A new Senate Foreign Relations Committee report says that Osama bin Laden was within the grasp of U.S troops in December 2001, but bin Laden was allowed to escape into the Afghan mountains. The Daily News reports, "The report asserts that the failure to get the terrorist leader when he was at his most vulnerable in December 2001 - three months after the 9/11 attacks - led to today's reinvigorated insurgency in Afghanistan."
The report says, "The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism." According to the NY Times, "The committee report, prepared at the request of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the committee’s Democratic chairman, concludes unequivocally that in mid-December 2001, Mr. bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were at the cave complex, where Mr. bin Laden had operated previously during the fight against Soviet forces. The new report suggests that a larger troop commitment to Afghanistan might have resulted in the demise not only of Mr. bin Laden and his deputy but also of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban. Mullah Omar, who also fled to Pakistan in 2001, has overseen the resurgence of the Taliban."
You can read the report here (PDF). And the report is being released as President Obama is about to announce his plans for Afghanistan. Kerry has long said the Bush administration missed the chance to get bin Laden (the Times calls it "unfinished political on the part of Mr. Kerry. Before and during his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign, he hammered on the failure to catch Mr. bin Laden").