In the last three months, following a request from President Bush to "flood the zone," the CIA has sharply increased the number of intelligence officers and assets devoted to the pursuit of bin Laden.
The problem, former and current counterterrorism officials say, is that no one is certain where the "zone" is.
The Afghan-Pakistan border is about 1,500 miles.
At least 23 senior anti-Taliban tribesmen have been assassinated in South and North Waziristan since May 2005.
Pakistan has now all but stopped looking for bin Laden.
"Once again, we have lost track of Ayman al-Zawahiri," the Pakistani intelligence official said in a recent interview. "He keeps popping on television screens. It's miserable, but we don't know where he or his boss are hiding."
"There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!" one frustrated counterterrorism official shouted. "Nobody!"
"We work by consensus," explained Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. "It's not that effective, or we'd find the guy."
In early November 2002, a CIA drone armed with a Hellfire missile killed a top al-Qaeda leader traveling through the Yemeni desert. About a week later, Rumsfeld expressed anger that it was the CIA, not the Defense Department, that had carried out the successful strike.
"How did they get the intel?" he demanded.
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then director of the National Security Agency and technically part of the Defense Department, said he had given it to them.
"Why aren't you giving it to us?" Rumsfeld wanted to know.
Hayden, according to this source, told Rumsfeld that the information-sharing mechanism with the CIA was working well. Rumsfeld said it would have to stop.