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U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (center) and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Robert Finn are given a tour of the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 27, 2002. OSD Package No. A07D-00238 (DOD Photo by Robert D. Ward)

Secret U.S. Message to Mullah Omar: "Every Pillar of the Taliban Regime Will Be Destroyed"

New Documents Detail America's Strategic Response to 9/11

Bush White House Resistant to Rebuilding Afghanistan

Rumsfeld's War Aim: "Significantly Change the World's Political Map"

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 358

Posted - September 11, 2011

For more information contact:
Barbara Elias - 202/994-7000

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Washington, DC, September 11, 2011 - In October 2001 the U.S. sent a private message to Taliban leader Mullah Omar warning that "every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed," [Document 16] according to previously secret U.S. documents posted today by the National Security Archive at www.nsarchive.org. The document collection includes high-level strategic planning memos that shed light on the U.S. response to the attacks and the Bush administration's reluctance to become involved in post-Taliban reconstruction in Afghanistan. As an October 2001 National Security Council strategy paper noted, "The U.S. should not commit to any post-Taliban military involvement since the U.S. will be heavily engaged in the anti-terrorism effort worldwide." [Document 18]

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush.  (Source: Department of Defense)

Materials posted today also include memos from officials lamenting the American strategy of destroying al-Qaeda and the Taliban without substantially investing in Afghan infrastructure and economic well-being. In 2006, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald R. Neumann asserted that recommendations to "minimize economic assistance and leave out infrastructure plays into the Taliban strategy, not to ours." [Document 25] The Ambassador was concerned that U.S. inattention to Afghan reconstruction was causing the U.S. and its Afghan allies to lose support. The Taliban believed they were winning, he said, a perception that "scares the hell out of Afghans." [Document 26] Taliban leaders were capitalizing on America's commitment, he said, and had sent a concise, but ominous, message to U.S. forces: "You have all the clocks but we have all the time." [Document 25]

The documents published here describe multiple important post-9/11 strategic decisions. One relates to the dominant operational role played by the CIA in U.S. activities in Afghanistan. [Document 19] Another is the Bush administration's expansive post-9/11 strategic focus, as expressed in Donald Rumsfeld's remark to the president: "If the war does not significantly change the world's political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim/ There is value in being clear on the order of magnitude of the necessary change." [Document 13] Yet another takes the form of U.S. communications with Pakistani intelligence officials insisting that Islamabad choose between the United States or the Taliban: "this was a black-and-white choice, with no grey." [Document 3 (Version 1)]

Highlights include:

  • A memo from Secretary Rumsfeld to General Franks expressing the Secretary's frustration that the CIA had become the lead government agency for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, "Given the nature of our world, isn't it conceivable that the Department [of Defense] ought not to be in a position of near total dependence on CIA in situations such as this?" [Document 19]
  • A detailed timeline of the activities of Vice President Richard Cheney and his family from September 11-27, 2001 [Document 22]
  • The National Security Council's October 16, 2001 strategic outline of White House objectives to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda while avoiding excessive nation-building or reconstruction efforts. "The U.S. should not commit to any post-Taliban military involvement since the U.S. will be heavily engaged in the anti-terrorism effort worldwide." The document also notes the importance of "CIA teams and special forces in country operational detachments (A teams)" for anti-Taliban operations. [Document 18]
  • U.S. Ambassador Neumann expresses concern in 2006 that the American failure to fully embrace reconstruction activities has harmed the American mission. "The supplemental decision recommendation to minimize economic assistance and leave out infrastructure plays into the Taliban strategy, not to ours." A resurgent Taliban leadership summarized the emerging strategic match-up by saying, "You have all the clocks but we have all the time." [Document 25]
  • A memo on U.S. strategy from Donald Rumsfeld to President Bush dated September 30, 2001, saying, "If the war does not significantly change the world's political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim/ There is value in being clear on the order of magnitude of the necessary change. The USG [U.S. Government] should envision a goal along these lines: New regimes in Afghanistan and another key State (or two) that supports terrorism." [Document 13]
  • A transcript of Washington's October 7, 2001 direct message to the Taliban: "Every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed." [Document 16]
  • The day after 9/11, Deputy Secretary Armitage presents a "stark choice" to Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) Chief Mahmoud Ahmed, "Pakistan must either stand with the United States in its fight against terrorism or stand against us. There was no maneuvering room." [Document 3 (Version 1)]
  • In talking points prepared for a September 14, 2001 National Security Council meeting. Secretary of State Colin Powell notes, "My sense is that moderate Arabs are starting to see terrorism in a whole new light. This is the key to the coalition, we are working them hard." [Document 7]

