Menu

ARCHIVE

President Bush Says Usama Bin Laden May Not Be Captured During His Time in Office

Capturing Usama bin Laden has been one of President Bush's top priorities during his time in office, but the president now seems to doubt the Al Qaeda mastermind will be found before his term ends next January.

Speaking about his goals for his last year in the White House, Bush tells FOX News in an exclusive interview to air this weekend that if U.S. military and intelligence knew where bin Laden was, they would have apprehended him already.

"If we could find the cave he is in, I promise you — he would be brought to justice or wherever he's hiding," he tells FOX News in "George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish," a documentary scheduled to air Sunday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. ET.

The president adds: "I will have left behind a mechanism — and a structure for the next president to better protect America."

During interviews conducted on Air Force One, in the Oval Office and at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, the nation's commander-in-chief opens up about his first seven years in office and the final one to come, which he hopes to finish strong.

Bush insists that finding bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in the Pakistan-Afghan border region, remains a priority.

"For the country, it's a matter of closure in many ways for those who suffered under the attacks," Bush said. "He's hiding. He's isolated. He's not out there leading any parades."

Bush says he is briefed at least once a week on bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.

His former Homeland Security Adviser, Fran Townsend, who left the White House in November, told FOX News:

"The president has made perfectly clear that he wants bin Laden brought to justice before he leaves office. That's the objective: To ... bring bin Laden to justice before the end of the administration. And we have organized ourselves to try and achieve that objective."

Bush says in the interview he's confident bin Laden ultimately will be found.

"He'll be gotten by a president," Bush says.

And to critics who say he hasn't done enough to find bin Laden, Bush is blunt:

"They don't know what they're talking about," he says.

Bush also discusses his controversial foreign-policy decisions, including the war in Iraq, in the interviews.

"The job of ... comfortable nations is to help others realize the blessings of a free society, because it's the great alternative to the ideology of hatred," Bush says. "It's the calling of our time, as far as I'm concerned."

Bush says the road to victory in Iraq will be "gradual."

"The security situation has certainly improved, the political situation is getting better and the economy is beginning to improve," he says in the documentary. "But it takes a while to recover from a tyrannical situation.

"I think when I get out of here, I will have put Iraq in a position so that my successor, whoever that is, will be able to deal with the situation on the ground there, and I believe will understand the strategic consequences of the emergence of this free society."

"George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish," a FOX News documentary hosted by Bret Baier, airs on the FOX News Channel at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 27.