Friday, December 19, 2003

Poll: Public Confident of Osama Capture

Public confidence that Osama bin Laden will be caught is rising....

...Two-thirds in the [Associated Press] poll said they were confident the United States would capture or kill Osama bin Laden, who is believed to have orchestrated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That's up from about half who felt that way in a poll in September.

"I'm confident we'll capture Osama bin Laden," said Jill Chiccino, a surgical technician from Wilmington, Del. "I still don't feel that will solve terrorism, but it may help."...


Unfortunately, that large chunk of America that believes bin Laden's capture is inevitable does not, apparently, include very many people with actual knowledge of the situation:

U.S. Says Catching Bin Laden Difficult

...More than two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there is little indication that U.S. forces are about to capture bin Laden.

..."As opposed to finding the needle in the haystack, now the needle is in a mountain chain," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

...Officials have tried to pry information from al-Qaida suspects seized in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. After Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, believed to be al-Qaida's No. 3 figure, was arrested in March, information from his interrogation led to raids along the southwestern stretch of the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. But those didn't lead to any arrests.

"I'm not sure if there have been any close calls. I'm skeptical," said one U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some critics have said the United States should devote more resources — including military and special operations forces — to the hunt for bin Laden.

"The United States does not have unlimited military resources," said Larry Johnson, a former State Department deputy chief of counterterrorism. "If you're going to devote air assets to lifting troops in Iraq, those assets are no longer available to lift troops in Afghanistan."

But America's top general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers said this week that the United States, which has about 11,000 troops hunting militants in Afghanistan, is unlikely to send many more troops.

...While Saddam was found in a "spider hole," as it was dubbed by the military, "you've got spider caves by the hundreds in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Karl Inderfurth, assistant secretary of State for South Asian affairs during the Clinton administration....


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