 


Read the Documents

Document 1 – Action Plan
U.S. Department of State, Memorandum," Action Plan as of 9/13/2001 7:55:51am," September 13, 2001, Secret, 3 pp. [Excised]

Two days after the 9/11 attacks, the Department of State creates an action plan to document U.S. government activities taken so far and to create an immediate list of things to do. Included in the list are high-level meetings with Pakistani officials, including ISI intelligence Director Mahmoud Ahmed. [Note that Ahmed's September 13 meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is detailed in Document 3 and Document 5.] The action plan details efforts to get international support, including specific U.S. diplomatic approaches to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Sudan, China and Indonesia.

Document 2 – Islamabad 05087
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Musharraf: We Are With You in Your Action Plan in Afghanistan" September 13, 2001, Secret - Noforn, 7 pp. [Excised]

Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin "bluntly" tells Pakistani President Musharraf "that the September 11 attacks had changed the fundamentals of the [Afghanistan – Pakistan] debate. There was absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban. The time for dialog was finished as of September 11." Effectively declaring the Taliban a U.S. enemy (along with al-Qaeda), Ambassador Chamberlin informs President Musharraf "that the Taliban are harboring the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks. President Bush was, in fact, referring to the Taliban in his speech promising to go after those who harbored terrorists."  [Note: A less complete version of this document was previously released and posted on September 13, 2010. This copy has less information withheld.]  

Document 3 – State 157813 [Version 1]
Document 3 – State 157813 [Version 2]

U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with Pakistan Intel Chief Mahmud: You're Either With Us or You're Not," September 13, 2001, Secret, 9 pp. [Excised]

The day after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Secretary Armitage meets with Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) Chief Mahmoud Ahmed (which can also be spelled Mehmood Ahmad, Mahmud or Mahmoud). Armitage presents a "stark choice" in the 15-minute meeting. "Pakistan must either stand with the United States in its fight against terrorism or stand against us. There was no maneuvering room." Mahmud assures Armitage that the U.S. "could count on Pakistan's ‘unqualified support,' that Islamabad would do whatever was required of it by the U.S." Deputy Secretary Armitage adamantly denies Pakistan has the option of a middle road between supporting the Taliban and the U.S., "this was a black-and-white choice, with no grey." Mahmoud responds by commenting "that Pakistan has always seen such matters in black-and-white. It has in the past been accused of ‘being-in-bed' with those threatening U.S. interests. He wanted to dispel that misconception." Mahmoud's denial of longstanding historical Pakistani support for extremists in Afghanistan directly conflicts with U.S. intelligence on the issue, which has documented extensive Pakistani support for the Taliban and multiple other militant organizations.

Two versions of this document have been reviewed with different sections released. Version 1 in general contains more information; however Version 2 contains a few small sections not available in Version 1. These sections include paragraph 10, "Mr. Armitage indicated it was still not clear what might be asked of Pakistan by the U.S. but he suspected it would cause ‘deep introspection.' Mahmud's colleagues in the CIA would likely be talking more with him in the near future on this. Mahmud confirmed that he had been in touch with Langley after yesterday's attacks and expected to continue these contacts." It is unclear why this was withheld in Version 1. It is not surprising that Mahmoud, Chief of Pakistani intelligence, would be in regular contact with equally high-level intelligence officials from the CIA.

It is interesting to read this document ten years after it was initially written, as it is largely assumed that Islamabad over the past decade has taken the "grey" approach Armitage steadfastly denies as a potential position. Pakistan has served as a safe haven for the Taliban insurgency, while Islamabad simultaneously assists the U.S. in its war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Document 4 – Talking Points
U.S. Department of State, "Talking Points," September 13, 2001, Secret, 4 pp. [Excised]

Talking points for Secretary Colin Powell drafted two days after the 9/11 attacks. Objectives of the U.S. response to the attack include, "eliminating Usama bin-Laden's al-Qaida." The Secretary focuses on regional support from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, as well as cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Interestingly the Secretary notes that the U.S. "will also probe Iranian ability to work with us against the Taliban and Usama bin-Laden, and we'll look for Arafat's support."

