Last Night on Late Night
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, shortly after al Qaeda carried out the Sept. 11 attacks, and Countdown Bin Laden, Fox News host Chris Wallace's book on the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, doesn't pick up until 2010, Stephen Colbert reminded Wallace on Wednesday's Late Show. "Just set the stage, what was happening in those nine years when we weren't getting bid Laden, when that was our mission to begin with?"
After the invasion, "we chase bin Laden and we end up, we believe, cornering him in a very mountainous area in eastern Afghanistan, right on the border with Pakistan, called Tora Bora," Wallace recounted, "and we think we have him cornered in a cave, and he disappears like Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects." "Did we take our eye off the ball, or did he just have a back exit to the cave?" Colbert asked. "No, he just got out," and "he escaped into Pakistan into this mountainous tribal area, and basically the trail goes cold for nine years," Wallace said. Two months before his book starts, "we think he's in this tribal area — wild, remote, mountainous, caves — between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it turns out everything we thought was completely wrong."
"What did you learn that surprised you, that you didn't know, because so much has been written about this?" Colbert asked Wallace. "I think two things most of all," he said. "First of all, I talked to the man who killed bin Laden ... a Navy SEAL, SEAL Team 6, Rob O'Neill. ... I said to him, 'How dangerous did you think this mission was?' He said, 'One-way ticket.' I said, 'What do you mean?' 'A suicide mission. ... We may get bin Laden, but we aren't getting back home.' That was the one thing. The second thing is that when Obama makes the decision on Friday, April 29, it is no more than a 50-50 proposition that bin Laden is even there."
Ten years after bin Laden's death, the Taliban is back in charge of Afghanistan. "I think we're not going to have a great working relationship, but we kind of need them," Wallace said. "We need them to get the Americans out, we certainly want them to help us fight terrorism, they would like money from us. You know, in a rational world, you can make a deal. This is the Taliban."