Bush administration hid truth regarding how close Taliban came to killing Cheney, new book reveals

Captain on base says Taliban knew vice president was leaving base and were lying in wait

John Bowden
Tuesday 10 August 2021 22:29
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<p>Dick Cheney, former US vice president</p>

Dick Cheney, former US vice president

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A US army officer who was stationed at Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield in 2007 says that Taliban insurgents learned of a secret visit to the base by then-Vice President Dick Cheney and attempted to assassinate him.

The incident, first reported as an attack on the base in February of that year, occurred while Mr Cheney was visiting service members at the former US stronghold. At the time, military officials insisted that there was no possibility that Taliban militants had truly known of the vice president’s whereabouts, and suggested that the attack was random.

“The Taliban’s claims that they were going after the vice president were absurd,” said a spokesman for coalition forces at the time.

But a new book set to be published by the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock details a quite different scenario, with an officer then stationed to the base on a security detail explaining in a previously-unpublished oral history of the attack that Taliban militants knew of Mr Cheney’s presence and were lying in wait.

When a convoy of vehicles left the airfield, the militants attacked, detonating a suicide bomb. The blast killed two US service members, a South Korean soldier, and more than a dozen Afghan civilians including a young child.

Mr Cheney was not only the target of the attack but had been scheduled to leave the base in another convoy only minutes later, according to excerpts of Mr Whitlock’s book, The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War, published in the Post.

“The insurgents knew this. It was all over the news no matter how much it was tried to keep secret,” then-Capt Shawn Dalrymple said in the book’s excerpts. “They caught a convoy going out the gate with an up-armored sport-utility vehicle and thought it was him.”

The Independent has reached out to Pentagon officials for comment on the conflicting statements.

Tales of the Taliban’s near-success with an assassination attempt targeting a US vice president come as the militant group is seizing broad swaths of Afghan territory amid the US withdrawal from the country.

US forces are ending most operations and are set to complete a withdrawal of combat troops by the end of August, ending America’s longest-running war.

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