(Newser) – Back in 2007, a Taliban suicide bomber struck at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan and killed 23 people. As it turns out, Vice President Dick Cheney was at the base at the time on an unannounced visit, and while he wasn’t injured, the Taliban said he had been the target. “Absurd,” said the spokesman for US and NATO forces at the time. Now, however, a new book by Washington Postreporter Craig Whitlock says the claim was anything but absurd. In fact, the Taliban came surprisingly close to Cheney that day, according to an excerpt of The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War. Then-Capt. Shawn Dalrymple tells Whitlock that the Taliban had indeed gotten wind of Cheney’s visit. The bomber targeted a convoy leaving the base because he mistakenly thought Cheney was in it, says Dalrymple, who was then in charge of security at the base.
Cheney, however, was scheduled to leave 30 minutes later in a different convoy. “That opened up a lot of eyes into the fact that Bagram was not a safe place,” says Dalrymple. “There was a direct link with the insurgencies.” The close call demonstrated the Taliban’s reach and prowess, writes Whitlock. It also said something about the US, he adds. By “lying about how close the insurgents had come to harming Cheney, the US military sank deeper into a pattern of deceiving the public about many facets of the war, from discrete events to the big picture,” he writes. “What began as selective, self-serving disclosures after the 2001 invasion gradually hardened into willful distortions and, eventually, flat-out fabrications.”