Bin Ladenâ€™s trail cold, U.S. acknowledges Forces focus on Afghan democracy, pursuing Taliban The Associated Press Updated: 5:51 p.m. ET Dec. 2, 2004 KABUL, Afghanistan - For a time, the U.S. military in Afghanistan was talking as if it would smoke Osama bin Laden out of a cave on the rocky Pakistan border within months, perhaps even ahead of President Bushâ€™s re-election. Now, U.S. commanders say protecting the countryâ€™s fragile new democracy, reviving its economy and keeping Taliban militants on the run are the priorities, although tracking the cold trail of bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders remains the focus of intelligence efforts. Spies, informers, electronic listening devices and surveillance from the air all belong to the U.S. arsenal. However, U.S. officials acknowledge that videotapes featuring a sprightly-looking bin Laden â€” released days before the Nov. 2 election in the United States â€” and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, have yielded no clues to their whereabouts, even though one was delivered to a TV channel in Islamabad, Pakistan. â€œTheyâ€™re pretty sterile in terms of intelligence value,â€ Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, the operational commander of U.S. forces here, told The Associated Press.