Document 5 – State 159711
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with General Mahmud: Actions and Support Expected of Pakistan in Fight Against Terrorism," September 14, 2001, Secret, 5 pp. [Excised]

On September 13, 2001 Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage again meets with Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) Chief Mahmoud Ahmed in one of a series of well-known communications between Armitage and the ISI Chief in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Secretary Armitage tells General Mahmoud the U.S. is looking for full cooperation and partnership from Pakistan, understanding that the decision whether or not to fully comply with U.S. demands would be "a difficult choice for Pakistan." Armitage carefully presents General Mahmoud with the following specific requests for immediate action and asks that he present them to President Musharraf for approval:

  • "Stop al-Qaida operatives at your border, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and end all logistical support for bin Ladin;"
  • "Provide the U.S. with blanket overflight and landing rights to conduct all necessary military and intelligence operations;"
  • "Provide as needed territorial access to U.S. and allied military intelligence, and other personnel to conduct all necessary operations against the perpetrators of terrorism or those that harbor them, including use of Pakistan's naval ports, airbases and strategic locations on borders;"
  • "Provide the U.S. immediately with intelligence, [EXCISED] information, to help prevent and respond to terrorist acts perpetuated against the U.S., its friends and allies;"
  • "Continue to publicly condemn the terrorist acts of September11 and any other terrorist acts against the U.S. or its friends and allies [EXCISED]"
  • "Cut off all shipments of fuel to the Taliban and any other items and recruits, including volunteers en route to Afghanistan that can be used in a military offensive capacity or to abet the terrorist threat;"
  • "Should the evidence strongly implicate Usama bin Ladin and the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbor him and this network, Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, end support for the Taliban and assist us in the formentioned ways to destroy Usama bin Ladin."

[Note: A less complete version of this document was previously released and posted on September 13, 2010. This copy has less information withheld. ]

Document 6 – Memo
U.S. Department of State, Gameplan for Polmil Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan," September 14, 2001, Secret/NODIS, 4 pp. [Excised]

Since "Tuesday's attacks clearly demonstrate that UBL [Usama bin Ladin] is capable of conducting terrorism while under Taliban control," U.S. officials are faced with the question of what to do with the Taliban. The Department of State issues a set of demands to the Taliban including: surrendering all known al-Qaeda associates in Afghanistan, providing intelligence on bin Laden and affiliates, and expelling all terrorists from Afghanistan. Reflecting U.S. policies in the years to come, the memo notes that the U.S. "should also find subtle ways to encourage splits within the [Taliban] leadership if that could facilitate changes in their policy toward terrorism." The memo concludes that if "the Taliban fail to meet our deadline, within three days we begin planning for Option three, the use of force. The Department of State notes the importance of coordination with Pakistan, the Central Asian states, Russia, and "possibly Iran." "Pakistan is unwilling to send its troops into Afghanistan, but will provide all other operational and logistical support we ask of her."

Document 7 – Talking Points
U.S. Department of State, "Talking Points for PC 0930 on 14 September 2001," September 14, 2001, [Unspecified Classification], 3 pp. [Excised]

Secretary of State Colin Powell's September 14, 2001 talking points for a National Security Council Principal's Committee meeting discuss the administration's immediate response to the 9/11 attacks and future plans for retaliation. Objectives include, "setting the stage for a forceful response," "eradicating Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida" and "eliminating safehaven and support for terrorisms whether from states or other actors." Secretary Powell notes, "My sense is that moderate Arabs are starting to see terrorism in a whole new light. This is the key to the coalition, we are working them hard."  

Document 8 -  Islamabad 05123

U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Musharraf Accepts The Seven Points" September 14, 2001, Secret, 4 pp. [Excised]

After extensive meetings with ranking Pakistani military commanders, on September 14, 2001 President Pervez Musharraf accepts the seven actions requested by the U.S. for immediate action in response to 9/11.  President Musharraf "said he accepted the points without conditions and that his military leadership concurred," but there would be "a variety of security and technical issues that need to be addressed." He emphasized that "these were not conditions … but points that required clarification." Musharraf also asks the U.S. to clarify if its mission is to "strike UBL and his supporters or the Taliban as well," and advises that the U.S. should be prepared for what comes next. "Following any military action, there should be a prompt economic recovery effort. "You are there to kill terrorists, not make enemies" he said. "Islamabad wants a friendly government in Kabul."

