In what has become a hallmark of the neocon movement, the Bush spin machine, and the Ministry of Truth, it seems that cork poppage for bagging Ayman al-Zawahri was, eh, a bit premature. al-Zawahri apparently slipped the net that those crack Pakistani troops have supposedly been tightening over the past four shopping days.
The timing of the initial story was a bit curious to begin with. It coincided neatly with Colin Powell's trip to meet with America's close ally, Pakistan President Pervez "Free AQ" Musharraf. I think what tipped me initially that there was smoke but no fire was the fact that there were no reports of American troop involvement in the usual suspect roundup.
Listen, I want Al Qaeda and its leaders dispatched from the face of the planet as much as anyone. Without getting into the actual construct of organization, I'm not sure that capturing any of the big dogs in that kennel of dog poop known as Al Qaeda would make all that much difference anyway. But when the neocon spin machine continues to crank out FUD* to promote its agenda or counter negative news stories, only to retract or step back from the FUD a few days later, eventually the "little boy who cried wolf" syndrome will kick in with the populace.
The moral of the story? Speculation is not a story in a journalistic sense. Retracted speculation is even worse - not that there's a lot of credibility left to damage in the Bush administration anyway, but these kinds of things tend to gain a life of their own. Keep the sheath on your weapon until all partners are satisfied -- that is, unless you're into instant, unilateral self-gratification, which tends to ultimately be a hollow exercise.