From today's London Times:
Art Keller, a blond, blue-eyed CIA agent, sits inside a decrepit building deep inside al Qaeda territory, staring at his computer screen. He is forbidden by his Pakistani minders from venturing out into the badlands of Waziristan to help to find and kill the world’s most wanted man.
...Mr Keller was one of an estimated 50 to 100 CIA agents and special operations officers whose mission for the past eight years has been to find and kill bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders. . .
Some of these guys have been hunting bin Laden for years,” Mr Keller says. His replacement, whom Mr Keller believes is still in Pakistan, has spent eight months a year since the September 11 attacks working out of these CIA safe houses looking for the top al-Qaeda leadership.
So why haven't they been able to find him? Here's my guess:
The hunt for bin Laden is largely run by the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, an organisation for whom many CIA officials harbour deep mistrust because of its historical ties to the Pashtuns of Waziristan. . . CIA agents were rarely allowed to leave the compound by the Pakistanis. . .
“Our role in the hunt was done entirely from in front of a computer inside the base,” Mr Keller says. When he wanted to follow up a lead, he would get in touch with a local Pashtun proxy to ask him to travel to a certain area to glean information.
When a senior al-Qaeda figure was identified and located — Mr Keller said that it would take weeks, often months, to build a case for an airstrike by a US Predator drone — and even if the go-ahead was finally given by CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the Pakistanis still had to approve. “Since 9/11, with 99 per cent of these strikes, the Pakistanis were consulted and they have to approve them,” he said.
Then of course there is this:
...even if someone wanted to betray him — and collect the $25 million (£15 million) reward — there is no one to turn to. The local police know bin Laden is there. “If you report bin Laden’s location there is a good chance you will get killed,” Mr Keller says.