[Note: A copy of this document was previously released and posted on September 13, 2010.]

Document 9 – State 161279

U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Deputy Secretary Armitage-Mamoud Phone Call – September 18, 2001," September 18, 2001, Confidential, 2 pp.

Traveling aboard a U.S. government aircraft, Pakistani Intelligence ISI Director Mahmoud Ahmed arrives in Afghanistan on September 17, 2001 to meet Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and discuss 9/11, U.S. demands and the future of al-Qaeda. Mahmoud informs Mullah Omar and other Taliban officials that the U.S. has three conditions:

  • "They must hand over UBL [Usama bin Ladin] to the International Court of Justice, or extradite him,"
  • "They must hand over or extradite the 13 top lieutenants/associates of UBL…"
  • "They must close all terrorist training camps."

According to Mahmoud, the Taliban's response "was not negative on all these points." "The Islamic leaders of Afghanistan are now engaged in 'deep Introspection' about their decisions."

[Note: A copy of this document was previously released and posted on September 13, 2010.]

Document 10 – State 161371
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Secretary's 13 September 2001 Conversation with Pakistani President Musharraf," September 19, 2001, Secret, 3 pp.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf have a telephone conversation on September 13, to discuss U.S.-Pakistan relations and U.S. retaliation for the events of 9/11. The Secretary informs President Musharraf that "because Pakistan has a unique relationship with the Taliban, Pakistan has a vital role to play." The Secretary tells Musharraf, "‘as one general to another, we need someone on our flank fighting with us. And speaking candidly, the American people would not understand if Pakistan was not in the fight with the U.S.'"

Document 11 – Islamabad 05337
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Mahmud Plans 2nd Mission to Afghanistan" September 24, 2001, Secret, 3 pp.

ISI Director Mahmoud Ahmed returns to Afghanistan to make a last-minute plea to the Taliban. General Mahmoud tells U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin "his mission was taking place in parallel with U.S. Pakistani military planning" and that in his estimation, "a negotiated solution would be preferable to military action." "'I implore you,' Mahmud told the Ambassador, 'not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations.' 'Omar himself,' he said, ‘is frightened. That much was clear in his last meeting.'"  The ISI Director tells the Ambassador America's strategic objectives of getting Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda would best be accomplished by coercing the Taliban to do it themselves. "It is better for the Afghans to do it. We could avoid the fallout. If the Taliban are eliminated ... Afghanistan will revert to warlordism." Nevertheless General Mahmoud promises full Pakistani support for U.S. activities, including military action. "We will not flinch from a military effort." "Pakistan," he said, "stands behind you." Ambassador Chamberlin insists that while Washington "appreciated his objectives," to negotiate to get bin Laden, Mullah Omar "had so far refused to meet even one U.S. demand."  She tells Mahmoud his trip "could not delay military planning."

[Note: A copy of this document was previously released and posted on September 13, 2010.]

Document 12 – Islamabad 05452
U.S. Embassy (Islamabad), Cable, "Mahmud on Failed Kandahar Trip" September 29, 2001, Confidential, 3 pp.

An additional trip by ISI Director Mahmoud Ahmed to Afghanistan to negotiate with the Taliban is unsuccessful. Mahmoud's September 28, 2001 "two-hour meeting with Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Jalil concluded with no progress." Mahmoud is ostensibly seeking to get the Taliban to cooperate "so that ‘the barrel of the gun would shift away from Afghanistan,' only in this way would Pakistan avoid ‘the fall out' from a military attack on its neighbor."Yet despite Mahmoud's efforts the Taliban remained uncooperative. "The mission failed as Mullah Omar agreed only to ‘think about' proposals." U.S. officials are similarly unenthusiastic about the idea of compromise. "Ambassador confirmed that the United States would not negotiate with the Taliban and that we were on a ‘fast track to bringing terrorists to justice.'" Mahmoud acknowledged that "President [Bush] had been quite clear in asserting there would be no negotiations."

Document 13 – Memorandum for the President
The Office of the Secretary of Defense, Memorandum for the President, "Strategic Thoughts," September 30, 2001, Top Secret/Close Hold, 2 pp. [Excised]

Instead of focusing exclusively on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld advises President Bush that the U.S. should think more broadly. "It would instead be surprising and impressive if we built our forces up patiently, took some early action outside of Afghanistan, perhaps in multiple locations, and began not exclusively or primarily with military strikes but with equip-and-train activities with local opposition forces coupled with humanitarian aid and intense information operations."

