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Rumsfeld: 'We're going to get' bin Laden

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday acknowledged that finding suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden would be difficult, but the United States fully expects to find him and his al Qaeda terrorists.

"We fully intend to find them and chase them to the ground and root them out," Rumsfeld said. "We certainly intend to find (bin Laden) and we're doing everything humanly possible to do that."

In an interview Wednesday with the editorial board of USA Today, Rumsfeld said that capturing bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, will be a "very difficult thing to do."

Asked to clarify the "semantics" during a Pentagon briefing Thursday, Rumsfeld said, "I think we're going to get him. How's that?"

The Saudi-born bin Laden is believed to be hiding out in the mountainous and rugged terrain of Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld said finding bin Laden and his fellow terrorists is like looking "for a needle in a haystack."

But he added: "Do I expect to get them? You bet we expect to get them."

In the USA Today interview, Rumsfeld was asked if he was confident that the United States would achieve President George W. Bush's goal of capturing bin Laden dead or alive.

"It's a big world. There are lots of countries. He's got a lot of money, he's got a lot of people who support him, and I just don't know whether we'll be successful," Rumsfeld told the newspaper. "Clearly, it would be highly desirable to find him and stop him and his key people and there are a lot of them. We're not looking for one person. We're looking for a whole crowd. And that's our intent and our intention. How can anyone know what the outcome is going to be until you get there?"

Rumsfeld also told the newspaper that he did think the Taliban would be toppled from power by the U.S.-led military campaign, which he also said would not be easy.

"These are very tough people who've been fighting the Soviet Union, they've been fighting each other, they've made careers out of fighting," he said in the interview. "They're not going to roll over. So it's going to take some real effort and it's going to take some time, and as I say, it won't be easy. But there will be a post-Taliban Afghanistan."


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