A senior U.S. intelligence official told ABCNEWS that he was not discounting the legitimacy of the interview. And U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said today that "while there's no credible evidence specifically [bin Laden] has nuclear weapons," the U.S. doesn't know for sure.
"We know that he has been trying very hard to get them," she said on ABCNEWS' This Week. "While there's no credible evidence specifically of him having nuclear weapons, we're taking the threat very seriously."
Bush also would not say whether or not the United States believed bin Laden's claim, but said of it Saturday: "All the more reason for us to pursue him diligently and get him, and that is what we are going to do."
Northern Alliance Takes Mazar-e-Sharif
Things appeared to be going well this weekend in Afghanistan. Northern Alliance rebels said Friday they broke Taliban defenses and entered the strategically important city of Mazar-e-Sharif. On Saturday, the Taliban confirmed that it had left the city.
In Washington, a Pentagon official expressed worry that the city fell so quickly, saying he feared the Taliban mounted a "strategic retreat" to reposition for further, sustained attacks — as the Taliban claimed it did.
"The Northern Alliance has effective control of Mazar-e-Sharif at this moment," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today on Fox News Sunday. "There are pockets of resistance within the city that continue. In some cases they're al Qaeda, in some cases they're Taliban, in some cases they're people from other countries that have come in to support Taliban."
The U.S. State Department said Saturday that Uzbek and United Nations officials would go today to Termez, an Uzbek city on the border with Afghanistan, to begin planning the transport of humanitarian aid overland into Afghanistan. In a "media note," the department said: "The fact that this process can now get under way is a direct result of the changing security situation on the Afghan border" after "significant inroads" made by opposition forces.
Mazar-e-Sharif is crucial to control of supply lines throughout much of northern and western Afghanistan, where the Northern Alliance mostly operates.
In other developments:
Television and movie executives met with the president's senior adviser, Carl Rove, and other White House officials today at a closed-door session in Los Angeles. The entertainment industry was likely asked to help the nation by bolstering the spirit of America. Some feel that can be accomplished if Hollywood turns-out more feel-good and less violent material. Click here for the full story.
Radio France Internationationale says one of its journalists in Afghanistan was killed in an ambush today after leaving Northern Alliance military headquarters near the Tajikistan border. Johanne Sutton is believed to be the first foreign journalist killed in the country since U.S.-led strikes on targets in Afghanistan began last month, the Associated Press reported.