With a strategic vision emphasizing support for local opposition groups rather than direct U.S. strikes, the Secretary is wary of excessive or imprecise U.S. aerial attacks which risk "creating images of Americans killing Moslems." The memo argues that the U.S. should "capitalize on our strong suit, which is not finding a few hundred terrorists in the caves of Afghanistan," and instead using "the vastness of our military and humanitarian resources, which can strengthen enormously the opposition forces in terrorist-supporting states." The approach to the war should not focus "too heavily on direct, aerial attacks on things and people."

"If the war does not significantly change the world's political map, the U.S. will not achieve its aim/ There is value in being clear on the order of magnitude of the necessary change. The USG [U.S. Government] should envision a goal along these lines: New regimes in Afghanistan and another key State (or two) that supports terrorism (To strengthen political and military efforts to change policies elsewhere)."

Document 14 – Working Paper
The Office of the Secretary of Defense, Working Paper, "Thoughts on the ‘Campaign' Against Terrorism" October 2, 2001, Secret, 1 p.

Arguing that Afghanistan is "part of the much broader problem of terrorist networks and nations that harbor terrorists across the globe," this paper discusses multiple aspects of emerging U.S. operations in the war on terror, including developing greater intelligence capabilities, the use of direct action, military capabilities, humanitarian aid and "working with Muslims worldwide to demonstrate the truth that the problem is terrorism – not a religion or group of people."

Document 15 – Memorandum
The Office of the Secretary of Defense, Memorandum, "Strategic Guidance for the Campaign Against Terrorism, October 3, 2001, Top Secret, 16 pp.

A expansive document designed to "provide strategic guidance to the Department of Defense for the development of campaign plans," this memo specifies the perceived threats, objectives, means, strategic concepts and campaign elements guiding the nascent war on terror. Threats identified include terrorist organizations, states harboring such organizations (including the "Taliban [and] Iraq Baathist Party"), non-state actors that support terrorist organizations and the capacity of "terrorist organizations or their state supporters to acquire, manufacture or use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons or the means to deliver them."

Strategic objectives include preventing further attacks against the U.S. and deterring aggression, as well as the somewhat contradictory goals of "encouraging populations dominated by terrorist organizations or their supporters to overthrow that domination," and "prevent[ing] or control[ing] the spreading or escalation of conflict." 

Document 16 – State 175415
U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Message to Taliban," October 7, 2001, Secret/Nodis/Eyes Only, 2 pp.

The U.S. requests that either Pakistani Intelligence ISI Chief Mahmoud Ahmed or Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf deliver a message to Taliban leaders directly from Washington informing the Taliban that "if any person or group connected in any way to Afghanistan conducts a terrorist attack against our country, our forces or those of our friends or allies, our response will be devastating. It is in your interest and in the interest of your survival to hand over all al-Qaida leaders." The U.S. warns that it will hold leaders of the Taliban "personally responsible" for terrorist activities directed against U.S. interests, and that American intelligence has "information that al-Qaida is planning additional attacks." The short message concludes by informing Mullah Omar that "every pillar of the Taliban regime will be destroyed."

Document 17 – Information Paper
Defense Intelligence Agency, Information Paper, "Prospects for Northern Alliance Forces to Seize Kabul," October 15, 2001, Secret/Norforn/X1, 2 pp. [Excised]

Comparing the current military strength of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, this paper concludes that a difficult battle for Kabul may lay ahead for the Northern Alliance. "Taliban strength in the Kabul Central Corps is approximately 130 tanks, 85 armored personnel carriers, 85 pieces of artillery and approximately 7,000 soldiers. Northern Alliance forces, under the command of General Fahim Khan, number about 10,000 troops, with approximately 40 tanks and a roughly equal number of APCs [armored personnel carriers], and a few artillery pieces." "If the Northern Alliance's present combat power relative to defending Taliban forces in and around Kabul remains unchanged, the Northern Alliance will not be in a position to successfully conduct a large scale offensive to seize and hold Kabul. The Northern Alliance is more likely to occupy key terrain around the city and use allied air strikes/artillery to strengthen its position and encourage defections of Taliban leaders in the city. Only under these favorable circumstances would Northern Alliance forces then be able to take control of Kabul."

