Where's Osama?

Bush says the United States is on the hunt, but did the Pentagon shift troops to Iraq for the elections instead?

By Tim Grieve
Published March 4, 2005 4:17PM (EST)

Remember Osama bin Laden?

George W. Bush reminded us about the al Qaida leader Thursday when the president paid a courtesy call to the CIA and attended the swearing-in ceremony for new Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. Bush mentioned bin Laden at both events -- an extraordinary development in and of itself for a president who appears not to have mentioned bin Laden's name in public for nearly five months.

But anyone waiting for more significant developments about bin Laden -- say, news that he has actually been captured -- may have to wait a little longer.

During the presidential race, John Kerry accused the Bush administration of giving short shrift to the hunt for bin Laden as it shifted attention to the war on Iraq. Now, the Associated Press reports, history may be repeating itself. While Bush insists that the United States is on a "constant hunt" for bin Laden, an unnamed former intelligence official tells the AP that "intelligence and military assets were moved from Afghanistan to Iraq for the Jan. 30 elections there, and it is unclear whether they were moved back."

The Pentagon refused to comment on such "operational matters," the AP says.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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