CLAREMONT – The Pentagon knows exactly where Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, it just can’t get to him, John Lehman, a member of the 9-11 commission, said Thursday.
Lehman’s remarks echoed those made Tuesday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who asserted that the al-Qaida leader was alive and operating in the western part of Pakistan.
Bin Laden is living in South Waziristan in the Baluchistan Mountains of the Baluchistan region, Lehman told The San Bernardino Sun after delivering a keynote speech on terrorism at Pitzer College in Claremont.
In the exclusive interview, Lehman noted, “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.”
“We’ll get (bin Laden) eventually, just not now,” he said. Asked how bin Laden was surviving, Lehman said he was getting money from outside countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and high-ranking ministers inside Saudi Arabia.
Department of Defense spokeswoman Capt. Ronnie Merritt confirmed that the 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 that she was surprised he had.
Lehman, former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, was one of the 10 members of the bipartisan commission that examined the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.