This excellent article about Osama Bin Laden's recent tape and the hunt for him in Pakistan contains two notable quotes from sources inside the American defense and intelligence forces.
The tribal region where Zawahiri was said to be has a long history of fierce resistance to central control, as both the British Raj and the Soviets who occupied neighboring Afghanistan found out. But none of those previous powers possessed similar technology to scour the countryside from the sky and to unleash remote-control missiles. The broad message of the Damadola strike, which flattened three houses and killed several families, is that tribesmen need to rethink their code. Those who are supposedly governed by the iron law of Pashtunwali—or automatic loyalty to fellow tribesmen or guests—now have to recalculate the cost of that, U.S. officials said. "The message to them is, 'You have to take a new measure now: your families are not safe if you protect the terrorists'," says one senior Pentagon official who would not speak about the attack on the record because the details are classified.
When terrorists hide behind civilian shields -- especially willing shields -- and those shields are killed, their blood is on the hands of the terrorists.
Although Zawahiri's wife is said to be a "Momand" Pashtun from that region—offering him considerable protection—the CIA has been having more success lately in developing sources in the area, with help from Pakistani intelligence. (According to several U.S. officials, the Pakistani intelligence service has allowed a large "liaison" team into the country, and has accepted a great deal of technical assistance.) Frank Anderson, a former CIA station chief in the region, says Pashtunwali goes only so far, especially with multimillion-dollar prices on the heads of top Qaeda suspects. "The noble savage whose word is his bond exists a lot more in literature than on the ground," he says archly.
It's good to hear that America's human intelligence is improving after being decimated during the Clinton years. For a nation as diverse as ours, it shouldn't be so hard for us to infiltrate operatives into other cultures.