By Ben Feller THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON – Seemingly taunting Osama bin Laden, President Bush’s homeland security adviser said Sunday that the fugitive al-Qaida leader is “virtually impotent” beyond his ability to hide away and spread anti-American propaganda. The characterization came just days after bin Laden attracted international attention with the release of a video in which he ridicules President Bush about the Iraq war and reminds the world that he not been captured. Ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, White House aide Frances Fragos Townsend made a clear attempt to diminish the influence – or the perception – of the man who masterminded those attacks. “This is about the best he can do,” Townsend said. “This is a man on a run, from a cave, who’s virtually impotent other than these tapes.” Twice Sunday, she used the phrase “virtually impotent,” suggesting the language was carefully chosen. “We know that al-Qaida is still determined to attack, and we take it seriously,” Townsend said. “But this tape appears to be nothing more than threats. It’s propaganda on their part.” Townsend was considerably more direct than even Bush in rebuking bin Laden. Still the consensus of the nation’s top intelligence analysts is that bin Laden’s terrorist network is anything but impotent. Terrorism experts say the network is regrouping. The latest National Intelligence Estimate says al-Qaida is growing in strength, intensifying its efforts to put operatives in the U.S. and plotting against U.S. targets that will cause massive casualties. The U.S. is in a “heightened threat environment” and al-Qaida is the most serious threat, the analysts found.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!