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By keeping the pressure up, the U.S. hopes to correct its biggest mistake of all. According to this view, the U.S.'s failure to retaliate massively after past al-Qaeda attacks against U.S. military barracks, battleships and embassies tempted bin Laden to go after ever more outrageous targets--and finally the World Trade Center. Now the U.S. has destroyed al-Qaeda's training camps and undermined bin Laden's capacity to lead. And yet the Sept. 11 hijackings were years in the making--which means bin Laden could have ordered up another, more lethal attack before his world came apart. "We were overwhelmingly defensive in our orientation before Sept. 11," Admiral Dennis Blair, the head of the U.S.'s Pacific Command, told TIME. "Now we've gone on the offensive." The big question is whether we did so in time.
--With reporting by Matthew Cooper, John Dickerson, Sally Donnelly, Michael Duffy, Elaine Shannon, Mark Thompson and Douglas Waller/Washington, Bruce Crumley/Paris, Tim McGirk/Kabul and Alex Perry/Mazar-i-Sharif