The New Yorker
Escape and Evasion
November 2, 2001


Seymour Hersh has written a fascinating piece for THE NEW YORKER about
the failed commando raid into Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago.

It turns out that there were two raids. The first was on an airfield,
and was easy. It was filmed for propaganda purposes, for the evening
news. The second one was an attempt to capture or assassinate Mullah
Omar, the head of the Taliban. That time the Afghans were ready.

Here's a quotation:

> There was also disdain among Delta Force soldiers,
> a number of senior officers told me, for what they
> saw as the staged nature of the other assault, on the
> airfield, which had produced such exciting
> television footage. "It was sexy stuff, and it looked
> good," one general said. But the operation was
> something less than the Pentagon suggested. The
> Rangers' parachute jump took place only after an
> Army Pathfinder team -- a specialized unit that
> usually works behind enemy lines -- had been
> inserted into the area and had confirmed that the
> airfield was clear of Taliban forces. "It was a
> television show," one informed source told me.
> "The Rangers were not the first in."
> Some of the officials I spoke with argued that the
> parachute operation had value, even without enemy
> contact, in that it could provide "confidence
> building" for the young Rangers, many of whom
> had joined the Army out of high school and had yet
> to be exposed to combat. "The Rangers come in
> and the choppers come in and everybody feels good
> about themselves," a military man who served
> alongside the Special Forces said. Nonetheless, he
> asked, "Why would you film it? I'm a big fan of
> keeping things secret -- and this was being driven 
> by public opinion."

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