Bush Remarkably Consistent On Capturing Bin Laden: It Hasn't Been A Priority For Four Years
On the subject of capturing Osama Bin Laden, President Bush has been remarkably consistent of late. It's not a priority, and apparently hasn't been since 2002.
The fact that he is completely out of step with the vast majority of Americans must be our problem.
Here are three quotes that sum up the current philosophy:
"We now know why the Bush administration hasn't made the capture of Osama bin Laden a paramount goal of the war on terror. Emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism. Here's how President Bush explained this Tuesday: "This thing about . . . let's put 100,000 of our special forces stomping through Pakistan in order to find bin Laden is just simply not the strategy that will work."
BUSH: Well, I appreciate his optimism. I have no idea whether we will capture or bring him to justice, may be the best way to put it. I know we are on the hunt, and Osama bin Laden is a cold-blooded killer, and he represents the nature of the enemy that we face.
BUSH: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. ... So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.
One more factoid to reflect the administration's post-2002 thinking:
The CIA last year closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Bin Laden and his top lieutenants. Of the decision, Michael Scheuer, a former senior CIA official who was the first head of the unit, known as Alec Station, told the New York Times in July: "This will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda."
From the wayback machine.
"Make no mistake: The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."
--Bush, Dec. 14, 2001