Revealed: the infighting that has hobbled hunt for Bin Laden

Disagreements within the Bush administration blamed for failure of the US to defeat al-Qa'ida

Damaging details of infighting within the Bush administration and intelligence agencies are emerging, just months before George Bush leaves the White House.

A scathing assessment of US failures in its war with al-Qa'ida was published by The New York Times yesterday, containing the charge that the infighting has hobbled efforts to capture Osama bin Laden and his senior lieutenants.

The report coincides with revelations in The New Yorker about deep unease among congressional leaders over a secret directive issued by the Bush administration which significantly boosts the activities of Special Operations Forces inside Iran. The magazine also detected further disarray by highlighting concern within the US military about White House support for possible military strikes on Iran, which would aim to set back Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Mr Bush will now leave office with al-Qa'ida having successfully relocated its base of operations from Afghanistan to Pakistan's tribal areas. According to the report in The New York Times, there may be more than 2000 foreign recruits to al-Qa'ida. The newspaper describes how last year the Pentagon's Special Operations Forces were authorised to launch missions in the mountains of Pakistan. But they are still awaiting the green light to launch attacks on al-Qa'ida camps in the North West territories. There was "mounting frustration" at the delay, a senior defence source told the newspaper. There have been numerous American missile strikes in Pakistan since 2002, but militants have continued to flock to al-Qa'ida encampments it is reported.

The US failure to tackle the al-Qa'ida leadership comes at a time when Mr Bush is increasingly focused on projecting the US military into Iran. Operations in Iran have been expanded with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command joining forces, according to current US officials. The New Yorker reported that undercover US operations inside Iran are undergoing a major expansion aimed at destabilising the religious leadership.

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, is to travel to Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a seven-nation tour later this year to address what is seen as a weakness on foreign policy compared to his veteran Republican opponent, Senator John McCain. Mr Obama has said he wants to send up to 10,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, where violence has increased as the Taliban and al-Qa'ida regroup. Mr Obama has accused Mr Bush of neglecting the fight in Afghanistan to pursue an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Most damaging of all for President Bush's legacy may be a 700-page official history by the US Army. It points the finger of blame at US-based commanders who believed "in the euphoria of early 2003" that the goals in Iraq had been accomplished and failed to send enough troops to handle the occupation. The study specifically blames President Bush's declaration on board an aircraft carrier off San Diego on 1 May 2003, that major combat operations were over for reinforcing that view. The audacious conclusions of the official army history, On Point II, were defended in a foreword by General William Wallace, commanding general of US Army Training and Doctrine Command, who wrote: "One of the great and least understood qualities of the United States Army is its culture of introspection and self-examination."

The report blames civilian and military planning for the failures of post-Saddam Iraq. After Saddam was toppled, US commanders sat back and expected a peaceful transition much as they had experienced in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The report also said the administration of George Bush assumed incorrectly that the Saddam regime would collapse after the 1991 Gulf War. The army history points out that the coalition commander, General Tommy Franks, told his subordinates to prepare to move most of their forces out of Iraq by September 2003.

"In line with the ... general euphoria at the rapid crumbling of the Saddam regime, Franks continued to plan for a very limited role for US ground forces in Iraq," the report said.

It would take until July 16 2003 for his successor, General John Abizaid, to acknowledge that US forces were facing a classic guerrilla insurgency.

Some of the most scathing criticisms of the US military have come from within its own ranks.

Lt- Col Paul Yingling touched off the debate last year, complaining in public: "After going into Iraq with too few troops and no coherent plan for postwar stabilisation, America's general officer corps did not accurately portray the intensity of the insurgency to the American public."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before