Defense Secretary Robert Gates
This Week with George Stephanopoulos
December 5, 2009
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told me that the U.S. has not had any good intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in “years.”
He also couldn’t confirm reports that a detainee in Pakistan had claimed that he had information on where bin Laden was earlier this year. He made the startling admission during my interview with him for “This Week” airing Sunday.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “The Pakistani Prime Minister shrugged off any concerns about that this week, about whether or not hed done enough to go after Osama bin Laden. He said he doesn’t believe Osama is in Pakistan. Is he right and do you think the Pakistanis have done enough to get him?”
DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: “Well, we don’t know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we’d go get him”
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “What was the last time we had any good intelligence on where he was?”
DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: “I think it’s been years.”
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “Years?!”
DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: “I think so.”
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “So these reports that came out just this week about a detainee saying he might have seen him in Afghanistan earlier this year, we can’t confirm that?”
DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: “No.”
You can watch the complete interview with Gates and Secretary Clinton Sunday [Dec. 6, 2009] on “This Week.”
December 6, 2009
WASHINGTON – The United States does not know where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is hiding and has not had any good intelligence on his whereabouts in “years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday [Dec. 5, 2009].
Speaking in an interview to be aired on Sunday [Dec. 6, 2009] on ABC’s “This Week” program [link added], Gates also said he could not confirm reports this week that a detainee might have seen bin Laden in Afghanistan earlier this year.
“We don’t know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we’d go and get him,” Gates said in excerpts released by ABC.
Asked when was the last time the United States had any good intelligence on his whereabouts, Gates said, “I think it’s been years.”
The British Broadcasting Corp. reported earlier this week that a detainee in Pakistan claimed to have information that bin Laden was in Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan in January or February.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a report late last month [link added] that blamed the lack of concerted efforts by former President George W. Bush’s administration and U.S. military commanders for allowing bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora caves of Afghanistan in late 2001.
The Personality Profile of Al-Qaida Leader Osama Bin Laden
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
The report presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Osama bin Laden.
Information concerning bin Laden was collected from open-source biographies and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.
The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Bin Laden’s primary personality patterns were found to be Ambitious/exploitative and Dauntless/dissenting, with a secondary Distrusting/suspicious orientation, and subsidiary Dominant/controlling and Conscientious/dutiful features.
Ambitious (narcissistic) individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. Dauntless persons (adventurous with possible antisocial tendencies) are bold, courageous, and tough; minimally constrained by the norms of society; routinely engage in high-risk activities; not overly concerned about the welfare of others; skilled in the art of social influence; and adept at surviving on the strength of their talents, ingenuity, and wits.
Bin Laden’s blend of Ambitious and Dauntless personality patterns suggests the presence of a syndrome that psychologist Theodore Millon has labeled the “unprincipled narcissist.” This composite character complex combines the narcissists arrogant sense of self-worth, exploitative indifference to the welfare of others, and grandiose expectation of special recognition with the antisocial personalitys self-aggrandizement, deficient social conscience, and disregard for the rights of others.
A major implication of the study is that bin Laden does not fit the profile of the highly conscientious, closed-minded religious fundamentalist, nor that of the religious martyr who combines these qualities with devout, self-sacrificing features; rather, it suggests that bin Laden is adept at exploiting Islamic fundamentalism in the service of his own ambition and personal dreams of glory.
Full research report
The Personality Profile of al-Qaida Leader Osama bin Laden
(Paper presented at the 25th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Berlin, July 16–19, 2002)
Related profiles on this site
Lurid details emerge of bin Laden’s parenting (AP, Jan. 5, 2010)
Bin Laden threatens Americans in new tape (MSNBC, March 25, 2010) – NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reports. (02:15)
The Associated Press via NBC News
March 25, 2010
CAIRO – Osama bin Laden threatened in a new message released Thursday [March 25, 2010] to kill any Americans al-Qaida captures if the U.S. executes the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks or other al-Qaida suspects.
