March 9, 2006


BIN LADEN: HOW CLOSE HAVE WE COME? (Michael Smerconish, 3/09/06, Philadelphia Daily News)

RIGHT AFTER 9/11, IT WAS Gary Berntsen's job to get Osama bin Laden.

Picture a real-life Jack Bauer. Strong. Focused. Committed. A guy who probably knows how to kill you with his car keys. More than 23 years as an officer in the clandestine service of the CIA. In his new book, "Jawbreaker," he says he stopped dozens of bombings and assassinations. [...]

At Tora Bora, Berntsen had an eight-man team, four CIA, four military from Delta Force.

"These eight men went down into Nangarhar Province, which is several million people in complete chaos, company-size elements of Chechens and Uzbeks and Al Qaeda and Taliban moving around. I was sweating bullets when I send them down there because Special Forces didn't go down with them...

"They linked up with a friendly warlord who we made contact with. And then, with that warlord, they drove down to Tora Bora to get to the foot of the mountains."

Four of them found bin Laden, and our best opportunity since 9/11 to kill him.

"They were able to visually spot his camp at Milawa... And from that... mountaintop, they are able to call in air strikes for 56 hours. There were hundreds of them there... We are able to hear bin Laden. After we took a radio off of a dead fighter, we could hear him. We were very close."

That's when Berntsen called for a Blue 82, a 15,000-pound bomb, the largest explosive in our inventory shy of a nuclear weapon. It has to be dropped off the back of a C-130 because it's too heavy to be suspended from an aircraft.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2006 7:04 AM

> A guy who probably knows how to kill you with his car keys.

Enough with the Ted Kennedy-bashing.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at March 9, 2006 11:30 AM

"Blue 82" is the weapon often referred to as the "Daisly Cutter."

The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, nicknamed Commando Vault in Vietnam and Daisy Cutter in Afghanistan, is a high altitude delivery of 15,000 pound conventional bomb, delivered from an MC-130 since it is far too heavy for the bomb racks on any bomber or attack aircraft. Originally designed to create an instant clearing in the jungle, it has been used in Afghanistan as an anti-personnel weapon and as an intimidation weapon because of its very large lethal radius (variously reported as 300-900 feet) combined with flash and sound visible at long distances. It is the largest conventional bomb in existence but is less than one thousandth the power of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 9, 2006 12:24 PM