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[] USA Today 12.04.02: Bin Laden Noticeably MIA From Bush's Vocabulary,

USA Today April 12, 2002 Pg. 11

Bin Laden Noticeably MIA From Bush's Vocabulary

By Judy Keen, USA Today

WASHINGTON  There are six syllables President Bush really doesn't want to 
say aloud: Osama bin Laden.

In the first weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the al-Qaeda 
leader was on Bush's mind and prominent in his public remarks. Bush said he 
wanted him found "dead or alive" and rarely missed an opportunity to refer 
to bin Laden as "the evil one."

But it has been six months since the president launched the war on 
terrorism, bin Laden has not been caught, and Bush and his advisers have 
decided that making bin Laden the personification of the enemy is not a 
good idea. Mentioning him only serves as a reminder that U.S. forces in 
Afghanistan have failed to fulfill what was once a key objective of the war.

The president's reluctance to speak the name was obvious in a speech on 
community service in Bridgeport, Conn., on Tuesday. Bush stammered, 
hesistated, then stopped himself.

"There's no cave deep enough for the long arm of American justice," Bush 
said in a section of the speech that focused on the war in Afghanistan. 
U.S. forces believe that if bin Laden is still in Afghanistan, he's hiding 
in a cave. "There is no calendar on my desk that says, 'If we don't get  if 
so-and-so doesn't show up, then this thing ends,' " Bush said. "That's just 
not the way I think."

When Bush marked the six-month anniversary of the attacks on March 11, he 
made no direct reference to bin Laden. He noted that some al-Qaeda leaders 
were dead and others had been captured and added, "Others are still on the 
run, hoping to strike again."

Bush left bin Laden out of his State of the Union address Jan. 29, even 
though it included plenty of references to the war.

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer says the fact that bin Laden is unaccounted 
for is not a factor in Bush's choice of words. "The president believes that 
the war on terrorism is bigger than any one person  that even if Osama bin 
Laden would be captured today, the war would continue tomorrow," Fleischer 

Fleischer, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin 
Powell don't volunteer updates on bin Laden's whereabouts when they brief 
reporters. But they do answer reporters' questions on the subject, usually 
dismissing bin Laden's fate as not particularly relevant to the war.

In a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll of 802 adults, 47% said the U.S. mission in 
Afghanistan would be a success even if bin Laden was not captured; 48% said 
it would not be.

In the poll, 55% considered it very likely or somewhat likely that bin 
Laden would be caught. The March 8-9 poll had a margin of error of +/- 4 
percentage points.

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