Saturday, October 23, 2004
Lehman: Bin Laden's Location Pinpointed.
Former Navy Secretary John Lehman said Thursday that the Pentagon has pinpointed the location of Osama bin Laden in the Baluchistan Region of Western Pakistan, but is holding back on rounding him up because it could destabilize the government of Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf.Bin Laden could also be dead or in Iran.
Bin Laden is living in South Waziristan in the Baluchistan Mountains of the Baluchistan Region, Lehman told the San Bernadino Sun, after delivering a keynote speech on terrorism at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.
"There is an American presence in the area, but we can't just send in troops," he told the Sun. "If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now."
Lehman said that because Pakistan's Baluchistan Region is "filled with Taliban and al-Qaida members" who do not recognize the legitimacy of President Musharraf, the U.S. military is holding back.
"Look," he explained, "Musharraf already has had three assassination attempts on his life. He is trying to comply, but he is surrounded by people who do not agree with him. This is not like Afghanistan, where there was no compliance, and we had to go in."
"We'll get [bin Laden] eventually," he added. "Just not now."
Contacted by the Sun, Department of Defense spokeswoman Capt. Ronnie Merritt declined to comment on Lehman's remarks, except to say that he normally didn't speak about these issues, and she was surprised he had.
Lehman served on the Sept. 11 Commission investigating bin Laden's attacks on the U.S.