Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Another Shoe Drops.
IS THERE AN ECHO IN HERE? You've got to read the actual words, as reported in the World Tribune:
Bin Laden may be dead, but living on through old sound bites
U.S. intelligence agencies are beginning to suspect that Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden is dead after all, despite a recent audio tape exhorting Al Qaida terrorists in Iraq.
The Al Qaida leader who was the main force behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, was last heard on an audio tape released Dec. 30. The tape mentioned Iraqis who are opposing Al Qaida, but there has been no specific time referenced from his last two messages. An earlier message in October also exhorted Al Qaida to fight in Iraq.
Questions about Bin Laden are being raised by intelligence officials who say that without a specific time mark with a photo of Bin Laden, his presence cannot be confirmed and the most recent statements could have been put together from older audio.
Al Qaida operates a very sophisticated propaganda operation that includes the use of audio and videotape messages to rally followers and to recruit new jihadists.
The new analysis of Bin Laden follows the death of No. 3 Al Qaida leader Abu Laith Al Libi, who was killed last week in a CIA-led operation in Pakistan that involved an armed unmanned aerial vehicle attack. [emphases added]
Intelligence. Officials. Beginning to suspect. Intelligence?
It's not as if this possibility hasn't been raised and chewed over at some length by the blogosphere for quite a while now. We expressed our own strong suspicions almost five months ago, including what little information we could find about the (un)reliability of voiceprint technology. As Rand Simberg points out, there's been reason for suspicion much longer than that:
Yes, and that has been true since Tora Bora. Haven't these people ever wondered, or speculated why bin Laden, who was second only to Senator Schumer when it came to being a camera hog, all of a sudden switched from video to audio about six years ago?
Simberg goes on to reiterate a question I asked here months ago: Why the duplicity? Here's my version of the question:
It can't be just that past rumors of bin Laden's death have been proven to be untrue and they're afraid of still another PR hit. Mostly, the rumors haven't been proven untrue. Not in public anyway. But even if this is their fear, it makes no sense to declare that he is definitely alive based on the evidence of an ambiguous videotape when it would be equally free of consequence to say, "We just don't know."
There's the mystery. The lamebrain Democrat default position in the War on Terror is that we should abandon every overseas activity but hunting down bin Laden. Keeping bin Laden more alive than dead therefore doesn't seem to help the administration any. Does it serve the anti-Bush crowd at the CIA? Does it serve the military? Does it serve anyone?
The answer is, it has to be serving someone or something. Probably elements of the intelligence bureaucracy, since they are the ones who provide the anonymous spokespeople to declare that bin Laden is alive after each lame tape release. Who knows what budget or private political agenda drives their disinformation strategies? Alternatively, the military bureaucracy or the Bush administration might have calculated that news of bin Laden's death would give the pusillanimous Democrats a perfect excuse for declaring final victory in the War on Terror and pulling the plug on all funding for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The latter doesn't seem likely, since there is no time in the last few years when the Bush administration's approval ratings wouldn't have benefited from news of bin Laden's death, but I'm putting it on the table anyway because I no longer care who's behind the deception.
What matters is that we are now in the thick of a campaign for the presidency of the United States, and no one on either side is interested in discussing future policy with regard to the War on Terror. Everyone is perfectly happy to live in the past and address the future only as a simplistic platitude. McCain, for example, takes credit for his (mostly) strong support of the Surge, which is in the past, and he is conspicuously silent about what U.S. foreign policy should be with regard to Islamofascism after Iraq is secure. One could infer that he wants American troops to win whatever battles they are presently engaged in but only because they are presently engaged. It might well be that he is as dovish in the larger war against the Wahabbis who want to kill and subjugate us as Obama is. The persistence of the phantom target called bin Laden makes it harder to see that he has articulated no next steps after Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Democrats, of course, are pleased as punch to address the Iraq War as an isolated, contextless blunder whose only solution is time travel into the past -- via the 9/10/01 utopia of another Dem presidency. Their only policy position with regard to the War on Terror concerns the solitary figure of bin Laden himself, whose death -- or (preferably?) capture and media-saturated trial in a U.S. courtroom with full due process and the armor of his own hand-picked Dream Team of lawyers -- would presumably write finis to any U.S. concern about global Islamic ambitions. After the trial, they could resume the sacred liberal art of talking everybody into the same paralyzed stupor they perpetually inhabit themselves.
But what if Osama bin Laden is really dead? What if the U.S. mass media even seriously raised the possibility that he might very well be dead and forced the public and the political establishment to confront the real implications of that possibility? Wouldn't that suddenly give explosive force to the question, What next? What should we do if the cartoon villain who has so hypnotized our attention were erased from the stage for good? Wouldn't we all have to think about that? And wouldn't we be demanding some real thinking from John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama? Instead of all their empty rhetoric about the past?
But obviously I'm a fool. This five or six paragraph story, whose implications could wipe out every word ever said by a Democrat about their strategy in the War on Terror, is only a footnote, a curiosity, and a distraction from the long march to the great Change we all so desperately want.