U.S. Believes Pakistan's Taliban Leader Is Dead

White House national security adviser James Jones says the U.S. is nearly certain that Pakistan's Taliban leader is dead. Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Jones said despite the claims and counterclaims about Baitullah Mehsud's fate, the U.S. is around 90 percent sure he was killed in a CIA missile strike last Wednesday.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Renee Montagne is on assignment in Afghanistan.

American officials are becoming more confident in their belief that a Taliban leader is dead. President Obama's National Security Advisor General James Jones spoke yesterday on Fox News Sunday, and you can listen to the way that he changes verb tense when he discusses the Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

General JAMES JONES (National Security Advisor to President Obama): Mehsud is a - was a very bad individual, a real thug responsible for a lot of violence, a lot of innocent people losing their lives. And I think that if there's dissention in the ranks and if, in fact, he is - as we think - dead, this is a positive indication that in Pakistan, things are turning for the better.

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