interviewed Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who disclosed
that an evacuation of Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan into Pakistan was authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- as a favor to Pakistan.
SY HERSH: Okay, the cream of the crop of Al Qaeda caught in a town called Konduz which is near ... it's one little village and it's a couple hundred kilometers, 150 miles from the border of Pakistan. And I learned this story frankly-- through very, very clandestine operatives we have in the Delta Force and other very...
We were operating very heavily with a small number of men, three, 400 really in the first days of the war. And suddenly one night when they had everybody cornered in Konduz-- the special forces people were told there was a corridor that they could not fly in. There was a corridor sealed off to-- the United States military sealed off a corridor. And it was nobody could shoot anybody in this little lane that went from Konduz into Pakistan. And that's how I learned about it. I learned about it from a military guy who wanted to fly helicopters and kill people and couldn't do it that day.
JANE WALLACE: So, we had the enemy surrounded, the special forces guys are helping surround this enemy.
SY HERSH: They're whacking everybody they can whack that looks like a bad guy.
JANE WALLACE: And suddenly they're told to back off--
SY HERSH: From a certain area--
JANE WALLACE: -- and let planes fly out to Pakistan.
SY HERSH: There was about a three or four nights in which I can tell you maybe six, eight, 10, maybe 12 more-- or more heavily weighted-- Pakistani military planes flew out with an estimated-- no less than 2,500 maybe 3,000, maybe mmore. I've heard as many as four or 5,000. They were not only-- Al Qaeda but they were also-- you see the Pakistani ISI was-- the military advised us to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. There were dozens of senior Pakistani military officers including two generals who flew out.
And I also learned after I wrote this story that maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations. We allowed them to evacuate. We had an evacuation.
JANE WALLACE: How high up was that evacuation authorized?
SY HERSH: I am here to tell you it was authorized -- Donald Rumsfeld who -- we'll talk about what he said later -- it had to be authorized at the White House. But certainly at the Secretary of Defense level.
JANE WALLACE: The Department of Defense said to us that they were not involved and that they don't have any knowledge of that operation.
SY HERSH: That's what Rumsfeld said when they asked him but it. And he said, "Gee, really?" He said, "News to me." Which is not a denial, it's sort of interesting. You know,
JANE WALLACE: What did we do that? Why we would put our special forces guys on the ground, surround the enemy, and then-- fly him out?
SY HERSH: With al Qaeda.
JANE WALLACE: With al Qaeda. Why would we do that, assuming your story is true?
SY HERSH: We did it because the ISI asked us to do so.
JANE WALLACE: Pakistani intelligence.
SY HERSH: Absolutely.
posted by voxpopgirl |