“Last fall [2002], as the U.S. began planning the invasion of Iraq, Washington shifted many of its highly classified special-forces units and officers who had been hunting bin Laden in Afghanistan, moving them to Iraq, where they performed covert operations before the war began. By December [2002] many of the 800 special-forces personnel who had been chasing al-Qaeda for a year were quietly brought back home, given a few weeks’ rest and then shipped out to Iraq. ‘They all basically picked up and moved,’ says a senior U.S. official. When the A-team members left, they took a lot of their high-tech equipment (and Arabic speakers) with them. And while they were replaced by fresh troops, many of the new units comprise reservists who, rather than specializing in countering Islamic threats, were trained for operations in Russian-and Spanish-speaking countries.” [The 15th of the month used for date sorting purposes only.]

 – Michael Duffy and Massimo Calabresi, “Letting Up on Osama,” Time, Aug. 4, 2003