However the document asserts that this military balance may change rapidly due to the provision of assistance to the Northern Alliance and the isolation of the Taliban. "Russia is reportedly delivering approximately forty to fifty T-55 tanks, sixty APCs, plus additional artillery, rocket systems, attack helicopters and a large quantity of ammunition to the Northern Alliance via the Parkhar supply base in southern Tajikistan."

On November 13, 2001 the Northern Alliance took control of Kabul as the Taliban rapidly retreated to Kandahar.

Document 18 – Memorandum and Attached Paper
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld to Douglas Feith, "Strategy," Attachment, "U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan," National Security Council, October 16, 2001, 7:42am, Secret/Close Hold/ Draft for Discussion, 7 pp. [Excised]

Five weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the National Security Council outlines the U.S. retaliatory strategy. Emphasizing the destruction of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, it is careful not to commit the U.S. to extensive rebuilding activities in post-Taliban Afghanistan. "The USG [U.S. Government] should not agonize over post-Taliban arrangements to the point that it delays success over Al Qaida and the Taliban." "The U.S. should not commit to any post-Taliban military involvement since the U.S. will be heavily engaged in the anti-terrorism effort worldwide." There is a handwritten note from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld adding "The U.S. needs to be involved in this effort to assure that our coalition partners are not disaffected."

Operationally the U.S. will "use any and all Afghan tribes and factions to eliminate Al-Qaida and Taliban personnel," while inserting "CIA teams and special forces in country operational detachments (A teams) by any means, both in the North and the South." Secretary Rumsfeld further notes: "Third country special forces UK [excised] Australia, New Zealand, etc) should be inserted as soon as possible."

Diplomacy is important "bilaterally, particularly with Pakistan, but also with Iran and Russia," however "engaging UN diplomacy… beyond intent and general outline could interfere with U.S. military operations and inhibit coalition freedom of action."

Document 19 – Working Paper
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld to General Myers, Working Paper, "Afghanistan," October 17, 2001, 11:25am, Secret, 1 p.

A memo from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Myers reflects the critical role played by the Central Intelligence Agency in initial U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Secretary Rumsfeld expresses his frustration that U.S. intelligence officials, instead of military personnel, are the dominant actors on the ground in Afghanistan. "Given the nature of our world, isn't it conceivable that the Department ought not to be in a position of near total dependence on CIA in situations such as this?" "Does the fact that the Defense Department can't do anything on the ground in Afghanistan until CIA people go in first to prepare the way suggest that the Defense Department is lacking a capability we need?"

Document 20 – Working Paper
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Working Paper, "Discussions w/CENTCOM re: Sy Hersh Article," October 22, 2001, 1:19pm, Secret, 2 pp.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is concerned about information reported by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker that U.S. Central Command failed to fire on a convoy thought to contain Taliban personnel including Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Rumsfeld informs Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command Thomas "Tommy" Franks that he had been instructed "immediately to hit [this target] if anyone wiggled and that [the Secretary] was going to call the President. But in the meantime, he had [the Secretary's] authority to hit it." Secretary Rumsfeld discussed the failure to fire with General Myers, writing that he has "the feeling he [Franks] may not have given me the full story."

The paper also contradicts previous instructions that aerial attacks should be precise and limited in Afghanistan. Instead, Secretary Rumsfeld states, "I have a high tolerance level for possible error. That is to say, if he [Franks] thinks he has a valid target and he can't get me or he can't get Wolfowitz in time, he should hit it. I added that there will not be any time where he cannot reach me or, if not me, Wolfowitz. I expect him to be leaning far forward on this."

Document 21 – Memorandum for the President
U.S. Department of State, Memorandum, From Secretary of State Colin Powell to U.S. President George W. Bush, "Your Meeting with Pakistani President Musharraf," November 5, 2001, Secret, 2 pp. [Excised]

Signed by Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Bush, this memo highlights critical changes in U.S.-Pakistan relations since 9/11, including higher levels of cooperation not only on counterterrorism policy, but also on nuclear non-proliferation, the protection of Pakistani nuclear assets, and economic development. Powell notes that President Musharraf's decision to ally with the U.S. comes "at considerable political risk," as he has "abandoned the Taliban, frozen terrorist assets [and] quelled anti-Western protests without unwarranted force, [Excised]." Regarding Afghanistan, the Secretary tells the President that Pakistan will want to protect its interests and maintain influence in Kabul. "Musharraf is pressing for a future government supportive of its interests and is concerned that the Northern Alliance will occupy Kabul."

