"Though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the [Bush] administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months," the Associated Press reports.
The military successfully tested an armed Predator throughout the first half of 2001, and top administration officials discussed such a mission at a White House meeting just one week before the [9/11] attacks. But they failed to resolve a debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the armed Predators and whether the missiles would be sufficiently lethal, officials told The Associated Press.The months-long disappearance in 2001 of U.S. Predators from the skies over Afghanistan is discussed in classified sections of Congress' report into pre-Sept. 11 intelligence failures and is expected to be examined by an independent commission appointed by the president and Congress, officials said.After the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA put the armed drones into the sky within days, and they soon played an important role in one of the early successes of the war on terror.(via Atrios)