THREAD: 20 years ago today. From “First Casualty” p. 56. President George W. Bush articulated U.S. policy toward Afghanistan & the Taliban to two @CIA officers at Camp David: “Fuck diplomacy. We are going to war.” - 1
The two @CIA officers were Cofer Black & @MichaelJMorell, Bush’s PDB briefer. It was a Saturday & Bush had convened his war council. Half a world away, in Quetta. @CIA Islamabad station chief Bob Grenier was meeting with the Taliban’s Mullah Osmani (p. 55) - 2
A major subject four days after 9/11 was Iraq. Not a typo - IRAQ. Also at this Camp David meeting were VP Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Steve Hadley, Colin Powell, Rich Armitage, Don Rumsfeld & Paul Wolfowitz, John Ashcroft, FBI’s Robert Mueller, @ CIA director George Tenet - 3
The day b4, Congress had authorized Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks & those who harbored them; 518 members voted in favor, with Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, the lone dissenter. (p. 47) - 4
Cofer Black was a little bored. He’d already made his “flies across their eyeballs” pitch to Bush on 9/13 (a phrase the Africa Division hand had picked up when he was in Kinshasa, capital of Zaire, supporting anti-communists during civil war in
neighboring Angola) (p. 48) - 5
First Casualty p. 48: “Black had spent career assessing people & calculating how to persuade them to side with him; he had read [Bush] correctly. Colin Powell later reflected on the impact Black’s September 13 presentation had on Bush: the president wanted to kill somebody.”- 6
Tenet delivered his brief on Afghanistan, stressing that Americans would be insurgents not invaders, helping the Afghans expel the foreign invaders of Al-Qaeda. Cofer Black surreptitiously rolled a tennis ball for Bush’s Scottish terrier Barney (p. 48) - 7
Cofer Black, George Tenet & @CIA were thinking only about Afghanistan. But when Tenet finished, Rumsfeld suggested that if the new War on Terror was going to be global, military action against Iraq should be considered. (p. 48) - 8
First Casualty p. 48: “Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, chipped in that Saddam Hussein could well have been involved in 9/11, and that perhaps it was time to ‘cut the head off the snake’ by attacking Iraq.” - 9
Cofer Black’s brain was screaming. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” he thought. The CTC director felt he could not remain silent. He raised his hand. (when I interviewed him, Black was still incredulous - his exact description was: “my brain was screaming”) p. 48 - 10
Cofer Black raised his hand and said, “Mr. President, we were attacked on September 11 by Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein and Iraq have nothing whatsoever to do with this.” Black knew all about OBL from Sudan (p. 48) - 11
First Casualty p. 48: “Bush told everyone to move on, and it seemed that the notion of going after Iraq had been dismissed.” (SPOILER: It hadn’t - see First Casualty p. 156, 164, 312-315, 317, 328) - 12
But for now Bush focused on Afghanistan, with @CIA leading. First Casualty p. 49: “US military had been caught flat-footed. The Pentagon, which had plans for almost every conceivable contingency, lacked an Afghanistan war plan... Though seething, Rumsfeld had little choice” - 13
Meanwhile, in Quetta, @CIA’s Grenier was meeting with Mullah Osmani. Taliban’s Southern Zone commander. - tried to play the role of respectful intermediary, telling him war would be “a disaster for everyone, victor and vanquished alike,” & spell end of the Taliban (p. 55) - 14
Osmani was having none of it. “If you attack us, we will defeat you!” he ranted. “Just as we defeated the Soviets!”(SPOILER: He was killed in US air strike 2006 but ultimately he was right). meeting was 5 hours. Osmani agreed to ask Mullah Omar 2 hand over bin Laden (p. 55). - 14
First Casualty p. 55-56: “Unbeknown to Grenier, however, his preferred way forward was already a dead end in both Washington and Quetta. As Grenier met with Osmani, half a world away at Camp David there was a break in Bush’s war council.” - 15
Bush was with Cofer Black, Morell, & State Dept. official who suggested America’s first response to 9/11 shld. be diplomatic overture to Taliban. “After the official had walked away, Bush turned to the CIA men & said, ‘Fuck diplomacy. We are going to war.’”(p. 56) - 16 END THREAD

