1,521. 5/17/1999

A declassified email sent to CIA Islamabad station chief Gary Schroen from the head of the CIA’s Bin Ladin unit Michael Scheuer was dated May 17, 1999. It reflected on the lack of proactive efforts to take out Usama Bin Ladin (UBL) after he’d been located. It read: “if/when the history of this operation [to get Bin Ladin] gets written from the hqs [headquarters’] end it will show that for the past 40 months the cia, and especially the do [Director of Operations], has been in this endeavor virtually alone. for the first two-plus years–really until the african [embassy] bombings [in August 1998]–the u.s. military did not believe that ubl was a problem/threat [redacted] saying ubl was not a priority for them. [Redacted] we have been kept perpetually short-handed. [Redacted] and are still troubled or at least confounded, by the still unexplained decision to forego the capture op [operation] at tarnak [farms, a training center in Afghanistan] last may, which in my estimate is still the best opportunity we have had. [Redacted] …having a chance to get ubl three times in 36 hours and foregoing the chance each time has made me a bit angry. i’ve driven [redacted] officers relentlessly–at time ruthlessly [redacted] and the [Clinton] administration has passed up a half-dozen good-to-excellent chances to complete the operation. my perception is that everytime a chance comes up the dci [Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet] finds himself alone at the table, with the other principles basically saying ‘we’ll go along with your decision mr. director,’ and implicitly saying that the agency [CIA] will hang alone if the attack doesn’t get bin ladin. it’s a frustrating business, and indeed it’s hard to understand [redacted] their stark fear of attacking a terrorist bent on killing as many Americans as possible.”

 – CIA, “your note,” From Michael F. Scheuer, To [Excised], CIA Email. Cited in 9/11 Commission Report as “Mike to [Gary] Schroen,” The Central Intelligence Agency’s 9/11 File:, The National Security Archive, May 17, 1999

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