John, Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy and a member of the Sept. 11 Commission, says that the Defense Department knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding, but can’t go get him. In an interview with the San Bernardino Sun, Lehman said:
Bin Laden is living in South Waziristan in the Baluchistan Mountains of the Baluchistan Region, Lehman told The Sun after delivering a keynote speech on terrorism at Pitzer College in Claremont to kick off the university’s three-day writers festival.
In the exclusive interview, Lehman said, “There is an American presence in the area, but we can’t just send in troops. If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now.’
Colin Powell made a similar comment on Tuesday. The Defense Department expressed surprise at Lehman’s statement:
A Department of Defense spokeswoman, Capt. Ronnie Merritt, confirmed that U.S. military believes bin Laden is in Pakistan. However, she would not comment on Lehman’s remarks, except to say that he normally didn’t speak about these issues, and she was surprised he had.
Lehman is a Republican. The fact that he and Powell have made substantially the same claim suggests that the administration wants the public to know that bin Laden’s whereabouts are known, perhaps in response to John Kerry’s “outsourcing at Tora Bora” claim. I’m not sure this makes sense politically, and I’m also not sure it’s true. If bin Laden really is living under the protection of radical Islamists who control South Waziristan, why can’t he make a video?