ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney about the hunt of Osama bin Laden, the war against terrorism and the authorization of military tribunals to try noncitizen terrorist suspects. Following is an unedited transcript of the interview.
ABCNEWS' DIANE SAWYER Do we have intelligence now that we really trust? In other words, do we have any intelligence that is taking us closer to bin Laden?
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY I think so. We're getting a lot of reports now, more than we got before. The volume has increased. And some of them conflict, but truly what's happened is we've narrowed the amount of space inside Afghanistan that he feels safe in.
SAWYER Do you believe he's in Tora Bora?
CHENEY I think he's still in Afghanistan. I think he's probably in that general area.
SAWYER Why do you think he's still there?
CHENEY Because I think he was equipped to go to ground there. He's got what he believes to be fairly secure facilities, caves underground. It's an area he's familiar with. He operated there back during the war against the Soviets in the '80s. He's got a large number of fighters with him probably, a fairly secure personal security force that he has some degree of confidence in, and he'll have to … he may try to leave, that is, he may depart for other territory, but that's not quite as easy as it would have been a few months ago. Anybody who contemplates providing sanctuary for bin Laden at this point has to keep in mind what happened to the Taliban when they did that.
SAWYER Have we seen, those infrared sensors showed up a lot of people in any caves?
CHENEY We followed, with our various intelligence assets, some of it's human reporting, some of it comes from imagery and so forth. We're able to follow groups moving around inside Afghanistan to zero in on certain facilities, where we've had considerable success hitting particular facilities where we thought there were leaders of al Qaeda, and we've clearly been able to hit a number of them. But he doesn't travel around with certainly the big banners saying "I'm Osama bin Laden." This is a guy who has gotten very good at security, who's been through a lot over the years in terms of understanding our capability and our strengths, and so he works very hard at preserving his security, and so far he's been successful, although not fully successful because we've gotten so many facilities.
SAWYER We'll come back to that in a moment. Does he travel with enough people that they hole up inside the caves?
CHENEY I can't say that. Some of these caves are very deep, go back a very long way, some of them with fairly elaborate structures, and there are a lot of them, so … and there have been times, I'm convinced, where he hasn't been in the caves, where he's stayed in homes. He's moved around, and … but it's, you know, if we knew precisely where he was, we'd go get him. We've got a general idea, and I think, as I say, the volume of reporting has increased as his circumstances have become more difficult.
SAWYER Want to give us the square footage on the general idea?
CHENEY No, I can't do that really. I wouldn't want to be that precise and be misleading.
SAWYER Why not just go in and bomb the mouths of all the caves in that region?
CHENEY We have in fact done exactly that in many areas. We have had an active campaign under way to take out some of these underground facilities.