WASHINGTON – The United States does not know if Usama bin Laden is alive or where he might be hiding if he survived American attacks, U.S. military leaders said Sunday.
"It's not something that can be known at the present time. We see snippets that he is and snippets that he isn't, and the short answer is that we have not seen any hard evidence that he is alive in recent weeks," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.
Added Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "We can't say one way or the other. I mean, it's possible that he is no longer alive, but I think the odds are he probably is alive."
Myers said on ABC's "This Week" that "any speculation about where he might be would be somewhat foolish because we simply don't know."
He pledged that the United States "will get bin Laden" and the former supreme leader of Afghanistan's vanquished Taliban regime, Mullah Mohammed Omar.
"I think we have a little more intelligence" about Omar, Myers said. "He stays on the move. He's not getting a lot of sleep right now." Myers said on "Fox News Sunday."
Rumsfeld said that while bin Laden could be in Afghanistan, but "the likeliest possibility" was that the Al Qaeda leader could be across the border in a neighboring country. Rumsfeld did not name any countries.
Pakistan has the longest border with Afghanistan. Also bordering Afghanistan are Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
"I think it's important to recognize that the Department of Defense is clearly looking for him. We're hard at it, and it's important that we find him, and we will find him eventually," Rumsfeld said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"We're really organized and trained and equipped to fight armies and navies and air forces. We're not organized to do manhunts; that's a law-enforcent-type thing. We're trying to figure out different ways of doing it," he said.
Myers said the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is "only ... a border on a map" and that because of the mountainous terrain, there are many ways to cross between the countries.
Despite the uncertainty about bin Laden, Rumsfeld said he believed that the war on terrorism had hindered bin Laden's ability to operate.
"The real test is, is he able to manage effectively the Al Qaeda network and engage in additional terrorist acts? Is he leading that, is he raising additional money, is he the out in force and recruiting more people. And the short answer is no," Rumsfeld said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"If he's alive, he is very busy hiding somewhere and he is having a dickens of a time communicating with his people."