Ex-CIA Operative Comes Out of the Shadows

Tells 60 Minutes U.S. Needs Partners On The Ground In Pakistan To Take Out Taliban And Al Qaeda

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The CIA's Afghan allies were so successful infiltrating enemy lines and providing targets for U.S. airpower that it took just over eight weeks for the Taliban and al Qaeda to collapse. Crumpton never had more than four dozen CIA officers on the ground at any one time, supported by small teams of special operations forces.

"So, how do you feel when you hear it referred to as the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan?" Logan asked.

"I think that's incorrect. Well, I was here and it was not an invasion. We were invited by our Afghan allies. We were very few in number. The teams, in fact, were very small," he said.

"They were initially eight. Eight people could not invade a country," Amrullah Saleh, the head of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's domestic intelligence agency, told Logan.

Saleh has also spent much of his life in the shadows. When it comes to intelligence and clandestine operations in Afghanistan, he is the man at the top. And when Crumpton was in Afghanistan back in 2001, Saleh was usually at his side.

Asked if he liked Crumpton, Saleh told Logan with a smile, "Yes. That's why I'm giving this interview. I don't meet the press."

Back then, at just 28 years old, Saleh was the main conduit for intelligence sharing between the CIA and the Afghans.

"The same people who we were trying to kill those days, the bulk of them are alive. The war has not ended," Saleh told Logan.

Asked if he considers it his war, he said, "Oh, yes. I am ready to die any moment. I am not fighting for America, no. This is my war. I am fighting for my wife, for my children, for my community, for this country. And indirectly fighting for America. Because we have common enemies."

Saleh and Crumpton share a deep bond, forged by their long fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

A photograph from 2001 shows them in the control tower at Bagram Airbase; at that time, the tower overlooked the Taliban frontline. Today the base it overlooks represents the heart of U.S. power and commitment to Afghanistan.

"This does look a lot different. You have glass," Crumpton told Logan, when he entered the tower's upper floor for the first time since the photograph was taken in November 2001. "There's no shell fragments layin' around."

"Did it even cross your mind when you were here then what it would look like?" Logan asked.

"No, I didn't. We were focused on the enemy and the intelligence collection, the covert action and getting to Kabul," he replied.

"And, officially, you weren't here?" Logan asked.

"That's correct," Crumpton said.

Today, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is about to surge by 30,000 more soldiers. We wanted to hear from Crumpton and Saleh - two experienced veterans of the Afghan fight - what they think about where the war is heading.

"We still have a window of opportunity that has not closed. But, it is more difficult because the Taliban, well, they've gained ground. And it's frustrating because we are fighting for the same ground that we won in '01/ '02," Crumpton said.

"And fighting for it over and over and over again," Logan pointed out.

"That's correct. That's exactly right. It's easy to say, 'Okay, let's pack up. Let's go home.' But this is an enduring security concern for the United States, for our homeland. And for me, it's much like déjà vu because prior to 9/11, I made this same argument. I said, 'If we do not address the issue in Afghanistan, we will suffer in the homeland. It will happen.' And it did," Crumpton explained.

"The American public is underestimating the Islamic fundamentalist groups, and terrorism and extremism," Saleh added.