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Condoleezza Rice: 2007 Mission for Osama bin Laden 'Didn't Materialize'

Donna Svennevik/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the last time the Bush administration had serious intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, he was thought to be around Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2007, she tells ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on This Week. The government believed it might have located bin Laden at a meeting with other al Qaeda members and militants but ended up empty handed, Rice said.

"I don't want to go into this in too much detail because I'm not sure what the sources and methods, issues, are here," Rice said. "Let's just say after very painstaking work, when they were relooking at the entire field of how we might find bin Laden -- because you don't just stumble on Osama bin Laden – there was supposedly this meeting that would take place, perhaps higher level enough for him to come, but in the end it didn't materialize."

Rice's comments come immediately after The New York Times published an article describing the Bush administration's handling of this intelligence in 2007, which is believed to have been the most credible intelligence prior to the mission that killed bin Laden Sunday. In 2007, the U.S. government reportedly obtained information that Osama bin Laden and other high ranking officials of al Qaeda would be meeting in Tora Bora, the same region where allied forces bombed the mountainous terrain in 2001 in a failed attempt track down bin Laden.

"We were constantly having Osama bin Laden sightings," Rice told Amanpour, who pressed the former secretary of state on specific intelligence that bin Laden would attend the 2007 meeting.

A former government official said the military began acting on the intelligence by plotting a large, coordinated bombing mission that would heavily strike the mountainous region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, according to the New York Times report.

Rice would not discuss any U.S. military operations, citing their still classified nature. CIA Director Leon Panetta last year told ABC News that the last time the United States had good intelligence on bin Laden's location was in the early 2000s.

Amanpour's full interview with Rice can been seen Sunday on ABC's This Week With Christiane Amanpour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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