Has anyone seen Osama bin Laden? The U.S. government can’t seem to find him or his right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The trail has gone “stone cold,” it seems, and the U.S. has no idea where they might be.
Much has been made recently of President George W. Bush frequently invoking bin Laden’s name in the last week, where he had hardly done so in the last two years. It turns out, though, that Bush had scaled back the manhunt, even getting rid of the Central Intelligence Agency office responsible for locating him.
And that’s after the hunt had mired itself in bureaucratic turf wars, the Washington Post reports today.
Today, however, no one person is in charge of the overall hunt for bin Laden with the authority to direct covert CIA operations to collect intelligence and to dispatch JSOC units. Some counterterrorism officials find this absurd. “There’s nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!” one frustrated counterterrorism official shouted. “Nobody!”
“We work by consensus,” explained Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., who recently stepped down as deputy director of counterterrorism under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “In order to find Osama bin Laden, certain departments will come together. . . . It’s not that effective, or we’d find the guy, but in terms of advancing United States power for that mission, I think that process is effective.” — Washington Post
A manhunt by consensus?!
Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are still believed to be in a remote area near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but there’s been no intelligence in two years to indicate anything more specific as to where they might be hiding.
The Post article has a lot of detail on the situation, why finding two people hiding in the mountains is a hard problem, and is well worth reading.