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Thursday, March 19, 2009


Seven years after Osama bin Laden's last verifiable appearance among the living, there is more evidence for Elvis's presence among us than for his. Hence there is reason to ask whether the paradigm of Osama bin Laden as terrorism's deus ex machina and of al Qaeda as the prototype of terrorism may be an artifact of our Best and Brightest's imagination, and whether investment in this paradigm has kept our national security establishment from thinking seriously about our troubles' sources.

The main problem with that theory is that it would be awful nice if it was true. We humans are pretty good at self deception. The strongest evidence is:

Nor does the tapes' Osama sound like Osama. In 2007 Switzerland's Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which does computer voice recognition for bank security, compared the voices on 15 undisputed recordings of Osama with the voices on 15 subsequent ones attributed to Osama, to which they added two by native Arab speakers who had trained to imitate him and were reading his writings. All of the purported Osama recordings (with one falling into a gray area) differed clearly from one another as well as from the genuine ones.

Also Since October 2001, when Al Jazeera's Tayseer Alouni interviewed him, no reputable person reports having seen him—not even after multiple-blind journeys through intermediaries.

There are also numerous reports of his death, though I grant 1 would do On December 26, 2001, Fox News interviewed a Taliban source who claimed that he had attended Osama's funeral, along with some 30 associates. The cause of death, he said, had been pulmonary infection. The New York Times on July 11, 2002, reported the consensus of a story widespread in Pakistan that Osama had succumbed the previous year to his long-standing nephritis. Then, Benazir Bhutto—as well connected as anyone with sources of information on the Afghan-Pakistani border—mentioned casually in a BBC interview that Osama had been murdered by his associates. Murder is as likely as natural death. Osama's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is said to have murdered his own predecessor, Abdullah Azzam, Osama's original mentor. Also, because Osama's capture by the Americans would have endangered everyone with whom he had ever associated, any and all intelligence services who had ever worked with him had an interest in his death.

There is also the fact that he had been on kidney dialysis & whatever sacrifices he might be will to make to live in a cave in northern Pakistan that is not something he could do without.

Confirmation of this - "According to French newspaper Le Figaro, Bin Laden was on a kidney dialysis machine after he had one shipped to his base in Kandahar Afghanistan in 2000, and when the CIA personally visited him in a Dubai hospital. Other accounts suggest he was also suffering from Hepatitis C at the time and had only two years left to live."

The main article then goes on to damn the CIA for, well, incompetence. Having continuously got its assessments wrong, confirming the prejudgements of its political masters:

The CIA had as much basis for deeming Osama the world's terror master "game, set, and match" in 2001 as it had in 2003 for verifying as a "slam dunk" the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and as it had in 2007 for determining that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program. Mutatis mutandis, it was on such bases that the CIA determined in 1962 that the Soviets would not put missiles in Cuba; that the CIA was certain from 1963 to 1978 that the USSR would not build the first strike missile force that it was building before its very eyes; that the CIA convinced Bush 41 that the Soviet Union was not falling apart and that he should help hold it together; that the CIA assured the U.S. government in 1990 that Iraq would not invade Kuwait, and in 1996 that neither India nor Pakistan would test nuclear weapons. In these and countless other instances, the CIA has provided the US government and the media with authoritative bases for denying realities over which America was tripping.

The force of the CIA's judgments, its authority, has always come from the congruence between its prejudices and those of America's ruling class. When you tell people what they want to hear, you don't have to be too careful about premises, facts, and conclusions.

I doubt if our own intelligence services are better. Captain Scarlet gave Blair the advice that Iraqui WMDS existed & posed a real threat & after this was proven a lie he got promoted.

I think the CIA & SIS should be broken up & the different sections get the chance to report independently. It would quickly become clear which parts are reliable. Britain's GCHQ has long been a world leader at interception & deciphering & their ability reflected on the whole British service - to the considerable benefit of Kim Philby who had been hired to run Britain's anti-Soviet Section by people of considerably leaser intellect.

Before that, however, the US should ask some friendly but independent & competent security service to do a review of ALL the information available on bin Laden & declare whether his is likely to be dead or alive. Britain, Canada & Australia's intelligence services are too closely linked to the US's. I would suggest Mossad, Japan's, South Korea's, Taiwan's or Singapore's.

The whole purpose of our war in Afghanistan is to convince the world that things like 9/11 will be avenged. If bin Laden is dead it has been. "Nation building" was not why we went in & if the natives aren't happy to have us do so it is not a reason to stay. We could simply recognise the non-Pathan parts run by the Northern alliance as separately independent & maintain enough air power to flatten poppy fields & anybody threatening the north & leave it.

History records many leaders who disappeared & of whom "pretenders" kept appearing.

Henry VII had Lambert Simnel & Perkin Warbeck who, for years, pretended to be the princes in the Tower.

At least 10 women claimed to be the Duchess Anastasia, last of the Romanovs.

In the early 17thC Russia was plagued by number of "false Dimitris" - the son of Ivan the Terrible having died in what was probably an assassination.

The voyages of the Chinese admiral Cheng Ho in the early 1400s started because the last prince of the previous royal family had escaped by sea southwards. Though they discovered Africa & brought home a giraffe & may even have reached the Atlantic they never found him - nor did anybody else.

The soul counter example is that the Caliphate of Spain was founded by Abd al-Rahman the alleged grandson of the Baghdad Caliph last seen fleeing the city. He may well have been the real deal. Nonetheless the record of missing leaders returning leans heavily towards them not actually doing so.

I think the strong probability is that bin Laden is dead. If so we should stop spending lives & treasure trying to defeat him.

Here is an article from Spiked which does not intentionally suggest he is dead but points to the way "his" current agenda is different from his initial one & looks very much like a mish mash of of currently PC western influenced views of what a Muslim agenda should be - this would certainly fit if it that is what it is, put together by a committee using his name. The very inadvertence of that observation makes it more credible.

"Here is an article from Spiked"

Where? I love a good conspiracy theory. There is no particular evidence to say he is alive or dead, but I agree that there are plenty of people who benefit by pretending that he is still alive and some sort of major threat to Western civilisation.
Fixed. Certainly there is a conspiratorial desire to have "hobgoblins" to frighten us with. There is also a natural unwillingness of politicians & inteligence "experts" to admit they have got it wrong for years. Nonetheless the only way to get it right in future is to accept & fix errors.
It's a difficult situation but I believe the west works on the idea that he's alive as they've no evidence to the contrary.
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