In the 74-second audiotape aired on Al-Jazeera television, the al-Qaida leader mentions Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003. He is the most senior al-Qaida operative in U.S. custody and is currently detained at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In 2008, the U.S. charged Mohammed with murder and war crimes in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. Pentagon officials have said they will seek the death penalty for him. Four of his fellow plotters are also in custody.
“The White House has stated its interest to execute him. The day America will take such decision, it would have taken a decision to execute whoever we capture,” bin Laden said, addressing Americans. …
Desire to be a ‘martyr’
After his March 2003 capture in Pakistan, Mohammed described himself as the architect of numerous terrorism plots and even claimed that “with my blessed right hand,” he had decapitated Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Pearl was found beheaded in Pakistan in 2002.
Mohammed, appearing in June 2008 for the first time since his capture five years earlier, said he would welcome becoming a “martyr” after a judge warned him that he faces the death penalty for his confessed role as mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. …
Al-Qaida is not known to be holding any Americans captive now. But the Haqqani group – the Pakistan-based Taliban faction closest to al-Qaida – is holding American soldier Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl who was captured in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. It released a video of him in December.
Bin Laden also said President Barack Obama is following in the footsteps of his predecessor George W. Bush.
“The politicians of the White House were and still are wronging us, especially by supporting Israel and occupying our land in Palestine. They think that America, behind oceans, is safe from the wrath of the oppressed, until the reaction was loud and strong in your homeland,” he said of the Sept. 11 attacks. “Equal treatment is only fair. War is a back-and-forth.”
On the lam
It was the third message released by bin Laden this year. In the first, on Jan. 24, he claimed responsibility for a Dec. 25  attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound plane. “The message sent to you with the attempt by the hero Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a confirmation of our previous message conveyed by the heroes of Sept. 11,” bin Laden said.
Less than a week later, on Jan. 30, he blamed the U.S. and other Western industrial powers for global warming. “The effects of global warming have touched every continent. Drought and deserts are spreading, while from the other floods and hurricanes unseen before the previous decades have now become frequent,” bin Laden said in the audiotape, aired on Al-Jazeera.
The three messages have been brief. It is possible, U.S. officials say, that all three of them were recorded around the same time and are being parceled out by al-Qaida media operations.
Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the rugged, lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. …
Bin Laden plotted attacks against Obama, Petraeus (MSNBC “Politics Nation,” March 16, 2012) – Letters from Osama bin Laden to his aides show the terrorist was plotting to kill President Obama and U.S. General David Petraeus. David Ignatius of the Washington Post was given exclusive access to the documents and shares what he learned. (07:22)
The Associated Press via MSNBC.com
March 16, 2012
Osama bin Laden told his followers to work on a plan to kill Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus by attacking their aircraft, according to documents found in the slain terror leader’s compound, The Washington Post reported Friday [March 16, 2012].
The Post said that it had been given an exclusive look at “some of these remarkable documents,” which it said had been declassified and would be made public soon.
Administration officials told the Post that the plot to kill Obama and Petraeus had not reached the stage where it was a serious threat. The Post said it was “probably bluster,” but was a “chilling reminder” of the scale of bin Laden’s ambition.
“The reason for concentrating on them,” bin Laden told an al-Qaida officer, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, according to the Post report, “is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make (Vice President Joe) Biden take over the presidency. … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour … and killing him would alter the (Afghan) war’s path.” …
The documents also show bin Laden was worried about al-Qaida’s image – to the point that he thought it should change its name.
The Post said bin Laden believed his terror network had a brand problem because U.S. officials “have largely stopped using the phrase ‘the war on terror’ in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims,” instead talking about the war against al-Qaida. …
The 54-year-old terror leader was killed by a U.S. raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2 last year .
He had lived there since mid-2005 with his three wives, eight children, five grandchildren and others, making a total of 28 people. His 24-year-old son Khaled was also killed in the raid. …
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 6, 2008
President George W. Bush (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images)
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that President George W. Bush, on a valedictory tour prior to leaving office, had admitted to a few previously unacknowledged errors, telling one interviewer that he was “unprepared for war” when he entered office and that his “biggest regret” was the failure of intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion.
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