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Cheney: Tape evidence bin Laden behind terror attacks

Cheney
Vice President Cheney on NBC's "Meet the Press"  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A videotape discovered in Afghanistan is "one more piece of evidence" that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks on Washington and New York, Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday.

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press, Cheney said he has "seen pieces" of the tape, which is in Arabic but has been translated. He said it shows bin Laden being interviewed or meeting with another individual, apparently a cleric, talking about the events of September 11.

"It's pretty clear, as described to me, that he does in fact display significant knowledge of what happened and there's no doubt about his responsibility for the attack on September 11th," Cheney said.

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"Now, we've known that all along. There's been some dispute in some quarters about it, but this is one more piece of evidence confirming his responsibility for what happened on 9-11."

Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz also said Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar -- who fled Kandahar after the Taliban stronghold was handed over to opposition forces -- is most likely still in the Kandahar area.

"But if he turned up somewhere else, I would not be totally surprised," Wolfowitz told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Wolfowitz, who has also seen the tape, called it "disgusting."

"This is a man who takes pride and pleasure in having killed thousands of innocent humans beings. And it confirms everything we've known about him already," Wolfowitz said on ABC's "This Week."

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the tape was obtained in Afghanistan, during a search of a private home in Jalalabad. The Post reported that bin Laden describes the damage around the World Trade Center as better than he had expected, praises God for greater success than he expected and uses language that indicated he knew about the planning of the attack.

Asked if the tape would be released publicly, Cheney said authorities would have to rely on the "experts" as to whether that would be a good idea.

"We've not been eager to give the guy any extra television time than he could obtain for himself," he said.

The United States went to war in Afghanistan in October after the country's ruling Taliban militia refused to hand bin Laden over to U.S. authorities. As Cheney spoke, U.S. warplanes were bombing the mountains south of Jalalabad, and Afghan opposition forces were trying to root al Qaeda fighters out of caves and tunnels in the mountains.

If bin Laden or Taliban leader Mohammed Omar are captured alive, the Bush administration will insist that they be turned over to American authorities, Cheney said. President Bush will have to decide whether they would be tried before the administration's proposed military tribunals, he said.

U.S. officials have not decided whether to release the tape.

"There is a balance between sharing intelligence information and providing as much information as possible to the American people," a spokeswoman for President Bush said. "In the event that we decide to release it, we'll let you know."



 
 
 
 



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