RealNews

Officials: U.S. Slow on Bin Laden Drones

Though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months and was still refining a plan to use one armed with missiles to kill the al-Qaida leader when Sept. 11 unfolded, current and former U.S. officials say. The military successfully tested an armed Predator throughout the first half of 2001, and top administration officials discussed such a mission at a White House meeting just one week before the suicide attacks. But they failed to resolve a debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the armed Predators and whether the missiles would be sufficiently lethal, officials told The Associated Press. The months-long disappearance in 2001 of U.S. Predators from the skies over Afghanistan is discussed in classified sections of Congress’ report into pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures and is expected to be examined by an independent commission appointed by the president and Congress, officials said. Full Story

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