Live from George W. Bush's Self-Made Gehenna (March 2002): [President Bush Holds Press Conference]:
THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know [Osama bin Laden] 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...
I don't know whether George W. Bush genuinely did not understand that the fact that Osama bin Laden could do this and survive was genuinely offensive, and worth spending a lot of resources to prevent, or whether he did understand it but just thought the Washington press corps he faced was really stupid...