[Note: A copy of this document was previously released and posted on September 13, 2010.]

Document 22 – Timeline
U.S. Secret Service, Paper, "9/11/01 Timeline," November 17, 2001, Secret, 32 pp. [Excised]

A detailed timeline of the activities of Vice President Richard Cheney and his family from September 11-27, 2001, this document was compiled at the request of the Vice President, whose well-known Secret Service codename is "Angler." The document extensively uses other Secret Service code words, such as "Crown" (White House), "Author" (Lynne Cheney, the Vice President's wife), "Advocate" (Elizabeth Cheney, the Vice President's daughter) and "Ace" (Philip J. Perry, the Vice President's son-in-law).

Document 23 – Snowflake
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Snowflake Memorandum, From Donald Rumsfeld to Doug Feith, "Afghanistan," April 17, 2002, 9:15AM, Secret, 1 p. [Excised]

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is concerned the U.S. does not yet have comprehensive plans for U.S. activities in Afghanistan. "I may be impatient. In fact I know I'm a bit impatient. But the fact that Iran and Russia have plans for Afghanistan and we don't concerns me." The Secretary laments the state of interagency coordination and is alarmed that bureaucratic delay may harm the war effort. "We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave."

Document 24 – Memorandum
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Memorandum, From Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "Al Qaeda Ops Sec," July 19, 2002, Secret, 1 p. [Excised]

U.S. officials are unsure whether or not Osama bin Laden is alive, with the intelligence community assessing that he must be because "his death would be too important a fact for [members of al-Qaeda] to be able to keep it a secret." Paul Wolfowitz rejects this assertion, arguing that bin Laden's survival is equally important news for al-Qaeda to communicate, leading him to conclude that the terrorists are "able to communicate quite effectively on important subjects without our detecting anything." Although specifics remain classified, the memo expresses concern over America's overreliance on a specific capability allowing the U.S. to track terrorist organizations. Wolfowitz questions whether or not this technique is providing a false sense of security to intelligence officials and that the U.S. may even be being manipulated by terrorists who may know about U.S. capabilities. "We are a bit like the drunk looking for our keys under the lamppost because that is the only place where there is light." Critical information may be in places the U.S. is not looking.

Document 25 – Kabul 000509
U.S. Embassy (Kabul), Cable, "Afghan Supplemental" February 6, 2006, Secret, 3 pp. [Excised]

In a message to the Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador Ronald R. Neumann expresses his concern that the American failure to fully fund and support activities designed to bolster the Afghan economy, infrastructure and reconstruction effort is harming the American mission. His letter is a plea for additional money and a shift in priorities. "We have dared so greatly, and spent so much in blood and money that to try to skimp on what is needed for victory seems to me too risky."

The Ambassador notes, "the supplemental decision recommendation to minimize economic assistance and leave out infrastructure plays into the Taliban strategy, not to ours." Taliban leaders were issuing statements that the U.S. would grow increasingly weary, while they gained momentum. A resurgent Taliban leadership ominously summarizes the emerging strategic match-up with the United States by saying, "You have all the clocks but we have all the time."

Document 26 – Kabul 003863
U.S. Embassy (Kabul), Cable, "Afghanistan: Where We Stand and What We Need" August 29, 2006, Secret, 8 pp. [Excised]

According to U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald R. Neumann "we are not winning in Afghanistan; although we are far from losing." The primary problem is a lack of political will to provide additional resources to bolster current strategy and to match increasing Taliban offensives. "At the present level of resources we can make incremental progress in some parts of the country, cannot be certain of victory, and could face serious slippage if the desperate popular quest for security continues to generate Afghan support for the Taliban.... Our margin for victory in a complex environment is shrinking, and we need to act now." The Taliban believe they are winning. That perception "scares the hell out of Afghans." "We are too slow."

Rapidly increasing certain strategic initiatives such as equipping Afghan forces, taking out the Taliban leadership in Pakistan and investing heavily in infrastructure can help the Americans regain the upper hand, Neumann declares. "We can still win. We are pursuing the right general policies on governance, security and development. But because we have not adjusted resources to the pace of the increased Taliban offensive and loss of internal Afghan support we face escalating risks today."

 

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