The Army's highest-ranking officer and the former leader of the secretive world of Special Operations offered his thoughts on the importance of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden during a luncheon here Friday.Killing Uday, Qusay and Saddam had little effect on threats to the U.S. because they weren't a threat in the first place.
"I don't know whether we'll find him," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, said in a speech to the Rotary Club of Fort Worth. "I don't know that it's all that important, frankly."
Schoomaker, pulled out of retirement in 2003 to lead the Army, pointed to the capture of Saddam Hussein, the killings of his sons, Uday and Qusay, and the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as evidence that bin Laden's capture or death would have little effect on the threats to the United States.
"So we get him, and then what?" Schoomaker said. "There's a temporary feeling of goodness, but in the long run, we may make him bigger than he is today. He's hiding, and he knows we're looking for him. We know he's not particularly effective. I'm not sure there's that great of a return" on capturing or killing bin Laden.
Osama helped organize and fund the largest terrorist attack on the United States and followed it up with attacks in Madrid and London. Indonesia has also suffered severely. Al Qaeda has found a new safe haven in Pakistan, the one Islamic nation with nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Pakistan is also the most famous nuclear weapons proliferator in the world. A. Q. Khan lives comfortably at home and is regarded a national hero. If bin Laden ever gets a nuclear bomb, this is where he'll get it.
Despite what the General said, we are not actively hunting for bin Laden. Pakistan has halted operations in Waziristan and the Taliban are now resurgent. The U.S. has refused to pursue Taliban and al Qaeda forces into Pakistan with its own forces.