Cheney Involved Despite Remote Location

ByABC News
November 29, 2001, 2:33 PM

Nov. 30 -- Vice President Dick Cheney says he's fully involved in the wartime decision-making process, despite frequently being apart from other senior presidential advisers a security precaution he says will likely continue indefinitely as the war against terrorism proceeds.

"I'm in constant touch with the White House, have several video conferences a day with my own staff, with NSC [the National Security Council], or [National Security Adviser] Condi Rice, [Secretary of State] Colin Powell, [Defense Secretary] Don Rumsfeld, and with the president," Cheney said.

In an interview with ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer for Primetime Thursday, Cheney added that the United States is bearing down on Osama bin Laden. And he used precedents from American history to help justify a plan to try suspected terrorists by military tribunals.

Bearing Down on Bin Laden; Saddam Next?

With the volume of U.S. intelligence increasing, and bin Laden's possible hiding spaces decreasing, Cheney said he is fairly sure bin Laden remains in Afghanistan, possibly near his known cave hideouts at Tora Bora.

"It's an area he's familiar with," Cheney said. "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."

The United States has been bombing and searching on the ground for suspected bin Laden or al Qaeda hideouts.

"He may depart for other territory, but that's not quite as easy as it would have been a few months ago," Cheney said. "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."

Cheney said U.S. successes may act as a deterrent for future would-be terror plotters.

"A good offense is the best defense," he said.

Cheney said the war on terror would likely be a long war, but he would not comment on speculation that the United States might make Iraq a target after the refusal of its leader, Saddam Hussein, to allow renewed inspections of weapons facilities and stockpiles.