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More from @tobyharnden

14 Sep
THREAD: 20 years ago today, George W. Bush accepted @CIA's plan to infiltrate into Afghanistan to purse Al-Qaeda. The plan was outlined by Cofer Black, CTC director. "First Casualty" p. 46: "The Jawbreaker and NALT missions into the Panjshir Valley from 1999 onward... 1
p, 46 contd. “…coupled with the two-year process of trying to get the legal authorities to kill bin Laden, meant that [Cofer] Black had a plan for Afghanistan in place. The CIA had laid it out in its ‘Blue Sky’ document less than a year earlier.” - 2
p. 46 contd: “At 9:30 a.m. on September 13, President Bush convened his National Security Council in White House Situation Room. The NSC had met several times over the two days since the attacks, but this would be the first discussion of the details of America’s response.” - 3
Read 14 tweets
12 Sep
THREAD: Every author stands on shoulders of those who've gone b4. I'm no exception. I’d like to highlight books I drew on for “First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11." Select Bibliography includes 136 books + 150 more here… - 1
For “First Casualty,” I interviewed every surviving member of Team Alpha, 93 people on record, many others off, & logged 327 hours of interviews. + diaries, emails, documents (some classified). BUT published books + articles were huge resource. As my chaotic shelves attest - 2
I owe particular debt to five foundational books: @DougStantonBook's Horse Soldiers, an outstanding account of the Green Berets in N.Afghanistan; @SteveCollNY's Ghost Wars & Directorate S, magisterial works on @CIA in Afghanistan & Pakistan -3
Read 23 tweets
11 Sep
THREAD on 20th anniversary of the Sep. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks about the experience that day of the Americans who were to fight back against Al-Qaeda. Page numbers from my book “First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11” - 1
4:45pm (GMT+5) Sep 11, 2001, @CIA officer David Tyson’s Tashkent-London flight took off. He was preoccupied by 9/9 Al-Qaeda assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud (he’d met him in Panjshir). Same moment 6,000 miles & 9 time zones away, Mohammed Atta was boarding a plane (p. 3) - 2
8 a.m. (GMT-4), Trumbo Point, Fleming Key, Florida. Capt Justin Sapp, a Green Beret with 5th SF Group, entered water to swim to shore during his SF diver qualifying course. He was beneath the waves as 9/11 attacks unfolded. Later, he was assigned to @CIA Team Alpha (p. 24) - 3
Read 31 tweets
22 Aug
THREAD. My Afghan translator R has been trapped outside #KabulAirport for a week. I have applied for an SIV for him. I am a US citizen. No reply. Pending cases are not being allowed through the gates. Every day R gambles with his life to try to get in 1/10
When R gets close to the gate, he calls me on WhatsApp, hoping a US soldier will talk to me, so I can vouch for him. He carries the application I sent, and photos of us working together, including this one of us beside the memorial to CIA officer Mike Spann. 2/10
R was with me in Mazar-i Sharif last November. Wise & resourceful, he helped me research the first days of the war (just after 9/11) for my book First Casualty. He tracked down two doctors who witnessed the last seconds of Mike Spann’s life as the CIA man died fighting. 3/10
Read 9 tweets
14 Aug
Thread about Mazar-i Sharif, where I spent time last November. Mazar was the first major city to be captured by Northern Alliance forces (supported by the US) after 9/11 (Nov 9, 2001) and now appears to have fallen to the Taliban. 1/20
Then, the main anti-Taliban players were the same as 2021 - Atta Mohammmed Noor (Tajik), Abdul Rashid Dostum (Uzbek), and Mohammed Mohaqeq (Hazara). In 2001, they had alongside them CIA operatives, Green Berets, UKSF (SBS) and US air power. Now, they are alone 2/20
Mazar, a thriving commercial hub, is the key to controlling the entire north and advancing on Kabul - that was the case in 2001, and it is the case now. From 1996 to 1998, when it fell to the Taliban, Mazar was a center of resistance. 3/20
Read 20 tweets

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