CNN Transcript of Bush Press Conference, March, 2002
QUESTION: Mr. President, in your speeches now, you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that?
Also, can you can tell the American people if you have any more information -- if you know if he is dead or alive. Deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really want to make...
BUSH: Well, deep in my heart, I know the man's on the run if he's alive at all. And I -- you know, who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not? We hadn'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's bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who has now been marginalized. His network is -- his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.
He is -- you know, as I mention in my speeches -- I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death. And he, himself, tries to hide, if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. Nor -- you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well supplied, that the strategy is clear, that the coalition is strong, that when we find enemy bunched up, like we did in Shah-e-Kot mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.
And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shah-e-Kot. And I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shah-e-kot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly; we're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped, we have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.
QUESTION: Do you believe the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead of alive?
BUSH: As I say, we hadn't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, you know, again, I don't know where he is.
I'll repeat what I said: I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
But, you know, once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins.
Wednesday, October 13
Bush said Kerry was exaggerating when Kerry said Bush wasn't that concerned with bin Laden - that Bush doesn't spend that much time on him. Bush was incredulous that Kerry would say such a thing.
Posted by Howard Hoffman at 6:48 PM