WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
CIA Director Porter Goss said he has an "excellent" idea where
Osama bin Laden is hiding, but the al Qaeda leader will not be brought to justice until weak links in counterterrorism efforts are strengthened, Time magazine reported on Sunday.
In his first interview since becoming head of the CIA last year, Goss also told the magazine the insurgency in
Iraq was not quite in its last throes, but close to it.
Goss did not say where he believed bin Laden was hiding, but intelligence experts have said the al Qaeda leader who has evaded an extensive U.S.-led manhunt is probably in the border region of Pakistan and
"I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?" Goss said in the interview.
"In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice," Goss said. "We are making very good progress on it."
He cited some of the difficulties as "dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play."
Goss added, "We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community."
Al Qaeda could strike the United States again, he said. "Certainly the intent is very high. And we are trying to stay ahead of their capability. And so far, I think we have done pretty well carrying the war to them, as it were," Goss said.
Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, sporadically release taped messages that have been broadcast on Arab television or on the Internet since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Intelligence experts say the messages are partly to reassure followers that the leaders are still alive.
In the most recent message, a videotape broadcast by Arabic television Al Jazeera on Friday, Zawahri said reform in Muslim countries and "expelling the invaders" could not be accomplished except by fighting.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a key figure behind the insurgency in Iraq, is aligned with al Qaeda.
Dick Cheney has said the insurgency was in the "last throes."
President Bush says it would be wrong to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and that they will stay until local security forces are trained to take over.
Goss said, "I think they're not quite in the last throes, but I think they are very close to it. And I think that every day that goes by in Iraq where they have their own government and it's moving forward reinforces just how radical (the insurgents) are and how unwanted they are."
Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), an Arizona Republican, said on Sunday that he did not believe that the insurgency was in the last throes.
"I don't think Americans believe that we should cut and run out of Iraq by any stretch of the imagination. But I think they also would like to be told, in reality, what's going on," McCain said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
"I think part of that is it's going to be at least a couple more years," he said.
Goss expressed relief the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, was taking over what previously had been some of the key functions of the CIA director. "I would almost equate it to getting rid of a 60-pound back sack, climbing up a big, steep trail," Goss said.
He said he planned to stay as CIA chief for a while.
"We've got a lot to do. We're in the process of rebuilding here. I think this is our moment. I'm going to be here as long as the moment lasts. And I think it is going to last a while because we have the opportunity to build," he said.