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above link visited July 18 2007

The following is from almost mid-way through the transcript.


Q    Mr. President, on the question of Iraq, how does the increased violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians affect what Vice President Cheney is trying to do, and affect the case you're trying to make with our Arab allies for a regime change, or just unconditional inspections?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I understand that the unrest in the Middle East creates unrest throughout the region, more so now than ever in the past. But we're concerned about the Middle East, John, because it's affecting the lives of the Palestinians and our friends, the Israelis.  I mean, it's a terrible period of time, when a lot of people are losing their lives, needlessly losing life.  And terrorists are holding a potential peace process hostage.

And so while I understand the linkage, for us the policy stands on its own.  The need for us to involved in the Middle East is to help save lives. And we're going to stay involved in the Middle East, and, at the same time, continue to talk about Iraq and Iran and other nations, and continue to wage a war on terror, which is exactly what we're doing.

I want to reiterate what I said the other day.  Our policy is to deny sanctuary to terrorists anyplace in the world, and we will be very active in doing that.

Q    But on the question of the Palestinians, Sharon has said that he shares your concern for those not involved in terror.  Do you still think that's the case?

THE PRESIDENT:  I do.  But, unlike our war against al Qaeda, there is a series of agreements in place that will lead to peace.  And, therefore, we're going to work hard to see if we can't, as they say, get into Tenet and eventually Mitchell.  I do  --  I certainly hope that Prime Minister Sharon is concerned about the loss of innocent life.  We certainly  --  I certainly am.  It breaks my heart and I know it breaks the heart of a lot of people around the world to see young children lose their life as a result of violence  --  young children on both sides of this issue.

This is an issue that's consuming a lot of the time of my administration.  And we have an obligation to continue to work for peace in the region and we will.  We will.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

Q    Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden.  Why is that?  Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive?  Final part  --  deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of  --

THE PRESIDENT:  Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all.  Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time.  And the idea of focusing on one person is --  really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person.  And he's just  --  he's a person who's now been marginalized.  His network, his host government has been destroyed.  He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.  He is  --  as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide  --  if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is.  You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.  I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.

And there will be other battles in Afghanistan.  There's going to be other struggles like Shahikot, and I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shahikot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly.  We're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped. We have a good strategy.  We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.

Q    But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT:  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.

But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became  --  we shoved him out more and more on the margins.  He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore.  And if we  --  excuse me for a minute  --  and if we find a training camp, we'll take care of it. Either we will or our friends will. That's one of the things  --  part of the new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary, or training, or a place to hide, or a place to raise money.

And we've got more work to do.  See, that's the thing the American people have got to understand, that we've only been at this six months. This is going to be a long struggle.  I keep saying that; I don't know whether you all believe me or not.  But time will show you that it's going to take a long time to achieve this objective.  And I can assure you, I am not going to blink.  And I'm not going to get tired.  Because I know what is at stake.  And history has called us to action, and I am going to seize this moment for the good of the world, for peace in the world and for freedom.

Mike Allen.  I'm working my way back, slowly but surely.  Michael.

Q    Mr. President, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has asked Governor Ridge to testify about the administration's domestic homeland security efforts.  Why has the White House said that Governor Ridge will not testify?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, he's not  --  he doesn't have to testify; he's a part of my staff, and that's part of the prerogative of the Executive Branch of government.  And we hold that very dear.

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CBS_bin Laden_family_flown_out



this is the print-friendly version


Bin Laden Family Evacuated
Sept. 30, 2001

Two dozen members of Osama bin Laden's family were urgently evacuated from the United States in the first days following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, according to the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

One of bin Laden's brothers frantically called the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington looking for protection, Prince Bandar bin Sultan told The New York Times. The brother was sent to a room in the Watergate Hotel and was told not to open the door.

Most of bin Laden's relatives were attending high school and college. The young members of the bin Laden family were driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret place in Texas and then to Washington, The Times reported Sunday.

Many were terrified, fearing they would be lynched after hearing reports of violence against Muslims and Arab-Americans.

They left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks.

King Fahd, the ailing Saudi ruler, sent an urgent message to his embassy in Washington pointing out that there were "bin Laden children all over America" and ordered, "Take measures to protect the innocents," the ambassador said.

It's a tragedy," Prince Bandar told the Times. "The elders" of the students "came to see me, and one of them was a bright boy from Harvard who like the others had absolutely nothing to do with this and yet we had to tell him to go home and wait until the emotions calmed down. And he told me that he never really appreciated why the Japanese wanted a memorial or an apology for their treatment in World War II.

The student added, according to the prince, "I understand now that when you are innocent, in the face of emotion, nothing, not even common sense, can help argue your case."

Osama bin Laden is one of more than 50 children of a Yemeni-born migrant who made a vast fortune building roads and palaces in Saudi Arabia and his extended family spans the globe. Many have been educated in the United States and the family has donated millions of dollars to several American universities.

Bin Laden is estranged from his family and from Saudi Arabia, which revoked his citizenship in the early 1990s after he was caught smuggling weapons from Yemen.


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