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    VANISHING ACT

    Report Examines bin Laden Escape

    A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report examines Osama bin Laden's escape through the mountains of Tora Bora in December 2001, laying the blame for the terrorist leader's getaway at the feet of Gen. Tommy Franks and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the lack of troops in the area. The report, commissioned by committee chairman John Kerry—whose 2004 presidential campaign excoriated the Bush administration for failing to capture bin Laden—holds that the al Qaeda chief's flight "allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure," and helped lay "the foundation for today's protracted Afghan insurgency." Bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, were in a Tora Bora cave complex the men had frequented earlier, the report concludes, despite Gen. Franks' continuing uncertainty as to his location at the time.