President Bush said he does not know where Osama bin Laden is, but vowed he will be brought to justice. Mr. Bush said U.S. forces remain determined to find Osama bin Laden - dead or alive.
President Bush also said Osama bin Laden can run, but he cannot elude capture. He said the United States is not sure of his whereabouts, or even if he is still alive. But he stressed Osama bin Laden will be found.
"There's increasing speculation about bin Laden," he said. "But what one shouldn't speculate on is if he's alive, he's on the run. And you don't need to worry about whether or not we're going to get him, because we are."
During a press conference Friday at his Texas ranch, the president said Osama bin Laden must realize that he no longer has any power in Afghanistan. He said a man who once helped control a country, is now the target of a manhunt. "Who knows where he is," noted Mr. Bush. "But one thing is for certain; he's on the losing side of a rout."
Mr. Bush was asked if he had seen the latest videotape from Osama bin Laden. He said he saw bits of the tape on television and dismissed its contents.
At the same time, the president stopped short of saying the Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida are no longer capable of another terrorist assault on the United States. He said he has seen intelligence reports that show Osama bin Laden and his followers would like to strike America again. "Therefore, the United States must be vigilant, must make sure we continue to focus on our homeland security measures, must disrupt, must use our intelligence-gathering network to prevent the enemy from attacking," added Mr. Bush.
The president spoke on the grounds of his ranch on a clear, windy winter's day. At his side was General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. General Franks said American forces will remain on Afghan soil until their mission is complete. "I think it's best for all of us to recognize that we will not be hurried, we will not be pressed into doing something that does not represent our national objectives," he went on to say. "And we will take as long as it takes."
General Franks went to the Bush ranch to brief the president on his recent trip to Afghanistan. In addition to visiting with the troops, he attended the installation of Afghanistan's new interim government in Kabul.