From the transcript of last-night’s Lateline
TONY JONES: Except of course Al Qaeda, for example, would still have safe and quite prolific training camps and bases inside Afghanistan where they had protection from the Taliban.
GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, what was very interesting was that just before the war with Afghanistan the Taliban leadership actually offered to hand over the main Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, so they wouldn’t be invaded.
And of course that would have been a much cheaper and much easier option and we would have arrested them.
They would no longer be out there threatening the West.
They would be in prison or being prosecuted.
And the problem is that the US was absolutely determined to go to war, as indeed it was absolutely determined to go to war with Iraq and it seems to me that the need to go to war came first, the rationale for those wars came second and so they squandered the best of all possible opportunities to actually round up the leaders of Al Qaeda and some of the other terrorist organisations.
Even Monbiot’s own paper, has a rather different chronicle of events.