Bill Hemmer: Marine reaction to bin Laden tape
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Some U.S. Marines based in Kandahar say they are disappointed they will not be headed to the Tora Bora region to track down al Qaeda members.
They also had reactions on the latest videotape of Osama bin Laden, released Wednesday. CNN's Bill Hemmer is stationed with the Marines. He filed this report.
HEMMER: A lot of Marines we talked to were not aware of the latest bin Laden tape. But those who are aware and did hear bin Laden's comments on that latest tape released by Al Jazeera late yesterday say the mission does not change and they were not surprised at all.
One said, "We have heard it before and seen it before." Other than that, the reaction was somewhat muted.
There was also reaction about the decision announced by the Pentagon that Marines would not be heading into the Tora Bora region, and that's an interesting perspective – a bit of a mixed reaction.
Some of the younger Marines we talked to said they were disappointed; they really wanted that challenge of heading north and east into the Tora Bora region, carrying out that cave-to-cave complex search. It's not going to happen though.
Some of the older Marines say they are a bit relieved – relieved, they say, because they've seen combat before and they know when body bags come out how the reaction can be so entirely devastating. And the older Marines believe that if American Marines were sent in, there would be a body count.
With regard to the detainees – we're up to 37 at the Kandahar airport. Twenty were brought in during the middle of the night aboard a C-130, and certainly the Marines want to know what they know about al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. There's a group of FBI agents here at the base who are carrying out a lot of that work, and in fact we've seen them the last several days, but they're pretty much off limits. They don't talk a lot.
But some sources here on the base indicate that these detainees were picked up along the Afghan-Pakistan border. There's a whole lot of concern about al Qaeda fighters fleeing the Tora Bora region, heading over that pass into Pakistan. Indeed, these detainees were caught and rounded up. Now there's the question as to whether more detainees will come. We are told it's always a possibility.
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