Osama bin-Laden released his 41st public announcement during George Bush's tenure this week. On the audio tape, he expresses surprise that Musab al-Zarqawi was found and killed earlier in the month and that:
Clearly the relationship between bin-Laden and Zarqawi had been a strained one and this newest tape seems to be an effort to make it appear that the relationship was cozier than it perhaps appeared. His surprise may be to try to put to rest rumors that he or al-Qaeda may have been a source of the intel that pointed us to him, since al-Qaeda saw Zarqawi as a rogue. It may be an oblique comparison, but in his first term, George Bush held only 16 press conferences. During that same time, Osama bin-Laden issued a total of 26 audio and video taped statements. In others words, bin-Laden was more likely to issue a statement than Bush was to actually stand in front of a group of reporters and answer their questions (or not).
"Abu Musab had clear instructions to focus his fight on the occupiers, particularly the Americans and to leave aside anyone who remains neutral. But for those who refused [neutrality] and stood to fight on the side of the crusaders against the Muslims, then he should kill them whoever they are, regardless of their sect or tribe."
Another fact that's kind of fascinating is that since 9/11 and Bush's famous statement that he wanted bin-Laden 'dead or alive' ("I don't care, dead or alive — either way. It doesn't matter to me."), bin-Laden has released a total of 39 audio and video statements. Despite all of these tapes that somehow had to be delivered to the Arab press, we are seemeingly no closer to capturing or killing bin-Laden. It's becoming more and more obvious to anyone who receives at least some of their news from alternate sources (foreign press, independent press, etc.) that this administration will only find or kill bin-Laden when he: a) ceases to be useful to them and b) doesn't offend their business sensibilities.
This focus away from bin-Laden came though loud and clear from Bush himself, during one of his afore mentioned rare press conferences on March 13, 2002 - only 3 months after his 'dead or alive' quote:
"Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- 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."I can almost picture Dick and Don sitting in a room somewhere cringing at that one. He is simply a hand puppet, and often, not even a good one. Also, "I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country". Yes, that must be why he paid so much attention to the famous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief entitled "bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."