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Rumsfeld: Taliban Targets Remain

October 15, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Despite a full week of bombing, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday the Taliban regime in Afghanistan still possesses planes and helicopters ``that we have not gotten yet.″ Initial tests found anthrax in a letter opened in the office of a Senate leader.

``There may be some possible link″ between the anthrax-tainted mail and Osama bin Laden,″ President Bush told reporters, although he said ``we have no hard data″ of a connection.

At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld scoffed at claims by the Taliban that eight days of American bombing had caused large-scale civilian casualties. The Taliban and al-Qaida networks ``are accomplished liars,″ he said, although he conceded it’s impossible to conduct the type of military operations under way without any casualties.

As American warplanes flew over Afghanistan for the eighth straight day, Rumsfeld said, ``I’m confident they (the Taliban) have both aircraft and helicopters that ... we don’t know exist. ... We also know that there are some that exist that we have not gotten yet,″ he said.

Rumsfeld also indicated American bombing targets were being expanded on a day-by-day basis as military planners cross some off the list and add others. ``There have been troop concentrations that have been attacked every day of the last three or four,″ he said, referring to the troops the Taliban has in the field.

Bush, speaking with reporters at the White House, made the announcement that a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle ``had anthrax in it. The letter was field-tested, and the staffers that have been exposed are being treated.″

At a news conference outside the Capitol a short while later, Capitol police spokesman Dan Nichols said that powder inside the mail had tested positive for anthrax in two preliminary field tests. He said the material had been forwarded to a military facility in Maryland for additional testing.

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