War is Peace - Freedom is Slavery - Ignorance is Strength

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Confirmed: Bin Ladin Tape Huge Pain in My Ass

I noticed the headlines on this yesterday, but I didn't even read the story, because I knew it would be an avalanche of bullshit.

The first thing that stands out about all of these recordings is that none of them can be positively verified as authentic, or repudiated as inauthentic.

Currently the only means that independant organizations have of testing the validy of any new Bin Ladin tape is by comparing it to other Bin Ladin tapes, with the underlying assumption being that the other tapes are valid.

In the case of one proported Bin Ladin audio recording, which was aired on 11/13/2002, an independent review by a Swiss research institute concluded that the voice on the tape did not match the voice profile created from computer analysis of twenty other Bin Ladin tapes. (Bin Laden tape 'created by impostor', The Guardian)

The second thing worth noting is that irregardless of whether or not these tapes are actually the recorded voice of Usama Bin Ladin, he doesn't control when, how, or if they ever get aired.

For instance, in the case of a tape that was aired of 2/12/03, it was widely reported in American as well as European press that Colin Powell made a reference to the Bin Ladin tape before Al Jazeera ever aired it. When reporters called Al Jazeera to try and find out what Powell was talking about, their representatives denied having a Bin Ladin tape, but then it ended up going on the air a short time later. The next day, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government had been given the tape by the government of Quatar five days before it was broadcast, and that the Quatari government had the final say on whether or not it would be broadcast. (US already knew of Bin Laden tape)

So, in the case of this tape, it is reasonable to say that not only could it possibly be a fake, but it is also almost certain that the government of Quatar made the final decision to put it on the air, and it is quite possible that the Bush administration knew it was going on before it was aired.

My question, and the question of many, is who would gain from the release of this tape, and why would they choose to release it so close to the U.S. election? Given the close proximity to the election, it is possible that the tape is meant to affect the vote, but how?

One analysis is that the tape will have no effect on the election result at all.

The other analysis would be that the tape will affect the vote by causing a last minute shift toward Bush as voters are reminded that the issue they view Bush as being the strongest on - terrorism - is the one they should focus on when they go to the polls.

What is missing here, is any obvious way that the release of this tape could be viewed as a positive for Kerry.

Now, assuming that the tape was made by Bin Ladin, he obviously benefits no matter what, because he is getting his message out. But why would Bin Ladin choose to release a video tape now, targeted at Americans, when many events of much greater importance to the middle east have come and gone without a video address by him to his muslim followers?

What about the government of Quatar, which reportedly has veto authority over Al-Jazeera? Why would they choose to air the video now? How long was it in their possession before they aired it? When did they inform the administration of its contents, and their intent to air it?

And this is about where I throw my hands up, and say "Fuck It," because nobody knows the answers to those questions, and I doubt anybody will be finding out any time soon.

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