COLUMN 104, APRIL 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
DECEITFUL BOY EMPEROR
HE WAGGED THE DOG, WE GOT A NEEDLESS WAR AND NOW HE'S WAGGING OBL
[Margie Burns writes freelance in the DC area and teaches in the English
Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org ]
To try to comprehend the administration, one must apply a little rhetorical
analysis. For example, authoritative sources tend to name only "Al Qaeda? among terrorist groups, although Al Qaeda is not the only Islamist partisan group,
nor the only one engaged in violence against Westerners. Hypothesis? Either the
speakers don't know much about their topic, or the administration is simplifying
for the American people, or they're engaging in rhetoric rather than genuinely
briefing about national security. Probably the correct answer is all of the above,
but the administration's negligent security in US aviation, nuclear sector, and ports
highlights the last.
It is in this light that the upcoming "push against Bin Laden? should be evaluated. One word cluster, to use a linguisticians? phrase, early in the new spate of stories about Bin Laden, was "concentric rings." Several news reports transmitted speculation that Bin Laden was holed up in mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, protected by concentric rings of local tribesmen, partisans, and bodyguards.
For whatever reasons, we're not hearing the concentric-rings description a few weeks later. Newer reports instead describe Bin Laden as 'shuttling? between Pakistan and Afghanistan. There must be superhumanly non-money-hungry border patrols, tribesmen, and others in that area, not to turn in a constantly shuttling creature with a bounty of $25 million on his head: Osama bin Laden is up on the FBI's ten most wanted list
( http://www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/fugitives/laden.htm ). Incidentally, he is not wanted for "masterminding? 9-11.
Another typical phrasing has Bin Laden under increasing pressure, and it's only a matter of time till we "get? him.
What is not said is that we'll capture him; media reports sometimes say that, but US officials
don't. Nor do they say that OBL's people are being
pressured to hand him over, or that we want him for questioning because we want to find out much, much more about the plotting behind those attacks. Indeed,
since September, 2001, no administration official has said, "We desperately want
to pull in Bin Laden. We want to know everything he could tell us." Instead,
Bush started making little "dead or alive? noises; a good slogan for a t-shirt, but
not exactly Intel.
What does all this add up to? Most probably, Bin Laden was killed in late 2001, by the concerted, massive attacks in the vicinity of Bora Bora, Afghanistan. Global news reports at the time quoted the FBI, the Pentagon, and the military head of Pakistan, General Musharraf, separately as saying that Bin Laden had been killed, either directly in the bombing attacks, or indirectly by being kept from essential life-support for kidney disease. The last known video of Bin Laden showed a pale, gaunt, feeble man with an immobile left arm. He has not been seen or heard since in any videotape or audiotape whose date and content could be attested by independent experts.
Unfortunately, those saying "we got him? were frowned down by the White House. Perhaps Team Bush didn't want the Afghanistan "war? over quickly, or preferred to avoid questions about why they didn't compel the Taliban to hand him over, or wanted OBL as a shadow opponent in what another writer has aptly termed "Cold War II." If this seems far-fetched, it should not. The sad, deceitful buildup to invading Iraq revealed that many in media outlets would take a "Bin Laden tape? at face value, even if they turned it over and it had "From the desk of Paul Wolfowitz? stamped on the back.
So how will today's intensified hunt for Bin Laden end? All too probably, the upshot of this hunt will be, not capture, but intensive bombing of one spot, said by unnamed sources to be Bin Laden's last hiding place. Then, of course, there will be the inevitable military briefing of the press, with reporters allowed to hear or to quote only material selected by authorities, and held at a place where they will not be able to corroborate or check it. At the briefing, some grizzled combat veteran will joke that OBL's "concentric circles? of protection turned out to be a "bull's-eye." [laughter]
Sadly, we also face more loss of life. This is a plea: if anyone out there can stop this, please try. ##
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