“In the second half of March 2002…Deputy CIA Director John E. McLaughlin… told senior members of the president’s [Bush’s] national security team that the CIA was scaling back operations in Afghanistan. That announcement marked a year-long drawdown of specialized military and intelligence resources from the geographic center of combat with Osama bin Laden. As jihadist enemies reorganized, slipping back and forth from Pakistan and Iran, the CIA closed forward bases in the cities of Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Kandahar. The agency put off an $80 million plan to train and equip a friendly intelligence service for the new U.S.-installed Afghan government. …And Task Force 5–a covert commando team that led the hunt for bin Laden and his lieutenants in the border region–lost more than two-thirds of its fighting strength.” [The 25th of the month used for date sorting purposes only.]

 – Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer, “The Bush Record: War on Terrorism; Afghanistan, Iraq: Two Wars Collide,” The Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2004