Needle In A Haystack

I guess I just don't understand what the big deal is. After all the time that has passed, we still can't find one stinkin' guy. We've got our best intelligence working on it, but he still evades us. We have a general idea where he is, but just can't seem to pinpoint his exact location. And the more time that passes, the less likely it seems we'll be able to. We don't even know if he's dead or alive. Every tip is a dead end. The world awaits an answer, and even with all our advanced technology, the best the experts can offer is, "He might be somewhere between these two points." Critics call us incompetent.

Initially, you may be thinking I am talking about Osama Bin Laden. I'm not. I'm talking about Steve Fossett, the wealthy adventurer that's been missing for some time now. Although, the above sentiments are ones I've been hearing for years in regards to Bin Laden. The incessant whining about how ineffectual our government is in failing to unearth him bores me. Perhaps we now know just how difficult it is to find the elusive terrorist. If we can't locate a man and a crashed plane out in the open, how can we find a man hiding in a cave? If you'll indulge me, I'd like to make a comparison.

Fossett's plane crashed over the Nevada desert. A somewhat flat area, at least compared to the mountains of Pakistan. We know where he started from, and we know he only had a few hours of fuel, so we have a general idea of where he might have gone down. And there is the small matter of airplane wreckage, which is a bit easier to spot from the air than a turban. And yet, we have no clues. The rescue teams even expanded the search area to ten thousand square miles, just in case he veered far off course. Fifty thousand people poured over images of Google satellite photos seeking clues. No Fossett. They did find eight other crashed planes that were previously uncharted. Too bad those guys weren't friends of Richard Branson. We might have found them in time to save their lives.

Contrast that with Osama Bin Laden. We are nearly certain that he is in Pakistan, in a cave and most likely without cable TV. We also know that unlike Steve Fossett, he does not want to be found. Pakistan covers over three hundred thousand square miles, with a rough terrain that fluctuates from sea level to 26,000 foot peaks. It makes Nevada look like a postage stamp in comparison. Oh, and don't forget about the caves. Thousands of them that run for hundreds of miles. And that doesn't include the ones Bin Laden built in the eighties when he was trying to sell Arabs on the idea of living below the frost line. His no Rupee down offers earned him a tidy fortune.

So why is it that the same idiots who don't hesitate to remind us that "these things take time" when referring to the search for Fossett, screech about how long it is taking to find Osama? Let's see if I can help. Bin Laden is in an area thirty times larger, twenty times more mountainous, he is under ground and he is not standing next to scattered wreckage. He might as well be though, since we can't find a guy who is.

So why can't we find Fossett? This should be over by now. Unless he crashed cleanly into a cave that sealed behind him. If that's the case, we'd be better off spending our time trying to get Gilligan and his pals off an uncharted island. Thurston Howell is probably a friend of Richard Branson, and that is all it takes to get the world to waste its resources on a fool's errand.

So here's my proposal. Swap search teams. The people looking for Fossett will look for Bin Laden, and vice versa. Fifty thousand people will scour aerial images of Pakistan hoping to find an opening to a cave that might house the world's number one terrorist, and the thirteen people on the Bin Laden unit will devote their considerable Parcheesi skills to locating the charred remains of a Bellanca single engine aircraft. It won't matter though. Both will still come up empty, although the Fossett team will probably find the remains of other terrorists that have been missing for fifty years. It'll be nice to update their profiles.

There is one other option though. Let's get Richard Branson to fly six dozen of his aircraft over the mountains of Pakistan on an hourly basis. Eventually, they will circle over the cave where Bin Laden is holed up. If we're lucky, one of his less bright minions working lookout will see the planes in formation, and run into the cave shouting, "Osama! Your seventy two Virgins are here!" If that wont' get him out of the cave, then he's doing the minion.

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