Gates: 'Years' Since Last bin Laden Intel

White House pushes Afghan policy on Sunday circuit
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2009 1:10 PM CST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates appear in Washington on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 for an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week.   (AP Photo/ABC News, Fred Watkins)
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(Newser) – The US hasn't had credible intelligence on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts in "years," Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted to ABC's George Stephanopoulos today. "We don’t know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is," the defense secretary said. "If we did, we’d go get him." National Security Adviser Jim Jones begged to differ slightly, telling State of the Union, "The best estimate is that he's in North Waziristan."

  • Gates and Hillary Clinton danced around the "d" word, Politico notes. “There isn’t a deadline," the defense secretary says. "What we have is a specific date on which we will begin transferring responsibility." Clinton: “We're not talking about an exit strategy or a drop-dead deadline. What we're talking about is an assessment that in [July] 2011, we can begin a transition."
  • Clinton is open to talks with the Taliban, saying, "We think there's a real opportunity for a number to be persuaded to leave the battlefield." But such a development depends "on reversing their momentum right now," chimed in Gates.
  • Obama's exit strategy is all well and good, Hamid Karzai tells CNN, but Washington had best b e patient if Kabul isn't ready to assume control in 2011. "We as Afghans will try our very best to reach that goal," said the president.
  • Obama ally Dick Durbin is "skeptical whether 30,000 more troops will make a difference," he told Fox News Sunday.
  • Gen. David Petraeus said that Obama, a former critic of the Iraq buildup, acknowledged privately to him that the surge there worked. He also ruled out a 2012 run for Obama's job, telling Fox News Sunday: "I feel very privileged to have serve our country in uniform."

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