A recent letter writer blamed former Vice President Dick Cheney for not capturing Osama bin Laden, which would have "taken the air out of al-Qaida, and all of its offshoots that developed in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East" ["Chutzpah award for former VP Cheney," June 29].

Former CIA Director George Tenet claims that the U.S. intelligence community had bin Laden in its sites many times after the bombing of the USS Cole and the first attack on the World Trade Center, and former President Bill Clinton refused to allow him to be assassinated. Clinton has denied Tenet's version of events.

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If we are to believe that capturing or killing bin Laden would have taken the air out of al-Qaida, then it would be fair to assume that had Clinton taken bin Laden out of the picture back then, thousands of innocent civilians and American soldiers would still be alive.

By the way, bin Laden has been dead for more than three years, and I don't see al-Qaida being deflated. In fact, the organization seems stronger and more determined than ever.

Thomas Duignan, West Islip