Al-Qaqa’a: Osama to the Rescue? By William Bowles

30 October 2004

CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Bin Laden Releases New Videotape Aired October 29, 2004 – 21:00 ET (transcript)

LARRY KING, HOST: OK, Walter. What do you make of this? [a new Osama bin Laden tape addressing the American people] …

WALTER CRONKITE, FMR. CBS NEWS ANCHOR: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I’m a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.

 So the much-fabled ‘October Surprise’ is in reality the tediously predictable ‘reappearance’ of the infamous Osama bin Laden. How convenient that just when the imperium needs him, he should magically reappear with a thinly veiled threat of impending doom. But we have been ‘warned’ so-to-speak, it was just a question of time (or timing). In another world, such antics would be laughable but the imperium – even though its architects are stupid beyond belief – are playing for keeps, there is after all, a lot at stake. But their disdain for our intelligence verges on the reckless as every ‘revelation’ further undermines their objective by exposing just how predictable their strategy is.

Oh that the media had half as much sense as your average punter! Depressing though it is, the media’s reaction and its coverage of the video’s content has been as predictable as the emergence of the video itself for almost without exception the corporate media is locked into a deadly embrace with imperialism’s propaganda machine of which the Independent‘s front page (30/10/04) (in a ‘I kid you not’ headline) tells us that Osama has sent:

“A chilling message to American voters”

The body of the Indie’s text accepts without question the veracity of the video and does not call into question the timing of its release only days before the US election. But one aspect is bin Laden’s acceptance for the first time of responsibility for 9/11 that should call into question the authenticity of the video’s appearance (not that it’s not bin Laden but who exactly, does he work for?). Yet nowhere in the coverage of this story in the Independent do we see even an inkling of suspicion that the specific content of the video is to say the least, somewhat questionable.

Frankly, the video has all the hallmarks of a being a piece of US-inspired disinformation designed to put the frighteners on an already spooked US populace, who having been denied access to the real world ‘out there’ by a compliant media, instead get the message that, according to a tape delivered to ABC News earlier this week, the streets of America would “run red with blood”.

The Indie continues the story on page two in one penned by Rupert Cornwall who (almost) waxes eloquent when he tells us:

“Instead, with aplomb verging on impertinence, the al-Qu’eda leader has delivered his own election message to the American people…”

Though what exactly the message consists of and who it’s aimed at, is according to Cornwall the subject of some debate. And all too predictably, Cornwall relays to us the message from US intelligence officials that:

“…they had been expecting such a move or something like it…but even they must have been taken aback by the bravado of the performance”.

Oh come on Rupert, aren’t we being just a mite melodramatic! Bravado of the performance? What kind of juvenile nonsense is this? Does Cornwall think his readership is as gullible as his editor most obviously thinks we are I wonder?

But wait, Cornwall’s not finished with his speculations concerning the video. He goes on to say:

“The political impact is as hard to gauge as are Bin Laden’s motives for making it”.

One wonders aghast at what bin Laden’s motives could be (scratches head and ponders…), well surely it must be to ensure a Bush re-election victory, what else could it be? For Cornwall has peered into his crystal ball and discovered that the tape is a less than opaque endorsement of Kerry thus guaranteeing (in theory anyway) the re-election of Bush.

This ‘analysis’ is based upon the tape’s warning that “the best way to avoid…another disaster [like 9/11]…was to avoid provoking Arab anger”. Hence by some alchemic process, bin Laden’s ‘veiled’ endorsement of Kerry guarantees Bush’s re-election? This at least is the message the US imperium delivers to us courtesy of its messenger, the corporate press. Nowhere in the Cornwall piece do we see even a hint of suspicion about the timing of the release and its authenticity (now with the official CIA stamp of approval) is accepted without question.

“If you give a man the correct information for seven years, he may believe the incorrect information on the first day of the eighth year when it is necessary, from your point of view, that he should do so. Your first job is to build the credibility and the authenticity of your propaganda, and persuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy.”
A Psychological Warfare Casebook, Operations Research Office Johns Hopkins University Baltimore (1958)

Yet why, after over two years of silence does the video by bin Laden appear just now? Surely even the densest of journalists could smell a rat? Yet media coverage of the tape has been uniformly unquestioning as to the video’s veracity and of course the US media as well as the governments have milked it for all its worth with both presidential candidates trying to outdo each other over who would be better at ‘protecting’ the American public from the wrath of bin Laden.

Lest anyone doubt that the media are in total lockstep over the video, the Guardian’s front page story (30/10/02) though it uses less ‘dramatic’ words than Cornwall’s piece, echoes the same sentiment:

“If genuine – and US intelligence officials last night indicated the man on the video was indeed the al-Qaida leader – the tape broadcast by al-Jazeera television is an audacious attempt by Bin Laden to leave his imprint on the US electoral process.”

And indeed the Guardian’s ‘analysis’ echoes that of the Independent when it says:

“Although Bin Laden’s intervention appears calculated to hurt Mr Bush’s re-election chances, reminding American voters that the US president has failed to catch the al-Qaida leader, most commentators thought the ploy would rebound against Mr Kerry.”

And finishes by telling us just as the Independent did that:

“…the message was chilling: neither Mr Bush nor Mr Kerry could guarantee their safety, he [bin Laden] said.”

Is this an example of ‘great minds working alike’ or merely the knee jerk reactions of a compliant media? But perhaps the most illuminating comment in the Guardian’s story reveals more than it says:

“[bin Laden’s] message ensured that the war on terror remains the defining issue in the most fiercely contested election in recent memory.”

Well whaddya know! The message is designed to keep the ‘war on terror’ centre stage. That the video’s appearance is most fortuitous for Bush seems to have escaped the Guardian’s notice as well. The Guardian’s story, all one thousand or so words is mostly utterly useless and endlessly repeated ‘filling’, idle and futile speculation as to where and when the tape was recorded plus some tidbits about bin Laden’s health or lack thereof, as if it makes a whit of difference to the message.

The Independent makes much of Kerry’s reaction who tells us in an echo of Bush’s post-9/11 ‘call to arms’ to pursue those damn terrorists to the ends of the earth:

“They are barbarians. I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down and capture or kill the terrorists”

Including presumably invading foreign countries in the (endless) quest to destroy the ‘global network of terror’. If anyone still doubts that there is absolutely nothing to choose between the two candidates, it’s statements like Kerry’s that surely should settle the issue once and for all, for should he get elected, he will now have to prove that he can kick arse better than Bush can.

But we get the message regardless – the war on terror will continue no matter who gets elected on November 2, for bin Laden’s message ensures that the ‘war’ will continue. Indeed, one can go further and state that the wording is entirely too precise in its subtext, conveniently so in that it pushes all the ‘right’ buttons. Take the following statement for example:

“As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon [in 1982], it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way – to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.”

So are we being led to believe that twenty-two years ago, when Osama was in the pay of the Americans in the fight against the ‘evil empire’ that he was already planning his war on the Western ‘infidel’?

And in another statement we read:

“It never occurred to us that the commander in chief [Bush] would leave 50,000 citizens in the two Towers to face those horrors alone at a time when they most needed him, because he thought listening to a child discussing her goat was more important.”

‘It never occurred to us’? Are these really the words of a fanatical terrorist, for regardless of what Bush was or was not doing at the time the Twin Towers were demolished, there was precious little Bush could have done about it. Every statement in the message is just too pat and tailored precisely to fit and to reinforce the ‘logic’ of the Western propaganda effort.

But most depressing is the way the media have dealt with Osama’s message, revealing far more about the role of the media in obscuring events and their causes than any amount of idle speculation about the workings of Osama’s mind.

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